In Davey, Finn confronts his inner wimp big time-this this time, a 40-year older mustachioed piece of loser that’s just as lame as Finn himself is mathematical. It’s a huge change of pace from last ep’s considerable theatrics [Jake the Dad], but the magic this time isn’t in the spectacle- it’s in the nuances. When you’ve been designing, characterizing and animating the same few characters for five years, you’re pretty much supposed to fall in a routine. You’re supposed to have a catalogue of gestures to indicate any emotion or mood, a re-usable series of gestures that audiences can get used to and familiar with. Adventure Time don’t give a crap about that.
Pendleton Ward isn’t afraid to go all creepy-pedo-gollum on Finn Mertons, and we see a side of the 12 year-old we’ve never seen before. Please note that I’m saying that Finn becomes the pedo-creep. Definitely didn’t mean what that sounded like. Finn is a kid in a blue shirt and blue jeans and black shoes: Not too much character going on there, right? But how about the subconsciously creepy shift he undergoes when he suddenly gets all… normal. He’s just trotting about, sweeping brooms, flippin’ coins, sportin’ a ‘stache. It’s prefaced by the way he just flips out of the tree-house window out of the blue and starts perfectly embodying the 40-something that thinks bald and ‘stached is cool. The writers have a blast demolishing the modern notion of the normal guy. It’s so mind-shatteringly ironic because Finn lives in a dystopian mutant future where he has no reference point whatsoever for the suburban WASP.
Let’s jump back to the beginning of Davey for some background for all of this: It’s Finn and Jake at their dragon-slaying finest. A raging beast has swallowed up some candy people (we’ve never seen them before- the writers just come up with new candy people designs every single dang ep), and Jake totally just sits right next to them, playing video games and going all “woooooow” while Finn doesn’t even sweat launching through the air and chopping the beast clean in half. The music is epic but chopped, evoking but neutering the mythic appeal just as the candy people start yelling “doood” at Finn and Jake cracks an all-time low for self-aware puns: “Don’t let the dragon drag on.” But Finn is then faced with the pressure and smothering affection of having a rabid fan base. He usually blows it off pretty well. This time he lets things slip away from him just a little bit…
BMO the video game console cries in horror as Finn shaves his luscious locks, coating his hair in molasses (a reasonable dye, right?) and crafting a sinister mustache from the clippings. “You like like the devil!” she/he wails. Finn’s still pretty chill about the whole deal and manages to blow off his fan base and escape stardom pretty handily. Check out how he summons his old auto-tune belly to completely change his voice too (remember that thing?). All of a sudden he’s not Finn anymore. All of a sudden Jake can’t even get through to the 12-year-old hyper-hero. All of a sudden Finn becomes possessed… by the mustache, a personification of his desire to lead a normal life that he didn’t even seem to know he had. The only other time we’ve seen him even consider settling down for a bit was the time those titular Business Men showed up way back in Season 1, but the desire is no less potent. And who can blame him? He’s the only human left on a desolated, mutant, grotesque after-earth. It’s no less creepy, though. Especially when he starts talking to himself/stache, gollum-style.
It’s remarkable that this battle isn’t theatrical, overplayed or epic in any way, shape or form. Davey is a character episode, one that lets Finn’s inner self play itself out outwardly, through the above-mentioned nuanced animations, from a slightly different gait, slightly shimmerier eyes, and just-different-enough voice. It’s not how multiple-personality eps are supposed to play out; they’re normally epic multi-ep threads or shows unto themselves. In the Land of Ooo, these things types of things just happen, and nobody really questions it.