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

Adventure Time: “The Lich”

Illustration for article titled Adventure Time: “The Lich”

Adventure Time transformed into a different beast in season four, delving more deeply into the show’s mythology and character relationships to create a series that is as heartwarming and personal as it absurd and colorful. After last week’s heartbreaking episodes put the Ice King and Marceline dynamic in painful perspective, the season four finale moves from relationships to mythology, featuring the return of an old enemy and a cliffhanger that promises even more revelations in the episodes to come.

In case the title didn’t give it away, the Lich is back in “The Lich,” and Finn receives an ill omen of his enemy’s return courtesy of a trippy dream at the start of the episode. Finn is watching the Cosmic Owl on a teal eMac as a bear, Billy, and Billy’s Lady dance and kiss, not watching the Snail as he opens the Enchiridion and summons the Lich to possess Billy. Finn wakes up and tells Jake about his dream, and they decide that they should warn Billy that he’s in danger before the Lich gets to him. When they get to Billy’s home, the giant warns Finn that his dream is a grave omen of great significance. To stop the Lich, they need to snatch the gems from all the crowns of power, a very video game-like challenge that is backed by appropriately NES-styled music.

Finn and Jake hit up Ice King and the princesses to snatch their gems, which allows for appearances from rarely-seen characters like Embryo Princess and Engagement Ring Princess; the star in LSP’s head is actually a gem that is lodged deep inside, which probably explains some of her mental quirks. There are some fantastic stretching effects as Jake creates a bag for the gems with his skin, then moves his face around his flesh to make for increasingly bizarre visuals. When they have the gems, Billy reveals that a bear gave him the Enchiridion and that they’re supposed to put the gems inside of it. Finn flinches when he hears about the bear, and he should really trust his gut because it’s pretty obvious that the Lich is manipulating them.

After inserting the gems, a holographic map of the multiverse appears with a narrator to give a speed-through description of traveling through space and time. There’s a dimension called the time room that exists outside of time, and it sends out time waves that that can be accessed in different ways. This show only gets 10 minutes for an episode, so the little man gives a very rapid description of things that figure heavily into the cliffhanger. Granted, it’s all magic-plus-science nonsense so it’s not like the description matters, but it’s nice to see the writers try and throw the explanation in there for anyone that likes to know those kinds of details. With Princess Bubblegum’s gem, they can open a portal to this dimension and send the Lich in there, which sounds like a good idea to Finn and Jake because it means that it will get the Lich out of Ooo, but it also means that he’ll have access to the entire timestream.

Finn and Jake retrieving PB’s gem may be one of this show’s most perfectly paced scenes, beginning with PB’s hilariously gruesome experiment that she’s conducting. She has a community of little people that she’s cutting the legs off of and reattaching in new places, listening to smooth instrumental music while she indifferently snips with her scissors. The very first cut comes out of nowhere, and then the viewer gets sucked into her Dr. Frankenstein routine until Finn and Jake come crashing through the ceiling. PB refuses to give up her gem, and when Finn reaches for her crown, her scissors slash his cheek. She says it’s an accident, but Finn reacts like a child and runs off with the gem, not listening when PB warns him that he’s not working with Billy, but the Lich. When all the gems are in the Enchiridion, the book turns to stone, and that’s when the Lich reveals himself, encasing the world in blackness. As Finn is confronted by the horrifying half-Billy/half-Lich, he’s left with no choice but to destroy the Enchiridion, which is exactly what the monster wants. A wormhole opens, and despite Jake’s best efforts, the Lich heads inside to terrorize the time-space continuum. Finn and Jake follow him inside, disappearing from Ooo as the wormhole closes behind them.

And then things get weird. Or maybe the opposite of weird. The episode ends with Finn and Jake sitting in a rural, fairly realistic environment, Finn (with a nose!) playing a flute with his robot arm. A non-mutant, very adorable Jake the dog rests at his feet, and runs to the house with Finn when his mom calls him inside. Wait, Finn’s mom? It’s a doozy of a cliffhanger, the kind of ending that calls into question everything that we’ve seen before. Could the entire show be a fantasy in this more realistic Finn’s mind? We saw a glimpse of Finn’s more realistic face in “King Worm,” and he mentioned he wanted a robotic limb in “Who Would Win?”, so it’s not too far-fetched, but it’s doubtful this show would move in that direction for more than an episode. Hopefully, this means that next season will begin with Finn and Jake going through alternate dimensions, meeting various versions of themselves, because that’s always a lot of fun.


So, commenters, what do you think this episode’s cliffhanger means for Finn and Jake? What were your favorite moments of this season? We’ve got three weeks away from Ooo, so let’s celebrate the awesome season we just received.

Stray observations:

  • Up until a few weeks ago, I used an eMac very similar to the one at the start of this episode at my workplace. It was not as fun as Finn makes it out to be.
  • LSP’s gem doesn’t fit inside anything, which is a nice little bit of symbolism for LSP herself.
  • Why is it always so awesome when PB does science? Remember that amazing sandwich she made?
  • “What the junk. NO!”
  • The new season of Adventure Time debuts November 12, which is only three weeks away. Beyond the resolution to this week’s cliffhanger, I’m super excited for the return of Fionna, Cake, and Prince Gumball, who are joined by the Donald Glover-voiced Marshall Lee (the male Marceline).