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Adventure Time – “Jake the Dad” Recap

by on January 9, 2013

After a long pregnancy, Lady Raincorn finally gives birth to Jake’s puppies. Suddenly saddled with adult responsibilities, Jakes leaves Finn and BMO to focus on being a father full-time. Jake becomes overly reliant on his overprotective mother’s own parenting advice and must learn to trust his own children when he raises the ire of a pack of baby-eating foxes.

One of the best things about Adventure Time is its ability to surprise and entice by throwing in shocking upsets to the status quo in what is otherwise an episodic comedy series.  Throwing in short storylines like a de-aged Princess Bubblegum, a homeless LSP, Finn’s relationship with Flame Princess, and the Lich storyline that seemed to stay with the last season like a shadow has given the show a unique air of unpredictability and a sense of a spacious, fully fleshed-out world not seen in many shows of its type. A big problem with Adventure Time‘s attempt at decompressed storytelling, however, is that it’s not very decompressed at all. Most of the time an episode will end on an intriguing cliffhanger and the plot point will be forgotten for weeks at a time, only for it to suddenly come back to the forefront and get resolved within eleven minutes. While I’m not asking for the show to become too serialized, it would be nice for the writers to pace out these mini-arcs better instead of just relegating them to their own specific episodes and then shunting them off afterwards.

Fortunately, this was not one of the stories that needed more of an impact. As nice as it is to have a children’s show take on a subject as mature as childbirth and fatherhood, having Jake’s puppies be a permanent fixture in Adventure Time would essentially be the end of the show. Where could they go from there? Having Jake devote most of his time caring for the puppies instead of adventuring with Finn would tamper with the basic chemistry between Finn and Jake that the show is based on. Not only that, but it’s not really a topic that could sustain itself for more than an episode. The episode itself felt like it was treading the same ground too often, with a lot of it being dominated by Jake learning to disobey his mother’s advice; this was something that “Dad’s Dungeon” did in a more imaginative and emotionally satisfying way. The puppies’ designs are also pretty lackluster, save for Jake Jr.’s faceless design. The part where this episode really shines is in the voicework. Kirsten Schaal of Bob’s Burgers and Gravity Falls makes a great surprise appearance as Jake Jr., while Pendleton Ward’s dry delivery as the head fox makes the idea of eating babies a lot funnier than it has any right to be. It’s nice to see Adventure Time continue to take storytelling risks, although as this episode proves that doesn’t always work out.

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