We’re thirsty for answers. But what does Finn want?
At the beginning of this week, I littered my review with questions.
I should have known better. Adventure Time‘s season finales have left things in chaos and questions while its premieres settle things down as the season plays out.
At the end of season three, “Incendium” introduces Finn to a new crush, Flame Princess. At the end of season four, Finn and Jake are being dragged into another dimension in “The Lich.” At season five’s close, “Billy’s Bucket List,” Billy tells Finn that his human father is still alive. Though these aren’t exactly cliffhanger endings, the show prefers to throw balls in the air rather than close another book of episodes.
Princess Bubblegum has problems as a leader, but it’s a testament to her that she’s more focused on an incoming catalyst comet than on an election.
When she loses, she chastises her opponents as dillweeds, but, when prepared to scream at the ignorant candy people for their ignorance, she has second thoughts and spares her creations her harsh words. When she and Peppermint Butler head to her old shack, she instinctively tells non-present candy people how to protect themselves from bats. Despite her invasiveness and sometimes outright tyranny, Princess Bubblegum feels dedication to her people that’s necessary in a leader. Of course, her noble focus on something more important than campaigning, the upcoming catalyst comet, costs her the Candy Kingdom.
Similar praise cannot be given to King of Ooo, who dazzles the candy people with slander and hot air (“Now I hear you asking, ‘King of Ooo, how can you be so wise?’ I’ll tell you how. Did you know that I am 8,000 years old? Could Be!”). When in office, he briefly worries that he’s doing a poor job–the sky is falling, after all–only to have Toronto appeal to his selfish sense of legacy as Princess King of Ooo. They both delusionally conclude that things would be far worse with her in charge, and the rioting candy people–I absolutely love the sight gag of Starchie throwing a barrel at a window only to have it bounce off and roll over him–and incoming comet are PB’s fault.
King of Ooo revels in being a Princess, but not in the duties that come with it. His first act is performing a musical number: “There’s cheap healthcare / Work camps there / The general mood is laissez-faire!”
But in the end, the election is just part of the long game for King of Ooo’s campaign manager, Mr. X, to get his hands on PB’s spaceship. When Mr. X is revealed, he’s somewhere between being Gunter and Orgalorg.
And with that, “Hot Diggity Doom” is largely a prelude to “The Comet,” but it’s also a great, fun picture of power changing hands in the Candy Kingdom in its own right. Princess Bubblegum’s shack is next to a golden pond like the liquid she and her people dissolve into in her prophetic dream from “Hoots.” Her people have turned on her, but they haven’t met any kind of doom, and neither has she. The fallout from Orgalorg’s interference in her dream seems incomplete.
“Hot Diggety Doom” score: 8/10
This season’s arc has been woven around Finn’s emotional state relating to his father, from their first meeting to their last.
Piloting the spaceship is something between Gunter and Orgalorg. When Finn demands, “Gunter, what are you doing?” he gets “What am I doing? A fog shrouds my true intent even from myself.”
With Grob Gob Glob Grod dead, a catalyst comet coming, and his escape of Earth’s gravity, Orgalorg comes out: “Like a mighty chrysalis pushing out of a damp cocoon, I emerge!”
Finn floats helplessly into space and all he can do is hope through song:
“Everything’s falling into place
I’m right where I should be
The tides of life all led me here
And that’s why I’m not scared
I know the answer will appear
Finn is friends with Prismo, the wishmaster, and he’s met the Cosmic Owl in person. He’s had a conversation with Grob Gob Glob Grod. He knows that the King of Mars, Abraham Lincoln, sacrificed his own life to save his best friend Jake. He’s seen Betty Grof travel through a time portal to help her mentally psychotic paramour.
Finn is resigned to forces in the universe, because even if he has a deadbeat dad and doesn’t have a lady friend, he’s seen these forces, and they’re good to him.
Martin rescues Finn, likely because he has nothing better to do while riding in a moth he can’t control. He offers another take on the universe: “It’s kind of fun, right? See, there’s no reason or purpose or, what you said, ‘universal intention.’ Look around, Finn. Empty crud. So empty.”
Martin’s resigned when they’re confronted with the horrifying beast that is Orgalorg, but Finn takes action and leaps straight into his mouth. With his favorite arm under attack by Orgalorg’s insides, the thorn that’s been on his palm since “Breezy” sprouts Finn’s arm into a thorny vine, and Finn slices up Orgalorg to pieces from the inside.
Finn, a comet in his past life, trades words with this comet.
“Finn, do you remember?”
“Yeah, I think so. A long time ago, I was you, sort of, and I crashed on Earth. And became a butterfly or some biz, and I guess it was just some random, absurd thing. Just a joke I’ve been playing out for centuries.”
“Who’s creating the joke? Are you? And if so, then are you my creator?”
“Uh, maybe? I dunno. Probably not.”
“Probably not, but who knows. I’ve been around forever, and have experienced so much impossible junk. I’ve embodied all that is good and evil, and now we’re here. It’s unprecedented, and I give you a choice: come with me to the end and the beginning or struggle here for a while like a beautiful autumn leaf.”
It reminds me a lot of what the Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant heard when staring at the sun: “I’m more ancient than you. Someday, I will engulf the solar system. What was and what will be are meaningless. Meanwhile, you should wonder: are you just a two-headed pile of meat on a crash course with the cosmic dump? Or do you contain the soul memory of a million dead stars? How do you light a candle without a match?”
Finn, offered a new mode of existence, takes little time in deciding: “I feel like I’ve put a lot of work into this meat reality. I’d like to see it through.” His choice and reasoning echo the last decision of Grob Gob Glob Grod: “Well, it’s not enough to have created something amazing, right? What if I just let my Martian super society go to butt?”
Finn has just been told from on high that what he does matters. He remembers this.
Martin, who doesn’t have a star to revolve around to track time, takes the offer, though. And he speaks truths to an irritated Finn: “No answer I give you will be satisfying.” “You burn enough bridges, the only direction to move is forward.”
The comet and Martin discorporate, and Finn floats alone and sounds vaguely satisfied saying “goodbye, dad.”
Jake and Banana Man, just flying around in his spaceship like it’s no big thing, rescue Finn, hinting that Jake’s premonition dream of floating alone in space with Banana Man wasn’t a croak dream after all, seeing as his individual earth consciousness didn’t go all everywhere while Glob tallied his deeds.
They even bring Gunter back. “Pretty random, right?” Jake gawks.
Finn disagrees: “It wasn’t random; I did it.”
The unlikely and the impossible are contemplated over and over again in “The Comet.” Peppermint Butler offers his opinion on Finn and Jake being okay: “I’d say it’s about a fifty-fifty chance.”
“That’s pretty much everything in life, isn’t it?” sighs PB.
A conversation with Orgalorg early in the episode illustrates the lessons Finn has learned since he fiercely built a tower to take revenge on his father.
“These are doorways the universe presented to me.”
“Ah, I know about open door philosophy!”
“What’s that, you just say ‘yes’ to stuff all the time?”
“That sounds all right.”
“It’s all yours if you’re willing to take it, destroy worlds, crush anyone blocking the door, feel their bones crumple and their goo spill out…”
“I don’t like that at all.”
“He made it ugly.”
There are still so many questions. Sweet P shows up in this episode and the dormant Lich will likely remain a constant tension. King of Ooo is still in charge of the Candy Kingdom. Prophetic dreams have yet to play out.
But Finn finally has the peace of mind that’s been missing ever since he learned his father was a scoundrel, the sort of acceptance and optimism that allowed him to control his blade of grass (oddly, we’ve been able to see much of his emotional arc simply through his arm).
We’ve been focusing so much on what we want. What about what Finn wants?
And what about the fact that the stories we live are so often left unsatisfying?
Just after Finn and Jake’s conversation with Orgalorg, Finn is drifting through empty space, desperately noting “I’m gonna croak out here, like a fish in the hands of a child.”
At the end of the episode, the space ship lands in the golden lake, and a fish splashes out into the hands of Peppermint Butler. The fish laments, “I’m gonna croak out here.”
“The Comet” score: 9/10