Adventure Time, “Betty”
At this point, the tragedy underpinning the Ice King isn’t news. As we’ve seen several times, his past is riddled with loved ones he’s disappointed and hurt, and the unwitting ignorance caused by the magic of his crown has essentially isolated him from these tragedies. But, at last, the past has broken through to the present, in more ways than one, and the events of “Betty” could have far-reaching implications in the future of Adventure Time.
When the Cool Wizards’ Club revives Bella Noche, they have no idea they’re unleashing a being made of pure anti-magic onto Wizard City. The initial revival blast robs the CWC—and Ice King, who, as usual, was hiding in the background, just wanting to be one of the guys—of their magical powers. For the Ice King, that means his crown no longer contains the magic that was not only keeping him alive, but also making him crazy. Waking up from his frigid haze, Simon Petrikov hijacks a magic carpet from eternal d-bag Ash and flies back to the Ice Kingdom to try and rectify his biggest regret: driving his love Betty away without ever getting to say goodbye. Using Finn and Jake to generate power and Hambo (an item from the past filled with Marceline’s love) as a catalyst, Simon opens up a portal to the past, to a time after he’s found the crown, but before he’s found Marceline. As he roams the streets, searching for his “princess” and firing ice magic into the air with reckless abandon, Betty (voiced by Lena Dunham) cowers behind a building, unsure of what to do next. When present-day Simon expresses his love and regret, Betty makes the shocking decision to jump through the portal, transporting herself to the present day.
When she learns that Simon is dying without the magic of the crown, Betty loads Simon onto the magic carpet and rushes to Wizard City to take on Bella Noche herself. With Death hot on their heels, Betty and Simon arrive in Wizard City just as Bella Noche has taken out the last of the holdout wizards. (It doesn’t help that Ron James the spell maker powered Bella Noche up with a bunk potion made from an old bidet and a vaporizer.) Laying Simon on the ground, where Death hovers over his sickly body, Betty flies toward the craggy tower protecting Bella Noche, finding a crack and crawling inside. Once Betty finds Bella Noche in the heart of the structure, she delivers a swift and merciless hook. Betty’s punch takes down Bella Noche, returning the stolen magic to the wizards, but it also brings the tower crumbling down around them both. Simon, now revived as the Ice King, has no memory of what happened, and returns back to the Ice Kingdom, where he kidnaps Muscle Princess and regales her with his second-hand story of what happened in Wizard City. Outside his castle, a hooded Betty looks on forlornly from the magic carpet before flying away into the distance, with only Gunter as a witness.
For an episode without a real tearjerker moment like in “Holly Jolly Secrets” or “Simon & Marcy,” “Betty” might be the saddest Ice King story yet. Not only does Ice King return to his former self and glory, but only for a few hours, he’s also reunited with his one true love, who almost immediately goes to sacrifice her own life for his. And when it comes down to it, Betty succeeded in her initial mission, to save Simon from death by returning his magic. But the Ice King’s immediate amnesia of his time as Simon, as well as Betty’s identity and her full plan, to continue working toward a true cure for Simon’s curse, ostensibly renders her sacrifice, and the fact that she survived the battle, moot, at least in regards to the Ice King. Betty, sadly, sees as much as she watches from outside the castle window. But she remains in present-day Ooo, and while she’s there, she’ll certainly be exploring every possible spell, science experiment, and mystic ritual she can to truly be reunited with Simon for good. Betty’s continued existence in Ooo adds a new arm to the still-growing cast and stories of Adventure Time, and her eponymous episode is a bold, exciting, and of course, heartbreaking entry in the final stretch of season five.