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Princess Bubblegum has never gotten along with the Ice King, and it’s easy to see why. For most of the early seasons of Adventure Time, Ice King spent the majority of his time figuring out new ways to abduct princesses (PB especially) in hopes that they would become his new brides, and that’s the kind of thing that sticks with a woman. While viewers have come to sympathize with the plight of the Ice King in light of his tragic backstory, PB still holds on to her negative opinion of the man when she and Marceline attend a dinner party at his home in “Broke His Crown,” but over the course of the episode she gains a deeper understanding of her old foe and a new respect for his struggle.

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The dialogue in this episode is incredibly smooth, and writers Ako Castuera and Hanna K. Nyström (who also storyboard the episode) do remarkable work juggling character development, exposition, and humor in the script. For example, this exchange between Ice King, PB, and Marceline:

Ice King: Call me whatever you want. This is the best date I’ve been on since my last date.
PB: This is not a date.
Ice King: Neither was the last one. It was a robbery.
Marceline: For real?
Ice King: Yeah. She stole my heart. And my crown.

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The dialogue reinforces the strained relationship between Ice King and PB while also providing important background information about Ice King having his crown stolen by Magic Betty in “King’s Ransom”, and it does all this with a sense of humor that keeps the tone light and casual. The story intensifies as PB and Marceline start to investigate what is making Ice King’s crown malfunction, but the writers never lose their grip on the comedy, which balances out the more dramatic events to come.

The script is enhanced by Castuera and Nyström’s bold storyboards, particularly when the action moves away from Ice King’s mountain home and into the labyrinthine landscape of his crown, where PB and Marceline travel to find out what’s causing his violent outbursts. The opening transition into this world is one of the coolest visuals Adventure Time has ever attempted, beginning with PB and Marceline against an empty black background, a blank canvas that sprouts to life as the two women move through space. First there are thick yellow lines that appear across the blackness, which rise to create stone walls lined with foliage that rapidly grows with it as the music crescendos with an ominous blast of sound.

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It’s an extremely dramatic entryway into the world inside Ice King’s crown, but once PB and Marceline start walking, the mood lightens up again as they discover the original Gunther and Simon Petrikov, who help them track down the magical A.I. avatar of Betty that is corrupting the crown’s circuitry. Considering how fantastic the story is, the resolution is surprisingly grounded, and Simon stops Betty by appealing to her human side, which he brings to the surface by reminding her of how they first met years ago. It’s a touching way of giving this heightened story a relatable emotional foundation, and the final moment of Simon and Betty inside the crown works well as a potential happy ending for the two lovers who have been pulled apart by fate.

After spending much of my week with less than impressive depictions of female characters in Daredevil and Batman V Superman, it’s extremely refreshing to have an Adventure Time episode that spotlights the main women in the Adventure Time cast and showcases how rich and layered their characters are. PB is headstrong and intensely dedicated to her work (Marceline argues she’s too dedicated), but she also has a kind heart that motivates that commitment because her work helps other people. She’s a self-made woman, and she never lets anyone belittle her accomplishments, even if it’s an unintentional mistake like Simon Petrikov calling her Marceline’s assistant later in the episode.

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Marceline’s relationship with Simon is one of the show’s most complex and heartfelt, and the writers and actors bring a lot of emotional weight to their brief reunion inside the crown. From the very start, Olivia Olson makes Marceline’s longing for Simon clear in the way she treats the Ice King, and the wave of joy she feels when she sees him again comes through clearly in her performance. The mania of Kenny’s voice work of Ice King at the top of the episode sets a strong point of contrast for his warmer, calmer characterization of Simon later, and that personality shift is a big reason why PB ends up looking at Ice King differently when all is said and done.

Stray observations

  • Marceline and PB’s outfits and hair are fantastic this week. One of the best things this show did was bring a stronger fashion sense to their wardrobes, which also makes their characters feel more mature than Finn or Ice King, who wear the same clothes every day.
  • I love the bit where PB’s frozen drink smashes her in the face, especially the moment of impact and the glare PB gives Marceline after she licks her thumb and wipes off some of the red liquid.
  • It sounds like Lena Dunham called in her voice work for Betty this week, but it works well for a digital representation of the character.
  • There’s a hilarious “Don’t Forget Goggles” poster in PB’s lab that has a candy person running around with their eyes on fire.
  • Santa wore the Ice King’s crown? Sounds like set-up for this year’s Christmas episode!
  • Lyrics of the song Gunther is singing karaoke to: “I’ve got too many boyfriends to see you tonight.”
  • “Imagine…a pizza. Only half should be business. The rest should be personal. Personal pizza.”
  • Ice King: “I hope you like penguin cuisine. It’s mostly just shapes.” Marceline: “Who doesn’t love a good rhomboid?” PB: “You’re a rhomboid.”
  • Marceline: “Did you press the wrong button?” PB: “I never press the wrong button.” Marceline: “Yeah, you always know what button to press.”
  • “Assistant?! I have been my own boss my entire life! I built my own lab! I’ve created frickin’ life forms!”
  • “My place is trashed and I can’t remember a thing. Great dinner party, huh!”

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