On tonight's Adventure Time, the Candy Kingdom is under attack from one of the biggest threats it's ever faced. Sounds like a good time for some introspection, right? Spoilers ahead.
This week's episode drops us right into the action, as the Candy Kingdom is under attack by some sort of giant ent-like creature. Worse yet, Root Beer Guy has been killed in action, setting up a giant force field to slow the creature's progress toward the kingdom.
We quickly learn who's behind the attack, Maja the Sky Witch from last season's Bubbeline-tastic episode "Sky Witch." She's even still wearing the shirt.
Maja shouts to Princess Bubblegum that if she surrenders now, she won't "donk up the kingdom." The tree-beast, who refers to himself as "Darren" (I really love the fact that the ancient primordial force of destruction is named Darren, that's a super Adventure Time thing to do), doesn't agree, and says that he must feed. Maja shrugs, "Well, what can you do?"
We cut to the city's walls, where a cookie named Crunchy is freaking out in terror of the attack. He explodes. Woah, that's a callback. I don't think we've seen that since "Slumber Party Panic." I guess candy people are just really hard to freak out.
We quickly flashback to one day earlier, and see Maja in the dead of night climb to the top of a hill, and use her magic, along with the sentimentality of the shirt she took from Princess Bubblegum back in "Sky Witch" to summon Darren.
Her spell specifically seems to (if the way her incantation is phrased is any indicator) merge every moment of time together, to "awaken the terror of a forgotten age." Then the moon turns into an eye, it's pretty cool.
Darren arises from beneath a hill, and tells Maja that he had a dream of an army which could birth new soldiers from their own blood. He asks if that makes sense, and Maja says "Yes. You want to go conquer the Candy Kingdom?"
He asks what the Candy Kingdom is, and Maja says it's the place in Ooo with more caring and sentimentality than anywhere. It seems Darren truly is ancient, more a primal force of the world than anything (predating the Mushroom War and our own society?) and does not even understand the concepts of caring and sentimentality.
He does, however, want to destroy stuff, and murder people. Both of which he'll get to do if he works with Maja, so hey, that works. He says he wants to destroy all realities, and Maja cuts him off, saying they'll talk about that later.
Back in the present, Darren and Maja are still trapped by a forcefield created by Gridface Princess (who I don't... think we've seen before?). We also see that both Gumball Guardians were deactivated by Darren, somehow. Princess Bubblegum tells Colonel Candy Corn to ready the cannons. In the background, Finn and Jake slip off.
Darren casts a spell to summon a portal which drops giant eggs from the sky, which instantly hatch into creatures called the "dragons teeth."
The monsters rush the forcefield, trying to break the generator. The cannons are effective, but every time they destroy a monster, a new egg falls from the sky. Worse yet, the creatures can apparently just put themselves back together after being blown apart.
Peebles shouts for Finn and Jake, and only now realizes that they've disappeared. She's not happy.
The cannons have run out of ammo, and the monsters are able to overcome the forcefield. PB hops onto a flying goose (this might have shown up since then, but I think this is a callback to "Dungeon"? So many first season references) and flies toward Darren.
Colonel Candy Corn loads himself into the cannons, since they've run out of ammo, and fires himself into the fray. The cookie guards do the same, but Darren sees them coming, and instantly fries all of the cookies with a laser blast from his mouth.
Colonel Candy Corn survives, though, and runs toward the monsters Darren summoned, fighting them one on one.
Write your own Attack On Titan joke here, I don't know, I'm still behind on that particular cultural craze. Theme song's pretty cool though, right?
Colonel Candy Corn and Princess Bubblegum are both quickly defeated. Darren holds PB and her goose down on the ground, and tells her to prepare to be annihilated across all dimensions. He begins charging up his mouth beam, and Maja tells him to chill, because she still needs to harvest PB's feelings.
"What the flip are feelings? Darren understands only life... and death!"
Luckily, just before the final blow is cast, guess who shows up?
The Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant! Oh, and Finn and Jake, I guess.
Dang, when I said I was happy to see him back two episodes ago, I didn't think he'd be like, important here. Cool!
Even more surprising than the show bringing back the war elephant in such a major way, we actually get some backstory on him here too! Turns out that wherever/whenever Darren is from, he totally knows APTWE, who he affectionately calls "Ellie."
"Ellie! Were you asleep forever too? All this stuff is different now. What are we even doing now?" "Yes. It's been a difficult adjustment."
During a fight scene, Maja begins charging a blast to fire at Ellie, but Ellie shoots a laser blast of his own at Maja before she gets a chance. She flies through the air, hits her head on a tree, and—
Ooh. Uh. Yikes.
As the fight continues, Ellie tells Finn that Darren's weakness is his "brain seed." Finn takes this as his cue to get thrown straight into Darren's exposed head.
He is entangled by branches which grab him, but he's able to just stab Darren's brain.
"Thank you." Darren says, as his head violently erupts. Well that's dark.
The portal closes, and the life force of all those he killed flies back across the kingdom, reviving them. Except Root Beer Guys. Poor Root Beer Guy.
You'll always have that one episode, man.
As everyone celebrates, PB asks where Finn is. He's standing where Darren exploded, and he's literally sparkling. PB tells him that he can make the guac for their celebration party, and he says "I'll make the guaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaccccc..." Oh Finn, did you get possessed by an ancient evil again? Between the grass blade and this, you're having some serious problems.
Hmmm. I wonder. The grass blade is a plant, Darren was an ent, could they be related? Eh, probably not. But maybe? But probably not.
So, the day is saved, everyone's going to the afterparty, episode is over, right? Nope, turns out we're only at the 8:22 mark of our 11:41 episode (that's with credits). So what's left? Well, Ellie still has to go on an emotional journey to find himself, obviously.
Ellie asks Finn what he needs to do now, and Finn says he really doesn't know. He says to go do his own thing, and be free, but Ellie says he's only an ancient war machine created to serve its master. Finn says he's more than that, and that he needs to go figure himself out, basically.
So Ellie does. Ellie flies around, and starts picking up psychic commands from things around him, all of which have a purpose. The ant has its purpose pulling a leaf. The baby birds have a purpose to eat the worms their mother has a purpose to bring them. Ellie even starts listening to the thought of the sun, which tells him that it's more ancient than even he is. The sun gives Ellie advice. "How do you light a candle without a match?"
Ellie flies back to the outskirts of the candy kingdom, to Maja's body. Awakens her mind, and tells her that she's in a coma.
She orders him to help her assault the Candy Kingdom, but Ellie refuses, saying he is now both the candle and the match. He says that he will carry her around, be her friend, and keep her alive until she awakens from her coma (maybe).
He lets her see through his own eyes, and she realizes that he's the very elephant who lasered her, putting her in the coma in the first place. She screams for help (within her mind), as Ellie picks her up and flies off with her, but it's no use.
A leaf falls to the ground, psychically sighs that things aren't going according to plan, and a caterpillar crawls up and psychically says he's going to eat it.
Man, this episode was a blast. It's a really great example of just how much stuff Adventure Time manages to fit in the eleven-minute format. Whereas recent episodes like "Betty" (yes I'm on this again) rushed what should have been important plot points, this managed to fit a huge battle scene, backstory on two of the most ancient characters in the series thus far, payoff for previous plot points (mainly from "Sky Witch") and several hooks for future episodes all into roughly ten minutes, without ever feeling like it's breezing over anything.
Darren was an awesome villain. and reminded me in some weird way of Rockbiter from The Neverending Story. Like, an evil Rockbiter. The "thank you" comment was either super depressing (if he's really dead), or super creepy (if he's possessing Finn now).
I also loved the Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant's expanded role in this episode, and I'm dying to see what they're going to do with him now. I'm definitely getting a villain vibe off of his actions in that last scene, Finn might've really messed this one up.
The payoff for Maja was excellent, and the character was much more fun than I remember her being the first time around, primarily because I just don't really remember her from "Sky Witch" all that well.
Also, apparently she's voiced by Jill Talley, who is married to Tom Kenny (the Ice King). So uh, there's your trivia for the day.
Overall, just a really strong episode. I can't wait to see where they're going with the threads introduced or extended here.
(This was originally posted to Whereinirant.com. Check out the website for more content like this, including my The Legend of Korra recaps.)