Henchman (Season 1, Episode 22)

I don’t have much to say about this episode; any meaning I made of it will come out more effectively in dialogue with Fuller, which is evident in Episode 11 of the podcast.

We begin the episode with an introduction to Marceline, the Vampire Queen, torturing a henchman for life in order to coerce Finn into working for her, which means tricking him and playing around with his emotions and thoughts. It should be noted that Marceline’s status as queen situates her in the audience’s mind quite differently from any of the princesses, especially PB. Curiously, our culture encourages young girls to desire the role of princess more than the role of queen. With princess comes the sexual power they should want, which enables them to get the right man (the king). The princess is passive and beautiful. With queen comes a political power that is undesirable. For one thing, the man is already secured, so what’s left for a woman to do? Typically, it’s to grow old, bitter, and envious of the princess figure, who remains young, beautiful, and a desirable object for males. So for all the power a queen might have, it’s wasted on hating other women. Queens are often represented as evil while princesses are portrayed as perfect candy (thanks, PB). Adventure Time has fun with these stultifying tropes.

Knowing the audience carries such a bias toward the concept of “queen” (let alone a queen of the underworld), the creators present Marceline as a threat at first, a girl corrupted by her power (which, again, in her transcendence of life and death, is magnified tremendously). At every turn, we discover how innocuous and playful she actually is; she just wants to toy around with innocent boys like Finn, though that isn’t to suggest that her actions or thoughts revolve around boys. She is a harbinger of sexual awakening for Finn, but she doesn’t pander to that base desire. It is interesting the way he struggles to relate to her though, calling her “honey” and “sugar” at various points, perhaps in order to diffuse the sexual tension he either (a) isn’t conscious of, or (b) isn’t sure how to handle. Regardless, Marceline calls him out jokingly for likely thinking of a bowtie as a bra and then later puts him in a battle with his own naivety and innocence in the form of a dimple plant (which quickly turns into a gross, vagina dentata thingy). At the Duke of Nut’s castle, cashew citizens urge Finn to let go and have fun. Marceline and sexuality may seem “evil” and dangerous, but they’re not bad at all; in fact, they’re life affirming. Of course, Finn isn’t ready for any such revelation yet. He admits his ignorance about sex by telling Marceline, “Jake told me I came out of a cabbage.”

All Finn’s lessons come down to having friends and fun, though in this episode that also means facing your fears in order to see potential enemies as possible friends (hence Jake’s B storyline). Marcy becomes another friend who promises fun, so she’s cool.

7 Comments

  1. dasfuller

    You’ve a very one-sided view of what a queen is. Old and bitter? There are plenty of fairy tales, epic poems, and classic plays where that’s not the case at all. What about Penelope?! What if this is a situation where you’re the one bringing in a bias that may not actually be widely shared?

    Reply
    1. Luigus (Post author)

      Yeah, everything has exceptions, which usually serve to confirm the rule. So it’s a matter of deciding on the rule. I went with the negative representation of the Queen figure.

      An argument is intentionally one-sided. I’m trying to make you look at “Queen” in a particular way. Of course there are other ways to think about the concept. I chose to exclude those ways in favor of the distinction I was establishing between Queen and Princess.

      Penelope isn’t very desirable.

      Reply
      1. dasfuller

        I don’t think we’re talking about the same Penelope. I’m talking about Odysseus’s wife. The one with all the suitors who needed to be slaughtered. Who are you talking about?

        Reply
        1. Luigus (Post author)

          Yeah, that one. The passive wife who needed her husband to come in and slaughter everyone. Not a great role. So weak, in fact, that Margaret Atwood felt compelled to write “The Penelopiad” as a way to empower the character.

          Reply
          1. dasfuller

            Well, at least she wasn’t going around, hatin’ on other ladies.

            What about Lady MacBeth? Sure, she’s evil, but you definitely cannot make the case that she was milquetoast about anything.

          2. Luigus (Post author)

            She lost her mind when she gained the crown, and she was never really defined as a queen. She always remained the “Lady” of Macbeth.

          3. dasfuller

            Andromache.

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