Fionna and Cake is the long-awaited sequel to Adventure Time, the animated kids' show about a human and his dog going on epic adventures, and premiered on MAX on Aug. 31. The sequel follows the gender-bent versions of Finn the Human and Jake the Dog, Fionna the Human and Cake the Cat, on a multiverse adventure from their mundane world into the Land of Ooo. Adventure Time takes place in Ooo, a land bearing mystical properties that defy human reality.
Fionna and Cake were first introduced in Season 3 of Adventure Time, existing solely as fan fiction of Finn and Jake written by the infamous Ice King. The sequel expands on the gender-bent characters by fleshing out their origin and offering them more screen time. This provides fans of the original series a way to reconnect with the Adventure Time universe they enjoyed 5 years ago. The sequel also differentiates itself by being created for young adults, as shown by its implication of gory fights and its use of vulgar language, showing the creators wanted to develop a show that grew up with the original fans.
Adam Muto, showrunner of Fionna and Cake, had the opportunity to speak with Inverse Magazine about how the sequel came to fruition. He mentioned the production team of Adventure Time wanted to expand more on the characters in the original series who weren’t a main part of the show’s plot. “Fionna and Cake perfectly fit into that slot because it had the recognizability of Finn and Jake, but it was an opportunity to do something completely different with them.”
The episodes are titled after the characters featured in them, offering fans a base of what to expect. The first episode “Fionna Campbell” opens with Fionna dreaming about an action-packed battle against an evil giant rat bus. The rat almost eats her when she’s saved by an Ice Prince with winter magic. She becomes completely enamored with him after he asks her if she wants to embark on adventures together, but her alarm goes off waking her up. She awakens to find Cake lethargic, so she packs the cat in the carrier in order to take her to a vet after her shift.
After the opening scene, the intro song “Not Myself” features all too relatable lyrics by Zuzu, a Liverpool-based artist. The verses showcase Fionna’s feeling of not belonging in her ordinary world. “I'm not really feeling like myself today//Hated every job I've had//What's wrong with me?” makes viewers view Fionna’s character in an empathizing light because of the shared feeling of not being attuned with your true self. Its lyrics are paired with an upbeat tune, making the self-questioning song easier to digest.
Fionna ends up getting fired for bringing Cake to work, spiraling after realizing she won’t be able to afford a visit to the vet and her rent. She ends up going to Gary Prince’s bakery for a coffee before realizing she’s running late for her vet appointment. She literally runs into Marshall Lee performing on a street corner, spilling her coffee all over the uniform she has to return to her former employer. With everything not going smoothly, Fionna confides in Marshall asking him to tell his mom she’s going to be late on her rent. He argues with her claiming vets to be unreliable and gives her the address of his friend Ellis P. who self-proclaims to be “deeply connected to all animals and speak their language.”
Fionna agrees to take Cake to Ellis because it’s free rather than paying for the vet. Ellis just gives Cake some catnip and theorizes with Fionna about what ails the sick cat. Fionna speculates, “What if she’s just bored with everything and wishes the world was more magical?” This reveals her personal yearning for more excitement in her everyday life.
Episode 1 is a beautiful exposition into Fionna and Cake’s relationship and how close the pair are, demonstrated by Fionna’s relentless pursuit of figuring out why Cake is sick. The episode also delves more into her dissatisfaction with ordinary her world and wish to be able to live out her dreams of taking down mystical beasts and going on adventures with magical princes.
Episode 2 is all about “Simon Petrikov.” Simon used to be Ice King, a demented wizard with ice powers granted to him by an evil crown, whose sole objective was kidnapping princesses in the Land of Ooo and forcing their hand in marriage. In the final episode of Adventure Time, his ex financée Betty removes the crown, reverting him back to the Simon she fell in love with. During their untimely reunion, Betty sacrifices herself so Simon can live the rest of his days sane without the influence of the crown.
The second episode follows up with Simon coping with the finality of being a nonmagical human. He lives in Human City which floats above the Land of Ooo, and uses his home as his job exhibiting how a man from the 20th century lived. One of the onlookers, a child named Astrid, is obsessed with his written stories about Fionna and Cake. She inquires if he’ll write any additional stories about them, but Simon grows infuriated because he wrote the stories while he was Ice King.
“Simon Petrikov” is a continuation of Simon’s newly human character and explores how he’s dealing with the sudden loss of power. He’s painfully reminded that he doesn’t fit in with the futuristic new generation of humans in Human City and that he doesn’t belong in Ooo with the magical creatures now he is simply ordinary. He tells Dirt Beer Guy and Finn at the Candy Kingdom Tavern, “I’m not Ice King. I’m not magic. I can’t relate to Fionna and Cake anymore. I can’t relate to any of this anymore--this world, these people.”
The feeling of not belonging causes Simon to be isolated from the place he called home for so long. He even tries to seek comfort by attempting to reach Betty in the afterlife. This ends up opening a portal through which Cake comes flying in.
Episodes 1 and 2 end abruptly, building anticipation for the next two episodes that premiered the following Thursday on MAX. Episode 3 picks right back up with “Cake the Cat” after she lept through the portal to Ice King’s dimension of the Land of Ooo. Simon puts an animal voice translator around her neck, giving her a voice for the first time she can remember. She escapes Human City and spends the rest of the episode exploring Ooo. She eventually finds herself in trouble with the locals, but Fionna barges into the mob in order to save her. Fionna had waited for another portal to appear, immediately being sucked in by the florescent blue and emerging at Simon’s home in Human City just like Cake.
While the pair are celebrating being reunited, they are immediately teleported to a mysterious cube sitting at the center of the multiverse fans will recognize as the Time Room. This is the control panel for all things in the Adventure Time universe and is monitored by “Prismo the Wishmaster.” Episode 4 begins after Fionna, Cake, and Simon have been summoned to the Time Room to be questioned by Prismo. The pink humanoid shadow transforms Fionna and Cake into their magical selves, giving Fionna an outfit change and Cake the magical ability to talk on her own and stretch in multiple ways. This restores the evil-fighting duo to images fans are familiar with from their episodes in Adventure Time.
Prismo explains to the trio that he created Fionna and Cake’s universe and implanted it inside Ice King’s empty mind for safekeeping. Scarab, a horrific red god auditor, later appears in the episode and is quickly established as the main antagonist for Fionna and Cake. His job is to keep cosmic beings in the multiverse in line. After finding out about Prismo’s role in creating the Fionna and Cake universe he wants to become the new Wishmaster, destroying Fionna and Cake’s universe in the process.
The first four episodes of Fionna and Cake serve as a well-rounded beginning to the new, epic series. Muto makes sure to reintroduce characters to fans in a way that demonstrates time passing while creating a sense of familiarity as the main characters undergo transformative arcs. Viewers are able to explore Fionna and Cake’s characterization as they embark on a journey of self-discovery. New episodes air every Thursday on MAX.