Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake‘s character-driven journeys between Fionna (Madeleine Martin), Cake (Roz Ryan) and Simon (Tom Kenny) are some of the best stories that an expansive franchise like Adventure Time could ever create.
As we’ve gotten to learn more and more about Fionna and Cake’s universe as well as Simon’s own saddening lifestyle, the show has managed to develop such intriguing stakes that not many multiverse-based stories have tried telling.
However, while this episode takes a step back from exploring its thematic messages, it still allows for Fionna and Cake to better understand themselves, albeit through the perspective of Prismo the Wish Master (Sean Rohani).
Fionna & Cake Episode 4 Recap Review
Surprisingly, this episode opens up on introducing our big bad in the form of the hot-blooded, deceptive Scarab (Kayleigh McKee), who’s tracked down a wanted cosmic entity who loves making tea.
This sequences does good with showcasing the versatility and energy of what Scarab can do, adding on to the already growing stakes caused by Fionna and Cake’s actions. Though at the same time, it does feel like he’s set up with this one-dimensional “get the job done” personality. It isn’t until later in the episode that more contextual depth is added to Scarab with his sly interactions with Prismo.
Speaking about Prismo, he’s transformed into a more disheveled version of his previous self most likely due to Jake’s (John DiMaggio) death mentioned by Finn (Jeremy Shada) in the second episode. Jake was the only person that Prismo liked to hang out with. However, because he’s gone, Prismo’s started to let himself go, fulfilling Wyatt’s (Andy Daly) wish of silence using a comical, black-and-white silent film reality just to calm himself down.
After Prismo finally answers his alarm and discovers that Fionna and Cake somehow made their way into Ooo, it actually shocks him to the point of him going on full lockdown. Bringing them to the Time Room and giving the duo their iconic designs with a snap, Prismo digs deeper into the root cause of their arrival: Simon Petrikov.
This scene involving Prismo and Simon provides a strong, useful connection between the larger plot and Simon’s emotional journey. If you haven’t seen the original show, Prismo couldn’t fulfill Simon’s wish of bringing Betty back from GOLB in the same way he couldn’t help Normal Man (Tom Kenny) bring his wife Margles back.
Because of Prismo’s hindered powers, it shaped Simon into who he is in this show: a dejected shell of a man who’s desperate on the inside. Simon is at his lowest point (up to this point) and being emotionally hit like this adds a lot of space for him to grow as a character, which will be very interesting.
The sorrow within Simon continues to build up as Prismo gives context into why Fionna and Cake’s world is the way it is in the first episode.
As it turns out, Fionna and Cake’s world does exist out of Prismo’s inspiration. However, he’s had to hide it within Ice King’s mind since he made it out of his own will instead of a wish. In turn, the Fionna-verse’s magic relied on Ice King’s curse and since Simon is now cured, their world has been “normal”-ized.
Prismo’s explanation does make the stakes ahead for Fionna, Cake, and Simon much more clearer as it does finally reveal how and why these events are happening as is. However, this point just continues to be hammered in to appease the dedicated Adventure Time lorekeepers (and I have no problem if you are!)
These two explanations may also be a bit confusing as some may wonder if the Fionna-verse is a universe within Simon’s head or a universe on its own within the greater multiverse.
However, Prismo gets cut short after Scarab finally arrives to investigate Prismo’s activities. As Prismo guides Fionna, Cake, and Simon towards their way out, he also tries to trick Scarab into believing otherwise. Unfortunately for Prismo, he accidentally exposes himself, which gives Scarab the confidence he needs to enact his duty.
While this entire sequence provides some colorful and vast visuals, it also finally permeates Fionna and Cake’s radical satiation for adventure. The duo have finally recognized their true roles as being the heroes of their Ooo in addition to their physical transformation.
Fionna, Cake, and their world have been disregarded by the cosmic pantheon of Adventure Time so seeing them finally embracing themselves as actual people gave me that special satisfaction that I’ve been anticipating since the show’s beginning. It is unfortunate for the two as they just circle around back to the ritual chamber where Simon and Prismo are drinking themselves away.
Throughout this entire sequence, Prismo’s attitudes towards our duo actually begins to shift: he doesn’t see them as any other mortals who have come across him. He also doesn’t see them as another version of Finn and Jake; Fionna and Cake are his creations from his own mind. Because of this, he cares deeply for their safety as the Scarab tries to stop the trio. Prismo has made something he actually cares deeply for and has built enough courage to stand up for himself and for his own actions.
As a cosmic deity that has never really shown fear and desperation (outside of being killed by the Lich), it inserts a new complexity within his character that’s never been explored deeper until now. Prismo ultimately sacrificing himself for the two shows how important Fionna and Cake are to him and that is what beautifully ties this episode together.
Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake episode 4, while providing lengthy explanations for Fionna and Cake’s circumstances, still manages to retain its ever-important emotional core in the true beginning of their quest with Simon Petrikov.
Though these expository and action-based sequences try to force the main story’s pacing forward, the show is able to build these small, yet impactful emotional moments that help to further define our main characters.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake episodes 3 and 4 are now streaming on Max. The new two episodes are released every Thursday.
This review was written during the 2023 WGA (now resolved) and SAG-AFTRA (ongoing) strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series/movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.