Wizard | Aired: May 10, 2010 | Reviewed by Josephus Brown
One of my favorite aspects of Adventure Time is the vaguely warped morality it has. The start of this episode is a perfect example. Finn and Jake stroll across the hills talking about what they think a demon heart looks like. An obviously evil being shows up offering free magical powers with no strings attached.
Jake: “Just look at this guy.”
Jake: “The sunken lifeless eyes, the foul stench of decay. You know what that means?”
Finn: “He’s evil I guess?”
Jake: “Oh, yeah, evil, sure. But mostly he’s unattractive. And unattractive people are desperate. You should haggle with him.”
This is such a cheerful way of saying something that’s utterly fucking horrible. And the first time I saw this I laughed myself silly at it. It’s a nice example of how Jake tries to be a good big brother to Finn but he’s kind of a crappy person and sort of flails at it despite trying his best.
This feels like a foreshadowing of how we eventually find out that Jake (aka “J T Dawgzone”) was a Pick Up Artist earlier in his life before he realized the error of his ways. That and the random aside later when Finn is trying to get some princess hair to save Jake from the Tree Witch, “Just make sure she thinks it’s her idea. That’s how you get ladies to do what you want.”
The skeleton creep (Called “reaper” in the storyboards) offers Finn a keychain to sweeten the deal (Which it seems like he snapped off his own body) and they gleefully take the bait.
Them cheerfully walking into an obvious trap reminds me of the Fight King episode, where he invites them in, they go, “This is a trap,” and then go in anyway because otherwise there’s no adventure.
They’re deposited outside a weird building on top of a mountain surrounded by a wasteland, greeted by a toad in a wizard robe, who tells them they’re looking for Bufo (Latin for toad), who is here, but not him.
Jake: “Let’s beat him up until he starts making sense.”
Bufo turns out to be a cluster of tadpoles who live inside the toad wizard. The fact that the tadpoles appear to have control over the body’s hands when they’re talking has some vaguely upsetting implications.
We see Bufo again later, but not the tadpoles until Wizard City when we get to see them all die along with Bufo. He’s even addressed as Bufo when it’s just the toad. So it’s not really clear which part is Bufo and which is controlling the other.
They all speak together like they have a hive mind. Except Leonard, apparently.
The guys sign up for free wizard powers and they get wizard cloaks to wear. One subtle recurring joke is how often the show gently makes fun of Finn’s teen boy masculine hangups. Like how the wizard robe he gets is “a dress”, so to not look ridiculous he… Stuffs the hems in his pants and looks ridiculous.
They have to eat a broom to get their first power, “dustomancy, mastery of all dust motes. You can also read their thoughts. For example, this dust mote is very unhappy in his marriage.” And Jake growing just big enough to put the broom inside without it sticking out is some great animation. It’s also another good example of how sometimes Jake’s advice can be terrible. Finn, however, just does it the hard way. (In an interview, someone asked why Finn’s teeth are so messed up and Pen’s answer was “Because he eats a lot of stupid things he shouldn’t”, presumably like this broom or the tiny computer that lets him sing in autotune.)
A montage of random weird tasks they have to accomplish follow, and their resultant powers. As well as some hilariously suggestive shots of them being able to conjure… Mayonnaise.
Jake taps out once he’s satisfied with his abilities. I’d probably be perfectly happy learning a sleep spell and calling it a day, too. Finn, however, insists on getting the final power which comes at the price of taking the Vow Of Ultimate Responsibility. Bufo even tries to talk him out of it, which Finn shouts down.
“Wow, I’ve never seen someone so irresponsibly responsible.”
Anyway, the bait is switched and Finn finds himself getting hoisted to the ceiling and forced to use his newfound magic to keep a meteor from crashing into the building. Forever. One of the old dudes currently there gets retired, teleported down with “Razzamafoo”, which hilariously shows up as a teleportation spell more than once in the series, and carried out.
Finn comes up with a “younger” idea to try and save the building- using his wizard powers to yank the whole thing up and out of the way.
“Your newfangled thinking will get us all killed!”
“Youth culture forever!”
Finn puts Bufo to sleep with a sleep spell then does a spectacularly goofy anime transformation sequence where he calls out a bunch of new powers before adding, “And every other power I didn’t specify by name!!”
Finn can’t move the school on his own and tries to wake Jake up to help him with an Awaken spell, which Jake reflects in his sleep, leading to the thing I might have laughed the hardest at in this episode when the spell hits a rock:
“Hey, I’m alive! What’s that up there? … OH NO!!”
Before Finn’s youthful idealism can kill everyone the two old wizards who had also been fleeing for their lives show up and the three of them are able to move the school, but the explosion as the meteor hits still blows all their clothes off, and they have logs superimposed over their, er, logs.
Bufo shows up and tries to take credit, that this was his plan all along, and Finn’s reply is a great example of how well this show can make odd dialogue sound natural:
“No way, your plan was to dupe a succession of rubes into keeping the asteroid at bay.”
As they leave, the creep from the beginning shows up and offers them a free demon heart, because why the hell not.
Jake: “Full circle!”
This one’s kind of a weird duck. Eventually this show starts being huge on continuity, and almost never lets stuff go by the wayside. Things from previous episodes stay visible in the background or get referenced.
For example, the cyclops’ tears that heal wounds get referenced at least once, almost every shot of the Candy Kingdom after the Goliad episode has the two candy sphinxes on the side tower, and they keep track of how long it’s been since Finn last cut his hair.
But this one, aside from Bufo staying a regular wizard character, is really the sort of thing you saw on other, crappier shows, where a character would get some new ability that was immediately forgotten after the episode ended then never brought up again even when I might be useful. A good example is the episode of the old Reeves Superman where a mobster is waiting out the statute of limitations on his crime so Superman meets some yogi mystic or some nonsense who teaches him to phase his molecules so he can pass through solid material. Which is never brought up again.
This one almost gets away with it because in the end it turns out it’s all a scam. Ward has said in an interview that the robes were what gave them the magic so when they get destroyed their powers go with them, which tracks with the idea that they’re not wizards but merely another in the succession of rubes. Even the idea that the tadpoles’ hive mind simultaneous talking is just an act because apparently they have to practice it and Leonard’s timing is shit.
Of course a lot of this could just be the old rule of funny and all these jokes are just random nonsense that abut one another to make the illusion of coherence, but I like to think they put at least a little effort into it. (I can’t *confirm* any of these ideas because the simple title of this episode has made my attempts at googling background information useless, though I was able to find out that instead of logs blocking the naked characters, there were beavers, which Cartoon Network insisted they change.)
All in all though it’s a pretty light, breezy episode that goofs on the longstanding cartoon tradition of giving your characters new powers and then forgetting them immediately.
- If it only takes three wizards to keep the asteroid stopped, and these three dudes are ancient, that means that despite how many people were in the school and how easily Finn and Jake made it through, nobody has been stupid enough to fall for this trick in decades.
- This feels like an early episode where a lot of the jokes all trend vaguely adult. I think I might have gasped in surprise the first time I saw that mayonnaise gag.
- I love Jake’s response to Finn being excited about controlling dust motes and I say it a lot: “Yeah! Force that enthusiasm!”
- Snail Watch: This one’s easy, he’s right at the end of the montage when Finn and Jake are shooting off fireworks.
Evicted | Aired: May 17, 2010 | Reviewed by Grumproro
You know how the opening song begins? Of course you do. But think about the first three seconds for a moment. The whoosh sound and then, I don’t know, a bird and a rat? And then you get to the penguin and the kiss. I really don’t know how to explain it, but those three seconds produce such a strong visceral response in me. I just immediately melt into a slightly better state than I was in before. Like someone I love has just wrapped me in a warm blanket and a hug. All of that before the music even begins! I’m a…let’s say, emotional person, and so when I think/talk/write about something I tend to express my ideas in relation to my feelings. And oh boy does Adventure Time make me feel, starting with those first three “musical” seconds. I can’t be sure because I wasn’t really thinking of “firsts” when I was watching the series originally, but I’m pretty sure “Evicted!” was the first time I really felt my heart flutter while watching Adventure Time.
Let’s go back. “Evicted!” is the 12th episode of season 1, and the “House Hunting Song” was the first song produced for the show (other than the opening song). [Footnote note: Footnotes are not spoilers. Just Footnotes!]1 And that’s the main reason I wanted to review this episode. It’s also the introduction of Marceline, who I love dearly, but more than that I wanted to talk about the music.
Here’s what happens in “Evicted!”: Finn and Jake are evicted by the owner of the treehouse, Marceline the Vampire Queen. Even though she says she only eats red, she’s still pretty scary, and so they go on their way and we get a delightful montage song as Finn and Jake try (and fail) to find a new place to call home. As a general rule, if you want me to like something, adding a song is going to help. I love musicals, and so I love songs that tell a story and are a part of the story, and there’s a lot of that in Adventure Time. I listen to the soundtracks all the time, and some of the best stuff is yet to come, but even after all these years “House Hunting Song” is still one of my personal favorites. It’s just so simple and to the point. Pendelton Ward sings what is literally happening, what the characters are literally feeling, and with an assist from Olivia Olson, we even get an early glimmer of all the layers and complexities that make Marceline so fascinating:
Why are you so mean?
Marceline: I’m not mean, I’m a thousand years old
And I just lost track of my moral code
Heh, what’s not to love? But the part I really love best comes at the end:
So there go our boys
Walkin’ on the icy ground
Headin’ towards their destiny
I’m sure they’ll figure something out
And there goes my heart, fluttering. I was already so attached to “our boys” by this episode, and I really felt for their plight. Why was Marceline doing this to them? They need their cool treehouse! It’s their home! But, just as I’m starting to despair, another song comes along to ease my heart. After all, having a treehouse is not the same as having a home:
Home isn’t a place; let me give you a clue
Home is anywhere that people care about you
But home is where your heart is, Finn
And where is your heart, Finn? Well, it’s right there inside you.
While I’m sitting right here beside you
With your lucky stars to guide you from above.
*sniffles* No, I’m not crying, you’re crying! Of course they do need a literal home to shelter them, we all do, but the sentiment behind Jake’s words just hits me straight in the heart. Ah, it’s just so sweet! The idea that a home is what’s in your heart, and who is sitting right there beside you. I just…how perfect is that? This is what makes Adventure Time extra special to me. The world, the songs, the characters, the simple yet profound messages, the silliest moments, the colors, all of it comes together to make a big, warm blanket hug.2 And what better way to convey all of that at once than in a song? Perhaps this is what Rebecca Sugar meant when she said, “Adventure Time is a vessel for poetry”.3
After finally finding a place to live, our boys run into Marceline once again and decide they must fight if they’re ever going to have a place to sleep. We get another moment when Jake’s life is in serious peril, causing Finn to rage against the vampire. This unbridled emotion (and the power of Finn’s punch) makes Marceline pause and she deems them worthy of staying in the treehouse. Hooray! At the end of the episode everything is returned to norma–wait, what the heck, a giant worm?! SCARY!
Love everything about it. Perfection. This episode truly does have it all.