One of Ice King’s regular readings of his gender-swapped fanfiction is interrupted by Marceline, who finds fault in his horrible writing ability. She decides to take over the story, telling it in her own way and introducing her male counterpart, bad-boy rocker Marshall Lee, to the story. Marshall decides to string Fionna along and play with her emotions, to Cake’s chagrin. When Marshall kidnaps Cake to get Fionna’s attention, Fionna decides to end the affair once and for all.
Probably the most awaited episode of Adventure Time since the original “Fionna and Cake” took the internet by storm, there’s been a ridiculous amount of hype and expectations hampered onto this moment. Could a sequel to an episode that launched a comic series, various tie-ins, and an entire internet fandom possibly live up to the original? After all, aside from showing off more gender-swapped characters, the original episode and a few follow-ups after it (“All the Little People”, “Mystery Dungeon”) pretty much covered most of the show’s satire on fandom and fanfiction. “Bad Little Boy” doesn’t really cover any new ground that wasn’t already in the original, but it’s still a worthwhile peek into the odd world of “Fionna and Cake.”
Donald Glover does a good job as Marshall Lee, but I think he falters a little with his rap verse near the second half of the album. As someone who was never huge into his music as Childish Gambino, I think that both of his musical numbers feel unmemorable and extraneous, as if they were placed there only because they felt they had to include a song somewhere. I also wish that they could have spent more time with new gender-swapped characters like Lumpy Space Prince and the dress-wearing Cinnamon Bun instead of devoting most of the episode to Marshall, who comes off as a less likable clone of Marceline, sans the depth and character development. I did enjoy that the writers reiterated the message of the original episode: that characters (and in extension, the audience) shouldn’t have to be obligated to have any sort of relationship they don’t want to be in, regardless of what is expected of them. While I hope they lay off of Fionna and Cake for a while until they have some fresh ideas, this was another fun diversion from the main show that will please fans of the original.