There’s one episode of Adventure Time that never quite made sense to me, and since it actually became canon that PB is creazy old in the most recent episode, it’s started to fit together a little better.
Mortal Recoil. Okay, so this episode comes directly after we’ve met the Lich, and Princess Bubblegum’s near death experience has enforced upon us that he is a villain more important than what we’ve seen so far. But he literally takes like 5 seconds to defeat onscreen. It doesn’t even seem like he was trying. And what’s more, let’s look at the different schemes he’s tried over the course of the series. Destroy all life with magic, create a giant monster and destroy some buildings, and destroy all life with godmodding. One of these things is not like the others.
But now we know that PB was probably the only one to ever rule the Candy Kingdom. We know that she was there when the Lich was imprisoned at it’s centre. And did we really ever believe that Billy just punched the Lich so hard that everything got better? Bubblegum’s the only one who ever actually solves anything on this show.
So? I think we can be pretty sure that PB was a big part of putting down the Lich originally (and if you rewatch Mortal Folly you can actually hear her about to start talking about her own role in all of it right before he escapes). So this
was not a scheme. This was personal. Where the Lich reduces life to nothing, Princess Bubblegum creates it from nothing, and he is disgusted by everything she stands for. This was him with something to prove about who was stronger than who. This was him trying to demonstrate not just that he was more powerful than her, but that he had power over her, had the ability not to destroy what she protected, but to make her destroy it, that an upstart mage might understand what it would mean this time to stand against the lich.
In that respect, perhaps he was more successful.