Adventure Time affects me in a lot of ways per second, but BMO-centric episodes have extra helpings of said feels. If you’ve been following AT, you’ve probably noticed BMO’s strange fixation on humanity. Last Monday night’s episode was a doozy, giving us BMO’s origin, his creator, and his motivations for playing BMO the Human when he thinks no one’s looking.
- Jake and Finn dress up like MO-bots! Jake shapeshifts. Finn tucks his arms and head into his shirt and uses BMO as a head.
- The birthplace of BMO revealed! The ruined MO factory in the Badlands!
- The adorably inept MO guards!
- A fantastically rendered mine-ride sequence through the MO factory! Augh, the animation porn …
- BMO’s creator is the best possible incarnation of the handicapped genius trope. Also, we meet BMO’s creator.
- Haha, that tiiiiiny floppy disk they use to reboot BMO.
- BMO’s family! That MO with the lady-legs, the airplane MO, so many MOs …
Pretending to brush his teeth and getting suds all over his screen, play-kissing Lorraine the Chicken in Finn’s pillow, strapping eggs to his chest in mock-pregnancy… BMO’s weird little hobby comes up frequently, and it’s been pretty unsettling til now. Is BMO going to murder Finn one day and wear his life like a stolen sweater? Does he not consider himself a robot at all, is that why he spurns NEPTR’s company back in “BMO Noire”? It’s a slow-burning tension that reached its culmination in last monday’s episode, where we finally get a peek into the little turquoise dude’s OS.
Adding to his list of weird hobbies, we also find out BMO gets kicks out of rewiring himself, Gurdjieff-style, except instead of ridding himself of social conditioning, he literally deletes files off of his hard drive until he gets to something called coresystemdrivers.sys, in a parody of that nightmare situation I always thought would happen if I Task Manager my laptop’s vital bits away. The whole scene reminds me of a trip gone wrong: the curious little guy engages in some hardcore software tampering (accompanied by funny faces and giggling), he reaches a bad spot where he might lose his identity, and it’s up to Finn and Jake to take him back to his source, which is the MO Factory out in the Badlands of Ooo.
At the end of the rabbit hole, BMO’s human father, the brilliantly-named Moe, explains that BMO was built to “be more” than his crude mechanical brothers, that he was designed to recognize fun and engage in play, which really is the essential organic element; animals play, and animals psychologically malfunction in the absence of stimulation. It’s the difference between a golden retriever and a heap of very complicated chemicals.
Compare BMO to the tour-guide MO, who shows them around the ruined MO factory with the assembly lines full of forgotten parts, the shattered display windows, and the grimy scrapheaps in the corners. “Teeming with the wild throes of creation,” he said.
And what about the guard MOs that sit in their lounge rooms and pantomime as jaded security guards: ramming Hostess snacks into their face-monitors, making inanely xenophobic remarks about how the world’s full of no-good ‘goofs’ and their constant ‘how are you doings’.
These MOs act human too, but they don’t derive any joy from it, they can’t possibly; they merely move, are merely programmed. Forgivable, given that humans are susceptible to that kind of behavior too. Unlike BMO, they don’t play human, as they’re not performing the exploratory aspect that is foundational to play. There is the view that consciousness is matter growing eyes and mind to look upon itself, seeking to embrace itself on a level beyond the incidentally physical, and BMO is a perfect expression of that miraculous process, given his penchant for playing human. BMO is where matter meets consciousness, and the vivifying element is his capacity for play.
But that’s not all: BMO wasn’t made to just play, he was made originally to look after Moe’s son, and was sent alone into the world to find a new family once Moe realized he wasn’t that much of a ladies’ man. What a pretty little mythology that makes: BMO the fun-elemental with human aspirations, Moe’s only son sent into the world to find a human boy to guard. Yes, in one single episode, BMO went from creepy demihuman to robo-Jesus.