„I got a job for you guys – one last score. Big one.“
Apologies for delivering the newest review not quite on time, I’ve had a stressful few days. That said, I didn’t seem to miss out on much with the newest Adventure Time episode, „One Last Job„, which, in a rare case for the show, seemingly tries too hard to make its take on the heist genre work.
Jake’s daughter has been kidnapped! The kidnappers demand of Jake to reassemble his old crew and pull off one last big heist to steal some magical object – the Baker’s Shard.
Spoilers from here onwards.
Once again Adventure Time declines to showcase its main hero for more than a scene, but instead focuses on Finn’s ever-prominent sidekick Jake. Jake’s an interesting character with an intriguing past (as all the main Adventure Time characters are), and „One Last Job“ explores several of his previously shown character beats such as his care for his children and his shady (if not criminal) past. His children are sort of a paradox the show hasn’t really been able to explain – despite being shown to greatly care about them in this episode, they rarely ever figure in the show, and Jake doesn’t even seem to know how old or (inexplicably) mature his children have become. While I haven’t watched all of the show’s episodes, even such an offbeat and oddball TV-series as Adventure Time will have a hard time explaining this unusual circumstance. While I applaud the writers for not ret-conning his children, his care for his children does seem to come from out of nowhere, which I am thus not particularly invested in.
Jake’s shady past, however, has been alluded to numerous times and always felt quite right, and it’s great fun to watch him assemble his old crew: Gareth, Tiffany and the Flying Lettuce Brothers. The team immediately clicks, and not just because their names were featured on Jake’s phone in the episode „My Two Favourite People“ – the three (or four) former allies nicely juxtapose the refined Jake of today with the sleazy thug that he used to be. While Jake clearly would not pull off a heist such as this if it wasn’t for the blackmailing, he still clearly enjoys somewhat reliving the old days, teaming up with his team and taking on the challenge of breaking into the well-guarded vault that hosts the Baker’s Shard -just what the hell is that thing anyway?
Clearly, „One Last Job“ is a cheeky parody of heist movies such as Ocean’s Eleven or Gone in 60 Seconds (and I’m sure many other such movies as well, but I’m afraid I haven’t watched many classics yet). The main character, actually having become a lawful citizen yet being a victim of the circumstances, assembles his team to do „one last job“, as the title suggests, one last break-in, after which he will leave his criminal life behind one last time. Just like in the mentioned movies, the team consists of various stereotypical experts – a master in disguise and/or seduction, another guy with helpful skills to get around guards, and an explosions expert to blow a path into the seemingly impenetrable fortress.
The episode shines with its offbeat characters that fill these roles: Gareth, for instance, is this hugely unsettling… person whose disproportionate head makes him one of the ugliest beings the show has conceived so far. His powers of seduction are helpful for the team, sure, but just add to his unpleasant appearance. I don’t want to go so far as to call his power of deluding women to be attracted to him rape („I will give you everything!“), but boy is the idea of magically seducing women a slippery slope the show is treading on – glad his story wasn’t expanded in this episode, and I’m not sure I would care for seeing him again. Then there’s the Flying Lettuce Brothers, whose dual nature is intriguing (particularly in the moment in which the two halves „complete“ each other and finally speak in perfect unison). The third (fourth) partner that Jake calls for help is Tiffany, a devious boy who apparently has been scheming for a while now about how he wants to become Jake’s BFF – which sort of gives the twist ending away, but in such a way one is not likely to pick it up immediately. Well done!
As Adventure Time showcased each of the three (four) partners in crime, I anxiously began to look at the running time of the episode, and by the time the break-in started more than half of the 11 minutes had elapsed. This soon proved to be one of the main reasons why „One Last Job“ falls quite flat – it’s just not meaty enough. The show often packs in surprisingly much in its short running time, but this episode definitely suffered because of it. There were just too many plot points to cover in order to convincingly tell a coherent story – the extortion video tape, the team, the plan, the burglary itself, the twist, the chase, the moral lesson. It really appears like the writers only realized that they were running out of running time after the overview of who Jake’s old buddies are – the heist itself is incredibly lame. Instead of watching them use inventive and/or goofy gadgets to get inside the fortress, the team resorts to some of the most primitive ways to infiltrate the place, such as, uhm, turning the cameras off after having already been captured by them or just walking into the control room of the guards. They don’t even utilize Gareth’s superpowers – boo!
Granted, Jake’s video-game inspired dance through the Corridor of a Thousand Deaths was great fun, as were a few of his later transformations (my favourite being how he permeated through the main gate), but the titular job was a huge letdown. The twist is fun and needed to fulfill the buddies-double-crossing cliché, but takes oh-so much time from the episode that Jake even has to postpone justice to the next day. Additionally, „One Last Job“ wasn’t particularly heavy on laughs, and neither is it on creative sight gags. A few of those are there, but none that really stick with the viewer past the broadcast. And while in the past two reviews I found it easy to find a hilarious or poignant quote to start the review with, „One Last Job“ isn’t a memorable in Adventure Time’s quote department either.
What the episode will most likely be remembered for, which isn’t much, is Jake’s daughter that has apparently aged 22 years in the span of just under a year. It’s a great message that the show delivers in a rather convoluted attempt – I’m not sure children will be able to even subconsciously pick up what „One Last Job“ is essentially saying: that parents will be proud of their children even if they take slight detours, even if they don’t succeed, even if they have gotten a little out of touch with them like Jake did with his daughter. Jake scolds her for doing something criminal, yet readily admits that he himself wasn’t a saint either, that he as a former child used to screw up from time to time too. But that’s okay, because what counts in the end is if you can learn from your mistakes and work on yourself. „I just wanted to be like you“, Jake Jr. tells her father, and while that honors Jake, it isn’t necessarily what he wants for his child. And that’s what he ultimately offers her in the closing scene of the episode – go home, regroup, talk, have a good time and then go separate ways again. That’s what adolescents and young adults do, to go their own way, and that’s just what Jake’s going to do as well – go back to his buddy, and let his children, with some of his guidance and council, discover the world on their own.
– Major logical problem in this episode: Jake could have just as well done the job himself – transform himself into a fly, sneak in, take the Baker’s Shard, enlarge himself to destroy the ceiling – done. Sometimes Jake is just too powerful, his transformative ability too versatile and unlimited, and then the show needs to resort to reasons such as „nah, too much hassle“ or tries hard not to think about it.
– Okay, so I totally thought Tiffany was male, particularly once I looked up her/his name. I guess voices of children of both sexes at that age simply sound so similar, but I certainly needed one character address him as a „he“. Even while writing I’m still confusing it.
– „No, I like organised sound.“
– Really enjoyed Tiffany reading off her cool lines from the scribbles on her arms. Great dig at the over-the-top monologues and pep-talks of television’s heroes and villains alike.
– Come to think of it, Jake Jr. being 22 year old when her biological age should be rather a year or so is a metaphor too. I think the age 22 wasn’t chosen by coincidence – 22 is like the perfect college age, which certainly is one of the main audiences that cares about picking up details and reading stuff into the show that isn’t necessarily even there (being self-referrential here). My interpretation is that sometimes during the college years, you just realize how young you really are, and how young you really were before that, and the meaning of the term „grown-up“ starts to take on more definitive shapes and forms.
– Euphemism of the week: „What the funky fresh, honey?“
– I usually find random Jake-ramblings to be quite funny and quote-worthy, and this episode’s monologue on a bird family „on vacay“ hit the nail on its head, before unfortunately going on a downward spiral. But that’s okay, right, because making mistakes is okay.
– I’m not quite sure what Jake Jr.s „long con“ is that Jake is proud of. Hope it doesn’t mean she isn’t taking anything away from this.
Conclusion: 5,0 of 10 points.
„One Last Job“ is one of the weaker episodes Adventure Time has produced recently. The episode lacks major laughs and suffers from a lackluster plot that simply would have needed more air to breathe.