Adventure Time: Stakes. Everything stays, life sucks.
By: Sam Quattro
First thing’s first, this isn’t going to be an all out review of the Stakes miniseries. Dylan and I recorded recappy/review podcasts about the whole thing you can listen to.
The jist of what happens is that Marceline realizes she wants to grow up, not be a vampire anymore, live her life as a movie and not a power point presentation frozen on one slide. She enlists Bubblegum’s help, this unleashes Marcy’s backstory. She killed all the vampires in the world 1000ish years ago, absorbed their powers, got bit not of her own will by the Vampire King, and now here she is. The elimination of Marcy’s vampirism unleashes these long dead vamps into the world and Marceline, Bubblegum, Finn, Jake, and Peppermint Butler have to stop them. They do. K.O.O gets melted. Bubblegum gets her kingdom back. Marceline becomes a vampire again but this time she’s a little older and wiser.
I’m not interested in making any grand, sweeping metaphors in this writing. Is the vampirism a metaphor for depression? Maybe. A metaphor for rape and the effects of it given how Marceline becomes a vampire? Maybe. Those are things for other people to write about at other times. This is for me to write right now.
In the end, Marceline is alone in her house. Her fridge stocked with lipstick, her friends departing. She pulls out her bass and starts to sing “Everything Stays”, the keystone of this collection of episodes, written by Rebecca Sugar. The song, literally, talks about finding something you left in a garden a while ago having changed slightly, become faded, but it still remains in the same place you left it. Metaphorically it’s about Marceline. It’s about her whole arc in the miniseries. In the end, she remains a vampire just as she had been in the beginning but she slightly changed. Aged skin. Fresh mortal memories. “More empathy or something.”
I finished the last episode feeling really depressed. Feeling like the whole miniseries was for naught. Nothing had really changed, everything had stayed the same. We ended where we began, but we still have the whole context of the rest of the series to worry about. We won’t know how this empathy thing works out for 5, 10, 20 episodes given how little she’s actually around in the series. I worry that it might’ve been a waste of money in a big picture sense. This could’ve been done a different way, not been wrapped up in its own miniseries shell. It could’ve been an ongoing plot. Maybe it would’ve been more impactful that way. It just feels like a lightning strike here. Suddenly Marceline doesn’t want to be a vampire anymore (up to debate, she didn’t seem too keen about her state in life in her songs in “Marceline’s Closet” or “Astral Plane”). And then she’s forced to give up trying to escape the 1000 year prison she was in. Marceline became resigned to her fate in those last moments. A fate we didn’t really know she had a big problem with until seven episodes ago in a 200+ episode show. She said she was “cool with being a vampire again” as Finn fumbles with his words in regards to being sorry about the situation, about who she is. A smile on her lips. Whether you read it as resignation or acceptance, It’s all very fast and I wish it wasn’t.
Speed and pacing aside, it’s realistic I think. Which I guess is why I’m sad about it. There’s times in my life where I have a burning rage in my veins and I want, I need to change. But eventually my blood has to cool down and I have to accept that this is my life; that I am surrounded by boulders that I can’t move in an hour or a day. Maybe I’ll never be able to move them. It feels like a defeat. Like I’m a loser on a couch waving a white flag in my underwear while I mindlessly scroll through Tumblr because there is nothing I can do and I need something to take the edge off of the pain. To me, that similar sentiment is frustrating to see on the small screen, maybe not for rational reasons. Fiction is where anything can happen, where things that seem impossible are possible; people can do a complete 180 and never look back. They can change and be happy. A vampire can be cured and grow old and die if that’s what she really wants to do. She’ll find a way. She’ll do what we can’t do.
But that isn’t good character growth to just have your characters change and be happy, not suffering consequences or fallout. So, in that way I guess it’s a good thing. It makes Marceline a real person. She made a choice, it had consequences, now she has to sit around in her house for a while and be sad and think about her vampirism and immortality, about being more “grown up” now. Maybe she’ll show small change later on, she certainly has from her first appearance. She’s not kicking people out of their homes, pulling borderline cruel pranks. She’s our friend who we jam with. We’ll see I guess. Nothing happens overnight. It’s like the song says.
Everything stays, but it still changes
Ever so slightly
Daily and nightly
In little ways
And now Bonnie and Marcy get to hang out forever. I’m gonna read fanfic about it.