TV REVIEW: Adventure Time, S6 Ep 11: Little Brother

One of the main reasons I adore Adventure Time (aside from the absolute hilarity, of course) is that Pendleton Ward and co. are not at all afraid of dealing with some big, heavy topics, despite their vehicle for this being a cartoon. Many episodes have dealt with all sorts of issues such as loss, loneliness, the difficulties surrounding growing up, and even mental illness. Whilst Little Brother is not one of Adventure Time’s most ground-breaking episodes, it is a tale that teaches you that even one tiny worm-butt can make a huge difference to the world…

Little Brother is a traditional Hero’s Tale, told through the story of Shelby the Worm and his recently severed rear-end-turned-new-little-brother, Butty Butterson (Kent for short, of course). The episode kicks off with Shelby throwing a party inside Jake’s viola, at which Dancing Bug’s mad dance skills are going down a treat. Not to be outdone at his own party, Shelby attempts to win everyone’s admiration through some ill thought out parkour stylings, which unfortunately results in the untimely removal of his bottom. And thus Kent is born. Shelby asks Jake for advice on how to be a big brother, and Jake, recalling his relationship with Finn as adoptive brothers, suggests giving him something sharp to fight bad guys with. Shelby does exactly this, bestowing a sword upon his new little relative, and sending him off into the roots of the tree fort to fight bad guys (or girls).

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Kent’s Hero Journey begins here, as his physical prowess, resolve and will are tested; having to deal with the traditional hero temptations (wealth, eternal life and true love) as well as fighting the Big Bad (which in this case is a terrifying mass of rats that has come together to act as one huge, undulating, nightmare-inducing Rat King). Whether Kent passes these tests because he’s a true hero, or because he hasn’t really had much life experience to understand the temptations offered (“I was born earlier today so I don’t really get a sense of my own mortality”) doesn’t really matter, as in the end it’s the journey that counts, and Kent’s is a doozy. He collects many items on his travels, learns a little about responsibility and, in a creepy-as-sin boss fight, removes the teeth from the Rat King, who can now no longer feast on the tree fort’s roots.

The relationship between Shelby and his little brother develops beautifully over the episode. Being the back end of a worm which has recently achieved sentience, Kent is able to sprout (albeit it very short) arms and legs; something which Shelby clearly wishes he could do. Whilst he is obviously saddened that his new brother can do things which he cannot, by the end of the episode Shelby puts aside his envy, singing a delightful yet sad little song about how much he has grown to appreciate, and miss, his little brother. This song achieves extra levels of poignancy when it is revealed that Kent, having partaken of food from the underworld, must return there by dewdrop law (or so he says). Shelby’s final lines illustrate just how big of an impact Kent had in his short time with us; “Maybe he was having second thoughts about infinite riches, true love, and eternal life. Or maybe he’d just decided that fighting bad guys wasn’t really his deal. But I do know this: free from the Rat King’s cursed teeth, that spring, for the first time in many years, the willow tree was in bloom”. The closing shot of Finn and Jake’s tree fort home resplendent in bloom is a stunning symbol of just how much one person can effect the world around them, regardless of shape, size, stature, experience, and whether or not you happen to be someone else’s butt.

As a huge fan of Shelby (I will never stop shouting “Cheque please!” whenever I want), this episode was nigh-on perfect for me; an innovative, funny and enjoyable take on an oft-told story, Little Brother is littered with brilliant one-liners (“Dang Holmes, that’s cold”) and does exactly what we would expect from Adventure Time; perfectly combines the dark with the light, the humour with the drama. A wonderful chapter in an already very solid series, Little Brother is 10 minutes incredibly well spent.

GS Blogger: Stacey Taylor

Rating: 4.5/5

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