TL;DR – This is a beautiful end to a strong series, it might feel a bit rushed at times, but it packs an emotional punch and is one of the best series finales that I have seen
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
I grew up in the 1990s and like any child of that era, I am deeply protective of our cartoons like Gargoyles, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, X-Men, Captain Planet, Beast Wars, and more. I also found, like every generation before me and every generation from now on, that the next generation of animated shows from the 2000s never lived up to the same standard (spoiler alert it was because I was not a child anymore). However, for me and many other people, there was one show that was the exception to the rule, and that was Adventure Time. This was a short 15-minute show based in an absurd world of candy people, post-apocalyptic imagery, annoyed lemons, and lumpy space princesses. However, it was also a show that was beautifully animated, well written, a touchstone for a lot of people, and actually grew up with the people that watched them. For me, I loved the world building that happened mostly through visual cues, and writing that was both emotionally resonate but also didn’t treat the younger audience it was targeted at as being unintelligent like so many other children’s focused entertainment both past, present, and future has/will do. Unfortunately it got a bit hard to find the show in Australia and I was left to pick it up every time a DVD got released but a couple of months ago I found that Stan had the whole series and I binged about 3 seasons of episodes, to go to the end just in time to find out the next episode was to be its last. So today I being a look at the end of a phenomenon that for many are their first real TV show love, and boy what an ending it was.
So to set the scene, as Season Ten has been going along there has been a growing war brewing between Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch) and her Uncle Gumbald (Fred Melamed). Each side had been bringing their armies together while Finn (Jeremy Shada) and Jake (John DiMaggio) desperately tried to stop the conflict and Marceline (Olivia Olson) askes is this really what people want, but at the end of the last episode Gumbaldia there was no stopping The Gum War. However, in this the final episode we don’t open on the traditional opening credits, instead, we see the lives of Beth (Willow Smith) and Shermy (Sean Giambrone). This is a real gut punch out of nowhere until you place the context of not where they are but when, and as they walk around Ooo they come across Finn’s metal arm you get a different emotional reaction. Hoping to find the answers behind the arm they travel to the home of the mysterious and possible legendary King of Ooo which turns out to be BMO (Niki Yang) who sits them down to tell them the tale of the destruction of Ooo … and that’s when the feels start.
How do you end a long-running TV Show that has multiple story arcs going on, characters both main and recurring that people deeply care about, and a legacy that spans years, indeed the voice actor of Finn grew up with the show like many of the people watching it. This was undoubtedly a difficult task put to the writers, but unlike many other TV Shows, they had the time to plan out the final season. As you look back throughout Season Ten you can see this as the show highlights many of the recurring characters to give them one last moment to shine like Tree Trunks (Polly Lou Livingston) in Ring of Fire affirming her love with Mr Pig (Ron Lynch), or Flame Princess (Jessica DiCicco) discovering the power of Rap in Son of Rap Bear. It reacquainted us with everyone in the world which means that there are both fewer strings to tie up in the final episode, but that it also clearly lays out the stakes as we know what will happen if everything goes wrong, and as the final episode is presented as a look back at the past, there is a very real chance that at any moment it will all fall apart. This expertly keeps the tension up all episode, making every action have weight to it. In many respects, it reminds me of the final episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, What You Leave Behind, which had similar issues to unpack and works just as well.
With this in mind let’s take a look at how well Adventure Time did at wrapping up its story, and with that, we need to enter into [SPOILER] territory. I think for some the bait and switch that the episode uses throughout will be an issue, but for me, it was a fascinating use of both promoting and subverting tension. For all season we had been building to this, the Great Gum War as heroes and villains from every season line up to duke it out till there is only one standing, only it never happens. While this could be frustrating it directly follows into Finn’s journey of being a hero, discovering that the best option is not always the one where you fight and that where possible you should look for diplomatic options. He sees the futility of the war in ways that Princess Bubblegum and Gumbald can’t or won’t. In the end, it was not even the war that was the biggest threat, indeed, it was something in the background of the season the final antagonist was the very embodiment of chaos itself GOLB, which is defeated not by war, or magic, but through the power of voices working in harmony and sacrifice, okay there was a little magic. Everyone of different sides came together to fight for the greater good, they all lent their voices, even Lumpy Space Princess (Pendleton Ward) and Lemongrab (Justin Roiland) and through working as one they destroyed evil. Well, that is a powerful message, and if people take that away with them, then well maybe this next generation will be better than mine.
On the production side of things, the work put into the art and animation of the show is as beautiful as ever. The amount of detail in every frame is amazing, I imagine there have been people already going through every frame picking out all the Easter eggs, hello Snail I see you there. The animations are all fluid in their motion and it just fits this world down to the tiniest detail. To add to this, the voice acting is all spectacular, you can feel the emotion in the voices, that note that tells you that they know this is the last time they will be visiting the Land of Ooo. This means that every single one of the emotional beats in the film hit their mark, first because they have been earned, and secondly, because every actor is there to bring the very best to the show.
It is also the end of all the characters stories and not all of them get a happy resolution. The Ice King (Tom Kenny) gets his sanity restored, but through the sacrifice of Betty (Felicia Day), Fern (Hayden Ezzy) defeats the thing controlling his mind, but losses his body in the process, the Tree House, oh the Tree House. Even as the show ends and the Music Hole (Ashley Eriksson) starts to sing we don’t get a definitive answer to the lives of Finn and Jake, but instead we get a snapshot of everyone going forward, new loves, new lives, old friends, and new horizons, and while it might not be the definitive ending we often get, it is the one that best suits the show. Lives go on, the world goes on, and some of our actions reverberate into the future, and some, many, get forgotten, but that does not make them any less real. Just to reinforce that notion, the show ends how it starts, and what an ending it was.
In the end, do we recommend Come Along With Me? Yes, of course, we do. It is one of the best series finales that I have seen, it is emotional, poignant, it tied up most of the loose ends without getting tied down by them, and provided a platform for us to say goodbye to the Land of Ooo and the characters that inhabited it. So goodbye Jake the Dog and Finn the Human, Princess Bubblegum, all the Princesses, Flame, Slime, Turtle, Hotdog, Berry, Dr., Lumpy Space, The Ice King and Gunter, Tree Trunks, Mr. Pig and Sweet P, Lady Rainicorn, BMO, Neptr, Lemongrab, Cosmic Owl, Prismo, and the whole world of Ooo. It was a pleasure from start to finish.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Adventure Time
Directed by – Cole Sanchez, Diana Lafyatis & Sandra Lee
Written by – Tom Herpich, Steve Wolfhard, Somvilay Xayaphone, Seo Kim, Aleks Sennwald, Hanna K. Nyström, Sam Alden & Graham Falk
Story By – Kent Osborne, Jack Pendarvis, Julia Pott, Tom Herpich, Steve Wolfhard, Ashley Burch, Pendleton Ward & Adam Muto
Created by – Pendleton Ward
Starring – Jeremy Shada, John DiMaggio, Hynden Walch, Tom Kenny, Olivia Olson, Niki Yang, Pendleton Ward, Fred Melamed & Hayden Ezzy with Justin Roiland, Sean Giambrone, Willow Smith, Tom Scharpling, Maria Bamford, Felicia Day, Jessica DiCicco, Andy Milonakis, Ashley Eriksson, Bettie Ward and Steve Little, Dee Bradley Baker, Jill Talley & Steve Agee