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‘Adventure Time’ Season 6 Premiere Review: A Lot of Dark Developments, But Still So Fun

'Adventure Time' Season 6 Premiere Review: A Lot of Dark Developments, But Still So Fun

The first two episodes of the sixth season of “Adventure Time,” which premieres on Cartoon Network tonight, include the death of a major character, more than one icky dismemberment and one very deadbeat dad. And yet the show remains littered with bright colors and hilarious site gags at virtually every turn. This balance has always been key to its appeal, but in recent weeks — the sprawling season five finale just wrapped a month ago, and now here we go again — “Adventure Time” has shown an increasing confidence at realizing its finest traits. Pendleton Ward’s imaginative creation is one of the most remarkable sources of innovation on television today not only for its trippiness but the process by which it constantly smuggles incisive observations and disturbing events into its goofy mold.

Consider, for instance, the season five cliffhanger in which human Finn sits on his back and gazes at the stars while the ghost of his long-dead hero tells the adolescent that his father still lives. It’s not a startling revelation that shakes the foundations of the show’s mythology so much as a validation of Finn’s emotional life: Yes, he’s a floppy-armed kid who lives in a post-apocalyptic world with his flexible talking dog pal adjacent to a kingdom made of candy, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have a history in that context.

The same wry device comes into play at the start of this season, the second half of the two-parter “Wake Up” that began last month, which finds Jake the dog hanging out in the cosmic inter-dimensional bachelor pad of his party-loving pal Prismo, a lackadaisical genie voiced by Kumail Nanjiani. Bizarre figures of various shapes and sizes hover around Prismo’s loft, but the dialogue is resolutely human: We’re only seconds into the episode before a many-faced polygonal creature attempts to pick up a female character by describing her as “an interesting and conventionally hot woman.” In the corner, the perennially evil Lich — a monster intent on destroying existence, voiced by Ron Perlman — sits in the corner in a state of suspended animation due to earlier events. A handful of presumably intoxicated party guests hurl detritus in his direction, gleefully yelling, “Eat it, Lich!” If you set aside that these impossible characters are hanging out in the strangest of contexts, it’s just another fun night at Prismo’s.

READ MORE: Does the Obsessive ‘Adventure Time’ Fandom Overlook the Depths of Pendleton Ward’s Cartoon Network Hit?

Back in the land of Ooo, Finn remains haunted by the Lich and the possibility of discovering his father. Always the concerned pal, Jake encourages his friend to turn to the wish-fulfilling Prismo to help them locate Finn’s old man. And so begins a constantly surprising two-episode quest to a remote space prison called the Citadel, where Finn’s dad lies in suspended animation along with several other “space villains” — although right up until Jake and Finn arrive there, Finn remains in denial about his dad’s morally ambiguous past, wondering aloud if he’s a prison guard. It’s a funny defense mechanism, particularly since we’re watching a boy and his dog fly through space, but it’s still a defense mechanism.

Of course, Finn has some issues to discuss with pops, mainly why he abandoned the child as an infant in the middle of the forest. But even as each 11-minute “Adventure Time” episode crams in many alternately absurd and intriguing events, as an epic story arc it remains thoroughly patient: Finn has plenty to sort out with his dad at the conclusion of these episodes, but the fate of the Lich takes an amusing new turn, and Finn’s cursed sword arm — an ingredient that has festered in the sidelines for weeks — reaches a beguiling new state. The pink-hued Citadel and its regenerative liquids provide yet another physically inventive set piece; the use of wacky slapstick alongside melancholic asides gives the impression of a Buster Keaton movie funneled through an alternative comic lens. Sometimes, “Adventure Time” gets too wound up in its zany developments for its truly astonishing intelligence to shine through. But that’s exactly what makes it such a savvy cultural achievement.

No matter how silly its twists, “Adventure Time” always slips in a certain wise gaze. In these new installments, we hear about Prismo’s origin story, which involves a 1,000-year waiting period — not unlike the 1,000-year journey that the lemon character endured in last season’s two-part odyssey “Lemonhope.” The recurrence of this duration provides another reminder of the way the show explores the fog of time — everything about it feels weirdly familiar and distant at once, evoking the uneasiness of the present when both past and future hover in the background, threatening to complicate a seemingly balanced picture. There are scary forces hovering in the details of “Adventure Time,” but even during the strangest, eccentric moments, it’s never less than a welcoming experience.

Criticwire Grade: A-


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Comments

Jordan Rachol

What If Greg Universe(back when he’s so very young,from steven universe,and making his appearance in the final episode of adventure time,’Mountain’).
where he tends to able to help out the Finn, Princess Bubblegum, and Jake to create the new,healthy city for all humans and able to create the four Guardian with new power and using the 4’s powers for good against the Peace Master’s rage?
it’s not a bad idea for that:|||)

Jordyn Rachol

this’ll be lead directly at the first episode of Steven Universe:|||

Indiewirefan453

This is a great idea:^>
And an Interesting idea for this one;^0))))
"This Season 6 finale of Adventure Time be heart-felt and noble for the taste of its fan!"

Jordan Brindle Gibbs

This Season 6 finale Adventure Time is proven to be an idea for this;even the completing bridges that’ll soon be leading up to real story of the crystal gems and a real story about Steven Universe’s mom,Rose Quartz of how she secretly met up with Steven’s father,Greg Universe<:||||)

Jordyn Rachol*

What if by the end of princess day episode,since Lumpy Space Princess and Marclene the vampire queen won the Princess Day contest, on the season finale of Adventure Time: season 6’s upcoming series finale three-part odyssey"Future Of Ooo.",where the two couple growing up and began to re-imaging the land of ooo into a new,safer,but tranquility civilazation for humans everywhere in the map,thus completely must teach the 4 young female guardian that’s now imprinted with gems(on one’s forehead,other one a chest,and the another one’s 2 hands were imprinted on,the oldest one is imprinted on a belly)and after thelast time in the "Princess Day",where Lumpy Space Princess & Marclene Aberdeer both won by default in princess contest(which it’s fixed by a mysterious menace who’d given out fake invitations before the start of the newest Adventure Time Episode 12 of Adventure Time: Season 6) Finn finally propose to marry princess bubblegum and so she did, when she replies to him and said,"yes,Finn,YES!":^>
Please Accept this idea for the Season Finale of Adventure Time: season 6 BECCKARR!
Pleaseeeee:'<

Jordyn Rachol

What If FInn Proposes to get married to princess bubblegum and re-create the land of ooo into beach city,a safe location for humans?

Beckarr

"not unlike the 1,000-year journey that the banana character endured in last season's two-part odyssey "Lemonhope.""

The character Lemonhope is a lemon-thing, not a banana character.

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