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Season 8, Episode 7: Horse Play

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Title: Horse Play

 

Synopsis: Twilight Sparkle casts Princess Celestia in her play, only to discover Celestia's talents lie elsewhere.

 

Airs: Today at 11:30 A.M. on Discovery Family

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Well, this episode was great!!! :D This episode reminds me of the acting I was heavily a part of back in elementary school, as well as Broadway plays (BTW I am into Broadway theater). The plot had some Birdman vibes of trying to get the whole play together. The part where Celestia says some deep words about her time with Twilight got me like "damn."

 

A ton of great work was done here. 

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Having watched the leaked version, without background music and missing a few sound effects, I'm amazed at how much better the episode is with them. Beyond that, I love this episode. Most of the problems I have with it come from other episodes. By itself, it is great. As part of the series, it just makes me wish it belonged to smarter cartoon.

So, why was Celestia studying magic if her dream was to act? Quirky much? I think the episode was trying to imply that she couldn't follow her dream because of her ability to raise the sun required her to study (if that makes any sense by the episode's own logic). But the connection is never really stablished. But it doesn't really matter, because the actual problem is that the writers keep forgetting her age. One thousand years, minimum, is a hell of a long time to not do anything that is your dream, particularly when the cartoon's idea of rulling a nation is a bunch of social activities and generic meetings. I'm not going into another episode.

Regardless of that, the episode deserves congratulations on avoiding the typical cliché of turning Celestia into another princess wants to escape her privileged life and responsibilities. It even makes me think that she enjoys it. I already love it for that alone.

The best part of the episode is that Celestia is charming and funny without coming off as an idiot this time. Likely because they didn't slap her to another 'end of the world' or some other important thing that is not her actual 'job'. The whole time, she actually looks like she's trying and having fun. I love it.

The conversation implies that Celestia and Twilight were close at one time, but it's still just a conversation. Whatever happened to 'show, don't tell'. Whatever... Time constraints, yadda yadda... I get it. At least she looks legitimately hurt when she hears Twilight venting. And she says that she loves Equestria... While doing charades. She's so clueless it's charming and cute. But it's disappointing when the cartoon tries to show this 'less-princessy' side of Celestia and Twilight/Spike react as if they never saw that. It's hard to believe that they had a close relationship when they act surprised when Celestia is herself.

I like the the theater play to tell the story, but it's putting a detail on an story that was told years ago. And like in the Journal of the Two Sisters, it feels more like a patch to fix a big hole in a curtain rather than exploring a character and giving it background. Especially with the minimum effort approach to Celestia's reason for existing, and the fact that it's not even an original idea. If Hearth's Warming Eve had some insight into the role of the princesses in the cartoon, this wouldn't be a problem. Or even if they never said that she rules the nation, and kept repeating it when she never does.

When Ms. Rogers wrote the Journal, she was trying to fix a 'sunrise-sized' problem, and not a 'Celestia-sized' one. Still, if the cartoon is going to try and consolidate the canonicity of the expanded universe, they might as well do it right. The story told in the play has several details that are different from the book. Most important, Luna's part in it and the consequence of their connection to the sun and the moon. Not that I like the book, but the way the story is almost the same, but not quite, is weird. And it's frustrating because the series tends to be better written than the books, almost as a rule.

I can't help wondering if I'm going to see Luna's dream ticker or her other pets in the cartoon... This whole thing just makes me think that the real reason this whole story got into the cartoon is because nobody really gave two fucks about giving Celestia some thought. Gotta love the adjectives Celestia uses to describe her... Makes me wonder if the cartoon is actually self-aware.

Well, the big deal about Celestia is that she is the only one that can raise the sun without losing her magic. I suppose the idea is to ignore the scene in Cutie Re-Mark where nobody gives a damn that Celestia is gone and not even the plants need the sun. That Celestia's ability to move the sun is irrelevant most of the time, that Discord does it at will (without losing his magic), that it's a simple matter of transferring her magic to someone else, that it can be stolen; that ponies apparently have been moving the sun for an untold number of nights and days since the dawn of time... 1. It doesn't make any sense; 2. What is the point? What a waste.

I get it, though... Celestia's a leader. Sounded great in the episode, but when put in line with the rest of the series... It's simply conflicting. I'm not going into details because this is already too big, and like I said, this isn't a problem with the episode. Maybe I'm being too cynical and this is the best that they could do with Celestia. I complained more than I wanted, and complaining that something is wrong and then complaining when someone tries to fix it is just pointless. But after seeing the season premiere, I feel like what Celestia needs is an episode that gives some insight of how much she would be missed if she vanished. Despite all the times that she did and it wasn't even part of the problem.

I should be praising this episode, because everything is the typical great 'normal' I've come to expect from MLP: the animation, facial expressions, the music, the jokes, the VAs, even the typical complaints that people have about some character being 'OOC' can't be found anywhere. Like I said, the episode is a 5 stars, even if I think that the whole story about raising the sun is simply lazy and that Celestia deserved better treatment in the series.

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So this is probably my favourite thing that the show has done in a good while. It just does all the things I like about this show really well and very few of the things I don't like. I don't expect characters to behave in the same way all the time, and I've come to accept minor inconsistencies with less established relationships, but this is sharp and charming and does all the things that this show hasn't been giving me. But the characters are anxious and flawed and yet also charming and relatable, and the jokes are clever, varied, and frequent. This right here is all I want. I'm ecstatic to learn the show is still capable of this. 

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Still not going to watch anything of season 8, I haven't even watched that Fluttershy episode after I read some comments about it. I just couldn't resist yesterday, though. It's a Celestia episode after all. 

 

The first Celestia episode (*) of the entire series after 170+ episodes. Man, that's quite pathetic. However, I'm pleasantly surprised, that DHX finally pulled this off. Have they been forced to do it by Hasbro? Who knows.

 

GOOD

- neither Starlight Glimmer nor Luna stole the spotlight as it happened in the A Royal Problem episode

- no public humiliation for Celestia, I totally expected her to get laughed at by the crowd

- no villain there who defeats her

- she actually masters the royal Canterlot voice; this is not a matter of course, since DHX usually makes Celestia look bad at almost everything

- some more Twilight/Celestia moments; by now I get the feeling that they actually know each other

- Luna had no single line as it should be for a REAL Celestia focused episode; Luna's screen time was more than enough for me already

- the task of raising the sun doesn't harm Celestia in any sort of way; goodbye, shitty headcanons 

- some scenes made me chuckle; Celestia's Have-you-lost-your-mind expression pointed at Raspberry Actor Mare's visualization 

 

BAD 

- it seems DHX MUST give Celestia flaws for some reason; she doesn't understand the art of visualization in any sense? Eh....okay?

- sometimes Celestia was too awkward for being cheerful and gullible; oh boy, if she's still not approachable enough for bronies today, she needs to to turn into a jester next time

- Celestia is good at giving instructions/directions ; this wouldn't have been written on BAD, if this would not be so underwhelming, because DHX has just shown Celestia too much at failing and losing, and that's why you 'd like too see more impressive things from her as compensation

 

It wasn't a disaster as expected. I really thought that Luna has to help her incompetent big sister once again to actually achieve something. Maybe too much cringe. At the end it was good. There is no need for throwing a hissy fit like after A Royal Problem, which I never fully watched again. 

 

 

 

(*) Yes, it's the first and only Celestia focused episode. A Royal Problem is a Royal Sisters focused episode.

Is For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils a Luna focused episode, just because Luna had only little, yet important screening time?? NO, it isn't.

Luna Eclipsed is a Luna focused episode. Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep is a Luna focused episode as well. Celestia NEVER had such an episode for herself. Until now.

I can't believe that many people still think otherwise. Are they really that daft to understand this? Might be Luna bias, that confuses their mind.

 

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9 hours ago, Number95 said:

@Thrond@Metemponychosis

From your comments, it sounds like this episode didn't force Princess Celestia to be a

 

And it only took 8 years and 8 seasons. I wonder why it took so long.

Actually, it did. But it was in the right way. It doesn't raise the same kind of feelings that Celestia as a failure usually does.

I'm struggling to find an example of what I mean, right now, but by the things we talked about in the past, you'll get a clear picture of what I mean.

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I... couldn't finish it. I love these stupid horses and the way that they sound and how they move and Celestia's adorable bad acting and all the clever little character moments, and it feels like the voice actors and animators have been getting better all along and are doing their best work, and we're on what? Season 8 now? And here's a new writer who seems like a good writer but he's got yet another slightly different vision for the characters and less of a history with them than I do, and oh look, it's Cynical Spike this time around, who's supposed to be playing his role of the smart practical one to balance out Twilight getting carried away with some flawed idea of how the world is supposed to be and freaking out when she can't make it work, but really he's just the one who's written to know how the plot is going to go before it does and can react with unearned wisdom. And Twilight's the Princess of Friendship and she's still learning basic lessons about friendship? It would have worked in Season Two. It would have been a great episode in Season Two. But MLP isn't one of those cartoons with the same unchanging status quo, it's supposed to be evolving, and if you watch something for this long you can't help but expect characters to change anyway.

I just want to come back to a consistent world every time: same pool of writers, same vision, same history, same horses, goddammit. Anyway, I just needed to vent. I'll probably finish the episode later. I might even like it.

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MLP Vector - Fluttershy #11 (Shylestia) by jhayarr23

Comment on Inconsistencies 

I am not pleased with the moral of this story, which is don't lie to your friend, even if she is a princess. I think the writers could have done a better job on this. It is inconsistent with many things, but I can forgive it because the writers were more focused on Celestia. Even though the moral is inconsistent and unpleasing, it still helps to make this episode very funny and enjoyable.  

Before I continue, I want to expound on one particular inconsistency. Twilight should have listened to Applejack in the first place and be honest with Celestia because Twilight has already learned this lesson directly and indirectly and it is obvious for her. Doesn't this sound familiar? This is like Starlight learning repeatedly not to use magic to control or change other ponies. That is one major reason why people don't like Starlight. I know this is a one-time event for Twilight, but it seems inconsistent with her character and more like a plot-device than anything, which makes it sound familiar again. Celestia has been used as a plot-device to make a villain appear more powerful, and I think the same is happening with Twilight and her mistake of being dishonest. That is all I wanted to point out – not that it is bad, but that it is a repeated inconsistency. 

Now for the 'mane' comment which is about Celestia 

 

We all know this episode was made to make Celestia a better character, but did it accomplish that? Simply put, yes; however, there is more to than that. I will now give what Celestia was like before the episode and what the episode changed about that. 

1.Before the episode, Celestia's role of raising the sun was not depicted as great as you may think. The hearth's warming story nerfed it, as well as the possibility that other ponies could raise it. Raising the sun may at first glance seem special, but no one could see why and no reasons were given either. This episode changed that, because now we understand that it takes multiple unicorns to raise the sun, and the effects are a loss of magic. We also are told that without the sun being raised the land would covered in darkness for all eternity, so Celestia plays a crucial role in Equestria. Thus, Celestia being able to raise the sun without losing magic is now seen as special and unique. Now we have a problem the episode didn't see coming – what about Luna? She raised the sun perfectly fine without losing any magic and so did Twilight and Discord. To conclude, raising the sun is now more special than it used to be because we know that only powerful characters can raise it alone. 

2.Before the episode, Celestia's role as ruler of Equestria was not seen as high, mighty, and important because there was no evidence apart from some ponies just saying that. Celestia as a ruler was not seen as being greater than that of other rulers because there was no support, and Luna was even seen as better than her. The episode changed that, and now we see that Celestia has very great leadership qualities as she directs the play and overcomes the difficult problems that arise when the play is progressing. 

3.Before the episode, Celestia is depicted as weak and not so powerful because she always loses in a fight with a villain, and when she wins it's only because she uses the elements of harmony or has somepony else's help. Some people say we never really see her stand-alone magic, even though I would disagree. The episode never addresses this issue though, so we don't receive anything on this matter. In the end, I would say that we need Celestia to defeat a villain instead of being defeated by them all the time. Hopefully we get a 'Celestia saves the day' episode sometime or another in terms of fighting villains. 

To conclude this section, I shall add to my answer of my question, did this episode make Celestia a better character? Yes, but not too much better. She still has major problems that need fixing, but the problems fixed must suffice for the time being. 

Smaller, Additional Comments  

First, I wanted to mention that I love Celestia's characteristics seen in this episode. The writers have really improved her as a character.  

Second, I like the new event Twilight decided to celebrate: the 1s-versary. What about Luna though? Shouldn't they celebrate her 1s-versary for raising the moon for the 1,111th year from when she first raised it? I think Twilight is biased.  

Third, I feel like Celestia was like Twilight when they both were young. I say this because Celestia said she was 'too busy' with her magic lessons to have time to get involved with the many plays her friends were involved in, which is like Twilight when she was 'too busy' reading books to hang out with her friends.  

Fourth, Celestia admits she has no acting experience, but this is false. Celestia must have at least an intermediate amount of experience, and I'm sure she acts a lot when she is feeling tired but must pretend otherwise when she is doing her massive list of princess duties. Furthermore, she has been doing this for a thousand years.  

Fifth, I love Pinkie's Big Bertha! Why did it take Pinkie 8 seasons to reveal her ultimate party canon? That could have been useful in the season 4 Goof-off with Cheese Sandwich, but I guess it was reserved for royalty. I don't know what happened to it though after Pinkie revealed it, because it just disappeared from the episode after that. 

Comment Replies 

22 hours ago, Metemponychosis said:

So, why was Celestia studying magic if her dream was to act? Quirky much?

I think you will find satisfaction for this in my third small comment. 

22 hours ago, Metemponychosis said:

It's hard to believe that they had a close relationship when they act surprised when Celestia is herself.

It's funny how you think you know someone and yet they suddenly do something you would never expect them to do. I think Twilight and Spike are surprised how bad Celestia is at acting, which doesn't bleed into their relationship as they have never seen Celestia as an actress.

22 hours ago, Metemponychosis said:

But after seeing the season premiere, I feel like what Celestia needs is an episode that gives some insight of how much she would be missed if she vanished.

We already know how much she would be missed if she vanished because she did vanish in the season 4 premiere. Regardless, Celestia desperately needs an episode where she obliterates a foe all on her own and that shows her significance as the high and mighty ruler of Equestria. All I ask for is at least one episode. 

16 hours ago, Swifty said:

it seems DHX MUST give Celestia flaws for some reason; she doesn't understand the art of visualization in any sense? Eh....okay?

I don't get this flaw. However, I think the writers put this in there to emphasis the fact that Celestia is a terrible actress and is completely unknowledgeable when it comes to the area. The flaw wasn't necessary though, and they could have excluded it and still have the depiction of Celestia as a bad actress. 

7 hours ago, Friendship is Horses said:

And Twilight's the Princess of Friendship and she's still learning basic lessons about friendship? It would have worked in Season Two.

Yes, the inconsistencies are annoying. The bad thing is Twilight already learned this basic friendship lesson and it is obvious. On the other hand, I think you will enjoy the rest of the episode regardless of the mistakes.

 

Image by jhayarr23

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1 hour ago, AnalyticalGamer said:

I think the writers could have done a better job on this.

That's the thing! It's one (freelancing) writer. There is no 'the writers'. The show doesn't have a staff of writers. They just hire people, one at a time, as contractors to write episodes. So no consistency and very little communication between writers of individual episodes. I saw the rest of Horse Play, and I still think it had good writing but was a shitty My Little Pony episode. Spike eating a tomato? Dragons eat gemstones! That's the lore! This script was researched, it didn't develop out of an innate understanding of Equestria and its inhabitants.

AND ALSO

Nopony tried to teach Celestia a single thing in her "acting class", they just expected her to keep up with what they were doing. That's not teaching, that's practice for already-capable actors. It's comedy at the expense of maintaining an internal logic to the show, which also describes the entire episode and is why I have a problem with it. Everything Celestia scolded Twilight about in the end was true. So, why did any of this happen? Twi should have known better and we got no convincing explanation for why she didn't.

Kids won't care, there's nothing wrong with this episode as directed at that audience, which is why I feel dumb for griping about it, but then, should I just feel dumb for watching the show at all?

I do, by the way, but that's a whole other can of worms. My point is that this show needs a dedicated writing staff who periodically exist in the same room together, so that everyone's on the same page.

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3 hours ago, AnalyticalGamer said:

Third, I feel like Celestia was like Twilight when they both were young. I say this because Celestia said she was 'too busy' with her magic lessons to have time to get involved with the many plays her friends were involved in, which is like Twilight when she was 'too busy' reading books to hang out with her friends.  

This doesn't change the reason I think that this is a quirk rather than a personality trait. It's too punctual, unexpected, and specific to the episode.

I also feel like this is a bad comparison. Twilight never dreamed of making friends. Her 'dream' was learning magic, and that is what she focused her time on.

3 hours ago, AnalyticalGamer said:

It's funny how you think you know someone and yet they suddenly do something you would never expect them to do. I think Twilight and Spike are surprised how bad Celestia is at acting, which doesn't bleed into their relationship as they have never seen Celestia as an actress.

If you're getting surprised at things someone else is doing, the first thing you should think of is that you thought you knew this person. 

I'm also not complaining that they're surprised that Celestia was bad at acting (I sure wasn't, and don't see a reason they shouldn't either). I meant the scene in the throne room when Celestia starts prancing around because she's excited. Twilight ought to know that Celestia has two demeanors: her royal, public demeanor and her more open, private demeanor.

This is the sort of thing that makes you say that you don't know a person, and doesn't fit with a close, personal, relationship. These imply spending time with someone, seeing things that the 'public' doesn't see. Otherwise, Twilight didn't really know her anymore than all the other students in Celestia's school.

This is a major gripe I have with the cartoon since the first season, and honestly, this likely happens because the people making the cartoon think this is funnier. Or more likely, don't think ahead.

3 hours ago, AnalyticalGamer said:

We already know how much she would be missed if she vanished because she did vanish in the season 4 premiere. Regardless, Celestia desperately needs an episode where she obliterates a foe all on her own and that shows her significance as the high and mighty ruler of Equestria. All I ask for is at least one episode. 

The only thing that really happened is that the sun and the moon were appearing in the sky at the same time and ponies panicked. The first thing that happened is that Twilight took control and then nothing really changed. The cartoon never went into how the government, or whatever, would break down without Celestia. Or how Cadance couldn't keep it up and healthy without Celestia. Obviously, because the cartoon doesn't care about these details.

What we do know, is that, in that scene I hate so much, doesn't Nightmare Moon imprisoned Celestia in the moon for 'years' and nobody seemed to be missing Celestia or her sun.

I don't think that an episode where Celestia shows some magical (and martial) might would really help much. I sure would love to see it too, but it will only make me wonder... If she does have this sort of power, why is it that she never uses it. Sure, it can be done and rationalized in a way that addresses this sort of concern, but I won't hold my breath waiting for it.

What I think would really do well for Celestia, in my way of looking at the cartoon, is an episode that shows Celestia dealing with some sort of problem. Look, as far as the cartoon is concerned, I don't really see Celestia as particularly powerful, or irreplaceable in most ways, but one thing that I think she still has, is that she knows how to use her power and experience to make ponies' lives better. Seriously... She's the ruler of the nation. She's not the director, the president, the whatever title that implies limited power. But considering they didn't want her to be called "Queen Celestia", I don't see this happening.

Edited by Metemponychosis
I was so hungry I ate a whole word.

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20 minutes ago, Friendship is Horses said:

I do, by the way, but that's a whole other can of worms. My point is that this show needs a dedicated writing staff who periodically exist in the same room together, so that everyone's on the same page.

I could not agree more to that.

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21 minutes ago, Friendship is Horses said:

Nopony tried to teach Celestia a single thing in her "acting class", they just expected her to keep up with what they were doing. That's not teaching, that's practice for already-capable actors. It's comedy at the expense of maintaining an internal logic to the show, which also describes the entire episode and is why I have a problem with it. Everything Celestia scolded Twilight about in the end was true. So, why did any of this happen? Twi should have known better and we got no convincing explanation for why she didn't.

I felt that Twilight got caught up in trying to fulfill Celestia's dream. That is why she acted like she did in the episode.

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17 hours ago, Number95 said:

From your comments, it sounds like this episode didn't force Princess Celestia to be a

 

And it only took 8 years and 8 seasons. I wonder why it took so long.

Well... no more so than the premise required, and when she did fail here, I felt she did so delightfully. 

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17 hours ago, Metemponychosis said:

I'm curious.

Raising the sun slowly destroys her magic, destroys her eyes because you have to look at the sun, makes her die quicker because exhaustion,...surely I forget other abusing shit, that only affects Celestia and of course spares Luna.

 

Damn, this fandom has poisened me with hate like no other, thus I call my quits again unless there's more Celestia in the last season 9

Not gonna watch finales. I don't need to witness her getting bodyslammed on a table by Tirek lul

 

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6 hours ago, Swifty said:

Raising the sun slowly destroys her magic

:ajlol:It's hilarious. In the Journal of the Two Sisters

 

raising the sun does literally the opposite, which is what allowed her (and Luna) to return the lost magic to the unicorns. Not to mention that she was already princess. (they made them princesses as soon as they arrived because alicorns are supposed to symbolize all three tribes).

This is one thing that bothers me in this episode. It copies the story from the book, but not quite. Don't know why they didn't create something more interesting.

6 hours ago, Swifty said:

destroys her eyes because you have to look at the sun, makes her die quicker because exhaustion,...surely I forget other abusing shit, that only affects Celestia and of course spares Luna.

Talk about edgy... Yeah, I think it's very hard to find a good fic about Celestia that doesn't feel like she needs to be turned into the most unfortunate thing in existence or utterly inferior to Luna, because... Luna is Luna. Frustrating.

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I liked this episode!

Celestia was outright hilarious! She is easily...The Greatest. Actress. Of All. Time. Twilie had a lot of funny moments too. I am glad that we got another dive into their interaction with one another. And I could relate to Twilie and her long-running putting Celestia on a pedestal.

 

...sorry, everypony. I am having troubles today with thoughtful writings :P 

Great episode!

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Oh wow, this episode was incredible! Ms. Oliver knocked this one out of the park and added another dimension to my favorite princess (as well Celestia sitting in a chair like a person). This will be one of my all time favorite episodes, for sure. Bravo!

 

 

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On 4/29/2018 at 9:17 AM, Metemponychosis said:

Actually, it did. But it was in the right way. It doesn't raise the same kind of feelings that Celestia as a failure usually does.

I'm struggling to find an example of what I mean, right now, but by the things we talked about in the past, you'll get a clear picture of what I mean.

On 4/29/2018 at 5:09 PM, Thrond said:

Well... no more so than the premise required, and when she did fail here, I felt she did so delightfully.

 

I was hoping the episode would leave that kind of bullshit behind because there is too much of it, and I wanted to see if the show can tell a story with Celestia that doesn't resort to that pitfall, but the execution is what matters most. I'll have to (eventually) watch the episode to see if I feel the same way you do.

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18 minutes ago, Number95 said:

I was hoping the episode would leave that kind of bullshit behind because there is too much of it, and I wanted to see if the show can tell a story with Celestia that doesn't resort to that pitfall, but the execution is what matters most. I'll have to (eventually) watch the episode to see if I feel the same way you do.

What she fails at is something which nobody would expect her to be any good at, which is what I interpret your issue to be; if you just don't want her to fail at anything, then I just don't agree with that. 

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23 hours ago, Thrond said:

What she fails at is something which nobody would expect her to be any good at, which is what I interpret your issue to be; if you just don't want her to fail at anything, then I just don't agree with that. 

I'm not saying she can't fail. It's just that after 7 seasons of doing too many things wrong and doing too few things right, the show should try to focus on the latter.

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