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    the Gundam Rangers are Returning in their biggest story yet Once Upon A Ranger
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    I got a Derpy in the Mail
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    It has been a while since i last said that, and i feel like it needs to be said again. Thank you all for being such kind and supportive people. Thank you all for being there for me and giving me such a fun time here.
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    Build forts out of the cases of soft drink cans, shake up cans before lobbing them at each other like grenades.
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    Whyyyyyyy? https://www.equestriadaily.com/2020/02/blog-post.html?m=1
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    The Beginning of the End The Mane 6 rush to the Canterlot Castle as they have received an urgent notification from the alicorn sisters. It turns out that there isn’t anything urgent happening at the moment. In actuality, Equestria has been peaceful for a fair while now, and this period of peace is all thanks to Twilight and friends. This comment leads to the Mane 6 feeling so flattered, especially in Rainbow Dash’s case. She thinks the sisters haven’t noticed? When did the sisters ever credit themselves or miscredit the ones who saved Equestria? I’m also guessing that more than a fair amount of time has passed since “School Raze”. Then again, the passage of time between seasons has always been a tad vague, so it almost feels like the sisters forgot about all of the recent villains throughout the show plus the movie. It’s only just over 1 minute into the episode, and the episode has already encountered trouble. Only on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Let me start with the most obvious question: How was the state of Equestria before Nightmare Moon showed her lame face? See, if Equestria happened to be in peace during the 1000 years Princess Luna was gone, this creates a lot of unfortunate and unintentional implications. You could say that Equestria was somehow better off without Luna, and her return only led to the rise and/or return of a bunch of other villains. Maybe I could apply that idea to Twilight and friends instead as all of these villains only started popping up when those ponies started becoming friends. As much as I would like to entertain those ideas, I won’t. There’s nothing to suggest that any of those scenarios are actually true (even if the writers are incapable of proving otherwise), and this will just lead to discussions involving a bunch of stupid fan theories and headcanons. And besides, “The Cutie Re-Mark” already stated that Equestria can only survive if the Mane 6 are friends, so even having a bunch of villains being linked to the Mane 6 wouldn’t be harmful in the long run. Still, I am interested in exploring the general state of Equestria, and I’ll just roll with the fact that Equestria happened to recently attracted the attention of so many different villains for whatever reason. Like I asked before, how was the state of Equestria before the start of the show? If it was miraculously peaceful, I have to wonder how and why that was the case as it sure as hell isn’t so peaceful nowadays. If Princess Celestia didn’t have any experience dealing with any troublesome pests while she was in charge, that may explain why she has been unable to answer any threats that have appeared throughout the show. However, the show has never tried to consider this idea at any point, so her uselessness and incompetence are still obvious results of poor handling of characters and bad storytelling. If she really was out of her element when it comes to supervillains due to lack of experience (and I also can go with the possibility of her being out of practice after not facing villains for a thousand years), is it really that difficult for the show to just say so? It also doesn’t help that she has already shown a few feats involving plenty of magic like in “Twilight’s Kingdom” when she as transferring her powers to Twilight, in “Lesson Zero” when she undid Twilight’s spell immediately, and in “The Crystalling” where she and Luna fended off a huge blizzard, so the showrunners weren’t thinking that she was weak. However, I want to emphasize that none of those feats make up for her numerous failures over the course of the show. On the other hand, if Celestia did have to handle threats prior to the Mane 6 picking up the Elements of Harmony, why is she suddenly so useless and incompetent now? The show also has no answer to this. Maybe just helping Equestria run smoothy was supposed to be Celestia’s main job, and she would have a specialized team to handle threats kind of like a real-life government, but the show hasn’t chosen this route, either. So, no matter what I try to think, the answer always points to poor handling of characters and bad storytelling. Anyways, Princess Luna claims that this period of peace has given the sisters less to do. Really? I thought they’d have more time to perform their usual duties of running Equestria as they don’t have to focus their efforts on major threats. I’m not asking about the politics of Equestria as I don’t care about politics, but it’s not like the show has bothered to – well, show – what the sisters have done for Equestria. Luna may have done some dream-walking, but it’s not like I can say how this has helped Equestria as a whole. Wouldn’t it have been nice if we could actually feel and notice the effects Luna’s job had on the other ponies and how that benefitted Equestria as a whole or at least parts of Equestria? Why limit her influence to just the Cutie Mark Crusaders? It’s too bad Princess Celestia couldn’t have been given a similarly positive, if vague and ultimately worthless, treatment. If the sisters’ job only involves protecting Equestria, then they have fucking sucked at this job. I actually wonder if the show has noticed that this task has always belonged the Mane 6 plus certain other characters. While it’s nice for Equestria to not have something that threatens its overall well-being at this moment, there’s no reason to thank Celestia and Luna for its current state. As a result of not feeling needed anymore (not that I can figure out what the sisters were ever needed for), they decide to retire and have the Mane 6 take over their jobs. This naturally puts Twilight in shock, but she would be thankful to know that Equestria wouldn’t lose much if it ditched the alicorn sisters. Or maybe she wouldn’t be so thankful as she would have to deal the fact that two of the most important ponies, one of whom is her idol, are fucking worthless. Nah, that would never happen. No matter what stupid shit MLP pulls, it will always say that the sisters are invaluable even if it prefers to show the opposite. The sisters claim that the Mane 6 are fit to rule Equestria because they have overcome various challenges, especially the supervillains. I want to note that I will continue to disregard real-life politics when it comes to this show. Not only do I not know or care much for politics, but any work of fiction will pretty much simply politics just to prevent the work from getting too complicated and bloated (unless the work itself is about politics, which MLP clearly isn’t), so it wouldn’t be fair to knock on the show for not accurately representing the duties of a ruler. Still, there’s more to ruling a country than handling supervillains. Otherwise, Celestia and Luna are already unqualified for the position. If I take the sisters’ statements more literally, which is overcoming various challenges and some friendship problems (Luna mentioned the Friendship Journal during this scene), then I would say that life throws various problems and challenges at everyone anyways, so their reason for the Mane 6 being fit to rule are still vague. Unlike Twilight, the rest of the Mane 6 don’t hesitate to accept this news for whatever reason, and Twilight eventually goes along with this news to conform with her friends. That’s great. The show is already indifferent to the fact that the Mane 6 will rule of a country. At the Crystal Castle, Twilight is still panicking about this news, but her friends are calm as they knew how Twilight would react and want to help her through her problem. They say that Twilight acts in a certain way when being panicky, but I don’t how true that is nor do I care to check. I’ll at least give the episode credit for showing why these other characters are her friends. Twilight is concerned about being unable to call for help if they come across a problem they can’t handle only for RD to point out that the alicorn sisters “almost never” help. As if pointing out the sisters’ uselessness actually solves anything because it doesn’t change the fact that they were and are still useless. RD, or the writers really, want to believe that the sisters being incompetent and useless was meant to test the Mane 6’s (or just Twilight, who the fuck knows?) abilities and see if they were fit to rule Equestria. Too bad that reason still doesn’t work because nothing suggests that Celestia and Luna were ever capable of handling whatever they threw at the Mane 6, so it always came off more as the alicorn sisters telling the Mane 6 to clean up the messes the alicorn sisters should’ve been able to clean up or at least help with. For example, how did Celestia decide that making stupid choices while Equestria was in danger was a good time to test Twilight’s abilities in “Twilight’s Kingdom”? Instead of helping the Mane 6 look capable, it just made the sisters look incapable, and it just makes me wonder how the sisters were even allowed to rule Equestria in the first place. Next, we cut to several villains. Chrysalis, Tirek, and Cozy Glow are transported to… somewhere. I have no idea where they are or if they’re even in Equestria. More noticeably, Sombra is revived and speaking. It turns out that this gathering was put together by some goat name Grogar, which gets a gasp from everyone except Cozy Glow. Sombra said that he heard of Grogar, so I guess Grogar is at least 1000 years old. Chrysalis is also familiar with Tirek and Sombra, and Tirek knows about Changelings. I wonder how these supervillains get to learn about the others’ existence. Are Changelings not so uncommon in Equestria? Tirek and Sombra are rather ancient, and it’s not like the show confirmed that average pony in Equestria knows much about the average Equestrian villain. Is there some encyclopedia about supervillains that gets shared around? Cozy Glow is pretty young, so it makes sense that she wouldn’t know too much about some supervillains, or maybe she didn’t get the chance to read the encyclopedia yet. Grogar reveals that he gathered these other supervillains to kill Twilight and friends. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but the alicorn sisters (plus Cadance, I guess) are so worthless that even a new supervillain doesn’t care to kill them. And I’ll also repeat that the show could at least admit that the alicorn sisters (plus Cadance again, I guess) are worthless. That may lead to a bunch of problems, but that just means the show shouldn’t have allowed this problem to have festered as much as it did. Time for some backstory on Grogar. He was an evil overlord who ruled Equestria before the country was even known as Equestria, and his ultimate plan was to take over the world. Grogar also created monsters to do his bidding. His orb then shows silhouettes of monsters devouring, or rather killing, ponies, which is actually a decent way of trying to show killing and death without directly referencing them. However, someone named Gusty the Great was able to overthrow Grogar, but that of course didn’t stop Grogar completely as he has been waiting for the right time to return and finish what he started. The MLP wiki said that Gusty the Great is a pony (at least in the not-so-canon comics) and was mentioned in a season 7 episode, but there isn’t too much on Gusty overall in any MLP media. I mean, I wouldn’t mind getting more information about Gusty the Great to see how the show can continue to make the non-Twilight alicorns even more worthless than they already are. Grogar says that he has watched each of these villains try and fail to take over Equestria, and he claims that the Mane 6 were able to overpower them because of teamwork. Actually, teamwork from the Mane 6 hasn’t been the reason for any of these villains’ downfall. More specifically, the Mane 6 was involved with the defeat of only one of these villains, which is Tirek. Chrysalis was first defeated by Cadance and Shining Armor through the power of love and without much actual help from the Mane 6, and she was defeated at the end of season 6 by her own minions hearing a speech from Starlight and somehow harnessing the power of love to unleash a magical blast at Chrysalis. I read that Chrysalis appeared in the season 8 episode “The Mean 6”, but the Mane 6 don’t encounter her. As you can see, the Mane 6 were never directly involved with Chrysalis’s defeat. In Sombra’s case, that’s a bit weird. Celestia and Luna somehow took care of him 1000 years ago, so he has been gone for a long time now. In “The Crystal Empire”, he showed up as an apparition and was ultimately defeated when Cadance returned the Crystal Heart to its proper place. The Mane 6 did sort of work together by taking on different assignments, but since most of the main characters in that episode didn’t directly confront Sombra or take on tasks meant to deal with him or keep him at bay, you still can’t say that the Mane 6 working together led to Sombra’s defeat. In the case of Tirek, “Twilight’s Kingdom” featured no teamwork whatsoever. Anyone who wasn’t Twilight was useless to the story, and all the Mane 6 did to beat Tirek was to stand together at the Tree of Harmony after using Twilight’s key and unleash a variation of the blast normally created by the Elements of Harmony. Cozy Glow was defeated by the Student 6 and not the Mane 6. While the Student 6 showed unity and friendship, I can’t exactly say that teamwork was involved as each of the Student 6 didn’t provide a certain skill to approach a problem, and the conflict with Cozy Glow was solved when the Tree of Harmony blessed the students. In summary, the show doesn’t even know itself. Anyways, as Grogar thinks that the Mane 6 being able to help each other has led to their numerous victories, he suggests demands an alliance among his fellow villains to conquer Equestria. However, Sombra isn’t interested in a team up and decides to conquer the Crystal Empire himself. Does he plan to do anything about the rest of Equestria? I don’t know why he wants to settle only for the Crystal Empire. Grogar warns him about failing and threatens to send him back to hell wherever he came from if that happens. On a side note, even though Cozy Glow’s prison was next to Tirek’s, she doesn’t seem to have acquainted herself with him. Back at the School of Friendship, Starlight visits Twilight, and Starlight seems to have gotten news of Celestia’s proposal to the Mane 6 off-screen. Twilight then announces that she will leave Starlight in charge of the School of Friendship and the Crystal Castle, and Starlight is also surprised about this transfer of power. Starlight getting the Crystal Castle all to herself? I wonder if she will get lonely. Then again, she will have the entire space to herself, so she can do as she pleases. Will she ask for other ponies to live with her? I don’t know if the series finale will answer that, but I’ll get my answer soon enough. Starlight doesn’t seem to take this news about this transfer of power to herself well and freaks out like Twilight did upon receiving her own news. Starlight is reassured about her own abilities and tries to use this moment to convince Twilight of her own abilities, but that doesn’t work as Twilight notes that running a country isn’t on the same level as running a school. See, the episode does know that Twilight will be taking care of the entirety of Equestria and not just defending it from threats. I don’t know why the episode kept talking about the latter only. Then again, it wouldn’t be unusual for an episode of MLP to not know what it’s talking about. At the Crystal Empire, Sombra makes an entrance with his dark clouds and dark crystals. There’s this one scene I quite liked when Sombra encounters a fallen and helpless filly, and the filly’s parents quickly pick her up and glare at Sombra defiantly. It’s a short and simple scene showing how one set of background ponies reacted to this event. Too bad they are immediately mind controlled by Sombra. The royal guards arrive and unsuccessfully try to apprehend Sombra and are instead also put under his control with helmets like the ones shown in “The Cutie Re-Mark”. I know a number of online fans have complained about the royal guards being useless, and while that complaint is valid, it isn’t as bad as making the non-Twilight alicorns useless. Unlike the other alicorns who get plenty of praise, the guards are nobodies and are thus more expendable. Of course, I would like to see them be a little more helpful and even work with the main characters if possible, but the alicorn problem should be addressed before the writers try that. Sombra along with the newly converted royal guards storm the castle, and Cadance writes a letter calling out Twilight for help. I’m not saying that Twilight shouldn’t get a letter, but shouldn’t the other princesses get a letter as well? I’ll be generous and assume Cadance only had time to send one letter. She and Shining Armor look for Flurry Heart only to find Flurry Heart already apprehended by Sombra. I would say that they should’ve kept Flurry Heart close by, but it’s certainly possible that things in the Crystal Empire were peaceful, and Flurry Heart was enjoying some alone time before Sombra showed up. There’s another amusing scene with Flurry Heart trying to bite Sombra, and it’s too bad her power has been suppressed because she probably would have liked to take a shot at him. Normally, I would like that Shining Armor and especially Cadance, who was ready to attack, were showing some defiance against Sombra, but that doesn’t make up for their uselessness during other 2-parters or overall inconsequential presence in the show. With Flurry Heart as leverage, Sombra has successfully conquered the Crystal Empire and chained up the royal family. Why hasn’t he put his special helmets on them? Did he run out or something? Are the chains dampening their powers? Even if they are, there’s still no reason for him not to put helmets on those ponies. He asks the royal family to bow to him, and all except Flurry Heart do. It’s a rather interesting mix of emotions from Flurry Heart as she tries to be defiant, but her face also conveys defeat and sorrow as her parents bow. I feel like I should be annoyed that the Crystal Empire was conquered so easily, but I’m not for some reason. If the show were handled better, I might say that the rulers had a real reason to surrender. I don’t know if I feel the way I do because I’m just not particularly interested in the show that much nowadays, or maybe I don’t care about the fate of the Crystal Empire as it is so underutilized. I guess I feel indifferent about this development. Next is a scene with Twilight and friends including Discord meeting at the Crystal Castle, and Twilight has just notified the others about getting the letter from Cadance. Fluttershy considers notifying Celestia and Luna about this. The sisters may have handled Sombra in the past, but they would immediately get their asses kicked in this day and age with the explanation behind their defeat being that Sombra became more powerful due to a power boost from Grogar. Or maybe Sombra was going easy on them in the past and was initially caught off guard, and that would just feed the idea that the sisters were never that powerful in the first place, and that already leads to a bunch of other questions. Or maybe Sombra will just immediately ambush and incapacitate the sisters, which begs the question of their involvement in the first place. Discord even calls the alicorn sisters the “real” rulers of Equestria. See? The show is still putting the sisters on some kind of a pedestal, and yet it is still uncertain about its own perspective of the sisters as usual. Twilight decides to not notify the sisters and then responds that they must handle this situation without additional help if they are to run Equetria. I guess she already forgot that they rarely, if ever, get that much additional help when facing situations like this, and she also already forgot about RD saying that the Celestia and Luna almost never help. She then considers asking Discord to take care of Sombra. There’s an interesting bit of irony here. Normally, Celestia and Luna would ask and/or leave the Mane 6 to do everything, and this time the Mane 6 want Discord to deal with Sombra for them. I also think this is the first time the Mane 6 directly asked Discord to deal with a villain. Otherwise, he’s simply absent for one reason or another. I don’t know what Discord does on an average day, but I assumed that he just does whatever he likes during his own time. He may be with the Mane 6 now, but he isn’t inseparable from them. Although, I’m not sure what his relationship with Fluttershy is like right now. I remember at least a few episodes (though I don’t remember which exactly) showing Discord living in his own chaotic dimension, and if he didn’t sync that dimension with Equestria, he wouldn’t be aware of whatever is happening in Equestria. It seems that I am not that bothered about Discord usually absent during some two-parters or even the movie. For one thing, the show doesn’t go out of its way to exclude Discord. For some recent examples, “School Daze” had Princess Celestia immediately saying that she couldn’t do much about the EEA, and “Shadow Play” had Celestia saying early on that she couldn’t read an old language in a book that talked about the fate of some ancient and major figures. It also helps that those episodes don’t fall into the amateurish trap of making a powerful character look helpless to emphasize the gravity of a situation. And Discord isn’t as associated with Equestria as Celestia and Luna. Celestia and Luna are the ones who are in charge of and thus responsible for Equestria’s well-being, and Discord might as well be living in another country (or like I said earlier, another dimension). If Discord was somehow in charge of Equestria, and let’s assume he’s still a good guy in that role, he would look pretty ineffective and incompetent if he was unable to carry out a basic part of his job. Discord ultimately turns down the offer to beat Sombra on the spot as he also agrees with the (arbitrary) idea of the next set of rulers needing some independence when dealing with a major problem. Since Sombra already took over the Crystal Empire, accessing the Crystal Heart may not be so easy, so the Mane 6 decides to use the Elements of Harmony. Discord disagrees with using the Elements as they weren’t used back in “The Crystal Empire”, and while that’s true, he also says that using the Elements would mean that the Mane 6 had additional help in dealing with Sombra. I guess that’s also true to a degree, but they’ve used the Elements of Harmony multiple times to handle guys like Sombra. They were used back in “Shadow Play” not too long ago and even against Discord himself. Let’s not forget that Celestia and Luna used the Elements of Harmony at least once, so I don’t exactly know why Discord is objecting to this plan. And Twilight also shoots down Discord’s disagreement because her family being in danger gives her more of a reason to use the Elements. We’re back in the Crystal Empire, and Cadance, Shining Armor, and Flurry Heart are trapped in some kind of prison made of dark crystals that their magic can’t break through. I still can’t figure out why Sombra hasn’t tried to mind control them yet, but whatever. The Mane 6 show up with the Elements of Harmony and immediately charge toward Sombra. I also can’t figure out why they don’t just active the Elements right then and there, but whatever again. Sombra stops the Mane 6 by subjecting them to their worst fears, but we only get to see Twilight’s worst fears which is pretty much letting down and being unable to help the ponies she cares about. The Elements of Harmony glow and break through Sombra’s spell, and Twilight tells him that they just wanted to distract him so Spike could break down the prison and free Cadance, Shining Armor, and Flurry Heart. Spike’s flames were able to break down the dark crystals, so his prison only seems to deflect pony magic. I have to admit that this was a pretty good way to use Spike as an ace in the hole. Still, I think the Mane 6 could’ve unleashed their Elements, and their magic could take care of Sombra as well as his dark crystals, or just take care of Sombra so they wouldn’t face any opposition. But they wanted to let Spike see some action, so I can accept this. Cadance grabs the Crystal Heart and returns it to its proper location, and this also clears the entire Crystal Empire of Sombra’s touch. The Mane 6 then immediately blast away Sombra, and another amusing scene pops up right after with Cadance returning to the castle ready to attack Sombra only to learn that he is already gone. The Mane 6 are surprised at taking this victory so easily, and Twilight is then reassured of her own capabilities. They haven’t noticed that the Elements of Harmony almost always lead to easy victories. The only exception to this was in “Shadow Play” with the Pony of Shadows, and the reason that one wasn’t as easy was because the episode wanted to give some time to let Twilight and Starlight converse with Stygian. After Stygian was rescued, the Pony of Shadows was quickly banished. Sombra obviously hasn’t truly been beaten because that victory was still too quick and easy even by the show’s own standards, and there’s a second episode that has yet to happen. Killing him so soon after his resurrection would also be wasteful. Then again, it wouldn’t look unusual for the show to be too wasteful. The Mane 6 return to the Tree of Harmony to return the Elements to it, and black clouds suddenly emerge. Next, black crystals sprout from the ground and destroy the tree, and the Elements of Harmony fly out of the tree and shatter after crashing into the ground. I thought that ancient magical artifacts like those wouldn’t be so easy to shatter because it almost feels like one could accidentally break them, but whatever yet again. The Mane 6 now learn that Sombra faked his defeat so he could be led to their source of power and destroy it. In “Princess Twilight Sparkle”, the Tree of Harmony needed the Elements to be at full power. Discord planted plunder seeds, but they weren’t able to sprout as the Tree was still protect Equestria even without holding the Elements. The Tree got weaker over time until the beginning of season 4, or maybe the seeds just sprouted very slowly, and the Tree regaining its Elements eliminated all traces of Discord’s seeds. Now that the Tree is destroyed, Equestria will be vulnerable to similar magical attacks. Or maybe it won’t as the Mane 6 will be there to continue protecting Equestria with the writers’ blessings while the ones who are supposed to do the protecting will fall helplessly with additional blessings from the same writers. Maybe Twilight is just so much better than Celestia and Luna that she won’t need something like that to passively protect Equestria from magical threats because she’ll simply cast a spell that doesn’t require maintenance to serve the same purpose. Bonus points if Twilight conveniently discovers such a spell in the future. Or maybe Celestia and Luna just suck so much that they need something like that Tree to passively keep Equestria safe and are unable to cast a spell that does something similar. Time for part 2. Sombra cackles about his apparent victory while the Mane 6 are in shock and denial about the Elements and Tree being destroyed. Twilight is especially distraught about this turn of events. RD decides that they should attack him “the old-fashioned way”, which of course means charging directly at him, intending some physical attacks. Everyone, except Twilight of course, looks so eager to attack, but they are too confident as I don’t know how RD or anyone else expects this to work. Sombra also seems all too aware of this awkward plan as he creates another prison of dark crystals to trap the Mane 6, and Twilight tries to blast away the prison to avail. It’s not like Twilight’s friends would have been able to do anything against Sombra as Twilight is the only who could partake in a magical battle. AJ and RD would have to resort to physical attacks, which won’t be nearly as effective as magic, Pinkie’s “randomness” would be ditched to maintain stakes, Rarity’s magic isn’t nearly as potent as Twilight and would only come off as a pest to a powerful villain, and I don’t know what Fluttershy could do. Sombra finally realizes that he can now take over Equestria instead of just the Crystal Empire. He no longer cares about Celestia and Luna. I’ve mentioned more than a few times about how low the sisters have fallen, but that won’t stop me from pointing it out and getting annoyed about this. Sombra spites the Mane 6 by targeting Ponyville first, and he threatens to subject them to their fears again only to pull away as he is confident about them being powerless. At least this fits his overconfident nature, so I’m not against this decision. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to incapacitate them, but the Mane 6 would just power through their fears anyways, so whatever. Sombra leaves, and all 6 ponies are now distraught. Twilight is doubting herself again, and this feeling is compounded with her sense of powerlessness against such terrible odds. I want to comment more on this, but I’ll save that for later. RD says that Pinkie would normally say something funny to cheer them up and give them hope, and I don’t know how true that is, but Pinkie has nothing this time. At least she knows not to say something stupid under dire circumstances. Rarity even cries for Sweetie Belle’s safety and muses that she’s that she’s trying to be strong by not crying. In a way, Rarity openly showing tears can be a sign of strength as she’s not afraid to show and admit how she feels. Thankfully, she isn’t too broken up about this as that would’ve diverted her focus and resolve. See? Showing tears isn’t a bad thing. I think this is something that kids and adults should know about. Anyways, as blasting through the crystal prison isn’t an option (and neither is charging through the crystals, though I’ll assume the crystals are too tough to physically break), Twilight decides to dig under the prison (without magic for some reason) with her friends following suit not long after. This is why Sombra should’ve incapacitated them, but like I said, they would’ve just broken out somehow. He could have killed them, too, but that would never happen even if this were given a higher age rating as this would be a pretty unceremonious way for any of the Mane 6 to die. Even Rarity decides to help dig as saving Sweetie Belle as well as the rest of Ponyville matters more than dirty hooves. The Mane 6 arrive at Ponyville, but Sombra has been victorious for some time with the citizens of Ponyville already reduced to mind-controlled minions. Apple Bloom is one of the first victims the Mane 6 sees, but Twilight’s magic isn’t powerful enough to break Apple Bloom away from Sombra’s control. Spike and even the all-powerful Starlight have also already fallen to Sombra. How did the wimpy Celestia and Luna ever beat Sombra, again? Sombra approaches Canterlot Castle and its throne room only to discover the lack of alicorns inside. He even thinks that the sisters chickened out from facing him. Why didn’t the sisters do this back when Tirek was on a rampage? He might even wonder how they could possibly have beaten him during their previous encounter. However, there is an explanation for their disappearance which will be revealed shortly later. Since, the Tree of Harmony is gone, the vines from the Everfree Forest spontaneously grow and threaten to cover all of Ponyville. In “Princess Twilight Sparkle”, Princess Celestia said that the Tree’s magic was able to prevent the Everfree Forest from growing out of control. However, I’m wondering what caused the Everfree Forest to grow out of control in the first place. Did the show provide an explanation at any point? The Mane 6 grab some gardening tools to combat these vicious vines, and I wonder how this is supposed to help. As the vines are continuously growing, simply cutting them down wouldn’t stop their growth. Shouldn’t they be focused on trying to stop the vines from growing further before cutting them down? It looks like they realize this later as they’ve been hacking at the vines for a while with no apparent progress. Suddenly, Celestia and Luna show their faces, and AJ is overjoyed to see them. Turns out Star Swirl alerted the sisters about the Everfree Forest, and he knew about the Tree’s destruction/death due to having some internal magical connection to the Tree. The episode didn’t explicitly say or even imply that, but it’s an explanation I can roll with as the Pillars were the ones who grew the Tree in the first place, and Star Swirl himself is a pretty powerful wizard. He also said that the Pillars were the ones who dealt with the Everfree Forest’s uncontrollable growth before they planted the Tree of Harmony, and that job must have been a pain in the ass since the Everfree Forest would just immediately start growing and need constant maintenance. Celestia and Luna finally learn about Sombra’s return, so they didn’t chicken out of a confrontation like Sombra thought. Too bad Cadance didn’t notify the alicorn sisters about Sombra’s return because the would have known to leave Canterlot with some form of defense while they left to deal with the Everfree Forest. Then again, considering how worthless and incompetent the sisters are and how much the show would rather artificially increase tension and stakes to give the Mane 6 a bigger hurdle to jump over, it’s not like anything the sisters did would’ve worked. Celestia tells the Mane 6 to deal with Sombra while she, Luna, and Star Swirl deal with the Everfree Forest. Earlier, Twilight couldn’t muster up enough magic to destroy a ton vines and significantly slow their growth, but Celestia, Luna, and Star Swirl don’t have that problem. It’s amazing how many problems the show keeps stumbling into. In this case, Celestia and Luna do have more raw magic than Twilight to spare, so their powerlessness over the show yet again doesn’t make sense. Then again, nothing about the sisters makes sense. The Mane 6 go to Canterlot and find themselves staring down at the ponies of Ponyville as well as the Wonderbolts. They are initially reluctant to directly deal with the mind-controlled ponies at first until the mind-controlled ponies decide to attack. Since they don’t want to be stuck in such an uncomfortable situation too long, Twilight decides to teleport themselves inside the Canterlot Castle. She could’ve done that much sooner as they didn’t really have anything else to do. I mean, they didn’t want to confront innocent ponies under a spell, and they couldn’t break the mind control, but better late than never. Twilight continues to feel distraught about their current situation, and then Discord shows up and notices how deep in shit they are. He points out that they have no Elements (I guess he has some internal connection to the Tree), and that the other Princesses aren’t with them. He was already thinking that the Mane 6 were shaping up to be the best protectors Equestria ever had. Um, aren’t they already? What competition do they have for that kind of recognition? And why is the show still giving weight to the alicorn sisters being missing and unable to help? I really shouldn’t be surprised at the show’s stupidity, but I can’t stop being in awe about how far this show’s stupidity goes even when I already know that it reaches too far. Sombra is decorating the throne room with his dark crystals until the Mane 6 suddenly appears. Sombra tries to zap them until Discord intervenes and nullifies every shot Sombra makes. Discord expresses disappointment about the Mane 6 being unable to handle Sombra and also mentions his special attachment toward Fluttershy. This statement causes Sombra to aim a shot directly at Fluttershy, which Discord responds to by jumping in front of Fluttershy and taking the attack. Discord could’ve easily nullified that shot in the same way he nullified the others, but there’s an explanation for this choice, which I’ll get to shortly later. The blast seems to have taken quite a toll on Discord as he’s unable to cast any of his own spells, which results in Sombra relishing this key victory in his conquest over Equestria. On a sidenote, Sombra is also familiar with Discord. So, is there really an encyclopedia about supervillains? The Mane 6 lose hope as they don’t know how else to answer to Sombra, and Discord gives a speech about them only needing themselves and each other to beat the villain and save Equestria. Twilight thinks that they have been victorious due to teamwork, and I’ll reiterate that teamwork in 2-part episodes doesn’t happen as often as any of them think. The only times I can think of that feature them working together to save Equestria include “Friendship is Magic”, “Shadow Play”, and “School Raze”. It’s worth mentioning that “School Raze” put the Mane 6 on the sidelines to give spotlight to the Student 6, but at least it did feature the Mane 6 actually working together even if it’s just to escape Tartarus, so I’ll still give that episode credit for showing teamwork. I suppose “The Crystal Empire” did have some amount of teamwork as each of the Mane 6 had their own assignments to complete for the sake of the Crystal Empire, so I’ll be generous and count that as well. So far, before this episode, it’s 4 out of 12 two-part episodes (“School Daze” was excluded as that episode didn’t feature any extremely huge stakes) in which the Mane 6 worked together toward a solution. Y’know, LESS THAN HALF the time. Twilight feels reinvigorated by Discord’s speech and also by the presence of her friends, so the Mane 6 march triumphantly toward Sombra. Sombra tries to zap the Mane 6, but Twilight deflects all of Sombra’s attacks. Either Sombra isn’t as tough as the show would like to say, Twilight is tougher than the show would like to say, the alicorn sisters still aren’t as tough as the show would like to say, or all of the above. By the way, good thing Twilight is a master magician because I don’t know how any of her friends would have been able to deal with a blast if successfully connected to any one of them. The Mane 6 stand together, join hooves, and together they use the magic from within themselves to recreate the power from the Elements of Harmony to blast Sombra into oblivion. This is just like the ending of the first Equestria Girls movie, and I can’t say that I’m fond of either scenarios because the show has always established that the Elements of Harmony were the sources of the most powerful magic in Equestria. It doesn’t help that in “Shadow Play”, the Pillars needed to use their own respective artifacts to unleash a magical blast against the Pony of Shadows, so that still just fuels the idea of such powerful magic needing an amplifier to be unleashed in the first place. Of course, they all need the appropriate wielders to do their thing so not just anyone can use the artifacts. On the other hand, maybe they wanted to play with the idea of discovering “the power within” so the Mane 6 wouldn’t always need to rely on the Elements to beat the bad guy, though taking that route makes the existence of the Elements pointless. In actuality though, they wanted to truly show that the power of friendship and not magical artifacts are responsible for defeating the villain and saving the day. However, that still comes with its share of problems. So, they’re the ponies who embody their respective traits? Way to open yourselves up to more problems, writers. For one thing, that still doesn’t support the idea that friendship defeated the villain. I have to emphasize again that it’s their friendship that did the job, and that possessive pronoun makes such a huge difference because it leads to another problem. Well, a problem that has always been present, but another problem nonetheless. Now, I understand that the Mane 6 are the main characters, so it makes more sense for an episode like this to place some importance on them and to put them at the frontlines, but the show always goes too far in that regard. The show is still diminishing other ponies just to elevate the Mane 6, and that only makes the other ponies worthless instead of proving that the Mane 6 are helpful and valuable. The writers probably don’t want another random group of friends to be the ones that defeat Sombra because the Mane 6 would not seem so necessary if any kind of friendship is already enough. So, how could we show that friendship is magic by giving other kinds of friends some importance while still keeping the Mane 6 at the frontlines? I would say that assigning tasks to minor ponies is one option, but there’s still another problem that needs to be addressed. If the Mane 6 are the only ones who can unleash the magic from the Elements of Harmony, that still elevates the Mane 6 while diminishing every other pony in Equestria. I said in “School Raze” that the show should not have weaponized friendship in the first place as doing so came with too many bad implications, but I don’t know how else the show can still create a large confrontation against the villain if powerful magic can’t and won’t be used. Sure, Twilight has some powerful magic, but would Twilight being the only pony seeing major action improve the 2-part episodes? At the very least, weaponizing friendship as literal magic should be the first thing to go. The next step can be to actually have ponies and not just the Mane 6 work as a team and as friends to achieve a goal. The focus can still stay on the Mane 6, but they shouldn’t be the only active ponies. And is it really a crime to dedicate one or even two season openers or finales to at least one of the alicorn sisters while making the Mane 6 major supporting characters? Otherwise, if there really is no way to tell large-stakes stories in 2-part episodes that can weaponize friendship metaphorically or not without making other ponies seem inconsequential, then these kinds of episodes shouldn’t be made in the first place. Back to the episode. Sombra’s true defeat is still anticlimactic. The six ponies are still just standing (or floating) around and blasting the villain, like with any other episode that required the Elements to defeat the villain. The alicorn sisters return to their throne room, and they find the Mane 6 are tending to Discord who is no doubt enjoying their sympathies. Twilight runs up to Celestia and admits that she made some mistakes in this episode and isn’t ready to rule Equestria just yet. She even admits that she should’ve called Celestia and Luna for help, but what could those two possibly help with? Sure, they blasted the vines, but that’s practically nothing when taking the entire show into consideration. This wouldn’t have been as bad if the alicorn sisters were handled better as this can be another example of them providing some support from behind, but we’d be talking about a completely different show if the sisters were handled better. Why couldn’t they have been more helpful in “Twilight’s Kingdom”? Or “Shadow Play”? Or “The Return of Harmony”? Oh, Twilight was being tested for her capabilities? So, Celestia making stupid choices while Tirek was on a rampage, being unable to decipher an old language when approached about the fate of the Pillars, or simply being powerless against the villains were legit reasons to test Twilight? I would wonder if Celestia somehow knew she was unfit to rule and has been looking for a replacement for some time, but then I would also wonder how she even deemed by herself or anyone else to be fit to rule at all. Princess Celestia responds to Twilight, and I quote, a good leader knows when to ask for help while a great leader owns up to their mistakes and tries to correct them. Well, Celestia is sure as hell not a “great” leader, then. I’d try to say the same about Luna, but I don’t remember an instance where she had to make important decisions for the sake of Equestria. Maybe I could say that they’re “good” leaders as they ask for help with problems they’re unable to solve, but there’s a difference between asking for genuine help and always asking for help while never contributing anything important at any time. The show is always more interested in saying what Celestia can’t do while not actually showing what she can do. At least this episode shows her using some powerful magical blasts, but I’ll just repeat that this already leads to a bunch of other questions. Luna can dream-walk, but I’ve already given my say on that. Celestia then reaffirms that Twilight has the makings of a “great” leader, but she may have thrusted this onto Twilight too suddenly and will let Twilight take over when she finally feels ready. Was this supposed to be another test? Whether this was or wasn’t, my shitload of questions still apply. Discord gets pissed off about this development happening later instead of sooner and reveals that he faked his injury from Sombra earlier to give Twilight some inspiration and encouragement. He should know that his efforts weren’t entirely wasted as Twilight and friends did prove themselves for a bit, but they still need to prepare themselves to handle a huge task such as ruling a country. Luna muses that she and her sister enjoyed being able to make an actual contribution toward a solution. She even said that it has been years since they have seen some action. Aside from some questions I asked much earlier, it has been over 1000 years in the case of Luna. When was the last time Luna herself got into a confrontation? Never in this show. The closest I can think of is “The Crystalling”, and all the sisters did was fend off a huge blizzard. Luna adds that the Mane 6 makes the fighting look easy. Aside from the fact that there’s barely any fighting at all, it is pretty easy for the Mane 6 to handle villains with their Elements as all they have to do is pose with the Elements doing the rest. It’s back to the villain team with Cozy Glow trying to get along with Tirek and Chrysalis, but the latter two aren’t interested. I wonder if she’s trying to get them on her side so she can use them for her own purposes like she tried with other ponies in “School Raze”. She even gets annoyed about her partners being reluctant to get along with her. Grogar emerges and announces that Sombra has failed to conquer Equestria and becomes more insistent about joining forces to defeat the Mane 6 and rule Equestria. What happened to the Everfree Forest? How did the 3 ponies there stop it from growing? Unless they have answered that question, wouldn’t the Forest continue growing as they stand and speak? Well, I hated this episode. I don’t know how bad I would say this 2-parter is compared to others, but it’s easily the worst since “The Cutie Re-Mark”. The writers would have to purposefully make something worse than “The Cutie Re-Mark”, and I can honestly see them trying to do something that ridiculous, but I digress. I might as well talk about Sombra as this is the episode in which he is most prominent. I’ve read plenty of online comments about him being lame in “The Crystal Empire” as he was just a generic evil presence who growled, and I can see where they’re coming from as he didn’t do a whole lot even as a dark presence until that episode’s climax. But I didn’t think he was lame. He was just sort of there, and at least he was able to pose a threat. I would say that he served his purpose adequately, even if it could have been better. In this episode, he’s a pretty good villain. He’s smug, boastful, talkative, overconfident, and even clever. I liked that he played the Mane 6 by faking his own defeat so he could destroy the Elements of Harmony. He even thinks nothing of his opposition such as thinking that Celestia and Luna are cowards (though I can’t say he’s wrong about that) and not bothering to mind control the Mane 6 when he had the chance (though it wouldn’t have mattered if he did that anyways) as he didn’t see them as threats after destroying their Elements and trapping them. He is even aware of Discord and seeing up close how obviously outclassed is against Discord, he refuses to believe that he is inferior to anyone and celebrates his victory too well after thinking he beat Discord. Sombra’s ego greatly shows and also bites him in the ass when he gets frustrated at Discord nullifying his attacks and later when the Mane 6 blast him with their internal Elements. I guess I can say that Sombra’s characterization is pretty good in this episode, and I might have liked him more if the show was better. Too bad there isn’t much else I liked about the episode. There are some minor moments in the episode that I liked, but they’re just that. Moments. Time for the bad, then. I remember reading that one of Lauren Faust’s goal for the show was to have Twilight succeed Celestia as ruler of Equestria. That doesn’t mean I will give the episode points for following through with Lauren’s original intentions because the show screwed itself over long before it could finally reach any kind of conclusion. I can sum up the major problems of this episode down into two things: the episode mishandles its characters and ideas, and the episode doesn’t know anything about the show it is a part of. I’ve mentioned more than a few times over this ramble about how poorly Celestia and Luna have been handled in the show, and that as a result impacts whatever the show wants to say about them especially in this episode. The two want to retire. Why? Because they no longer feel needed and believe that the Mane 6 are or will be more than ready to take their places. No longer needed? What were the sisters ever needed for? Even if they were awful at keeping Equestria safe, I don’t know what else they have done for the country. So, what would Equestria miss if Celestia and Luna were ever gone for whatever reason? And as with “Magical Mystery Cure” suddenly making Twilight an alicorn princess because she learned yet again that friendship is magic, the Mane 6 are chosen to be rulers of Equestria because they have been able to handle supervillains. Hey, a well-trained and specialized crimefighting team could accomplish something similar, assuming the characters in the team are the main characters, but do you see the Justice League or Avengers being political leaders? That may happen in some “What if?” stories, but I digress. Being a leader comes with more than fending off threats. Now, I’m not asking for MLP to show the intricacies of politics, but the episode doesn’t give much of a reason for the Mane 6’s qualifications, and this attempt at a change in status quo instead feels random. I feel a need to give a special reiteration to the episode attempting to address the sisters’ inactivity as being tests for the Mane 6 to prove themselves. I’ve had this thought go through my head so many times, and I still can’t understand how the writers expect this excuse to work. It’s one thing if Celestia and Luna were to stand back and observe the Mane 6, but the result looks pretty different when taking the context into account. Before this episode, other two-parters would just come up with an excuse for Celestia and Luna being unable to help. Discord is on the loose? Turns out Celestia and Luna are powerless against him. Chrysalis makes a sudden attack at a wedding? Too bad Celestia isn’t quite strong enough to deal with her. Tirek emerges? Let’s have Celestia make everything worse with Luna making no contribution just to see how Twilight would react. There’s a book that talks about the fate of the Pillars? Too bad Celestia can’t read an old language. And let’s not forget the alternate timelines with Celestia and Luna being powerless against the villains. So, all we have ever been given are the sisters (especially Celestia) for one reason or another being unable to do anything about something that can threaten Equestria. And like I asked before, if the sisters were finding more suitable candidates to rule Equestria, how were they even approved in the first place? Did they think they were capable of handling such a position? Were they aware of how unhelpful and unqualified they have been? The writers’ answers to those questions are obvious, but it’s too bad those answers won’t line up with whatever they have given throughout the show. And one more question: HOW DID THE WIMPY CELESTIA AND LUNA EVER BEAT SOMBRA, AGAIN? Whether the writers know it or not, this poor handling to Celestia and Luna also affects the main characters, mainly Twilight as she’s an alicorn princess and pretty much THE main character of the show. In fact, the episode places special emphasis on Twilight being the ruler even though she’d be ruling with her friends. In this episode, Twilight has to prove that she is capable of being a “great” leader. It’s another episode in which Twilight has to prove herself as a royal. The last time something like this happened was in “Twilight’s Kingdom” where she had to prove that she had something to offer as an alicorn princess and that she might even be just as good as the other alicorns. Um, prove what? She’s already better than the other alicorns, especially Princess Celestia. Hell, Twilight has been better than Princess Celestia since THE BEGINNING. What has Celestia been able to do that Twilight couldn’t? Fix a play? Not bad by itself. Being the only notable achievement in the entire show? Fuck you. There’s “Lesson Zero” where Celestia quickly cleared Ponyville of Twilight’s magic, but that leads to other questions that I have brought up numerous times. I can accept that Celestia can’t do everything, and that Twilight can be better than Celestia in some ways, but that’s not what happened in the show. In a way, these creative choices end up being more insulting to Twilight instead of helping her. Why would the show want to compare her to such worthless and incompetent characters? This episode and “Twilight’s Kingdom” wanted to confirm that she can be just as capable as the other alicorns, so why push her down to that level? If anything, the other alicorns needed to be raised up to Twilight’s level. For better or worse, Twilight is my least favorite character in the show, and this episode is a good example of why that is. Twilight is likeable on a surface level, and I also like how much genuine passion she has in learning and teaching for the benefit of herself as well as others. But the royal and more magical side of Twilight? No. I don’t mind the show doing more with the part of Twilight that deals with friendship and learning, but there needs to be a complete do-over with Twilight as a spellcaster and as an alicorn princess. I would prefer if Twilight wasn’t an alicorn princess unless the show can give a good reason as well as expand on alicorns, but I digress. I guess I can give some comments on the rest of Twilight’s friends. They didn’t do too much on the whole, but at least they did well in trying to support Twilight when she was feeling down and help around when they were needed. I suppose I can count this episode as another in which the Mane 6 actually used the concept of friendship to beat the villain. This time, even though they only stood around when blasting Sombra, they did march together with a sense of unity and support for each other right before that moment. An episode like “The Return of Harmony” or “Twilight’s Kingdom” simply had them being together with nothing else other than the fact that they’re together. There’s more to friendship than just being physical present. The only other episodes I would count friendship being used or contributing to beating a villain are “Friendship is Magic” and “Shadow Play”. So, that 3 out of 13 episodes. In terms of teamwork, they each contributed to a certain task as well as the task of dealing with Sombra and his influence, so that’s 5 out of 13. Yeah, those numbers are hardly impressive. I guess I can count the big movie for using both friendship and teamwork, though that doesn’t make me think it’s good, but I digress again. It’s no surprise that I would even hate the season 9 premiere, that makes me wonder how well I’ll think of the last 3 episodes of the show. It also sucks that I would never have been satisfied with how the show ended outside of its first season. I’m not saying that it’s the best season as I’m terrible at deciding what is the “best”, but it is my favorite as it drew me into the show with its ideas and possibilities. Season 2 would be my second favorite as I was pretty invested in the show at that point, but my interest only dropped over time, especially at the end of season 4. Of course, it’s a shame that the show never took off, but what can you do? Looks like I’ll be covering “Sparkle’s Seven” next as I’m curious as to how the creators handle another milestone episode.
  23. 1 point
    hello and blessed be I'm Spider
  24. 1 point
    Well, it's great having you here! You've been very active lately!
  25. 1 point
    They recently released another short in celebration of the new year. This one, believe it or not, heavily acknowledges the show's canon.
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