Princess Bubblegum sends Finn and Jake out to the desert to find the allegedly dangerous Great Bird Man. They are rescued by said figure only to find out that the Great Bird Man is actually Xergiok, the exiled Goblin King. Since his banishment from the Goblin Kingdom, Xergiok has gone blind and soft, living out a peaceful existence in a cave of giant birds. Seemingly benign and at piece, Finn and Jake are conflicted as to whether or not the new and improved Xergiok can be trusted to return to society.
After building up such a large library of one-off characters, it’s nice to see that Adventure Time has spent this season exploring the world it has carefully curated for itself and coming back to old episodes and characters. Missing since season two, Xergiok is a character I honestly never expected to see again. It’s not like he had that much depth to him in “The Silent King,” and they’re really wasn’t much the character could do after it ended. I liked that the writers decided to take his character in a completely different direction for most of this episode, but I wish they hadn’t gone back to making him a tyrannical spank-obsessed ruler by the climax. It felt like they were treading the same ground they were in the original episode.
Most of the laughs in the episode comes from an odd undercurrent of grotesqueness that runs through the whole thing. From Xergiok’s severed eyes being stuck in his beard, to Bubblegum letting out a sadistic laugh over heartbroken mermaids, to Xergiok’s creative new power to amputate legs via sound vibrations, there’s a comic sense of darkness throughout the entire episode, and a good chunk of the humor comes from watching Finn and Jake react to the dark weirdness. I wish that the ending wasn’t so abrupt, as it seemed to take Xergiok’s character into an interesting new direction. But otherwise, “The Great Bird Man” is an enjoyable outing that manages to differentiate itself from its predecessor.