I Remember You, or my First Adventure Time Experience
So my friend Brittany convinced me to watch a couple of Adventure Time episodes with her, to burn some time before we headed off to a party. To be honest, it wasn’t that difficult to get me on board; I’ve heard nothing but praise for the show from the internet, whom I usually trust with these sorts of things. I picked the episode I Remember You to watch, as I had heard some positive buzz about it a while ago.
First off, for those who are unfamiliar with Adventure Time, it is a show about a boy and his dog, Finn and Jake, who have adventures all the time. Although it is never explicitly spelled out, AT takes place 1000 years after a nuclear apocalypse. There’s a range of ridiculous characters, from the Bubblegum Princess to the nefarious Ice King, all more bizarre than the last. I picked the episode I Remember You to watch, as I had heard some positive buzz about it a while ago.
At least, that’s what Wikipedia tells me.
What I watched was a heart-wrenching display of sacrificing yourself to save those you care about. The episode starts off innocently enough:
The Ice King performs a cover of Marceline‘s Fry Song to Gunter, when he gets the idea to ask for Marceline’s help him write a song to impress princesses. Ripping some pages from his scrapbook so he can use them as inspiration for lyrics, he flies to Marceline’s house.Finn and Jake notice him and think that he is up to no good.
Pretty standard fare, right? Some punch clock villain trying to make the moves on a lady, right? I thought so too. Then the Ice King launches into a sincere song about being lonely, about wanting to feel loved, and accidentally does some property damage to Marceline’s (who, incidentally, is a vampire) house. She’s a little angry and tackles him, causing him to retreat to the top of the fridge.
Marceline looks as if she’s going to blow a gasket at this “pitiful old man,” but she instead says she’s happy to see him, even going as far to say she likes him. This causes the Ice King to ask for a hug, which she freely gives, but then the Ice King oversteps his bounds and tries to kiss her.
Marceline pushes him away and screams in frustration at him. At this point I don’t have a clue what’s going on, but so far the vocal performances have been rock solid, so I’m staying put on the couch. Our angry neighbourhood vampire asks the IK if he doesn’t remember anything at all, and calls him Simon.
The Ice King doesn’t even realize Simon is a name, let alone his, and calls himself a lyricist, not a Simon. He goes back to his scrapbook for some more inspiration, and begins to sing again. Marceline notices a newspaper clipping from before the nuclear holocaust showing an academic discovering an ancient book, and tearfully tells the Ice King that the person in the photo is him. She then finds a photo of herself when she was young (and not a vampire), with a message from a Simon adressed to her, detailing the terror he faced as he realized his memory was failing, and fearing that she would lose him too.
Marceline breaks down, and begins singing lyrics along with the Ice King. Both “sing” messages written by each other a thousand years ago, one blissfully unaware of their history, the other nearly crushed by it. The episode ends with a flashback of a young Marceline being handed a stuffed animal by Simon, amidst the ruins of a modern city.
I have very little idea of who these characters were, of what this show was about, and this still nearly had me tear up. I don’t think I’ve seen a more emotional 12 minutes of programming in the past decade. I have to give props to Olivia Olson and Tom Kenny, especially to Olson, for their incredibly powerful singing.
Seeing as I haven’t seen the show at all beyond this and the next 3 episodes after this one, all of the following is pure speculation and assumptions.
I think Simon either caused the apocalypse and was trying to redeem himself using the power of the Ice Crown, or was just a man trying to stay alive as best he could after a nuclear war. Either way, he becomes dependant on the crown’s corrupting influence, as displayed in The Lich (part 2), and begins to lose his mind/soul to the crown.
He finds a young girl, Marceline, still alive after the end of the world, and swears to keep her safe. They live together for a while, before the corruption of the Ice Crown becomes to great, and Simon leaves Marceline alone, as he fears for her safety the longer she remains with him. Sometime after that, Marceline is bitten and transformed by a vampire, allowing both of them to live eternally.
Simon, now the Ice King, has forgotten all but the barest thread of sanity and self. Marceline became bitter and aloof, as one would expect from a person who lives forever after her world was destroyed. These are two sad, tragic characters, and you don’t need to know any more about them to feel their pain.
If the rest of the series is anything approaching I Remember You, or to a lesser extent, The Lich (parts 1 and 2), this is probably more emotionally engaging than any live-action show on television.
That is both sad and awesome at the same time.