Last week, I briefly touched on how I think Adventure Time has some of the best-written dialogue on television. I think this latest episode more than proved my point, and then some. Setting itself up as a tribute to the Thin Man movie series of the ’30s and ’40s, it blends the show’s already stylized wordplay with period slang (or what sounds like it). The result is one solid gold line after another, more in one 11-minute block of time than some series have in whole seasons.
“I’ll show that peepsie the pepper!”
“Now put an egg in your shoe and beat it!”
“You’re about as fine as a canary in a cat mine!”
And all of it is delivered complete with Golden Age Hollywood-throwback Transatlantic accents by Maria Bamford and Kent Osbourne, who utterly dominate this episode. They’re the Nick-and-Nora-esque Margaret and Joshua of the title, the long alluded to but rarely seen parents of series protagonists Finn and Jake. A birthday celebration leads Jake to reminisce about his birth, providing an excuse for us to finally see the old duo in action.
Joshua and Margaret run a monster-fighting agency, but with Margaret about to give birth, Joshua is reluctant to take on any too-dangerous assignment, though she’s gunning for some excitement. He thinks that accepting a job from Tree Trunks to investigate who’s been stealing her pies will be safe enough, but that leads into an encounter with a strange, frightening shapeshifter blob thing. A bite on Joshua’s noggin leaves it looking grimly swollen, and the very pregnant Margaret must venture out alone to confront the beast and milk its venom for an antidote, a belt of weapons barely buckled against her swollen tummy. But there’s more afoot here than it seems — once Margaret thinks she has what she needs, the creature chuckles to itself, morphs into some kind of glyph, and opens up a portal to another dimension. And she’s too late to administer the cure to Joshua’s head, which bursts open to reveal… baby Jake. Who dances a greeting like Michigan J. Frog before falling asleep.
So. Jake is actually the product of an otherworldly lava lamp lump implanting something in his father’s head. If anyone called that, then please let me know, because I want to become their apprentice and learn their ways. This season’s theme of fathers has gotten an unexpected kink thrown into it. Turns out that both Finn and Jake have jerk parents, though it’s unclear if Jake is aware of it (whether the episode is a flashback or a memory of Jake’s is left ambiguous). At any rate, I fully expect that we’ll see Jake’s… mother… other father… some word for parent outside the bounds of gendered identifiers… again.
Once again, Finn and Jake have taken a backseat, though this story is obviously of great import to them as characters, both in terms of background and for developments to come. Even without that, though, the fantastic dialogue kicks “Joshua & Margaret Investigations” into the top tier of the season so far.