“Sad Face” is one of those fun episodes where Adventure Time takes a departure from the normal adventures of Finn and Jake and tries something new and refreshing. Written by Graham Falk, this episode follows the adventures of Jake’s tail as it goes on a once-a-month journey to work at an ant circus and takes on the identity of the clown Blue Nose. This episode is notable in that it does not include the voice talents of either Jeremy Shada or John DiMaggio, but it doesn’t suffer for it. The premise is charming; I love that Jake has all these dreams of living different lifestyles, such as when he revealed how badly he wanted to be a mailman in “Princess Cookie,” and now we find that even subconsciously he is acting out these alternate lifestyles. Even better is that his tail has a little hat that looks like his father’s, and that it makes such a comical sound when he flips it onto his head, giving him an old-timey feel. It was nice seeing NEPTR as well after all this time as well. Blue Nose wraps up a bindle of nuts and berries and stretches out the door.
Things aren’t going so well at the circus for Blue Nose. Of course, Jake being the creative genius that he is doesn’t simply go for cheap laughs, but attempts to raise his act to the level of art. His routine, in which he’s frustrated that he can’t keep his oranges straight, and then dances with a puppet of a bee who then dies and floats to heaven, is an amazing send-up of classy French art with suitably depressing music that made me chortle. The audience doesn’t approve however and boos him off the stage. Poor Jake, first PB won’t let you be a milkman, now this?
It turns out Blue Nose’s ulterior motive is to win the freedom of the circus’ star attraction, a captive chipmunk named Gore-a-lina. She breaks free herself, however, and when she sticks a bunch of the audience ants in her mouth, Blue Nose performs a belly-dancing routine to hypnotize Gore-a-lina and put her to sleep. Blue Nose goes to meet with the ringmaster, who tells him to earn the same kind of coin as Gore-a-lina brings in and he’ll let her go. Of course Jake, being the hero that he is (even when he’s sleeping), is willing to compromise his artistic integrity to give the ants the kind of crass entertainment they’re looking for, but not before he feeds the nuts and berries he brought with him to the captive chipmunk. Such a nice guy.
The circus goes much better for Blue Nose when he starts acting goofy (which also made me laugh, I miss slapstick sometimes), but the greedy ringmaster wants to keep both him and Gore-a-lina to rake in the cash. Blue Nose isn’t having that, so he beats up the ringmaster and Gore-a-lina’s handlers, and rushes out of the circus with her. Perhaps the best part of the episode is when, after they drag Blue Nose back by his lengthy torso (Jake’s tail has really been going through the ringer this episode), they slap him around, turning his painted on frown into a smile. Ahh so he was sad because of Gore-a-lina, I get it. The sunlight breaks through the trees and that signals its time for Blue Nose to return home, and I have to respect the animators for this: they actually showed the reverse animation of Jake’s tail going back through all the scenes it stretched through in the entire episode, smiling away. The payoff is seeing Gore-a-lina (not her real name) in the embrace of a squirrel bf. Jake’s tail snaps back to Jake, who wakes up confused, finds paint on his tail, tastes it (of course), while Finn indifferently sips his tea.
At the very end NEPTR exclaims “neat!,” which this episode is. Like the episodes “Thank You” and “BMO Noire” before it, this episode allowed the Adventure Time team to explore a completely outside-of-the-box scenario with different characters (yes, I now consider Blue Nose to be his own character) while still exploring the show’s usual themes of heroism, kindness, and of course, adventure. I really enjoyed the sad and sappy demeanor of Blue Nose (so amazing to be able to pull off without any dialogue) and his depressing music, and even though I suspect this was a one-off for him I’d love to see the character return in future episodes. Send in the clowns! Well, except those creepy clown nurses *shudder*.
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