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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Adventure Time: “Another Five More Short Graybles”

Illustration for article titled Adventure Time: “Another Five More Short Graybles”
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The title of this week’s episode is a good indicator of how much effort went into its plot, emphasizing the fact that the writers are doing another “Graybles” installment after already having one at the start of the season. “Another Five More Short Graybles” makes me suspect that these collections of short stories are where the writers put their ideas that can’t sustain full 10-minute episodes. Whereas previous “Graybles” have spotlighted the main cast, this is the first time the focus is almost exclusively on supporting players (although Ice King does get a chapter). The rest of the time is split between Adventure Time second stringers Jake Jr., Cinnamon Bun, Mr. Fox, and the Earl of Lemongrab, but unlike previous “Graybles,” there isn’t a strong theme connecting the stories so it all feels even more random than usual.

“Another Five More Short Graybles” gives off a late-era Simpsons vibe as it shifts focus to the background players of this series. Ice King is a major character on the show, and Jake Jr. has a direct relationship to the lead pair, but without a theme uniting the chapters, it’s unclear why Cinnamon Bun, Mr. Fox, and Lemongrab made the cut. Cinnamon Bun’s story follows him as he searches for a night light, running through the land of Ooo in a panic after Princess Bubblegum takes his away. He yells “too light” or “too dark” depending on where he is at any given time, but otherwise doesn’t really do anything. There’s one fun gag where he knocks over his lamp and sets his room on fire, creating the perfect glow until the banana fire patrol appears to put out the flames, but mostly, Cinnamon Bun is running around and screaming.

While on the topic of screaming characters, the Earl of Lemongrab is best in small doses, making him a smart choice for a quick, disturbing grayble. The Earl and another Lemongrab have a child called Lemon-Sweets, and they argue over who gets to control the porcelain doll that is their offspring. One wants to put it to bed but the other wants to teach it to dance, and they fight over Lemon-Sweets until it gets knocked on the floor and shattered. Like most Lemongrab scenes, I have no idea what is happening during his chapter, although if I had to guess, the story might be about how parents’ attempts to control their children ultimately destroy them.

Mr. Fox is the least recognizable member of this episode’s ensemble, but he has one of the most enjoyable stories of the episode when he comes home from a trip to the city and praises the rustic comforts of his country home. His story is really just an opportunity to spotlight Tom Herpich’s delightfully deadpan comic delivery, and it’s nice to have a more relaxed, quiet character after Lemongrab and Cinnamon Bun’s screaming. As he’s fondly looking at the depression his body left in his bed, his subconscious self materializes, wakes up and writes him a note saying it knows where buried treasure is hidden. But before Mr. Fox can pursue the opportunity, Cinnamon Bun rushes in looking for a night light and dispels the fox’s subconscious, leaving him to enjoy his quaint home without a mess of riches.

Adventure Time is targeted to children, but the “Graybles” episodes are the show at its most simplistic. Ice King’s entire story revolves around penguins picking what to watch on movie night. But whereas the last “Graybles” presented short stories that were clearly separated, the narratives intersect this week in a way that makes the episode feel especially chaotic. But maybe that’s the point. The graybles begin with Jake Jr. sitting on the couch with her dad, contemplating the universe and the exciting fear that comes from not knowing what will happen in the future. Finn and Jake interpret this to mean Jake Jr. wants to create a time machine, but it’s possible that what she’s longing for is the experience the viewer is having. She’d love to see the entire world in all its random messiness, and by the end of the episode, all that mess eventually bleeds into her narrative track when Cinnamon Bun comes crashing into the treehouse. The universe might be hectic and confusing, but in the end, everything is connected, even if it’s not entirely clear how.

Stray observations:

  • Ice King’s picks for movie night: Baby Ballet, Blimby’s “Who Gots Da ABC’S”, Airplanes Taking Off (“Gripping… sensual” according to G. Tinker), and Basic Mortality Season 1. I would be interested in checking out this Airplanes Taking Off film.
  • Like a lot of 30-year-olds, Jake Jr. has developed a drinking problem. Her beverage of choice? Boxed strawberry juice out of a wine glass.
  • “Guys, I’m basically 30. I’m not a little kid anymore.”
  • “Ugh, I never should’ve given you penguins the right to vote.”
  • “City Fox’s digs be mad sterile.”
  • “I always did have the ugliest bugs.”