The Annotated Adventure Time: Slave Labor and Stagnation in “Walnuts and Rain”

Adventure Time‘s newest episode, “Walnuts and Rain,” took a turn for the cartoonishly surreal, as Finn and Jake fall down into two separate holes: one holds a giant and his pantry, the other, a lonely bear on a parachute-raft. It’s the eponymous time again.

“Walnuts and Rain” takes a much-needed break from this more plot-heavy portion of Season 6; back-to-back, we’ve seen hefty revelations for TV Rainicorn, Susan Strong, Lemongrab (gaw-dang, The Mountain was insane…) and even Baby Lich. Last night’s episode took a leisurely detour with a tale of two characters who’ve settled into two very different kinds of ruts, thus illustrating a stagnated society that enslaves, and a stagnated individual who dreams of more.

At the beginning of the episode, Finn and Jake are casually talking about an off-screen adventure they just had (we could make a montage of those by now) and can’t wait to come home to the Treehouse to laze about and work on whatever whimsical nonsense cartoon characters have going on in their lives, something about laser recitals and videogames. Just as Jake comments on how great minds such as theirs think alike, Finn falls into a giant pit, as Jake panics, hits his head, and falls into a rabbit hole of his own.

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Finn regains consciousness in the sumptuous Kingdom of Huge ruled by the Huge King, who spends his days glued to his throne as his food-servants prepare food to shovel into his mouth, assembly-line style. The entire kingdom is basically a giant library of food and plenty, with a single mechanical clock in the center. Jake, on the other hand, wakes up on a floating raft serviced by a bear wearing bells and candles. Far from having food boys to service him, the bear’s lived in the pit a long and lonely time, so long that he’s forgotten his own name: even though he’d carved it into his raft long ago, at some point he started reading it upside down, and so calls himself ‘7718’ (7 for short) rather than ‘Bill.’

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King Huge and Bill bear the same symptoms of being incredibly isolated for an incredibly long period of time; they lead mind-numbingly boring lives compared to those of the outside world, and spend their days all wrapped up in the minutiae of their tiny worlds. But whereas King Huge fell into the luxury pit, stocked inexplicably with all manner of foods, of tiny servants made of foods, and a marvelous cuckoo clock to entertain him, 7718 has a deck of cards and the walnuts and rain that occasionally fall down the hole. They’re both trapped in their respective realms, 7718 because he’s actually in free-fall (slowed with makeshift parachutes) down a very deep pit, King Huge because he can’t fit through the tiny crack in the ceiling, though it doesn’t seem like he’s in a hurry to leave.

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And because they’re in the stuck mindset, both King Huge and 7718 advise Finn and Jake, respectively, to stay put and wait for the other to come rescue them, but for entirely different reasons. King Huge has no intention of leaving his realm and can’t see why Finn would want to, seeing as how they have all the food they could want and the entertainment of a quaint old cuckoo clock, but 7718 is trapped by necessity, with no way of escaping his meager predicament. The poor guy’s got his ribs sticking out his sides and can’t even remember 2-player card games, and so he absolutely welcomes Jake’s company. King Huge on the other hand, basically wants Finn to do nothing more than be another cog in the masturbatory clockwork of his kingdom. Because of his immense wealth and comfort, Huge is incapable of dealing with outsiders and new ideas, much less Finn’s desire to return home, which is strictly outside of the Kingdom’s ‘way.’

I’ve been thinking a lot about necessity as the mother of invention, and so “Walnuts and Rain” came along at a strangely synchronistic time for me. I’m sure everyone dreams of an endless pleasure-buffet as the greatest good in life, but like the clock in King Huge’s room, isn’t that a bit… small? King Huge is the logical conclusion of getting precisely what you want, all the time: xenophobia, stagnation, and a general smallness of existence. 7718 on the other hand, is someone who can both grow comfortable in a tiny miserable spot,and also accept change and invite the new, precisely because of his poverty. It’s a pleasant parable for those viewers who feel in similarly dire straits–the bright side of a crap situation is that it pushes rather than restricts, enriches rather than fattens.

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There’s also a subtle, maybe not-so-subtle commentary in there about the have’s and have-nots. It’s in that inscription on the clock, “IN TOIL WE KRIMBER,” that summarizes the food boys’ servile existence, and in the way their food assembly line reminds you of something like the proletariat underground scenes in Metropolis, with the laborers toiling away at machines that look much like King Huge’s clock, the cold beating heart of the Huge Kingdom. It’s in Finn’s escape plan, where he plots to offer the food boys food in order to with them over with generosity, an alien concept to them. It’s also in the creepy machine-toys that pop hourly out of the clock; one of the toy sets has two hammer-men pounding on an anvil, while the other is an agonized woman with children screaming about her. They’re the images of a life that is 50% toil, 50% child-rearing, a nightmarish existence for the legion of little men that support the one Huge King and his life of excess.

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Eventually, Finn has enough of King Huge’s tiny world and its nonsense, and destroys his beloved clock. It crashes into the stove beneath it, spilling water and smothering the flames that were creating the rising air currents keeping 7718’s raft afloat. The hermit bear and Jake tumble into Huge Kingdom from the stove vent, where Jake knocks out King Huge and frees them all. The first thing 7718 wants in the outside world? A big, juicy hot dog.

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2 Comments

  1. Sweet article, nice analysis. One thing though, I’m not sure masturbatory in “… cog in the masturbatory clockwork of his kingdom” achieves the desired result. The connotation doesn’t really pair up with the rest of the article. At any rate, I’m sure there is a better word out there. As Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug”.

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