Play dates are great ways for kids to build friendships, but more importantly, they give parents the opportunity to pawn their children off on someone else for a while. If you’re not the parent hosting the play date, you get some time to yourself; if you’re the parent that is hosting, you get some extra responsibility, but you also get an extra child to keep your own kid occupied and out of your hair for a little bit. (This is assuming that you’re not taking care of two hellraisers that need attention at all times, which is very possible. In that case, you’re just screwed.) Finn and Jake aren’t parents, but they are stuck with an incredibly annoying roommate, so they go the play date route so that they don’t have to deal with the Ice King themselves.
I’m a huge fan of Ice King living with Finn and Jake, but the writers haven’t spent too much time exploring the new dynamic in the treehouse. The relationship between Ice King and his two frenemies is one of the most interesting on this series, and it would be nice to see them spend more time living together. Jake is desperate to get rid of Ice King at the start of this story, and while it’s not easy to imagine all the ways Ice King has infuriated his roommates while living with them, an episode showing Finn and Jake’s increasing frustrations would have been appreciated. Finn refuses to kick Ice King out because he feels guilty about his role in the destruction of the Ice Kingdom, so they’re going to keep their new roommate until Gunther finishes rebuilding, but that doesn’t mean they have to enjoy it or spend time with him.
The title card for “Play Date” shows baby Ice King and baby Abracadaniel playing together, an image that foreshadows the juvenile behavior that takes over when the adult wizards hang out. The two have a rough history since Abracadaniel bested Ice King magically in season three’s “Wizard Battle,” but all it takes is a few words of praise from Abracadaniel to completely change Ice King’s opinion and make the two the best of friends. They play video games together (one of the episode’s best gags is the reveal that the swaying buddies are just mimicking the action on BMO’s screen), wrestle, stare at the clouds, and even put up a stage in the living room so they can perform an Abraca-Ice-King Revue, which is really just Abracadaniel doing interpretive dance while Ice King plays the drums.
Despite having to sit through some rough performance art, Finn and Jake’s strategy is a success, until it completely backfires when Abracadaniel and Ice King summon the Blood Demon from Joshua the Dog’s Demon Blood Sword. After Ice King speaks the words inscribed on the sword’s handle, the Blood Demon arrives and demands the blood in the sword in exchange for the lives of Abracadaniel and Ice King. After Finn breaks the weapon, the now fully-powered demon releases its prey but snatches Jake, whom he’s confused with Joshua. The episode ends with Ice King and Abracadaniel leaving Finn on his own, now stuck with the task of retrieving his best bro from an incredibly strong demon thanks to a play date gone horribly wrong.
It’s always a surprise when an episode of Adventure Time turns out to be the beginning of a multi-part story, and knowing that this is just the beginning of a larger plot makes it easier to forgive “Play Date” for not being a particularly challenging chapter of this series. Whereas last episode was able to build on a relatively simple concept and create something unique and a lot of fun, “Play Date” is a fairly standard installment of Adventure Time with enjoyable gags, but not much in the way of character introspection. Ice King has become one of this show’s most complex figures, so I’ve come to expect more emotion when he’s the focus of an episode.
That said, “Play Date” is one of those Ice King stories where the main intention is showing just how grating and obnoxious he is rather than making him a sympathetic character, and it’s a success in that respect. He’s the kind of roommate that sits on the floor in just his underwear eating cereal with no milk, spilling the chocolate bits on himself and picking them off his crotch to put them in his mouth. Sometimes, Ice King isn’t a tragic example of the sacrifices one is forced to make to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Sometimes, he’s just gross.
- Is there a more amazing way to go home than being carried by a pterodactyl? I’m not sure there is.
- BMO dancing is always the most adorable thing. ALWAYS.
- All Adventure Time fans need to check out Rebecca Sugar’s Steven Universe premiering tonight. I really enjoyed the first two episodes, and so did Erik Adams. Read his TV Review here.
- Abracadaniel’s silhouette is that of a penis and testicles when he’s sitting down.
- “Finn, I’m ready to murder the Ice King.” Homicidal Jake is not a Jake you want to have around.
- “You made it!” I love that BMO is legitimately nervous that Finn and Jake will be late to a show taking place in their own home.