Adventure Time Recap: “Play Date”

On last Monday night’s Adventure Time episode, “Play Date,” Jake and Finn try to convince Ice King to move out, but the lonely frost-wizard refuses, because living with bros is just too fun. They take on the Herculean task of finding Ice King a bro of his own, and what better candidate than . . . Abracadaniel? It’s the eponymous time again!

Highlights!

  • Unexplained pterodactyl ally
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  • Those who’ve never had roommates will never understand . . .
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  • Abracadaniel can now add floramancy to his assuredly voluminous spellbook
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  • “That’s just a binklemeyer.”
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  • “C’mon best friend, let us not betray Finn. Let’s fight Kee Oth ourselves.”
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After the trivia of truck-fixing and starvation-fueled cannibalism, Adventure Time throws us a monumental event, a gamechanger, a verily tectonic shift in the emotional politics of Ooo: Ice King finds a friend.

As I watched the miraculous unfold (as ineffable and mysterious as childbirth) I kept waiting for the upshot; I mean, this can’t possibly be happening. In the episode, Finn and Jake call Abracadaniel over and build him up as a right upstanding dude, one that Ice King should now hang out with and forget all about Finn and Jake and the Treehouse, and it worked: Ice King upstaged Abracadaniel’s flower-growing spell with this frost-rafflesia-scultpure-thing, and what followed was straight out of Step Brothers:

‘You’re the greatest wizard ever.’
‘Well, maybe not ever ever . . . am I the greatest wizard of our generation ? . . Yes.’

DID THEY JUST BECOME BEST FRIENDS? YUP.

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What’s the catch, what’s the false pretense at work here? To my amazement, there was none – Ice King and Abracadaniel had a hangout, and bromance descended as innocently as magical wizard-snow. Abracadaniel thinks Ice King’s wizardry is the bee’s knees, that his otherwise-obnoxious drumming is great (enough to interpretively dance to), and that his companionship enjoyable. I cannot ruminate enough on what this means – it’s as though we’ve just seen the Lich defeated all over again, or Ashe receive another hearty kick to the gut.

For much of the series, Ice King’s decrepit emotional state was the true archvillain of the show because it was unassailable, and devastating to behold. He’s a creepy, lecherous old man with skinny eel-like legs, pathogenic beard-dandruff, and an unbearably sad backstory that he can’t even recall. And the absolute worst of it is that he isn’t a villain at all – he knows Finn’s favorite food is meatloaf, that Jake doesn’t like ice in his drink because of his sensitive teeth, and he opted to do battle with Kee Oth (using frost bolts and daisy showers) instead of endangering Finn.

I can imagine Finn and Jake reminiscing on simpler times, when their job was just throwing punches at Ice King whenever he kidnapped a princess – but this, not even adults can deal with this, especially when it manifests as an unwanted roommate: that dreaded, half-relationship mishmash of obligation and detestation, where the problem crashes in your living room instead of out there.

I remember writing in the “We Fixed A Truck” recap about the show’s acumen at humanizing side characters into main players, and Abracadaniel continues in that tradition. Having a giant roster of side-characters is usually a way for a show to detour from the protagonists and play with some other toys for a while, but Adventure Time handles its playthings expertly, and weaves their stories into the main plotlines in such a way that seems so natural, yet completely unpredictable. Abracadaniel’s milkface (does anyone know if this is a slur outside of AT?) demeanor dovetails nicely with Ice King’s egotism, and come to think of it, they’re not all that different in terms of egos . . .

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Abracadaniel isn’t just a milkfaced pushover; it’s merely the veneer on an unpredictable core of pridefulness and competitiveness. Think back to when he inexplicably challenged Princess Bubblegum to a shank-fight in wizard prison, or when the shock of winning Wizard Battle turned him from milquetoast to raging testosteroid, and again in “Play Date” when he shoved BMO off the stage during the “Abraca-Ice King Wizard Revue.” What we perceive as milkface-ishness (you bet your ass I’m milking ‘milkface’) is an unstable ego vacuum, one that explodes when given a taste of self-esteem, hence A’Dan’s raging alter-ego.

The Ice King/Abracadaniel duo, while hilarious, is also a wildfire waiting to start – neither has ever had a source of unconditional bro-rapport, and now that they do, there’s no telling what can happen. Ice King might even start snatching princesses again, except with a phallus-shaped sidekick this time around.

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And how vicious it was to end the bro-iest of episodes on that cliffhanger . . . after Abracadaniel tricks Finn and Jake into letting him sleep over (Jesus, just retitle this episode “Step Wizards”), Ice King shows him to F&J’s awesome loot, including Finn’s Demon Bloodsword. The scene is kinda like when you had sleepovers with your bestie, and showed them your dad’s secret stash of Nazi memorabilia. After Ice King thoughtlessly summons Kee Oth via the incantation on the sword, and after an ill-advised confrontation between Abraca-Ice King and Kee Oth, the demon takes them hostage and demand from Finn his stolen blood. The sword is destroyed (Finn cosplayers everywhere unconsciously reached for theirs), and a reinvigorated Kee Oth escapes with Jake in his grasp, while Ice King and Abracadaniel peace out to the Ice Kingdom, which (unsurprisingly) has been rebuilt for weeks.

Amazingly this wasn’t the season finale –  next next week’s episode, “The Pit,” has Finn and Lady Rainicorn venturing into Kee Oth’s dimension to rescue Jake. Look forward to it!

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