Well, my lovelies, the fourth season of Adventure Time rolled to a terrible cliffhangery close last week. But before we talk about that, let’s look at the rest of the season. There are always a few episodes in Adventure Time that edge past surrealist into annoying and just don’t do it for me, and this season was no exception—I particularly could have done without “Web Weirdos”, or a second Lemongrab episode… but actually, looking back over the episode list, AT had a lot of solid episodes this time around.
I really like the two major plot elements of this season, that is, the continuing introduction of and romance with Flame Princess and the ongoing peeks into the past of Ooo.
The Flame Princess storyline was was much needed. There was only so long that Finn could unrequitedly crush on Bubblegum without it getting irritating, and it would have been terribly out of character (and not to mention creepy—he’s like six years younger than her) for her to suddenly return his feelings. And since apparently a romance plot is necessary to forward the story, we got Flame Princess at the end of S3. And so far I like her. I like that it’s unclear whether she’s evil or not; I like that there’s a learning element to her and Finn’s relationship, and that they have to work to make it succeed. I felt sort of meh about “Burning Low”, because I think they should have made it clearer that PB was not actually jealous, just concerned. Or at least that she was jealous of having less attention, but not of Finn and Flame Princess’s relationship.
The other side of this is the past of Ooo. Dedicated viewers know that some weird shit, like, you know, a nuclear apocalypse, happened a thousand years or so previous. But only a few episodes have dealt with this so far, with the “Holly Jolly Secrets” two-parter doing so in most depth. This season we got the most heart-crushing episode of any kids’ show ever (except, I guess, the Mother’s Day Rugrats special, because holy shit), “I Remember You”. It came right before the finale and focused on the relationship between Ice King and Marceline a thousand years ago, back when Marceline was a toddler and Ice King was still mostly Simon, trying to help himself and Marceline make it in the wreckage of post-Mushroom War society, and it punched me right in the feels.
I think one of the most successful things about this show by far is that they set up Ice King over the first two seasons as this two-dimensional creepy pervy asshole who just steals princesses and objectifies ladies and annoys Finn and Jake, and then they went and tore down that caricature with the backstory of Simon, the poor antique hunter, corrupted by the magic in the ice crown and just searching for his ‘princess’, his fiancee Betty. This episode really drove home the tragedy behind Ice King. And this song literally tears me apart.
Go ahead. Cry. I’ll wait.
Okay, are we back? What other episodes did I like? Well, my favorite three characters are easily Marceline, LSP, and Bubblegum, so it’s fair to say any episode where they are heavily featured is cool. “Gotcha”, which was all from LSP’s perspective, was amazing; “Lady and Peebles” was great because it was about Lady Rainicorn and PB saving the guys for a change, and had a reprise of George Takei’s skeevy Ricardio, the Heart Guy character. (I love George Takei, although I hate Ricardio.) I also liked “Princess Cookie”, because boy cookies can be princesses too, and “The Hard Easy”, because it’s totally legit for Finn to kiss a boy frog and turn him back into a prince. There’s also a special place in my heart for “Card Wars”, because, although I’m not much of a tabletop gamer, one of the few times I have cried tears of actual rage was during a game of Settlers of Catan, and that episode spoke to my feels.
I thought that the Lich was sort of sprung on us in the last episode with no warning. On looking it up, I realized that the last time the Lich was a problem was way back in S2, so where did he come from all of a sudden? And to be honest, I’m not terribly concerned about Finn and Jake getting back to Ooo, as I’m sure that’ll happen in its own time, despite the terribleness of the finale’s ending. In fact, after the little Enchiridion-man went to all that trouble to explain what all the parallel worlds are like and how they work and connect to each other, I’m sure we’ll get to see a bunch of them en route back to Ooo. And I’m sure that I’m far from the first person to think of this, but that does mean we could get a Fionna and Cake/Finn and Jake crossover episode, if the genderswapped versions actually exist somewhere outside of Ice King’s fanfic. That would be baller.
Season 5 will start airing in just two weeks-ish, so that might be contributing to how laid-back I am about the cliffhanger. (No summer-long, three-ish months of post-finale purgatory—yes, I’m looking at you, Supernatural—for AT fans.) What did you think of this season, folks, and are you looking forward to the next?