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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Adventure Time: “The Red Throne”

Illustration for article titled Adventure Time: “The Red Throne”
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“Geez. Did I just get shown up by Cinnamon Bun?”

Yes, Finn. You did. But that’s totally okay, because Cinnamon Bun is super cool now. At the end of “The Red Throne,” any doubts Finn has about the finality of his break-up with Flame Princess are extinguished by the new man in his ex-girlfriend’s life, the formerly dimwitted breakfast pastry who has become a valiant warrior in the hopes of gaining a princess’ love.


CB’s evolution from his beginnings as the Candy Kingdom’s resident idiot to his current status as the noble right-hand man of Flame Princess mirrors this show’s metamorphosis over five seasons, growing from a fairly simple foundation into something huge and complex. “The Red Throne” takes advantage of all that complexity to tell a story that is simultaneously epic and personal, using a coup in the Fire Kingdom to teach Finn about the harsh reality of life after a break-up.

The episode begins in the Fire Kingdom, where Don John (voiced by Canadian Pro Wrestler Roddy Piper), a.k.a. the Flame Lord, appears to tell Flame Princess that she’s not evil enough to rule. Flame King has secretly arranged for Don John to orchestrate his escape, after which he will make Flame Lord his vizier and give him his daughter’s hand in marriage. FP is not into this idea at all, but she can’t fight back because she’s been weakened by poisoned tea given to her by her treacherous aide, Ursula, forcing her to retreat with the help of Cinnamon Bun and his firewolf, Jake Two. They need help, but neither one of them trusts Princess Bubblegum, so they go to someone who has a solid track record fighting monsters and armies: Finn.

FP overestimates Finn’s readiness for a platonic relationship, but she really needs his help, so she brings him to the Fire Kingdom despite his clearly sustained affection. Because of the poison, FP has cooled down enough for Finn to safely touch her, a clever metaphor for how people change after the end of a relationship and how the memory of another person can become something idealized once the subject is no longer in reach. FP is everything Finn wants now that she’s not a part of his life, but that inconvenient fact is not going to stop him from getting her back.

He starts off by trying to play it cool, telling her about how he’s been hanging with his boys and using his new cursed sword arm and exercising and taking piano lessons, rambling so she won’t be able to tell how lonely he is. Finn wants to convince FP that he’s actively trying to become a better person, but it’s too late to change her mind, especially with CB as her guardian. When Finn tries to scoot up to FP during the ride back to the Fire Kingdom, CB moves the princess out of the way of her ex-boyfriend’s encroaching crotch. CB is working his own agenda here, considering he loudly proclaims his love for FP at the end of the episode, but because of CB’s history of a dunce, Finn never suspects him as a significant romantic rival.


When Finn charges into battle without adequate preparation, he’s taken into custody with FP while CB is forced to fight two guards in hand-to-hand combat. CB has permission to leave when he out-dukes the guards, and he quickly takes them out with a single punch each to show how well he’s adapted to his new environment. Another fistfight breaks out when Don John confronts Flame King about FP refusing to become his wife, and these instances of aggression show why FP is a better type of ruler for the Fire Kingdom. The men fight because they enjoy it, and it’s become their main solution to problems because of pleasure, not practicality. Don John and Flame King are so concerned with their fight that they don’t notice Finn and FP escaping prison, and when the ruler of a kingdom is focused on aggressive defense, the people don’t get the attention they deserve.

FP is not the kind of ruler that the Fire Kingdom is used to, but she’s the ruler it needs. And luckily, she has CB at her side to fight for her when the time for action comes. After saving Finn and the princess from their jail cell, CB is hit in the face with some flames, and the application of heat ends up finishing the undercooked candy person. CB emerges from the fire with newly smooth eyeballs, and his mind has become similarly refined. With an eloquent speech, CB is able to convince the entranced victims of Don John to break free of their enchantment and turn against the oppressors, saving the Fire Kingdom and gaining great favor in FP’s heart. Finn may get shown up by CB, but he learns a valuable lesson about relationships in the process, and watching his ex-girlfriend find a new champion gives Finn the closure he needs to start looking for new romance instead of holding out hope for the rekindling of past flames.


Stray observation:

  • Explanation for Jake’s absence this week: He’s sleeping at Lady Rainicorn’s (maybe).
  • Between Adventure Time and Enlisted, Keith David is really breaking away from the terrifying, imposing persona he’s cultivated over the years.
  • Tonight’s credits reveal that Lena Dunham will be the voice of Betty in the February 24th  episode, which will spotlight the Ice King’s tragic romance from his former life as Simon Petrikov. I am intrigued.
  • I would greatly appreciate GIFs of CB outduking the two guards as well as FP punching Don John in the face. Can we make this happen, commenters?
  • “My gym is dark magic. And my protein shake is rage.”
  • “I’ll help you. I’lldoanythingforyou.”
  • “Girl’s bathroom is over there. Also, it’s the boy’s bathroom.”
  • “Get that bun!”
  • “These two… are out-duked! Now I’m making my escape.”

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