The “Graybles” chapters of Adventure Time have evolved over time. Originally introduced as assortments of short stories connected by a common theme, the “Graybles” episodes have, like everything else on this series, grown to become something more. In “Graybles 1000+”, it is revealed that Cuber, the Graybles storyteller, lives in a future beyond Finn and Jake’s time, and he has to go back to Ooo to escape aliens who want to make him pay for interrupting a space wedding and accidentally killing the bride.
Was anyone demanding an episode delving into the character of Cuber? Probably not, but writer and storyboarder Steve Wolfhard has found a captivating angle for the character by turning to the Graybles for inspiration. Cuber is defined by his relationship to the stories he tells, and Wolfhard uses the Graybles to tell short stories about the primary cast that help guide Cuber through his current obstacles. “Graybles” episodes typically feature five short stories, but this week’s installment shifts from the formula in a couple ways. The first and last Graybles are actually the beginning and end of a formative memory from Cuber’s past, and the rest of the Graybles function as extra zest on a main course featuring Cuber on his own solo adventure.
There’s nothing tying the stories together thematically this week, and Cuber makes that very explicit. “And you children at home, don’t bother trying to guess tonight’s theme,” Cuber says as he flees his alien attackers. “Applesauce to a theme! Your friend Cuber doesn’t want to die!” I wasn’t particularly excited about another “Graybles” episode, so I appreciate that Wolfhard takes the concept in a very different direction and gives it stronger ties to the larger Adventure Time mythos. Instead of just telling stories, Cuber is on the run accessing Graybles in order to gain information that can immediately benefit him, which gives the episode stronger forward momentum than most “Graybles” chapters.
“Graybles 1000+” is about turning to stories for inspiration to get through hardship, and Cuber relies on his bag of Graybles for guidance. The first story with Finn, Jake, and BMO directs Cuber to the thought cannon that helps him escape his enemies, the second story with Ice King and Gunther helps Cuber gain the courage to reset his broken leg after a crash landing, and the third story with Princess Bubblegum and Starchy leads Cuber to the dental tracker that he uses to send an S.O.S. signal to a nearby Gumball Guardian. But the Grayble that ultimately gives Cuber the strength to fight back is the memory of a baby Cuber saving himself from an attacking beast thanks to his sister’s insistence that he self-actualize, reminding him that the key to his salvation isn’t in stories, but in himself.
Adventure Time is a post-post-apocalyptic series, but the Graybles episodes jump forward into a post-post-post-apocalyptic environment, one that is a lot grayer than the Ooo of Finn and Jake. It’s a real downer if you think about it too hard. In the future, all the bright colors of Ooo have been dulled and the citizens of the Candy Kingdom are kept in plastic containers inside one of the Gumball Guardians. One of the most chilling images of the episode comes when Cuber escapes Ooo on one of the spaceships of his alien pursuers, flying through the mountains and past the future version of the Ice King, which is a flying beast of white hair with Ice King’s long, sharp nose. What happened to change the world this way?
The “Graybles” episodes used to be diversions from the main action that explored goofy tangents, but “Graybles 1000+” gives these chapters a new context by firmly placing them in the future Ooo, which introduces a slew of new questions and storytelling opportunities for future “Graybles” chapters. It’s a great example of a creator finding a new angle for something that has become familiar on the series, and Wolfhard accomplishes this by focusing on Cuber’s character and the world he operates in. The result is an episode that considerably expands the scope of the series, providing a peek into a future of Ooo that is hopefully far, far away.
- There are some Adventure Time shots that could be turned into posters and framed. I think the visual of Jake swallowing a sandwich while Finn and BMO stand around in the background is one of them.
- Does anyone really think Mr. Cupcake is running a massage business? I’m waiting for Adventure Time’s adaptation of American Gigolo with a certain frosted hunk.
- “I used to wish I was you. Now I just wish you would dig faster.”
- “You try not to thing of a sandwich and look what happens! A sandwich!”
- “Yeah, in the ear! Ooh, I mean in the rear! That’s what all the walkin’ good for, gives me self esteem to have a nice rear!”
- “You can be a hero, Cuber. And what a cube can be must be.”