On Monday night’s episode of Adventure Time, “We Fixed A Truck,” Finn, Jake, and BMO find a truck and recruit Banana Man (voiced by Weird Al!) to help them fix it up! Also, Princess Bubblegum is a lizard synthoid replicant – conspiracy theory, or truth-stranger-than-fiction? It’s the eponymous time again!
- Yep, still crashing at the Treehouse
- Finn: “Okay! Cool! Informative! [whispering] What is he pointing at?”
- Getting organic vegetable oil in Ooo is as easy as 1, 2, hit-up-the-Breakfast-Kingdom, holdem-down, bucket-the-oil
- “Bring me . . . a shrubbery”
In “We Fixed A Truck,” we saw a relatively minor character, Banana Man, receive major screentime and transform into as loveable a personality as Finn and Jake. Thrown into the blend is an Invasion of the Body Snatchers sendup with Princess Bubblegum and reptile synthoid replicants, and I’m not saying it’s reptilian synthoid replicants . . . but it’s reptilian synthoid replicants. I will never not write out ‘reptilian synthoid replicants.’
Adventure Time is densely populated by side-characters like Banana Man, but they aren’t necessarily throwaways, or single-serving jokes – every now and then, it seems the writers pick a favorable looking one, and turn him from a trope into a character. Take Ice King for example: he went from a pretty basic, princess-snatching villain (albeit a more realistic and disturbing incarnation than we’re used to), to a tragic figure that’s nigh-central to the mythos, and finally to a temporary roommate who’s never addressed, and I’m pretty sad about that actually. I was looking forward to roomie-sitcom hijinx between 15 year old boy, magic dog, and centuries-old Ice Wizard. But as I was saying, what Adventure Time does very well is humanizing tropes, whether we’re talking villains like Ice King, or random weirdos like Banana Man.
The last time we saw Banana Man, he was living by his lonesome, working on a rocket, and trying to borrow some sugar from his neighbors Finn and Jake before they went and wrecked all his properties because Jake was embracing his future death, and Finn wasn’t having any of it. But hatchets bury easy in Ooo, and Banana Man is back to help them fix a truck they found in the woods! Like Princess Bubblegum, Banana Man is a science wunderkind with a vast knowledge of Pre-Mushroom War technology, and even gives a great Bill Nye-style explication of a combustion engine that makes fixing a truck sound, dare I say it, fun. Unfortunately, for all his know-how he’s a lonely little fruit who busies himself with projects to stave away his solitude. Weird Al Yankovic is a fine pick for Banana Man’s voice actor, since, from what I’ve heard, he had a rough coming of age himself, and captures Banana Man’s amicable desperation very well (“I FIXED IT ARE WE BEST FRIENDS YET”).
Banana Man’s irony is that for all his mastery of engines, rockets, and technology, he simply doesn’t have the means or capacity to make a friend. When he spots a lovely Lady Banana-Guard, he shies away from confronting her: “Having someone to love takes up time I could use to work on stuff …”. As I said, he lives cloisted in his space-age Banana Dome, whiling away the hours on projects, and basically lives within himself. Working on the truck comes to mean working on himself, and in this case, his interest in technology actually helps bridge the distance between himself and Finn, Jake, and BMO. It goes to show that you don’t have to deny your own interests in order to reach out to others. And to think, he used to be just a banana-shaped man who built rockets and did aerobics.
The other big plotline in this exceptionally random episode comes up when BMO stays up late working on the truck. He tunes the radio to Starchy’s late nite show “The Graveyard Shift”, which is a Welcome to Night Vale-style talk show detailing all the weird stuff he sees working in the Candy Kingdom graveyard. Starchy takes a call from a Banana Guard (judging by the honky voice), who voices a rumor going around – that Princess Bubblegum is a reptile. The concept is based on an actual conspiracy theory, popularized by English writer and former football player David Icke about reptilian shape-shifters moving into positions of political power, in a bid for global domination. It sounds quite nuts, but then again, so did the whole ‘heliocentric universe’ shtick.
On a side note, I would listen the hell out of an actual “Graveyard Shift” podcast hosted by Starchy, and with random personalities and Banana Guards calling in to discuss weird Ooo goings-on.
After the truck is fixed, Banana Man and company joy-ride into town, just in time to find PB chased through the streets by an angry mob. BMO informs a shocked Finn and Jake that everything’s alright – they’re merely chasing the reptilian synthoid replicant of PB, which prompts Jake to, uncharacteristically, act the voice of reason: “You gotta stop listening to all those conspiracy shows – they twist up your noodle so you can’t tell what’s real.” Pretty sound advice, until BMO tricks Bubblegum into eating a beetle, thus revealing her true reptilian synthoid replicant form.
This conspiracy-theory episode has unique meaning to me as an Adventure Time recapper, because a lot of episodes have a lot going on, and sometimes a lot of it doesn’t seem to connect, and other times, a lot of it does. In this respect, our job bears a striking resemblance to that of the conspiracy theorist – are we just seeing things, or is there a thematic pattern? Is there an author to these coincidences? is the author I??
This occupational paranoia rears its hooded head when it’s time to put together the loose ends of an episode: namely, why in the seven hells is an episode called “We Fixed A Truck” focused on Banana Man and reptilian synthoid replicants? Any answer is necessarily paranoid, is necessarily the trick of drawing a straight line through haphazard dots. Maybe I shouldn’t even, maybe I should stop polluting the increasingly entropic world of cultural miscellania and just shut up . . .
But nah. Clearly, what we have is an episode about keeping an open mind and reaching outside of yourself. Banana Man wrenched himself away from his routine distractions for a more fulfilling life with Lady Banana Guards, and trucks to fix with friends, where before he was an insular, tightly-wrapped burrito of loneliness and insecurity. And on the subject of keeping an open mind, maybe conspiracy theories are a load of baloney, maybe they’ll save us one day from would-be reptilian overlords. Or maybe Pen Ward and friends just needed to fill six minutes.