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

Adventure Time: “Beyond This Earthly Realm”

Illustration for article titled Adventure Time: “Beyond This Earthly Realm”

After the insanity of last week’s episode (much thanks for Zack Handlen for his spectacular recap), “Beyond This Earthly Realm” is a bit of a step down. It starts as a story about Finn and Jake getting separated, then becomes a story about Ice King tricking the duo into friendship. Those are both plots we’ve seen before, and Adventure Time is many things, but it is rarely repetitive. This week’s episode doesn’t feel as fresh as the rest of this season’s output. But even an average episode of Adventure Time is going to be on the stronger side, and there’s plenty to love about “Beyond This Earthly Realm.” The visuals showcase the series’ grotesque design sense, and the Ice King gets some of his best material to date, specifically a wonderfully bizarre meta-moment in the final act.

While exploring a mystery cave, Finn touches a porcelain lamb, is transported to the spirit world, and becomes invisible to Jake. While BMO and Jake mourn Finn and try to bring him back, Finn seeks the help of Ice King, who can see into the spirit world because of his wizard eyes. Ice King tells Finn that they have to stick all the spirits back in the spirit hole in his basement and plug up the opening, but it’s all part of a plan to trap Finn in the spirit world. That way, Ice King is the only person that can see him, making him Finn’s only friend. How that works is anyone’s guess, but there’s no place for logical thinking in the Land of Ooo.

There are some great BMO bits in this episode, including a masterful moment of fart humor: BMO tries to cheer up Jake by making fart noises because Finn loved it when he farted. BMO is one of the most adorable characters on television, and it filled my heart with joy to see him pretend to pass gas. Later, BMO plays Finn’s favorite song for Jake, the nursery rhyme “Three Baby Spiders,” and his face as a cassette tape is one of the episode’s best visual gags.

Ice King is this show’s must tragic character, and he’s completely unhinged in “Beyond This Earthly Realm.” Tom Kenny does some amazing voicework this episode, whether he’s voicing his hatred for the shit-vomiting spirits that infest Ice King’s castle or shrieking when he thinks his body is being touched. My favorite moment of the episode is when Ice King confidently lays out his villainous master plan after Finn has bottled up all the spirits, and Finn responds that he’ll just unplug the spirit hole and unravel all Ice King’s work. Kenny is so good at transitioning from clueless bravado to shattering defeat, and when Ice King gets trapped in the spirit world with Finn, Kenny really gets to cut loose.

After being stripped of his clothes and sucked into the spirit world, Ice King is shocked and shamed into a heightened state of being. When he discovers that moving his body in the spirit world has an effect on a television screen in the real world, he presses his face against the glass and says, “What do you think, Finn? Can we pull back the veil of static and reach into the source of all being? Behind this curtain of patterns, this random pattern generator, so clever. Right here in every home, watching us from a one-sided mirror.” Finn has no response because it’s utter nonsense, but it’s pretty awesome to have a cartoon character put his face up to the television screen and question his very being.

When Finn and Ice King realize that they can physically manipulate small things in the physical world, they create a whirlwind of dust and leaves that knocks over and shatters the porcelain lamb. As Jake gives some love to his newly returned friend, Ice King tries to join in the love and receives awkward stares as the episode ends. No matter how hard he tries to get a lover or a friend, Ice King will always fail miserably. Even if the story isn’t the most imaginative or wacky, that failure is always fun to watch.


Stray observations:

  • Is that John Dimaggio’s Chewbacca impression at the start of the episode?
  • Poor Ice King. “Turbros” is never going to work.
  • Surprise, the spirit that poops little heads out of its mouth is totally gross.
  • “Leaf princess! Come to me, you arboreal beauty.”
  • “Quiet, Gunther! Can’t you see I’m hanging with Finn? I know I say that a lot, but this time it’s true.”
  • “Ah! My winter body! I was going to start up on the elliptical machine, but I got depressed, okay?”