'Adventure Time' Finale Episode 'Come Along With Me' Airs Monday

The last ever episode of Adventure Time, "Come Along With Me," airs Monday, at 6 p.m. on Cartoon Network. The extra-long episode picks up after Finn's failed attempt at diplomacy in Season 10 episode "Gumbaldia," as Princess Bubblegum's army prepares for war with Uncle Gumbald and the rest of the family P.B. created from gum 800 years earlier, when the world was still a wasteland after the Mushroom Wars. But the finale of Adventure Time has a lot more on its mind than a final, climactic conflict.

Not since The Simpsons has an animated series so successfully grown from a handful of characters into a teeming, living community. For Adventure Time, it began with a seven-minute animated short by Pendleton Ward with the approximate character depth of an NES Mario game, as Pen the human (later to become Finn) and Jake the dog set out to rescue Princess Bubblegum from the clutches of the Ice King. The finale opens on a vastly expanded mythology, as the motives of characters like BMO, Marceline the Vampire Queen and Ice King's pre-apocalyptic girlfriend, Betty (now a demigod with Martian powers) intersect with P.B.'s war.

While originally a Dungeons & Dragons-flavored adventure show, following the sword-swinging adventures of Finn and Jake as they explore the Land of Ooo, Adventure Time has stretched its plastic imagination in a thousand directions. It has, at times, been a lonely meditation on the passage of time ("Lemonhope"), a time-folding riddle ("Is That You?"), a Blue Velvet-like noir ("Root Beer Guy"), an exploration of puberty ("Frost and Flame") and a cosmic adventure on the scale of a Marvel crossover ("Escape from the Citadel"). There's even a whole gender-swapped universe, starring Fionna and Cake.

Therefore, "Come Along With Me" has to be much more than a battle. The finale not only determines the fate of Princess Bubblegum's Candy Kingdom, but also addresses the tangled emotional connections, between P.B. and Marceline; Simon and Betty; and even the cosmic consequences of caring for others. Fans won't be disappointed. The finale is as hallucinogenic, inventive and thoughtful as the best episodes of the series.

Most of all, "Come Along With Me" is about how the adventure of life is both ongoing and ever-existing. Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe and storyboard artist for multiple seasons of Adventure Time, contributed a heartbreaking song to the finale which perfectly captures the show's wisdom, accumulated over 10 seasons. "Time is an illusion that helps things make sense, so we're always living in the present tense," Sugar sings.

Despite the sporadic release schedule post-cancellation, as Cartoon Network slowly spooled out the remaining episodes, Adventure Time ends as fantastically as it began, capping one of the most inventive animated shows ever created and revealing its surprising cohesion, bound together by the ties between characters, each on their own adventures.

Adventure Time: The Final Seasons DVD is out now. The finale soundtrack is also available, for digital download or streaming.