Good news: It's a Fiona and Cake episode! Bad news: It focuses on Lumpy Space Prince. Spoilers ahead.
Listen, Adventure Time, we need to have a talk. We need to have a talk about Lumpy Space Princess. Now look, I've never liked this character. I understand that there are those who disagree with me, but I think she's completely and utterly uninteresting, she's a one-note joke who wasn't even really that funny in the first place, yet has been dragged on into more and more episodes, creating a horrible blemish upon an otherwise great show.
Even those who like the character seem to be getting more and more confused about what you're trying to do with her. Honestly? I think you're confused about what to do with her. That's resulted in spinning your wheels, and making the character progressively less and less likable (and, don't get me wrong, I don't think she was likable in the first place). From obnoxious and entitled, to homeless and entitled, to being a downright psychopath, this is a character who just doesn't work. On any level.
Because here's the other thing, these Fiona and Cake episodes really are something super clever. This is only the third one we've had, but they are very clearly fan favorites for a reason, not only are they just inherently fun (it's great to see all the clever designs they come up with, and to play celebrity cameo bingo with the casting), they also offer a unique window into the way the characters telling these stories see the world you've created. The idea that Ice King can't win even in a story he's created tells us a lot about who he is as a character.
Yet here, in this week's episode, that is utterly wasted on the one one character in your show which just doesn't work. In fact, I don't think it's ever been more clear why LSP doesn't work than it has been in this week's episode, "The Prince Who Wanted Everything."
The episode begins with Ice King, tied up and kidnapped... Somewhere. LSP reveals herself to be his captor.
She wants him to read her own Fiona and Cake story "The Prince Who Wanted Everything," because (in her own words) he's their dad, and only he can bring them to life.
As he begins the story, Lumpy Space Prince utters his first line of dialog, sounding exactly like Lumpy Space Princess (as established in "Bad Little Boy"), before the real LSP♀ interrupts Ice King and scolds him, saying that's not how she sounds at all, and to read it right. Of course, when we cut back to the story, Lumpy Space Prince now has a very regal voice, which LSP♀ approves of. Sure, that's kinda funny.
The story introduces us to LSP♂, a regal and generous prince, or at least what LSP♀ imagines a generous prince to be like, as he showers the people with sandwiches plated in gold.
Of course, LSP♂'s parents are horrible monsters. Because, you see, LSP♀ thinks of HER parents as monsters, even though when we met them they seemed fine. Because teenagers, right?
It's here where my problems with the episode start to surface. This episode, it's just... Nothing. This episode really could have done something interesting with LSP♀, but instead, it's just telling us things we already know about her. It's spinning it's own wheels. We already know that Lumpy Space Princess is a cliched, entitled teenager who views her parents as horrible monsters for being parents. We get that. That's not new information. The joke here isn't funny, and it doesn't tell us anything new, so the result is that it's just... Boring.
Lumpy Space Prince fights with his parents, and they chase him out of their house, kicking him out on his own, once again, exactly like Lumpy Space Princess was.
As he discovers the new world, having exited lumpy space, he comes across some animals, whom he inexplicably (because LSP♀ is a bad writer, I guess) convinces to become his minions. He commands them to bring him "freaky clothes" ("but cool freaky, not monster freaky"), and to enslave whoever they can find nearby to become his servants.
Later, the animals bring LSP♂ a whole lineup of prince cameos, with Flame Prince, Turtle Prince, Marshall Lee, and Prince Gumball all having been captured.
Speaking of characters I'd rather be watching right now, how cool would it be if they had gotten Dante Bosco (Prince Zuko) to play Flame Prince in a Flame Prince episode? Doesn't that sound way more interesting than this?
Sorry, I'm just trying to distract myself from this tedious episode.
Any way, of course it's at this point that Fiona and Cake show up to rescue the captured princes.
Fiona and Cake fight through the animals, and Fiona frees the princes. Lumpy Space Prince is immediately caught up by Fiona, and asks what she thinks of his clothes. "I don't care about your clothes!" she says dismissively. LSP♀ shouts at Ice King that he's reading it wrong once again, and he corrects himself, "I don't care about your clothes." Fiona says, this time honestly.
LSP♂ is immediately caught up by how wonderful it is to see someone who isn't caught up by his looks, and is instead interested on what's on the inside. He decides that he wants to learn to live as Fiona and Cake do, quaintly.
The next several minutes are just LSP♂ learning to live as though he were, you know, a person. He complains about his parents some more, and it's around this time I really wish I weren't watching this episode any more. Look, I know it's silly to complain about a ten minute show dragging an episode out, but my god they didn't have the material for this one.
LSP♂ and Fiona dance, and Fiona is literally hypnotized by LSP♂'s beauty, because (once again) these episodes show us how these characters see the world they live in, and LSP♀ is really obnoxious and full of herself, which of course she is we already knew that why did we need this episode to tell us that?
LSP♂ tells Fiona that they can never marry, because he can only be with someone who is his equal in every way. Fiona says she doesn't care. She says that a lot in this episode, which is brought up later, but I'm really not sure why. Again, I guess it's because LSP♀ is a bad writer, whatever, fine.
As LSP♂, Fiona, and Cake go in to have lunch, LSP summons a "baby table" (which is a literal baby who crawls into the room) in to set his sandwich on. I'll admit it, the baby table is my favorite part of this whole episode, it made me laugh pretty hard.
LSP♂ is shocked by the fact that not only do Fiona and Cake not use baby tables, they don't even dip their food in gold before eating! Again, it's a funny joke.
LSP♂ is once again surprised by how much he loves eating food which isn't dipped by gold, which somehow gives him a revelation that his whole life he's only thought of others, and now he realizes he must start thinking of himself. So, basically, LSP♀ is every bit as deluded as she seems. Gotcha.
LSP♂ then gets a short musical number, and I honestly can't tell you why, but it reminds me of "If We Could Talk to the Animals" from Doctor Dolittle. Like, the good one, not the Eddie Murphy one. Is that an unpopular opinion? Sorry, I don't know where people stand on Doctor Dolittle.
It's a fun little musical number. I like it. We also get a quick glimpse of Magic Woman during a scene where a giant bird flies LSP♂ all over the place, speaking of characters I'd rather watch an episode about.
Any way, after the song concludes, LSP♂ realizes that he wants to live like Fiona (and keep Cake the Cat as her pet, which Cake responds to with a "yeah, whatever"). Unfortunately, as soon as he decides this, a storm grows, being expelled out of the frog-entrance to lumpy space, revealing LSP♂'s parents.
"Come on you beautiful dandy, only your pure spirit can defeat your family... and this sword." Heh.
It basically winds up being a curb stomp battle, as LSP♂ can't hope to overpower his parents, who want him to become a true monster, just like them.
Before the final blow is struck, however, Fiona once again saying that she doesn't care about anything makes LSP♂ realize what is needed to defeat his parents disapproval, the power of not caring about anything.
The power of saying "I don't care" over and over is enough to destroy the Lumpy Space Parents monstrous exterior, revealing the loving warm gooey center... Which LSP♂ then murders with one final "I don't care," because LSP♀ really hates her parents, you guys.
As we cut away from the story, back to Ice King reading it, we hear the final pages.
Ice King reads about how Lumpy Space Prince then became so real, that he was actually able to break through into the real world, and meet his one and only equal, and true love, Lumpy Space Princess. It's at this point that everyone in the audience knows exactly where this joke is headed because it's super obvious, but as Ice King reads the count down (the page flip during the countdown was pretty funny), the bushes surrounding them start to rustle... Revealing a rabid rat (possum?) who chases LSP♀ away. Sad trombone noise.
I'm sure this is going to surprise absolutely no one, especially considering how I've spoken of LSP♀ in the past, but hey, I didn't like this one very much.
I think LSP♀ is a horrible character who is weighing down this entire series, I think it was a huge mistake to give one of the few Fiona and Cake episodes we get to her when literally any other character on the show would have been more interesting.
Is this the worst episode in the world? No, there are redeeming moments to it, and some funny jokes, most of which I mentioned above. Here's the thing though, I think this episode perfectly displays why this character doesn't work.Like I said, the brilliant thing about these episodes are that they give us a fun way to explore the character that's telling each story. This episode tells us nothing we didn't already know about LSP♀
The thing that, above all else, makes Adventure Time work as a show, at least for me, is how brilliantly layered and fleshed out the characters are. When we first meet Ice King, he seems like a cliched evil villain, but over time we've learned there's much more to him, and I'm not even talking about the Simon stuff. We've learned that at his core, he's really just a lonely old man. Marceline seems like a pretty cliched mean teeenager/villain, but she quickly becomes a very, very interesting character, with a lot more to her.
This episode doesn't even hint, it just outright tells us, there is nothing more to Lumpy Space Princess. She acts like an entitled spoiled brat because she's an entitled spoiled brat. She acts like she's better than everyone else because she thinks that she's better than everyone else. She blames everyone but herself for her actions, because she thinks that she's perfect and can't do anything wrong, so if anything bad happens, it's someone else's fault.
That's not a compelling character. That's as flat and one-note as characters can get, and that is in a nutshell why LSP♀ doesn't work. She's a bad character, and the fact that this Fiona and Cake episode chose to focus on her bums me right out.
It's not like the rest of the episode was even that good, because we're confined to this story being told through the perspective of LSP♀'s writing, it means that every character, every piece of dialog, everything about this episode just feels flat. The other two Fiona and Cake episodes didn't have that problem, even though Ice King is, in-universe, a bad writer.
This episode was just a huge bummer. It moved nothing forward, it felt boring and long despite being only ten minutes, and it just wasn't very entertaining. Knowing that this is probably the only Fiona and Cake episode we'll get until at least next season, if not even later, is a really big bummer, and I just wish they had focused on literally anyone else.
(This was original posted to Wherinirant.com, check out the site for more content like this.)