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About Thrond

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  1. Thrond

    Best Gift Ever Discussion

    Geez, and I thought season 8's holiday episode was terrific. The extended length gives this more than enough space to give each of the mane six their due, and while some aspects are clearly derived from prior episodes - Rainbow Falls, yaks, Flim Flam Bros. - there's also a bunch of delightful new bits here. This pretty consistently delighted me, and alongside "Horse Play" it's easily the best showing from the mane six in the past couple of years. People say there's nothing new to be done with these characters, but then we get stuff like this. Look, Rainbow Dash paired up with Discord! Look, clairvoyant reindeer! Look, an adorable young fashion dork for Rarity to inspire! Some of the content here is just a quirky spin on stuff the show's done before, I wish the show would let go of Spike's crush, and there's a few character beats I wish were a little different, but altogether I think this is phenomenal in a way that the show hasn't been for years. This is what this series can be like when it takes a couple steps back and does away with its pretenses. This is magical. Also: Shout out to seeing Twilight's and Pinkie's siblings! Makes me wish we got cameos from CMC, Zephyr Breeze, and the parents, but you can't have everything. Though if they were there and I missed it, I certainly wouldn't mind being shown pictures.  Score: Entertainment: 10/10 Characters: 10/10 Themes: 10/10 Story: 8/10 Overall: 95/100 Turns out the real best gift ever was the friends we made along the way.
  2. Oh, I get you. Yeah, the Nightmare Moon stuff was deeply unnecessary in that episode, but the issue is mostly the execution.
  3. What do you mean by this?
  4. Too predictable and formulaic to be this self-serious. Actually pretty fun when it lightens up a little. Simplistic but admirable themes stated a bit too bluntly. Probably too many moving parts for its own good. The usual. This is more plausible than last year's finale, but it's also less empathetic. On the other hand, I did find it a bit more fun, and the much more inspired worldbuilding this year does give this year's finale an advantage. I still have my fingers crossed that one day this show will do something different for its finales, but until then they remain watchable but unexciting to me. Still, some specific points:  I think the show's a bit naive in suggesting Neighsay would be convinced to change so quickly. Furthermore, I don't actually care that much about his change of heart, so nobody else seems to actually learn anything from this whole debacle. I still get a bit of a kick out of how overtly political this show is with regards to the Neighsay stuff. This is essentially about someone exploiting prejudice in order to gain power, and that's certainly territory I would never have expected from this show. I think that's all stated a bit too directly to be more than mildly interesting, and it's also kinda rudimentary. More importantly, I don't really care about Neighsay, and aside from him this doesn't have much character development, and like almost every finale since season 4, the plot often gets in the way of opportunities for jokes. The Tartarus stuff is kind of a waste of time, but its sheer irrelevance actually allows it to be kinda fun and quirky. I mean, they wind up playing with Cerberus, and that's pretty cute, and there are some great Pinkie Pie moments here, as always. She was the bright spot in last year's finale, too. All of that kinda makes the student six stuff look flatter by comparison. Wish it added more to the show than the upteenth reiteration of the importance of friendship. I'm usually not that satisfied by spectacle in this show, but the Tree of Harmony scene was nice. It's a nice reminder that the tree, too, has learned a lot about friendship; for most of these characters, I just take that for granted to the point that I don't even care about it anymore, but the Tree is this weird, ancient, unknowable being, so that's actually kinda satisfying. Cozy Glow just seems too insincere to have the charisma of, say, Chrysalis, and I don't really care about Tirek as a character in and of himself. At first I did enjoy her general suspicious aura, but she's not as witty as this show's best villains. Really hoping that stinger at the end doesn't go anywhere. Got excited for a moment that Cadance might have a bigger part of this. Alas, it was not to be. Why are these six students the only ones who distrusted Cozy Glow? Were there no other non-ponies in the school? The first few minutes are delightful; Twilight's anxiety is always fun, and seeing the others competently fill their jobs was nice as well. I wish we got more of that this season in a better context. This show really missed the opportunity to explore the main cast from a new angle. I want Pinkie Pie to knock on my door and offer me free pizza. Like last year's finale, this takes an eternity on setup. At least that setup isn't completely pointless this year. Score: Entertainment: 5/10  Characters: 7/10 Themes: 7/10 Story: 4/10  Overall: 58/100
  5. Thrond

    Season 8, Episode 24: Father Knows Beast

    I found this kinda funny and cute until I realized Sludge was exploiting Spike, then I found it kinda melancholy. Poor kid is caught between two identities, and in his youth and insecurity he’s susceptible to folks like Sludge taking advantage of him. I’m not convinced that’s how I was supposed to feel, but Spike’s eagerness and confusion both complement that reading, and Twilight’s sensitivity was very welcome as well. This would have been a truly great episode of it had gone further in exploring Spike’s confused identity, and I think his motivation in the second half is a bit too simplistic, but we can also see his longing for a parental figure who is a bit more like him. I think some of those themes are unintended, and (as is always the case) this is kind of simplistic, but I had a lot of sympathy for both Spike and Twilight in this. If only it were a bit less simplistic, and had actually resolved those themes, I think this would be really impressive. For now, I prefer the more upbeat approach of “Dragon Quest,” but I still like this one. I guess my contrarian side struck again. A few points: Spike’s relationship to Twilight is less ambiguous now, and it does explain their power dynamic a bit more... I don’t feel great about Twilight raising Spike at a young age, though. This telegraphs Sludge’s lying early on, but I still found his willingness to go through Spike’s checklist sweet. Though that only makes his insincerity even more depressing. And Spike’s checklist... that was just heart-wrenching. I’m not sure if this episode earns moments like that, but it creates a weird, seemingly unintended soulful quality. This episode stirred my emotions, and the show has rarely ever managed that. Starlight being defenestrated was my favourite gag here. Throw this on the pile with “Newbie Dash” as episodes I find poignant enough to wish they were better.  I guess I just wish this answered its own questions more... clearly, Smolder can help Spike inways that Twilight can’t, but the episode doesn’t put that implication into words. Twilight is so anxious about that, and yet it’s never resolved. Score: Entertainment: 7/10 Characters: 8/10  Themes: 7/10 Story: 6/10  Overall: 70/100
  6. Thrond

    Season 8, Episode 23: Sounds of Silence

    It just bothered me that she was so easily distracted. That's one of my few complaints about "The Mean 6" as well... it's not like Fluttershy has never been distracted before, but since when does she just wander off?
  7. Thrond

    Season 8, Episode 23: Sounds of Silence

    I guess this isn't without its moments... some of what Autumn Blaze says is funny, the worldbuilding is once again surprisingly imaginative for this show, and the song is catchy. But I dunno, I just found most of it deeply unfunny. Maybe I was just set in a sour mood by the cold open, which once again called attention to the map being obeyed unquestioningly for no apparent reason, but Fluttershy and Applejack's bickering annoyed me a lot, as did Autumn Blaze's endless blathering. I kinda barely registered half of the things she was saying because I just wanted her to shut up. Fluttershy and Applejack felt kind of like decently convincing impressions of what they'd be like if their friendship was completely meaningless and Fluttershy was stupid. More significantly, this is simplistic even by this show's standards. It's an incredibly threadbare version of this storyline, with an aggressively simple moral which probably would have been solved if any of the Kirin had half a brain, and the only time it develops any sort of mystery or tension is when it's once again forcing in high stakes where they weren't at all necessary. Instead, what I feel this episode is mostly filled with is constant stalling. Applejack learns the problem because Autumn Blaze spends an eternity explaining it, and Fluttershy just sort of explains her version of the problem late into the episode. And then it's all solved almost immediately, because they come up with a better idea which the Kirin probably should have been able to come up with themselves. I kind of hated this. The Kirin are kinda cute though, I will admit. Score: Entertainment: 3/10 Characters: 4/10 Themes: 6/10 Story: 4/10 Overall: 43/100
  8. Thrond

    Season 8, Episode 22: What Lies Beneath

    This is 80% exposition, but it's very cute. The kids are alright. The high stakes kind of annoy me, and it sorta lacks the subtlety of this show's best episodes, but there's enough here that's charming, and the students' personalities shine through. A few points:  Well, guess the show's not playing around with Cozy Glow anymore. She's weird and sketchy and everything she says sounds insincere... interested to see what becomes of her. Also, she may or may not be a racist? Not entirely clear to me. The worldbuilding is neat. I like the idea that the Tree of Harmony is constantly evolving and learning, and this expands upon its seeming sentience in interesting ways. I'm still not that invested in the lore of this show, but this season I generally don't mind its presence, because it's gotten a huge boost in sophistication. With that said, I don't really like the show's penchant to have such high stakes all the time... I feel like that persistent sense of danger diminishes the show's charm a bit. I guess I just miss the relaxed context of the earlier seasons.  This is just me, but Twilight being the form the Tree of Harmony takes reminded me of how little the show has actually done with her this season... if a complete shift in the status quo isn't enough to give the mane six direction, I can't imagine what would be.  The Smolder stuff kind of annoyed me for some reason. There's something about tomboyish characters trying to hide their femininity which just rubs me the wrong way. That, too, is just me, though. I'm not sure testing these characters' friendship is something the show has earned. Season 1, by comparison, spent a lot of time specifically building up the mane six's relationships, so the finale was that much more satisfying; here, it feels like a fairly mechanical attempt to expand on these characters from a show which doesn't have enough space to do it organically. So they're forced by some mystical contrivance to confront their fears, and talk almost constantly about what these quirky scenes mean. For all that's improved about the show this year, its structure is continuing to get worse and worse. Oh, and Sandbar is just plain boring.  Stuff like Silverstream shouting at the Storm King shadow and Yona befriending a spider make up for all of that, though. This was very pleasant. Score: Entertainment: 7/10 Characters: 9/10 Themes: 7/10 Story: 5/10  Overall: 70/100
  9. Hmm. I really like the interactions between Rockhoof and the students. It went a long way towards making me care about a character who I otherwise had relatively little interest in. A lot of the fish-out-of-water humour didn't land for me at all, but Rockhoof just seems like a nice guy, and I found his company pleasant. Seeing what the Pillars were up to was cute, and I appreciate the clarification of some lingering questions, even if I'm still not super invested in any of them. I think this show has covered similar morals more effectively in the past, though, and this has an awfully predictable and repetitive structure. I had low expectations going in, which this exceeded, but I still found myself only mildly engaged, aside from the really pleasant bonding scenes between Rockhoof and the students. The mane six's inclusion seemed kinda perfunctory, but they're not really in it much anyway. Altogether, this is fine, but I'm a bit surprised by its lethargy; I tend to associate this show with momentum, so more repetitive episodes like this always surprise me. Observations: I wish Equestria Girls had more eccentric classroom scenes like we've seen in Friendship is Magic this season. Rockhoof essentially resigning himself to a fate worse than death is awfully dark territory for this show, and also another good sign that the writers have finally thrown off the last of their shackles. Episodes like this are why I'm not entirely dissatisfied by the school gimmick. It's a change of pace for this show, even if it's not led to the creative revitalization that it could have. I just feel like there are other places you could go to get stories much like this told with more novelty, creativity, and insight, and that's often my complaint with this show. I kinda wish it would stay in its lane. Score: Entertainment: 6/10 Characters: 8/10 Themes: 7/10 Story: 5/10 Overall: 65/100
  10. Thrond

    Season 8, Episode 20: The Washouts

    Second try. I understood it more this time, I just don't want to watch Rainbow being this selfish. I don't really care about her relationship with Scootaloo enough for it to overcome that, and as such, I didn't really enjoy any of the jokes about Rainbow being mad at the Washouts. The Spitfire routine went on too long as well. I do like the general idea in theory, that adults need to be cognizant of how their behaviour can make kids feel, and that Scootaloo feels like she can't be what Rainbow wants her to be, but I think that would be way stronger if I could sympathize at all with what Rainbow wanted. I hate the ending less, if only because I understand the context more, but it still feels like a kinda simplistic way to end this story. I also feel it comes across as kinda judgmental without some sort of olive branch being given to stunt ponies. And I'm still disappointed about Lightning Dust, to be honest... I feel they closed the door on a lot of potential with her. I do see why people are liking this, but the Rainbow Dash stuff just bothers me too much, and I don't find it funny the whole way through. Score: Entertainment: 7/10 Characters: 5/10 Themes: 8/10 Story: 6/10 Overall: 65/100
  11. Thrond

    Season 8, Episode 17: The End in a Friend

    Having new characters to build up might mitigate some of the problems, but a revolving door of dispassionate writers would not be good for any show... it’s one of the reasons I’m not interested in G5.
  12. Thrond

    Season 8, Episode 20: The Washouts

    I wrote a bunch of complaints on another forum, but in truth, I think I need to give this another chance to fully crystallize my opinion. On first viewing, I found some scenes fairly entertaining, and enjoyed the Washouts' attitudes in general, but found it a bit too noisy for my tastes, and found Rainbow's whole jealousy schtick incredibly irritating. Scootaloo's stated anxieties are sympathetic, but right now I'm thinking this is kinda muddled. Also, I'm kinda disappointed Lightning Dust wasn't at least shown to mature a little, and I feel confident that I hate the ending.
  13. Starlight's other episodes this season had me concerned, but I actually really enjoyed this. Trixie and Starlight are a really strong comic pairing - Starlight contrasts way more strongly with Trixie than with any of the mane six, while Trixie gets a chance to be relatively sensitive once she's paired with someone she cares about. Plus this gives them my favourite song in a long while, and it all builds to a nice moral. I have a couple minor gripes, but overall this was another very pleasant entry in season 8. That cold open is a serious contender for the best of the season. The routine is great, I loved seeing Cadance and Flurry Heart again, Granny Smith doing something crazy is always a joy to watch, and it was nice seeing Twilight and Trixie on speaking terms. And god, Starlight and Trixie are just delightful together.  Hoo'far fellow doesn't have the most distinct of personalities, but it was always fun seeing Trixie bounce off of him. "Ms. Powerful" is a quality joke. She's one of those characters who is only as strong as the jokes she's given, and here her dialogue is almost all hilarious. I wasn't entirely clear on his motivations near the end, though... why would Trixie and Starlight being friends convince him to trade the wagon back? And why did he want the smaller wagon so much in the first place? If he's just trying to help their friendship, then that's nice, but it's not entirely clear, and I think he could have done a somewhat better job of going about it. Side note: if Hoo'far was really so close to them the entire time, then presumably Starlight could have bunked with him during the night. Still, they really should have invested in earplugs, and they really ought to plan things out more. Next time, ask Twilight for help before you set off. I was really baffled by the song from "All Bottled Up," which seemed to double down on how bad Trixie and Starlight's friendship was. I'm really glad they got a normal friendship song, especially because it's easily my favourite song from this show in ages. The melody is upbeat without sounding like the millionth variation on "Winter Wrap Up." For me it's quite possibly in the top 5 best songs since the start of season 5. Seeing them sing about friendship even as stuff goes wrong is absolutely adorable. Loved it. Starlight is a much harder character to get right, at least in my perspective, but this episode more or less keeps pace with the season in giving her a certain low-key tactlessness. It also gives her fun new dorky hobbies - learning she likes board games is one of the season's best surprises yet. She's less sketchy here than in previous episodes, and while that sketchiness was one of her funniest traits, its absence does make her cuter. But I've never really liked it when this show used extreme behaviour to communicate a moral, and Starlight once again demonstrating that she doesn't realize she needs to ask for permission before she does certain things is seriously getting old by this point. I much prefer pure tactlessness being her key flaw, because compared to more generalized bad judgment, it's much easier to present in a sympethetic, smaller-scale form. I mean, I guess Trixie should have explained the wagon's importance, but it's still no fun seeing these characters behave so badly just to communicate a really simple moral. I think it might have been better if Starlight hadn't managed to complete the exchange before Trixie returned, so it would come back to the problem of boundaries without actually causing Trixie such immediate dismay. But then we wouldn't have gotten the great friendship chant scene, so I can't complain too much.  Which is ultimately why I'm glad the ultimate friendship lesson wasn't so much "ask before you give away other people's stuff" as "even a good friendship can be strained by travel," which strikes me as somewhat less juvenile. Essentially, this is similar to all sorts of sitcom episodes where two characters are cooped up together; "Stakeout" from Brooklyn Nine-Nine being a fun example. It's a familiar theme with a familiar setup, but My Little Pony isn't a show I associate with breaking new ground, and it's a solid, time-tested theme anyway. Good stuff. The only part where I wasn't having fun was while Trixie and Starlight were sleep-deprived and grumpy, because eventually it just devolved into bickering, which I don't think is the funniest thing to watch. Starlight eating the last bit of food and Trixie drinking the last bit of juice is a lot more hostile than even the interactions between Celestia and Luna in "A Royal Problem," and nothing here is quite as absurd as, say, Luna eating an entire banana peel. Eventually they're just complaining about each other, and while it's one of the show's better-executed examples of bickering in recent memory, it's still just the same song and dance we've seen a million times. They argue, they split, they eventually come back together. Even then, there's some nice timing for the reactions here, so it was nowhere near as boring as, say, "The End in Friend;" it just goes on maybe a scene too long. This does redeem itself at the end, though; Trixie standing in front of Hoo'far is funny, and those mailponies who Starlight and Trixie inspired are adorable, and the scene where the two of them finally make up is equally so. And the friendship chant, that's just glorious. Love it.  Altogether, the first half or so of this may very well have broke my top 5 for the season; if the argument had transpired a little more maturely, or at least a little less predictably, it might have solidified that position. Still, I liked this a lot. Score: Entertainment: 8/10 Characters: 7/10 Themes: 9/10 Story: 7/10 Overall: 78/100
  14. Thrond

    Season 8, Episode 17: The End in a Friend

    Sorry to be jumping on you nearly a whole month later like this, but I think this would be a weak episode in season 1 as well. The bickering just ain't all that funny.
  15. Thrond

    Season 8, Episode 17: The End in a Friend

    This just felt perfunctory, like the writers don't actually have any interest in it and just wrote the story out of obligation. It's like "Yakity Sax" in that it feels like inexperienced writers being allowed to get away with way too much. This show needs a regular writing team before it's too late, and it needs to hold that team to higher standards. That said, whereas "Yakity Sax" was interesting but didn't make much sense, this one is more or less believable but is just not interesting whatsoever to me. The adventure stuff in the back half is fun, at least, and it's better than "Non-Compete Clause," but if there's a good episode to be made out of having two main characters act insensitively towards each other, I'll be very surprised. There's not a whole lot in the way of humour here. I occasionally chuckled at the way some things were described, and briefly got excited at the prospect of Rarity and Rainbow Dash going treasure hunting together, but the jokes are all really mild. It really does feel like the episode is just trying to get its plot beats over with in the least offensive way possible. That said, this has a somewhat slower pace than something like "Non-Compete Clause," and its bickering is a bit more well-written, so it's not nearly as exhausting, if still a touch boring.  The main issue here is that these two just don't seem to be putting much effort into their interactions. Did Rarity not bother to learn how buckball is played? Why didn't Rainbow warn Rarity that she wouldn't be able to help with clothes? Why didn't Rainbow and Rarity clarify the purpose of their gem hunt? Most significantly, why couldn't they just be honest about not enjoying each other's books enough to finish reading them? That seems like such an easy thing to do. And then when they find something to do at the end, it just seems so easy, so what caused them so much trouble? We know from past episodes that Rainbow secretly enjoys going to the spa, and that Rarity has at least some interest in watching the Wonderbolts, so why did they have to keep forcing the other to enjoy their own interests? If this episode were about Rainbow and Rarity learning to find common ground rather than push their own hobbies, it would have been way stronger. That may still be the moral here, but it's incredibly muted, and comes across as little more than "people with nothing in common can still be friends." Hasn't the show done this already? And couldn't there have been a more interesting way to get to that conclusion? It all just feels so tossed-off.  And I can't stand the fact that Rainbow and Rarity had to have someone else lead them to learning whatever it is that they learned here. Part of what made "Buckball Season" in season 6 interesting was that Rainbow and Applejack learned their lesson there almost immediately after they noticed something wrong, and it's a massive shame that the show has so rarely done anything like that since. And what did these two learn, anyway? That they don't actually hate each other? This episode wants us to believe they knew this from the start, but if they did, I believe they would have handled their time together differently. Rainbow and Rarity are two of the most extroverted characters in the show, so their dynamic perhaps inevitably improves once they're finally given something external to react to. Watching them both find resourceful solutions to the problems is fun, even though their individual personalities are downplayed in the more adventure-focused second half. It's no "Rarity Investigates!," but it'll do the job in a pinch, and it's the main reason why I didn't entirely hate this. The adventure stuff here is generally imaginative and charming, and I liked seeing these two work together. There's just such an extreme gulf in quality this season. The best stuff is delightful and moves the show forward, whereas the weaker stuff seems to have been written by people who don't know what they're doing. I don't like when they screw up characters I like for a crappy moral. This particular episode might not have been so bad if it weren't for the counter-example of "Rarity Investigates!" to show what fun these characters can be if they're allowed to put their differences aside. This show has never been consistently enjoyable, and it might be too late now to improve its quality control, but it's sad to see it sink to this. Score: Entertainment: 6/10 Characters: 3/10 Themes: 5/10 Story: 3/10 Overall: 43/100