The Annotated Adventure Time: Long-term Relationships in “Cherry Cream Soda”

In Adventure Time‘s “Cherry Cream Soda,” Root Beer Guy’s ashes are reanimated during a lightning storm, but he finds life as reanimated dirt a trying adjustment. It’s the eponymous time again.


The seventh season’s starting out strong thus far, opening with heavier episodes centered around Princess Bubblegum’s ordeals as a deposed Candy ruler, with an intellect to burn but with no purpose to guide it by. The season takes a slight downshift with a return to Rootbeer Guy, a one-off side character through whom the writing staff was able to provide some engaging thoughts on day-to-day minutiae of life in the Candy Kingdom, which is basically life in any other metropolitan area.

Back in “Rootbeer Guy,” our soda-headed friend was a hapless cubicle fixture with no outlet for his more adventurous urges. The episode was a great take on noir storytelling and urban living, and ends with Rootbeer Guy rejuvenated in a new position as a Candy Kingdom detective; “Cherry Cream Soda” takes a similar tack and tells a story about starting over in relationships, but of course, with a dash of the twee and macabre.

married

Cherry Cream Soda finds herself a grieving widow-turned-newlywed still obsessing over Root Beer Guy two months since his death and her remarriage, to none other than our anti-Bubblegum conspiring friend, Old Starchy the gravekeeper. Starchy’s been awfully patient these two months, as Cherry Cream Soda awakes every morning still expecting to find RBG in bed, and in the morning shower. She succumbs to Starchy’s rather pushy plea to simply bury RBG’s rootbeer-soaked remains for closure, and heads out on a stormy afternoon to do so.

In an empty lot in the Candy Kingdom, amongst loose sewage pipes and stray growths of cattails, Cherry Cream Soda chooses RBG’s final resting place and remembers the day Princess Bubblegum brought them into the world; in a drugstore-style soda fountain, Bubblegum poured their soda essences into their respective cups, clinked them together, and declared them man and wife. It’s a cute scene that drives home the fact that they were, literally, made for each other, a dissonant idea now that RBG is dead.

Sure enough, after CCS buries the jar full of rootbeer ash, a lightning bolt catches upon a crowbar directing the voltaic charge into the soil, and RBG arises, adorably undead. You gotta love his minimally altered character design, which features roughly the same shape but with a body of dirt and a head full of ash and a single cattail growing from it, a soft visual symbol of our day-to-day decomposition and rebirth.

stomp

The resurrected Rootbeer Guy has an understandably awkward reunion with his wife, and given Starchy’s antagonism and his own freakish undead strength, he leaves Cherry Cream Soda’s home in ruins, and himself in emotional shambles. He eventually returns after a tavern pep-talk with Jake and Lady Rainicorn, who tell him not to pick up where they left off, but someplace “you haven’t been yet.” There, he faces off with a territorial Starchy, armed with the shovels and spades to empty his undead jarhead of its animating soils.
Cherry Cream Soda eventually stops the fight and dismisses Starchy as the manic nutcase that he is, but tells Rootbeer Guy that though they’ve never technically met, given his undead state, she’s willing to meet him again for the first time. They remark on how they were married so fast (since birth, actually) and never really had the chance to either date or get to know each other.

It’s a tidy conclusion to an episode about long-term relationships, wherein the romantically involved seem sometimes unchangeable, sterile even. Until ambitions give way, and your husband dies fulfilling his heroic ambitions, battling an ancient world-eater, and comes back months later all zombie-strong and full of soil. But just as Rootbeer Guy’s visual design suggests, we grow and regrow. All in all, the episode was a welcome detour from the emotionally trying start, and continues the series’ meandering narrative style, the cornucopia of slice-of-life snapshots that continue to make Adventure Time an engrossing watch.

2 Comments

  1. I’ve missed your review/discussions dude!! Almost as much as I’ve missed adventure time…which has so far had a fairly strong opening to the season. I’ve had trouble adjusting to how…small the episodes have been, but I think I like the new direction. I’ve always enjoyed over analyzing the show (as I’m sure you have too), but just enjoying a simple story is satisfying in and of itself. I’m considering doing my own write-ups; there’s not enough discussion nowadays.

    Question time! How do you feel about the current popularity of the show? Especially in relation to Cartoon Network’s “bigger” shows now like Steven universe and teen titans go? Like your honest opinion.

    1. Glad to see you’re still reading man, thanks for the kind words! I know what you mean about the ‘smaller’ episodes though, it’s a biiiig shift after Comet-mania.

      But man, the small moments still feel explosive to me, and I believe that’s a sign of timelessness. When I think back to my favorite episodes of any series, they’re not necessarily the most plot-heavy, world-building things in the world, they’re just examples of good storytelling. The classics are just as often quiet as they are flashy, like Calvin and Hobbes, you know?

      With regards to the series’ popularity… I honestly have no clue, haha. I sort of live in a hermetic bubble when it comes to things like that, I never know if the popularity is waning or waxing or what, though I’m sure SU is drumming up a fever pitch right now. Hence, I can’t really comment, but I will say that nothing else holds my attention like Adventure Time does. That’s not to say at all that there’s nothing else good on TV, but AT just feels immune to the most common pitfalls of its competitors (dialogue-splaining, unnecessarily gratuitous feels). So I’d say, let the big shows be big! I won’t mind at all if AT keeps chugging along quietly and true to itself. Posterity will take notice.

      But yeah, feel free to link in the comments if you do end up writing your own analyses somewhere on the interwebs, I’d love to read! Really gotta get outta that bubble’o mine…

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