Uh... um... I watched "The Lich," the season four finale of Adventure Time... here's what I am capable of thinking of it. Keep in mind that the following article isn't really a review since I can't muster a proper opinion on the episode yet.
...First of all, I've gotta praise the foreshadowing of the final events of this episode throughout the last season and in the episode itself. Turns out "King Worm" wasn't an irrelevant Bizarro Episode after all. I loved the delivery throughout the episode, too; it was funny seeing "Billy" explain his plan to Finn in such a frank manner, and looking back, it was also another example of subtle foreshadowing. The scene where all the gems become attached to The Enchiridion except for LSP's supposed "gem" was hilarious as well. And, of course, special mention must go to the Princess Bubblegum sequence before Finn shows up. It's one of those jokes that just wouldn't of worked if the character's personality hadn't already been established so well.
So... now about the third act... I'll admit, the ending of this episode shocked me more than any episode of The Twilight Zone ever has, but I'm not completely sure if that's a good thing or not yet. First of all, the whole PB sequence was stupid. Why did Finn suddenly act like such a beast when confronting her? If he had just asked for the gem nothing would've happ-wait, I just answered my own question. Still, I'm sure Billy could've gotten his hands on the gem another way. However, the ensuing mental battle between Finn and his greatest hero/fear was genuinely intense. Seriously, this kid's greatest fear is wearing the skin of (or perhaps simply IS) his ultimate role model. Then when he fights back by breaking The Enchiridion, it turns out that's exactly what The Lich wanted, opening up the portal between worlds. Whatever happens with this show, I think we can count on The Lich to continue being a great villain.
...I avoided talking about the "hick Finn" sequence that has already become immortalized by tumblr conspiracy theorists again, didn't I? My immediate reaction to this sequence (by the way, this sequence took up the last thirty seconds of the last episode of the season) was "WHAT THE-NO, HOW COULD YOU, YOU HAD BUILT SOMETHING ELSE YOU CAN'T ABANDON IT FOR THIS." However, looking back, it's probably too early to decide whether this ending was a beautiful kind of shocking or a show-killing kind of shocking. Still, while it definitely fuels the horribly cliche theories of the Adventure Time universe being a dream or not real in some way, it also opens the door to plenty more possibilities, seeing as we have at least one more season to fill. It's interesting to think exactly what The Lich intends to do with the other worlds.
Have the events of this episode changed the series forever? Well, since it happened, I'm hoping so. They can't hand us a game changer this big and simply throw it away. The structure of Adventure Time could be drastically changed in season five, having an active main villain, a more apparent story arc and a lot more mind screw, seeing as where "Finn and Jake" ended up. If the conflict this episode introduced is going to be resolved quickly next season without elaboration on what exactly its relevance was (other than to freak people out, of course), then this episode probably shouldn't have been made.
On a somewhat different note, a thought occurred to me that this episode would've actually made a nearly perfect series finale if a few scenes had been altered. The use of Ice King's crown for The Enchiridion's powers could've brought closure to Ice King's story arc (hopefully something is still made of that scene), and if the last thirty seconds of the episode were removed, the episode also would've provided closure to Finn and Jake's development as heroes through their persual of the ultimate hero/evil. Yeah, I said if the hick sequence were removed, not expanded upon. An ending that portrayed the heroes going beyond what the viewer can see surely would've made a huge impact. But since the writers chose to show what was beyond the portal, they now have to do something huge with it. No easy way out.
What did you guys think of the episode? Any theories?
Oh yeah, final thoughts on season four: The season's biggest blemishes were its uneventful first few episodes and the sloppily executed Flame Princess arc. But aside from those things, season four had even more impactful episodes than the widely acclaimed season three. This is probably because of the show's myth arc; new things about the show's world are revealed almost every episode, making the series get more and more interesting as it goes on. Season four hooked me harder than ever not only through this almost perfectly paced arc, but also through its cinematic expertise, being stylized far more than any of the past seasons. Here's to season five.