Thrond

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About Thrond

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  1. Thrond

    Season 8, Episode 14: A Matter of Principals

    I liked it here more than the movie because it doubles down on the absurdity. Trixie being called about a service plan is the best gag in the episode. She doesn't even know what a cell phone is!
  2. This was cute and sweet. More like the charm of early MLP than the neuroses of The Breakfast Club, if I'm remembering the latter right, but that charm is very much welcome; my main apprehension is that dragons and yaks seem a little too one-note. Otherwise, I found this very pleasant, and then the twist at the end won me over even more. I don't have that much to say here, but point by point:  I think it's cute that changelings are learning about and adapting pony holidays. Their culture to this point was defined so much by obedience to Chrysalis before, but now they're finding their own identity. And that story was appealingly silly. Shout out to Twilight giving them a heckin' Christmas instruction manual. Sandbar cannot sing. Sandbar's story was funny but kinda underwhelming. He's probably the least interesting of the student six to me right now. Silverstream has grown on me, but I still find her enthusiasm annoying at times. She's sweet and that's a likable trait, but it's still a bit too much. I wish the yaks had more to their culture than just destroying things. I feel like the show has missed an opportunity to flesh them out a bit. Also, does Yona just not remember the yak song? Surely those aren't the actual words.  We've seen a nice griffon, so I'd like to see more friendly individuals from the dragon culture. Spike doesn't count, because he was raised as a pony. Given Smolder's story, nice dragons must exist, but we've never seen any. The dragon story was unexpected. I was expecting something sweet, but nope, it's just cruelty. It’s funny, though. What I like most about Gallus's story is that they didn't shy away from the fact that he's an orphan. Even more than "The Perfect Pear," this makes it very clear that his family is gone, and at least in this case it makes sense that we don't know if they're alive or dead, because maybe Gallus doesn't know either. I still think more specificity would make this even more powerful, but I feel the implication here is that he was abandoned. Unlike the Apples, there's no other family to take care of him. I didn't see any of that coming, and it's really nice that this show can still catch me completely off guard. If we take Princess Cadance's backstory from that one book as canon, the show's orphan count is now at 5, counting the Apples separately.  Score: Entertainment: 8/10 Characters: 8/10 Themes: 10/10 Story: 7/10 Overall: 83/100
  3. Thrond

    Season 8, Episode 14: A Matter of Principals

    This kinda seems like a step back for Discord episodes, and at this point I'm starting to lose patience with him just being a jerk for the sake of it. Moreover, the jokes are surprisingly hit-and-miss, and this is easily the least funny Discord episode to date; meanwhile, the climax is just kinda stupid. Several jokes did land, but not enough. Point by point: Both of Starlight's focus episodes this season have had her constantly reacting to an outside nuisance, and while that's a recurring problem with the show in general, it's particularly tragic for Starlight, who barely gets a chance to show off what makes her uniquely interesting here. I mean, she's fine, and her insecurity about the role does set her apart a little, but the only point where she doesn't just seem like a more aggressive version of Twilight is when she freaks out at Discord's insult, and the episode immediately backs away from that. Her self-doubt just doesn't go anywhere, and Discord's opinion of her is never addressed again, so why did we need the scene with the laser? Discord could have just become a ghost because he wanted to. Discord is still funny at times - watching him float away as a leaf was fun, and all the random stuff he put in Starlight's office was neat, if a little too random. My favourite Discord moment here was when he wore a bunch of skater gear, like Steve Buschemi in 30 Rock, and answered a banana as if it's a phone. That phone gag is leagues ahead of the ones in the movie. Too often, though, he just creates monsters or brings back things we've already seen. Oh boy, Iron Will just... being Iron Will. Oh boy, the dragonsneeze tree. Oh boy, the bugbear. None of that is very funny, so I seriously wonder if Discord was just off his game. And it's frustrating to see this kind of Discord episode again after the last few dialed him back a bit. I don't like to think the mane six just keep him around because they have no other choice, and this episode's attempt to make him sympathetic falls totally flat, because while it's obvious, it's barely addressed until the last second, and giving him a position of authority makes no sense after he's proved he doesn't deserve it. I know how this kind of thing can be done better, so I don't have much patience for this. They seriously got Spitfire to serve as substitute teacher? I didn't think she would have that much free time. The Trixie scene was my favourite here, and she was particularly fun to watch. I'd like to see how she'd actually teach a class. And I wish we saw more of Spitfire. The student six's scavenger hunt stuff was cute. And Yona being inspired by Iron Will? That was pretty great. Best student! To be honest, I still prefer Discord faking the Cutie Map to actually having the Cutie Map facilitate this episode. The uneven jokes would have been easier to tolerate were the jokes more consistent, and the uneven jokes would have been easier to tolerate were the plot not so weak. As is, I always felt my patience tested while I waited for the good parts, and that's not how I want to feel about this show. Score: Entertainment: 5/10 Characters: 4/10 Themes: 5/10 Story: 3/10 Overall: 43/100
  4. Thrond

    Thrond's Review Thread

    My Top 26 Favourite Episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic This list has been sitting on my drive, first draft done and awaiting revisions, for well over a year now. Since then, I promised not only to publish the list, but to expand it all the way up to 26 to fill a whole season's worth of episodes, which only led to further delays. Part of the reason was that I hadn't seen several of my favourite episodes in years, and wished to binge the whole show in order to confirm my opinions and see if anything else threatened the top spots. What I want from My Little Pony has changed significantly over time, and I believe my favourite episodes are reflective of that. As such, I believe that assembling this list can help explain why I love the show so much. Now, if the show really does end after season 9, I'll be writing a new list before too long, and maybe it'll be completely different, but nonetheless, here are my top 26 favourite episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, in chronological order. To start with, here's a few ground rules: 1. I'm limiting the list to the first seven seasons, simply to be fair to episodes I've only given one viewing, as season 8 is currently underway. With that said, if I did include season 8, the delightful "Horse Play" would absolutely be included. 2. To match my "whole season" gimmick, two-parters are being counted as two episodes. S01E23: The Cutie Mark Chronicles written by M.A. Larson In the show's chronology, "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" is the first time we learned about the protagonists' pasts, and we've rarely gained a window into it since. While this episode is little more than a weakly-organized string of vignettes, the individual vignettes are individually delightful, showing us how each of the mane six received their cutie marks in incredibly charming fashion. Each flashback has its own solid emotional underpinning, and moreover, they're able to successfully condense the show's early strengths into brief bursts of charm, with each vignette successfully encompasses what their character stands for. Rainbow's is about the joy of accomplishment, Rarity's is about finding beauty below the surface, Applejack's is about staying true to your roots, etc. Add on a bunch of funny dialogue and you've got a real winner. S01E25: Party of One written by Meghan McCarthy For the most part, "Party of One" is simply a particularly strong example of the show's greatest strengths: it's colourful, upbeat, and joyously silly, and it's all centred around an obvious but solid moral about jumping to conclusions. But although the misunderstandings which form the main plot are ultimately predictable, they're amped up for maximum absurdity here, and even though Pinkie spends much of the episode in varying states of displeasure, she remains entirely silly. This episode is mainly remembered for the surprisingly dark scene of Pinkie having an apparent psychotic break, but that scene is simply one expression of how this episode successfully delves into Pinkie's insecurities and anxieties. Excepting that one scene, it's brilliant in balancing the show's usual silliness with that deeper character exploration. This show is at its best when it centres around that sort of anxiety, and here is one of the first times that it hit just the right formula. S01E26: The Best Night Ever written by Amy Keating Rogers By some margin the best finale of the entire show, "The Best Night Ever" is filled with many of the show's funniest and most memorable scenes to date. Like "The Cutie Mark Chronicles," it's split among six different storylines, this time without much connective tissue until they all intertwine in delightfully chaotic fashion. By touching upon each of the main six's interests and giving each of them solid goals, it serves as the culmination of everything the first season had established. More importantly, the episode is comprised almost entirely of one memorable scene after another, and not only does that make this one of the most entertaining episodes of the entire show, it also allows for retroactive emotional resonance as these characters have grown and come to achieve more of their goals. Meanwhile, the final lesson - that a bad experience can be made better by sharing it with good friends - is lovely, and provides a perfect summary of the whole season. At the start, they were complete strangers, but now they're as thick as thieves. S02E03: Lesson Zero written by Meghan McCarthy "Lesson Zero" is why Twilight is my favourite character. It's not her brightest moment, but just like "Party of One" was for Pinkie, it remains the clearest representation of her own anxieties. Perfectionism defines her just as much as intelligence and nerdiness, and while it's exaggerated here, fear of failure is a universal concern. Twilight's behaviour is genuinely creepy, which remains unusual territory for this show, but it's also really funny, and much more importantly, the show always takes her feelings seriously, no matter how strangely she acts. The lengths Twilight goes to are hard to relate to, but her motivations are always sympathetic, even when they're not enough to justify her actions. This episode is great in part because its central gimmick is so strange and surprising, and in part because it's filled with memorable scenes, but most of all because it balances all the cartoonish nonsense with real emotions. If My Little Pony is an exaggeration of reality, that doesn't make it any less effective of a mirror. S02E07: May the Best Pet Win! written by Charlotte Fullerton Rainbow Dash has never been more charismatic than she is in "May the Best Pet Win!," an absolutely joyous episode with a rapid-fire barrage of great jokes and some of the show's best action scenes. This is an episode where Rainbow makes movie sound effects just for her own amusement, and there's a sincerity to its energy and constant forward momentum which is simply irresistible. Of course Rainbow would set up a pet race to decide which animal she'll adopt. Of course she'll whistle "Flight of the Valkyries." Of course those are things she'd do, and the simple quirks of the various pet competition are immensely charming in and of themselves, but best of all, this episode retains Rainbow's boisterous personality without having it lapse into insensitivity. She comes to recognize the value of persistence, but she doesn't need to make some tremendous mistake to do it, and that context is perfect for such an upbeat episode. S02E14: The Last Roundup written by Amy Keating Rogers Such a strong example of season 2's nuance is "The Last Roundup" that it's easy to overlook just how entertaining it is. It's primary strength is gooey, sincere melodrama, with particularly deep characterization for Applejack, but it's also got a lot of great humour, especially from the always reliable Pinkie Pie. Rainbow Dash demonstrates a fair bit of depth as well, and while other characters don't get as much time to shine, everyone has one or two fun moments, and the myth that Applejack is boring is thoroughly debunked here by her relatively complex motivations in staying away from town. Sure, they're ultimately good intentions, but she's still hurting others in the process. Episodes like this which balance pathos and depth with humour and the show's beloved innocence are exactly why it became so popular in the first place. S02E18: Read It and Weep written by Cindy Morrow From the very start, Rainbow Dash's bravado was tied to her insecurity, but "Read It and Weep" is perhaps the most direct expression of that dichotomy. Her primary lesson here, which is coming to terms with liking something that doesn't fit her image, is something that's particularly relatable for some of the show's male fans, but it's also just a great moral in general, and moreover the various scenes of trying to hide her reading add to her depth as a character. Here, her insistence on "coolness" is matched only by her fear of others seeing the cracks in it. On top of that, this episode features a genuinely exciting adventure story, with a solid riff on Indiana Jones which perfectly fits Rainbow's personality. Sometimes, getting into a new activity just requires finding the right entry point, and if your friends are any good they will never judge you for the things you love. S02E22: Hurricane Fluttershy written by Cindy Morrow Gooey melodrama of the highest caliber, elevated by deep character relationships and a strong, emotional plotline. Every note of "Hurricane Fluttershy" is in the right place, and befitting an episode for the most fragile of the mane six, this is an especially sensitive episode, demonstrating sympathetic anxiety on Fluttershy's part and an impressive level of understanding from Rainbow Dash, all in favour of some of the most satisfying emotional highs in the entire show. Fluttershy's stories often revolve around overcoming some anxiety, but here it's specifically linked to bullying in her past, which in turn makes her journey to overcome it assist the struggling Ponyville weather team all the more delightful. The main conflict here is just impersonal enough to have massive stakes, but the majority of the episode is focused directly on Fluttershy's personal journey, and every second of the episode is working towards a common goal. There's an endearing simplicity to the whole thing, but it's the sincerity of the execution which really sells it. S03E06: Sleepless in Ponyville written by Corey Powell The first of three solo episodes focused on each of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, "Sleepless in Ponyville" succeeds most of all in how it takes Scootaloo's childish concerns seriously. Particularly significant is how this serves to deepen her as a character without leaning too much on her apparent wing disability. Like Rainbow Dash, she puts on a brave face to hide her anxieties, but Rainbow Dash knows that being brave doesn't mean you're not afraid. Hiding your fears to impress others is indeed a highly relatable concept, and as childish as Scootaloo's approach is, watching her learn to accept her fear is deeply charming. That she finally allows herself to show vulnerability to her idol is a genuinely moving character beat, and their relationship is truly adorable. This episode is as charming and funny as the best of the show, but it's that strong emotional core which really sells it. S03E07: Wonderbolts Academy written by Merriwether Williams Rainbow Dash has my favourite character arc in the whole series, and this is her last focus episode to get the balance between sensitivity and attitude correct. As interested as she is in showing off, she's still a sweet pony at heart, and "Wonderbolts Academy" stands out above all else for Rainbow's expressiveness, which enhances her story by wordlessly expressing everything she feels about what's happening around her. However disappointed Dash might be by becoming a wingpony, she still takes the role very seriously, because that's what's expected of her, and she only gives up when her values are directly offended. It's the best showcase for one of the best characters in the show, and it has a great antagonist too. Lightning Dust is as charismatic as Dash herself, and is one of the rare villains to seem genuinely remorseful at the end, providing yet more nuance to an already excellent episode. S04E08: Rarity Takes Manehattan written by Dave Polsky During my first few years with the show, I wouldn't have called Rarity my favourite of the main cast, and that was primarily due to her penchant for seemingly selfish behaviour. "Rarity Takes Manehattan" is the point where this changed, placing her generosity on full display by providing a profound challenge to everything Rarity values. The episode's charms all come down to her positive attitude and abundance of personality, and having that personality spun into something much more altruistic and positive is a refreshing change of pace from her earlier depictions. Providing a foil for Rarity's generosity in the form of a thieving rival allows for a genuinely powerful thematic conflict, where Rarity is forced to evaluate the value of such generosity in a cold world, and while her affirmative answer is inevitable, this episode makes her journey to reclaim those values convincing, and in both that and its plentiful superficial charms, it's absolutely irresistible. S04E12: Pinkie Pride written by Amy Keating Rogers Those essential challenges to characters' core values, as seen in "Rarity Takes Manehattan," were a recurring theme in the show's fourth season, and "Pinkie Pride" is undoubtedly the best take on them, an effervescent, infinitely joyous explosion of energy which just happens to feature deceptive depth. Even without the cameo from the one and only "Weird" Al Yankovic, the heights of absurdity this reaches are so inventive, so energetic, and just so happy that they'd still be utterly delightful, and better yet, they're paired with a meaningful bit of introspection from Pinkie Pie. Here, she lets her pride as the town's "#1 party pony" get away from her, and it's made clear how that pride in her status is intertwined with her need for approval, but also how it comes at the expense of the joy she so often strives to bring to her friends. You can never make someone happy by only thinking of yourself, and what makes this episode great is that it conveys that theme without making Pinkie Pie seem too selfish. S04E19: For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils written by Dave Polsky After "Sleepless in Ponyville," both Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom would receive episodes with similar takes on different themes, and of these, Sweetie Belle's is arguably the most well-rounded, with the best blend of moralizing and humour, and the most significant role for Luna to boot. Because Sweetie Belle is acting out of jealousy, Luna has a stronger connection to her than she had to the other two, and like the earlier episode, this episode boasts some fantastic nightmare imagery, albeit of an entirely different kind. Where Scootaloo was afraid of losing respect because of fear, Sweetie's problem is instead that she can't imagine the world outside of her own perspective. Her view of her sister is skewed by what she has and hasn't seen, and while this is what causes her to retaliate, she's also a sweet kid who never really wanted to hurt anyone, as made clear when she solves her own mistake. The Scootaloo episode established the winning formula of these CMC solo episodes, but "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils" perfected it. S04E20: Leap of Faith written by Josh Haber The near-universal excellence of these "key" episodes from season 4 does a good job of representing what the show did best in this era. If "Pinkie Pride" had the best balance of charm and depth, "Leap of Faith" instead veers further in the direction of nuance, providing arguably the most meaningful challenge of the whole lot. Here, Applejack finds herself lying to make her family happy, despite the fact that she's enabling Flim and Flam to sell literal snake oil. Lying, something that Applejack has always been opposed to, suddenly seems like a necessity, and while she remains doubtful throughout, that genuine uncertainty provides this episode with a degree of thematic power beyond even what the aforementioned "Rarity Takes Manehattan" and "Pinkie Pride" conjure up. If it's not as energetic as those other two episodes, that's not for a lack of charm and humour, which comes in large part from the amusingly smarmy Flim Flam Brothers and the always welcome antics of Applejack's family. Here's one of the few times that the show has managed to balance genuinely mature storytelling with its original charms. S04E25-26: Twilight's Kingdom, Parts 1 and 2 written by Meghan McCarthy The show has never seen a change as significant as Twilight Sparkle becoming a princess, and many of her appearances in the show's fourth season struggled to come to terms with it. The finale, "Twilight's Kingdom," is widely remembered for its intensity and immense scale, but as appealing as it is simply as a spectacle, the episode's true strength comes in the smaller stuff. Twilight's coronation was a sudden and confusing event, and here the show acknowledges that, presenting Twilight being just as confused and adrift as you'd expect someone with such a spontaneous life change to be. The threat to all of Equestria isn't nearly as interesting as Twilight's internal struggle to find herself, and Tirek is such a great villain not just because of his menace but also because he's a perfect foil for Twilight's values. Season 4 spent so much time on the reiteration of values these characters already held, but only here is that intertwined with meaningful character development, as Twilight finds the reason for her coronation in the things she was doing all along. S05E11: Bloom and Gloom written by Josh Haber On one hand, "Bloom and Gloom" might be the least subtle of the CMC solo episodes which were such a highlight of the show's middle seasons. All of these episodes are defined by their nightmare imagery, but both "Sleepless in Ponyville" and "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils" save their nightmares for key climactic moments. "Bloom and Gloom," meanwhile, consists entirely of nightmares, surreal images floating in and out of existence but always representing sympathetic anxieties. The flow of events, which is only as choppy as Apple Bloom's emotional state, is exactly what dreams should look like in this show, and while the barrage of visual metaphors is always emotionally powerful, it's also surreal enough and treated with enough levity to be genuinely entertaining. All of these key concepts are tied together in one of the show's most profound morals: you may feel like your anxieties are absurd, but you're not alone. That this episode is so profoundly empathetic as well as clever and humorous marks it in my eyes as still one of the most impressive things in the show's entire middle period. S05E11: Party Pooped written by Nick Confalone In a show which doesn't always portray non-pony cultures in the most sensitive of lights, the cultural relativism at the core of "Party Pooped" is a welcome breath of fresh air. Here is an episode about respecting and accommodating cultural differences, all wrapped up in the form of a silly story about yaks smashing things. That remains unique within the show, and indeed, the specific form of humour utilized here is something not quite like any other episode. The quirky diplomatic focus of the story provides a peculiar undercurrent of anxiety to even the funniest jokes, and there's a unique thrill in seeing these characters freak out over new responsibilities which they're not even remotely qualified for. But that unusual tension only works because of just how clever the jokes actually are here, and the unique blend of quirky visual humour - a train being stopped by handful of grazing sheep, for instance - with the surprisingly high stakes is a joy not quite like anything else in the series. S05E15: Rarity Investigates! written by Joanna Lewis & Kristine Songco Currently my favourite comfort food episode, "Rarity Investigates!" is one of the rare My Little Pony episodes where every joke lands, which is in large part due to an inspired combination of characters, gimmick, and premise. Rarity and Rainbow Dash are a particularly underutilized pairing in this show, but here they have as much immediate chemistry as many of their more common counterparts. As if to make up for lost time, their early scenes before the plot kicks in are some of the most charming scenes of friendship from the entire show, and while their dynamic becomes more tense when the conflict is introduced, they're simply two of the show's most charismatic characters. What Rainbow and Rarity have in common is ambition, and that underlines their relationship here without ever being stated aloud. The mystery may be obvious, but it serves the core theme of trusting your friends when they trust you, and the episode is just so jam-packed with funny gags that it's hard to resist. S06E01-02The Crystalling, Parts 1 and 2 written by Josh Haber "The Crystalling," which opened the show's sixth season, is in many ways a departure from the show's usual season premiere format. Rather than attempt to somehow provide even darker themes and even more exciting spectacle, it instead shifts its focus smaller, spending its entire first half on low-stakes slice-of-life hijinks. Not only is this a refreshing change of pace for this show, but the emphasis on insecurity, not only from the newly-reformed Starlight but also from her childhood friend Sunburst is as sympathetic and relatable as the show's earlier peaks, and provides a conduit for some of the show's more mature themes. Even when the episode dials up the spectacle in its second half, it's a simple, impersonal backdrop to Starlight's and Sunburst's issues, allowing some of the show's best character work to play out undiluted by the nonsense which plagues too many of the other two-parters. And it also has an infant with alarming, unmanageable superpowers, so that's a plus. S06E08: A Hearth's Warming Tale written by Michael Vogel A Christmas Carol has been done several times before, but never has it been submerged in this particular world, and I'd be surprised if it has been told in this particular way. "A Hearth's Warming Tale" already gets a lot of points for being one of the prettiest episodes of the whole show, and it earns even more for its phenomenal songs, but its most significant achievement is how it bends the source material. Greed never plays a part in the story, and instead, the Scrooge analogue is a metaphor for Starlight: a pony whose values have been twisted by a problematic childhood and who makes the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons, but means well enough to change. The sheer universal resonance which is rung out of this variation is enough to make Starlight's own backstory obselete, and in a show which is far too often risk-averse even in its original stories, this distinctive take on a classic tale is a welcome surprise. S06E09: The Saddle Row Review written by Nick Confalone Part of the tragedy of My Little Pony's safe storytelling is that these characters are all strong enough to withstand any sort of structural experimentation. "The Saddle Row Review" proves that with its unique mockumentary gimmick, which not only frames some of the show's best jokes in an unusual context, but which also allows for a refreshing touch of modernity even beyond what's seen elsewhere in the later seasons. Here, the show indulges its most sitcom-esque instincts, and allows for strong examples of character comedy which would so rarely be seen elsewhere in the show, such as Pinkie Pie passing off a large restaurant bill to the anonymous interviewer. It's this willingness to experiment with genre and structure which makes "The Saddle Row Review" so funny, and this show would do well to try this kind of thing more often. S06E19: The Fault in Our Cutie Marks written by Ed Valentine Dramatic irony forms the backbone of "The Fault in Our Cutie Marks," the show's most adorably dramatic episode to date, and the characters know it. From the very start, the premise - a griffon wants to have a cutie mark, but only ponies can get cutie marks - can only end poorly, and the episode's success is playing on that not for comedy but for drama. Levity instead comes from the chipper attitude of Gabby, whose sweetness and enthusiasm contrasts powerfully with the Cutie Mark Crusaders' growing desperation not to let her down. It's a perfect embodiment of the show's optimistic atmosphere, where everyone involved is genuinely sweet and only wants the best for the others, and that makes the looming spectre of disappointment all the more concerning. In the end, when the episode subverts expectations and goes out on a high note, it could not possibly be more satisfying. S06E24: Top Bolt written by Joanna Lewis & Kristine Songco A recurring feature of the show's later years is various attempts to position the protagonists into mentorship roles. These stories centre not around the mane six or Cutie Mark Crusaders learning their own lesson, but on them trying to teach a lesson to someone else, and how well it works is dependent on how good those secondary characters are. "Top Bolt" is the absolute best expression of this formula, with profound nuance from its new characters and even a smaller lesson for the old ones. Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle make a funnier pair here than ever, their contrasting personalities never getting in the way of their easy chemistry, and the new characters immediately show themselves to be among the most charming and three-dimensional in the show's entire run. It's fundamentally a story about the lies which keep us going, and how to persevere once they can no longer be maintained, and that strong theme resonates even as the episode sticks to silly banter and sight gags. If the show is gonna keep pushing the main characters into these roles, this is what it should look like. S07E03: A Flurry of Emotions written by Sammie Crowley & Whitney Wetta If there's one thing that was missing in the years since Twilight became an alicorn, it was an idea of what those new responsibilities would do to her already severe perfectionism. In its own way, "A Flurry of Emotions" depicts that perfectionism even better than "Lesson Zero," as it grants her more altruistic motivations and less horrifying behaviour while remaining nearly as funny. Here, she wants to be the best aunt possible and the best princess possible, but never does that intention seem selfish, and it's accompanied by the dorky enthusiastic charm which had been lacking from so many of her recent focus episodes. Meanwhile, baby Flurry Heart is made somehow even more charming, as not only does she retain her infantile silliness, but it's been combined with genuine sweetness, albeit from a very immature point of view. Together, Twilight and Flurry Heart are almost unbearably cute, and that cuteness is delivered in the form of numerous inventive sight gags and the occasional sweet cutaway to Flurry's adorable parents. It's an exceptional delight which proves the show still has some juice left even after all these years. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic isn't what I would consider a show of consistent quality, and some episodes are certainly more entertaining than others. Still, even within a single show's run, I maintain that "good" and "bad" are largely a matter of taste, and the above are simply what I consider to be the most enjoyable episodes of this show. Perhaps you might have different choices, and if so, I'd be delighted to hear your reasoning in the comments below.
  5. Thrond

    Thrond's Review Thread

    Yeah, I dunno. Maybe they thought that stuff was too dark. I don't really know enough about children's media to say more.
  6. Thrond

    Thrond's Review Thread

    It's been a consistent problem from the very beginning - think "Over a Barrel" - and got worse not because the writers changed, but because the subject matter became more ambitious. I must remind you that I'm the guy who hates "Amending Fences," written by one of the show's most beloved and talented writers; when they do get it right ("Molt Down" being the best example for me, though "The Perfect Pear" counts to a lesser extent) it feels to me like an exception to the rule. I don't know why this is, but I presume that the writers just don't think kids can handle the more mature subject matter the show toys with. It's their impulse to have their cake and eat it too, which manifests in more ways than just this, which leads to problems.
  7. Thrond

    Thrond's Review Thread

    Also, since I haven't posted it here in ages, here are my current episode ratings: Season 1 (70/100) "Friendship is Magic" - 80 "The Ticket Master" - 70 "Applebuck Season" - 75 "Griffon the Brush Off" - 78 "Boast Busters" - 55 "Dragonshy" -- 78 "Look Before You Sleep" - 38 "Bridle Gossip" - 40 "Swarm of the Century" - 68 "Winter Wrap-Up" - 80 "Call of the Cutie" - 73 "Fall Weather Friends" - 90 "Suited for Success" - 90 "Feeling Pinkie Keen" - 73 "Sonic Rainboom" - 78 "Stare Master" - 53 "The Show Stoppers" - 33 "A Dog and Pony Show" - 73 "Green Isn't Your Color" - 55 "Over a Barrel" - 33 "A Bird in the Hoof" - 88 "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" - 93 "A Bird in the Hoof" - 88 "Owl's Well That Ends Well" - 48 "Party of One" - 100 "The Best Night Ever" - 100 Season 2 (74/100) "The Return of Harmony" - 80 "Lesson Zero" - 100 "Luna Eclipsed" - 63 "Sisterhooves Social" - 90 "The Cutie Pox" - 43 "May the Best Pet Win!" - 93 "The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well" - 23 "Sweet and Elite" - 85 "Secret of My Excess" - 78 "Hearth's Warming Eve" - 73 "Family Appreciation Day" - 70 "Baby Cakes" - 85 "The Last Roundup" - 100 "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" - 50 "Read It and Weep" - 95 "Hearts and Hooves Day" - 80 "A Friend in Deed" - 80 "Putting Your Hoof Down" - 65 "It's About Time" - 43 "Dragon Quest" - 88 "Hurricane Fluttershy" - 100 "Ponyville Confidential" - 50 "MMMystery on the Friendship Express" - 70 "A Canterlot Wedding" - 68 Season 3 (57/100) "The Crystal Empire" - 80 "Too Many Pinkie Pies" - 63 "One Bad Apple" - 60 "Magic Duel" - 60 "Sleepless in Ponyville" - 90 "Wonderbolts Academy" - 100 "Just For Sidekicks" - 60 (I actually like this one though) "Apple Family Reunion" - 48 "Spike At Your Service" - 43 "Keep Calm and Flutter On" - 88 "Games Ponies Play" - 25 "Magical Mystery Cure" - 18 Season 4 (71/100) "Princess Twilight Sparkle" - 35 "Castle Mane-ia" - 75 "Daring Don't" - 65 "Flight to the Finish" - 80 "Power Ponies" - 48 "Bats" - 43 "Rarity Takes Manehattan" - 98 "Pinkie Apple Pie" - 70 "Rainbow Falls" - 45 "Three's a Crowd" - 75 "Pinkie Pride" - 100 "Simple Ways" - 45 "Filli Vanilli" - 78 "Twilight Time" - 50 "It Ain't Easy Being Breezies" - 88 "Somepony to Watch Over Me" - 50 "Maud Pie" - 60 "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils" - 100 "Leap of Faith" - 95 "Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3" - 65 "Trade Ya" - 73 "Inspiration Manifestation" - 80 "Equestria Games" - 83 "Twilight's Kingdom" - 95 Season 5 "The Cutie Map" - 78 "Castle Sweet Castle" - 55 "Tanks for the Memories" - 28 "Bloom and Gloom" - 100 "Appleoosa's Most Wanted" - 73 "Make New Friends but Keep Discord" - 85 "The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone: - 50 "Slice of Life" - 83 "Princess Spike" - 43 "Party Pooped" - 93 "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?" - 20 "Amending Fences" - 38 "Canterlot Boutique" - 53 "Rarity Investigates" - 100 "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" - 85 "Hearthbreakers" - 63 "The Mane Attraction" - 50 "The Cutie Re-Mark" - 53 Season 6 "The Crystalling" - 93 "The Gift of Maud Pie" - 90 "On Your Marks" - 75 "Gauntlet of Fire" - 68 "Newbie Dash" - 63 "A Hearth's Warming Tail" - 100 "The Saddle Row Review" - 90 "Stranger Than Fan Fiction" - 88 "The Cart Before the Ponies" - 55 "28 Pranks Later" - 63 "The Times They Are a Changeling" - 88 "Dungeons & Discords" - 88 "Buckball Season" - 55 "The Fault in Our Cutie Marks" - 98 "Viva Las Pegasus" - 65 "Every Little Thing She Does" - 58 "Pony Point of View" - 43 "Where the Apple Lies" - 53 "Top Bolt" - 95 "To Where and Back Again" - 85 Season 7 (59/100) "Celestial Advice" - 50 "All Bottled Up" - 38 "A Flurry of Emotions" - 93 "Rock Solid Friendship" - 60 "Fluttershy Leans In" - 35 "Forever Filly" - 48 "Parental Glideance" - 80 "Hard to Say Anything" - 25 "Honest Apple" - 40 "A Royal Problem" - 80 "Not Asking for Trouble" - 63 "Discordant Harmony" - 80 "The Perfect Pear" - 85 "Fame and Misfortune" - 45 "Triple Threat" - 70 "Campfire Tales" - 53 "To Change a Changeling" - 53 "Daring Done?" - 35 "It Isn't the Mane Thing About You" - 65 "A Health of Information" - 83 "Marks and Recreation" - 43 "Once Upon a Zeppelin" - 83 "Secrets and Pies" - 63 "Uncommon Bond" - 50 "Shadow Play" - 48 The Movie - 35 Season 8 "School Daze" - 75 "The Maud Couple" - 68 "Fake It Til You Make It" - 35 "Grannies Gone Wild" - 75 "Surf and/or Turf" - 55 "Horse Play" - 100 "The Parent Map" - 35 "Non-Compete Clause" - 25 "The Break Up Break Down" - 78 "Molt Down" - 80 "Marks for Effort" - 83 "The Mean 6" - 85 "Yakity Sax" - 53 Equestria Girls Equestria Girls - 60 Rainbow Rocks - 88 Friendship Games - 70 Legend of Everfree - 40 "Dance Magic" - 45 "Movie Magic" - 70 "Mirror Magic" - 25 "Forgotten Friendship" - 60 "Rollercoaster of Friendship" - 80
  8. Thrond

    Thrond's Review Thread

    I don't think this episode has good enough ideas to merit that, and I feel all of my issues could easily have been fixed were there fewer dull, unfunny action sequences.
  9. Thrond

    Thrond's Review Thread

    Season 5 episode 13 - "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?" This just feels so lazy and empty. Somehow, despite being different objects, all the dream monsters look exactly the same, and the actual dream imagery is so much less imaginative than it should have been. Not all of it is entirely lazy - Pinkie Pie's shifting dreamscape is fun, as are some of the background objects, but it's telling that "Princess Big Mac," a particularly blatant fandom reference, is among the most genuinely inventive scenes here. Stuff like Fluttershy becoming Flutterbat isn't that exciting, because it's stuff we've seen before in the show, and isn't even given enough time to be interesting. The fact that not one but two of these ponies take on their Power Pony forms for very brief moments is the problem for me. And at its worst, like nearly everything involving Rainbow Dash, this is just excruciatingly unfunny. Mostly I feel this doesn't have all that much tension or rhythm - it's just endless scenes of surprisingly modest, generally unimaginative imagery which is never sustained and never escalates, the Tantibus always getting close to breaching but of course never actually being in danger of doing so. This episode is boring. I might have been more forgiving of it were it not for its unfathomable mishandling of Luna, though. I'm a little softer on the implications of the ending, which revolve very specifically around changing her perspective rather than on curing all of her problems, but it still feels way too simplistic and clean, and I feel the show missed a huge opportunity to 1. explore Luna's melancholic past in more detail and 2. say something meaningful about mental illness. The final moments, in which Luna comes to understand she's a different pony now than when she was Nightmare Moon, play much more to me as the start of recovery than as a solution to all her problems, but the final shot of her finally sleeping peacefully undercuts that angle, and her problems just aren't given the focus they deserve here. There's so little insight and introspection, and yet those are the ideas that the episode's climax is based around. Celestia's absence isn't a curious oversight but a symptom of the greater issue, and that's the show's fatal refusal to push its own boundaries, its need to dumb down more interesting ideas for the kids. Episodes like this are less mature than the simple stories of the show's early years, because they don't respect their audience enough to give these heavy topics the treatment they deserve. This is, in many ways, the opposite of what made this show great - instead of adding emotional depth to simple topics, this robs complex topics of their nuance. Instead of the show elevating its material, it's showing its own limitations. And worse still, it does so in a really dull wrapper which tries really hard to be an action show and yet has some of the show's worst action to date. The moments in this episode which work are small, and they're dwarfed by the failure of so much of what it's trying to do. Score: Entertainment: 2/10 Characters: 3/10 Themes: 2/10 Story: 1/10 Overall: 20/100
  10. Thrond

    Season 8, Episode 18: Yakity-Sax

    This was okay. Once Pinkie stopped being annoying with the musical instrument thingamajig, I came to enjoy it a lot more; there's some neat jokes and a pleasantly downbeat tone to a lot of it. But I couldn't really buy into the premise, as it seems weird for this to be that important to Pinkie Pie all of a sudden, and I feel Pinkie's friends would have asked her what was wrong first. And it does bug me that they never ask her not to play at such inconvenient times and places, because until she learns she's still gonna be a nuisance. Still, I really admire a lot of the thematic nuance here; I just wish it fit these characters a bit better.
  11. Thrond

    Thrond's Review Thread

    Season 8 episode 18 - "Yakity Sax" I admire a lot of what this episode is aiming for, but the execution is inelegant, and the downbeat tone doesn't really allow this to win me over through sheer charm like "School Daze" was able to. That episode was incredibly rough as well, and both give the same impression of an underdeveloped concept being imposed over top of the show, but this one didn't stick the landing as well, which makes it a lot less appealing in my eyes. But explaining what I like and dislike here is kinda hard to fit into one paragraph, so point-by-point: I think this becomes a lot more enjoyable once Pinkie gives up the thingamajig ("yovidaphone"?), if only because the first ten minutes or so get really repetitive with the single gag of Pinkie being really bad at the instrument and annoying everyone around her. Aside from that, most of the gags are fairly clever; I didn't laugh consistently, but the only ones which I thought were noticably flat were those around Maud, which were a massive step back for the character and not all that funny in general. There's sort of a weird tension between the style of humour and the generally downbeat tone of the episode; once Pinkie gets sad, a lot of scenes have faintly melancholic music placed over them, and the episode consistently takes her feelings seriously. In that sense it's kinda like "The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone" for me: most scenes here just make me kinda sad, though at least here that's more clearly the point. It's effective in conveying that melancholy while still being pretty funny from time to time, and that's no mean feat.  My problem is mostly with characterization. Everyone acts more or less right, but I have a really difficult time getting behind the core premise, and the basic assumptions about human behaviour seem off here. We never really see the mane six just ask Pinkie what's bothering her, and I just have a hard time believing these ponies wouldn't put any thought into what she actually wants. It's not incorrect that their first instinct has usually been to take action rather than to just ask what's wrong, but this episode really wants to present that as a sort of benign selfishness, and I just don't think that's the correct direction for this moral, or really the way these characters would approach this problem. This clearly wants to be about the disappointment of thinking something you love isn't something you can actually do, and the worthlessness that comes with that. That's a really nuanced idea, but I don't really like that they have to get there by implying the mane six aren't thinking about her own interests. I feel that muddies the water by suggesting bad things about their friendship. And it's because of this that I'm not very fond of the whole "thinking of others' interests" part of the story, which isn't nearly as interesting, not in the least because it's not extended to Pinkie Pie. Is she gonna get a tutor for the thingamajig? Is she gonna find somewhere where she can play it without bothering anyone? The episode lets her off the hook despite spending way too much time on her being annoying, and it comes off as unbalanced as a result. Conversely, though, Pinkie Pie's reaction is just so extreme and sudden, and I find it really hard to believe. Even with everything else we've seen from her, her life is completely unwound because she can't play this one instrument we've never seen before? It's way too unfamiliar, and it feels deeply inorganic. There's just not enough buildup, and with all the other things we know Pinkie cares about, having this one thing set her off so severely just doesn't make enough sense. It's an unwelcome reminder that the new writers don't really have an affinity for these characters, and instead see them as a conduit for the stories they want to tell.  And because 1. this show is hardly subtle and 2. this is a somewhat calmer, more emotion-driven episode, those things pretty severely impeded my enjoyment. The jokes are mostly alright, but aren't among the show's best; the emotional core is ambitious but sloppy; the characterization is correct but only within the constraints of the iffy premise. This new batch of writers could do great things with this show, but before that's possible, they need to understand what made it work in the first place. Score: Entertainment: 7/10 Characters: 4/10 Themes: 7/10 Story: 3/10  Overall: 53/100
  12. Oh, this is delightful; the actual story here is episodic and super bland, but it's fitting that the villain's name is Vignette, because it's the small self-contained moments that really sing here. Rarity freaking out over her new job, Pinkie being the "fun inspector," Rainbow being afraid of the rollercoaster, Twilight and Sunset at the ring toss... it's all just so glorious, and several of these are among the funniest scenes in all of "Equestria Girls." Even though the plot is super cliched and sort of randomly ramps up in speed near the end, I loved how irreverent it was; aside from the very climax, it never took itself too seriously, and even subverted some of its most familiar elements after initially appearing to take them straight. The real nature of the white room the Rainbooms are stuck in? Amazing. Plus, every one of the Rainbooms has become more fleshed out and developed here: we see more of Applejack's interest in work outside the farm, Rainbow's balance between bravado and anxiety is spot-on, Rarity's job advancement is really pleasant to watch, Sunset's anger is finally codified as an essential trait, and Twilight continues to act like normal Twilight instead of doormat Sci-Twi from her early appearances. All of these characters have just the right balance between resembling their pony counterparts and being something entirely different. On the other hand, some of the plot intrusions are a total drag, as whenever this thing takes itself seriously it screeches to a halt - but, admittedly, that's not very often, and nearly every serious digression eventually leads to a great punchline. Vignette isn't a terribly interesting villain, but she's very to-the-point about being evil. Her redemption here is kinda blah, though; she shows absolutely no repentance at any point and her hidden depth feels incredibly shoehorned in, so I felt zero sympathy for her, and the themes about social media which she's clearly supposed to represent never really come together. Whatever this is trying to say is just way too broad to actually mean anything, and as such it generally comes down to "fans aren't real friends," which is really kinda played out, and "being terrible is bad," which is meaningless. There's actual potential for pointed socioeconomic critique in here, but of course I'd never expect that from this show. Honestly though, that doesn't really matter until like three minutes in the climax when this thing takes itself the most seriously, because otherwise it's just generally entertaining. Also, this contains what might be the most direct sexual reference I've seen from this show (#bangs), and is possibly the gayest thing the show has done since Friendship Games. Both of those make this weirder and more interesting to me, because man, the people behind these things can get away with nearly anything now. I hope they develop their villains a bit more next time. Score: Entertainment: 10/10 Characters: 9/10 Themes: 6/10 Story: 7/10 Overall: 80/100 (I so want to rate this higher, but the math just won't let me. My system works the vast majority of the time, but whenever an episode/special/movie/etc. is great entirely due to its humour, it tends to fall apart completely.)
  13. Thrond

    Thrond's Review Thread

    I'll post it here for completion's sake, but it's not really a review: Season 8 episode 13 - "The Mean 6" There's not a whole lot going on here aside from specific jokes, so all I really have to say here is that this rules. Nonetheless... here goes, point by point: This is a very good idea and it's executed very well. I enjoyed every single joke here, and found the misunderstandings sufficiently witty that they didn't feel tedious. I like that the Discorded personalities have actually been expanded on, and in the case of Twilight and Pinkie changed for maximum humour. The style just feels a lot like the first two seasons, which I positively adore. Season 8 has something for everybody. Chrysalis talking to herself and failing in her villainous plans is something I never knew I wanted. She was always the villain I had the most fun hating, and her combination of sincere villainy and total ineptitude here is comedic gold. Nothing she did here really seemed to matter, but I don't mind that. Forget a reformation, make her the Wile E. Coyote of this show. It'd be awesome. Chrysalis's disguise as a photographer pony is amazing and I wish that was a real character that could hypothetically return. There's barely a moral here, but I'm totally okay with that. Yet again, I'm glad this show is putting humour and story over moralizing, as it just makes for better television in my opinion. It's replaced with much smaller, more specific emotional beats, which are also admittedly minor but much preferred. Besides, the little stuff we got - "all this crazy stuff is fine as long as we're together" and "our friendship is strong enough to overcome our differences" - works really well for the story at hand.  Too bad Evil Twilight won't return. She'd be a really fun villain. Wonder what Starlight's evil counterpart would be. Admittedly, the reason for Fluttershy to split off is a little contrived. Wouldn't she tell the others where she's going first? That's all I got. This is just all jokes, all the time, and it's delightful. Score: Entertainment: 10/10 Characters: 9/10 Themes: 7/10 Story: 8/10 Overall: 85/100
  14. Thrond

    Season 8, Episode 13: The Mean 6

    There's not a whole lot going on here aside from specific jokes, so all I really have to say here is that this rules. Nonetheless... here goes, point by point: This is a very good idea and it's executed very well. I enjoyed every single joke here, and found the misunderstandings sufficiently witty that they didn't feel tedious. I like that the Discorded personalities have actually been expanded on, and in the case of Twilight and Pinkie changed for maximum humour. The style just feels a lot like the first two seasons, which I positively adore. Season 8 has something for everybody. Chrysalis talking to herself and failing in her villainous plans is something I never knew I wanted. She was always the villain I had the most fun hating, and her combination of sincere villainy and total ineptitude here is comedic gold. Nothing she did here really seemed to matter, but I don't mind that. Forget a reformation, make her the Wile E. Coyote of this show. It'd be awesome. Chrysalis's disguise as a photographer pony is amazing and I wish that was a real character that could hypothetically return. There's barely a moral here, but I'm totally okay with that. Yet again, I'm glad this show is putting humour and story over moralizing, as it just makes for better television in my opinion. It's replaced with much smaller, more specific emotional beats, which are also admittedly minor but much preferred. Besides, the little stuff we got - "all this crazy stuff is fine as long as we're together" and "our friendship is strong enough to overcome our differences" - works really well for the story at hand.  Too bad Evil Twilight won't return. She'd be a really fun villain. Wonder what Starlight's evil counterpart would be. Admittedly, the reason for Fluttershy to split off is a little contrived. Wouldn't she tell the others where she's going first? That's all I got. This is just all jokes, all the time, and it's delightful. Also, I have never related to Starlight more than when she said she hates the outdoors. Score: Entertainment: 10/10 Characters: 9/10 Themes: 7/10  Story: 8/10 Overall: 85/100
  15. Thrond

    What Is The Best MLP: FIM Song

    Wait, I forgot to mention the “Smile Song”? Shame on me.