The first episode in HBO Max’s new Adventure Time series (called Adventure Time: Distant Lands) was phenomenal. It captured the heart of the show, the mythology, and the sense of adventure. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about a BMO centered show for Adventure Time’s first comeback episode since I love Finn and Jake so much. But the episode exceeded all my expectations. I’ve always thought that Adventure Time was at its best when it was able to go long form or have a story line span several episodes. This 45-minute episode was the sweet spot for the show, and I can’t wait to see what HBO Max has in store next.
This review has major spoilers for Episode 1: BMO of Adventure Time Distant Lands and it has spoilers for the Adventure Time finale episode on Cartoon Network.
BMO Is the Hero of the Hour
In Distant Lands, BMO is the hero. He’s basically playing the Finn role of the series, propelling the bunny Y5 into taking on a heroic role that she wasn’t comfortable with before BMO came along.
BMO has all the courage and wit that makes Finn so great. And he has a sidekick in the form of Olive who essentially plays the role of Jake.
Olive is a shape-shifting droid that gets BMO out of all sorts of close calls. And although Olive doesn’t talk, he quickly takes on a Jake-like role in the episode.
The episode starts out with BMO piloting a spaceship. He’s heading to Mars, but gets sidetracked when Olive the Service Droid finds him and sets him on a crash course with the Drift. We’re told that he was going to Mars to “terraform the Martian soil,” which is interesting. (There’s a whole Reddit discussion about it here.)
The Drift is basically a space station set of pods with artificial atmospheres that are all interconnected. Someone else created the Drift, but Hugo and Mr. M have taken advantage of it. In fact, we learn later that Hugo is exploiting the people of the Drift and using their knowledge and labor to track down the pieces he needs to power a new starship that will leave the dying Drift.
The Characters & the New World Are So Rich & Full
I loved the characters of this episode. Despite not taking place on Earth, they quickly built a full, rich world with its own mythology and its own complex, three-dimensional characters of all different species. Sadly, they were left in a bit of a lurch. They needed to figure out a way to power up and rebuild the space station again while rationing their resources to survive until that day came. It wasn’t the most optimistic of endings, but there was true hope that they’d succeed.
Although BMO was on a different world, there were enough connections with Earth to make it feel like home. Hugo was a human who spliced some Grey Alien DNA into his makeup to turn himself into a new species who could travel space better. We got to see Earth blow up in a pretty fun flashback.
We saw space lards, Cuber’s species, and lots of other Easter eggs that drew enough familiarity to let us know we were in the same universe, even if we weren’t on the same world as Adventure Time “prime.”
I especially loved the callback to the Cubers. This is the most we’ve learned about them ever, I’m pretty sure.
And then there was the mysterious identity of Mr. M. I’m pretty sure he’s MARTIN, Finn’s dad.
He talks about deadbeat dads, he loves gadgets, he has no qualms about screwing over people, and he even says that “Rascal” line we’ve heard him say before. Watch this clip of Martin and tell me that you don’t think he’s Mr. M.
Of course, all this leads us to that spectacular ending. The twist at the end really was pure Adventure Time. We learned that this entire episode was a prequel, taking place before BMO ever met Finn and Jake. In fact, he saw them for the very first time right when he first landed back on Earth.
That’s why the tree house was back, despite it being destroyed like this in the finale on Cartoon Network:
I love that touch and it made me ready for more episodes in this new HBO Max series.
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