The last few months of Adventure Time scheduling have been very odd, with the series going off the air for two months, returning with a random Halloween episode, then taking another month off before unloading five new episodes over the course of 10 days. The series is finally back on a consistent schedule starting this week, and “The Pajama Wars” is a strong return from hiatus, shifting focus to Finn and Princess Bubblegum’s relationship, which hasn’t received very much attention in recent episodes. During the Candy Kingdom slumber party, Finn and PB are trapped in a closet together to have heavenly thoughts, and while they don’t end up making out, they do rekindle their personal connection behind that closet door.

Adventure Time’s last episode featured some major development for PB, and the aftershocks of “The Cooler” are still being felt in tonight’s episode. That episode had PB making a significant change to her behavior as a ruler, and she’s still making an effort to be a more lenient and trusting ruler that isn’t obsessed with policing her people. PB’s major reason for not being romantically interested in Finn was tied up in her dedication to her royal responsibilities, but now that she’s taking a step back from her monarch role, there’s new hope for a romance between Finn and PB.

The Finn and PB storyline is quiet and pensive, taking time to explore the pressures these two characters face. PB is trying to figure out how to be a less tyrannical ruler in a kingdom where her subjects are incapable of taking care of themselves, forcing herself to give them leeway when she knows that things will inevitably go wrong. Meanwhile, Finn is still reeling from what happened with his dad at the start of the season, working through his issues by trying to solve the mystery of his enigmatic parent. “Maybe my dad’s not a dad,” Finn says, “but a kid stuck in a dad’s body.” While we haven’t seen much of Martin, this description sounds spot-on.

It definitely looked like Martin was actively fleeing his responsibility to his child to pursue his own selfish agenda in “Escape From The Citadel.” He views parenting the way a kid views his chores, and when he gets the chance to get out of his obligations, he quickly seizes it without thinking of how his son will be effected. Over 20 episodes later, Finn is still tortured by his father’s actions, and bringing that storyline back into play in tonight’s episode leads me to believe that Martin will be appearing again by season’s end.

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While Finn and PB reconnect, the slumber party descends into chaos. When the candy people don’t hear anything on the other side of the locked closet door, they panic and fumble their way through multiple plans to free Finn and PB, who have long escaped through a secret tunnel behind the coats. As their behavior becomes increasingly anarchic, Jake becomes increasingly entertained, witnessing everything from afar, fully aware that the actions of the candy people are futile. Finn and Jake are keeping each other updated with texts, pictures, and videos on their phones, so Jake knows that Finn and PB are alive, but stays silent because it’s a lot of fun to watch the chaos intensify.

Each new message received by Finn becomes a test for PB to see if she can really stand back and let her people govern themselves for a short time, and she’s able to restrain herself for the first few. It’s not until Colonel Candy Corn assumes power as a maniacal despot that PB finally puts an end to her platonic date with Finn, arriving just in time to stop the even more maniacal Crunchy (the new Cinnamon Bun) from throwing Mr. Starchy to his death. PB has to rule with an iron fist because that iron grip is what allows her to keep her kingdom together, and when she loosens it, everything quickly falls apart. What PB needs to do is train another person to share responsibility with her, giving her the freedom to pursue her own interests without worrying about if her kingdom will completely collapse in her absence.

“The Pajama Wars” is a silly, sweet chapter Adventure Time, balancing slapstick wackiness and introspective character development to offer a story that is light yet still filling. The meat of the episode is in Finn and PB’s interactions, and the relaxed pacing allows their relationship to really blossom over the course of the episode. The two make a mature connection that could be the start of something bigger down the line, and as Finn looks over the pictures he took during his time with PB, there’s a strong impression that his crush on PB is back in full force. Could love be in the cards for these two friends, or is Finn just opening himself to more potential hurt in the future? Only time will tell, but in the meanwhile, Finn has the memory of this great night with PB to keep him satisfied.

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Stray observations:

  • “The Pajama Wars” is written and storyboard by Somvilay Xayaphone and Seo Kim, and Kim’s influence can be felt in all the material with Timmy, PB’s adorable, rideable pet cat. Kim’s graphic novel Cat Person is full of hilarious strips about her love/hate relationship with her feline companion, and the overwhelming cuteness she brings to her cat on the page carries over to her cat on screen.
  • Jake has a touchscreen flip-phone. The future is weird.
  • Colonel Candy Corn’s Candy Kingdom rules: 1. You must drink tea with your pizza. 2. Pizza can only be eaten alone. 3. If your pizza is found in a field, you must make the next person you see holding a glass of milk eat it. The guy likes pizza.
  • “It’s called (long fart) and it is deadly.”
  • “Manfried’s a good leader because we can always see him.”
  • “So they’re dead, right?”
  • Finn: “Timmy knows what’s up!” PB: “Teeemy!”

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