In the garage

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Adventure Time – “We Fixed a Truck”

One of Adventure Time‘s core concepts is rebuilding, like the Land of Ooo, forming from the husks and ashes of the Great Mushroom War. Adjacent to that is the idea of creation, like the Candy Kingdom, which Princess Bubblegum brought to life with sugar and science. Adventure Time is fond of externalizing these ideas into mechanical creations, and often uses these externalizations to probe into secondary characters, such as NEPTR, Ice King, and Flame Princess. “We Fixed a Truck” is the next episode in this psuedo-series, bringing back “Weird Al” Yankovich’s Banana Man to, as the title suggests, fix a truck.

Banana Man is the most mechanically-minded person Finn and Jake know, so when Finn finds the titular truck while out and about, he’s the one Finn, Jake and BMO call to help fix it up. Banana Man first appeared all the way back in season three in “The New Frontier,” and having him (and “Weird Al”) back is a treat. Like previous episodes that revolved around building things, there’s a musical montage set to an original song sang by the guest, and “We Fixed a Truck” finds a way to get in a second montage set to the same music as Ice King’s Manlorette Party. These montages are one of Adventure Time‘s great strengths (same with original songs), and since the episode is very light on plot, it doesn’t feel overcrowded or rushed to have two. I’m also a huge fan of the Manlorette Party music, and seeing it used again years after being first introduced was an unexpected and fun touch.

In the middle of the night, BMO decides to do his own work on the truck, and tunes in to the local radio, where Starchy hosts a Rush Limbaugh-esque radio show spewing conspiracy theories about Princess Bubblegum having been replaced by a lizard person. Banana Man shows up, and opens up about his loneliness. BMO takes note, and when the gang gets the truck up and running the next day and takes it out for a joy ride, BMO and Jake encourage Banana Man to flirt with the cute Banana Guard they see outside the Candy Kingdom.

And this is where things get, well, a little weird. One of the key things that separates Adventure Time from it’s companion Regular Show is structure. The structure of any given episode of Adventure Time can vary wildly, while Regular Show is much more consistent: Mordecai and Rigby engage in normal activities that suddenly escalate immensely in the third act. “We Fixed a Truck” borrows this structure, and as the gang drives into the Candy Kingdom, they see Princess Bubblegum being chased by an angry mob who heard Starchy’s show and believed his lizard person theory. And in a twist that actually made me gasp, when the gang saves Bubblegum, a suspicious BMO uses a ladybug to reveal that Bubblegum actually has been replaced by a lizard person, who the gang must then fight, even if it means losing their truck in a blaze of glory.

This revelation raises some interesting questions, both within the show and about its message. There’s been some discussion, at least since the beginning of the season, of Bubblegum’s move towards darker, more sinister behavior. Is it possible she’s been a lizard person this whole time? It could make sense narratively, but would also raise some issues. First is that the real Bubblegum was wearing the same outfit and hairstyle as the replicant, and never revealed when she was replaced, making it difficult to know how long the replicant had been ruling instead. Second, if this reveal was meant to answer some of those questions, it feels odd to give it such short shrift, especially in an episode with two musical montages. The question about message is less involved: in a world of magic and near-limitless sci-fi, it’s easy to accept that someone like Bubblegum was replaced by a lizard person. The decision to present it as a crackpot conspiracy theory, however, seems to pose that maybe, just maybe, those crackpot conspiracy theories might not be totally wrong. This being Adventure Time, any answer is possible, but it’s nice to see the show drawing from present-day scenarios again.

“We Fixed a Truck” is another fine, if not spectacular, installment in the back half of season five. It’s liberating to be free of Finn’s relationships problems for a while, though that shouldn’t mean the show shies away from more character development. But musical montages, the reappearance of Banana Man, and some great BMO moments make “We Fixed a Truck” a solid episode all around.

Stray Observations

  • “Oh it’s just my luck/oh it’s just my luck/I went on a walk and found a truck./Oh it’s just my luck/oh it’s just my luck/when I honk the horn I’ll wake Jake up!” Never change, Finn.

  • Finn names the truck Hot Daniel.

  • Ice King’s still living in the Tree Fort. Wonder how long that’s going to last?

  • I might be reading too much into it, but Banana Man’s soda seemed like something else lifted from Regular Show.

  • Banana Man explains the intricacies of a truck engine, including helpful diagrams that only he and we can see, to which Finn replies “What is he pointing at?”

  • BMO, upon receiving a gold star from Banana Man: “Yay, BMO is so pretty and smart!”

  • “This grease monkey’s torqued up on automotive science! Yeah boy!”

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