Adventure Time was never my favorite show – I just couldn’t get into it. But man, do I love the Adventure Time: Distant Lands mini-series. The latest episode, “Together Again” was just *chef’s kiss* amazing. Had this episode been the last to air – it would have made the near-perfect conclusion to the series.
This episode – spoiler alert – takes place almost entirely in the afterlife. Finn has died, presumably of old age, and goes off in search of Jake. However, it turns out the afterlife is being ruled over by a being called New Death who is also planning on stopping the cycle of reincarnation. So, it’s up to Finn and Jake to stop him -together. The two team up for one last epic adventure
The Series of Brotherly Love
Finn and Jake’s relationship is the core of the show. They’ve been reincarnated together thousands of times and the series explicitly tells us that’s not going to change any time soon. This episode just proves it.
When Finn figures out that he’s dead, his first and only priority is finding Jake. We never learn how he dies or even how Jake dies – what we do know is that Finn is not upset at being dead, He’s just happy because he can see Jake again.
That says a lot.
They even planned out a secret code so they could find each other in the afterlife (and it’s a callback!) When it turns out Jake’s not in the same Dead World and thus they can’t be together – Finn not so keenly enlists the help of Tiffany.
You remember him, right? The guy obsessed Jake though they never seemed all that close? Yeah, well he’s working with New Death and thus has the power to travel between worlds. And he wants to see Jake too.
It’s interesting how well Finn and Jake get along and manage despite being separated for decades. It’s like nothing ever really changed.
Well – not at first…
Jake is distant when they first meet- and it takes Finn being beaten up (and a pack of gum) to bring him to his senses.
But even after everything – the two are willing to sacrifice themself for the other. Finn is even willing to leave Jake behind so he can reincarnate while Jake stays happily in the afterlife. It would be hard to see those two separated literally forever.
But Jake gives up his place in the 50th Dead World, which is basically Nivana and the highest plane of existence, just to be with Finn again. And it’s likely something like this has happened before. I have no proof for it – but it just seems like a Thing ™ that would happen.
Jake’s incarnation always gives up his place to be with Finn. They’re a package deal -like it or not. Unfortunately, their bond being the focus of the episode means that Finn’s other relations, particularly his other family members, don’t get focus.
Those Who Were Left Behind
The episode is fully focused on Finn and Jake to the point that very few of the other characters get mentioned or shown,
We get to see Finn reunited with his adoptive family – but there’s absolutely nothing about other humans or his birth family. Why isn’t he curious about them? Why aren’t they even mentioned?
That part was a little frustrating. It wasn’t noticeable on a first watch to a casual viewer like myself – but on a second viewing, I began to wonder…were these interactions cut for time, or did the production crew think they weren’t important enough to mention?
I understand that this episode is about Finn and Jake’s relationship and not Finn dealing with death. But STILL!
We get to see Tree Trunks, Choose Goose, and a few other random minor characters…so why don’t we see any other humans in the Dead Worlds? Like would it have really been that difficult to show Susan or even just a random human somewhere?
I feel like that aspect is somewhat important to the world of Ooo as a whole. I can completely understand why this would frustrate or even anger long-time fans of the series. A conclusive ending would feel nice after everything that happened.
After all, they made this mini-series we might as well know more about the characters’ fates. Obviously, PB and Marceline aren’t shown because they’re nigh-immortal, and they’ve already had their day in the spotlight. We know BMO becomes King of Ooo. But unless the question in answered in “Wizard City,” which was supposed to be the penultimate episode – fans will be left in the dark.
Personally, I don’t mind not getting full closure. I don’t mind open-ended finales. To an extent.
But this seems more like forgetfulness – or time constraints. I imagine producing a cartoon during quarantine is not easy. Perhaps, they originally planned for something about Finn’s bio family or the other humans but ran out of time.
Besides, the biggest question, “Who will Finn and Jake be reincarnated into?” isn’t answered. It’s left out in the open.
We’ll probably never know.
And that’s okay.
The Final Battle
Thank goodness there weren’t any giant robots in this one. It wouldn’t have been out of place but way too many animated finales have their heroes fighting giant robots. (And yes, I’m counting this as a series finale, because…it was supposed to be.)
And while I was expecting the villain to be New Death – it turns out there was one character from the past who they didn’t forget to include: the Lich. The Lich had been manipulating New Death for ages, wanting to bring an end to the cycle of reincarnation so he may rule.
It’s somewhat unexpected but it’s an awesome callback to the original series. It makes sense that the Lich would be bought back. He was a villain for so long and he had to appear at some point during this series. More importantly, it’s the Farmworld version of Lich – which hadn’t been properly defeated. So it’s been a callback years and years in the making.
And while the battle itself isn’t very long – but it’s absolutely epic and overwhelmingly well-animated. Everything in the series has been leading up to this one epic moment. This being Adventure Time, they win in the most unexpected (and hilarious) way. During the fight neither Finn nor Jake is willing to allow the other to become the next Death – because doing so would mean being attached to the role for eternity (or until they’re defeated.) It’s heartwarming…
And it makes Jake giving up his place in nirvana even better. He was going to return and Finn was happy to let him – because Jake’s happiness was more important to him. But in the end, it’s Mr. Fox who becomes Death and the afterlife is all the better for it. They can trust that when they die again, they likely won’t have to deal with another Lich.
But they can look forward to another lifetime of adventures
And of course, like all the specials in Distant Lands, the animation is amazing.
And that’s the scoop!
Grade: A –
Year of release: 2021
Length; 46 minutes
Executive Producer: Adam Muto