All 10 episodes of Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake are now available for streaming on Max. Both a spin-off and sequel to Adventure Time and the four Adventure Time: Distant Lands specials, Fionna and Cake is a captivating addition to the franchise. Following the eponymous gender-swapped fanfic versions of the Adventure Time heroes, Fionna and Cake offers a singular story that emphasizes the transformative and healing power of storytelling.
Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake
In Fionna and Cake, the exact nature of Fionna the Human (Madeleine Martin) and Cake the Cat (Roz Ryan) is revealed. We originally believed their stories were written by the Ice King (Tom Kenny). However, Fionna and Cake revealed the original author of their world is actually Prismo the Wishmaker (Sean Rohani). This world was subsequently stashed inside the Ice King’s “melon” (see: Adventure Time season 9’s “Fionna and Cake and Fionna”), which was possible thanks to the effects of the Ice King’s Crown. However, Simon’s brain was drained of magic and restored to normal functionality at the conclusion of the Adventure Time season finale. As a result, Fionna and Cake’s world is transformed into a relatively grounded 20th Century-era “sitcom.”
Simon is cured in the finale of Adventure Time thanks to the efforts of Betty (Felicia Day), his 20th Century-era girlfriend. However, the “cure” is not the straightforward good that we might have assumed it would be. In the Distant Lands special “Obsidion,” we see Simon attempting to cope with the loss of his vast magical power by pretending to be the Ice King in front of Marceline’s freezer. And, in Fionna and Cake‘s “Simon Petrikov,” we see how he is haunted by both the loss of Betty (merged with GOLB in the Adventure Time series finale) and the loss of his connection to Fionna and Cake’s magical world.
In the penultimate episode of the series, GOLBetty transports Simon into the body of Shermy (Sean Giambrone). While Simon assumes this is a parallel universe, Adventure Time devotees know the truth. Shermy and Beth (Imani Hakim) aren’t in a parallel universe, they’re in the distant future of Ooo. When Shermy-Simon discovers the Casper & Nova book, he assumes that Simon Petrikov who wrote it is an alternate version of himself. However, when paired with the scenes seen in the montage that concludes the final season 1 episode of Fionna and Cake, a new narrative emerges. Rather than being written by a variant, it seems more likely that Casper & Nova was written by a future version of our Simon after he was returned to Ooo at the conclusion of the Fionna and Cake season finale, “Cheers.”
This implies several things. First of all, it gives us the resolution to Simon’s driving crisis in this season. Throughout the season, Simon is desperate to re-create Fionna and Cake’s world, as depicted in the fanfiction he wrote while under the influence of the Ice King’s Crown. However, as demonstrated by the events of the episode “The Winter King,” this is an impossible dream. There is no way for Simon to harness the magical powers of the crown without being subsumed by its magic. In the case of The Winter King, for example, this goal is only accomplished by projecting the madness that accompanies the crown onto another. Fortunately, Simon is disgusted by this repugnant possibility.
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
However, this revelation also means that the “fairy tale ending” being pursued by Fionna, Cake and Simon is not possible. Simon cannot restore Fionna and Cake’s version of Ooo. Further, Simon cannot restore Betty, who remains fused to GOLB. Nevertheless, Simon and GOLBetty do have a nice moment, which recreates the crucible of Simon and Betty’s romance. In the real world, Simon stopped Betty from getting on the bus and going to Australia. But thanks to the lessons he’s learned from Casper & Nova, he recognizes that, as a professor, his relationship with Betty was founded on an unstable and irresolvable power disparity.
In this vision, GOLBetty returns to Betty form. She tells Simon that he was “a wonderful experience.” While Simon wants to join her on the bus, he cannot follow her on this journey. This is especially bittersweet, given that Betty’s journey was indelibly affected by her experiences with Simon. However, the statement suggests a final parting. Before the bus pulls away, Betty returns to GOLBetty form, collapsing her ongoing “journey” as a deity with her unfulfilled goal of studying petroglyphs in Australia. This gives Betty the chance to reaffirm her decision to become GOLBetty and transcend this mortal realm.
While GOLBetty chooses to remain in GOLB’s Dimension, Simon is returned to his present-day Ooo. Clearly, he can’t have a happy ending with Betty. With this option off the table, he chooses to write Casper & Nova. These characters are clearly based on Simon and Betty. This is a sharp contrast from the Ice King’s Fionna and Cake stories, which were meant to depict Finn and Jake.
Casper & Nova
Crucially, Simon chooses to write Casper & Nova as a “choose your own adventure” story. This demonstrates the lesson Simon learned from his relationship with Betty, in which his decisions were too often substituted for hers. Furthermore, it resolves a major recurring conflict from the “Fionna and Cake” storyline in the original series. In those episodes, characters like Marceline the Vampire Queen and Lumpy Space Princess each wrote Fionna and Cake stories from their perspective, sometimes against the Ice King’s will.
By contrast, Casper & Nova not only invites collaboration between the writer and the reader, it makes it fully necessary. This demonstrates Simon’s attempt to resolve the imbalance of power in his relationship with Betty. By writing Casper & Nova, Simon may bring himself peace for a situation he cannot travel back in time and change. But thanks to the power of storytelling, this means that writing Casper & Nova is not only a healing process for Simon. It also embodies the possibility that the pain Simon has experienced might someday help future readers better understand their world and their relationships with others.
There is no magic solution to the pain Simon feels. There is no way to reverse the past, and not all that was lost can be restored. However, by doing the labor of working through the pain, Simon is able to gain a better perspective on his difficult situation. Furthermore, the fact that the book survives into the distant future demonstrates that Simon is able to share the benefit of this wisdom with countless unforeseen future readers. Simon himself experiences this firsthand as he inhabits the body of Shermy, becoming a surrogate for future readers.
Available for Streaming
Simon’s relationship with Betty is just one of the many plot threads in this clever and unexpected season. Just like the original Adventure Time and Distant Lands, Fionna and Cake season 1 will make you laugh, cry and marvel at the complexity of the world-building and character development.
Since the inception of the franchise, Adventure Time has consistently pushed boundaries and remained uncompromising in its storytelling vision. Fionna and Cake continues that tradition, making it another most-watch entry in this singular and thoughtful animated narrative. Whether you’re a diehard Adventure Time fan or a newcomer to the franchise, Fionna and Cake comes highly recommended.
All of Adventure Time, Adventure Time: Distant Lands and Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake are now available for streaming on Max.
- David Aja Shares Art Created for THE MARVELS Cast and Crew - December 7, 2023
- What to Expect From the STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS Season 2 Special Features - December 6, 2023
- Home, Home Again: 10 Earth-Based STAR TREK Episodes - December 6, 2023