Adventure Time has had a Jake problem. Seasons 5 and 6 have seen the focus shifting heavily to Finn and his personal troubles, leaving Jake in the background while his bro deals with lady troubles and a paternal crisis. Jake still occasionally takes the spotlight, but lately this series has felt like Finn the Human’s Adventure Time featuring Jake the Dog when it used to be a team effort. Making Jake a father gave the character something to do, but it distanced him from Finn when the series needed to find a way to bring them closer together.
I’m not positive if that’s what’s happening this week, but it definitely feels like the writers are laying the groundwork for major Jake developments in “Joshua And Margaret Investigations.” Flashing back to the events leading up to Jake’s birth, this episode follows the titular duo of monster hunters on a case that ends up having major repercussions on their future child. The story is retro-styled adventure starring a husband-and-wife crime-solving duo, and it’s a lot of fun even before the final moments throw everything for a crazy loop.
Nick and Nora Charles, Dashiell Hammett’s early 20th century crime-solving couple, are the foundation for this episode, and to emphasize the retro time period, the dialogue is written in the exaggerated style of a Golden Age Hollywood film or an old radio play. This gives Maria Bamford and Kent Osborne the opportunity to really ham up their performances as Margaret and Joshua, respectively. My love for Maria Bamford has been well-documented in these reviews, but it’s worth mentioning once again: Maria Bamford is a goddamn national treasure. I’ve seen her perform live on multiple occasions and she’s just such an incredibly smart, nuanced performer with total control over her craft and a chameleonic ability to completely morph into the figure she’s impersonating. She’s totally committed to her work, which is a very important quality when working on an absurd children’s cartoon.
A pregnant Margaret isn’t happy being kept cooped up when she could be out fighting monsters, so she forces her husband to take her on a case, arguing that this baby isn’t going to be cheap once it arrives and they’ll need all the money they can get. Their ticker-type informs them of some cases about goblins, vampire girls, and missing pies over in the bucolic countryside, and Joshua picks the pies because it poses the least risk for his wife, or at least that’s what he thinks. After hitting Tree Trunks’ home and solving the case of the missing pies (it was her soon-to-be-ex husband Wyatt), the couple follows a trail of monster tracks in the forest, tracks that inadvertently lead them to baby Jake.
When Joshua is bitten by a six-eyed, shapeshifting blue creature, Margaret is forced to face the dangerous beast on her own in order to save her husband, but the couple doesn’t realize that they are pawns in a mysterious cosmic game. Margaret needs the beast’s venom in order to create an antidote, a task she accomplishes when the creature turns into an adorable little baby, but it wants Margaret to think that it’s confused and helpless when it has far more sinister intentions. After Margaret leaves, the monster laughs evilly before transforming into a strange, alien shape and shooting a bunch of lasers that open up a portal into a blue lava lamp dimension, leaving the viewer wondering what the hell just happened.
And it only gets weirder. Margaret makes her way back home and finds Joshua with a huge lump on his head, and when she comes close to him, the lump pops open and spits out a baby Jake, who does a little Michigan J. Frog-inspired dance and then immediately falls asleep. Huh? What does it all mean? Well I certainly don’t have the answers, but I can theorize! Remember all those weirdly shaped creatures imprisoned in the Citadel in the season opener? They were the first things I thought of when the blue monster transformed and teleported away, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a connection between the blue alien and Finn’s dad.
The most important thing about this episode is that it brings up new questions about Jake that give him a bigger part in this series; now the mystery of Jake’s conception is a story that the writers can explore deeper, and I’m hoping that the answers have a considerable impact on Finn and Jake’s relationship. The show has spent so much time building up Jake’s lackadaisical, deadbeat attitude, but what if Jake was forced into a more active role in the cosmic war between good and evil? This show is constantly growing, it’s about time for Jake to grow along with it.
- The birthday tradition inside the tree house looks like a lot of fun. Next year, I want my friends to chant “Birth-day!” around me while I dance around in a circle and shove my face with cake. That would be great.
- This show continues to use pie as a metaphor for sex and it’s pretty great.
- I spy a Poké Ball in Joshua and Margaret’s armory. What other video game weapons can you spot?
- I love the way Margaret says “Josh-wah.”
- “Even with this ankle-biter, I’m as quick as ever. Sure, my waist is bigger, but that just means more bullets in my ammo belt.”
- “Well, there you have it. The only monster here was this man’s appetite for his wife’s pie!”
- “I’ll show that peepsie the pepper!”
- “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry…”