Adventure Time, the smash hit Cartoon Network animated series that's basically what Lord of the Rings would be if it were was goofy as hell, is currently in the eighth season of their nine season series. And starting last season with the thrilling Marceline story line Stakes, the show has been willing to tell multi-part stories as miniseries events. The newest one, Elements, just finished airing and DAMN. It might be one of the most impressive story lines from the entire series! It shows us a completely different Ooo created by the Ice Elemental Patience St. Claire overloading Princess Bubblegum, Flame Princess, and Slime Princess with magical power and accidentally converting the world into those four elements.
Here are the fifteen best things from the story line, and fair warning: spoilers follow.
15 Nightmare Princess
Introduced in the semi-prequel episode Orb, Nightmare Princess serves as obstacle between Finn, Jake, and BMO from returning to the land of Ooo following the events of Islands. The entire episode (which takes place in the abstract nightmares each of our heroes goes through after eating a crap-ton of bananas) is a great look into the psychology of our heroes and all, but the main reason it's here is for the Nightmare Princess herself. The group has to assemble her physical form from pieces of their own dreams, creating a little girl in a red dress who also happens to have a cloud and unblinking eye for a head. Also bat wings because why not. She's a great piece of foreshadowing, both for the obvious off-putting elements of the transformed Ooo and the general creepiness of the tone. But, like the miniseries itself, she never forgets she's in Adventure Time and is ultimately placated by eating a crap-ton of bananas herself. Because no show does the shift from heart clenching horror to heart warming cuteness like Adventure Time.
14 The New World Of Ooo
When our heroes return from Islands, they're shocked to discover the world split into essentially four new wastelands. And for added effect, each wasteland is based in one of the four established "primal elements" of the magical world - but are each strong enough that they could be the entire story. The candy kingdom has turned into an eternally encroaching wave of pink. The slime kingdom is a bouncy green slime pit. The ice kingdom has grown a seemingly impenetrable dome around its borders. And the fire kingdom has brunt out, keeping the turn with their inhabitants a secret until later in the story. Each one is immediately interesting, and keeps you focused on what could be happening in the world below. It's the perfect set up for a mini-arc right in the middle of the show, and I don't know if any other set-up has ever grabbed me as effectively as that one did.
13 What Happens To Everyone And How Scary That Is
One of the greatest strengths of Adventure Time comes from the expansive cast that we've come to meet across the world. They range in motivations, looks, even core concepts. And those differences are highlighted by the new world created by the out of control elements. Initially, some of the changes seem positive. Lemongrab is still unpredictable and weird, but his rage madness seems to have been dulled by the influence of Princess Bubblegum expanding and effectively brainwashing everyone she connects with herself. But those changes hint at a deep difference at their core: their no longer the characters we've grown to love, but weird and imperfect copies of them slanted by the effects of each kingdom. Seeing Lady Ranicorn consumed by her rage and turned into a fiery version of herself is depressing, and the other changes (like Tree Trunks) are really unsettling. The entire arc is purposefully unsettling, and it's really effective throughout.
12 The Survivors We Run Into
While most of the inhabitants of Ooo have been transformed by the new world into avatars of their respective areas, a handful of characters remain unaffected - which is a pretty great use of continuity across the board. Cinnamon Bun, the Neville Longbottom of Adventure Time and by that I mean the silly joke of a character who transformed into one of the biggest badasses in the world, is still protected by the spell that allows him into the Fire Kingdom in the first place and remains unchanged. And so is Sweet Pea, the adorable giant toddler who is secretly the brainwashed series big bad 'The Lich', remains unaffected due to his magical nature. While Cinnamon Bun provides a good level of drama to the Fire Kingdom portion of the arc, it's really Sweet Pea and his terror at the candy-ized version of his adoptive parents that really sells the horror of the concept early on.
11 All Of The Candy People Puns (And Also All The Candy People Horror)
When our heroes reach the Candy Kingdom (which now extends all the way to their treehouse), they're shocked to find Fern (the grass copy of Finn) and Nepter converted into candy versions of themselves. They're goofy and untroubled by earlier aggressions and concerns, but there's just something off about their constant cheery dispositions. And it only gets worse as they head further into the Candy Kingdom and see the other people who have been transformed. And while it's hilarious in some cases (Marshmallow Marceline you guys, oh my god), it's also a creepy threat that only escalates as the miniseries progresses. Hell, we get to see the effects that the new Candy Kingdom can have on a person early on when BMO is transformed into another member of the hive mind that Princess Bubblegum has transformed into. It takes one of the few kingdoms that have been consistently good throughout the series and turns them into one of the biggest threats our heroes have ever faced.
10 The New & Improved Ice Kingdom
The Ice Kingdom has been one of the more recurring settings in the series, and the new version of it created by the new world order is, to be honest, one of the most beautiful segments the show has ever indulged in. With a protective dome surrounding the entire kingdom, there's barely any light in the entire area, prompting Finn, Jake, and the Ice King to use a sleigh and lantern to move through the kingdom. It's a great visual, especially because Ice King ends up looking like Santa while they do it. The light that does manage to get through the dome ends up appearing as stars, giving the setting a feeling of endless night. The band that plays mournful music in the new Ice Castle is great, and so is the reappearance of Carroll, whom we last saw as a disappointed cloud and is actually pretty content with the way the world has turned out. It's a calm alternative to the rest of the world, a place where everyone is just too cool and cold to really care about what's happening outside their borders.
9 No Party Like A Slime Party
The Slime Kingdom ends up being the third kingdom our heroes try to explore, and the entire place has been transformed into a sticky slimy landscape... except for this one club that is crazy AF. Home of the now massive Slime Princess, the disco rave is hilarious as soon as you see it, especially once we see how arguments are settled by dance offs in this kingdom. But the cheery horror comes back front and center when it turns out the winners and losers of these arguments are then assimilated into Slime Princess. A process that we get to witness when Jake ends up too comfortable within her for his own good and is absorbed himself. The kingdom separate Finn from his greatest source of help, and also introduces us to LSP's role in the story, which in of itself is one of the strongest elements of the story. But we'll get to her later. For now, let's just focus on the fact that Jake seemingly dies doing what he loves: being comfy.
8 Fire Kingdom Berserker Mode
The setting that's seemingly the safest from a distance turns out to be almost tailor made to stop Finn in his tracks. Underneath the earth of the smoldering Fire Kingdom are all the inhabitants, transformed into ferocious blue flamed versions of themselves. It's what happens when someone is consumed by anger and passion in this kingdom, forcing them into a semi-permanent berserker rage. At the center of all that is Flame Princess, who has been transformed into a dragon because this is the best show on television, you guys. The setting ends up being the thing that really beats Finn, as his own self hatred over failing to save Jake and the rest of the kingdom finally gets to him and he gives into his own berserk avatar. The brief battle between Finn and Dragon FP is great, and I'm right there with LSP in wondering that there might still be hope for those two bloodthirsty teenagers.
7 There's A Full On FP/Marceline Fight In This
Over the course of the series, two of the strongest characters we've encountered have been Flame Princess, and Marceline the Vampire Queen. each posses shape shifting abilities and a whole host of destructive abilities, and the prospect of the two of them getting in a drag out fight is enticing as hell. And when the Fire Kingdom marches on the Candy Kingdom, we get the chance to see them go at it... sorta. FP is in her dragon form and full of fury, while Marceline is still transformed into a marshmallow version of herself. But it doesn't stop Marcy from turning into a marshmallow version of her giant man/bat form, and getting into a flying wrestling match against Flame Princess. And the marshmallow form actually gives Marcy some extra strength, as she can easily repair damage she's been inflicted by the elemental flames. So what if it's more silly than awe inspiring? This is still a huge development, and a really fun moment.
6 Betty & Simon
Betty is back, and she ultimately proves to be one of the most dangerous elements in the story. After causing the change in the world, Patience St. Claire has kept herself removed from the world in the relative safety of her Ice Kingdom, prompting the heroes to travel the world and collect the gems from the four princess crowns to try and restore everything... or so Betty says. After a failed attempt to remind Ice King of one of their earlier dates and trying to accept Ice King as he is now, she still misses his former identity as Simon. To that end, she tricks Finn into collecting the gems and intends instead to open a portal through time, altering the events of the Mushroom War and keeping the Land of Ooo from ever becoming a reality. It's heartbreaking, and her eventual summoning to Mars for her attempted crime really leaves her tragic tale open to continue. Betty is one of the most interesting characters in the series, and getting to see her - somewhat insane due to the powers of Magic Man - as the anti-villain is refreshing and cool.
5 Ice King Being Okay Being Ice King
Ice King has been one of the deepest characters of the series ever since we learnt the true story of his origins in the season 3 two-parter, Holly Jolly Secrets. His former life as the kindly scientist Simon is a continuously depressing element of the series, especially whenever the story parallels the real life experiences of families dealing with diseases like dementia. But there's something incredibly sweet about seeing the silly and sad Ice King more at peace with himself than we've maybe ever seen him. He rejects all the Simon identifiers or comments, but still feels a connection with Betty that develops as the story progresses. When he finds out what Betty is really intending to do in the name of returning Simon to existence, he defies her. He doesn't know who Simon is, but he knows he's Ice King and that he can't let her just rewrite existence. He plays his own role in saving the land of Ooo, and no one even knows it.
4 The Episode Where Finn & Jake Just Talk About Life
Some of the best episodes of the series come from the smaller character moments shared between our heroes. The love between Finn and Jake is one of the most genuine feeling relationships on television (what, I said it, come at me), a brotherly love that's only strengthened by their natural friendship and loyalty. About half way through the story, Finn and Jake find themselves separated from Ice King and Betty and adrift on top of a cloud in the middle of the sky. Finn panics, as he's already on edge from his "failure" to keep Ooo safe. But instead, Jake does everything in his power to help calm his bro down and help him vent out all his frustrations and fears. But as the episode progresses, we learn that Jake has been doing everything in his power to contain his OWN fears. His children are never seen in the story, but he's thinking of them during the entire conflict, and it's a great moment of brotherly love. And also we find out that the way they get the other to open up is to pretend they're in a barber shop, which is adorable.
3 Finn & His Hero Heart
After Finn is corrupted into his fire kingdom form by his own anger and rage, he becomes one of the most ferocious beings in the land of Ooo. He even comes pretty close to being able to kill Princess Bubblegum during the battle between the two kingdoms. But an epiphany by LSP ends up giving Finn the chance to combat the rage he's feeling. It's ultimately a simple piece ofvgum that LSP puts on Finn that reminds him of earlier times with Princess Bubblegum (stretching all the way back to some of their interactions during the second season) that help calm the flames of rage and hate burning in him enough that he can calm down and be returned to his natural form. It's a sweet moment, and another reminder of just how important being the champion that PB can rely on is to Finn. And the cherry on top is the completely heartfelt hug Finn gives LSP afterwards. Even if she immediately ruins it by being LSP.
2 LSP Saves The Day
I've never really cared for LSP. I understand why she's here, and she's ultimately proven to be one of the most important characters with her slow, slow, slooooooooooow growth into maturity. But she still sorta annoys me, especially because I've known real life people like her and ugh. But Elements ends up giving her the biggest role in the overall arc of the series to date, and the moment where she steps up to help save the world really is a triumphant moment. The fact that it's followed by her turning out to be the anti-elemental and capable of undoing the effects of the world. It's probably her biggest and best heroic moment in the series, and it's refreshing to see her actually serve a purpose bigger than herself. Look - the fact that her powers are able to counteract the pure magical forces of the world is actually really cool, and then we get to see that effect on a molecular level. And by that I mean her molecules yell at all the other molecules in the world to stop being weird. It's great.
1 The Set Up For Future Stories
Okay. Okay. So the coolest thing this miniseries does is set up a number of future story lines, and I'm so excited to see what comes out of everything. When LSP restores the world, she inadvertently also undoes a number of magical connections around the world. The most obvious one is that Jake has an outer dog appearance wiped away, and his new form is more reminiscent of the blue shape shifting demon that is secretly the source of his powers. And Betty being taken to Mars to meet with Normal Man definitely will be revisited down the line. But the big one is a small moment that does NOT bode well for our heroes. Sweet Pea is the resurrected and good form of the deadly and dangerous Lich, but that's never stopped Sweet Pea from being a kind and gentle soul. The LSP wave may have just undone that, because Sweet Pea regrows his broken horn, signifying that the spell may have reawakened something dark within him. And considering that every previous appearance of the Lich has had major ramifications for the show, this one is setting something up. And I'm so excited that it hurts.