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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Adventure Time: “Mystery Dungeon”

Illustration for article titled iAdventure Time/i: “Mystery Dungeon”
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The theme song of Adventure Time may only spotlight Jake the Dog and Finn the Human, but over the course of this show’s five seasons, it has accumulated quite the cast of memorable supporting characters. This week’s episode brings together an assortment of fan favorites to help Ice King make his way through a dungeon, and it’s a delightfully insane episode that features a constant stream of jokes and visual gags as Ice King, Tree Trunks, Shelby, Neptr, and Lemongrab overcome obstacles thanks to their individual skill sets. Dungeons and the bands of heroes that traverse them are a major part of nerd culture, from Tolkien to Dungeons & Dragons, and each character in this episode fills a specific role, although it’s not the traditional model of Thief, Cleric, Fighter, etc.

This episode is a showcase for this show’s amazing voice talent, and each of these characters has a wonderful, distinct voice that reflects a lot of their personality. Polly Lou Livingston’s Tree Trunks is a kind-hearted older woman that isn’t quite present in a lot of situations, Pendleton Ward’s Shelby is adorable with a bitchy side, Justin Rolland’s Lemongrab is exaggerated and crazy as hell, and Andy Milonakis gives Neptr a childlike innocence and appreciation of the world around him. Then there’s Tom Kenny’s Ice King, who is probably the show’s most demented and tragic figure. The characters spotlighted in “Mystery Dungeon” all have their own unique personality quirks that result in an incredibly madcap story when combined. This episode is a bit like It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World or Rat Race in that respect, with each member of Ice King’s team having certain qualifications needed to move forward while also providing a huge amount of comedy.


Tree Trunks has the baking skills needed to make the pie that will awaken the rat that opens a trap door, but she also can’t get other characters’ names right (she calls her companions Ice Cream and Lemoncarb) and has a tendency to speak about her pies in a very sexual manner. (“If you want a taste of my juicy apple pie, you better be nice, you got that?” “Alright gentlemen, have a look at my luscious, gooey apple pie.”) Shelby is supposed to be the bait for a giant fish that the group encounters after the pie rat, but he’s not having any of that. In one of the episode’s best jokes, Tree Trunks asks, “How are we ever going to worm our way out of this fishy situation?” Shelby has an idea, and in the next shot, Tree Trunks is dangling over the water, waiting to be eaten by the fish as the water warms her undercarriage. The fish eats her, the men pull it out of the water, and Tree Trunks cuts her way out, noting that “Wow, that was heavy, man.” Shelby is also the most reasonable of the group, and he’s the first one that catches on that Ice King is hiding something.

After the giant fish, the team encounters a giant three-eyed, tentacled monster that can only be defeated by being sprayed by Lemongrab’s vital juices. Lemongrab is the scene-stealer of this episode, a ridiculously over-the-top character that needs to scream every line and views everything as a life-or-death situation. He’s obsessed with eating the Ice King, and when Ice King says, “I’ll just die here, and y’all can eat my body if you want to survive,” Lemongrab opens his mouth and bares his razor-sharp teeth in anticipation. And then there’s the part where Lemongrab punches a giant rat in the face and eats an apple pie out of its mouth. Lemongrab’s purpose seems to be to provide disturbing visuals, like when Tree Trunks revives a juiced Lemongrab by sticking her trunk in his mouth and pumping him full of fluid. (Saliva? Do I really want to know?)


The only character who doesn’t really mind being in the dungeon is Neptr, who isn’t even supposed to be there in the first place. Neptr is happy that he gets to spend some time with his “papi,” but it turns out Ice King only brought him along because he thought he was BMO, who would be able to break through the esoteric encryption system that is the group’s last obstacle. When Ice King curses himself for grabbing the wrong robot, he exposes his plan to the rest of the team, and while Neptr may not have BMO’s hacking abilities, all he has to do is throw a pie at the door to gain entry to their final destination: the chamber of the Sleeping Magi of Life Giving, who is able to grant life to whatever object touches his magical flames. Shelby is pissed that Ice King didn’t just tell them his plan because he would have freakin’ brought something, but Ice King doesn’t want to risk the Magi’s power being used up on anything less than his most prized possession, and he tosses his “Fionna And Cake Omnibus” into the flames.

For a moment, it seems like this show is going to bring Fionna, Cake, Marshall Lee and the rest of the Ice King’s beloved gender-swapped characters to life, but then the book jumps out of the flames, sounding like Mickey Mouse and farting a lot. It’s just the latest in the series of disappointments that is Ice King’s life, but Neptr is there to comfort his dad when he sinks into a depression. He reminds Ice King that his characters will always be real in the garden of his mind, and as Ice King meditates and enters his Imagination Zone, Neptr gives voice to imaginary Fionna to give his dad something to live for. Finn, Jake and Shelby watch nearby in horror, and Finn asks, “Who in this world is sadder than the Ice King?” Shelby replies, “Me. Watching this,” but he’s wrong. Nothing and no one in this world is sadder than the Ice King. It’s a surprisingly moving ending to a wild ride, and hopefully, future stories will continue to spotlight the rich cast of characters that populate the land of Ooo, because this week’s episode is freakin’ hilarious.


Stray observations:

No real stray observations this week, so here’s a collection of memorable quotes:

  • “Avast! Hold tight your buns, if your buns you do hold dear!”
  • “Check out my mods, bro!”
  • Lemongrab: “Ice King, how do you taste?” Ice King: “Nice, I guess.” Lemongrab: “MILD OR SPICY!?” Ice King: “Kinda lonely.”
  • “Make pies, slave.”
  • “Shlop your mouths up!”
  • “Don’t criticize my running, Shelby!”
  • “Stop selling fib bibs and get it straight.”
  • “The grand prize of me loins!”
  • “Write in me!”

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