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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Adventure Time: “I Remember You”

Illustration for article titled Adventure Time: “I Remember You”
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Never has an Adventure Time episode triggered waterworks like “I Remember You,” an Ice King/Marceline tearjerker that is one of the most touching stories this series has ever told. Ice King and Marceline are two of this show’s most tragic characters, and this episode brings them together in a way that hits like a sledgehammer, resulting in an incredibly poignant tale of friendships lost and the memories that remain. It all begins goofily enough, with Ice King wearing a black wig and putting on a solo performance of Marceline’s “Fry Song” for an enraptured Gunther, who really likes how the Ice King replaces most of the words with “Günt.” Ice King wants Marceline to write a song with him; then he’d be crushing it with all the princesses. Jay T. Dawgzone says that ladies are attracted to bros with really tortured pasts, and Ice King thinks that he might have a tortured past, but he doesn’t remember. He takes Gunther down to the The Past Room, where they grab some pages from an old scrapbook for inspiration, and the pages still smell of tears. The hazy memory, the scent of tears: These are all foreshadowing the episode’s heart-wrenching conclusion.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Marceline on this show, but this episode makes fantastic use of her by taking advantage of her connection to the Great Mushroom War. Ice King and Gunther head over to Marceline’s cave with all their music equipment, and Ice King asks if she wants to be part of a prog-rock duo with him. They can split the fans: He gets the princesses; she gets whatever she’s into. Ice King wants to play one of his songs for Marceline, but he can’t even unravel his power cord, wrapping himself up instead. When Finn and Jake show up to take the menace away, Marceline tells them to leave him, saying that they’re writing a song together. Looking at some of the papers Ice King brought, Marceline plays accompaniment as the old man sings a song about how none of the princesses are as beautiful as Bubblegum. He sings about sending picture texts of his arms and pecs, and Marceline smiles as she hears the music come out of his mouth. This turns to a frown when the lyrics go to some dark places and Ice King sings about how he’s all alone and wishes someone would tell him what’s wrong with him. He makes it snow on himself as he scream-sings “anybody” over and over again with tears in his eyes, then goes full-on manic as he begins shooting ice blasts everywhere. Marceline tackles him to the ground and begs him to stop acting crazy, to which he responds, “I JUST WANT TO BE LOVED!” After pushing Marceline off him, Ice King slips into an apologetic depression, camping out on top of her fridge because he’s been a bad man.

Ice King is intensely bipolar, and I don’t mean North and South. It’s one of the many mental conditions that he suffers from after giving up his mental health for the magic that allows him to live forever. When Ice King starts acting depressed, the music starts up again, and Marceline gets the chance to vocalize her feelings in song. She sings about how pitiful he is and how she’s trying to help him, how he always finds new ways to make her mad and yet she’s still glad to see him. Ice King is confused when he hears that Marceline actually likes him, and he offers her a hug, which she gladly accepts. Then he goes in for the kiss, and she freaks out.

“You don’t remember anything, do you, Simon?” Marceline says, revealing that she knew the Ice King before he lost himself to magic after the Great Mushroom War. He says he can’t remember anything and begins to throw the scrapbook pages he brought with him, revealing newspaper clippings of his life as Simon Petrikov and a Polaroid picture of a child Marceline with touching potential song lyrics written on the back. She sings the words to him, telling a story about the two of them alone in the wreckage of the world, trying to get by as Simon loses his mind. He knows the magic keeping him alive is making him crazy, but he needs to save her. “Please forgive me for whatever I do, but I don’t remember you,” is the song’s sad refrain, and when Marceline sings with Ice King she forgives everything; it’s like being back with her old friend Simon again.

In musicals, characters sing because speaking can’t fully express their emotions. This is the case in “I Remember You,” and only through music are these characters able to reveal their feelings. That deeper connection between the characters and the music amplifies the final bittersweet moments of the episde. The haunting harmonies that Marceline and Ice King sing are almost in sync, and that slight disconnect between the two voices shows how these two remain separated despite their best efforts. Finn and Jake watch what’s happening from outside Marceline’s house, but they have no comprehension of what’s going on. How could they, when they didn’t have to endure the trauma of the Great Mushroom War?

The episode ends with a flashback, zooming in on the picture of young Marceline before switching to a devastated post-apocalyptic landscape. As Marceline and Ice King sing the final notes of their song, we see a weeping vampire girl crying alone in the ravaged street. Simon sees her tears and goes up to a destroyed toy store, where he pulls out the pink stuffed animal Hambo that Marceline’s evil boyfriend sold in “Memory Of A Memory.” He hands Hambo over to the crying child, and she clutches it tightly, her tears replaced by a smile as the episode cuts to black. It’s always great when this show remembers the tragedy in Ooo’s past, and by embracing that, this episode’s final scene adds a new layer to Ice King and Marceline’s relationship while telling a heartbreaking story about how mental illness can tear people apart.


Stray observations:

  • For more emotional Marceline stories, pick up last week’s issue of Marceline And The Scream Queens #4, which shows how our vampire heroine deals with the pressures of being a successful artist. Also, awesome Peppermint Butler and LSP back-up stories.
  • Gunther puts on the Marceline wig and tries to eat it, because he’s such a cute little dummy.
  • Marceline is a very strong advocate of a non-smoking lifestyle.
  • “Bad biscuits made the baker broke, bro.”
  • “Dinner roll!”
  • “Your constant harassment of the female gender makes me sick.” Jake’s ’80s action hero voice is pretty awesome.
  • “You know, I kinda like being tied up in these cords. Kinda frea-kay.”