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Season 8, Episode 24: Father Knows Beast

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Title: Father Knows Beast

 

Synopsis: When a strange dragon crash lands in Ponyville claiming to be Spike's father, Spike is ready to do anything his "dad" says in order to learn how to be a "real" dragon.

 

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

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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

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