‘Adventure Time: Islands’ Finally Gives Us Finn’s Backstory

Greetings from your friendly neighborhood GeekMom Adventure Time geek family! We are thrilled to tell you about the latest series premiering later this month on Cartoon Network. Adventure Time: Islands gives fans answers to a question they’ve been asking since the series first premiered in 2010: How did Finn end up orphaned in the Land of Ooo?

Sure, we had numerous hints of Finn in his former world: there’s the backstory of Jake’s parents finding Finn in the episode “Memories of Boom Boom Mountain” (S1, E10). Also, there are indications in “Memory of a Memory” (S3, E3) where Marceline is able to see one of Finn’s distant memories of himself as a baby singing (after he was found by Jake’s parents). Clearly, Finn has vague memories of his earliest times, but something was always missing: what happened to his parents?

Adventure Time: Islands will answer that for us. Islands is an eight-part miniseries of episodes that takes viewers on a journey from the Land of Ooo across the ocean to the islands where the humans took refuge from all threats. The series will premiere on Cartoon Network on Monday, January 30th, but if you can’t wait that long, the DVD and digital downloads will be available January 24th, through major retailers, iTunes, Amazon Video, and Google Play.

Our family had the chance to preview the miniseries this weekend and I’m sure you will find the episodes as exciting (and emotional!) as we did. Enjoy this spoiler-resistant summary of the episodes. I wrote one- to two-word descriptions of each episode, which I think are worth sharing, but I will also give you a little more than that.

  1. “The Invitation” – Spaceship. A mysterious ship comes in search of Finn, and Susan Strong’s vague memories of her past helps convince Finn that the ship holds many answers from his past. With BMO’s help, a map is found detailing a series of islands where the humans are. Jake agrees to join Finn and Susan on a journey across the sea.
  2. “Whipple the Happy Dragon” – Bullying. On their journey Jake, Finn, Susan, (and a stowaway) encounter numerous obstacles, including a dragon—although it looks more like a Loch Ness monster to me—they rescue from being chased by a ship full of bullies. The group learns that they aren’t perfect either when it comes to bullying.
  3. “Mysterious Island” – Weather weirdness. Finn encounters the first of the humans on the islands, a grandmotherly-type named Alva. The weather on the first island he encountered is incredibly unusual. Let’s be glad the weather isn’t like that in real life! There’s a scene involving sea turtle eggs—that has nothing to do with the story, actually—that was kinda icky to me.
  4. “Imaginary Resources” – VR. On the second of the islands, things appear deserted, until Finn and Jake find out where the humans are: engrossed in a virtual reality world. Enjoy homages to other virtual alternate reality movies and books, from The Matrix to Ready Player One, in this episode.
  5. “Hide and Seek” – Susan’s backstory. On the next island, Susan encounters her former home, and the memories of her previous life come flooding back. This is was one of the more emotional episodes; you meet Susan’s best friend.
  6. “Min and Marty” – Finn’s family. This is Finn’s parents backstory, not told as someone’s memory, but simply as the omnipresent narration of what really happened. This was THE most emotional episode for me. I might or might not have had tears in my eyes at the end.
  7. “Helpers” – Goddess. Finn, Jake, and Susan (as well as the stowaway) make it to Finn’s home island, where they finally see humans in their element, and realize that Finn’s mother isn’t where — or what — they thought. Finn attempts to convince humans that living in fear of the world around them isn’t a very fruitful existence.
  8. “The Light Cloud” – Resolution. Susan resolves unanswered questions about her past, while Finn makes a difficult decision about whether to stay or return to the Land of Ooo.

There are a few special features on the DVD and digital downloads that viewers won’t be able to see on Cartoon Network, including stand-alone versions of the two songs, storyboards (called “Animatics” on the menu), and image galleries. These weren’t the most elaborate extras, but it’s still cool to see some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into Adventure Time’s successes.

Be sure to watch Adventure Time: Islands, two episodes at a time, starting Monday, January 30th, through Thursday, February 2nd, at 7:30pm (ET/PT) on Cartoon Network. Can’t wait that long? The series will be released on DVD (MSRP $14.97) and digital download on Tuesday, January 24th through outlets such as Amazon Video, iTunes, Google Play. Until then, enjoy the two-minute “First Look” preview.

GeekMom was provided a preview copy of Adventure Time: Islands for review purposes.