Most wouldn’t have noticed the void left in the television landscape last week; those who did are still coming to terms with their feelings of loss. As of this week, there will be no more waiting prolonged periods for new episodes, no more being stimulated by wacky shenanigans, and no more wondering where this is all leading, for Adventure Time has come to an end. Yet instead of leaving viewers content, it has left them desperate for more.
Come Along with Me begins not with the iconic opening to Adventure Time, but by introducing two new characters, Shermy (Sean Giambrone) – who resembles a small, white bat – and Beth (Willow Smith), a pup princess, both of whom live in a distant future hinted at in previous episodes. The vibrant, sunny landscape that Ooo has been associated with is gone, replaced with a dull, overcast world where the only source of entertainment is disturbing the oversized gumball machines walking the area.
It is from one of these machines that a relic drops: a silver arm, thought to be centuries old. To find out who it belonged to, Beth and Shermy walk to the mountaintop home of the King of Ooo, the only person old enough to have known such a person. Upon arriving at the home, it is discovered that the King is actually BMO (Niki Yang), the sentient, childlike computer once belonging to Finn (Jeremy Shada) and Jake (John DiMaggio). BMO recognises the arm, allowing him to recall the tale of the great Gumball war.
Fought in Adventure Time’s “present day”, the war begins with Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch) and her forces preparing an attack on her Uncle Gumbald (Fred Melamed), a tyrant seeking to rule the Candy Kingdom. Many of Bubblegum’s friends are trying to persuade her out of conflict, including Marceline (Olivia Olson) who lived through such experiences as a child; the Duke of Nuts (Steve Little) who believes a diplomatic solution is still possible; and Finn, who has grown tired of fighting after all these years.
When it first aired at the beginning of the decade, Adventure Time was seen as a wacky, off-beat and occasionally surreal programme, with its humour and animation akin to that of Spongebob Squarepants – only with a twelve-year-old boy as its star. Yet with every passing season, Finn grew older, and the show matured with him; as of such, Come Along with Me is a calmer, more mellow experience than the first lot of episodes were. Indeed, the differences are so profound that one cannot be sure they are watching the same show.
Of course, long-time fans will not be perturbed by this fact, for they have witnessed Adventure Time gradually evolve into what it has become; said fans are the ones who will reap the most enjoyment out of Come Along with Me, which rewards them constantly for their dedication to the series – the earliest example is when Shermy and Beth enter the King of Ooo’s home, where they are surrounded by artefacts that reference older episodes.
These plentiful gifts are not just visual, for Come Along with Me also delivers on an emotional level. Over the course of forty-odd minutes, viewers are treated to seeing Marceline transform into an enormous, shadowy beast with a Bowser-like growl; loved ones finally expressing their true feelings for each other; friends reconnecting after years apart; a one-time antagonist disappearing Infinity War–style after heroically saving the day; and a heartfelt song from a former animator of the programme.
After previously contributing to the Stakes mini-series with “Everything Stays”, Rebecca Sugar – nowadays the showrunner of Steven Universe – has once more lent her musical talents to Adventure Time with another lyrical composition, this one called “Time Adventure”. Sung by the entire cast, or just about, during the episode’s climax, it tells how time is a construct, but the power of love is timeless, doing so in the most beautiful of ways. Additionally, the melody also emphasises how important music can be – and how important it has been.
It’s surprising how only now, when Adventure Time has reached its end, that the series has decided to address the significance of music, despite it being prominent throughout the show’s entire run. As Jake the Dog philosophises:
Music is powerful, man. It speaks to a primal pit on our brains. It makes anyone want to get up and get their knees going.
Music doesn’t just serve as a form of entertainment, for Adventure Time’s characters – and, by extension, its writers – have also utilised song to express feelings of love, loss, freedom, fear, sadness and contentment over the years. The Music Hole (Ashley Eriksson) summarises best:
A good song can really wrap people up in a mood, better than any words could.
Although it is the last episode, Come Along with Me is not a conclusion to the series, for Adventure Time is going the Gravity Falls and Last Airbender route and continuing its narrative in the form of comic books. That would be fine, were it not for the episode teasing numerous potential storylines that this author was left craving to see. Adding to that woe, many of the mysteries about Ooo’s future, sowed in episodes like “Lemonhope” and “Graybles 1000+”, fail to be addressed, leaving the viewer eternally curious.
While the finale will not be one to make this author’s list of favourite episodes, Come Along with Me is nonetheless a satisfying experience, being as thoughtful and touching as any other episode of Adventure Time. Capped with a majestic song, it ensures that the series will endure long into the future, even as devotees move on to their new favourite show.
Now, how soon is it before Infinity Train arrives on our screens?