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Today is my birthday, and to celebrate the fact that I'm now officially fifteen years younger than garlic balls, I wrote this blog about my favorite six episodes. It was going to be five, originally, but two of them tied.
These aren't necessarily the best, they're just my six favorite as of this moment in time. I'm not really going to try to review them as much as try to share how they appear to an ancient old lady like me. These aren't really in any particular order. They're just there.
Warning: This is hideously long. Hopefully, though, it will be interesting and/or amusing.
Memories of Boom Boom Mountain: For a long time, this was my favorite episode. Why do I like it? Because it reveals that Finn has the most epic origin story ever. Imagine how much more awesome Batman would be if he had a similar backstory. "I am the night! I am the Bat! I… cry when I defecate because I made stool on a leaf as a baby and got stuck in it." And yes, Batman would totally say "defecate" and "made stool" because he is Batman.
Or what about Wolverine? "I was shoved full of adamantium and had my head crammed with false memories, but what really made me who I am was when I crapped myself and got stuck in it, bub. I am the best there is at what I do, and what I do is doo-doo." Snickt
Anyway, back to the episode. I really liked this one. It has the funny origin story, plus adorable little baby Finn. It also has a good message about how you shouldn't judge others, and that if people work together, it's possible to find the solution to most problems. While most conflicts can't be Rube Goldberged into harmony, it's nice to see it done.
What Have You Done: This was the episode where I started to like Ice King. He wasn't my favorite character yet (that didn't happen until "Princess Monster Wife"). I have a soft spot for crazy people, and it's really clear in this episode that Ice King is completely off his rocker. He has a lot of lucid moments in the series, but this episode was sooo clearly not one of those. Even so, he was trying to do something nice and it messed up. He did nothing to help, not out of selfishness or maliciousness, but because he's barely cognizant of reality in this episode and thinks Princess Bubblegum is hitting on him, not asking for help.
Finn is revealed to have a very black and white view of things in this episode. Since Ice King didn't technically do anything wrong, he doesn't feel justified in punishing him, and, in fact, feels that he and Jake should be punished. By the time of "Frost & Fire," Finn has lost this simplistic view, which is both good and bad. It's good because the world isn't a black and white place. It's bad, though, because it shows a loss of his former childlike innocence and because he hasn't figure out how to balance shades of gray yet. That's why he's fallen into the path of manipulation. It isn't technically evil, just very, very gray.
Ice King is revealed to be a crazy, lonely old man who hasn't had a friend in way too long. The isolation has probably contributed to his crazy just as much as the crown. This is also the first episode that I recall that could be seen as a hint that the crown represses some of Ice King's feelings and memories. It's supposed to protect him from things. This could include things that would harm him emotionally. Two other instances that seem to show this can be seen in a couple of the other episodes I list here (and yet another instance can be seen in "Holly Jolly Secrets"). Anyway, this possible repression of feelings is plausibly why Ice King just throws aside Finn's "lifeless" body.
This episode also shows a slightly darker side to Princess Bubblegum. She has a special pair of gloves just for beating people up. These are probably one of the things she uses when torturing enemies of the Candy Kingdom (In the commentary for "Ricardio the Heart Guy", Pen points out a chained up skeleton and says it's there because of Princess Bubblegum's seedy torture hobby).
"What Have You Done?" is a good example of a mix of dark and funny (The "Poots and Bladders" game makes my inner ten-year-old giggle like an idiot) and is especially fascinating when looked at after watching more recent episodes.
Princess Monster Wife: This is the episode that made Ice King my favorite character ("Holly Jolly Secrets" might have done it, but I actually saw "Princess Monster Wife" first, even though it came later), and it's all because of the mashed potatoes. Yes, I said mashed potatoes. It takes a special kind of person to slather mashed potatoes all over themselves to keep someone else from feeling bad. (Soon, that phrase will lose all meaning. Mashed potatoes. Maaaaashed poooootaaaaatoes.)
Most of the things that Ice King does in this episode (with the very obvious exception of the whole creepy stealing body parts thing. That was just messed up and all kinds of crazy.) are incredibly sweet. When he describes himself as being kind-hearted, I actually agree with him. You don't slather pulverized tubers all over yourself, compose and sing a romantic song, make an ice statue, and construct really horrible clothing if you don't feel something genuine.
At the end of the episode, he very obviously is feeling some deep emotions, and this is another place where the crown may be exerting its influence to repress his emotions. He suddenly goes from nearly crying with grief to being whiny and petulant about her giving away "his" stuff. Yeah, he's crazy, but I know my crazy and that's a very abrupt shift, even for someone who's completely bonkers.
Finn and Jake were absolutely right to try to get the princess parts back, but I can't help but be against them in this episode. It's another case of Finn seeing things in black and white when he was younger. Princess Monster Wife is horrifying to look at and was made with stolen parts. Because of that, Finn and Jake see her as being just as much a bad guy as Ice King, even though she is a new, innocent soul. (I've always assumed that, since she doesn't really have the same personality as any of the princesses, she was giving life in the same way that Ice King gives life to his snow creations.)
This episode has some really interesting subtext to it. If you look at it from a certain angle, it's the story of a woman being bullied until she commits suicide. It's also a story of seeing beyond the outside into the beauty of someone's soul, and how sometimes doing the right thing in the wrong way can make you a big jerk who is technically in the right.
What Was Missing: Okay, I’m going to try to make the rest of these shorter. >.< It’s already over two pages long in Microsoft Word. Anyway, I really like this one. I’ve always loved music, to the point where I will come up with and sing random little songs in my daily life. This was a surprise to my darling lady when she came to live with me, but a pleasant one, since she loves music as well. So this is obviously an episode we both really like.
This episode has beautiful music and really shows some insight into both Marceline and Finn. Marceline likes to put on a tough exterior and to seem all dark and morbid, but in reality, she wants to have friends and to be accepted, but for who she is, not because she conforms to what others want. She also doesn’t want others to realize that she’s lonely and wants to just hang out. This might be because of her issues with her two father figures. One never had time for her and ate her fries while the other looked out for her the best he could until he completely lost his mind and forgot who she was. She has abandonment issues that make her crave friendship and approval while making her afraid to reach out to others. This is revealed both in her song to Princess Bubblegum (not touching the subtext here, it’s been done to death), and in her reaction to the others finding out that nothing of hers was taken.
Finn’s song reveals that he has started the process of growing up. He’s still very much a child, but he’s old enough to worry about seeming like a child to his friends and family. He wants to know how others see him. Is he just a joke to Marceline, a knight to Princess Bubblegum, and a brother to Jake? Do they all look down on him for being younger? These worries plague him as he watches their interactions. He just wants to have fun, which he recognizes as different and less complex than what’s going on with his friends. It makes him wonder if they really are friends. He’s also starting to realize that Princess Bubblegum and Marceline have lives outside of their interactions with him. He’s always known this, of course, but it seems to hit home in this episode. They have a whole history he knows nothing about and isn’t involved in. This is more proof of him starting to grow up. He’s wondering about the world outside of himself, and if he’s as important to his friends as they are to him.
I Remember You: By now, the two people reading this (if there are that many), may have figured out that I’m kind of an Ice King fangirl, so you’re probably expecting this bit to focus on him, but you’re wrong. Other than to mention that is another episode with hints that the crown is suppressing memories and emotions in him.
This episode really hit me right in the feels, because I’ve been where Marceline is. Before I moved to a different state, I would visit my great grandmother a lot. She taught me a lot, and I have a lot of fond memories of our time together when I was kid. I ended up packing up and moving back to Missouri to take care of her for the last two years of her life. Most of my family still lived there, including an aunt and cousin who were also related to her and only lived a block away, but no one there wanted the burden of taking care of an old woman with dementia. Despite all the time we had spent together when I was a child, Grandma Boswell (that’s what I called her, rather than Great Grandma) didn’t know who I was. She knew I was someone important in her life, but she couldn’t remember why I was important. Sometimes she called me the name of my great aunt or my mom, but mostly I was just “that woman.”
So, yeah, I sympathize with Marceline in this episode. I understand her feelings. I understand both her tears and her obvious frustration and even anger. It’s hard to be understanding when someone you care about doesn’t even remember you. The line “and I need to save you, but who’s going to save me?” is really poignant, because you can see her anguish as she reads it. She feels like she somehow failed him, even there was nothing she could have done. I felt that same way when I took care of Grandma Boswell. I felt there should have been something I could have done to make things better, even though I did the best I could.
To back off a bit from the emotional stuff, my lady and I have all of the songs from this episode on our MP3 player. She sings Marceline’s lines, and I sing all of Ice King’s. I always feel weirdly… what’s the girl version of emasculated? Efemulated? … by the fact that Tom Kenny can hit the high notes in Oh Bubblegum better than I can. Darn you, Tom Kenny, why can you sing the high notes and really low notes better than me? (shakes fist).
Simon & Marcy: This episode makes me both happy and sad. Happy because in the framing story you have Marceline completely unashamed about hanging out with Ice King and inviting him to play basketball with her and some of her other friends. The sad is pretty obvious.
Originally, Simon was going to be searching for medicine because Marceline was really, really sick, and I wish they had kept it that way. For one thing, the whole Clambulance thing makes way more since (who expects to find chicken soup in a food truck? And why would he assume it was a food truck when it seemed to say ambulance on it?), and for another, it makes the episode more gripping. What’s better storytelling? The idea that she’s really, really sick, and Simon gives up some of the last of his sanity to save her life, or she had something she probably would have gotten over on her own, and he gave up some of his sanity just because he was already batty and thought chicken soup was made of magic or something?
Anyway, this episode really showed what kind of person Ice King used to be, and kind of still is, if you think about it. Think about his behavior in "Princess Monster Wife" (except for the princess parts stealing, of course). I could easily see Simon doing a lot of that stuff. What if Marcy had hurt her jaw or something and couldn’t eat without dribbling it on herself? I could definitely see him doing the same so she wouldn’t feel bad. So for all those people desperate to “turn Ice King back into Simon,” he already IS Simon, just crazy and suffering from dementia and/or crown repressed memories. So even if he got his memories back, he'd still be crazy, just with more memories that might temper a little bit of the craziness.
I could go on a lot more, touching on the heartbreaking rendering of the Cheers theme, but this is really long already. So, I’ll wrap this up.
This is my interpretation of these episodes and what they mean to me. I’m sure everyone has their own ideas that are completely different from mine (and I’d love to hear them), but these are mine. Most of the people on here seem to be teenagers, so this has all been how these particular episodes seem from the perspective of an ancient old lady who is only fifteen years younger than garlic balls.