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

Adventure Time: “Walnuts & Rain”

Illustration for article titled Adventure Time: “Walnuts & Rain”

There’s a significant section of the Adventure Time fandom that wishes the series was more like its original form, focusing on the action comedy high jinks of Finn and Jake rather than spending time on members of the show’s supporting cast. Those fans will likely enjoy “Walnuts & Rain,” an episode that solely features Finn and Jake as they fall down separate holes and meet some new faces while on their way home from a different adventure. Finn ends up in the Kingdom Of Huge, where he’s tied up and forced to eat food and watch a cuckoo clock, and Jake ends up on a floating platform with a bear named Seven that is addicted to freecell.

“Walnuts & Rain” is a totally serviceable episode of Adventure Time, but it feels very much like a remnant from the first two seasons when the writers were just throwing ideas to the wall to see what sticks. Finn and Jake find themselves in hairy situations and need to find their way out, and they do. The end. There’s not much in the way of emotional or philosophical depth, but that’s not necessarily a big problem when dealing with a show targeted to a child audience. But the thing that has made Adventure Time so intriguing over the last three seasons is that it’s started to cater more to the adults in the audience by adding more substance to the stories while still delivering the colorful, energetic stories that keep kids enthralled.

Tonight’s episode is for the kids. It’s simple and easy to follow, and doesn’t contain any unsettling imagery (unless you’re unsettled by melon-men with steaks for heads). But that also prevents it from being especially memorable. Writer and storyboarder Tom Herpich has only handled one episode solo in the past, season 3’s “Thank You,” which was one of the first episodes to cast Finn and Jake in less significant roles. He moves in the opposite direction for “Walnuts And Rain,” and the lackluster results reinforce that this show’s expansion is the best thing that could have happened to it.

Even though the episode isn’t that great, it still features some strong voice work from guest stars Matt Jones (Breaking Bad’s Beaver) as Finn’s captor King Huge and Chris Isaak as 7718 (“Seven” for short, and “Bill” upside-down), the bear that has lost his grip on his sanity while floating in King Huge’s stove chimney pipe. Jones hides his character’s sadistic spirit under a joyful, chummy veneer, and Isaak’s gruff vocals reflect the character’s lengthy imprisonment in the pipe where his only sustenance is the walnuts and rain that fall down the hole above.

The highlight of this episode is Finn’s escape, which is actually presented in two parts: his imagined plan and his actual plan. The imagined plan is a very fun, way too complicated strategy that involves tossing a lot of things and hoping stuff lands where it’s supposed to, and there’s no way that it was actually going to work out the way Finn wanted to. When he puts his plan in action, it starts off going as he intended, but quickly falls apart. That’s when he starts to improvise, deciding to focus all his energy on destroying the cuckoo clock.

He’s successful, and his actions cause a chain reaction that allows Jake and Seven to float down the pipe and into the Kingdom Of Huge. With the bros reunited, they make their escape, and the episode ends with Finn and Jake finally making their way back home with Seven in tow. This adventure, like this episode, was just a detour on the Adventure Time road, and I expect the show to be back to its typically high quality with next week’s episode.


Stray observations:

  • There’s an “Algebraic!” in tonight’s episode! It’s been a long time since we’ve heard that exclamation.
  • I do wonder if this episode is intended to be an homage to classic Disney shorts, but that’s solely because Finn’s situation reminds me a bit of “The Brave Little Tailor” and the design for Seven’s horse looks a lot like a classic Disney horse. I don’t know if there’s enough material in the episode to really make strong connections in that regard, but that’s what pops into my head.
  • I love the squiggly Finn look when he’s pushing the clock off the wall. A quick, easy way of showing the amount of force he’s putting into his action.
  • “I’m not tryin’ to escape anymore. I’m gonna murder your stupid clock, you psycho!”