Analysis Time! The Tragedy of the Earldom of Lemongrab
This is a story of how neglect an isolation can lead to disastrous consequences.
This is a story of how good intentions can go horribly wrong.
This is a story of how nurture cannot always overcome nature.
This is a story…
…of the Earldom of Lemongrab.
Whelp, I exceeded a hundred followers. Because of that, I wanted to make the next character analysis something special.
Lemongrab is actually the reason why I started this blog. Back in April when I got into ‘Adventure Time’, and I finished watching the heart-wrenching conclusion of 'Lemonhope’, I thought to myself, “Someone needs to analyze this character, Lemongrab.” Even before I took a step back and started really thinking about these characters, one could see plain as day that there is more to the earl than meets the eye.
Even so, I put it off; I wanted to wait until 'The Mountain’ aired. But since there won’t be any new episodes 'till October, and I’ve already achieved a hundred followers, I thought why not.
What we have here is a story arc that’s deep, symbolic, and is so well-written that (in my opinion) puts damn-near anything in recent T.V. animation to complete shame. But this analysis isn’t going to focus solely on Lemongrab, for as you can see in the title, this is an analysis on the entire earldom.
Princess Bubblegum, Lemongrab 2, the Lemon Children and Lemonhope, they all play as important a part in this character arc as Lemongrab himself. Finn and Jake aren’t even side players as far as I’m concerned.
So let’s get started. And buckle up, this is a dense one.
Part 1: The Birth of a Legend, Sweet vs. Sour
A true legend.
A detail people tend to overlook about Lemongrab, or misunderstand at least, is the reason as to why he was created.
“He was the first of my experiments gone wrong. And now that I am younger than him, he inherits the right to the throne."
That’s all Princess Bubblegum has ever said on the matter. She doesn’t explain why she created him, or why he is the heir.
She does say he’s the heir "under kingdom law”, but quickly follows up on that with “It’s complicated.” But never does the princess refer to Lemongrab as a definitive heir, yet people think he is. So here’s what I think (and this is me speculating, so keep that in mind, but I think it’s accurate):
With the information we are given, we know that Lemongrab is one of PB’s first creations to be flawed. Now why is that? Well, one can only assume it’s because she tries making every Candy Person into the semblance of a different treat, this time being lemons. As we all know, that didn’t work out so well, and Lemongrab’s own nature prevents him from living peacefully with his fellow Candy People. Because of this, there’s some nice symbolism with how the sour lemon can’t coexist with the sweet candies.
So why is Lemongrab named the heir if he was just created to be another citizen? Well, simply put, he’s the only one of Bubblegum’s “children” that actually cares.
Keep in mind that all of Lemongrab’s episodes up until 'All Your Fault’ were written by Jesse Moynihan (his co-writer on these were always Tom Herpich, who continued writing Lemongrab’s episodes after Jesse stopped). Now if you don’t know who JMoyns is, he’s a guy that crams a lot of symbolism and deep meaning into his episodes (Sons of Mars, Finn the Human, All the Little People, Breezy, Billy’s Bucket List).
What you’ll notice with a lot of Lemongrab’s episodes is that there are numerous scenes that carry with them dual meanings. Such as the opening in 'Too Young’, where we see the Candy People playing around and having fun. They’re sliding down the stairs, and dancing in the castle foyer, and to be honest, it looks a lot more hectic than it has in any other episode to date.
That is, until the earl comes in and deems the place being in “unacceptable condition.”
This whole opening is an instance of a scene containing double meanings. It shows us that the kingdom is a lot more chaotic since Princess Bubblegum is now a carefree little girl, but more importantly, none of them care that Princess Bubblegum is too young to rule a kingdom. Only Lemongrab, the freak outsider (It’s interesting to note that the transcript in the original episode had the Candy People murmuring to one another, “Who’s that again?” as Lemongrab enters the scene).
Even though Lemongrab was never explicitly created to be Princess Bubblegum’s heir, he’s as much her “child” as any of the other Candy People, and thus, they are all just as eligible to attain temporary rule as Lemongrab is.
Now where did Castle Lemongrab come from? Well, we know that Bubblegum shipped him off to the place that would become his keep. While it’s never been stated how and probably never will, MY theory is that Lemongrab found the rock, named it his earldom and crowned himself a ruler. Now that’s just a theory, as with almost everything else I mentioned, but they’re highly plausible. He seems egotistical enough to name a place after himself.
We see more of how different Lemongrab is from the Candy People in the food that he eats, and how he finds steamed, mushy carrots “exciting.”
This is further hammered-in in a foreign dub, where Lemongrab’s dialogue changes during the scene of PB and Finn dressing up as ghosts and punching him in the gut. In the foreign version, Lemongrab thinks they’re after his rice cakes. He exclusively eats bland, boring food; another stark contrast with the wild and zany Candy People.
When you take all this in, it seems that Lemongrab is obsessed with order (his own definition at least), and biologically despises anything that’s beautiful or fun (elaborating later). In his debut Lemongrab was intent on bringing his own vision of order to the Candy Kingdom, throwing anyone in the dungeon he deemed “unacceptable.” This shows up again in 'You Made Me’, where he throws the Pup Gang into a torture dungeon for “reconditioning” after they refused to remove Blambo’s headphones, and again in 'Too Old’ in which he forces all of the Lemon Children to wear shock collars and act “sophisticated” after he’s “tried imprisoning and reconditioning”. And no, this wasn’t the writers’ attempt at trying to make a funny catchphrase…
…Okay yes it was, but there’s actually a point to it! As they always say, there’s a method to his madness.
This brings me to a minor detail that later becomes a frightening part of Lemongrab’s character: his peculiar eating habits.
When Peppermint Butler falls into his mouth and cures Lemongrab of the burning spicy food, I think that’s what sparked these frightening cannibalistic tendencies. He does seem pretty satisfied after he takes Pepper out of his mouth.
But after some shenanigans, the only way to get Lemongrab to leave is if Princess Bubblegum turns physically eighteen again. The earl leaves without a fuss, though he spitefully grumbles under his breath as he goes on his merry way.
Part 2: The Earl of NOTHING and Mother Princess
After his brief reign of the Candy Kingdom, Lemongrab isn’t seen or heard from again until the Banana Guards accidentally reveal he’s been hiding in the castle for weeks, watching the Candy People sleep.
(Stalkergrab watches you)
Why is he doing this? Well, as Lemongrab aptly puts it, he’s “the Earl of Nothing”. It’s obvious that this desire to rule was born from his short-lived reign over the Candy Kingdom. It was his first time ever ruling over a people after all, and it made Lemongrab realize how lonely he was, and sparked this interest in being a real leader. I find it both interesting and kinda funny that Lemongrab does this by literally watching over the Candy People.
There’s more to the plot of 'You Made Me’ than Lemongrab simply feeling lonely, and that’s what I love about this show. It could be simple enough on the surface for a pre-teen audience, but there’s almost always a deeper plot or meaning to most episodes for the older audience, the deeper plot of this episode being that no one understands Lemongrab. He’s a Lemon Person, the only one, and isn’t on the same wavelength as Candy People. Imagine it like trying to put a wolf and a dog in the same pen; sure, they’re of the same species, but they don’t mesh well because they have different lifestyles.
Even Princess Bubblegum, the one who made him, doesn’t understand Lemongrab.
This line is another instance of one with double meanings, (a double entendre if you will) that being Lemongrab is alone, both figuratively and literally - he has no one to rule, and no one that understands his “lemon styles”.
As I mentioned before, the only reason why Lemongrab feels this way is because of his brief period of leadership. Princess Bubblegum probably never thought the earl could desire such things, and thus she feels guilty and wants to help him.
Sadly, no, tragically, all of the princess’s efforts are in vain, and the only way Lemongrab can be happy is if he has someone who is exactly like him in every way. And up until 'Too Old’, there is literally no distinction between the 'grabs outside of the garb they wear. Until things between them turn sour, these guys are practically made for each other.
This is an instance of where good intentions can go horribly, horribly wrong.
The above scene, and the final line of the episode, is actually relevant to Lemongrab’s personal conflict. Both scenes with the Pup Gang and Crunchy further hammers in the little battle of Sweet vs. Sour with Bubblegum trying to show Lemongrab that Candy People need to be loved and coddled like children, whereas the earl can’t even do that without breaking into a fit and turning a pat into a slap.
And it’s not like Lemongrab is making the subconscious effort to be cruel. He outright says that he’s acting on instinct:
“And that way must be right!”
There’s an interesting tidbit with the catcher’s mitts in the episode, where Finn and Jake happen upon multiple rooms that are empty except for a baseball glove on a podium.
Catch is often viewed as a common American pastime, traditionally shared between father and son, or friends. This is another example of how lonely Lemongrab is - he has no one to play catch with, a game usually associated with companionship, in his life. So he just dedicates entire rooms to holding these dozens of unused gloves, thinking that that’s what is normal. And before you cry “over-analyzing”, know that this was confirmed by JMoyns on his twitter.
While we’re on the subject of companionship and family, let me have a moment to talk about Princess Bubblegum and her relationship with the earl, particularly in 'You Made Me’. As I’ve said, the princess tries her best to help Lemongrab is any way she knows how, until the only viable option to make her neglected creation happy is to give him a carbon copy of himself. In essence, PB is acting like a mother for Lemongrab. This is further evident in her wardrobe for this episode, which gives a more paternal air to her.
I mentioned a couple times in the past that songs can be an important and viable tool for storytelling. Outfits fall into this same category as well. Take for example the outfits of the Montagues in the 1996 modern spin on 'Romeo and Juliet’.
Just by looking at their wardrobe you can tell that the Montagues are bright, flashy, and a stark contrast to the darkly-garbed Capulets.
This same method of visual storytelling appears in 'You Made Me’. Just look at PB’s outfit: she’s wearing what pretty much could be summarized as “comfy clothes”; they give her wider hips, and even her hair is done up in such a way that makes her look very motherly. It’s a nice, subtle visual that goes a long way with Bonnie’s role in Lemongrab’s story.
Princess Bubblegum continues this trend in 'Too Old’ and 'Lemonhope Part 1’, where in the former she’s dressed like how a ruler should and the latter the princess is in a hoodie, giving her this “older sister” vibe.
But this motherly role of hers doesn’t just end in 'You Made Me’, for it’s revealed at the beginning of 'All Your Fault’ that the earls are requesting more candy. Bubblegum is angry upon reading this, claiming she gave them “a lifetime supply of candy.” I actually find that bit in particular interesting in terms of Bubblegum’s character. She gave the neglected child food so he wouldn’t be hungry for the rest of his life, and a brother so he wouldn’t be lonely.
It shows that she does care about Lemongrab now, and doesn’t decide to outright destroy him like she did with the Rattleball robots when they went bad. It would’ve been easier to ignore the earl, but at the same time that would have been cruel. And unlike the Rattleballs, Lemongrab is an actual person capable of independent thinking, and sentiment and heartache and rage. I just can’t see Princess Bubblegum outright killing one of her sentient creations without a good reason; it just doesn’t seem like her. Heck, she even says in 'The Vault’ that all of her creations are like her children, and she has to care for them as such.
But this is also where all the tragedy and the chaos that soon follows stems from. To put it bluntly, Princess Bubblegum gave Lemongrab too much: his castle, his brother, the right to rule the Lemon Children and the privilege to live instead of outright killing him on the lab table. Lemongrab had never proved himself worthy of such rights, and yet Bubblegum simply gave, gave him the benefit of the doubt, just gave and gave because, believe it or not, she’s a good person that cares deeply for all of her subjects. Even mistakes like Lemongrab.
As for his reprehensible behavior that never gets punished in 'You Made Me’, one must ask him/herself: what should Princess Bubblegum have done to punish Lemongrab? Tell him 'no’? Kill him? Throw him in the dungeon? That’s not how PB rolls. She wanted to help Lemongrab, and for a while that actually worked.
But as we all know, everything goes horribly wrong for our earl. And no one, Bonnibel nor Lemongrab, are solely to blame.
Part 3: The Lemon Children and Lemon Nature
(art by ostalgie)
If Lemongrab 2 was the first domino to fall in the earl’s downward spiral, then the Lemon Children make up the rest of that line.
If the Lemongrabs’ story in 'All Your Fault’ is to be believed, then they started creating Candy Life as soon as, if not long after, the events of 'You Made Me’ occurred, which forces me to briefly talk about 'Mystery Dungeon’.
There isn’t a lot to analyze in regards to 'Mystery Dungeon’. It’s just a fun, silly episode not trying to tell an outstanding story. Though there are some things worth noting with Lemongrab. For one, when she first does a headcount, Tree Trunks labels him as “one of the Lemoncarbs,” which tells us that Castle Lemongrab is now known throughout the land and is a shared rule.
We also see more of Lemongrab’s cannibalistic tendencies…
Speaking of Ice King, in the scene where the gang try baiting the fish, he asks for Lemongrab’s help but the guy’s hesitant to give it. This, along with how Lemongrab refers to Tree Trunks like she’s a slave, just reminds us that he doesn’t get along with others.
And then there’s the ending of this episode, particularly Lemongrab’s departure:
People have theorized that this is Lemongrab trying to get back to his castle to resume creating life. It’s actually a pretty solid theory, considering he is in quite a hurry and the very next episode is 'All Your Fault’. Me personally, unless Jesse Moynihan comes out and says that that was his intention, I think this was just a humorous little tidbit in a hilarious episode.
Before analyzing the events of 'All Your Fault’, let’s take a moment to talk about the title itself and the title card for the episode:
The card depicts numerous yellow arms, presumably those of the Lemon Children, pointing at Princess Bubblegum. The whole thing stirs this unsettling feeling, like they’re blaming the princess for what’s happened to them. But such a scene never happens in the episode, and the Lemongrabs only blame her in passing. So either this was a scene that was supposed to happen but never did, it’s meant to mislead the audience (which has been done before with 'Burning Low’), it’s supposed to symbolize how the Lemongrabs are blaming PB for their current famine, or I’m over-thinking this a little.
I like the third one, don’t you?
But all that is irrelevant; whoever’s to blame is inconsequential compared to everything else that occurs in this episode.
When Finn and Jake arrive at the earldom, carrying with them seeds to that would grow into candy-yielding trees, they come to find the entire place is overrun with, to be blunt, abominations. They’re all deformed, and can hardly function like normal individuals. Keep this in mind, because it becomes important later on.
As we all know, these “Lemon Children” were each individually created by the Lemongrabs because of their newfound desire to essentially play God. They describe it like a drug, and blame PB for leaving the candy formula at Castle Lemongrab under the assumption that she wanted them to create “more family.”
In a nice bit of character the 'grabs are aware that what they’re doing is wrong, as they’re starving themselves and wasting food and space with more mouths to feed. I can’t help but find it pretty amazing that selfish Lemongrab is aware of the threat he and his brother pose to the rest of Ooo, knowing that if they were to roam free they would pillage the rest of the land for candy, which they inevitably did because of Finn and Jake.
“We warned you about us!”
So to protect both the world and themselves from their hungry children, and to also hoard the last of their candy, the twins ironically cast themselves in the dungeon. Whether or not that was supposed to be symbolic or great character development or just coincidental, I honestly have no clue. But it is interesting in a certain light.
The mere design of each of the Lemon Children brings up some interesting points and quite a bit of subtle writing. As we’ve seen multiple times in the past and in this episode, the creators with the formula molds the candy into whatever shapes they please, and pouring the formula brings this mass to life, specifically a face grows wherever the potion is poured.
You know, maybe it’s a blessing that the Lemongrabs are so incompetent. If they utilized the candy seeds instead of wasting them to make Seed-Wad, then they would have had an infinite number of Lemon Children.
A blessing in disguise.
Getting back on track, my whole point of bringing up the process to making candy life is that we see each and every one of these creatures are hideous and deformed, which simply tells us that the Lemongrabs aren’t very good artists. But they don’t seem to really care or notice. This is another instance of something having dual meanings; in this instance, it plays into how the Lemongrabs are just getting a joy out of creating life, but it also plays into their lemony nature of seeing everything ugly and bland as “acceptable”. This becomes more prevalent in 'Too Old’, which is where I will delve into this topic more.
But that’s not all. I don’t need to tell you how freakin’ enormous Lemon John was. When you take into consideration that the lifeforms’ mass is determined by the amount of candy used, then you’ll be able to deduct that Lemon John was made from “a lifetime’s supply of candy”. It gets even more interesting when Finn and Jake encounter smaller and smaller creatures as they descend deeper into the castle, with the tiniest of them gathered round the Lemongrabs’ door, telling us that the twins were really scraping by to make these last couple of Lemon Children.
While on topic of the big guy, let’s talk about Lemon John for a moment.
Aside from being the only Lemon Child with hair apart from Lemonhope (which I think is entirely coincidental), he inadvertently reveals an important aspect regarding the Lemongrabs themselves.
We all know how it goes: Finn and Jake gets heart pumping, Lemon John sacrifices himself for the good of all, and Jake asks:
To which Bonnibel nonchalantly replies:
Adorable. (side note: their brains are just filled with junk written by the animators; none of it holds any real meaning)
This ending brings up a lot of interesting questions. For one, we now know that the Lemongrabs, specifically the original (black), is just naturally an unstable man. It’s not like he and his brother are completely heartless, or just mindless drones like the Children and pre-heart attack Lemon John: as we see in 'All Your Fault’, the 'grabs were aware of the threat they posed and locked themselves away.
But what about Lemon John’s heart? And how come only when it started pumping did he consider others’ well-being? Wait a minute, “consider others’ well-being”? This sounds familiar…
I have a theory as to why all this happened, and keep in mind this is a theory, but I’m positive that this is what the writers were intending:
All Lemon Persons are like the first, meaning, they all have the potential to be “sour.” But all of them except for the original Lemongrab is capable of selfless compassion as well. We see this in Lemongrab 2, who was pretty much a spitting image of his brother personality-wise, and again with Lemonhope. Lemon John and his brothers could as well but only after Finn and Jake get his heart working.
But how come Lemongrab 2 acts kind to his creations, and his creations to each other, unlike their predecessor if they’re exactly the same? Well, the obvious answer would simply be that Lemongrab has lived his entire life alone. He has never had to rule a people, or share a rule with someone else, or even live with any other being until LG2 came along.
The clone always had his predecessor, so he always knew to share and be mindful of others feelings. The same goes for the children too; they’ve had each other from the moment they were born, a family right from the start. It’s simple psychology, really.
I guess I’ll talk about 'Another Five More Short Graybles’ while I’m mentioning Lemongrab 2. No, I don’t think there’s any significance with LG1 wanting Lemonsweets to dance while LG2 wanted him to go to bed; that’s just plain over-analyzing. I’m more interested in is why these two were playing pretend-parenting with a doll while they’ve got an entire kingdom of grotesques to rule.
Because it’s funny.
This is the point where Lemongrab begins to really lose it. While a lot of this scene I think is just random creepy nonsense, there are a few things worth noting. For one, after Lemongrab 2 accidentally destroys Lemonsweets, the twins share this blank look of “oh shit” silence before the original goes “Only one!" and attacks. As I’ve said above, this is just lending more weight to the fact that Lemongrab has lived his entire life alone, and for so long he can’t even get along with "himself.”
The twins couldn’t achieve an agreement for their doll, with Lemongrab 2 being the more “caring” parent and wanting Lemonsweets to go to sleep and rest, while the original earl wanted to do what he wanted.
I just over-analyzed Lemonsweets, didn’t I?
Oh well. Over-analyzing or not, the point I’m trying to make is that Lemongrab can’t coexist with anyone, himself included. It’s very poetic in a way. Even Bubblegum thinks so
“Once his brains and bodies remix, he should go back to being his lonely old self. Which seems to be his only stable relationship model.”
But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there, because I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before moving on towards the climax of this story arc, there’s one last thing I’d like to talk about in regards to the Lemon Children.
There’s an interesting little scene where, after wasting the seeds, Finn tells the Lemongrabs that they “really are going to die” and Jake adds, “And all your boys, too!"
Lemongrab responds with a puzzled, "Our…boys?” as if just realizing that they have a couple dozen hungry living mouths to feed. The following scene has the Lemongrabs telling their children that they’ll be going to the Candy Kingdom, so they won’t worry while they’re away.
Until they decide to bring the entire castle to the kingdom.
But it’s honestly really sweet, and it does show that once upon a time Lemongrab didn’t see his creations as mere tools.
Speaking of which…
Part 4: “Sophisticated Society"
'Too Old’ is, in my opinion, one of the most brilliant episodes in the entire series. It intentionally puts Finn’s relationship business on the forefront because that’s what he, and by proxy the viewers, are more occupied with at the moment. It offers some stellar character growth for Finn. It masterfully displays parallels to its sister-episode, 'Too Young’, without being too forced and actually serving the plot and characters; it achieves this through both visuals, dialogue, and even music. It trusts the viewer to piece together what is happening with Lemongrab themselves through visual cues and bits of writing.
And it executes this all brilliantly in a matter of eleven minutes.
As much as I’d love to talk about the episode as a whole, my attention will be primarily focused on what’s happening in the background.
To start, the title card is definitely something to talk about:
Lemongrab 2 is in the foreground, looking particularly famished with a hunk of his head bitten out. The first Lemongrab finishes the silhouette of the whole thing while remaining a blotted shadow, clinging to his brother, and his eye being the only thing visible. The way the two of them are lined up together manages to hide the fact that Lemongrab 1 has become obese by tricking first-time viewers into assuming that the earl’s silhouette is meant to be Lemongrab 2’s shadow, the shadow of what he once was in particular. Just like Finn’s story in this episode, this is made to distract you from the far-grander matter at hand. We also see cracks along the walls in the background, an allusion to how things at Castle Lemongrab are falling apart both literally and metaphorically. And I didn’t even mention the reuse of that same eerie title card music from 'Too Young’. That’s the first of many parallels this episode shares with its predecessor.
So if you have as good a memory as I do you’ll notice that many of those abominations we saw milling about in 'All Your Fault’ now have occupations, and they all dress in fine clothing.
Finn actually takes notice at how "fancy” things have gotten, and Princess Bubblegum voices her thoughts as well, deeming that the Lemongrabs seem to be getting “weirder." Both of these observations have weight, for as we can see despite all their pomp and fine appearances the Lemon Children are still incapable of fluent speak, not to mention how poorly they perform their apparently simple tasks.
In a parallel to Manfried’s announcing of Lemongrab’s arrival in 'Too Young’, Finn and Princess Bubblegum are poorly heralded by a Lemon Child hanging unnaturally from a rope, followed by a jester of some kind sitting on a trapeze, as opposed to Cinnamon Bun, who hung from his.
She still promptly falls flat on her face like the clumsy pastry did. And we also see in this same shot a pair or "Royal Guards” that Lemongrab has as a supposedly “elite” substitute for Banana Guards:
So Finn and Princess Bubblegum have just been carted into a freak show of deformed lemons in motley droning out complete nonsense as they await their hosts’ arrival…
Finn, Princess Bubblegum, and we the audience are all visibly shocked when we see the earls: Lemongrab is fat whereas his twin is frail and tired and partially eaten; black is wearing fine clothing while LG2 is donned in his usual white attire.
Princess Bubblegum later whispers to Finn how the Lemongrabs used to be exactly the same and that “something has happened to them”. This is blatantly obvious if one were to just look at them, but also personality wise the twins are two entirely different entities now. Lemongrab is brutal, tyrannical, and a complete glutton, with an entire feast laid out for himself while everybody else has paltry dishes of mush, bread, and a lemon.
His clone is kinder towards his children, but also starving with the rest of them. Whenever tries to speak, Lemongrab quickly silences him. And we see how this “shared rule” is now Lemongrab’s show, through both the way he runs things and how he repeatedly refers to Lemonhope and Finn and PB as “my prisoners” and not “our prisoners." Then at dinner, as soon as Bubblegum points out the stark contrast between the two, Fat Lemongrab sits in his massive throne and sees his brother hovering at "eye level” with him. He whops the guy with a chicken leg, forcing him down so that he’s as tall as the rest of the Lemon Children.
Now Bubblegum isn’t an airhead; when she says “the Lemongrabs used to be exactly the same, but something happened to them”, she isn’t solely referring to their appearance, but their behavior towards each other and their people as well. She knows something went down between the two to make them like this, just not what specifically occurred.
But we do.
(art by CoyChimera)
And now Lemongrab isn’t letting his clone do anything. He’s treating him like he would any other citizen of the earldom, giving him the same treatment as everyone else and making all of the decisions on his own without ever giving the co-ruler in this “shared rule” a say in the matter. Their fight in 'Another Five More Short Graybles’ damaged more than Lemongrab 2’s person - it damaged their very chemistry, the harmony these two once-identical, once-loving brothers shared.
And all of it stemmed from a disagreement over a doll. Now they fight over everything, from floor shows to the treatment of their own people.
But despite all the bickering, I think there’s still something to be said about Lemongrab’s character in regards of his feelings towards his clone, just by using our eyes and observing his very person. For one, Lemongrab didn’t kill him. Not only that, but he even gave him a hover-chair to move around in. And although this is an unbalanced relationship, and an abusive one to boot, the pair still sticks together throughout the episode. He’s also the only other Lemon Person without a shock collar, and knows the key code to unlock them as well. And at dinner time, we see that Lemongrab 2 is the only person at the table with some meat on his plate.
Now look, it’s pretty obvious that the writers hadto have Lemongrab 2 in this story; without him, the gang wouldn’t have been freed from their cell, and the Lemon Children wouldn’t have been rallied to assist in their escape. Even so, it still makes sense in context to Lemongrab’s character. The kind of visual storytelling we’re given just by looking at Lemongrab 2 tells us that his brother still has some essence of care and respect towards him. And whatever ill feelings he may have had towards him, Lemongrab 2 will always be the first and only true friend that he made. But whatever shred of admiration the fat earl had for his brother was evidently swept away when the proclaimed “soft Lemongrab” accidentally freed the prisoners in his blissful dance.
(art by Kimorox)
It’s really sad how this was just bound to happen, sooner or later. As I’ve said before, Lemongrab 2’s short life full of ever-present companionship would have made him a much more selfless person than our original Lemongrab, and would not have agreed with his treatment of their children.
While we’re on the subject of the Lemon Children, let’s take a moment and talk about them and their purpose in this episode and Lemongrab’s character, because they serve a far larger purpose than to disturb the viewers and make parents write angry letters to Cartoon Network for letting this air on daytime television.
(Though it’s easy to understand why)
There’s an explanation to all the weird and and all the strange we see in this episode; all of it, from the shock collars to the earls’ behavior, that floor show and Lemongrab’s unwillingness to let Finn perform, the way they’re dressed and this entire cultured facade, it all leads to one simple goal in Lemongrab’s mind:
He’s showing off his vision of the ideal, perfect society.
As I’ve said before, the writers trusted us, the viewers, to piece together the information given in eleven minutes into a subtle and dark story that is occurring right in front of us. And while Finn and Princess Bubblegum established some the general observations to get the viewers thinking, Lemongrab’s very first line pretty much solidifies the guy’s motives behind this “diplomatic dinner”:
“Princess! So PLEASED and gracious to welcome you to our SOPHISTICATED society! Mnh…bow!”
And if that’s not enough, then look at how some of these Lemon Children are dressed. Some are generals, others are priests and lords. One is named “Duke Suck Lemon”.
Only in Lemongrab’s mind that makes sense.
I’m going to bounce off this here and talk about what most people assume this episode is trying to say. There are many, myself once included, that thought that this fancy shtick was Lemongrab’s effort to impress his Mother Princess, to be accepted by making his bizarre society come off as cultured so that he could finally be loved and accepted by all. And Lemongrab hid Lemonhope away because he knew, he knew, that the child was everything he never could be, and knew that Bubblegum would want to take the child away from this horrible freak show and give him the life Lemongrab was so unfairly denied.
While it is an interesting and emotionally-gripping theory, I really don’t think that this is what the writers were going for, simply because Lemongrab never gave any indication that he was angry at Princess Bubblegum for deeming him a mistake. Neither does Lemongrab ever express a concrete desire to be normal and accepted by other people. In fact, 'You Made Me’ showed that he doesn’t want to change himself, as he got angry at Princess Bubblegum for trying to “change his ways”.
There’s more to the connections between 'Too Young’ and 'Too Old’ than just Bizarro parallels in the visuals and a continuation of of Finn’s infatuation with Princess Bubblegum; it’s Lemongrab finally succeeding in creating his vision of an “acceptable” society, something he was trying to accomplish in his tyrannical reign of the Candy Kingdom a couple years ago. Who knew all it took was to let his tyrannical side take over and put everyone in shock collars?
This is further solidified by two things, both connecting to Lemonhope and his family.
1. Lemongrab’s Tirade
When Finn and PB are fleeing with Lemonhope in hand, Lemongrab blows a complete gasket:
“HOW DARE YOU!? After everything I’ve done for YOU!? You try to steal my Lemonhope away!? You’re TOO OLD, Princess! Too old for pranks! Too OLD! I tried imprisonment! I tried reconditioning! But you leave me no other choice! LEMON CHILDREN!”
The easiest way to talk about this rant is to break it down line by line:
“After everything I’ve done for YOU!? You try to steal my Lemonhope away!?"
What Lemongrab is referring to in regards to what he’s "done” for his Mother Princess, he is talking about the whole dinner. In Lemongrab’s eyes, he invited her into his “sophisticated society”, made her dinner, entertained her with a floor show, and then had the gall to try and steal his property.
“You’re TOO OLD, Princess! Too old for pranks! Too OLD!”
This is simply Lemongrab assuming Princess Bubblegum is doing this as another elaborate prank to humilate him, just as she did when she was a little girl and “too young” to rule.
And whether or not this is what the writers were intending to be interpreted when referencing the title, it could be seen as Lemongrab referring to Princess Bubblegum’s older age to be an inappropriate one to be pranking like she was still thirteen and unfit to rule.
“I’ve tried imprisoning! I’ve tried reconditioning! But you leave me no other choice!"
For a long while I pondered the meaning of these words, and who, or what, Lemongrab was speaking of exactly.
I’m pretty sure he’s talking about the Lemon Children, and everything he tried to do to get them to "behave” the way he wanted them to.
Of course, the other meaning behind this line could also be Lemongrab talking about Lemonhope, and how he tried everything to get the kid to become “acceptable” (in other words, an abomination like the Lemon Children).
Now this “no other choice” is just to kill him.
I honestly don’t know about this one guys; it’s up to you to decide what this maniac is talking about.
2. The “Perfect” Child
The other point that debunks this “Lemonsad” theory is Lemonhope himself, which is the major point people who support this theory refer too. They claim that Lemonhope, the one perfect child, is locked away (the only one supposedly in the dungeon) and out of sight because to Lemongrab he is everything the earl never was.
Sadly, again while it’s a nice theory, one only needs to look back at 'You Made Me’ to understand how Lemongrab really feels about Lemonhope.
You see, the guy doesn’t call Lemonhope and his beautiful music ugly out of spite, but rather it’s just his Lemon Styles.
It’s really obvious if you just watch at how Lemongrab reacts to everything around him. He and his brother were pleased with each and every one of their deformed creations, never blenching at how appalling they all look.
Looking at Lemonhope, whom the 'grabs both created at one point (probably by accident like with the earl), he is the one beautiful child and they, or at least the first, see that as a blight in their people’s general design. It actually creates another nice sort of callback to the Candy Kingdom, where Princess Bubblegum was creating all of these sweet little Candy People but when the sour and unpleasant Lemongrab came around she had him dealt with. Only now we have Lemongrab creating all of these ugly Lemon People, and when sweet little Lemonhope comes around he has him dealt with the way he sees fit.
And then there’s the harp.
What a widdle cutie.
Lemongrab calls this music “ugly” and he smashes the harp in a fit of rage. This isn’t Lemongrab being hateful towards Lemonhope and his talents, but it’s just in Lemongrab’s biology to hate things that others would find beautiful. This is proven as fact, in 'Lemonhope’, when he can’t handle the titular character’s quick harp-playing and explodes.
Then there’s PB’s escape plan, where Lemonhope’s horrible flute-playing actually gets the Lemongrabs to dance. In fact, her intentions were to get Lemonhope to specifically play something “beautiful”, knowing that the Lemongrabs would come in and destroy the flute
It’s simply in their nature to find pleasure in things other people would find poor. Princess Bubblegum points out how the castle is falling into disarray, but this is clearly something that the Lemongrabs find natural. And then there’s that painfully awkward “floor show”, which was nothing more than a guy slapping himself and another screaming.
So when Lemonhope’s poor flute playing attracts the Lemongrabs, the second earl releases his brother’s prisoners amidst his joyful dance whilst proclaiming, “Come one and all and join the dance!"
Some may call it an accident, and therefore bad writing, but I’m sure this wasn’t an accident on Lemongrab 2’s part. His invitation of having everyone join in on the dance was meant to orchestrate how Lemongrab 2 is much more sociable than his solitary counterpart.
For allowing them to escape, Lemongrab completely goes off the deep end with claiming that his brother is "soft” (which is true to an extent) and seeing this gesture of jovial companionship as a traitorous act of pity for his prisoners. The last straw has been broken, and Lemongrab finishes his brother off once and for all without ever seeming to regret it.
But Lemongrab 2 manages to force himself out of his brother’s stomach just long enough to release his children from their shock collars and deliver a few final words:
“Lemon brothers! Stop! Stop and LISTEN! It has cost me much, but I have learned: Lemon need not squeeze Lemon to survive. Lemonhope, go forth! Grow strong and return for us!”
Basically, Lemongrab 2 is reciting his entire character development in just a few words: “It has cost me my life, but I’ve learned that Lemons don’t need to be greedy and selfish to prosper."
Lemongrab 2 is pretty much writing off Lemon nature, telling his children that through his act of sacrifice they now have hope. Whether or not this was intentional, it’s a complete 180 to what he said at the end of 'You Made Me’: "A lemon gives by taking, and cares by yelling”. Inspired by his words, the Lemon Children help their brother escape, placing hope and sacrificing their own freedoms by disobeying their tyrannical father, and acting in the standards set by the slain one. Sacrifice becomes a major theme in the next episode.
And just before leaving Castle Lemongrab, the earl gives a final look of contempt for his rebellious creation.
Part 5: Young, Poor, Sweet, Lost, Strong, Safe Lemonhope
(art by illeity)
I will not be talking about Lemonhope as a character, nor his entire episode. That is for another time. Rather, I will be analyzing what Lemonhope is to Lemongrab and Princess Bubblegum.
To Lemongrab, he is an unnatural little lemon that speaks openly about his dreams of a better life outside of the oppression of his brutal master through his talented harp-playing. That, coupled with the possible reality of Lemonhope leaving with Princess Bubblegum, may give his brothers some ideas. So Lemongrab locks the child away, refuses him the freedom to leave with Bubblegum, and changes his name to “BadLemon NoHope”. How much are you willing to bet that Lemongrab 2 was the one who named him originally?
Princess Bubblegum reacts very strongly to Lemongrab’s treatment of the poor child, claiming him to be “brilliant and sensitive” and immediately decides to bring him back to the Candy Kingdom so that his gifts may flourish. The princess restates her opinion of Lemonhope’s gifts many times, up until her very last line of the episode.
In 'Lemonhope’, we witness PB trying to teach the titular character how to be selfless through a cupcake exercise, and even hear of his education as he recalls it to Phlannel Boxingday. The princess tries drilling into Lemonhope’s brain of the debt he owes to the Lemon People, even going as far as showing him firsthand what life is like inside Castle Lemongrab with a “hands on” experiment.
Now where am I going with this? What is the point of mentioning all that? Well, I don’t think Princess Bubblegum freed Lemonhope purely out of human kindness. As we all know, she always has ulterior motives to her actions. With that, and given the information above, I think it’s safe to claim it all adds up to one simple goal:
Princes Bubblegum was raising Lemonhope to become the earl of Castle Lemongrab.
Think about it. We all saw her complete revulsion at the display of leadership Lemongrab put on; she couldn’t even stand to watch it any longer than she needed to, which leads her to find the one “normal” Lemon Child. To her, he was everything she believes a ruler should be: kind, talented, smart; everything Lemongrab wasn’t. If the princess could bring him back to the Candy Kingdom, educate him, and teach her philosophy of sacrifice and responsibility, then Lemonhope could grow into the ruler Castle Lemongrab needs.
Bubblegum wasn’t trying to pressure Lemonhope into liberating his people just to create drama, when she could’ve done it just as easily with her own firepower like the geniuses of TV Tropes proclaim. She wanted him to free his own people and realize what it truly meant to fulfill your duty as someone who is looked up to.
The artwork by illeity demonstrates this in a symbolic sense, with Princess Bubblegum holding trinkets of people that represent the hard choices she made in her life (Ice King’s heart, Flame Princess’s lantern etc.) as she teaches young crown-wearing Lemonhope everything about being a ruler, but he refuses to listen, not because he’s a rebellious little kid, but because he shares no interest in that sort of thing.
Knowing this, the princess still tries to convince Lemonhope to stay at Castle Lemongrab and help his people by becoming its champion, just like Finn is to the Candy Kingdom, appealing to the kid’s thirst for adventure. Little did Bubblegum know, it wasn’t necessarily the adventure that Lemonhope craved but the freedom to do whatever he pleased.
The princess was quite taken aback when Lemonhope declined her offer, as she expected his liberation of Castle Lemongrab indicated a growth in his person. She even wrote a song about how kind and selfless Lemonhope returned to Castle Lemongrab to save his brothers and his own soul, and will live at his home from now on. She sings this as we’re given a glimpse at the bleak future of this coldly realistic show, and Old Lemonhope returns to an abandoned Castle Lemongrab for the first time in a thousand years, and passes away in his sleep. Can you say tragic?
(art by Moniqnieva)
Part 6: The Future of Lemongrab
(art by gumlab)
When Lemongrab exploded, he took his brother and any Lemon Children latched on his person with him. I don’t know about you guys, but I personally find it to be pretty tragic that those who made the ultimate sacrifice will not be remembered.
And after everything that’s happened, after all of the heartache and sacrifice everybody involved went through amidst this huge catastrophe caused by Princess Bubblegum’s genuinely well-intentioned notions, everyone, myself included, had but one simple question to ask:
WHY WOULD PB EVEN RISK GOING THROUGH ALL THAT AGAIN?!
Until 'The Mountain’ airs, we probably won’t know for sure. But until then, all’s we can do is guess.
For one, Princess Bubblegum isn’t a fool. She probably has a reasonable explanation for piecing together a new Lemongrab from the pieces of the old two. As I’ve said before, she knew Lemonhope showed no desire in ruling the earldom, and it needed a ruler. Princess Bubblegum has her own place to run, so it seemed like this was the only option.
The princess claimed that once the new earl’s parts and “minds” re-knit he will be back to his “lonely old self”, then goes on to say that that is apparently his only stable relationship. By “lonely self” I’m pretty sure PB meant he will not have a brother again; so no one to push him off the deep end. And since he will be his old self, without anyone to make the push, it seems like this Lemongrab will go to act like the caring father his predecessor was before the Lemonsweets incident.
But do the Children want him? Only 'The Mountain’ will tell; all’s we know about it is that the episode will center around the new Lemongrab seeking “spiritual enlightenment”, and it’s written by Jesse Moynihan, so we’re bound to be getting some heavy stuff.
But we’re done with the story of the Earldom of Lemongrab, for now. Four weeks of on-and-off work and I’m finally finished. I’d like to thank illeity for being a sport, and give shout-out to zyruma for being the only AT fan that I know by name who is a huge fan of Lemongrab, and if she read this I hope she enjoyed it.
Anyways, this was a lot of work and I hope you guys enjoyed it. Peace out!