Adventure Time seems to have been about everything but for a good while now.
The old quests inspired by video games and Dungeons & Dragons are so often relegated to throwaway lines and, as with the recently rereleased game The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, so often we step back from the heroism and grand events to find meaning in the minutiae of the everyday people. But we rarely get to see “when that salsa cloud had [Jake] by the tail” or when Jake “swung him around into that golden cactus”.
The bulk of Adventure Time now comes from those moments of downtime, and in “Walnuts & Rain,” the show extrapolates something not unlike adventure from a mundane trip home, and we fall down a rabbit hole of strangeness that reminds me of recent episode “Dentist”.
Finn and Joke are separated when they fall into two different holes. Finn finds himself in a room, the famed Kingdom of Huge, that smacks of Gulliver’s Travels, talking to its ruler, who spends his time perpetually eager for his clock to strike the coming hour and passing his time in between being fed by his servants. Jake speaks with a bear who’s forgotten his name is Bill (in fact, reading his written reminder to himself upside down, he surmises he’s known as 7718, or “Seven” for short). Seven passes his time playing Freecell (he loves it because there are very few unsolvable shuffles), enjoying his solitude as his plank of wood parachutes softly down the dark hole.
Both King Huge and Seven advise that if Finn and Jake try to seek each other out, they’ll miss the other.
Finn rejects Huge’s passiveness, but this is “not the Huge way.” Finn comes up with a horrible plan for escape, refusing to allow time to better his situation. His scheme falls apart immediately.
Jake, meanwhile, takes on some of Seven’s wisdom: “For a long time I just waited to be rescued, but that was crazy boring. So then I got really into Freecell, and things got a lot better.”
The two hit it off and start discovering fun things to do with playing cards, and only when Seven and Jake fall into the Kingdom of Huge can Finn and Jake finally make their exit (also freeing Seven back to his life as a traveling salesman).
This was a fascinating meditation on patience, and it’s a good reminder that even when Adventure Time keeps it light, character explorations are still constantly being carried out. Finn tries to force his way to what he wants and gets captured; Jake waits to see where he’s taken.
A king is hand-fed pastries constantly; Seven survives off falling walnuts and rain. Both sit and wait, paying no mind to what might come when the waiting’s over.