After watching ‘Joshua and Margaret Investigations’, I thought about the scene in ‘The Witch’s Garden’ where Jake tries remembering how he got his powers.
He vaguely recalls rolling in a mud puddle, and he finishes by hesitantly saying, “And…I guess I became a magic dog?”
No one, not even Jake, is sure of how he got his powers. But we, the audience, just assume that’s how he did.
And then ‘Joshua and Margaret Investigations’ came around.
It’s painfully obvious that Pendleton Ward never had a clear reason as to how Jake has his powers when first conceiving the show. Even so, this is not at all a bad thing; it doesn’t affect the show’s established canon one bit. Jake was a newborn pup, so it makes sense that his memory was a blur, and he did roll around in a puddle as a pupster. Just one made from brain juice. This revelation just added a new layer of depth to Jake’s most important trait without creating any retcons.
Here, here, let me explain what I mean:
There are some people, myself once included, that were a little let down when they first heard that the writers of ‘Adventure Time’ are kinda making the story up as they go.
Now I nor the writers are saying that they make stuff up per episode; there are story arcs they have plans for, such as with Betty and Lemongrab and Finn’s parentage. It’s just with minute details like Jake’s powers and such.
Like when they were first writing out season 1, Pen nor Jesse nor anyone else were intending for Marceline and Ice King to have a history, or Bubblegum to actually be a hard woman that makes tough choices, or Jake to be a genetic hybrid of Joshua and an alien and so on.
But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
(Relevant in some way)
What’s so great about this show shifting focus to a more character-driven series is that the world it takes place in and its people are always changing. We’re always learning knew things about the characters, bits of history or quirks or whathaveyou that always adds more to their on-screen presence when we see them in future episodes…
…or re-watching old ones.
Take what I said recently when I was asked a question about BMO’s ability to perceive and convey emotion:
Robots by nature cannot feel genuine emotions. If they do, then they’re programmed to.
BMO was programmed to “understand” fun and how to play. Moe said he built BMO so be something more. His programming is likely the reason why BMO expresses emotions, or at least simulates them. In ‘Be More’, we see some of BMO’s files include…
He trashes none of these when doing his weird…high thing…at the beginning of the episode.
So no, I don’t think BMO feels genuine emotion, just simulated emotion. But this is a result of his programming to understand human joy.
This isn’t me over-analyzing either. This was legit what the writers were trying to tell us with ‘Be More’. I think it goes without saying that back in season 1 I don’t think Pen Ward was imagining BMO as having the programming of an actual robot - he is able to feel because this is a cartoon and that is acceptable. But what ‘Be More’ did was add a new layer to BMO’s character, so that now that we know this about him, re-watching previous episodes beforehand we have this mental note as to why BMO is the way he is.
It made him into a slightly more complex character without messing with the show’s established canon.
The same could be said for Princess Bubblegum. She seems completely different now from how kindhearted she was in seasons 1 and 2. But from the flashbacks of what she had to do in the past, we know now that this entire persona was just a public face, even though, again, I doubt that the writers were planning this far ahead. It all just fits together nicely without ruining the show’s established canon. Just like with BMO, we know the real PB and what she does in her free time when re-watching older episodes.
In ‘Jake the Dad’, there’s that scene with Margaret and young Jake fending off a snake. Jake says to her, “Look what I can do!” and his fist grows and he punches the snake. Margaret goes “Oh dear! Glob!”, sounding genuinely upset at this.
I think that scene was Jake’s first time demonstrating his powers, and Margaret realizing that he inherited some traits from the monster in ‘Investigations’. But I actually think the writers were intending for this to happen (since it does take nine months to make an episode and they had other stories to write; plus production order and all that jazz).
And it doesn’t end there; with Marceline way back in season 1 we’re given another reason as to why she was traveling Ooo (to get away from Simon).
This brings me to that silly theory about Marceline’s fries being cold because Simon gave them to her. Now I think it’s a silly theory, since ‘It Came From the Nightosphere’ was written long before Marcy and Simon were even considered to be a thing, but if the show were to actually establish this, I would accept that immediately because the evidence is there for it not to be a retcon and, again, it would add more density to Marceline’s character.
I do hope they go with that though. Because it’s a nice theory and it actually makes Marceline’s anger about her eaten fries completely justified as something substantial and meaningful.
Do you get what I am saying here? Yes, it is a little disheartening that Pendleton Ward isn’t the J.R.R. Tolkien of cartoons. (Heck, the great George R.R. Martin originally intended ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ to be three books; now he’s considering eight) Yes, it may come off as a bit sloppy that they’re making up stories as they go. But does this ruin the show’s previous episodes? Does it make them any less relevant? No. It just adds a new lens to these characters when we look back on older episodes.
Anyways, that’s all I got. I hope you guys understand what I’m trying to say here.