Little Dude was just kind of a random episode with Finn’s hat kind of randomly getting all alive. It’s okay, because there’s really not all that much you can do with an alive hat, but given the creepy, bizarre and imaginative places that Adventure Time has been going with alternate identities, giant lemon monsters and Jake and Lady Rainicorn’s puppies, Little Dude really is a letdown.
What we do have are the traditional comedic flair and bizarre touches that make Adventure Time Adventure Time, with Sassage Flares that Jake really shouldn’t be using (Peebles and Finn are worried he’s getting fat), BMO’s creepily endearing motherly tendencies, and a jellybean sheriff that makes pistols out of his hands. The minute-to-minute content in this episode isn’t lacking whatsoever.
Little Dude goes something like this: A random occurrence brings Finn’s hat to life. It seems innocent enough, but then it turns out someone potentially sinister is after the newly-invigorated hat. It then turns out that the sinister stranger may not be sinister after all, and the hat may be the true peril to the Candy Kingdom, and various shenanigans and morals-of-the-stories ensue. I don’t want to spoil the episode, but suffice it to say that there aren’t many shockers, subversions or plot twists that Adventure Time fans have come to expect from the series. This one is just a little side story, more of a filler episode than anything.
What I found remarkable is the show’s willingness to shed its iconic elements, that is, Finn’s hat, for no real reason. This is a show that stands apart from marketing necessities and just does its own thing, without regard for the almighty dollar. A couple episodes ago, Davey managed to turn Finn into an almost completely different character, with creepy old-dude hair and moustache, subverting the visual cue that this is, in fact, Adventure Time that we are watching. Cartoon Network has to rely on Finn as a recognizable character to guarantee continued income from Adventure Time. But in Little Dude, Finn is taken even farther from his traditional appearance. First, the hat is gone. The white hat with the pointy ears and the circular face-hole. He also loses the backpack. The blue shirt. The jean shorts. He simply doesn’t look like Finn whatsoever, and the show’s ending strongly suggests that his hat may not be back after all?? Who knows. Even if it doesn’t come back, it’ll still be Adventure Time.
But that’s arguably the only bold move in this episode. It’s kind of like the Jiggler episode, only without near the amount of heart and pathos that episode carried. The key character in this episode, the one responsible for the dangerous headcrab Finn-hat, is honestly not as flat as he is just poorly conceived, especially the forgettable voice acting. He could be interesting, and he almost is, but the attempts at characterization just come off as unconvincing and unaffecting. Little Dude: An episode with tons of potential, but lacking the central characters it needed to drive the 11-minutes home.