Adventure Time walks a very thin line between the sickeningly cute and the horrifically ugly. Pendleton’s show is a master of the ‘sickening close-up’, a technique made famous by some of the original Sponge Bob episodes. This episode makes no shortage of this technique, highlighting the most gruesome aspects of the most grotesque character in the entire show – Ricardio.
The episode starts off calmly enough, with Finn and Jake having a friendly bet, and enjoying each other’s company. The Ice King gets involved, but Finn and Jake dispatch him with ease. This, however, is only the beginning.
The episode brushes against Finn’s crush on Princess Bubblegum, which mixes well when the major plot is revealed – a literal rival heart for the princess. Recardio, a freakish mutant heart thing steals Princess Bublegum’s interest, and they have heavy scientific discussion. Finn feels inadequate and jealous, and after failing to win back the princess, decides that Recardio is evil. Jake insists that Finn’s conclusion is based purely off Finn’s feelings of ‘romantic rivalry’, and that Recardio is ‘Just one of those guys who looks evil, because of the wrinkles and stuff’.
This episode is beautiful and horrifically ugly at the same time. So much of the dialog between Finn and Jake is superb, like the line “Hey Finn! You gotta help me slay these peanut monsters at the bar!” when he’s completely striking out at impressing the princess. The attention to detail to this type of interaction is only matched by the grotesque nature of Recardio, especially towards the ending where he gets more and more gross-up-close-up shots of his horrific face. Adventure Time is the only show that can make one cringe and laugh in the best way possible.