Perplexed about why Marceline always invites nuisance and general creep Ice King to their outings, Finn asks why she has a soft spot for him. She begins to tell them story of her childhood days with the Ice King, nearly a millennium ago, after the end of human civilization. Known as the scientist Simon Petrikov at the time, the Ice King attempts to protect a younger Marceline while controlling the mind-altering powers of his magic crown. Simon’s resistance to the crown is pushed to the limit as they foray into a town infested by mutants.
One of the most interesting ideas Adventure Time has introduced over the years is the shrouded mystery of the apocalyptic world before Ooo, and the characters that managed to survive through that period. While the post-apocalyptic bent had previously resulted in lots of cool background tidbits and cool episodes like “Finn the Human” and “Jake the Dog”, the introduction of Marceline’s and Ice King’s backstories has added a darker, much-welcomed extra dimension to the show. My favorite thing about this new storyline is how it manages to both tell a heartfelt, endearing story and shed some light on the series’ most interesting aspects. The whole episode has a very bittersweet, darkly comic taste as it juxtaposes a cute, impromptu father-daughter relationship with the horrors of the dying world surrounding them. There is a constant sense of melancholy permeating the episode, as the abandoned signs of civilization and the Ice King’s current state cast a dark cloud over Simon and Marcy’s cute antics.
Also notable about “Simon and Marcy” is its place as longtime writer Rebecca Sugar’s last episode on the show (She has since moved onto her own project at Cartoon Network, Steven Universe). Ironically for a writer best known for her unique musical numbers, this episode does not actually contain any original songs, instead opting for a cover of “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” that puts the Cheers theme song into a more emotional new light. Tom Kenny does a great job as always, selling the episode on his constant shifts from obliviousness to anxiousness, behavior that ranges from comforting to disquieting. Although episodes like these probably would not work as well if they were more common, I hope we see more episodes like “Simon and Marcy” in the future. It hits all of the right notes, from comedy to drama to intrigue.