Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Adventure Time: “All The Little People”

Illustration for article titled Adventure Time: “All The Little People”

What happens when Finn gets the chance to play God? By week 16, everything is horrible. This week’s Adventure Time is a bizarre trip into Finn’s budding adolescent fantasies, acted out by magic little figurines that Magic Man slips in the back of Finn’s pants. He uses these figurines to act out various relationship scenarios, from innocent Lumpy love to a Choose Goose threesome, giving him an education that he wouldn’t get otherwise. It’s like Finn’s version of The Sims, except the figurines are actually alive in another dimension that looks just like Ooo.

At the start of the episode, Finn and Jake are sitting on a cliff above a lake full of ruined buildings. Finn wants to know if it’s better to date someone who is like you or the opposite, but Jake tells him that love isn’t something you think about; it’s something you feel. Love isn’t something that can be figured out with personality “matrixles” (a potential dig at online dating sites?), it’s pumps and bumps. Finn asks if BMO and Ice King would be compatible, but Jake doesn’t take the question seriously. When Finn finds the sack, he can experiment with all the hypothetical pairings that he wants, and he does exactly that until he’s on the brink of sanity.

This is the second episode in a row that has centered on Finn, with Jake leaving his bro for Lady Rainicorn in both instances. Finn and Jake are both growing up, but Jake is entering adulthood while Finn is moving into puberty, two very different ages with very different priorities. Jake is about to be a dad; he’s going to have to start thinking about his family, which isn’t going to leave much time for adventures. Finn is still holding on to his childhood, and without any other human to teach him how the world works, he has to use his imagination if he’s going to learn things about relationships and sex.

When Finn sees the musical chemistry between Little Ice King and Little Jake, he becomes addicted to pairing up the figurines, staying up all night so that he can watch their romantic exploits. These sequences are backed by unnerving piano music, reflecting Finn’s deteriorating mental state and adding a silent movie feel to the scenes. Finn starts with innocent pairings like Mr. Cupcake and Lumpy Space Princess, then gets rid of LSP and introduces Lady Rainicorn and Jake in the mix to make it a love triangle. It only gets racier from there, as Finn begins to experiment with licking (Marceline and PepBut), spanking (Xergiok and Turtle Princess) and a threesome (Choose Goose, Lollipop Girl, and Abracadaniel), but these relationships all fall apart in the end.

I believe that “All The Little People” is a metaphor for Finn’s pubescent sexual awakening. When Jake sees the bag, he asks Finn what is in his pants, to which Finn replies, “What? Not again!” It looks like Finn’s body might be starting to change, and he’s probably starting to get a funny feeling below the waist whenever he’s around Flame Princess or PB. He’s never had the opportunity to be in a serious relationship, and the figurines allow him to have multiple romantic experiences from afar. It’s a bit like watching pornography for Finn, and the episode climaxes with him shaking Little Finn at just the right speed so that he can communicate through the vibration. There’s that old adage about orgasm bringing someone closer to God, and when Finn shakes Little Finn at just the right speed, the face of God is revealed.

When Jake comes back home after 16 weeks at Lady’s, he sees the depravity and destruction that has engulfed his friend’s life and starts to set things right. Finn tries to talk to the figure, but it can’t understand him. Jake hypothesizes that the figurines are on a different dimensional plane that operates like a two-way mirror, and when Finn tries to communicate with Little Finn, we get a look at the world from the figurine’s perspective. He’s standing on the same cliff that Finn and Jake were on at the start of the episode, waves crashing under him each time Big Finn touches him with his tongue. It’s a meta-twist that takes the episode in a mind-bending direction just before the conclusion.


If Finn is a stand-in for Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward (the character’s original name was Pen after all), then Finn’s manipulations in this episode are almost like the writing process. When Finn apologizes and tells the figurines that they will never see him again, it’s like he’s writing the last words of a script that became too hard to bear. Relationships can be exciting, but they can also complicate things for a TV series, so sometimes it’s best to just let the characters (C-list and all) have a big dance party and forget about all their troubles.

Stray observations:

  • Last week’s Adventure Time #10 was one of my favorite comics of the year, and I wrote about it for Big Issues. Anyone who watches the cartoon needs to be checking out the comic, which has been as good if not better than the television show.
  • Who are your favorite Adventure Time C-listers? I’m a big fan of NEPTR myself.
  • “It’s all about the ba-bumps in your heart. You can’t stop the pumps and bumps! Pumps and bumps! Pumps and bumps!”
  • “I made a new sauce.”
  • “Ice King? He’s not C-list?”
  • “You’ve crossed the line from weird curiosity into some dark messed up stuff.”
  • “Oh flip! Look whose hitting it off with the Ice King!” I love dancing BMO so much.