On last Monday's Adventure Time, Finn and Slime Princess compete couple to couple with SP's sister Blargetha and her new paramour Guillermo, in a series of Love Games to determine the ruler of the Slime Kingdom. Which is really rather unfortunate for a Finn currently on the rebound.
This episode was a departure from the more mind-bending episodes of late (man, past lives in "The Vault," letting go in "Time Sandwich," and political upheaval in "Too Old"), in that it's more just a silly scrape for Finn to get out of. BUT, check Blargetha's plot to conquer Ooo on the strength of military might and modern weaponry ... pretty chilling sequence, and with great animation to boot.
"Love Games" starts off with Finn and Jake discussing Finn's recent lady-woes in a talk-show format - not a bad way for brahs to lay out the feels in a non-confrontational way. In the midst of Finn's decision to quit dating and get back to monster-slaying, Slime Princess arrives and demands that Finn marry her. The situation: her sister recently married a mysterious stranger named Guillermo (read: a bump of slime with a feathered hat and mustachio), and hence rulership of the kingdom would pass onto them. The problem is that beneath the Slime Kingdom, Blargetha holds an arsenal of modern-day weaponry ready for a conquest of Ooo's kingdoms, making it imperative that Slime Princess find a beau herself, making it imperative that Finn push his left-over Flame-Princess feels off to the side for the greater good. The whole military cutscene is rendered in olive-hues and black, making the war-imagery (propagandic posters of 'Do it for Mom!,' tanks spilling over the hills, planes blanketing the sky) especially affecting.
This brings up a pretty strange facet about Adventure Time - the idea of the real world encroaching upon Ooo is downright terrifying to me as a viewer. Every time I see a defunct bomb in the background, or corporation CEOs frozen in the icebergs ... hell, even the sight of Bubblegum holding a gun-shaped object, be it full of horse tranqs or a Ball Blam Burgleber, feels so wrong, so violating. At this point in the show, I think there's clearly the expectation that Ooo be better than the real world - its rulers more just, its solutions more sustainable, and its villains more clear-cut. It's just strange, and somewhat unsettling, how Ooo's become this precious ideal, and it's amazing that the writers have constructed that. The stakes are impossibly high; they're nothing less than the destruction of innocence. Ooo almost feels too escapist, but what's the difference between escapism and hope? But I digress heavily.
Finn reluctantly agrees to help, and Jake enthusiastically agrees to spend the episode shrunken down (so he can make one piece of popcorn last a whole day) and make semi-obvious puns and remarks. The Slime Kingdom is located in the middle of a desert, right beneath a lake of sludge and refuse ("Oasis? More like, 'No way sis!'" ... that time Jake passed out at his own joke comes to mind). Despite appearances and appellations, the Slime Kingdom is aaaactually quite happenin': it's home to the only triple-cray rated disco in Ooo, and all the loyal slimejects seem pretty chipper and down to party. Also, Slime Princess has the sexiest voice acting of any of the princesses, but I digress ever further.
At the announcement ceremony, Blargetha and the mee-steer-ee-ous Guillermo cause a ruckus and challenge Finn and Slime Princess to the Trials of Glarb, which is a series of reality-TV-esque competitions of affection, moderated by the miter-toting Elder Plops. The first trial is crooning to your lover in a Swan paddle-boat, which isn't even much of a competition for the boy who swallowed a tiny computer and can auto-tune at will. Finn's song is full of longing for Flame Princess, and easily gets the crowd going. Guillermo on the other hand, mee-steer-ee-ously has a sore throat, and Blargetha's ballad is somewhat lacking: "I wanna touch your hand/ with my hand/ I wanna rub your cheek/ with my cheek./ Maybe later we can get/ do not disturb." Finn and Slime Princess take game one, then fail spectacularly in the spooning trial when Finn refuses to cuddle, and instead, spends the time limit rolling in circles to evade her.
Game three, smooching, seems like its going down the same way when Finn vomits a bright pink wad while trying to practice. He opts instead to "punch Guillermo in his stupid face until he agrees to leave the kingdom," a wise a tactical shift on his part. But on their arrival at Blargetha's place, they find that mee-steeeer-ee-ous Guillermo has fled to the lower caves, and at the end of their pursuit, a battalion of slime-tanks sits waiting for them. Finn karate-chops one open with ease (its made of slime, after all) and manages to punch Guillermo in his stupid face, but finds he isn't a mysterious stranger at all, but a wad of slime with olives stuck in it; Blargetha had invented him because men were just too intimidated by that slime bod to approach her (I'm loving this gag). Consequently, Blargetha's out of the running for rulership, and Finn needn't confront his fear of kissing just yet.
The episode is a good mix of character-developing romance and just good old fashioned nonsense, which is an issue with current fans at the moment. I for one don't mind it at all - it's not as though Adventure Time suddenly gets serious and lovey dovey, and stops the gags, even when it is trying to be serious. And besides, the focus of the show was never pure silliness, but childhood and childhood things. Which of course, includes silliness.