„I won’t be needin‘ this anymore…“
Ice King is yet again rejected by Princess Bubblegum, and this time it seems to hit home. Deciding to start a new life elsewhere, Ice King embarks on a journey at sea. After a storm, he awakens on the beach of an island he soon discovers is more inhabited than he thinks…
Spoilers from here onwards.
It has become quite common for an Adventure Time episode to hardly feature Finn and Jake at all, but this time it probably makes two episodes in a row for the first time. Just like the previous „5.11 The Suitor„, „Party’s Over, Isla de Señorita“ only briefly glances over the two protagonists, this time not even letting Finn finish his only sentence of the episode. This time it’s not Finn’s or Jake’s place to be the mirror for the main character of the episode, though the episode does employ mirror images and situations once again. Instead, the pair is sort used as the moral compass of „Party’s Over, Isla de Señorita“ in their brief scene, in which Finn and Jake restate PB’s right of self-determination – and Ice King, of course, brushes them off.
Ice King’s delusional view of his relationship with Princess Bubblegum is, after all these years, still a worthwhile resource for jokes, although apparently, Adventure Time’s writers might have had a slight change of heart, judging by the end of the episode. The opening scene was good fun, yet at the same time one of the creepiest scenes the show has ever done – not the evil-demon-doom-crazy kind of creepy, but one that unnervingly speaks to a mature audience. I’m not sure this goes over the children’s head, but the implications of an old man watching over the sleeping victim before trying to abduct her via taping her mouth are certainly not PG. „Hi baby…“ Sure, PB, being the strong and independent woman, just wakes up and rips the tape away, but it’s hard not to associate the real life scenarios from the news. Or maybe that’s just me as an Austrian.
Still, the show avoids pondering on the issue for too long and instead moves on with great positive momentum, i.e. fun. I particularly enjoyed how the Ice King misinterpreted the situation („I’ve done everything to make this relationship work!“), delightfully clinging to his authority by ordering the banana guards to escort him out of the castle. It’s sad, really, how Ice King cannot realize the eternal rejections he is receiving, both for the princesses and Ice King himself. For him it’s like he is already in a relationship with Bubblegum, a relationship she is happy in and he is trying to save, and like any desperate lover he is willing to go to great lengths to do so.
By repeatedly explicitly depicting this distorted view on the relationship between PB and Ice King, Adventure Time makes sure that the foil of the story is perceived as such regardless of how well we know the characters beforehand. The story is also made slightly more complex by the Ice King’s professed identification with the Isla de Señorita, when in fact it is the Party God that plays the Ice King part of the island-God relationship (yup, I just wrote that). Ice King, however, only ever sees the wrong parallels of their stories – he sees himself as trapped by PB’s nonchalant manner, unable to ‚break up‘ with her despite how unhappy the ‚relationship‘ is making him.
In this episode, Ice King changes from an antagonist to a true protagonist for once, replacing Finn – this time, he is the hero that goes on an adventure, meets the girl in desperate need of help and vanquishes the evildoer. The Ice King’s temporary removal of his crown symbolizes as much, but also implies the struggle between the Ice King’s consciousness and unconsciousness. For once he is doing the right thing, although doesn’t realize he is doing it – if the crown makes him unable to commit good deeds, a delusional world view might just be the only way for him to do good. This is of course under the assumption that the Ice King will never be able to break free from his crown, which on a show as bouncy as Adventure Time can never be guaranteed, but him removing it for half of the episode did not result in a withdrawal of his beard or, at least hinting that the transformation from Simon to Ice King can ever be reversed.
While his consciousness stays trapped, the Ice King has to rely on his unconsciousness to do the work for him. Here the show is pretty reliant on the writers‘ talents to do the things they have done for „Party’s Over, Isla de Señorita„: do good deeds for the wrong reasons, and fight his inner beast without realizing it. In this episode this inner beast manifests itself in an outer one, as he strikes up a friendship with the island and bargains and fights the Party God, a being that exhibits lots of qualities the Ice King normally does as well. „Girl, he is no good for you“, he ironically advises Isla de Señorita, and soon sets out to end this madness himself.
In a way, he sets out to fight himself. The battle between Ice King and Party God mirrors the fights between Finn and Ice King in many ways – the good guy has the lesser powers (possibly the first time we see someone best Ice King in terms of magical powers directly), yet manages to overpower the antagonist through ingenuity. He then pays the island lady a visit with the lifeless/unconscious/dead Party God, and once again Adventure Time manages to weave the narrative tightly: Ice King obviously doesn’t only speak for Party God but also himself – unconsciously, of course. At this point in the story, the crown is firmly resting on his head again, as he had to resort to using it for his victory over Party God – yup, just like in the „Simon & Marcy“ flashback. That way, he both wins and loses at the same time, just like he does at the end of the episode when he goes to visit Princess Bubblegum again. „I’m breaking up with ya!„, he screams, blaming the failure of the ‚relationship‘ on her, yet flies away with the words „ah we’ll work it out“, which I take to mean the breakup was just for show.
Ice King is still a very trapped individual, yet through the (not necessary intentional) help of his friends the Ice King persona takes a backseat from time to time. While he isn’t exhibiting awareness of his dementia just yet, he subconsciously is making progress to truly become an „emotionally mature friend“. It’s a great story that Adventure Time has carved out of this formerly one-note villain, which certainly is one of the main reasons why I keep tuning in on (and keep reviewing) this show
– Here’s a naughty thought – where did Ice King get the wood for his hut from?
– Love how the Ice King’s picture of PB shows her being mad at him.
– „Uuh, where amooooorrrgh….“
– „No.“ – „What?“ – „No!“ – „What?“ – „Nooooo!“ – „What?“
– This episode was once again really high on randomness. My favourite laugh-out-loud moment probably was the moment Party God split into dozens of mini-Party Gods – just what kind of powers has this guy got? Well, I guess we won’t see him again, which I’m not too disappointed about – he looks like a wad.
– „… you were as much of an inspiration to him as he was to you – if not less so.“
– Loved this week’s colour palette!
– Ice King offers the isle to come and visit him – not sure that’s going to work out.
Conclusion: 8,5 of 10 points.
Funny and endearing, „Party’s Over, Isla de Señorita“ is a great episode that has a lot of subtext to it. 11 minutes can be quite the blessing – with so much weight on the Ice King’s shoulders, the story got close to becoming a little one-note.