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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Adventure Time: “James II”

Illustration for article titled Adventure Time: “James II”
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The first “James” was an introduction to one of the less captivating members of the Candy Kingdom, and while “James II” is a step down from last week’s incredible season premiere, it’s a far more interesting, layered story than its predecessor. The end of the first “James” promised a darker direction for the character’s future as James’ mutated body crawled out of a pit full of monsters, and while the original James makes his way to the Candy Kingdom with an army of nuclear abominations, his clones are killing themselves for company and recognition.

“James II” begins with Princess Bubblegum, Jake, and a one-armed Finn strolling through a field when a James clone appears out of nowhere and throws himself off a waterfall under the pretense that he’s protecting PB. James has done this 25 different times at this point, and PB has caught on the fact that he’s killing himself for no logical reason because he knows PB will just clone him a new body. She decides that it’s time to box James for good and stop the cloning, and sends Finn and Jake to James’ apartment to collect his stuff.

At James’ apartment, Finn and Jake discover that James II is alive, along with the other 24 clones, who have been pretending to kill themselves so PB would make new clones and give them medals. Sweet, sweet medals. James II begs the two bros not to tell PB about the neverending party in Jamestown, but they’re not stupid enough to risk enduring PB’s wrath and also want to watch the high jinks that unfold when PB goes ballistic on their cookie sandwich butts.

An ongoing theme of this episode is disengaging from the world to watch events unfold that deliver emotional stimulation (a.k.a. what Adventure Time viewers do every time they tune in), and it starts with Finn and Jake sitting back to watch PB freak out when she discovers there are 25 Jameses still alive. These moments are a clever way of examining the thrill of motion pictures in the early 1900s as Finn and Jake (and later PB) watch sequences of heightened physical comedy that could have been pulled from an old silent movie, and events get considerably zanier when the Keystone Cops Banana Guard enter the picture.

In a scene channeling Abbott and Costello, PB shows a headshot of James (and his clones) to the captain of the Banana Guard and engages in a cyclical “Who’s On First?”-style conversation regarding the nature of clones. Afterward, she joins Finn and Jake in the peanut gallery to watch the comedy that unfolds when the Banana Guards finally encounter the Jameses, and the trio laughs heartily as they witness occupational incompetence at its most hilarious. It’s a lot of silly fun, especially the bit where the Jameses create a giant Rube Goldberg machine that immediately collapses when the Banana Guard walks under it. No one is very good at what they’re trying to do, and all that ineptitude breeds a lot of humor.

In typical Adventure Time fashion, the scope of “James II” expands over the course of the story, and in the middle of all the clone James/Banana Guard goofiness, the original James arrive with his horde of monsters to attack the Candy Kingdom walls and turn this into an action epic for a few moments. As the Gumball Guardians incinerate the mutated creatures and one-armed Finn saves candy children, the clone Jameses express their anger at Princess Bubblegum for taking away their medals, complaining until they finally get the chance to prove themselves when PB actually ends up in danger. To save the princess’s life, the clone Jameses all tackle the original zombie James and are melted in the process, fusing into one trippy super-James that is awarded all the medals PB took away.


“James II” is a far meatier episode than its predecessor, but after getting so much great material in the season premiere, it’s disappointing to get absolutely no follow-up to what happened to Finn in this week’s episode. That said, it also makes sense for the writers to take a breather after all the heaviness of the opening two-parter, and this episode is all about enjoying the little meaningless diversions that life throws your way. There will be plenty of time to show how Finn deals with the loss of his arm (I’m ready to see a super cool robot prosthetic) and the discovery that his dad is a Grade A asshole, but until then, let’s all just relax and watch some bananas chase around some ice cream sandwiches and call it a day.

Stray observations:

  • I was at C2E2 this weekend and at one point I was actually surrounded by four Fionna cosplayers and one Finn. It was a very surreal experience.
  • Can a wonderful commenter with GIF-making skills please create a GIF of Finn punting that candy child over the castle walls? Thanks!
  • “Vigintiquintuplets. I’m telling you…”
  • “I was telling this to the guys. If we look alike, we should just have the same name. It would just make it a little easier. Life, that is. It would make life a little easier.” (Wipes tear from his eye.)
  • “Dat’s my boiiii, Jameses!”