Entering the #Finale, Adventure Time has an astonishing number of hanging threads. Here they are, each in the form of a question, in what I presume is their ascending order of importance:
•Who is Susan Strong, and what is the significance of the metal plate on her head?
•What has the Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant been up to with Maja the sky witch?
•What’s next in Betty Grof’s quest to return the Ice King to her beloved Simon Petrikov?
•What happens in the wake of the demise of Grob Gob Glob Grod?
•How will things play out as Princess Bubblegum uses a progressively lighter touch in ruling the Candy Kingdom, especially with Cinnamon Bun and Starchie fleeing and in the wake of her Cosmic Owl dream?
•Does Gunter have more at play considering his dream terrorism?
•Will The Lich awaken from within Sweet P?
•What in the devil is Martin Mertens up to?
•What of the comet?
Adventure Time has evolved so greatly. The only nagging question at this point in season two was the origin of Susan Strong, and that was pretty light. I’ve heard some say that the continuity has become maddening, and they’ve reduced lighter affairs like “Chips & Ice Cream” and “Water Park Prank” to being more bothersome than the more childish fare the early seasons gave us in droves.
Me, I appreciate that we can live happily and relatively conflict-free in this universe so we might feel more attached to it.
But ever since Grob Gob Glob Grod sacrificed himself by ramming into a comet driven by Martin Mertens, I’ve been thirsty for payoff. The lightness must end, because that payoff begins now.
Magic Man is one of my very favorite Adventure Time characters. He’s an agent of chaos and misery in just about anyone or anything he comes across. His speaking in riddles has greatly enriched his charm beyond its already astronomical levels, and the discovery that his brother is a world-renowned god and the ruler of Mars was a fantastic twist.
We tackle two of the above questions in “You Forgot Your Floaties,” as Betty Grof retrieves the falling helmet of the G-man and brings it to Magic Man, who has taken her as his apprentice.
What I truly love about this episode, though, is that, as Adventure Time is always so generous to do, it revisits one of the show’s little mysteries: who is Margles, the woman in Magic Man’s framed picture?
“Magic Man, it bums me out to see this. I remember when you were really cool, before that night you spent on Olympus Mons with Margles,” recalls Abraham Lincoln in “Sons of Mars,” and here we revisit that very night.
Magic Man has lost his wife to GOLB, a deity of unknown origin we’ve only seen once before, when Finn snapped out of his pillow lifetime in “Puhoy,” and he creates another Margles as a defense system. His brother, a then-hairtastic Glob, suspects that Magic Man’s emotions have worked their way into his new project.
“I guess I wanted to know more about you, because I created you in a deep trance state.”
“All I am is in you, so know yourself, Magic Man.”
Earlier, Betty wonders if her and Magic Man’s transmutation into Glob might reveal more about Magic Man, who acts with all madness and no sadness, contrary to how every wizard is.
“Your brother blowing up in space? Doesn’t that mess you up?”
“Nothing messes me up.”
“I don’t believe that. Like, who is Margles, and why is there a picture of her on your shelf? Something there connects to who you are and your magic.”
“Someone shines a light into my dark wizard matter. A way to unclose the circuit of magic, madness, and sadness.”
“So you’re not afraid of what I might see in you?”
“No, dumb dumb! You imagine the lock before the key. You think [the mind] is the key, but it’s a wastebasket.”
Later, we see that Magic Man’s wish in Prismo’s time room to resurrect Margles produces just that: a cute, trashketball-ready wastebasket.
All that the new Margles was came from his wastebasket.
Magic Man’s tragic search for his love mirrors that of his apprentice, Betty, who is on a Princess Bubblegum-esque mission to research how magic works in the hopes that she can bring back Simon.
“The coconut crab that swims in your neighbor’s pool at night: maybe Simon’s in there, too. Who else holds their breath in there, Betty?”
“All magic users swim in the loomy gloom.”
“I see a crab emerging from a dark pool.”
“Oh, yeah? What does the crab say?”
Then we see Simon, in Betty’s head, mouthing the title of the episode: “You forgot your floaties.”
Betty then screams and laughs and disappears, having stolen Magic Man’s powers after Finn and Jake sabotaged the transmutation despite being bread and stew. Betty is now in an Ice King-like madness while Magic Man sits and wonders what “normies” do.
Finn and Jake’s heroism inspire a manticore, imprisoned by his own shame (“You escaped once and came right back. How sad is that? Huh?” “You gave me some kind of hostage syndrome. I need therapy.”), to fly them to Wizard City.
Magic Man sits alone, wearing the helmet of his dead brother.
Betty ventured into the loomy gloom in which all magic users swim, and she forgot her floaties, so she’s sunk.
Finn and Jake have just witnessed a moment of profound sadness, and their perseverance is the only triumph to be found herein. However, Finn’s early words might bode well for Magic Man: “Disappeared doesn’t always mean dead.”