On last night’s episode of Adventure Time, “Be Sweet,” Ooo’s most irresponsible denizen, Lumpy Space Princess, agrees to babysit Ooo’s most potentially dangerous child, Sweet P, who houses the demonic Lich in himself. It’s the eponymous time again.
After the mindblowing reveals of the last episode, the second entry in the 6-part ‘Finnale’ takes a lighter touch by focusing on Lumpy Space Princess, the series’ stereotypical privileged teenager character, shaped like a purple sack of tennis balls. The episode sees LSP confronting the self-centeredness central to her character as she’s hired by Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig to babysit Sweet P, who is, of course, the Lich reborn in the form of an immaculate child. “Be Sweet” explores Sweet P’s theme of childhood innocence, while also introducing some much-awaited growth and internal conflict in LSP’s character.
There’s a good reason why Lumpy Space Princess is one of the fandom’s most beloved characters, and also a perennial favorite among newcomers to the series–she’s flat-out hilarious as a vehicle with which to call us all out on our embarrassingly teenager tendencies. LSP once pretended to be Finn’s secretary so she could seduce him and gain material for a trashy romance novel, only to fall for him herself. She once wrote a fanfiction shipping and gender-swapping herself and Finn. Her life in Lumpy Space was a giant parody of teen life, and all of its heavily codified slang and behavior, and penchant for overdrama. And Pendleton Ward does a fantastic valley girl accent, of course.
But aside from the humorous aspects, she’s also overprivileged, self-centered, has unrealistic expectations of what adult life entails and an overinflated sense of what she deserves, and no marketable skills with which to approach the real world. Midway through the series, she’d decided to strike out on her own to prove her own self-sufficiency, and she’s been living in the woods alongside forest vermin ever since, eating canned beans and wearing garbage. Yes, it’s been a tough couple of seasons for LSP, so when Mr. and Mrs. Pig-Trunks ask her to babysit, she sees a moment of possible redemption.
What’s frustrating is that it actually could’ve been such a moment, if only she hadn’t taken the opportunity to jump the gun into her own deluded fantasy in which she’d finally made it in the world. She takes nothing seriously from the moment she steps foot in Tree Trunks’ house, covered in mud and holding the raccoon she’d been wrestling for a piece of fried chicken. After she hoses herself off in the kitchen sink, while Tree Trunks is still there and trying desperately to give her Sweet P’s elaborately sweet bedtime ritual, LSP rushes them out so that she could play house.
Once alone, LSP lures Sweet P back into his room with frozen pizza, then wastes no time helping herself to the fridge, record player, wardrobe, fireplace, and bubble bath, where she brags to Marceline over the phone about how she’s now being paid extravagantly to just hang out and be cool, which is obviously untrue, as she apparently knows on some level. At that moment, the raccoon from her campsite comes bubbling out of the toilet, accusing her, in a deep voice sounding suspiciously like LSP’s, of being a fraud who deserves to live on the street with the wild animals, since everything she touches turns “gross.”
Judging from the bad lip-syncing with the raccoon, it seems that LSP’s conscience is finally getting the better of her, as she berates herself through the raccoon and confronts her most vile aspects. Meanwhile, a neglected Sweet P tires of waiting for his bedtime tuck-in, and goes crashing out of the room and into the streets: “Sweetness must be out there in the night / to guide my sleepy boat right.”
The episode throughout is one giant stress-fest, thanks to the fact that unlike LSP, we know what’s at stake here–we’re waiting to see if the latent Lich in Sweet P would surface as it did back in “Gold Stars,” triggered by emotional stress at the hands of the sheisty King of Ooo. When he was still around, the Lich laid waste to Ooo, killing the hero Billy, the original Wishmaster Prismo, and nearly altering the current timeline with a poisoned wish, and he’s currently sleeping in the mind of a sweet, hulk-sized boy. Sweet P’s current character premise is that if he should ever fall into that dark side as a result of emotional abuse or dysfunction, then all of that evil will come raging back into the world.
And that’s what was on the mind of viewers as they watched Sweet P roam the streets, looking for someone to tuck him in, while the Candy Citizens can’t help but scream and flee at the sight of a giant horned baby cuddling up next to them. The end of days was literally around the corner as we were all placed in the same vulnerable viewpoint as Sweet P, lost in the night streets of the Candy Kingdom, waiting to see if something terrible would happen to the child, and to the world as a result. By raising the consequences of neglect to apocalyptic proportions, “Be Sweet” returns to the series’ foundational theme of the fragility and preciousness of childhood.
After much screaming in the streets and harassing passers-by, Lumpy Space Princess finally tracks Sweet P down to the Banana Guard police station, where she gives Sweet P a proper tucking in. Later, Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig flat-out refuse her offer to become an in-house nanny, and LSP is back on the streets in no time, wrestling raccoons for drumsticks, unaware that her irresponsibility nearly doomed the world.
Back in bed, Sweet P tells Tree Trunks of the recurring dream he has, in which he’s a comet hurtling through space towards the Earth, over and over, and how there was a bearded man in space who was a fake comet. Tree Trunks laughs it off, but we know not only that Sweet P is the reincarnated Lich, but also that the comet does return every few millenia, as was stated by the prehistoric wizards in “Evergreen,” and that the Lich is tied to the comet somehow, probably as another agent of doomsday. As per Prismo’s description, the Lich is not a living thing, but more a machine of destruction, dedicated to eradicating life wherever he might find it.
It’s also interesting to note that the recklessly irresponsible Martin, Finn’s terrible, worst-ever father from the stars, is somehow inextricably tied to these disastrous events: Martin is the bearded man referenced by Sweet P, who escaped the cosmic prison, The Citadel, thanks to the Lich, and came careening towards Mars, where the deity-ruler Glob mistook him for the recurring Comet of prophetic doom. Glob then sacrificed himself, crashing into Martin’s ship to redirect its course. Thus, Martin is directly responsible for the death of the mighty Glob, was there at the moment of the Lich’s rebirth as Sweet P after being engulfed in the life-giving blood of the Citadel Guardians, and is on a fated collision course with Finn, as directed by the symbol of the comet.
As a final word, Sweet P says, ominously, “The Comet cometh,” implying that the father Martin, the son Finn, the child Sweet P, the darkness of the Lich, and the cosmic destiny of the Comet, might all soon collide at the conclusion of the Finnale, to illuminate the connections between each other.