Adventure Time: The Cooler
December 5, 2014 6:28 AM - Season 6, Episode 22 - Subscribe

There's trouble right here in the fire kingdom.
posted by drezdn (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I really hope that Bubblegum's move at the end of the episode doesn't have negative consequences.
posted by drezdn at 9:32 AM on December 5, 2014

I thought unsupervised mass surveillance was a BAD thing!
posted by Small Dollar at 11:24 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

It is! I'm just worried that a storyline Princess Bubblegum regrets eliminating it will kneecap that moral.
posted by drezdn at 7:26 AM on December 6, 2014

In this episode, PB didn't have the luxury of simply typing in a name, but had to manually destroy the surveillance feed in a way, reminiscent of the end of the Dark Knight. It's probably safe to say that PB is a tyrant for the purposes of security of her kingdom (and also her reign), and what amounts to a preemptive strike on the Fire Kingdom is definitely a new low to the steps she's willing to take to guard that security, cooling down the magma that is the literal source of life for the denizens of the Fire Kingdom.

The lack of heat, we later learn courtesy of an Ice King at play in the lava fields beneath the kingdom, drains the life source for the people of the kingdom, reducing them in size if not extinguishing them completely. We have a horrifying scene where two fire kingdom sprites are fretting about an impending doom and one is accidentally consumed by the other. Yep, PB is officially responsible for some deaths! The purpose for it all is the weakening of the Fire Kingdom's primary defensive/offensive weapons, giant mechanical fire robots kept secretly within a chamber accessible only by the royal family. Yet, this raises a question, how did PB know about these robots? Was Cinnamon Bun allowed in at some point?

Alas, poor Cinnamon Bun, who somehow failed to notice when someone jammed a giant video camera into his head, and only eventually, itched out its existence. What operatives of the Candy Kingdom accomplished this? Was is just PB in a ninja secret agent role? None the less, the camera revealed everything, including the Fire Princess' family member's suggestion they invade the Candy Kingdom for the caloric burn. Which loops around to Princess Bubblegum's original rationale for cooling down the kingdom, to protect her realm. But, her very actions here made the invasion a far more attractive prospect. Quite the gamble, PB!

Trust between princesses is a key element, but incidentally, the Fire Princess has already had one super major violation of her trust in our time with her, the time when Finn tricked her into fighting the Ice King. The fact that she coolly handles PB's betrayal of her confidence (as coolly as a fire princess might) is a surprising detail, which either means the writers chose not to burden her with much in the trust issues department or Fire Princess is simply more mature and capable of recognizing the motives behind PB's behavior. You could actually say that the individual who matured at the end of this episode was PB, when she decided she would stop spying on everyone and put more faith in trusting them, and herself. One doesn't stop surveillance unless one believes they can act without requiring it as a crutch. Alas, what is a vigilante against evil with a minivan to do now?

It wasn't the best Adventure Time episode, but I enjoyed it.
posted by Atreides at 1:23 PM on December 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

When we were first introduced to the show, Finn's role as protector of princesses and hero was uncomplicated. As he's grown up, we've come to see how shaky the ethics of princesses can be. But I don't think Finn's super aware of this yet. His personal relationships with PB and Flame Princess have had complications, but he has yet to truly question their authority.
posted by rikschell at 1:59 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

I completely understand the point behind the Candy Kingdom and Bubblegum appearing to be the "nicest" but in fact being the most evil, but I can't say I'm happy about it. They can rate this show TV-PG all they want, but the design makes it very attractive to kids way to young to understand the subtleties. I know a second-grader who dressed up as Bubblegum for Halloween. I'm pretty sure if you tried to explain that Bubblegum is evil, she wouldn't understand. She sure does try to emulate her though.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:10 PM on December 11, 2014

Is it too simple to declare the Candy Kingdom and PB evil, though? I think it's more complex than that, and this may or may not be a stretch, but I could see it kind of representative of the United States, a nation that holds itself up to high ideals, but does do things that definitely can be construed as evil, and not to mention the entire spying/watching its own citizens thing.

PB has redeeming qualities, a strong belief in science, a sincere desire to help others, and a very mature appreciation for responsibilities of someone in charge of others. This episode was a fine example of a pre-emptive strike (again, familiar) against a possible threat to her kingdom.

Bubblegum isn't good in the pure sense, but I don't think she's evil, either.

I kind of have this awesome vision of that second-grader growing up and re-watching her favorite childhood show and having all these new aspects dawn on her and get her thinking. That'd be cool.
posted by Atreides at 6:40 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

I agree Bubblegum's actions and the Candy Kingdom are pretty directly analogous to the 21st century U.S., but I'm not willing to give her a pass.

For me, there's not really a grey area on unethical scientific experiments, ubiquitous spying, and preemptive war as practiced by Bubblegum. She killed innocent citizens of the Flame Kingdom as part of her sabotage plot. Flame Princess demonstrates much more mature leadership than does Bubblegum.

"I had to do what I had to do to protect my people," isn't a defense, especially when based solely on her assessment of the capability of the Flame Kingdom rather than the intention of its ruler. That in particular is most definitely directly mappable to the the real life way the U.S. military and intelligence agencies view the world.

Bubblegum has been demonstrating that she's pretty much straight up evil for a while now.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:45 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't see Flame Princess as being an unproblematic ruler, either, though. Even just in this episode, she expressed a willingness to use her Fire God Robots (or whatever they were called), wiping out every other kingdom in Oo to save her own. She didn't want to, but she was ready if she had to.

I think the show makes the case that it's not so much power that corrupts, but responsibility. Finn and Jake have loads of power, but what keeps them innocent is their lack of responsibility. They don't protect anyone on a long-term basis, so they are insulated from the tough calls. Even when they have to make a questionable ethical judgement, they get to walk away at the end and forget. The princesses don't have that luxury.
posted by rikschell at 9:04 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

rikschell: [… W]iping out every other kingdom in Oo to save her own.
Is that what was going to happen? I thought it was going to be bad for the Flame Kingdom mostly, but I may have just missed the implication. I've really got to stop watching television and browsing the web at the same time.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:21 AM on December 12, 2014

I do note that Flame Princess wouldn't have felt it necessary to unleash the Flame Lords if Bubblegum hadn't put Ice King up to cooling off the core as a ruse for her to get into the chamber where they were stored in the first place.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:28 AM on December 12, 2014

I just read over the synopsis on the AT Wikia and I don't think releasing the Sleeping Fire Giants would destroy Oo but rather restoke the fires of the Fire Kingdom in more or less the same was as it was originally created. Bubblegum sees them as a threat because she has no counter if they're awakened. She can only sabotage them while they're still sleeping.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:52 AM on December 12, 2014

Yah, the sleeping fire giants were supposed to have the power to destroy all of Ooo, but they were a weapon of last resort for the Flame Princess to restoke flames elsewhere (I think) if their current home became too cold. She didn't have immediate plans to use them against anyone.

I'm still throwing it out there that PB is chaotic neutral, yo!
posted by Atreides at 12:04 PM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think Chaotic Neutral is right. I don't remember which episode it was, but remember that scene where PB was shown on her room, with the little lives she created in a tray, cutting them up and putting them back together to see what happens. I think about that scene all the time. We don't have to like what she does, but PB is responsible for the wellbeing of her kingdom and she's gonna do what she has to do. As will Flame Princess.
posted by bleep at 3:43 PM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

So geopolitical! much Machiavelli

Over time, they seem to be revealing that princesses are like any other ruler, subject to the same challenges and temptations as rulers throughout history. The PB black ops thing was less surprising to me at this point than Wildberry Princess's sudden order of execution for nouveau-riche Finn and Jake in the free market episode. I had never seen any hint of Wildberry anger before!
posted by ignignokt at 5:02 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

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