Now, we’re finally back in the Ooo we all know and love! Though it started off exploring Fionna (Madeleine Martin) and Cake’s (Roz Ryan) universe, the show has now turned its attention to Simon Petrikov (Tom Kenny), formerly known as Ice King.
Simon, as a character within Adventure Time‘s world, has had a very saddening life after succumbing to the madness of Evergreen’s crown. Now freed from the curse thanks to GOLB, Simon’s trying to move on without Marceline (Olivia Olsen) and Betty.
Fionna & Cake Episode 2 Review
While the first episode brought a pomp of excitement for adventure, this episode digs deeper into the idea of self-discovery through the traumatic perspective of Simon’s grief. There’s a lot to unpack, but it’s an interesting look into how Simon has evolved from the main series into this show.
The episode opens up with Simon and a young Marceline trying to escape a handful of Oozers, which they fortunately do. However, Simon is still wary of using the crown, which has been a long-standing issue between these two in the original show’s flashbacks. He knows that it’ll drive him to the brink of insanity, but it’ll be worth it for Marceline’s safety even if she doesn’t want him like this.
Luckily, Marceline’s still okay to this day as a restless, uncursed Simon wakes up in his bedroom to the same show that Fionna couldn’t avoid in the first episode. Prepping himself for the day, Simon opens up his home, which turns out sits as an exhibit in the human city (following their return from “Come Along With Me.”)
Recreating humanity’s previous societies through these different perspectives, from the 20th century to the cave folk era, shows how much Simon is out of touch with this magical, futuristic world. As Ice King, Simon was able to fit in with his environment, but now, he’s nothing more than a relic of a bygone period.
That’s exactly what his purpose is now: Simon has finally found the peace he’s desired. At the same time, however, he’s not happy with himself because he’s fully distanced from everything and everyone he knows. The show has put Simon in this conflicting position, which adds to this growing existential curiosity in a good way.
Luckily for Simon, a little girl named Astrid (Audrey Bennett), who’s cosplaying as Fionna, really loves his fanfictions and wants him to sign her copies. Unfortunately, Simon gets agitated by this because he thinks of them as Ice King’s work rather than his own.
Simon clearly has all these regrets from being consciously trapped within the crown as he struggles to move past it when everyone constantly drives him towards the thought of Ice King. It’s no wonder when he gets really annoyed, he shuts everything out in hopes of coping by himself.
In this moment of isolation, we finally get to learn how he’s been coping with his own losses: by performing a ritual to revive Betty. Using Choose Goose (Jeff Bennett) as a conduit, Simon tries his hardest to call out to Betty much to his failure thanks to Goose’s smirky remarks.
It’s clear at this point that Simon is unwilling to let go of Betty as she’s tried to save him (and succeeded) so many times. The duo’s love for each other remains strong all these years after the original show’s ending, which drives how complex Simon’s dedication towards Betty goes.
Failing the ritual, Simon decides to go to Dirt Beer Guy’s bar in the Candy Kingdom to drink his depression away. Throughout this scene, Simon remains rugged all while trying to avoid discussing Ice King, showing how he’s trying to put Ice King behind him.
It’s somewhat of a sad scene since everyone loves what he did as Ice King even though they don’t understand the inner workings of what Simon had to go through. Thankfully, an older Finn (Jeremy Shada) is willing to help Simon get past his emotions by inviting him on a classic hero’s quest.
However, in this scene, the mutual relationship between Finn and Simon feels actually heartfelt and tonally mature. Gone is the hero-beats-villain ruse; they both take this time to reflect on their moments with Jake and Betty, respectively, while looking back on their past interactions and how its impacted their purposes in this world.
This is a really sweet and sincere moment that the series had reflected tonally with the original show and in Distant Lands. Utilizing a moment of reflection, it adds an accessible layer of complexity and maturity that showcases how people process existential purpose and their own grievances. The mostly direct approach makes its message of how friendship is important more natural and relatable, which this episode definitely nails.
As Finn and Simon venture through a magical forest, Simon continues to feel out of place as Finn embraces the hunt. Even when they come across a wild river beast and large bear (which leads to two insane, bloody action sequence), Simon still feels like he isn’t supposed to be the hero even though he’s essentially a “good guy.” Finn, on the other hand, wants to give Simon some excitement just like the good old days.
When Simon makes his way back home, he sees how everyone around him is enjoying their own lives as Rebecca Sugar’s “Part of the Madness” plays. It continues to play on Simon trying to accept the hand he’s been dealt in its sorrowful, yet reminiscent way through this calming tune.
There are also some interesting references to Fionna’s world like the fairies, who act much like the roller-skate girls who approached Fionna as Simon drives them away like Fionna did.
During this, Simon decides to call up Marceline, who’s getting tattoos with Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch). Even though he wants to discuss how he’s been feeling with her, he decides to hold back as Marceline and Bonnibel (that’s Bubblegum) have a lot of fun.
With Simon finally realizing that he can’t move on from these relationships, it beautifully nails how we, as humans, have the need to hold on to things and can’t really let go. Otherwise, we’re actually left without something or someone that gives us purpose.
It’s a relatable message that every person who’s still figuring out their lives can resonate with and the show touches on that perfectly.
And so, returning back to his exhibit apartment, Simon indulges in Astrid’s Fionna and Cake book, which he threw out beforehand. It’s a cute callback to a previous moment, but it also allows Simon to have some determined resolve, helping Simon develop his character in finding what his new purpose is going to be.
Inspired by it to perform the ritual once again, Simon decides to call out to Betty once more, though it fails… mostly. Although Betty wasn’t summoned, Simon actually managed to summon Cake instead, which leave the two completely surprised.
With this incident occurring, big and terrible things are looking to come ahead as an alert is signaled to the Time Room, which means fans can expect Prismo’s (Sean Rohani) appearance next week.
Final Thoughts / Star Rating
This episode of Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake has managed to beautifully showcase the process of grief and the understanding of purpose through Simon Petrikov’s tormented perspective.
As the show now makes its way towards a multiversal-level story, we can hope that Simon’s personal journey will be confidently fleshed out and explored as Fionna and Cake begin to touch new heights. Fortunately, this episode has nailed its own look into Simon Petrikov’s past, his complex emotions on Ice King, and the ideas of friendship and resolve within the theme of self-discovery.
Overall, this was an amazing character-driven episode that managed to pull on so many emotions inside of me. Hopefully, the show can continue this type of storytelling in the coming weeks!
4.5 out of 5 stars
Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake episodes 1 and 2 are now streaming on Max – two new episodes release every Thursday.
This review was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.