On Monday’s episode of Adventure Time, “Blade of Grass,” Finn finally accepts that the demon bloodsword broken by Kee Oth needs replacing, but the new grass sword he bought for $3 might not be worth the curse attached to it. It’s the eponymous time again!
Apparently, someone does like the candle stand at the craft fair.
In pop culture, the sword defines the protagonist: Ogami Itto’s (Lone Wolf and Cub) sturdy, horse-cutting dōtanuki; Cloud’s giant Buster sword because anime; Voltron’s episode-ending blade; Beatrix Kiddo’s Hattori Hanzo blade; these are all externalizations of the wielder’s wiene-resolve. And awesome as Joshua’s demon bloodsword may have been (and it was), it wasn’t really Finn’s style now that I think about it, but a grass sword? Much more appropriate.
With “Blade of Grass,” the AT writers take on probably my favorite part of any game: buying gear. Marching into the new town after grinding through a 20 level dungeon, with your wallet full of coins mugged from slime cubes, and perusing all the shiny Cruel Winged Harpoons of Neptunes and whatnot. I don’t blame Finn and Jake at all for purchasing pointy objects from a tent made of grass: I’d be all over that hidden vendor.
Grass sword, how can I sing your praises properly? You ring like a bell when swung, you have a lawnmower mode, and you slice the bearer’s image into the target, which is all nice and dandy until you attached yourself to Finn’s wrist. To his wrist. The same wrist that he was missing in the Pillow world, in King Worm’s dream-prison, in Farmworld, and when he was Shoko in a past life. It’s such a long-running gag, only now am I reflecting on how weird it is, this anticipation of Finn losing his arm.
Adventure Time‘s been awfully clever in terms of prescience and foreshadowing and all of that. I loved that back in “Fire and Ice” (better known as the ‘wet dream’ episode), the inciting event was a dream in which the Cosmic Owl mumbled some incoherent prophecy, yet when Finn manipulates Flame Princess and Ice King to recreate the dream and the message, it read: “You blew it.” In other words, there was no external reason for Finn’s breaking up with Flame Princess: he couldn’t not complete the dream-message, he was fated to do so, and fated to lose Flame Princess. It’s a tidy metaphorical situation for puberty, which translates the same way: ‘oh god things are going horribly wrong and it’s for no reason.’ That occurred in the span of an episode, but this Finn losing his arm thing has been building far more steam.
It’ll probably coincide with another difficult lesson in growing pains, and it’s made even more intriguing by the dream of the grass blade: he’s standing alone in a field when the sword appears, dissolves into grasses, floats over and attaches itself to his body, turning him to grass also, which then dissolves. If we apply the old Freudian standby, I think it’s safe to say that Finn’s blossoming sexuality will need contending with, lest it consume him and result in some repeat of “Fire and Ice.” With the breaking of the demon bloodsword, Finn is moving out of the shadow of his foster-father Joshua, a complicated relationship explored back in “Joshua’s Dungeon” when Finn’s crybaby-ness was on trial. The discovery of the grass blade is the next step in Finn’s process of individuation, in becoming his own hero instead of a copy of his father. And anyway, wasn’t it a bit strange all along that Finn doesn’t have a trademark weapon?
Finn and Jake are eventually unnerved at the immense power of the grass blade, and become aware that they’ve stumbled on something they’re maybe not meant to have. And they’re completely right–that’s a ton of power to have strapped to a little boy’s arm, and a little boy prone to power trips a la “Jake Suit.” To remedy the situation, they confront the Grass Wizard that sold them the cursed loot, and easily dispatch his cursed grassy objects, only to find that there is no cure. Finn is stuck with the grass sword, and so he does the Finn thing to do, says the Finn thing to say: “whatevs.”
Now that Finn’s accepted the inevitable, the grass sword unsheathes itself at Finn’s command, and apparently stops encroaching upon his body. It’s a lesson in acceptance, represented appropriately by the Zen image of grass; a keen edge with immense destructive power, yet something that can’t be controlled, only accepted. In that context, the dream might not be so sinister after all–turning to grass and yielding was precisely how the curse should be dealt with. It may just be a message of adaptation, of losing oneself in order to gain so much more . . . like a robot arm.