Adventure Time: Distant Lands – Together Again REVIEW – Final Farewell

Finn and Jake reunite for one more adventure.

adventure time distant lands together again

This review includes a spoiler for the first 10 minutes of the special.

Cultured Vultures spoilers

Adventure Time: Distant Lands could easily have been just a cash grab. As I noted in my review of Obsidian, Adventure Time came to a perfect conclusion with its finale in 2018. This means that the Distant Lands specials are in a strange place, they need to cater to fans’ desire for more Adventure Time, without messing up the narrative conclusion that the finale so beautifully delivered. So far the Distant Lands specials have done a surprisingly great job of this by giving BMO their own special that doesn’t intersect with any of the other characters of the show (until the very end), and by focusing Obsidian on Princess Bubblegum and Marceline’s lives before and after the original show’s timeline.

But from its opening, Together Again is different. It’s the first of the specials to open with the classic Adventure Time opening sequence (albeit after the Distant Lands opening sequence) including the opening credits on worn pages as if this were just another episode of the show. The special continues to feel like any episode of the original run of the show for the first few minutes as we join Finn and Jake in their classic designs for some classic adventures (stealing ice cream from monsters, saving princesses, etc.) before they arrive at the treehouse where an open grave sits empty.

Jake crawls towards it and tells Finn it’s where he’s supposed to be. The world then begins to change, Jake melts away, the sky wobbles and Finn begins to flash between his young self of the show and an old adventurer with a long beard and mechanical arm. Shortly thereafter, Finn learns that he’s dead.

He’s thrilled to be dead. Being dead means that he gets to be with Jake again. But things aren’t so simple. Jake has ascended to the 50th dead world and a New Death has taken over from Death who was friends with Peppermint Butler. New Death seeks to end the cycle of reincarnation and wants to collapse all the dead worlds into one inescapable eternity. To say the least, Together Again is one of the most lore heavy episodes of Adventure Time, Distant Lands or original.

The special introduces a huge amount of detail to things off-handedly mentioned in the show. The most significant of these of course being the dead worlds. The 50th dead world was first mentioned in the 3rd season episode “Ghost Princess” when Ghost Princess finds peace and says that she will ascend there. It’s then mentioned again in the fifth season episode “The Suitor” by (unsurprisingly) a suitor who wants to go there with Princess Bubblegum.

But in neither of these episodes do we get any idea of what it is beyond an afterlife paradise, nor do we get a sense for the variety of dead worlds that are presented in Together Again. The art of the dead worlds is also stunning; one is a reference to Hieronymus Bosch’s The Last Judgment, and another seems to draw from Dalí. There’s also a fun mix of mythologies as the various deadworlds reflect Dante’s levels of hell but the key to getting into the 50th dead world is renouncing any desire, including the desire to ascend to the 50th dead world. And while Death is a recurring character in the original show, we don’t meet Life until she appears in Together Again as the usherer of souls into their reincarnated forms.

Despite the introduction of a significant amount of new mythology, and the twist that our heroes are dead, the plot of the special is fairly standard. Finn must travel through the dead worlds to find Jake and once reunited they must take down New Death. It’s a very straightforward adventure story that flies by because it’s simply so much fun. The comedy is hilarious throughout, there are a number of cameos as Finn passes through the different dead worlds, and the action has real stakes even though everyone’s already dead because of the threat of an end to the cycle of reincarnation (as well as the more individual threat of falling in a bottomless void for eternity). It’s a testament to the writing and tone control of the special that Together Again kills off the two heroes of the show in its first 10 minutes, only to deliver a joyously wild adventure for the rest of its runtime.

But Together Again isn’t just a fun adventure. The death of these characters and their exploration of the dead worlds allows for discussions and expressions of grief and love that are genuinely moving, especially for long-time fans of the show. Unlike the BMO special and Obsidian, Together Again feels like it could have been an alternate finale to the original show.

As much as I love Marceline and Bubblegum, the center of Adventure Time has always been Finn and Jake, and Together Again manages to bring them, well, together again for an adventure that (without spoiling anything) beautifully ends the story of their friendship without really ending it all. In fact it may have a more emotionally satisfying conclusion for Finn and Jake than the original finale as it’s able to focus so specifically on them and their relationship, which means that Distant Lands has proved itself more than simply an addendum to the show for people who wanted more, but something vital to the story and arc of these characters.

READ MORE: 10 Best Marceline/Princess Bubblegum Episodes Of Adventure Time

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adventure time distant lands together again
Together Again is a standard adventure story, but one which deftly introduces new lore and manages to deliver the surprisingly satisfying emotional ending for Finn and Jake’s relationship that was missing from the original finale.