It pains me to criticize a show that's been the highlight of my week for over two years. However, compared to normal AT fare, this episode's writing was sub-par. Why? Three reasons:
First, it over-did the Girl Power angle - it seems like almost every series, especially those aimed at a mixed child-adult audience, explores this paradigm at some point. In an era of post-feminism, it's a great topic for narrative, and can reveal unexpected facets of well-known characters (i.e. rescuees become the rescuers). Unfortunately, this episode made a common misstep in equating "Power" with "VIOLENCE!!!" - PB's psychopathic rage towards Ricardio, and subsequent (wo)man handling of him, was not in character for her. She's never been one to get her hands dirty - her strength lies in her intellect. She made the transition from brainiac to berserker far too seamlessly. One could argue that Lady's abnormal condition, and PB's desire to protect her, drew that side and skill out of her. However, as most bullied kids could tell you, rage alone won't make a push-over into a prizefighter.
Second, it shoehorns Nostalgia for it's own sake - Ricardio seemed to have little relevance to this episode besides being a throw-away throw-back to season 1. His return isn't foreshadowed, and it doesn't make much sense beyond being a simple foil. Did the Ice King finally lose control of him? Did he deceive his way out of his beard-prison? We don't know - he simply appears. Furthermore, he doesn't see any new development. He's always been a creeper and a psychopath. He's here simply to make a cameo. The reference to "Zanoits" is another sloppy cameo. In the first Ricardio episode, Zanoits and Plantoids were a passing topic of intellectual conversation that illustrated the uncomfortable truth about how Finn isn't PB's intellectual equal. Zanoits weren't ever stated to be poisonous to anyone else, and they haven't appeared since. However, they HAD been linked with Ricardio, and that's apparently sufficient to justify their inclusion in this episode: "Why are Finn and Jake unconscious? Zanoits? Oh yeah, I kinda remember those! Good thing those buckets are conveniently labeled!"
Third, "The Twist." This seemed unnecessary and provocative. Adventure Time has always been about intertwining adult content and complex character development, but it does so cleverly and subtly. It's one of the reasons to watch it. However, The Twist was anything but clever or subtle - it thrusts the topic of sexuality to the fore, seemingly for no relevant reason. It's very clumsy character development. Now, I'm not trying to overstate the issue: in other shows, animals are often getting into this situation with no problems, but sentient animals are a different matter. Perhaps Lady should have worn a raincoat when Jake took it to Tier 8.
I hope we see a return to form in next week's episode. This is the first AT that's left me with a bad taste in my mouth.