Adventure Time has always been this black comedy wrapped up in a colorful sugar coating. With hidden themes and controversial characters, the show has been a success for children and adults alike. Prior to the show’s premiere, I remember running around Katsucon in Washington, DC with my friends shouting “WHAT TIME IS IT?” and talking about how excited we were about the show. Nearly three years later and Adventure Time is entering its fifth season.
One of the charms about AT is the lack of a background story, but the amazing world that is still built. It has only been hinted at through small dialogue or minor images. Season 5 premieres with a “half-hour special” which several episodes prior have been leading up to.
*Note: Spoilers for Season 4 and Season 5!!!
“I Remember You” – In this episode, we learn quite a bit about the past of two characters who prove to have an unlikely relationship. The Ice King goes to Marceline for help with writing a song that will help him pick up princesses. Apparently, Ice King does not remember Marceline from their past when he was a man named Simon. In a war torn city, a crying Marceline is consoled by Simon – the crown hanging from his side. The crown’s magical power has driven Simon crazy and turned him into the Ice King, who also has memory loss.
“The Lich” – The beginning of the character-centered title episodes, The Lich is essentially the evil villain in the land of Ooo. This episode starts out with what appears to be a dream Finn is having. Turns out the Lich has possessed the ex-Hero Billy to trick Finn into helping him collect gems from various crowns to put into the Enchiridion, a magical book. Finn does so which results in the Lich creating a portal to other universes. The episode closes with a “normal” Finn and Jake. Finn has a mechanical arm and is then called in by his mother.
“Finn the Human” – This episode picks up when Finn and Jake go after The Lich through a portal. They see The Lich disappear as he made a wish granted by Prissmo, who is in a giant yellow cube. The Lich wished for the “extinction of all life.” Our duo is safe in Prissmo’s time room where Finn then wishes that “the Lich never even ever existed.” This causes Finn to go to the alternate universe where he is “normal.” Finn meets a thousand year old Marceline (who is short and ancient looking). Marceline then gives a really long backstory about what happened. In short, the Ice King gave his life to save the world from the Lich and bombs that had mutantgenic properties. His crown, however, covered the world in ice for 400 years. Finn does not believe in magic and takes the crown, which he tries to sale. When a gang sets the town on fire, Finn puts on the crown. He is driven crazy by the power of the crown and detonates the bomb.
“Jake the Dog” – This episode turns back into the humor of Adventure Time after the more serious “Finn the Human.” Jake is hanging out in the Time Room with Prissmo and, eventually, the Cosmic Owl while Finn’s perils play out on a muted giant screen television. Jake soon realizes that Finn is in terrible danger and he makes a wish that “the Lich’s wish was to send Finn and Jake back to Ooo.”
What Did We Learn From These Episodes?
Finally, the land of Ooo gets a near definite history. Listening to Marceline’s story in Finn’s alternate world reveals what happened in the actual reality. The Mushroom War has always been alluded to throughout Adventure Time. It has always been speculated that Ooo is post-Apocalyptic because of this war. The name “Mushroom War” had to be referencing the shape if the clouds that are left after atomic bombs. The Lich obviously had such bombs which were used to turn everyone into mutants (i.e. the inhabitants of Ooo). In the Ice King’s personal Time Line, he was driven crazy by the power of his crown. He was not necessarily mutated. Marceline, who has also been around since before the Mushroom War, has been mutated into a vampire.
These are all just my speculation, of course, but the evidence is in the episodes. Adventure Time has never been known to be particularly episodic. It also picks up and drops plot lines whenever it pleases (like the fact Lady Rainicorn is supposed to be pregnant by Jake. When will we hear about that again? IF EVER?) I believe that with the rest of the season none of this will even be referenced. Even though that can be so so frustrating when some fans (such as me) want more explanation and closed story lines, it is also refreshing to know that this show makes its own rules.
*I am working on compiling all the title cards from Adventure Time because I love them so much*