On last Monday night’s episode of Adventure Time, “Apple Wedding,” Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig attempt to get hitched while a jealous Lumpy Space Princess lurks nearby to crash the party, and Princess Bubblegum takes issue with TT’s non-complicity with Candy Kingdom civic law. It’s the eponymous time again!
Adventure Time is ringing in the New Year proper: with a wedding episode! One that completely smears the concept of ‘the wedding episode,’ and how better to achieve this than by marrying two of the most unlikeable characters on the show?
Tree Trunks as a comic creation is breathtaking. She’s cute on paper: a little green elephant that lives in a quaint hut and bakes everyone apple pies. But when said elephant is an over-the-hill southern belle, and said apple pie becomes a too-thinly-veiled sexual pun (every time she talks about someone wanting a slice of her “warm apple paaaah” . . . ), she crosses over from cute to an (admirably-crafted) object of complete revulsion. Which went up to 11 after she met the Mr. Pig of her dreams, with whom to ooze that elderly sexuality all over everyone’s public space. It’s just. So. Good.
Thus, having the “Apple Wedding” is getting maximum mileage out of a great character, playing to its grotesque strengths. Now, it seems every sitcom must have its wedding episode, and pretty much every wedding episode pits successful wedding vs. impending disaster, but Adventure Time’s spin is a wedding couple that no one could possibly root for. Everything inverts: is this horror I’m feeling as LSP tears across the lawn, bulging out of her wedding dress, or is it glee? Do I really want someone to deflate the King of Ooo’s zeppelin before it hits the crowd, or do I want to see how this pans out? Is it possible to react any other way when the wedding party looks like this?
Speaking of the King of Ooo, “Apple Wedding” also advances a plotline we’ve been anticipating for some time now: Princess Bubblegum’s transformation from utopian leader to rigidly dogmatic and alarmingly expansionist tyrant. Once she learns that Tree Trunks doesn’t recognize her authority to marry, and has instead the ‘one true King of Ooo’ to officiate the wedding, due course of law goes out the window; she unlawfully breaks into his zeppelin and rummages through his paperwork, and once her evidence turns out bunk, she imprisons the whole wedding party out of spite. The worst of it is that she’s not wrong; the King of Ooo is a cult leader with a mountain Serenity compound where his devotees do his housework, while he runs around dispensing good luck to keep on his followers’ good side. Princess Bubblegum’s redeeming aspect has always been her selfless devotion to the Candy Kingdom, so when she flouts law for personal vendettas, I think we’re on the cusp of her collapse. Which will probably coincide with that slime-zombie army that the original James is gallivanting with.
By embroiling Princess Bubblegum, Adventure Time does a better job than most shows of exposing the superficialities coating our idea of ‘wedding.’ It’s a maelstrom of crap not only on emotional spheres, but on civic ones as well, as we’re all too familiar with nowadays. Who gets to point and say ‘they’re married’ and have it be true? Who’s the center of attention? Is it wrong that their love accentuates my loneliness? Egos cast long shadows, and one couple’s sunshine day is an emotional eclipse for the un-coupled. Hence Tree Trunk’s trio of exes, and especially Wyatt, my god . . . run faster, BMO . . . I think it was clear that Adventure Time was out for blood when I realized it was Wyatt on the title card (see banner).
All that being said, I don’t have a thing against weddings, save for the tall cultural pedestal that it sits upon, and I don’t think Adventure Time has an anti-marriage agenda either. Once the wedding party is locked up in a cell, in a vacuum of egos and ideologies, and once the officiator gnaws at the bars and escapes through the window, the marriage finally has a chance of happening.