Annie Edison: Everybody, point your magic Christmas weapons at him.
Professor Ian Duncan: Oh, brother. This is ridiculous. You are enabling a delusion.
Jeff Winger: The delusion you’re trying to cure is called Christmas, Duncan.
Annie Edison: It’s the crazy notion that the longest, coldest, darkest nights can be the warmest and brightest.
Britta Perry: Yeah, and when we all agree to support each other in that insanity, something even crazier happens.
Annie Edison: It becomes true.
Troy Barnes: Works every year. Like clockwork.
That’s from one of my favourite Christmas related pieces of media, “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”. It’s a brilliant episode of the brilliant TV show Community. Nice little Christmas related sentiment at the end. Sort of gets at the pagan/psychological root of the whole affair and captures why it’s still worthwhile. Hopefully I didn’t just drain away all your Christmas spirit.
But I’m not going talk about Community. I just like that quote. Today I’m going to talk about another favourite show of mine, Adventure Time. Adventure Time is popular enough without me chiming in. Basically it’s this narratively loose animated fantasy show. It’s set in a goofy post apocalyptic world and is driven by memorable and well-written characters. It’s also frequently sad and profound.
Take for instance the last two episodes I watched “Lemonhope Part One and Two.” These two episodes actually star Justin Roiland, the co-creator and voice of the titular characters in Rick and Morty. Lemonhope is a genetically engineered lemon creature creator by the two most terrifying characters on the show – the Lemongrabs. The Lemongrabs are psychotic despots who abuse and torture their subjects. The main characters of Adventure Time freed Lemonhope, an angelic harp-playing child, in a previous episode. These two episodes deal with Lemonhope as he rebels against his role as saviour of the Lemon people, then eventually comes to grip with his role, but still keeps what he perceives as his freedom. Heady. And the episode itself is filled with symbolism, intense dream sequences, and rumination on the nature of freedom. But also a dancing lemon sings a song. It’s awesome.
Now Adventure Time has a wonderful two-part Christmas special. “Holly Jolly Secrets.” The episode revolves around one of the show’s more tragic characters, The Ice King. Initially just a buffoonish, Princess-nabbing foible for Finn and Jake, Ice King is slowly revealed to be a tragic and complex character. The Christmas special goes a long way to establishing that.
The episode starts with Finn and Jake finding a suitcase filled with videotapes. They realize they belong to The Ice King and decide they should watch them to uncover the evil secrets hidden on the tapes. They sit down with their anthropomorphic computer BMO to decode the tapes. Which turn out to be not so much evil as horribly personal.
“Diary, I’ve been meaning to tell you something insanely private, but darest I? I… love… to… ugghh! Fill my bathtub full of milk and sit in it like I’m a magic angel. There, I said it. The white of the milk is so dense, and when I poke my little toes out from under the milk they startle me and I giggle. Hee hee. I giggle, diary! Hee hee. They’re my own toes, yet I giggle. And then I fall asleep, and the milk curdles and I get all stinky and sticky. Disgusting, diary. I’m disgusting! I’m disgusting! I’m disgusting and I smell like curdled milk! *cries*…anyway, back to the Turtle Princess.”
That part is actually sped up, but it’s there in all its horrifying glory.
The Ice King catches wind of what the trio is up to and decides to watch with them. He doesn’t realize they’re watching his diary just yet. He starts to mount increasingly desperate attacks. They fail. Comedically! As he mounts his attacks, the temperature around Finn and Jake’s treehouse gets increasingly wintery, driving them to curl in front of a fire wearing cozy sweaters and eating coincidentally Christmas related deserts. Cue the accidental creation of Christmas. The Ice King even accidentally references Rudolph:
[Whispering to a snowman looking in a fruit bowl] They wouldn’t be in the fruit bowl! [The snowman has an apple stuck on his face.] Ohhh! Well, look at you with your nose shining so bright! You’re so unique! Hehe! I’ll name you Red-nose, and make you leader of the pack! [He accidentally knocks the apple off the snowman's face.] Eh… Well, now you look boring. [The snowman makes a devastated face. Ice King picks up the apple.] You want somethin’ done right, ya gotta do it yourself. [Sticks apple on nose and smiles]
As The Ice King almost seizes Finn and Jake they play the last tape in a panic. They see an unfamiliar human figure who announces himself as Simon. He reveals he found a crown, the same crown The Ice King wears. As time jumps forward the crown slowly drives Simon insane. Filling his head with visions and changing his body. Turning Simon into The Ice King. In an especially tear-jerking twist it’s revealed that Simon called his love, who his increasing insanity drove away, his princess. Perhaps explaining The Ice King’s princess fixation. Finn and Jake take pity on the sad old man and give him back his tapes. Addled and forgetting the situation at hand, The Ice Kings takes this as a gift, starting an exchange of presents.
And so it was decided… that once every year when the weather got chilly, that Finn, Jake, the Ice King, BMO, Princess Bubblegum, Marceline the Vampire Queen, Cinnamon Bun, Peppermint Butler, Phil, a candy cane man, one of the gumdrop girls, Lady Rainicorn, Lumpy Space Princess, that guy, the other guy, a pig, Tree Trunks, a two-headed duck, the old crazy Tart Toter, the punch bowl, a booger, and Gunter… would get together while wearing really big sweaters and watch videos on the floor next to a fire… to celebrate the day when Finn and Jake had a fleeting moment of empathy for the biggest weirdo in Ooo. It was a miracle. Good night.