Number95

Another MLP:FIM review thread

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4 hours ago, Nuke87654 said:

I agree with your point that the resolution was rushed and bad considering how serious of an issue with self harm is. As for her motivations, I would say that isn't true as for the most part, this is essentially resolving her issues where she pretty much hates herself for becoming Nightmare Moon and trying to take over Equestria. It's also not true she didn't do anything as NMM as she had attacked and injured Princess Celestia when she became Nightmare Moon and had her kidnapped at the series premiere so there's plenty of reasoning for Luna to pretty much hate herself for what she had done. Tantabus's issue was that she underestimated it's desire to feed and became independent from her, also it was meant to represent the lingering pain of self harm where because she allowed it to fester and not remedy it, it became worse and worse as time went on. What her admitting that she needed help or something at the end and the tantabus stopping from invading was supposed to represent of how one admitting their issue and coming to find ways to fix it is the key to solving it. Sure I wish they did a therapy episode for it, but honestly I do appreciate the point they made other than the rushed ending. At least that's what I think.

The rushed resolution, at least imo, is far from the episode's biggest problem.

Outside of attacking Princess Celestia, NMM hasn't done anything else. Even in the premiere of the show, she didn't do that much to the Mane 6 or Equestria. Since Luna did so little as NMM, she just looks like she's exaggerating a minor problem. Now, the episode could do something with that trait as Luna might make a big fuss over any problem that has at least a minor connection to her (which can answer how her guilt affected her), but that's not what happened. Since Celestia was the only one who was personally affected by the NMM business, that was just more reason to include her.

I still think Luna was dumb about letting the Tantabus get out of control without a reason. After it escapes, the next scene with Luna is with the Mane 6, and she is already remarking about the problems the Tantabus could cause which implied that she knew about its capabilities. Still not my biggest problem with the episode.

As for the Tantabus representing a growing unsolved problem, fine. It still doesn't answer one of my 2 biggest complaints about the episode: What does this unsolved problem mean for Luna? I still don't know how it affected her. Sure she punished herself every night, but what else happened?

My other biggest complaint is that it says nothing about Luna other than she's troubled. Because the episode doesn't play with that idea, I'm not even convinced that she's troubled. The following segment from my review still holds.

6 hours ago, Number? said:

To expand on my complaints, how has the guilt and self-punishment affected Luna? All of that sounds bad, but how exactly have they been bad for Luna? How have they affected her mental state and her life? How she thinks? How she works? How she acts or makes choices? Her interactions with average pony citizens? Most of all and in particular, how has this affected her relationship with the absent Princess Celestia? I haven’t got a clue because the episode doesn’t show how or why Luna’s “self-destructive” acts or thoughts are so bad. I’m not saying that all of those questions had to be answered. The problem is that NONE of those are answered or can be answered. Thus, this episode doesn’t convince me in any way that Luna was troubled.

  • She could have lived a serene and bright life while being unaware of her guilt and deals with this guilt only while she dreams, meaning that her feeling of guilt only comes up at a single point during her day without affecting anything else. That doesn’t make much sense, but the episode can’t even disprove this idea.

 

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7 minutes ago, Nuke87654 said:

Honestly I probably need to pay more attention to that point with not involving celestia when folks in ponyville are able to fight the tantabus.

To be fair, even I didn't think about that until I wrote my response to Number?.

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1 hour ago, WaterPulse said:

You care. :ajlol:

In all seriousness, IMO, the fact that they made this a single episode instead of two (including a potential therapy section) severely hampered whatever development they were trying to go for with Luna.

Yeah, I guess I did care, and that's why I wanted a good story about her problems. I suppose the question should be, "Why the fuck should I care?"

However, the line I put at the end still sums up my thoughts about the episode.

I don't know if the episode needed to be a 2-parter, but the final product still needs to talk about Luna and her life (which this episode didn't do).

1 hour ago, WaterPulse said:

Plus the reason for not including Celestia was stupid. "She has no power over the dream world!" Meanwhile everyone in Ponyville was kicking the Tantabus's ass.

 

12 minutes ago, Nuke87654 said:

Honestly I probably need to pay more attention to that point with not involving celestia when folks in ponyville are able to fight the tantabus. It's a great point @Number? said.

And yeah, excluding Celestia like that was retarded for the reason @WaterPulse said. That could've implied a problem with a relationship between the sisters, but too bad that means nothing in the end.

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22 hours ago, Number? said:

The rushed resolution, at least imo, is far from the episode's biggest problem.

Outside of attacking Princess Celestia, NMM hasn't done anything else. Even in the premiere of the show, she didn't do that much to the Mane 6 or Equestria. Since Luna did so little as NMM, she just looks like she's exaggerating a minor problem. Now, the episode could do something with that trait as Luna might make a big fuss over any problem that has at least a minor connection to her (which can answer how her guilt affected her), but that's not what happened. Since Celestia was the only one who was personally affected by the NMM business, that was just more reason to include her.

I still think Luna was dumb about letting the Tantabus get out of control without a reason. After it escapes, the next scene with Luna is with the Mane 6, and she is already remarking about the problems the Tantabus could cause which implied that she knew about its capabilities. Still not my biggest problem with the episode.

As for the Tantabus representing a growing unsolved problem, fine. It still doesn't answer one of my 2 biggest complaints about the episode: What does this unsolved problem mean for Luna? I still don't know how it affected her. Sure she punished herself every night, but what else happened?

My other biggest complaint is that it says nothing about Luna other than she's troubled. Because the episode doesn't play with that idea, I'm not even convinced that she's troubled. The following segment from my review still holds.

 

The fact she attacked her own sister and imprisoned her is enough for a person to feel guilty for what they had done. Especially that Luna's actions had caused a huge 1000 year gap between Celestia and Luna. In effect, Luna had caused Celestia to lose her sister for 1000 years and who knows how she has suffered for it (seriously, DHX, you have a great episode premise there.) That alone is enough to justify why Luna would hate herself for what she had done. Let alone whatever small but notable amount of terror she had caused upon her return. There's also a reason for the nightmare night holiday centered around her. And yea, Celestia should've been involved in the episode but it's a huge missed opportunity that for some reason DHX chose to not include in the episode. 

I would say that it was a case that she let it get out of control and she didn't expect it would rebel like that as she had thought that it wouldn't do that. Should she have taken more caution however, sure. The unresolved problem means that Luna is suffering from self loathing for the most part. With it's rushed resolution, she now doesn't have to be such an emo anymore. As for what she was doing every night, considering how in Season 7 she remarked that a pony's dream can be so bad that their psyche can suffer permanent damage from it, she was essentially causing self inflicted PTSD to herself so that's pretty bad for what she was doing. I would say she's pretty trouble considering her self loathing issues and especially what she's choosing to solve it.

Hope it clarifies my points more.

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On 8/13/2017 at 5:34 PM, Nuke87654 said:

The fact she attacked her own sister and imprisoned her is enough for a person to feel guilty for what they had done. Especially that Luna's actions had caused a huge 1000 year gap between Celestia and Luna. In effect, Luna had caused Celestia to lose her sister for 1000 years and who knows how she has suffered for it (seriously, DHX, you have a great episode premise there.) That alone is enough to justify why Luna would hate herself for what she had done. Let alone whatever small but notable amount of terror she had caused upon her return. There's also a reason for the nightmare night holiday centered around her. And yea, Celestia should've been involved in the episode but it's a huge missed opportunity that for some reason DHX chose to not include in the episode. 

I would say that it was a case that she let it get out of control and she didn't expect it would rebel like that as she had thought that it wouldn't do that. Should she have taken more caution however, sure. The unresolved problem means that Luna is suffering from self loathing for the most part. With it's rushed resolution, she now doesn't have to be such an emo anymore. As for what she was doing every night, considering how in Season 7 she remarked that a pony's dream can be so bad that their psyche can suffer permanent damage from it, she was essentially causing self inflicted PTSD to herself so that's pretty bad for what she was doing. I would say she's pretty trouble considering her self loathing issues and especially what she's choosing to solve it.

Hope it clarifies my points more.

I suppose I could clarify myself as well. Luna's reason for punishing herself seems stupid because the episode never talks about the effects of doing so and thus doesn't say much, if anything, about Luna. I agree with the reasons you gave, but the episode not actually saying anything about Luna is, again, my biggest gripe which is why the reason behind her self-punishment can look silly. Really, any response I have can be taken from my review.

At least in "A Royal Problem", we actually see how Starlight felt about what she did. Though I even found the overall execution for that episode to be shaky because the Starlight stuff should've been its own episode.

EDIT: I probably didn't explain myself well in this post, so I'll try again.

OK, what is this episode about? I'd like to think it's about Luna and her mental and emotional problems, but I've learned very little about them from this episode for reasons I've already stated.

So this episode ends up being more about the threat of the Tantabus, and that's fine. But then I must ask: Why bring up the troubles Luna was having if the episode wasn't going to talk about them?

Edited by Number?
some stuff

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Princess Twilight Sparkle

 

The title character is practicing flight for the Summer Sun Celebration, and I wonder how long it’s been since she moved to Ponyville. Just 1 year? I certainly hope not since that would mean just 1 year of friendship lessons can make a pony an alicorn, but I don’t know, whatever. Rarity even remarks that Twilight isn’t wearing her crown, and it’s not like Twilight would need to since she hardly does any royal business in this season.

 

Next scene is in the Canterlot Castle where the Mane 6 plus Spike admire a stained glass window of Twilight, and she’s being modest about her position. I suppose that’s not bad as she’s never thought of herself as better than her friends. And she shows how much her friends mean to her as she’s disappointed that she won’t spend the Summer Sun Celebration with them, which is what started the whole show as well. AJ proceeds to say that the Elements of Harmony keep the group together, but I thought it was their own will and friendship that does that. A good touch is that Spike is still sticking to Twilight as they’ve been extra close partners since the beginning of the show.

 

And Twilight still gets nervous about not screwing up even small tasks, so she’s still herself of course. I just wish I got to know alicorns better. Princess Celestia still has faith in Twilight though, but it’s too bad there’s nothing more to their relationship. What a waste. Celestia then expresses happiness about celebrating the summer solstice with her sister because she was sad about Luna’s disappearance in previous celebrations. Thanks for a THROWAWAY line because that feeling would be better epressed if it were DRAMATIZED. Happiness can be expressed over a trillion different ways, and all those ways won’t carry the same meaning. Also, what have the two been doing together since Luna’s return? As far as the show is concerned, absolutely nothing. Despite Celestia claiming to care about Luna, the show doesn’t try to convey that idea in this episode or even previous ones. Happy reunion, my ass. Oh, and Princess Celestia adds that she’s still willing to help Twilight. Pfft, as if! It’s always the other way around, which Celestia also later adds. And by mentioning that Twilight is no longer Celestia’s student, there’s an implication that there’s a major change to their relationship. Too bad I have no idea what that change is or means. Yeah, it’s only a few lines in this scene totaling about 1.5 minutes, but they still manage to really piss me off because they don’t mean jack shit.

 

Princess Celestia (and later Luna offscreen, but Celestia must be humiliated worse because more people like Luna) then walks away only to be suddenly snatched by a dark vine. Just her playing her usual role. Being set aside in the episode so Twilight and friends (but usually Twilight) can do their stuff. Why is she in this show, again?

 

Next morning, I presume, comes up because Twilight wakes up after sleeping for who-knows-how-long. And she said that she can’t tell the time of the day because the alicorn sisters haven’t changed the appearance of the sky. The Canterlot ponies are also confused and ask Twilight for an explanation. So, clocks don’t exist in Equestria? A guard then tells Twilight that the sisters are gone, and the characters are surprised about this even though those alicorns don’t seem that impressive. By the way, didn’t Luna have her own “bat” guards? What happened to them? Maybe they’re just Celestia’s guards in costumes for Nightmare Night. Anyways, they turn to Twilight for some commands because… I guess they must take and carry out royal orders. I thought they’d have their own ideas on how to act at times like this, or just assert their own authority at least on the citizens since the guards are not peasants, but then Twilight needs to do something relating to her position so it can actually mean something in the episode. She tells them to keep looking for the sisters and see if they can find an explanation for their disappearance. I thought that idea would come naturally to the guards, but I guess not.

 

Twilight then gets a notification of the dark vines from the Everfree Forest invading Ponyville. Shouldn’t there be vines in Canterlot as well? Celestia getting snatched was the first thing shown with them. Also, Sweetie Belle was shown in Rarity’s place when they normally live in separate areas. I guess SB was sleeping over for the sake of the celebration? Anyways, there’s an unsolvable “chaos” in Ponyville, and only one guy can directly create chaos.

 

Twilight eventually gets back to Ponyville and her home, and she tells her friends about the alicorn sisters being missing, which is met with gasps. They’re really surprised? They must’ve forgotten how helpful and active those two were in previous 2-parters. Twilight eventually figures that Discord must be involved and summons him with the Elements. But he denies responsibility as he is “reformed”, and his gestures suggest that he still doesn’t care about these ponies. Not even Fluttershy since he was gesturing toward her as if he’d expect her to back him up, and he later couldn’t correctly identify her and didn’t care that he couldn’t. And Fluttershy even looks uncomfortable at gestures toward her, and she directly expresses some amount of distrust a little later. The rest of the Mane 6 are still suspicious of him as they should be since he hasn’t exactly proven himself to be trustworthy.

 

Good thing Zecora happens to show up with another plot device (or as a plot device. Pick one). And this one is way too blatant because she happens to have a potion that lets the user see specific points in the past. How are those points even chosen? Only alicorn magic (Ohai, Twilight) works on the potion, so why does Zecora even have it when it’d be useless to her? Where did Zecora even get that stuff? Did she make it herself? What did she plan to do with it before this situation occurred? Can drinking different amounts of the potion have different effects? And how did she know or think that the potion would provide answers at all? I know not all of these questions needed answering, but they pretty much expose the convenience of this potion. Interestingly, Twilight uses dark magic on the potion, but that doesn’t seem to mean anything in the end.

 

Twilight drinks some plot device and witnesses the dawn of Nightmare Moon, though she doesn’t immediately figure this out. To be fair, Zecora didn’t explicitly say the exact effects of the potion, though that would’ve been helpful to Twilight in the beginning so she wouldn’t need to be initially confused about this vision, and I doubt the viewer was fooled by what was shown. Also, since this small scene with Luna is all we have about her before becoming NMM, Luna being an attention-whoring brat during this point doesn’t sound unreasonable as she was complaining about the attention her sister got and wanted to eliminate the competition.

 

Nightmare Moon goes around blasting the Castle of the Two Sisters, and Twilight tries to talk her down since she thinks they’d have to send Nightmare Moon back to the moon. It seems Twilight has forgotten that she and her friends using the Elements for the first time immediately cured NMM, but whatever. Anyways, all Celestia says is that the moon must be lowered because that is Luna’s duty. That’s literally it. Way to try talking things out with your sister. Maybe more stuff happened off-screen, and it’s too bad we couldn’t be shown those things. Next, a small and short chase scene, NMM blasting more stuff eventually hitting Celestia, and… that’s it for the “horrors” of NMM. More on this later. NMM laughs evilly in triumph, Celestia is unconscious, and Twilight thinks Celestia is dead. Twilight even cries over Celestia’s unconscious body, which looks random and ultimately means nothing since the two don’t seem to be that close. Anyways, Celestia obviously recovers later and gathers the old Elements of Harmony to take care of Nightmare Moon. At least Celestia looked tearful about sending her sister away, but this whole thing still too short and unexciting when this event was a big deal for both parties (or at least big enough to be the background of the premiere) and had plenty going on just by itself. For insult to injury, the flashback doesn’t even last for 4 minutes. Their history could’ve comprised another set of episodes. As far as the show is concerned, Nightmare Moon shows up and immediately gets beaten. I still don’t know why the Elements of Harmony in the past had to banish Luna instead of restoring her, and I don’t believe for a second that the writers can give the answer.

 

I’ll admit that I actually liked this scene the first time I saw it because it was the first time the sisters’ history was dramatized, and even though this was too damn short, I just assumed it was an abridged version because there’s no way this could be everything to Nightmare Moon in the past, and maybe another episode in season 4 could expand and follow-up on this. I apologize for having reasonable expectations and having what seemed to be too much faith in the writers.

 

For some rambling on the side, I had hopes for season 4. The lack of alicorns in previous seasons and Twilight becoming an alicorn (plus Cadance from the end of season 2) opened opportunities to explore alicorns and their lore. Hell, maybe Twilight and Celestia could get some much-needed screentime together now that they’re both alicorns. But if you remember Celestia and Luna’s presence in season 4 and also taking previous seasons into account, you can also figure out how I eventually felt about this.

 

So, without a follow-up and with “Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?” in the next season, I can only assume that this “flashback” is literally everything, which is more literally nothing. I still can’t figure out what “horrors” NMM unleashed when all she did was blast Princess Celestia, so that episode should’ve been about the sisters, but I’ve already given my piece on that episode. Oh yeah, Celestia even remarked earlier in the episode that the Summer Sun Celebration related to NMM’s defeat, but the flashback showed no other witnesses of the event. Even the writers can’t get the details figured out.

 

Flashback over. Normally I’d say, “Do it right or don’t do it at all.” But there’s more before I can make a final assessment. For more salt, the episode even mentions that the flashback was pointless as it had nothing to do with the current happenings. Why did they do it at all if they weren’t interested in doing it right in the first place, and that the flashback would also ultimately amount to nothing? Fuck you, assholes.

 

The potion is still here, so we might as well make some more use of it. Twilight takes another drink, and this time she’s witnessing the sisters beating Discord. This one is a bit better as we are merely shown a small piece of a big event instead of a big event crammed into a small piece, but it’s still unsurprisingly dissatisfying as I’d rather watch how the whole event with Discord played out. Though considering the hard work spent on the NMM flashback, it’s better if they don’t try.

 

But there’s more to this flashback. We get the Tree of Harmony, which is the vessel that originally held the Elements of Harmony. I’ll say more about this later.

 

Twilight figures that the Tree of Harmony was in danger (so we don’t have to get more potentially pointless flashbacks), and they head to the Everfree Forest since that’s where the vines are coming from. It isn’t long until they find a monster, and I don’t know why Twilight didn't try to shoot it down. But her friends are still around to help since that’s one of the points of the show. However, her friends decide that Twilight should go back to Ponyville since she’s too valuable to be put in danger. Not a bad reason, but this ends up being stupid and pointless for multiple reasons. For starters, Twilight said about a minute earlier that they should face the potential dangers together as friends since, again, one of the points of the show is the power of friendship. So, way to disregard your own advice (and immediately, no less). Second, the Elements of Harmony only work if the users are together, so sending Twilight away makes them useless. Third, the Elements are also connected to the Tree, and if the Tree needed fixing, all of the users will most likely need to be present (connected to the previous reason). For added stupidity, they also think that Celestia and Luna aren’t guaranteed to return, so someone will have to take their place just in case, though it’s not like those two were ever THAT useful to Equestria. At least Spike tags along with Twilight to show his own brand of loyalty. Note that Twilight splitting from the group only lasts for a little more than a minute, making this also pointless. So Twilight heads back into the forest, and since she was separated from her friends, she won’t find them so easily which further highlights the stupidity of splitting up at all.

 

The other ponies have found the Tree of Harmony, which is withering away. And they also realize that sending Twilight away was a dumb move. Yeah, I have no idea what they were thinking. And Twilight gets gassed by sinister plants and needed to be saved by her friends. What is it with alicorns always being helpless for no apparent reason? Still, what mitigates the problem in Twilight’s case is that she is allowed a genuine effort in trying to solve the problem, and she gets to shoot down a plant at the end of the struggle.

 

The Mane 6 head back to the magic Tree, and Twilight believes that they must return their Elements of Harmony to restore the Tree. RD then asks how they’d protect Equestria without the Elements. I would have said the alicorns could try something, but that won’t ever be an option. Besides, they’ll get new plot devices at the end of the season. At least the finales for season 5 and 6 didn’t need the Elements, but I’ll get to those episodes eventually. AJ then adds that the Elements keep them connected, but Twilight corrects her and says that their friendship is what keeps them connected. I thought that would be obvious even to the target viewers, but I guess AJ isn’t that bright when it comes to the concept of friendship. Then again, she was similarly dumb in “The Return of Harmony”.

 

Anyways, they give up their Elements to recharge the Tree, the vines are gone, and the alicorn sisters emerge from the vines surrounding the Tree. Equestria should thank them for their contributions. The Tree of Harmony then sprouts a crystal box with 6 key holes. Gee, 6 holes and 6 ponies. What could that possibly mean? Celestia says that Twilight won’t be solving the mystery alone, but what this really means is that Celestia still won’t be helpful. Why is she in the show, again?

 

Discord then reveals that he was responsible for the vines from the Everfree Forest, albeit it was a plan that was first conceived a thousand years prior. Twilight drinks some more potion to see this, and there’s still some flashback potion left. I don’t remember if the remaining stuff was ever used, though. Discord adds that he didn’t mention this earlier so Twilight could learn a lesson about being a princess. What lesson would that be? It sounded more like he was alluding to the power of friendship when he last saw Twilight. Then again, it sounds more like he was being his naughty self since he never actually proved himself trustworthy in season 4. He only gets one other appearance outside of the beginning and end of the season, which is in “Three’s A Crowd”.

 

And there’s the celebration, and the episode ends. Oh, and Celestia says that the celebration even from the perspective of the pony citizens has always been about the defeat of Nightmare Moon. I don’t need to say anything about that. And I guess celestial patterns aren’t acknowledged in Equestria. Then again, Celestia and Luna do control the movements of the sun and moon, but it’s really the movements of the sun that matter to the solstices and equinoxes. But what really sticks out is that this seems to be the first celebration since Luna’s return. Unless there were more celebrations that excluded Luna until now, this suggests that the first 3 seasons all happen within a year. This is strange since there are 2 winter episodes (“Winter Wrap Up” and “Hearth’s Warming Eve”) in different seasons. Then again, “Fall Weather Friends” came after “Winter Wrap Up”, so it’s probably best to not think too much about this.

 

Personally, I felt this premiere was slow and quite dull, and I can’t figure out what this episode accomplished. Twilight is still Twilight, the Mane 6 give up their Elements, we get flashbacks (except for one) that related to the problems that came up in this episode, and the Mane 6 still have friendship to solve problems together. OK, so the episode is probably about the Mane 6 still having each other no matter what, but I doubt 44 minutes was needed to reach that conclusion especially when considering the show’s premise.

 

What seems to make this episode seem so slow is that there’s a bunch of small stuff the episode brings up with some that ultimately go nowhere. First, there’s Twilight learning how to fly, which is fine since she’s never done that before (yeah there’s the ending of the previous episode, but whatever). Then she becomes sad about being separated from her friends because she’s setting up the event in Canterlot while her friends have to go back to Ponyville, but she’ll obviously reunite with them anyways (which wasn’t longer after), so I don’t know why the episode made a big deal out of this other than just saying that Twilight still cares about her friends. And there’s even a second and more obviously pointless separation that happens in part 2. Oh yeah, unicorn magic gets chaotic at first during the disaster, but this gets forgotten. The beginning of the episode also tries to emphasize that Twilight’s life has changed now that she’s an alicorn, but that doesn’t get looked at as some random trouble rears its head, and then the celebration ends the episode after that trouble gets solved.

 

I guess that’s just it. The 2-parter feels like a bunch of random and loosely connected events strung together. First, Twilight learns to fly. Then she has to stay in Canterlot and away from her friends for vague royal stuff, and she worries about how well she’ll do. Then the alicorn sisters go missing, and the characters struggle in vain to do something about it. Then Zecora happens to have a potion that could give answers, but we had to sit through one pointless flashback before learning about the Tree of Harmony. So the Mane 6 head to the Everfree Forest, but Twilight leaves to create another problem which quickly gets solved. Then they get to the tree and give up their Elements. The alicorn sisters are free, and the Summer Sun Celebration happens. The end. All I can say is that some things happens. Aside from my usual random commentary and hating/bitching about certain aspects of the episode (NMM and Celestia), I have nothing else to say.

 

I guess there’s the Tree of Harmony. It seems like an interesting concept as it’s an ancient and mysterious structure that protects Equestria, or at least the Everfree Forest. I don’t think it did much else in the show, though. Becoming Twilight’s new home by the end of season 4 is all I remember about it. Also, I think the tree having Twilight’s cutie mark at the center is stupid because it just makes it seem like she’s more important than any other pony which is confirmed at the end of season 5 (albeit Twilight and her friends, but the idea still stands). And I guess Twilight must become a princess because she has the cutie mark from the tree. Maybe if her life was intentionally built around that goal, but that’s not what happened. Yeah, Celestia and Luna’s cutie marks are on the tree, too. But they do less for Equestria than Twilight, so having their marks there doesn’t make sense.

 

I don’t even know if Twilight becoming an alicorn amounted to anything because I don’t imagine that anything she did later in the show needed her to be an alicorn. Though the season 4 finale makes that a point. And the show not talking about alicorns in general (I sound like a broken record) just compounds this problem. I remember one episode in season 4 (“Trade Ya”) doing something with her status. I guess being princess was important for Starlight in “The Cutie Map”. Twilight also became the Princess of Friendship, though I don’t know why she would need to rely on the map to do her job.

 

So far, the season 1 premiere is still the best 2-parter I’ve reviewed.

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Three’s a Crowd

 

I feel like reviewing “Twilight’s Kingdom” at some point, and Discord plays a fairly major role in that episode. This episode is the only one he appears in outside of the beginning and ending episodes of the season, so I have to see how well his “redemption” played out.

 

 

The episode starts with Twilight getting a letter from Cadance, and the two get to hang out together. Hooray, I guess? Shame that Cadance hasn’t done too much in the show. I mean, she is an alicorn (which is an allegedly special species), is a royal, and has an allegedly major connection to Twilight. If Cadance was simply a unicorn that has a connection to Twilight, I wouldn’t have minded her absence as much. But Fluttershy comes in with her own news of being able to observe the Breezies. I don’t remember if this has any connection to a later Fluttershy episode in this season, but it’s a decent little reference. And Pinkie comes with her own news. Amusing, but nothing else to see in the teaser.

 

 

So the Mane 6 are at the train station, and they’re giving Fluttershy some additional items for her convenience. Another decent little touch. Twilight is nervous about her upcoming time with Cadance because their last two reunions had something threatening Equestria, or at least a part of it. It’s a reference to the previous 2-parters, and I thought I had a comment about that comment, but it seems that I don’t. I’m guessing Cadance had some vague royal duties to oversee, which is why she couldn’t visit as often. Then again, Twilight is also a princess and has plenty of free time. I don’t know. Anyways, Twilight plans for the two to see a Star Swirl traveling museum, and we actually haven’t learned much about him as well despite his huge status in-universe. Most of Twilight’s friends think the two will have a good time together, and that only means that there will be some inevitable trouble as that’s what storytelling and drama do.

 

 

The Crystal Empire train finally shows up, and Cadance emerges. I guess that princess doesn’t need to travel with guards like Celestia tends to do, but then again the pony guards haven’t exactly proven their competence. I wonder if Cadance could’ve just flown to Ponyville. Then again, the guards seeing her and traveling with her on the train can confirm her status and safety. Before Cadance and Twilight could set off, Twilight wants to say good bye to her friends for the day, and those friends wish her a good day. Did the rest of the Mane 6 have any plans for the day? I guess the visit was so important that those other ponies had to put their current plans for the day aside for the sake of another pair of friends. However, Discord also comes along to greet the remaining 4 ponies because with Fluttershy gone, he has no other pony to bother. I wonder what life has been like for that duo.

 

 

Discord is apparently sick and wants someone to help him along. Even though he was faking his illness, he did actually get sick later in the episode. But in any case, couldn’t he just cure himself? He has plenty of magic to go around, so what kind of diseases can stop a magical being like him from using his natural abilities? Or do those illnesses have their own specific magical cures? Anyways, the remaining 4 ponies obviously still don’t trust him and want him away as soon as possible. RD wastes no time in ditching him. Pinkie Pie interestingly wants to help and talk to him, but Discord rejects her gesture and somehow distracts her with a balloon. Looks like Pinkie’s interest in Discord won’t go anywhere. He eventually finds out about Twilight and Cadance hanging out and infects AJ and Rarity so he can get to the former duo. He even said that he knew about their visit and seems like he wanted to see Twilight specifically, so why didn’t he just go directly to her and skip the other ponies? He was able to find them at the traveling museum, and he didn’t get directions from anyone, so his scene with the remaining 4 ponies is rather pointless outside of him still not looking so trustworthy and those ponies showing that they (except for Pinkie) still don’t trust him. And those two things could’ve still been shown when he was with Twilight and Cadance. Then again, he does need a reason to be going after Twilight only when other familiar ponies are already available. Also, Discord’s sneezing has caused some small bits of chaos around Ponyville including a floating house, so there are some nice background gags. Have those been fixed by the end of the episode?

 

 

Discord eventually finds Twilight and Cadance at the traveling museum and gets Twilight on his side. Not much to say here, honestly. Cadance and Twilight especially aren’t too thrilled about his intervention, obviously. I suppose there is the part where Discord tries to bug them further by asking to be carried, but Cadance tells him that he can still make it to Twilight’s place. The only reason this sticks out to me is because Cadance and Discord haven’t interacted in the show outside of this episode.

 

 

So the trio are at Twilight’s library, and Twilight herself is still displeased. Cadance is taking the situation a little better, but that won’t be for long as Discord gets a musical number to pester the 2 alicorns for some more demands. However, this song doesn’t really do anything else other than Discord being his usual self. Also, did either pony notice that he was able to sing just fine when he claimed to be very sick? Musical numbers probably take on a different perspective in-universe. Eventually, after some more stuff happens, he goads them into finding the “cure” for his condition. I’ll be honest; nothing terribly interesting has happened so far. Discord wants to mess with ponies… because he can, and he just keeps doing that. As for Cadance, she hasn’t done anything of significance.

 

 

Last act. Twilight and Cadance pull a chariot that is carrying Discord. Cadance said she was out of practice with flight, but I’m pretty sure she has done her share of flying in past episodes. The ponies eventually find the flower that Discord mentioned, and it turns out to be a giant flower. They pick the giant flower, but a giant tatzlwurm suddenly emerges. Those ponies should’ve immediately flown away instead of just fluttering in place to witness the creature being ferocious. Why does that always happen in fiction, by the way? Maybe they were curious to see what kind of creature they angered. We get a short and rather average fight scene. All that happens is that the ponies fly around and blast the monster with magic from while the monster grabs them a few times. Nothing too physical or skillful shown here.

 

 

The ponies finally discover that Discord was faking his illness. Discord also created his “thinking tree”, which looks like a tree from a Dr. Seuss book. A good reference if that was intentionally one. He also claimed that he was just trying to give Twilight a friendship test and see if she cares about him. The answer is obviously no. She actually cares more about Fluttershy and would help Discord just for the sake of her friend’s happiness, otherwise it’s still clear that no one else trusts Discord. Twilight did show some more modesty about her royalty, so at least that part is still consistent.

 

 

It’s also obvious that Discord wanted to mess with Twilight since he was talking about how he interrupted her time with Cadance, but Cadance denies any troubles as she was still glad to have been with Twilight. Cadance also claimed that she didn’t need to relax, and I wonder if she ever considered conveying that idea to Twilight, but she probably wanted to respect Twilight’s decisions and plans for their time together. She says that life in the Crystal Empire is “predictable”, and I would’ve liked to see her actual life there instead of getting an offhand mention. She also mentioned “challenges”, and aside from the giant worm, I guess she also meant putting up with Discord. That seemed more mundane and tedious than “challenging”, but whatever. That would depend on Cadance’s definition of “exciting”. Yeah, there’s a problem I’m getting at, but I’ll get to that later.  Anyways, Cadance was satisfied with her day, which satisfies Twilight. Discord isn’t happy about those ponies being happy, again confirming that he just wanted to mess with them.

 

 

But the giant worm reappears and just goes up to the trio so it can sneeze at them, infecting only Discord as the other 2 are in a magical bubble. I didn’t know that worm was sick, and I also don’t know why it had to go all the way to the trio just to sneeze. There is an amusing bit here as Discord jumped and hung onto Twilight as if trying to use her for protection.

 

 

Twilight writes in the season 4 friendship journal (what happened to that, btw? I don’t remember) that a not-so-good day can still be enjoyable when shared with a friend. This sounds exactly like the moral from “The Best Night Ever”. The scene with AJ and Rarity confronting Discord was also funny since AJ was trying to maintain her caring side, but Rarity was blunt and direct.

 

 

This was a rather uneventful episode. First off, the episode took more than a while to start. By the time we reach Twilight and Cadance actually hanging out with each other, half of the episode has already passed, so we don’t get any interesting actions from them or interactions between them.

 

 

Cadance hasn’t done too much in the show, and this episode was definitely meant to be a chance to fix that, but Discord stepped in with his usual shenanigans and threw much of her needed development aside. The only things I’ve learned about her include her fascination with Star Swirl (which was one line), she has a positive attitude (though it was more for the sake of the moral since that still needed to be delivered somehow, and Twilight was the one who desperately wanted to hang out and wouldn’t take the intervention as well, so an OK but not a terribly strong showing), and she likes some excitement (so she just isn’t some “girly princess”. Also, showing how bored she is of royal life would give that line more weight and make that feeling more concrete). If it isn’t obvious from my comments, nothing very interesting was said about Cadance outside of minor traits due to its setup. There was some fun to be had with Discord, but it’s much less interesting than it should be since it notably takes time away from Cadance, and he only bugs them because he can. He may have always been a willing troublemaker, but his antics can get repetitive if nothing new or interesting is said about him.

 

 

Also, I doubt Discord has interacted with Cadance outside of this episode, and I don’t remember him interacting with Luna at any point in the show.

 

 

I plan on revisiting “Twilight’s Kingdom” at some point, and I had to see how “reformed” Discord was because of his role in that episode. Since this is his only appearance outside of the season opener and finale, he’s definitely not reformed (which “Twilight’s Kingdom” would later confirm). Otherwise, this episode was unremarkable.

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Twilight’s Kingdom

 

For some reason, I’m having a difficult time trying to word a lot of my thoughts, so apologies in advance. As always, I’ll try my best to give my opinion of the episode, so hopefully the following text will make sense. I’ll just say that I hated these 2 episodes because they glorify Twilight while making other relevant characters into useless bystanders, with Celestia, obviously, being a major victim of this ongoing mistake.

 

We’re at the Crystal Empire, and there are crystal ponies who may or may not be made out of crystals or may or may not be surrounded my some magical aura that gives a shiny appearance. I’d still like these questions answered, but now’s not the time, I guess. Spike gives another reminder about him saving the Crystal Empire, but last time I checked, he tripped over Sombra’s dark crystals, and SA threw Cadance to catch him. And Cadance was the one who put the Crystal Heart back where it belonged. Then again. Cadance and SA are already running the place, so I guess the citizens need an actual outsider to worship?

 

But Twilight is very unhappy, and the episode couldn’t find a better way to introduce a problem. Seriously, watch how this plays out. She’s concerned about her new princess role not apparently adding up to much. That took a while for the show to finally bring up, but the creators definitely wanted this “big” problem to be addressed in a “big” story like this one. AJ says that Twilight does have an important role, and that’s true since Twilight is something of a better (or at least more important) guardian to Equestria than the actual guardians, but that guardian role wouldn’t need Twilight to be a princess as past victories have shown.

 

Twilight’s, or more accurately, the show’s attempt to be modest about Twilight continues right after the opening credit, but those who have watched the entire show up to this point and after can easily and unconsciously call BULLSHIT. Hell, a random, immobile object watching only THIS EPISODE can just as easily and unconsciously call BULLSHIT.

 

I don’t feel the need to comment on the scene that has Twilight praising the other princesses since the bullshit is obvious even to a blind and deaf person, but I wouldn’t be doing justice to myself or the idea, effort, point, and philosophy of simply THINKING if I didn’t. Twilight praises the other princess on their role including Luna raising the moon (I guess Twilight and the writers forgot about the dream-walking), Celestia raising the sun, and Cadance “protecting” the Crystal Empire. For the former 2, “Hearth’s Warming Eve” already confirmed that a team of unicorns can just as easily do their jobs. I could reference The Journal of the Two Sisters publication for additional and probably important info, but the show doesn’t seem to know that its contents exists, so the “important info” can just as easily be false. The point is that simply being able to move the sun and moon isn’t that special, and those roles can still be covered if the respective alicorn is gone. As for Luna and her dream abilities, Equestria has lasted for 1000 years without her and suffered no apparent problems, so being able to help ponies with nightmares also isn’t that special. Thus, the episode can’t convince the viewer that Celestia and Luna themselves (as in, their “persons”) are truly needed. As for Cadance and guarding the Crystal Empire, that only happened in the season 3 premiere. She did cast a barrier over the place, but the Crystal Heart is all that is ultimately needed and was just missing for a while. After that, Cadance and Shining Armor do… whatever it is they usually do in the Crystal Empire. If the Crystal Heart sits in its proper place, the Crystal Empire will still be protected and doesn’t actually need Cadance and Shining Armor to protect it. Or at the very least, I don’t know how that couple has helped out the empire outside of the basics, so Twilight’s attempt to praise Cadance also comes off as empty. And when considering the previous 2-parters of the show, which definitely and unambiguously has Twilight even as a “plain old unicorn” doing more than the other alicorns while those other alicorns usually do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, the episode trying to have Twilight praising the other alicorns for their meaningless roles comes off as, well – MEANINGLESS.

 

If anything, Twilight and her friends are far more important to Equestria as previous episodes have proven and “The Cutie Re-Mark” will later prove even further. In fact, revisiting “Twilight’s Kingdom” after considering what “The Cutie Re-Mark” showed makes Twilight’s random sadness even emptier and harder to swallow. I guess it’s true that her actual role as princess hasn’t amounted to anything throughout season 4, but she was already literally an important and special pony (as in more important and special than the actual important and special ponies) before her ascension. If she so concerned about feeling important, than she should just ditch her princess title as the gods of the show will make her important anyways. Also, I don’t know if Twilight couldn’t have just given herself something to do as princess since the role is hers to dictate, but then Equestria’s unknown politics might throw a monkey wrench into the issue.

 

In short, the episode tries to make Twilight modest, but it creates the opposite effect. The glorification becomes more blatant and obvious as the story plays out, and that is taken even further when considering previous 2-parters and “The Cutie Re-Mark”.

 

Not even 4 minutes into the episode, and I’m already taking a dump on it.

 

Cut to some random location in Equestria, and a weakened Tirek absorbs magic from a random unicorn. Celestia suddenly dreams about this development, and how is Luna aware of what Celestia saw? Does Luna have this ability, too? I remember some fan theories about Celestia being able to see through time or whatever, and like another person in these forums have said, she saw something that was happening in the present, so that fan theory has been long shot down. And that same person noted that Celestia was unaware of what she saw, and Luna had to correct her. Also, if Celestia saw what Tirek did, surely she knew his location as well? That means he could’ve been preemptively captured. Seriously, just gather a bunch of ponies and jump him. If they’re not stupid, they just won’t jump in so he could steal the magic from the ponies. Or the alicorns could’ve accompanied Discord, but more on this later. Otherwise, how the hell does this “vision” work? Why is Celestia able to see Tirek but not his location? Is there some “magical connection”? I’m pretty sure that “connection” could still lead to Tirek. And if Tirek has been free since season 2, has he stolen some magic between then and now? If so, did Celestia see him absorbing before now? If not, why wasn’t she able to get a vision of Tirek before now? Yeah, this vision bullshit is too random and raises too many questions. Also, this episode is the only one that directly alludes to this ability. What Celestia saw during other 2-parters will remain a mystery that I’m sure the creative team will never know the answer to.

 

Cadance even genuinely believes that Twilight is the pony that can stop Tirek. I guess Cadance planned to sit on the sidelines like the alicorn sisters. With that in mind, Twilight could’ve considered dealing with villains to be her purpose as princess, which she does way more often than the other princesses. As usual, none of the other princesses were willing to directly confront Tirek and would rather let Twilight do the dirty work, which means they’re goddamned pussies. At least Cadance has been a little active in previous 2-parters (though “A Canterlot Wedding” still sucks), but she is still a pussy in this episode and will become inactive from this episode on. As for the alicorn sisters, they really fucking suck as guardians of Equestria, and this is shown too well in the case of Princess Celestia as she decides that Discord should confront Tirek. The reactions from Twilight’s friends are appropriate.

 

So the Mane 6 and Discord talk for a bit, but the Mane 6 sans Fluttershy obviously don’t trust him. And he still doesn’t seem very trustworthy as he takes the time to taunt Twilight about her problem. Nothing too interesting here outside of Discord unintentionally providing help with unlocking the chest from the Tree of Harmony.

 

Discord meets with Tirek, and I didn’t know Discord was such a well-known figure since this appears to be the first interaction between the two. So, do some of the villains have each other’s contact information? Tirek quickly convinces Discord to betray the ponies, and this outcome was obvious since the story is 2 episodes long, and the story would end if Discord captured Tirek without being persuaded. And it’s also obvious that Discord hasn’t learned to care about friendship since he wouldn’t have been persuaded if he was genuine friends with the Mane 6. So, Celestia’s plan was already stupid and set to fail even from the viewer’s perspective. I don’t know why Fluttershy couldn’t have accompanied him as well the alicorns (or other ponies like I said earlier) so they could jump Tirek then and there. Was Tirek really such a threat to alicorns even in his weakened state? Otherwise, Celestia and the other alicorns instead end up looking lazy and cowardly. Not helping their case is that Twilight was actually willing to directly approach Tirek while none of the alicorns wanted to bother. Discord’s allegiance was always shaky and has a chance of betrayal, so maybe that’s why no one else accompanied him. However, if he was set on betrayal from the start, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for him to immediately attack his partners to better show his shaky allegiance.

 

Back to the Mane 6, and they finally make the connection between their respective key episodes and the chest, though Twilight hasn’t acquired her key just yet. It’s not a bad way to somewhat build up to the season finale as the ponies had to make use of their respective element from a previous episode to make use of it in this episode, but this is sadly one of this episode’s few positives.

 

However, Spike gets an urgent message from Celestia, and Twilight must head back to Canterlot. Surprise, surprise! They finally realize that Discord betrayed them, and the duo have attacked other ponies and are on their way to Canterlot. Tirek wants alicorn magic, so Celestia decides that Twilight must hold all of the alicorn magic. The episode says that magic can’t just disappear into thin air, so what about magical blasts that dissipate when the hit an object without any apparent effect? But that’s beside the point. The plan for the other alicorns to expel their own magic is stupid because Tirek now only has to go to one pony instead of seeking out 4 to get what he wants. Also, couldn’t those alicorns just run away from Canterlot and hide? They could try to formulate an alternative plan with the Mane 6 to deal with the duo, and running away can at least buy some time. Would Discord be able to sense their location? The episode mentioned “magical imbalances”, but I doubt a relocation would constitute as a magical imbalance. Then again, he was able to immediately find the Mane 6 sans Twilight in Ponyville, but I’m just gonna guess those characters were easily seen. Otherwise, if Discord can find anyone for any reason, that line about “magical imbalances” is pointless. And what do the non-Twilight alicorns plan to do next? Their current plan isn’t the same as beating Tirek and Discord. Granted, they may be desperate to slow Tirek’s acquisition of magic, but running away and hiding can still do the same thing. At the very least, those other alicorns could still try to plan a solution instead of sitting on their asses in Canterlot and waiting for a miracle that might never come. Obviously, things will always turn out fine since the show has a positive tone, but those characters wouldn’t know what kind of miracle would come their way. And for one last nitpick of part 1, Celestia claims that ridding themselves of magic can save Equestria, but I don’t know how that’s true since they’ll be completely powerless and still unable to do absolutely anything about Tirek, and slowing Tirek down isn’t the same as saving Equestria.

 

Part 2, the other alicorns give their magic to Twilight and decide to stay in Canterlot. I’ve already given my thoughts on that.

 

This is the role I am meant to play as a princess of Equestria! I will not fail to do my duty!” – Twilight Sparkle

 

Well, she and her friends were always the better defenders of Equestria, so she could’ve defined her role as princess to be a real defender of Equestria. Twilight and Celestia shortly embrace, which was probably meant to be an emotional scene, but the 2 have done so little together, and the stupidity of the situation certainly doesn’t help. Also, Twilight was warned not to tell her friends about the transfer of magic so they could be kept out of danger. I suppose that’s logical to a degree, but they’re probably more safe with Twilight than without because I don’t know what they can do if they find themselves confronting Tirek and Discord while Twilight has a bunch of magic at her disposal. At the very least, Twilight could’ve told her friends about Discord’s betrayal so they wouldn’t need to be so surprised, though they’d still be helpless without their Princess Twilight Sparkle. And of course, there’s the stained glass window of Twilight that wasn’t taken down. Though I’d add that Discord can always just tell Tirek about Twilight, but the stained glass still sped up the process.

 

I’ll admit that I’m losing interest in recapping the episode since I’m hardly enthusiastic about it, and I sincerely don’t believe there’s THAT much worth commenting on, so I’ll speed things up a bit. I’ll still sum up my thoughts at the end of the review.

 

It’s night time, which is weird since it was just daytime when Twilight last met with the alicorns, but whatever. Twilight struggles with her new alicorn magic, and more uninteresting stuff happens with that. Speaking of struggling with alicorn magic, she also said that she was just learning to control it earlier in the episode before the transfusion, but she didn’t have any trouble with her usual alicorn abilities in previous episodes outside of flight. Whatever, next.

 

The villain duo deal with Shining Armor and the other Canterlot guards, and Discord is seemingly regretful after SA calls him out. That’s a strange reaction to have since this is his first on-screen interaction with SA, so he’s basically reacting to a background pony, which he didn’t do earlier. Next.

 

Twilight meets up with her friends and is trying to keep recent developments a secret, but she tells them to keep the Ponyville citizens secure by helping them stay indoors. That wouldn’t actually stop Tirek from getting to those ponies, but I guess that’s something.

 

Next scene, and Tirek meets the other alicorns and sends them away. Celestia tries to be defiant by claiming that he won’t win, but I don’t know how she expected Tirek to be defeated, so she’s essentially making a prayer. And Tirek finally finds out about the fourth alicorn in Twilight. I don’t know how Tirek knew about Cadance when she came about after his imprisonment, but maybe he got some info from random ponies he attacked. I don’t know.

 

Tirek and Discord finally find Twilight’s friends and capture them, and Fluttershy is understandably heartbroken since she genuinely trusted and cared about Discord. I don’t remember a road for Fluttershy actually coming to accept Discord, not even in “Three’s a Crowd”. And “Keep Calm and Flutter On” was a bit messy with its own attempts, but I’ll go with it. A decent touch is that Discord looked away when Tirek was absorbing the magic from Twilight’s friends, so he did care about Fluttershy to some degree at the very least. But it isn’t long before Discord himself gets betrayed, and he also becomes distraught because he actually believed that the partnership with Tirek was genuine. And it looks like Discord has come to value companionship to a degree because if he didn’t care about having a partner of some kind, he wouldn’t have bothered with Tirek. And now Discord sees how and why genuine friendship is so valuable and how painful it is to see someone he cares about betray him. Not a bad way to start things off with Discord’s (second) reformation.

 

We’re back to Twilight, and she still has trouble controlling her newfound powers (which will somehow not be a problem shortly later), but she quickly encounters Tirek. And he destroys Twilight’s library. For some unknown reason, I don’t really care. I don’t know if it’s because I hate this episode, that I’ve become cynical of the 2-part episodes, or a combination of the above plus other reasons.

 

And then we get easily the most memorable part of “Twilight’s Kingdom”: the fight between Tirek and Twilight. Personally, I don’t care for the fight, and it’s not just because I hate this episode. While I will say that it had a large scope, and there weren’t so many cuts and edits like most live-action movies would do that would make the fight confusing (as in, I can actually see the combatants), the fight is underwhelming because the impacts felt so soft and painless and thus lacked intensity despite looking so huge. This feels about as deadly as a cartoonish slapfest instead of feeling like 2 titans duking it out, and Twilight’s silly cry after getting thrown didn’t help my enjoyment. Compounding my disdain for the fight is that Twilight is the only pony who gets an honest effort to deal with Tirek. The other alicorns sit on the sidelines waiting to be rescued when they could have just as easily been invited, and Twilight’s friends have done nothing noteworthy thus far in the episode outside of being captured. Telling the Ponyville citizens to remain indoors is hardly noteworthy, and it’s not like Twilight’s friends have the raw power to fight a villain with a lot of raw magic, so they were always going to be useless outside of using their elements against Tirek. It honestly seemed like the creators made this scene just to try and make a “little girl’s show” look “not so girly” according to Youtube comments, but then again reading comments on that website is almost always a bad idea. I also wonder why Tirek couldn’t have just absorbed Twilight’s magic on the spot. Short version: unimpressive fight scene with a stupid and unnecessary price to pay.

 

The combatants are evenly matched (though I thought Discord was stronger than the alicorns combined since the Elements were needed to deal with him, but whatever), and Tirek makes an offer to free her friends in exchange for her magic. Twilight even demands Discord to be released, which was a fine move as she isn’t one to give in to revenge, and Fluttershy also still cares about him, so she would at least release him for Fluttershy’s sake. It’s strange that Discord tries to officially announce his friendship with Twilight when considering their relationship before this, but at least the end of the episode doesn’t make that feeling too official.

 

Twilight finally gets her key for the chest, and the Mane 6 proceed to immediately beat Tirek. His full power and the severity of it only lasted for about 2 minutes before he got annihilated, so this is yet another unexciting and rushed climax in the same vein as “Friendship is Magic”, “The Return of Harmony”, and “A Canterlot Wedding”. At least Twilight’s friends are useful in this part of the episode, but they still did nothing before this point, which only highlights how useless her friends are in the large-scale stories such as this one.

 

But the chest also creates a crystal castle as a new home. What happened to the Tree of Harmony? It was still standing even as the chest created this new castle. Twilight then wonders who the castle belongs to. Hmm, the only character that was actually IMPORTANT in this episode is Twilight herself, and her home was blown up, so the process of elimination can’t even be applied. Celestia reappears and goes through the new castle with the Mane 6 as well as confirming Twilight’s role as the princess of friendship. I guess writing a bunch of friendship letters didn’t immediately tickle Twilight’s fancy. Also, I honestly have no idea what Celestia was doing at this point when she was busy being useless and helpless before this point, which makes her reappearance at this point look random.

 

And then there’s a song at the end about friendship being magical or whatever, I don’t really care. It’s really the friendship of the Mane 6 that matters as the end of the next season will show.

 

Like I said, I really hate “Twilight’s Kingdom”, and it’s definitely my least favorite 2-parter that I’ve reviewed so far. How is the clumsy season 1 premiere (with flimsy obstacles and “the honest truth”) still managing to be the best they could do?

 

This post has gotten a bit long, so I’ll put my concluding thoughts in the next post.

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I’ll go over the positives first since it’s a short list.

 

Discord’s redemption was OK, I guess. Even though his initial attempt at redemption was not so convincing in “Keep Calm and Flutter On”, at least “Princess Twilight Sparkle” and “Three’s a Crowd” showed that he still had a long way to go. In this episode, it seems that friendship has rubbed off on him to a degree and learned of some of its values (I would’ve liked to actually see what he learned in season 4, btw) since he was willing to go into a partnership with Tirek and even made the “our” and “us” corrections. And since he found Tirek’s offer to be more appealing than Fluttershy’s, it made sense that Discord would change sides, sincerity be damned. But after Tirek betrayed him, he learns the value of sincere friendships in the manner of not knowing what he had until he lost it. Like I said before, Discord trying to claim that his friendship with the Mane 6 right before the climax was hardly convincing when considering his prior relationship with them, but Twilight doesn’t quite count him as a real friend at the end slightly alleviates that. In summary, his redemption in here wasn’t great, but it was still OK, maybe. And he helped with Tirek’s defeat not only with the final key but also with his prodding after reading the friendship journal. However, his prior "relationship" with the Mane 6 also comes with a problem, which is that his initial allegiance to Tirek only worked because Celestia was dumb enough to trust him in the first place. Otherwise, no one would trust him to do anything. I mean, what could Fluttershy even say in his defense? On the other hand, maybe he could've approached Tirek on his own because he didn't feel enough satisfaction from his "friendship" with Fluttershy, and he thought being able to cause chaos with Tirek could give himself the satisfaction of freedom he thought he desired. Hmm, maybe his actual arc in this episode didn't work as well as I thought.

 

The keys over season 4 leading to Tirek’s defeat was obvious, but at least they’ve been building up this “weapon” over the season. I’ve given most of my thoughts on this earlier, so I won’t repeat myself since there’s nothing else to add. Though it’s still worth noting, again, that Twilight’s friends don’t do anything outside of the climax.

 

I guess I can add that the fight wasn’t bad.

 

And the song with the alicorns was not bad as well, though it wasn’t very meaningful since Twilight angsting about her problem means that it will most likely be looked at somehow, or else her angst would be pointless. All the other alicorns really say in the song is that Twilight will get something to do eventually. NO SHIT. Time for my major problems with the episode, though they should be clear based on the recap. Worth noting is that these problems go hand-in-hand.

 

First, Twilight feels that her role as princess doesn’t mean much, and my first complaint in the review pertains to this notion. While that has been true over season 4, this isn’t as much of a problem as the episode makes it out to be because she has already helped with major problems over the show. If anything, Twilight has done more than the other alicorns combined even in this episode. And “The Cutie Re-Mark” at the end of season 5 will only further the idea of Twilight and her friends being more important to Equestria.

 

A threat shows up, and Twilight gets to deal with it with the power/magic of friendship, but how does the episode get to that point? The other alicorns are forced out of the story just so Twilight could be the only pony to directly Tirek. Why are the other alicorns not allowed to contribute to the solution? As in, why couldn’t they have also fought alongside Twilight? Sure, Twilight didn’t beat Tirek by herself as she still needed her friends, but she was given a genuine chance to deal with him while the other alicorns flat-out refused to directly face Tirek. In fact, Twilight was the only alicorn willing to find him while the others would rather sit on the sidelines. This gives the impression that Celestia, Luna, and Cadance are cowardly and lazy.

 

And what about Twilight’s friends? I can’t think of anything notable they did outside of getting captured and then using the Elements of Harmony to blast Tirek. They may have their keys from previous episodes, but those episodes are their own story and don’t make their helplessness in here look any better. In fact, are her friends even useful under these circumstances? Twilight has a lot of raw magic to deal with magical villains, but what do the others have? Rarity isn’t nearly as specialized, I doubt physical attacks from AJ and RD will help, and I don’t know what Pinkie or Fluttershy by themselves can do.

 

As for the other alicorns, I’ve already given my say about their inactivity and cowardice. I still don’t know why they felt the need to stay in Canterlot when they could easily run away. The episode doesn’t even say why they needed to stay in Canterlot. Celestia and the others wanted to lose their magic so Tirek can’t absorb them when he finally shows up, but if the alicorns are absent, that would have the same effect. 

 

Of course, Celestia comes off the worst since she does most of the vocal planning. First, she wants to have Discord deal with Tirek. Discord hardly seems trustworthy even in this episode, so I have to wonder if Celestia even met with Discord before he left. And the fact that she placed so much faith in someone so unreliable without a backup plan only hurts her image further. Worsening the problem still is that Tirek seemed so weak that I’m sure Discord wasn’t even needed to capture him. One of the alicorns could’ve just approached the weakened Tirek and drop a heavy object on top of him. Then, Celestia decides that the other alicorns should dump their magic onto Twilight, but Tirek still ends up absorbing the magic from Twilight anyways. Celestia also told Twilight not to tell her friends about this, but her friends end up getting captured anyways. In short, none of Celestia’s suggestions work, and she looks bad just so Twilight could look good. This only tells me that Princess Celestia sucks, and the episode ends up being disrespectful to the ponies not named Twilight.

 

Tirek isn’t a very impressive villain. He wants magic because… he’s evil. I guess being able to get Discord on his side and then betraying him was not bad. I honestly don’t have much to say about Tirek.

 

I feel like I have more to say about the episode, but I can’t put them into words right now. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve run out of things to say, or maybe I might have too much to say. Or maybe my previous post actually had more than I thought. If I have to use one word to describe “Twilight’s Kingdom”, it would be “insincere”.

 

EDIT: few more thoughts for now, don't know if I'll have more

 

The other alicorns never needed to be excluded. Twilight praised them earlier in the episode, but their inactivity hardly makes the praise look reasonable or earned, and I doubt being able to move the sun or moon is nearly as important or impressive as saving all of Equestria multiple times. Those other alicorns still could've been in a supporting role like to help Twilight fight against Tirek (power scaling notwithstanding), though I doubt Twilight being the last one standing would make the others look good.

 

Also remember that Celestia was inactive and/or useless against not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but SIX threats. Would her "helplessness" hold any water at this point, especially when she somehow kept Equestria together for 1000 years? Why has she suddenly become so useless? And her losing streak will only go up from here without attempt to balance it out. Her helplessness lacks credibility, and now that she has been so useless, it also wouldn't make sense if she were suddenly useful.

 

I guess another appropriate word for this episode would be "artificial", though its meaning isn't too different from "insincere".

 

EDIT 2: I mentioned that Twilight tried to praise the other alicorns, and that failed completely due to their inactivity in the episode. This becomes more apparent when the power to move a celestial body or looking over the Crystal Empire means nothing because those other alicorns tried nothing against Tirek. So that's yet another strike against Twilight's praise. So I must ask: How exactly did this episode help Twilight?

 

Oh, and I guess this is another demonstration of friendship being magic. Too bad I don't know what's so special about this instance, so maybe it really isn't another demonstration. Not helping is that Twilight's friends do essentially nothing before the climax, and the Mane 6 don't do anything as friends like in the season 1 premiere.

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The Cutie Map

 

After I first watched the idiocy that was “Twilight’s Kingdom”, I lost interest in the show because it took yet another dump (while also being its biggest dump so far) on my favorite character (which I would normally say is Princess Celestia, but I don’t know if I can say that nowadays) while having essentially nothing redeemable about her even when considering the entire show. Princess Celestia may not a main character, but that does not justify her poor treatment in these kinds of shitty 2-part episodes, and not helping is that these 2-part episodes never needed to exclude this (allegedly) major character in the first place. Even if I ignore that alicorn (which would be difficult since she still had a major, if stupidly handled, presence in those 2 episodes), I still don’t like “Twilight’s Kingdom” because it makes everyone except Twilight (and Discord to a smaller degree) look useless and/or helpless while not accomplishing much in the process.

 

It seems that I was still stupidly naive about things looking better for Princess Celestia because I was hoping that season 5 could still, even though chances were less than nonexistent, fix that alicorn somehow. I mean, surely the creators have noticed the continuous mistake of falling back on it for the sake of “story” after 4+ years? More on that when I get to bullshit that calls itself “The Cutie Re-Mark”.

 

So season 5 started with yet another 2-parter. I went in thinking that Princess Celestia (as well as the other non-Twilight alicorns) would be pushed aside yet again, but a part of me still hoped that the creators wouldn’t fall into that bizarrely easy trap of theirs. In other words, I had very low expectations. And at the same time, I thought the show could only get better after “Twilight’s Kingdom”. After watching “The Cutie Map”, I was surprised that I didn’t hate it. I wouldn’t say I loved it, but there were things I liked about it. Maybe low expectations have influenced my overall enjoyment, but I ultimately believe that my enjoyment of “The Cutie Map” was genuine. I had even lower expectations for “The Cutie Re-Mark”, and I was still infuriated with the resulting product. But onto “The Cutie Map”.

 

We start at the crystal castle, and Twilight wonders why she was given this shiny structure. I don’t really care about the show’s merchandise, but my guess is that Hasbro mandated this new home for her. As for an in-universe explanation, the episode is probably trying to say that Twilight earned something big and shiny for her accomplishments, but those accomplishments were only achieved because the creators of the show kept doing the same stupid things. I wonder why the Mane 6 were each given thrones, and Spike was even given a throne right next to Twilight’s. It makes sense for Twilight since she’s a royal, but have her friends become royals or some equivalent? If so, then what are the steps to being a royal? I guess being connected to one helped their cases, though the Mane 6 don’t exert their authority very much. The only instance in season 5 would be at the end with Starlight, and I honestly doubt they have legal authority to pass judgment on a criminal, but whatever. Has this conflicted with Mayor Mare’s authority? And how did the Tree of Harmony know about Spike’s existence? And Twilight also wonders why the castle was put specifically in Ponyville. That town is their home. Otherwise, where else would/should the castle go?

 

The ponies sit in their respective thrones, the cutie marks on those thrones glow, and a crystal table with a holographic map of Equestria is produced. How long have they had the castle? It looks like it’s been some time since Tirek’s defeat according to RD, and this seems to be the first time the ponies sat in their correct thrones. Otherwise, I’m guessing they just sat wherever they wanted, but the normal thought would be to sit in their respective thrones since the cutie marks on the thrones act like name tags in a sense. I guess they randomly chose their seats again and happened to stumble upon the correct ones this time. Did any of them ever decide to take Spike’s throne because they felt like it?

 

The map is calling all of the Mane 6 (except Spike) to go to some seemingly random location in Equestria. What would happen if the pony being called refuses to go? The worst I can think of is the cutie mark constantly glowing and sounding, and I suppose that might be annoying. Also, I don’t believe the map has ever called Spike. How would it signal for him?

 

The Mane 6 take a train and eventually reach the village the map called them to. How does the map even detect “friendship problems”? I’m pretty sure there are plenty of those kinds of problems happening every day since Equestria is not a utopia, so shouldn’t the map go off constantly? It turns out the ponies in the village have huge (fake) smiles, dulled colors, and the exact same cutie marks as equal signs (which the village itself is arranged in). Fluttershy believes the in the best of the village, but Pinkie detects bullshit. Pinkie should’ve expressed her feelings to her friends, or at least to Fluttershy

 

The villagers greet the Mane 6, and one of the villagers notice that Twilight is an alicorn. How long has the village been around? Looks like for a while because I’m sure Twilight wasn’t an alicorn for such a short time, so I thought those villagers would be at least a little familiar with Twilight. I also wonder what happened to Starlight and this place during Tirek’s time. Did Tirek know this place existed? Then again, the answer hardly matters. The Mane 6 are then taken to meet Starlight Glimmer, who assumes that Twilight is a princess due to being an alicorn. So, are all alicorns in Equestria obligated to become royals? Starlight’s bullshit is easy to detect due to the strange village, her name, her brighter colors, her speech pattern, and being an important figure in the village.

 

Starlight talks about “true friendship”, which is met with skepticism from the Mane 6 (most notably AJ). She reveals after a song sequence that having the same cutie mark means they are all seemingly equal, or at least not apparently better than one another in certain ways, and this leads to possibly more stable friendships because one doesn’t have to be concerned about feeling superior, inferior, or essentially different in some way and risk conflict. I’m pretty sure the differences between ponies is also due to personality, upbringing, values, interests, goals, and other inherent factors I’m too lazy to think of right now. And conflicts can arise from those differences. I mean, if one pony wants to brag about being superior to another, doesn't that action stem from personality, upbringing, values, interests, goals, and other inherent factors? Otherwise, what would they want to brag for? And the same could be applied to those who feel inferior. Those factors would already be present before getting cutie marks, and the Mane 6 were still themselves even after losing theirs, so it’s a bit strange that Starlight is blaming everything on cutie marks. I’ll be generous and assume that the episode is trying to say that Starlight is delusional, but I don’t know why exactly she’d consider cutie marks to be literally everything even when considering her history.

 

Commercial break, and the Mane 6 are sticking around for the sake of their map while the village ponies constantly watching them, which RD points out. What were those villagers so curious about? I guess having guests is uncommon. The 6 ponies get into an argument that starts in a rather unnatural manner such as Rarity being vocal about not liking Pinkie’s joke (and calling her “Miss Pie” in the meantime. When did Rarity ever address Pinkie this way?), and Fluttershy comparing AJ to RD, which gets a snappy and defensive response from RD. Sugar Belle overhears them and thinks their friendship is in jeopardy since they aren’t getting along, but Pinkie shoots that idea down. I know this argument was supposed to make a point about these ponies being good friends, but the episode could’ve gone about this more naturally such as having a simple disagreement instead. That could still get a pony unfamiliar with friendship to question the 6 ponies. RD and Rarity’s snappy replies stick out too well and make them look easily triggered, as in feel forced for the sake of making a point.

 

But now the 6 ponies are back on track, which is met with more confusion from Sugar Belle because she thought that having different cutie marks and values can only end badly. I’m guessing that’s the philosophy Starlight gave the village ponies, but that still doesn’t fit into her given backstory at the end of season 5.

 

Sugar Belle then asks the Mane 6 to meet her, which they later do. And she as well as some other villagers appear to admire the Mane 6, with one mentioning Princess Celestia. Too bad that alicorn doesn’t appear in this episode, or much in the rest of the season. The villagers then mention Starlight and her goal to make every pony in the village “equal” (and allegedly happy) with the removal of the cutie mark as one attempt. Did she remember the inherent traits I mentioned earlier? I don’t know how simply removing cutie marks would make a pony average, though the episode may or may not have intentionally stated that Starlight removing cutie marks is more like “power nullifying”.

 

Starlight takes the Mane 6 to the cave containing cutie marks, and Twilight eventually learns the story of this 2-parter. Starlight gives some explanations and mentions the “great Mage Meadowbrook”. It’s also shame that mage hasn’t been mentioned again, but whatever. And Pinkie unnaturally blabbers about how they found out about the vault. Last time I checked, Pinkie wasn’t overly trusting of the village, so I don't know why she felt the need to talk or what told her that Starlight was reliable.

 

Starlight is angered because a village pony acted out of their own free will (as in, not under her rules) and zaps the Mane 6. Twilight’s cry was even reused from just the previous episode. And her friends prove their powerlessness too well as I don’t know what they could’ve done if Starlight just decided to directly attack them. Starlight would struggle with Twilight since both are powerful spellcasters, but Starlight just acted fast enough in this case. Also, the cutie mark vault had 6 empty slots all conveniently located in a single area (I’m guessing at the center). Did Starlight expect the Mane 6 to stop eventually? It didn’t look like she ever publicly advertised her philosophy or village (or even planned to), so how would she have ever expected them to come to her if they weren’t made aware of her place? Starlight did ask earlier how the Mane 6 heard of her village, but that still doesn’t explain if she wanted to get them eventually.

 

Starlight has an interesting motive as she think cutie marks are a problem and thinks that losing them will be more helpful than harmful, but it’s too bad “The Cutie Re-Mark” utterly fucked this up.

 

Time for part 2. The Mane 6 are now in a cottage according to Starlight later in the episode. I wonder how the villagers in the cave felt about the Mane 6 being forced into this “philosophy” and village against their own will. I know the villagers have been deceived, but they’re not mindless and unfeeling. There are even villagers guarding their specific cottage. Maybe one of them could’ve questioned Starlight about this.

 

The Mane 6 aren’t adjusting too well to their current positions because they’ve lost their cutie marks and also some of their abilities. This is very weird because this episode makes it seem like their cutie marks affect their abilities and talents when other episodes have it the other way around. There is “The Cutie Pox” when AB gets too many skills, but that was from a potion. In “Magical Mystery Cure”, most of the Mane 6 switch cutie marks and think that their cutie marks determine their fates, but they don’t get the “talents” that come with them (I guess Star Swirl’s spell works differently), which is the opposite of what other cutie mark episodes say. Those episodes say that a pony finding their passion and/or talent grants them a cutie mark like in “Call of the Cutie” or “The Cutie Mark Chronicles”. Worth noting is that Rarity’s cutie mark related to finding gems, but she works in the fashion industry instead of at a mine. Why am I mentioning all of this? Right now, Rarity can’t critique designs, AJ can’t speak her “countryisms”, Pinkie’s attitude is dulled when her cutie mark related to wanting to make others happy, and RD is physically weak when she was about being fast and competitive (though RD does lose her speed). In other words, some of the ponies lose certain abilities that don’t relate at all to their cutie mark. And even if they lost their cutie marks (and this goes for the villagers as well), they shouldn’t lose the “talents” and “skills” that come with them since the bearer determines the cutie mark and not the other way around. As in, they already had those abilities before they got their cutie marks, even if it’s right before getting them. Again, Starlight removing cutie marks has more of a “nullifying ‘superpowers’ ” effect you’d see in superhero stories. I guess the creators have decided to run with the idea of cutie marks being empowering since this was shown again in “A Royal Problem”.

 

There’s a montage showing a passage of time with the Mane 6 in a rut. Oh look, more symbolism! The windows are arranged in an equal sign, so the sunlight that goes through them also makes an equal sign on the floor. And it’s 11 o’clock when Twilight finally comes up with a plan. She suggests that Fluttershy help break them out since Fluttershy is likely to be accepted and freed.

 

Starlight calls them over the loudspeaker and tells them good morning. So, has a day already passed? It was morning at the beginning of part 1, and I don’t know how long their trip to the village took. My best guess (if it’s still the same day) is that everything started at around  6 - 7 am, and it’s only been a few hours somehow. The Mane 6 continue to be defiant, so losing their cutie marks unsurprisingly has no affect on their attitudes. I mention this because the episode implies that the villagers willingly joined Starlight instead of being forced into her beliefs, so I don’t know how anyone would expect the Mane 6 (or at least some of them) to be converted (much less become friends) so easily unless the 6 are bored, desperate, or driven to insanity. There doesn’t even seem to be any genuine attempts to convince the Mane 6 that the new philosophy is the right way despite their seemingly genuine belief in it. Maybe Starlight was hoping for desperation, but I don’t know about the others. Maybe those others also not very understanding of friendship like Starlight? Also, dulled colors, brainwashing, and a deceptive villain? Discord might not appreciate knock offs.

 

Fluttershy “joins” the village, but Starlight wants her to point out the traitor in the village to prove her loyalty. However, one of the villagers that spoke to the Mane 6 earlier exposes himself for Fluttershy’s safety. Good move on his part. Too bad I can’t remember his name, though the transcript identifies him as Party Favor. I can only remember Sugar Belle. Twilight suggests that the remaining 5 trying to maintain a positive attitude to prove the strength of their friendship to Party Favor. Well, they don’t have anything better to do at the moment, and they don’t agree with Starlight’s beliefs, so that’s not a bad idea.

 

Fluttershy stays at the Starlight’s place for the rest of the day, and I wonder what happened in there since the episode immediately cuts to nighttime and Fluttershy escaping. I’m surprised Fluttershy trying to escape through the chimney wasn’t so noisy, or maybe she’s just that good at stealth since she was able to avoid Starlight the entire night. One of the villagers gives the Mane 6’s cutie marks to Starlight because she wants to try converting others by making it look like the Mane 6 (special emphasis on Twilight according to the episode) willingly joined. She better hope that no one will suspect that she attacked them to get their cutie marks.

 

The episode later shows that she still has her cutie mark. Not a surprise since her “staff” still uses magic, cutie marks have some amount of magic like “Twilight’s Kingdom” showed, her colors aren’t dulled, and she’s obviously evil. Also, Twilight and Rarity didn’t try to cast spells ever since losing their cutie marks, and I also don’t think any of the village unicorns tried to cast spells. Do unicorns losing their cutie marks mean they lose their magic as well? If so, then the removal of cutie marks (as in, the threat of Starlight) should be a major problem.

 

It’s the next day, and the remaining 5 still won’t join Starlight, but Party Favor doesn’t hesitate. I guess the remaining 5 couldn’t immediately influence him. Fluttershy gets a bucket of water from… somewhere to try and expose Starlight, only for Starlight to quickly dodge. Starlight has some pretty good reflexes, and this scene was actually quite funny since Fluttershy apparently failed. That pegasus shouldn’t have announced herself so soon, but her attempt didn’t completely fail since water still managed to splash Starlight’s rear and quickly expose her. The villagers ask obvious questions, and Starlight’s responses already highlight her selfishness and insincerity. Twilight tries to give a friendship speech only for Starlight to shoot her down. Another funny scene, and good on Starlight, too. I also wasn’t interested in hearing some corny speech.

 

All the other ponies surround Starlight, but she simply runs away. Couldn’t she just blast them to oblivion? The villagers are able to get back their cutie marks after a wooden stick somehow breaks the glass, so the stick was thrown harder than I thought, and the  cutie marks fly back to the owners. How did Double Diamond get the Mane 6’s cutie marks into jars, then? He’s not a unicorn, and Starlight didn’t go with him to the vault, so those cutie marks should’ve immediately sought their owners after being taken out of containment.

 

Starlight tries to escape, and the ponies try to catch her, but RD isn’t too thrilled about having to be saved. I do like that the Mane 6 needed to be helped this time while providing their own help since they’re not gods, and helpers need help at some point (just ask Princess Celestia), but too bad this doesn’t last.

 

And I wonder if Starlight knows a teleportation spell because that would’ve been more effective than blasting a bridge. She eventually drops the jars containing the Mane 6’s cutie marks because I guess being buried in snow caused her to lose her concentration.

 

Starlight tries to zap the villagers until Twilight intervenes with a magical barrier, which pisses off Starlight not because the attack was blocked, but because Twilight easily conjures an allegedly difficult spell that Starlight couldn’t easily master. Even though the show hasn’t done that well at portraying alicorns, or at least non-Twilight ones, alicorns are said to be pretty good with magic, not to mention that Twilight is a somewhat well-known alicorn princess who recently dealt with Tirek, so I don’t know why Starlight is so surprised at Twilight’s proficiency in magic. Or was Starlight aware of this weakness in the show and hoping that any alicorn except Twilight would show up at her village? Or maybe Starlight was hoping that Twilight would be hit with the Useless Alicorn Syndrome in this episode.

 

Twilight finally makes her friendship speech, so Starlight only delayed that at most, and there is a short argument friendship before Starlight decides to call it quits. The villagers thank the Mane 6 about… actually, I’m not sure what they’re thankful about.

 

Party Favor: It's you who have taught us something. We all came to this village because we were searching for something missing from our lives. We thought Starlight had given it to us, but now... now it seems it was in front of us all along. It's us!

 

I thought those ponies initially joined Starlight because they also thought their cutie marks were problematic, so I guess they felt unfulfilled for one reason or another, or at least they didn’t like their cutie marks. Maybe they wanted friends based on the last part, but I don’t know if they knew each other or even met before they stayed in the village. If they wanted friends, then they’d have to go out and make some because I doubt waiting for someone to befriend you is a helpful tactic, and I don’t know what they tried before this. If their problems related to their cutie marks, then I don’t know how simply making friends could solve that unless they were hoping for friends to help with their cutie mark problems, and then my previous sentence also comes in. Maybe they figured out that they were fine the way they were, but they also hugged each other, so maybe they wanted to share their happiness with each other? The scene was trying to show that these ponies have learned that the illusory friendship Starlight offered didn’t help them, but it comes off weird.

 

EDIT: After a discussion with another user on the forums, I just realized that I didn't word my grievance with this scene well enough. This is another instance of a character(s) learning and/or changing after a (major) experience. In this case, the villagers learn to accept their cutie marks and find happiness with what they already had. That's fine and dandy, so what's the problem? I don't know anything about these villagers or their problems. The point of Starlight's village was an attempt at equality by removing cutie marks, and the only reason a pony would agree to remove it was because they had a problem with it. Or maybe not. Starlight was trying to have "true friendship" because she thinks that differences are hazardous to friendship, and a number of villagers made remarks about this. Too bad I don't know the villager's perspective of their cutie marks or friendship. What problems did they have with their cutie marks? And what kind of problems with friendship did they encounter? And what the hell do those two things have to do with each other? Sure the episode tried to say that the having cutie marks can cause differences, and those differences can be troublesome between friends, but I already gave my say on that. So how these villagers found this experience enlightening is a mystery to me. And there's the above paragraph to consider. Just because characters learned and/or changed does not mean the story accomplished anything because I don't know how or why any of the learning and/or changing was meaningful to the characters in this episode.

 

And the villagers also decide to stay behind in their village because they’ve gotten used to it enough to call it home. I’m sure they lived somewhere else before that, so I hope they have plans to clean up their old residence.

 

There’s the conclusion, but nothing too interesting happens other than the Mane 6 remarking that their work is done.

 

I’ll admit that my opinion of “The Cutie Re-Mark” has soured this episode to a noticeable degree, but I still did enjoy this one at the very least. So I’ll just try to judge this episode only, though that might not be very helpful since all the episodes of the show are all connected in some way and take place in the same universe.

 

I’ve been tired of seeing mostly Twilight doing anything of significance in past 2-part episodes. The only exceptions I can think of up to this point would be “Friendship is Magic”, “The Crystal Empire”, and “Princess Twilight Sparkle”, though it’s still worth noting that the latter two still put Twilight in the center. So I did like seeing Fluttershy, the meekest of the group, being the one to sneak around and spy on Starlight and then trying to expose her. And Fluttershy also believed that the village was genuine, so the episode was also able to provide a reason for that pony to get into action.

 

I can’t say that the rest of the Mane 6 had something interesting to do. AJ had her “countryisms”, Rarity was concerned about designs, and RD was raring to go and was unhappy about getting saved. Pinkie Pie gets an amusing scene by eating nasty muffins, but a more notable role she had was knowing that the village was full of lies. That sounded very interesting as she could’ve also questioned Starlight about her goals and way of approaching it by pointing out that the villagers weren’t genuinely happy, but that sadly never happens. Pinkie just gets suspicious, gets her cutie mark stolen and later returned, and then she notes that the village ponies are genuinely happy. In other words, not much comes out of this.

 

Twilight unsurprisingly doesn’t get shafted as she comes up with the plan to escape their confinement as she’s still the brainy one, but Fluttershy is still the one that carries out the plan. The plan can only work as well as the one carrying it out, thus more points go to Fluttershy for the success. Again, I did like that another pony instead of just Twilight got to be active.  And since Twilight is the princess of friendship, she still has to convey her idea of friendship of Starlight.

 

As for Starlight, she was a decent villain, or at least a decent character. In “The Cutie Map”, she was self-righteous (thinking that she knew friendship, and her version is the best one), delusional (thinking cutie marks are only troublesome, though I’m being rather generous with this as I said much further up), implied to have an inferiority complex (town song, speakerphone messages, and being surprised at Twilight’s abilities), selfish (thinks more about herself and her wants), and even condescending at one point (her tirade toward the villagers after being exposed, and she thinks her idea of friendship is better). OK, she isn’t boring or unmemorable.

 

What about her actions, motivations, and portrayal so she won’t look like she’s just there? I said before that her motives are interesting because she thinks that cutie marks are curses, and the special talents that come with them damage friendships. She thinks that ideal friendship is devoid of conflict, and differences in values, opinions, interests, etc. can lead to conflict. She removes cutie marks from other ponies in an attempt to make them ordinary and remove the differences, and she’s not happy when her idea of friendship isn’t followed. Essentially, she discourages free will and individuality, but for what she sees as a greater good. Sounds good so far.

 

However, I’m actually mixed about her portrayal even in “The Cutie Map”. The main problem I have is that a lot of things about her and the episode sound interesting instead of actually being interesting. Take her obsession with cutie marks as an example. I called her delusional because I honestly doubt that a cutie mark represents literally everything about a pony. I mean, the CMC were without them for a long time, and they still had their own lives. She was putting too emphasis on cutie marks for the differences between ponies when other factors exist, and no one makes any attempt to tell her that her blame on cutie marks is unreasonable and even unfounded. So would removing cutie marks really lead to equality? The answer is obviously no, but the episode doesn’t seem to realize that. Also, forcing others to be "equal" by removing talents and cutie marks wouldn't affect relationships because the personalities along with many other inherent differences of the ponies are still present, so conflicts between friends would still happen for the same reasons. Also, with those inherent factors still present in the ponies (I don't know how Starlight would remove them), the ponies are still not equal. That was still obviously the case with the Mane 6, so this is another example of Starlight's philosophy not making any sense because it wasn't actually explored, not to mention that her plan was always going to fail since nothing would have gotten solved.

 

Starlight also believes that she has noble goals by trying to create peaceful and “equal” friendships, and the episode obviously is putting her in the wrong. That’s fine and dandy, but why does she go around with evil glares and smiles? It’s like the episode can’t decide if she’s full-on evil or just has a strange way of reaching her goals. Not helping is that the episode shows sides of her that imply her equality business stems from something more personal, like the inferiority complex that I mentioned earlier. Having such a personal goal doesn’t mesh well with a goal that’s meant to benefit others unless the point is that the latter is just a cover-up for the former, but there’s no clear indication in the episode. Even though I described aspects of her earlier, those aspects feel like they clash because the episode can’t decide what kind of a character she is. I saw her more as a selfish villain, but the episode tried to portray her as a noble villain such as with her goals, her messages in the loudspeakers, and her claims that she did some good for the villagers.

 

The episode should’ve either made her a selfish and self-serving villain or a villain who had a twisted view of harmony and friendship. Maybe there’s a way to tie those together, but there wouldn’t be enough room for that in the episode. Or at the very least, the focus would have to shift completely to Starlight.

 

I also would have liked a more even-handed example of her attempt at a utopia. The villagers weren’t actually content with their lives, so Starlight’s goal to make the ponies happy through equality was already a failure. Obviously, the episode (and viewers) would prefer individuality over forced attempts at equality, but did any of the villagers actually feel like the change was beneficial? Maybe that was to be left to the imagination, but the attempts to make Starlight look noble fail when her approach doesn’t yield any apparent positives. The episode could’ve made a point about this if Pinkie actually got to express her discomfort at seeing the fake happiness, and then Starlight would have to justify herself, but that’s not what happened.

 

The end of season 5 will try to explain Starlight further by explaining her history, and if it isn’t obvious, I think the attempt sucked. But I’d rather cover that in the actual finale.

 

Also, the map was never named in this episode. And I don’t remember if it was named in other episodes. Its purpose is to give the characters a reason to visit other parts of Equestria, and that’s fine by me since they won’t always have a reason to visit other places unless they had something to do there from the beginning. I remember reading that other royals (most notably Celestia) might have been made inconsequential since the map will be giving out quests instead of them. I suppose that’s true, but the royals were never that important to the show in the first place. The only times I recall Celestia directly giving a task was in “Dragonshy”, “The Return of Harmony”, “The Crystal Empire”, and “Keep Calm and Flutter On”. In other words, not many. And Luna never gave a task to the Mane 6. So the map never really replaced anything that would be considered important.

 

Overall, I’d say “The Cutie Map” was good enough. It had some interesting ideas, but they didn’t take off as much as they should have because the episode seemed pretty indecisive about how to express them. So far, that’s only two 2-part episodes out of 7 that I like. That’s hardly an impressive streak.

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The Cutie Re-Mark

 

Short version: This episode fucking sucks.

It’s technically 2 episodes, but I refer to this 2-parter (and others) as a “single episode” because one part/episode doesn’t tell the whole story.

 

Twilight prepares a speech at Celestia’s school. I know the episode was just mentioning the location as just a location for Twilight to do her thing, but bringing up Celestia’s name and attaching it to the school still implies that she is special in-universe somehow. That’s obviously bullshit because if that wasn’t the case, why attach her name to the school at all? The reason I’m bringing this up is because I will later talk about how the episode itself indirectly talks about the alicorn. I’ll just say that the show isn’t and will never be done soiling that alicorn’s image.

 

After the intro, Twilight gives her actual lecture to a bunch of unicorns about getting cutie marks at the same time. It seems that there were only 2 instances of this, the CMC and the Mane 6. I don’t think the show ever talked about this in detail, not even in this episode, and I honestly don’t care. However, I do have more to say about this, but that’s also a little later.

 

Starlight was also among the crowd being lectured, but how she managed to leave without making a scene is a complete mystery. Even magical teleportation makes noise and has a bright flash, but whatever.

 

After the lecture, Twilight talks to Spike about her concerns with Starlight because she is still considered dangerous. Too bad no one ever thought of SPREADING THE WORD ABOUT STARLIGHT GLIMMER. Was this idea so hard to conceive? Based on the way the story plays out, it seems that it was. On the other hand, it’s not as if bringing in anyone else including the other alicorns would have improved the episode because they never had any kind of history with Starlight and will thus look out of place. It’d be a generic villain chase from Celestia’s perspective. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

 

Twilight: Princess Celestia, you must help me catch Starlight!

Celestia: Who the hell is that?

Twilight: She’s a pony who set up a village and tried to take cutie marks away!

 

Normally, I’d think that Celestia and other ponies including Twilight would wonder how that’s possible since only Star Swirl’s spell had a direct effect on established cutie marks. I still don’t know if Celestia was already aware of that back at the end of season 3, by the way. Then again, considering what Starlight later does (and maybe having “star” in their names had something to do with it), I guess that’s normal in her case.

 

Celestia: That’s terrible! She must be stopped!

 

Twilight and Celestia try to find Starlight, and you know what, this could actually be interesting despite what I said earlier. I don’t know how they would handle Celestia being outmatched (seemingly or not) by a unicorn, but she could get to see the alternate timelines. We could get her thoughts and feelings about her uselessness, and she could try to do something about her position. Maybe she could also try to bounce her own philosophy with Starlight’s. The problem is that time would be wasted on a bunch of talking, not counting Twilight needing to recap “The Cutie Map” to Princess Celestia. Showing flashbacks of how Celestia worked could also be problematic since the episode wouldn’t be spending time advancing current events, and that still wouldn’t excuse her losing streak. I suppose there’s a good idea in here somewhere despite everything that has happened so far, but 2 episodes isn’t enough. And with the way the creators tend to handle Princess Celestia, they couldn’t do that potentially good story justice. Looks like this episode would have been fucking shit no matter what direction it took.

 

Spike may have accompanied Twilight in this episode, but he was here so Twilight could interact with another character instead of talking to herself. I guess talking to herself or verbalizing her thoughts through narration (something that doesn’t happen in the show) would’ve been too weird. Otherwise, Spike still doesn’t do much of true importance in here.

 

On with the recap. Spike and Twilight head back to their crystal castle, and Starlight was already waiting for them. I would normally say that Twilight should consider installing some kind of security for the place, but plot would’ve let Starlight break in no matter what. Anyways, Starlight casts her time travel spell, and the 3 are sent to the past.

 

They’re in Cloudsdale, right before RD races to make her first Sonic Rainboom. I don’t know how Starlight knew when exactly this event took place even though Twilight’s speech didn’t give that away. Starlight stops RD from doing the Sonic Rainboom, and then a “chain reaction” occurs. Fluttershy ends up not connecting with the animals, but this makes no sense because she was already getting along with them according to the flashback in “The Cutie Mark Chronicles”. Fluttershy got her cutie mark after comforting the animals from the explosive sound, so the prevention of the Rainboom shouldn’t have stopped her that easily because she was already able to communicate with animals.

 

AJ is next, and she doesn’t see a rainbow leading back to Ponyville. This also doesn’t make much sense as she was already homesick and didn’t enjoy the big city before seeing the rainbow, so her cutie mark should only have been slowed down at most. The rainbow was merely a catalyst and not some essential ingredient. Nothing was keeping her away from Ponyville other than herself.

 

Pinkie is in her rock farm, and she already described it as a rather dull and unhappy place with the Rainboom again being a catalyst. I could still see her getting her cutie mark later down the road, but I suppose that depends on whether she finds anything that’s bright and encourages her to share it. I guess this one gets a pass, but barely. I still think it’s possible for Pinkie to get her cutie mark just since she already wanted her home to be livened up.

 

Rarity is unable to find the gems in that huge rock she found, but she was already interested in and competent with fashion and designing. I’ve talked about her cutie mark before, which is that it’s related to finding gems, but she works in the fashion industry. If she didn’t get her cutie mark when finding that rock, that shouldn’t stop her from being disinterested in fashion. At worst, she’d get a different cutie mark and at a later time, but her life shouldn’t change much unless she has unreasonable standards for herself and her designs.

 

Twilight was startled into suddenly releasing magic, but she was always interested in magic and a potent user of it. I don’t know if there was something else that could’ve gotten her to release it, so even though she failed her first exam, she could still get her cutie mark or at least become a powerful mage assuming she tried again and again. This one, I suppose, depends on future factors like Pinkie’s case, so this also barely passes. Again, I still think it’s possible for Twilight to get her cutie mark relating to magic since she already held a lot of raw magic.

 

RD is stopped from going too fast, but she was already about to make a Sonic Rainboom. Also, her flashback in season 1 said that she was already a confident flyer and liked flying fast. She already noticed her excitement and passion as she was racing, so her cutie mark should’ve only been delayed at worst. What’s stopping her from having a rematch?

 

Why am I talking about whether the Mane 6 could get their cutie marks or not? Because according to the episode, their cutie marks were completely dependent on the Sonic Rainboom. It’s true that it did have some influence on them, but they were already on the path to getting their cutie marks whether they knew it or not, which I pointed out in each of their cases. Maybe they wouldn’t get their cutie marks simultaneously, but I highly doubt not getting their cutie marks simultaneously would prevent them from meeting at a later point in their lives.

 

Twilight and Spike are sucked into the time portal while Starlight somehow stays behind. Maybe Starlight casted another spell to prevent herself from being affected. And why would the time portal “decide” to suck in Twilight and Spike only if Starlight stops RD? As in, what determines whether that time portal opens or not?

 

The two find their map from the castle still around… somehow. The Mane 6 were never friends in the alternate timelines, so how could the map that was formed indirectly from their friendship even exist in any of them?

 

They eventually find AJ, and it turns out there’s a war against Sombra and his dark Crystal Empire with Twilight’s friends doing their part. As interesting as that might sound, I honestly don’t give a fuck because of what the entire episode says, which is that Equestria sucks without the Mane 6 as friends. More on this later.

 

AJ gets dragged to the map, and she admits that she has never seen it before. By the way, what purpose did the map, and the castle assuming it also existed, serve in this alternate timeline? Did those things just stand around waiting for Twilight to eventually reach it? I don’t know how other ponies never noticed something like a crystal map just being in the middle of Ponyville, but whatever.

 

Also, what’s sustaining Sombra’s enslaved Crystal Ponies? The helmets might be controlling them, but they’re still organisms that need sustenance like with Celestia’s army. One pony who was given a helmet looked tired, but I don’t know about the others. Celestia’s side has her ponies working their asses off so they could keep going, but I don’t know how Sombra’s army is still able to keep going. Also, I’m sure the population of the Crystal Empire isn’t more than the rest of Equestria, so I also don’t know how the smaller population is so hard to plow through. Yeah, not all of the ponies in Equestria would fight, but this points back to my question about Sombra’s army going without an apparent source of sustenance. Simply saying dark magic is lazy. What about a “light magic” counterpart? And has Princess Celestia considered trying to get to Sombra herself?

 

So Twilight goes back in time, but Starlight is already one step ahead since she rigged the spell to send herself back first. I have to wonder what happens to Starlight when Twilight and Spike are sent away. The episode always show Starlight still in filly RD’s time. So does she just go back to her time and live her life? If she’s trying to eat a cake and Twilight suddenly uses the time travelling scroll, does Starlight immediately get pulled away? The question I’m asking is: What happens to Starlight while Twilight is away?

 

Starlight also does some other things like explaining her motivation in the episode, and convincing the bullies to instead be friends with Fluttershy, but more on this later because the episode isn’t done with Starlight just yet.

 

7 minutes is spent in the Sombra timeline, and the last 30 seconds of the first part was given to the Chrysalis timeline with nothing too interesting happening in the latter.

 

Next part and next time line, still with Chrysalis. I don’t know how anyone learned her name since it was never revealed in-universe, but whatever.

 

I don’t know how Chrysalis managed to dominate Equestria when she doesn’t seem nearly as impressive as Discord, Tirek, or even Sombra in terms of power. At least in the case of Sombra, he cursed an empire after he “died” the first time and left a bunch of dark magic behind. Outside of Chrysalis beating Celestia because of some powered up by love bullshit explanation, I don’t exactly know what Chrysalis is capable of because she didn’t do anything else. Then again, Celestia and the royal guards already sucked even at the end of season 2, so conquest might not have been that difficult. There is the later season 6 finale saying that the characters were captured without any attempt at an explanation, so I also have to guess that even the creators don’t know what Chrysalis is capable of.

 

Twilight meets with an alternate Zecora and mentions the events of “A Canterlot Wedding”. For some reason, she said that she and her friends beat the Changelings even though it was only Cadance and Shining Armor that delivered the final blow. I don't know, whatever. She also somehow thinks this Changeling timeline is worse than the Sombra one. I don’t know how exactly she came to that conclusion so quickly. I guess Zecora talking about the Changelings taking over is actually referring to complete conquest which wasn’t the case in the Sombra timeline.

 

Twilight also wonders, probably like the viewer, how this new timeline could be so different even though Starlight’s actions affect only one event. Zecora tries to explain this through a comparison with river flow, but what’s given is so half-hearted, nonsensical (how is time like a river?), and minimal (no apparent river analogy concerning time travel and no further attempts to explain) that it ultimately comes down to “because plot says so”.

 

Chrysalis eventually shows up, no points for guessing how she does so, and now a concern I had about her initial appearance and motivation comes up. Changelings feed on love, but Zecora’s camp doesn’t seem abundant with that emotion. I guess ponies helping each other out might be something, but I doubt love is the most prominent emotion on display. Maybe as long as there is some amount of feeling of love, but being sneaky is still more efficient since they can still disguise themselves as loved ones and mooch off their loved ones for more of the genuine stuff.

 

Zecora quickly tells Twilight to go back to the map to do more time traveling. It’s about 5 minutes into part 2, and the scene comes off as weird because the past few minutes in the Chrysalis timeline are made pointless since Twilight could’ve just used the map to immediately go back even after the initial misunderstanding. Nothing was accomplished outside of some flimsy explanation regarding the butterfly effect and time travel. I guess Twilight needed that flimsy explanation, but they didn’t need to go to the camp. Then again, Zecora wanted to go to the camp because that was the safest location to talk, so it looks like time was always needed to be wasted over nothing.

 

Roughly 4 minutes was spent in the Chrysalis timeline.

 

Twilight goes back and fights Starlight with the two somehow being evenly matched. Then again, Starlight’s exact level is somewhat of a mystery. She removed Twilight’s cutie mark at the start of season 5, but that was more of a fast reaction on Starlight’s part. Then again, she also switched the alicorn sisters’ cutie marks in season 7, but the sisters were unable to do jack shit about it, so this is more of those 2 alicorns looking weak as usual. Twilight also blocked one of Starlight’s attack in the season 5 premiere, with a surprised reaction from Starlight about the defensive spell casted. So I don’t know how strong Starlight initially was other than being surprisingly formidable even to Twilight. Here, she was able to give Twilight a hard time since Twilight as an alicorn couldn’t overpower Starlight. Also, Starlight was levitating herself with magic while fighting. You might argue that Twilight flying also takes some mental work since she’s doing at least 2 things at the same time, but Starlight was also doing the same things (as in fighting like an alicorn) with just magic. Also, Starlight was able to seemingly easily improve a spell made by the “greatest wizard” while Twilight couldn’t. So there’s an implication of Starlight being stronger in terms of magic at the very least.

 

Twilight gets pulled back a third time, and more time will be wasted over nothing. The alternate timeline bullshit already got old with the second one since that already indicated what the rest of the timelines will look like. In fact, during my rewatch, the first alternate timeline already felt too long and boring because no one else besides the Mane 6 does anything against the villains (with the exception of Chrysalis which had Shining Armor and Cadance beat her, but even that couple was inactive for almost all of “A Canterlot Wedding”), so obviously the villains would just win outright.

 

They’re obviously in Nightmare Moon’s time because of the overworld darkness, but I guess Twilight and Spike couldn’t remember her until she actually showed her face. They meet Rarity, and Twilight tells her that she has to go back to the map to deal with Starlight. Why the hell didn’t Twilight just go back there herself already instead of wasting time to tell a clueless Rarity about the situation? She only needed Star Swirl’s scroll, so Spike could’ve just whipped it out when they first dropped by, Twilight then could cast some magic, and voila.

 

Note that Twilight later does travel back in time by blasting the map instead of the scroll, so she was already able to go back anyways. Then again, she was unable to blast the timberwolves when she first arrived. I guess she could’ve been tired from her struggle with Starlight, but too bad the 4 minutes spent in the Nightmare Moon (shortened to NMM for the rest of the review) timeline amount to nothing. So the story would have lost nothing if she immediately went back. At least she does immediately go back during the next 3 timelines.

 

NMM finally reveals herself after Twilight mentions time travel, and apparently the dark alicorn knows nothing about time travelling spells. She also mentions Equestria as “her kingdom” with a surprised response from Spike. What? Did he forget about the previous 2 timelines he visited literally moments earlier? And then he mentions Princess Celestia.

Are you fucking kidding me?

 

The episode tried to imply some importance with Celestia yet again, but it seems that no one who worked on this bothered or cared to notice that Celestia has been completely inconsequential to the show in more ways than one.

 

And NMM wastes no time in confirming that as she already banished Celestia to the moon. This already confirms that NMM is stronger than Celestia, or at the very least Celestia is completely and utterly useless (what a surprise) against NMM. Yeah, fuck you ass holes for constantly disrespecting this character.

 

And now I’d like to talk about another problem the show has brought up and doesn’t seem aware of. What do the alicorns know, and what are they capable of? The show is always making the same and stupid mistake of putting them on the sidelines so the other characters can do their stuff, and this instead makes those alicorns look stupid, useless, and/or incompetent instead of powerful but not perfect.

 

There’s an implication of alicorns being more special than the average pony since they’re not as common, the ones that have shown up so far are all princess (i.e. some figure of authority, or at least not commoners), they’re said to be proficient with magic, and the characters at one point or another have put them on some kind of pedestal like Twilight did with Princess Celestia in early seasons. Celestia isn’t the only alicorn that suffers from being useless, but she’s the most notable one for doing the least because she gets into explicit trouble so someone else can do her job. How is constantly putting these characters on the sidelines supposed to support the idea that they are useful or powerful?

 

In this case, NMM is unfamiliar with magic relating to time travel. This bothers me very much because someone like her (i.e. a powerful mage) doesn’t know about this, and keep in mind that almost nothing has been said about these alicorns even after over 100 episodes. Luna/NMM wasn’t around for 1000 years straight like her sister, but she’s been around for a fair amount of time at the very least. There’s a tie-in book that says Star Swirl was around during the time of the alicorn sisters, but since that book has never been referred to in the show, that info is as canon as the comics. The point is that these 2 alicorns have lived for a long time, so they should’ve seen a lot of things unless they happened to be stuck in one location for their entire lives, and I’m sure Luna has lived a decent amount of time before getting banished to the moon. If that tie-in book is canon for whatever reason, NMM being clueless about time-travel spells makes even less sense.

 

The problem is that the show is always making the non-Twilight alicorns look bad, and here’s another example with Luna/NMM being unaware of time-travel spells. I’m not saying that they have to know everything because they obviously won’t. But with this and later “The Crystalling”, what do they know? The episodes keep saying what they don’t know, and that’s not the same as saying what they do know. If the former is getting brought up more often than the latter, then they will just look stupid and clueless since they’re always being set aside instead of being active and making a real contribution to solving the problem.

 

By the way, it’s almost halfway through part 2, and what has it accomplished so far? I have no fucking clue.

 

The alternate timelines aren’t done yet, but at least the next 3 with Tirek, Discord, and the Film Flam brothers are only about 10 seconds each. Seriously? Even the Flim Flam brothers are too much for Celestia (and Luna if she’s around) to handle?

 

Twilight finally wises up and drags Starlight into an alternate timeline because the latter refused to believe that stopping the Rainboom could lead to long-term damage. OK, so Starlight definitely didn’t travel to any of those timelines before this, so like I asked earlier: What the hell was she doing?

 

Then we spend 1 minute in the wasteland. At least this wasn’t as long as the first 3. I have more to say, but I’ll save that for later.

 

Starlight transports the trio into her own past, and says the following.

Starlight: That map of yours is connected to every part of Equestria, and this part is my home.

 

This is really just more support for the idea that only the Mane 6 are important to Equestria as they have access to not just every part of Equestria, but also Equestria throughout different times. I’m sure something like this would be useful to other important ponies of authority because they’d appreciate having more efficient ways of looking over Equestria.

 

Anyways, all we get is that Starlight’s “best friend” (she doesn’t use that term, but that’s how the episode tried to convey the two), Sunburst, suddenly saves Starlight from a tall stack of books with his own magic and gets his cutie mark. He gets so happy that he runs outside, and the other ponies celebrate by carrying him away. And that’s it. Literally. Only 40 seconds at most was spent showing those two. 40 FUCKING SECONDS. The most important part of Starlight’s motivation doesn’t even get ONE FUCKING MINUTE. Meanwhile, the NMM timeline (i.e. the most pointless flashback) got 4 minutes, more than TWICE the amount of total time spent in Starlight’s past (1.5 minutes). There better be a good explanation for this. I have plenty more to say about this bullshit flashback, but I’d rather save that for the end since I also have plenty to say about Starlight herself.

 

The trio eventually go back to filly RD’s time (by the way, Starlight was able to trigger this without the map or scroll), and Starlight threatens to rip the time travel scroll to prevent Twilight from using it. Why Starlight didn’t do that earlier, I don’t know. And Starlight asks a somewhat relevant question:

Starlight Glimmer: What's so special about your friends? How can a group of ponies that are so different be so important?

Twilight Sparkle: The differences between me and my friends are the very things that make our friendship strong!

Too bad Twilight didn’t answer the question, but the real answer to the question is because the creative team said so. And Twilight's answer, if you can call it that, is hardly satisfactory. Are the differences between friends really what make their friendships strong? What if there were two college roommates who often quarreled because they couldn't agree on how to maintain and use that room? They obviously have differences in interests, values, and living style which could lead them into quarrels. If those quarrels got ugly and personal and affected other parts of their lives, you can't say they have a good relationship, and I hardly doubt they'd become good friends if neither tried to fix those problems. So it's hardly having differences that contribute to friendship. They have to be able to accept and work with those differences as well.

 

More bullshit talk between Twilight and Starlight, and the latter is finally convinced that friendship is worth it. They and Spike go back to their original timeline, and the map sends the scroll into a time portal. Why? What does that mean? The world may never know. I’m guessing it’s to prevent the map from being used again. Why not just tear it up after coming back? Or if they don’t want to do that, keep it locked up and guarded, though that option will definitely fail to work.

 

The Mane 6 gather around to talk about Starlight, and the latter feels uneasy but is willing to accept punishment from the Mane 6. Since when did the Mane 6 have that kind of jurisdiction? Still, like I said earlier, it still wouldn’t make sense to bring in other figures since they’re more than irrelevant to the story, so their inclusion would feel random and forced.

 

Twilight is willing to teach Starlight about friendship, with the latter accepting. And Twilight already confirms that the Mane 6 and Spike have already and immediately become her friends. What did she do to earn their friendship at this point? I have no idea. I don’t know why it was so hard for the creators to say that the Mane 6’s (including Spike) trust and friendship will instead have to be earned, and Starlight must prove herself as a good pony.

 

And there’s the ending song saying that friendship is magic, blah blah blah. It’s not very meaningful when considering Starlight’s portrayal in the episode.

(continued in the next post)

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(continued from above)

Where do I even start? I’ll say immediately that I hate everything about “The Cutie Re-Mark”, and I can’t think of anything I genuinely liked about it. If I really had to try making a positive comment, then I can say that the production values were good, but that’s a pointless and meaningless compliment since that can be applied to literally every other episode of the show. Pretty looking shit is still shit. All that means is that a lot of work was put into this episode, but it’s too bad all that work wasn’t on something worthwhile. And I don’t know how anyone working on this episode didn’t think it was god-awful unless income was an issue.

 

Since plenty of time (at least a total of 16 minutes) was spent on the alternate timelines, I’ll start there. I’m sure there are viewers who might call bullshit about what villain gets to conquer Equestria when NMM came first in the main timeline, or maybe Discord is the only one who could ever come out on top since he’s the most powerful, but that’s honestly the least of the problems with those alternate timelines. We got to see how Equestria might look under a certain major villain, and maybe there’s some interest in exploring those different kinds of dystopian Equestrias, but I couldn’t care less about those alternate worlds. Why?

 

BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL THE FUCKING SAME.

 

Those differences like NMM’s world being an eternal night or a struggling war against Sombra are meaningless distinctions because ALL of those alternate timelines make the same damn point, which is that Equestria could never last without the Mane 6 as friends. I know that in most of the 2-parters, the Mane 6 are the ones who finish off the villains with exceptions like Chrysalis or Sombra to a smaller degree. But even in those exceptions, the Mane 6 was more active than the actual guardian(s) of Equestria, i.e. Celestia and Luna. So while the alternate timelines make some amount of sense with the villains being successful because the alicorn sisters have and could never do anything against them, this aspect of the previous seven 2-parters was never a positive. As in, making the non-Twilight alicorns useless for the sake of the Mane 6 (or just Twilight) was never a good thing in the first place, so continuing and exaggerating the stupidity in this 2-parter wouldn’t stop that from being a unnecessary, easily fixable, and - well - stupid flaw.

 

It’s stupid for the well-being of Equestria to rely on the Mane 6’s friendship; even average con artists like Flim and Flam can and will somehow fuck up Equestria because the figure(s) in charge somehow can’t do jack shit about it. Furthering the problem is that the episode also took a dump on literally every other character in Equestria. The most obvious victims, at least to me, are Princess Celestia and Luna (mostly the former). Those ponies have never contributed to a villain’s defeat in any of the previous 2-parters, and they haven’t contributed anything to the show as a whole. So it really sucks to learn that they’ll never successfully defend Equestria in the long-term, especially when I want to learn more about them and their alleged “greatness”. As in, all I’ve learned about them from this episode is that they’re completely worthless. Maybe you want to be more optimistic about their fates in the alternate timelines and say that they were able to successfully ward off every villain except the one shown. Too bad there’s no concrete proof, so the villain shown could’ve just as easily been the first and already put the alicorn(s) in a corner. And that still doesn’t stop them from being ultimately useless at defending Equestria since they were still ultimately unsuccessful against the villain shown.

 

Oh yeah, let’s not forget the wasteland Equestria. Whatever caused it is inconsequential because it still confirms that only the Mane 6 as friends will let Equestria prosper. I have to keep emphasizing that it’s the Mane 6 as friends and not simply the Mane 6 because they still existed somehow in the alternate timelines. I don’t know how Equestria prospered or even lasted before the Mane 6 met.

 

Here's also an "interesting" quote from Twilight while she and Starlight were in the wasteland.

"I don't know why my friends and I are so important to Equestria, but we are."

You might think that my immediate reaction is to derisively comment that the Mane 6 are so important to Equestria because the writers keep saying so while never bothering to give importance to anyone else. That's true, but take a look at the first 3 words of the sentence, "I don't know". This is another sign of laziness and/or stupidity from the writer(s) to avoid admitting or not caring about the fact that all they've done is place importance on the Mane 6 far above anyone and everyone else. I'll get back to this point shortly later.

 

Celestia and Luna may not be the main characters of the show, but that doesn’t mean they should be subjected to such shitty treatment like this (and it’s FIVE SEASONS so far). And what happened to Cadance? She wasn’t even mentioned once in “The Cutie Re-Mark”, so she’s probably more worthless than the alicorn sisters. Why was she ever introduced, again?

 

As for the other minor and major characters excluding the Mane 6, their importance is actually nonexistent despite what the episode (or just Twilight, really) tried to say.

 

And it's not just my friendships that are important to Equestria! Everypony's are!”

Friendship connects all of Equestria, and undoing one group of friends made its magic less powerful.”

“I've been thinking a lot about how badly Equestria fared without just one group of friends. Because even when one friendship dies, the results can be disastrous.”

 

FUCK YOU, ASSHOLES.

 

Anyone who takes the smallest moment to think about those statements and apply them to this episode can already smell bullshit. The episode tried to say that all friendships are important to Equestria, but it only showed the results without the Mane 6’s friendship. Last time I checked, “all” and “Mane 6’s” don’t have the same meaning. And let’s take the alternate timelines into consideration. All of them show an Equestria that is desolate and/or hopeless because the Mane 6 never met. But if the Mane 6 didn’t meet, surely there are other ponies who met and became friends? If so, then there is at least one other friendship that exists not concerning any of the Mane 6, but those friendship(s) sure as hell didn’t make Equestria a peaceful and prosperous land. Nevermind if the Elements of Harmony worked with them or not because the final result is still a helpless Equestria. Note that no friendships in any of the alternate timelines were explored, so whether they even exist is still up in the air. Otherwise, the only other option is that no friendship could exist because the Mane 6’s already didn’t exist, and that already puts the Mane 6’s friendship above everybody else’s. How does any of this support the idea that all friendships in Equestria are important?

 

Let’s apply this to Sunburst and Starlight’s “friendship”. We don’t know what the two are like in the alternate timelines, so whether they were friends or not still ties into the above paragraph, and thus their friendship is still unnecessary for a peaceful Equestria. To further support that point, don’t forget about the main timeline. The two weren’t friends for a long time, and Equestria still turned managed to turn out peaceful. So we have at least one concrete idea of what Equestria is like without Starlight and Sunburst’s friendship.

 

The only other “broken” friendship I can think of is with Moon Dancer, and even that’s only a broken potential friendship. Her life wasn’t the best, and she had issues, but they didn’t lead to a disaster for all of Equestria. Or what about Suri Polomare from “Rarity Takes Manehattan”? They were more like acquaintances according to the episode, but that’s still another broken friendship, and nothing terrible happened. I don’t know if there are other examples in the show, but that’s not my point. The point is that friendships are broken all the time, at least in real-life. MLP is not real life, but there has to be some amount of similarities so the show can mean something to the viewers. And it’s highly doubtful that any kind of friendship lasts an eternity even in Equestria. Take Starlight’s broken childhood friendship. Does everyone keep the friendships made in childhood? I didn’t. People come and go all the time in a person’s life, so that also means that new friendships are made. At least the episode makes a small point about the latter, but that still doesn’t fix anything. Since the episode doesn’t try to make a point about new friendships being able to compensate for old ones, all I’m left with is that if a friendship is broken for any reason, that’s still too bad for Equestria. And like I said earlier, that still doesn’t make any goddamn sense no matter how I look at it.

 

Oh, and Twilight tried to say that Starlight losing Sunburst “led [them] here.” What a load of fucking bullshit. Starlight and Sunburst’s broken friendship didn’t lead to time travelling nonsense, it was Starlight’s own series of choices. Starlight just made stupidly immature choices because she had a ridiculously stupid view of friendship. If she lost Sunburst, she could just as easily tried to move on. No one forced her to start her village or to time travel and screw over the Mane 6’s friendship other than herself. It’s not the same as the lack of Mane 6 leading to disasters because the lack of the Mane 6 meant that no one else could stand up to whatever villain was trying to cause trouble. And the lack of Mane 6 friendship also wouldn’t affect the villain in question unless they arbitrarily tie their decisions to the fate of a random group of ponies.

 

Time for Starlight’s backstory, and wow is it minimal. The end of season 5 reveals that Starlight’s friend, Sunburst, got his cutie mark before Starlight did and seemingly abandoned her. That sounds good on paper, but the execution is incredibly stupid. Sunburst got his cutie mark and was carried away by an overjoyed crowd, and the two somehow never communicate again. From the way that part and “The Crystalling” played out, the two ponies never even considered contacting each other, which clashes with “The Cutie Re-Mark” trying to claim that they were close friends. What was even stopping them from trying? It didn’t even say that any kind of attempt to contact each other failed, so all I can guess is that they somehow assumed they would never see each other again. The idea behind Starlight’s history would make more sense if all of her friendships (including with Sunburst) somehow got screwed over by cutie marks, but the episode stated that she never tried to make new friends. And she never tried because she thought a cutie mark would take that new friend away, so how did she come to that conclusion just after one event? That may have been a close friend, but if she was that close to him, she would’ve tried to get him back instead of just accepting for no apparent reason that he was gone forever. There are also plenty of other pony friendships around her, and I’m sure those ponies have cutie marks, so I don’t know how exactly she thought that cutie marks and friendship don’t go together. I doubt the ponies with cutie marks were explicitly suffering, so I also don’t know how she thought that cutie marks were so problematic.

 

It’s just one pony and one event. Maybe Starlight’s personality at the time also influenced her stance, but that’s also not it. She simply assumed that Starlight was gone forever even though she could’ve easily visited him. There was no indication that he ever rejected her. Also note that Sunburst didn’t even first share his cutie mark with Starlight, his best friend, so the idea of them being best friends is further weakened.

 

Not helping this backstory is that Starlight claimed that she and Sunburst were "the same. But [they] turned out different, and it tore [their] friendship apart". Does reading this make any sense? Does it help the backstory that was shown on-screen? No. First, I don't know how she thought they were the same, and I don't know how she thought they could be since they're already different ponies. But fine, I'll be generous and assume that she thought there were enough similarities between them such as interests, hobbies, values, and so forth. However, there's another problem. There was so little shown between them, and none of what was shown supports that idea, so it comes off as yet another example of the show preferring to verbalize instead of dramatize. And their friendship being torn apart? Do I really need to say anything? They didn't split over a huge conflict or disagreement. They just stopped seeing each other for some unknown reason, and I still don't know how getting Sunburst getting a cutie mark before Starlight would mean that the two were so different that they couldn't stay friends with each other. Finally, why does Starlight even care so much about whether ponies are the same or different? There's no doubt that similarities and differences impact a relationship, but these ideas are hardly explored in the show or with Starlight.

 

And I don’t know how this single event eventually led Starlight to create her village. I did have some issues about Starlight’s portrayal as a villain in “The Cutie Map”, but it sounded interesting at the very least, and she could’ve ended up great with a follow-up. Again, the follow-up is very minimal. How did Sunburst suddenly leaving (excusing the conclusions I came to earlier) lead to Starlight deciding to make a philosophy about equality? Sunburst certainly didn’t leave because he thought he was better than her. According to Starlight, she said that Sunburst’s family saw potential in him and sent him to Canterlot. Unless she has an inferiority complex, which wasn’t exactly confirmed in here even though “The Cutie Map” implied that issue, that hardly sounds like Sunburst’s family thought he was too good for her.

 

The point I’m trying to make is that I don’t know how a cutie mark seemingly breaking a friendship ties with Starlight’s belief to promote and force equality.

 

The biggest problem with Starlight is that the episode (and the show up to this point) has no idea what kind of a character she is. She started off as a character who had her own views of friendship and happiness, and she believed that cutie marks only caused problems between friends because of a seeming lack of equality. The episode tried to support the latter in “The Cutie Re-Mark”, but I have to emphasize again that the episode never tried to put Sunburst in a superior position, so I still don’t know how Starlight arrived at her conclusions and eventually decided to make her village.

 

Since the episode doesn’t know what kind of character Starlight was supposed to be, I also don’t know what she wanted. Toward the end of part 1, her belief in equality comes up when she convinces the bullies to stop harassing Fluttershy. OK, fine. But shortly before when explaining her plans to Twilight, Starlight just wanted to stop the Mane 6 from getting their cutie marks. This comes up again in part 2 when Twilight admits that she can’t stop Starlight, but they could be stuck in an eternal struggle. Starlight doesn’t mind because, again, she still just wants to stop the Mane 6 from getting their cutie marks. I don’t know how preventing the Mane 6 from getting their cutie marks is supposed to support her desire for equality, so that’s another bit of proof that the sides of Starlight (equality, cutie marks, and friendship) don’t come together since the episode never explores how they relate to each other. There’s a way to tie those concepts together, but the episode would need to heavily focus on Starlight, which definitely didn’t happen here.

 

And then Starlight regrets everything she did toward the end for some reason, which doesn’t make any sense because when she was about to rip the time travel scroll (which came shortly before this point), she still denied Twilight’s claims about stopping the Rainboom causing only long-term problems. There’s also her rushed redemption with the ending song. Obviously, it doesn’t make any sense for her to be forgiven so quickly and easily considering that she indirectly caused various disasters for Equestria and didn’t care, and she also tried to force equality at the beginning of season 5, but the rushed redemption is far from the biggest problems with Starlight.

 

There’s another thing I want to talk about. The episode, for some reason, places special importance on getting the Mane 6 getting their cutie marks simultaneously.

 

WHO THE FUCK CARES IF THEY GET THEIR CUTIE MARKS AT THE SAME TIME OR NOT?

 

Why does the existence of their friendship depend on the Sonic Rainboom event? Yes, it helped them get their cutie marks, but like I said earlier, the Rainboom acted more like a catalyst since “The Cutie Mark Chronicles” already showed what they were interested in. And I highly doubt the Rainboom was the thing that allowed them to be friends in the first place. I thought the Mane 6 were friends because they cared about each other, they liked what they saw in each other, they had some common interests, they enjoyed being around with each other, they bring happiness and fulfillment in each other's lives, etc. You know, the reasons any two people would be friends. Even if RD didn’t successfully make the Rainboom that time, why would that prevent them from meeting or even prevent them from liking each other? RD and Fluttershy already knew each other when they were fillies, and no reason is given for them to not keep up with each other besides lack of interest. I wasn’t too big on “The Cutie Mark Chronicles” making it seem like they were destined to be friends, but I’ve mellowed out because the episode Rainboom connection more as a bonus for their friendship. None of them would know the connection and its importance until much later in their lives, so I don’t know why their friendship would depend on that event so much.

 

The beginning of the episode even only mentioned 2 cases of friends getting cutie marks simultaneously, which is with the CMC (already friends) and the Mane 6 (not friends when they first got their cutie marks), and this idea never gets explored. It only gets mentioned at best from Starlight, who thought that she and Sunburst didn’t stay friends because they didn’t get their cutie marks simultaneously, and that already sounds like utter bullshit. Those two didn’t stay friends because they never bothered to stay in touch. I’m sure there are other friendships in Equestria, and I highly doubt a majority of them hinged on getting cutie marks at a certain time.

 

The episode tried to say that the Mane 6’s friendship worked because of the Sonic Rainboom stuff, and I think that’s stupid for the above reasons. If their friendship was that special and strong, it shouldn’t need the Rainboom for the friendship to matter. Their friendship worked and lasted because they got along and cared about each other. Even though the first Equestria Girls movie was stupid, at least the movie conveyed that idea better than this episode.

 

This is getting a bit long, but I’ve covered my biggest complaints about “The Cutie Re-Mark”. Starlight’s minimal backstory, the confused portrayal of Starlight, too much importance is placed on the Rainboom, and the episode also places too much importance on the Mane 6 at the expense of literally every other character. If the other alicorns, especially Princess Celestia, sucked so much, I don’t know why they were ever included in the show at all.

 

This episode contains the biggest flaws of the previous 2-parters and even amplifies them. Twilight is the only one of the Mane 6 that does anything, and the other alicorns are useless. Yeah, that former point. I’m surprised I didn't talk about that yet, but that’s because the episode has much bigger problems, and I don't want this to be too long.

 

I have no idea what the episode was trying to go for. It’s definitely not about Starlight since she gets so little focus. The episode tried to say that all friendships are important even though that’s clearly false. It’s not about small changes in the past leading to different results in the future since the same damn result was repeated, which is the life of Equestria being dependent on the Mane 6’s friendship. Again, I still don't know the significance of friends, even those who weren't friends at first, getting cutie marks at the same time. Does the connection with the cutie marks even matter that much? I don't know why their relationships with each other need to rely on the timing of acquiring cutie marks because that would make relationships hard to form if simultaneous acquisition is required.

 

I’ve always wanted to learn more about the alicorns and Equestrian lore, but it looks like none of those matter since the other characters don’t mean jack shit. This just means more stuff gets wasted for no reason, and then I wonder why any of this shit was brought up in the first place.

 

And alternate timelines are always interesting. Besides being repetitive, it's also too bad we didn't see Twilight, Spike, or Starlight's alternate lives, not that seeing any of those would actually make the episode good.

 

Maybe I’m exaggerating, but I’m willing to call this one of the worst stories ever told. At the very least, it’s one of the worst I’ve ever seen. I know people can have different opinions, but I honestly can’t find a reason to like anything about this episode.

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The Crystalling

 

Starlight still regrets everything she did in “The Cutie Re-Mark”, which is bullshit because when she was dragged into the wasteland Equestria, she refused to accept what she saw. And later she also threatened to rip the time travel scroll while still denying what she saw. Starlight only turned around because Twilight convinced her that friendship was worth it, so I don’t know how exactly any of that led to regret or guilt, but whatever.

 

As for the episode, Twilight has a bunch of lessons prepared for Starlight. Too bad Starlight won’t study very hard.

 

The others are looking forward to the Crystalling, a Crystal Empire event. They don’t know much about it because they don’t know much about the Crystal Empire anyways. Too bad the show never took time to explore that place. But Spike appears to explain the event. Since Cadance and Shining Armor are royals and having a baby, that baby gets presented to the residents of the empire, a crystal shard absorbs the positive emotion, and the Crystal Heart is made stronger after absorbing that shard. I’m guessing the Crystal Heart magically absorbs the shard and not physically since physical absorption would make the heart bigger, and the Crystal Heart also would lose its shape if one shard was physically attached to it.

 

Spike said that he helped Twilight with researching the Crystal Empire. Since that place was unknown to almost everyone before season 3, I highly doubt his research came from Ponyville’s local library (or any library that isn’t in the Crystal Empire) unless the Crystal Empire published some books off-screen. Did the Crystal Castle come with its own books on the Crystal Empire? Anyways, I imagine he’d have to get books from the Crystal Empire itself.

 

Twilight has come up with a friendship lesson for Starlight, which is to reunite with Sunburst, and he happens to live in the Crystal Empire. I wonder when he started living there, and are there any other non-crystal ponies who moved there? Maybe the Equestria Games popularized the area.

 

Starlight is not too eager to meet up with him because she feels too embarrassed and regretful about her recent happenings. She could always talk about other parts of her life such as the time before she set up her village, but that definitely wouldn’t work as Sunburst would want to know who Starlight is now, and more recent events are better with that.

Starlight wanders around to think about her situation, and she encounters Spike and expresses herself to him. She gives a bit more about her history, with Sunburst being knowledgeable about magic, but the flashback showed Starlight with more raw power. Not a bad touch. And then we get to the part (again for the sake of new viewers) where Sunburst got his cutie mark and left her behind for no reason. And Spike mentions her hating cutie marks and a bunch of other stuff I don’t really care about. If it isn’t obvious, I still think her given history is stupid for the same reasons I said when I talked about “The Cutie Re-Mark”. At least Spike shows what he will be doing for the rest of the episode with this scene, which is to encourage and support Starlight, and he starts by advising her to tell Twilight about this nervousness. Good thing he actually got something to do in here unlike the last few 2-parters.

 

The group, as in the Mane 6 plus Spike and Starlight because there isn’t 6 of them anymore even though I’ve used “Mane 6” to also include Spike but whatever, are on a train to the Crystal Empire. And more exposition  since the train travel would be pointless if nothing of interest happens during that time. Twilight explains that the Crystal Empire would be overwhelmed by its surrounding blizzard without the protection the Crystal Heart offers. I wonder why the founders of the empire wanted that location in the first place because I doubt having a population rely on an unprotected magical artifact for survival is practical. Or did blizzards happen to be a non-issue 1000 years ago?

 

Starlight still wants to avoid meeting Sunburst, but a helpful push from Spike gets her to express concern to Twilight. Twilight responds with a long list of steps, but Starlight is remains nervous and looks like she still has more concerns. Too bad Starlight doesn’t get to explain herself some more because the train has arrived at the Crystal Empire. I guess they really needed the story to move along because it’s almost halfway through part 1, and all that happened so far is the characters getting an invitation about the Crystalling, information about that event, and Starlight being nervous about revisiting her old friend. In other words, the initial exposition takes up about half of part 1, and there’s going to be more slowdowns on the way, which makes part 1 feel slow and uneventful.

 

The group gets off the train and encounter Shining Armor, who is visibly overworked from taking care of the baby. It’s really a shame that he and Cadance haven’t been given much screentime, so it’s even more of a shame that their struggle to take care of their baby hasn’t been dramatized to show their lives and other sides of them. I guess the baby being an alicorn was meant to be a surprise, but they still could’ve showed how the couple handled the baby after the events of this episode.

 

Since Twilight will be busy helping the couple with the baby, Spike volunteers to help Starlight finish her first friendship lesson by helping Starlight through Twilight’s list. Another good move on his part.

 

We are first treated to Spike and Starlight’s trip around the Crystal Empire probably to make the reveal of the baby as more of a surprise. Since Starlight still wants to delay the story avoid meeting Sunburst, she gets Spike to talk about his past exploits concerning the Empire. It’s strange that he is considered the one to have saved the empire back at the start of season 3 when he actually tripped over one of Sombra’s dark crystals. Shining Armor threw Cadance to catch the heart, and she put the heart in its proper location, so Spike by himself didn’t save the place. One can say that Spike did contribute, but no one seems to remember if the couple that currently rule the area did anything. Maybe the single statue of Spike is to make him not feel overshadowed by the rulers.

 

The baby is finally revealed, and she’s an alicorn. Everyone including the adult alicorn themselves are shocked. Rarity and AJ thought that an alicorn status is earned, not born, which is to reference when Twilight became an alicorn. Cadance was said to have been a pegasus that later became an alicorn, but that was from side material that may or may not be canon unless the creators of the show are aware of said material and reference it in the show somehow. So if that side material somehow holds some truth, that means even an artificial alicorn can have a natural alicorn as an offspring. But the mystery and mythology behind alicorns are swept under the rug with the following scenes.

 

Celestia and Luna reveal that they themselves don’t know why Flurry Heart (the baby who is not yet named, but now I’d rather use a proper noun for the same reason Twilight’s mother later states at the end of the episode) is an alicorn because they reveal that an alicorn has never been born in Equestria. Maybe you want to consider The Journal of the Two Sisters canon, which is that the sisters are natural-born alicorns and were born before the founding of Equestria. However, that book was never confirmed to be canon within the show in any way, so it’s as canon as the tie-in short novels and comics. Just based on what the show itself has given up to this point, what kind of alicorns are Celestia, Luna, and Cadance? Too bad the answer will never be given because none of them try to elaborate upon the issue.

 

If that book is canon somehow, then that’s still no excuse for the episode to leave the sisters look clueless instead of letting themselves try to explain this development, not that I think they could’ve explained based on the way the episode plays out. The book said they were born as alicorns, they lived among other alicorns before ruling Equestria, and so other alicorns exist. There was a chance for the show to tie in The Journal of the Two Sisters while also giving more away about these kinds of ponies, but nope. Celestia and Luna just say they don’t know anything about Flurry Heart’s birth and drop the subject completely. Is the show trying to say the sisters know nothing about their own births or the birth of a regular alicorn? Is that book still canon or not? Only God knows.

 

Maybe there wasn’t be enough room to talk about the lore of alicorns since the episode was about the Crystalling and Starlight meeting Sunburst, but there were at least 22 shots to explain and expand, and the show unsurprisingly chickens out. I wouldn’t be surprised if the creative team doesn’t even know the lore of their own show. And this is yet another example of the mistake of the show always saying what the sisters don’t know instead of saying what they do know.

 

I also feel that since Celestia and Luna themselves don’t know the answer, the creators won’t feel the need to explain why Flurry Heart was born as an alicorn. However, that doesn’t make sense since alicorns have hardly been explored (why are they in this show, again?), and this revelation raises more questions that have potentially interesting answers, but the creative team tends to lazy and stupid with this area of MLP.

 

The Crystalling hasn’t been set up yet, and there’s the baby alicorn to keep watch over. Twilight and Pinkie stay with Flurry Heart. Twilight is the aunt, so fine. Pinkie enjoys the baby, so I guess that’s why Twilight included her. Though it’s worth noting that none of Twilight’s other friends tried to interact with Flurry Heart, so it might as well be Pinkie only to make the decision easier. Thus, the rest of the Mane 6 will be helping with the big event, so at least they got something to do for now. The non-Twilight alicorns leave, so I’m guessing the alicorn sisters are trying to help Cadance prepare for the event. It’s also too bad Cadance hasn’t interacted much, if at all, with those 2 alicorns. I mean, supplementary information even put Cadance as an adopted niece of Celestia’s, but you’d never figure that out by watching every single episode of the show. So what was the point of that piece of trivia? It’s too trivial even for trivia.

 

We’re back to Spike and Starlight, and the former just finished talking about “The Crystal Empire”. His listeners want to watch hear about “Equestria Games”, but Spike knows his priorities (sort of) by saying that he has to help Starlight. At least the episode didn’t waste screentime with Spike’s storytelling, and these bits show that he values his status and the attention that comes with it, but it still took too long to finally get Starlight with Sunburst.

 

And the next scene is Starlight approaching Sunburst’s home. At least the episode didn’t delay this part when it was finally time for it to come, but that’s probably because too much time has already passed. Spike also shows that he has taken after Twilight to a degree by following her checklist closely (and he was irritated at how she would approach her checklists in past episodes, though he would still go along with them anyways) and “highlighting the importance of the meeting.” He even overreacted about the potential negatives of the meeting going wrong, and he said something that a worried Twilight might say, so it was a good and amusing scene if a bit late.

After about 16.5 minutes into part 1, Starlight finally knocks and meets her old friend. I don’t know if the delay was to up the tension and anticipation for this reunion, but about 11 minutes or so of slow exposition with nothing else actually happening had me saying that it took them long enough to finally get to this point. It’s not like the episode would avoid Sunburst because he was brought up at least a few times over the course of the episode so far, and avoiding Sunburst would’ve meant too much time wasted on a detail that ultimately ended up being pointless, so they didn’t need to delay the inevitable for this long.

 

Continuing with the episode, Sunburst finally responds, and the two have an awkward chat because they both have something to hide. More on this later. Sunburst doesn’t take long to close his door for the same reason Starlight doesn’t want to express herself, and Starlight doesn’t hesitate to leave since she wants this task done as soon as possible. I guess she didn’t notice that this first meeting wasn’t as bad as she first thought, but Spike encourages her to try again because Starlight didn’t actually try to finish the lesson, and it’d also be stupid for the episode to waste Sunburst over such an appearance as short as this.

 

The Crystalling still isn’t ready just yet, and Shining Armor expresses more stress about his current position since he has to be a father and set up the event. Seeing his experiences dramatized instead of verbalized would’ve been more effective so there can be more insight into his character. It’s not like he ever meant anything up to this point outside of being Twilight’s brother, Cadance’s husband, and captain of the royal guards. Such useful descriptions of his character. I guess the creators wanted to give something of a realistic portrayal of parenthood such as saying how tired Cadance and SA are, but this would be more effective if they actually show the experiences the couple went through. Maybe that would’ve been good for the target audience so said audience is made aware of their own parents not having an easy time with their own lives. Otherwise, those “implications” don’t mean anything because it’s just repeating yet again how troublesome Flurry Heart has been without adding anything else to the story or characters. AJ, Rarity, RD, and Fluttershy are with SA, and so far those 4 of the Mane 6 haven’t done anything of interest. Then we cut to Twilight and Pinkie having their own struggles with Flurry Heart. Nothing to see here. Though it’s strange that Pinkie was having fun with the baby alicorn at first and then suddenly struggling to rein that baby in.

 

We cut back to Starlight and Sunburst, and the latter is surprised that Twilight wants the two to be friends again. I don’t know why he’s against this. Does he think that the past should be left in the past? Then again, why did he ever leave Starlight behind without saying a word? And why didn’t he share his cutie mark with her? Nothing else happens here other than the 2 hiding something from each other and having awkward conversations.

 

It’s almost the end of part 1. The whole gang is now ready to start the Crystalling, but since there’s a part 2, that event obviously won’t happen so soon. That’s because Flurry Heart gets separated from Pinkie at this point, and Flurry cries so loudly that the sound shatters the Crystal Heart. You’d think something as important and powerful as the Crystal Heart would have better protection (like an inherent magical barrier) against conventional forms of breakage, but I guess the episode needed a problem big enough for certain characters to shine. And that ends part 1. Nothing too exciting so far mostly because only a few characters out of the bunch did anything noteworthy: Twilight, Starlight, Spike, and newcomer Sunburst. Flurry Heart only stands out as the baby alicorn. The rest of them (Twilight’s other friends, the non-Twilight alicorns, and Shining Armor) get their usual roles (as in inactivity). Pinkie did interact with Flurry, but it’s still not much.

 

Time for part 2, and since the Crystal Heart is broken, the Crystal Empire has no protection from the seemingly constant blizzards surrounding the area. RD volunteers to clear the clouds, but these blizzards are much stronger than the ones she’s used to. And that seems true since RD was quickly covered in ice later in the episode after trying to clear a few clouds while the alicorn sisters lasted much longer. Too bad that isn’t enough to compensate for the sisters’ losing streak, but more on that later.

 

Back to Starlight and Sunburst, and those two are still too ashamed to express themselves until Spike reveals a tip from Twilight’s list that encourages them to share their shames. That tip actually doesn’t sound too bad on paper since sharing embarrassing moments can help the embarrassed ones feel more at ease when knowing that others are just as capable of doing something stupid. Those two must’ve felt too shameful since they both declined, and Starlight and Spike leave. Sunburst obviously isn’t done in this episode since plenty of screentime was given to him, and they’d be a waste if he was left hanging right then and there.

 

Twilight thinks that a spell can fix the Crystal Heart, but no one knows what specific spell can fix their problem. Not even the other alicorns.

*sigh*

 

Normally, I’m OK with “powerful” characters not knowing everything because that would diminish other characters. The problem here is that those “powerful” characters in this show are the ones being diminished. What has Celestia done that seemed genuinely impressive? Outside of ONE instance in “Lesson Zero”, nothing. Luna? She can dream-walk, but otherwise she also has nothing. Cadance? She did fight a monster in “Three’s a Crowd”, but otherwise she has done nothing. Also, Cadance and Shining Armor have been living in the Crystal Empire for some time, so they would try to learn about the place they rule over. This also applies to Celestia and Luna since the piece of Equestria that has been missing for a while is now here to stay, so they should also be learning about the land they rule over. And last time I checked, the Crystal Empire is part of Equestria. At best, I guess I can say that they happened to miss the relevant stuff when they were reading and learning “off-screen”.

 

Anyways, the alicorn sisters volunteer to slow down the blizzards. Anyone who thinks they’re gods or something like that will already be further proven wrong with this scene because they couldn’t completely deal with intense weather. At least this gives some idea of their power, which is that they are hardly invincible since they couldn’t put down a storm. If this has always been the case to the creators, then this is more proof of them not needing to be sidelined in previous 2-parters because I don’t know how their presence in previous episodes with a major villain would have equated to an automatic win. By the way, the two still don’t and won’t have a major presence in the episode, so this ended up being another way to put the sisters on the sidelines. It’s not as if any other role would’ve been appropriate for them at this point.

 

As for the others, RD, AJ, and Fluttershy are sent to tell the residents to not stay outside. It won’t be much because they spend a lot of screentime trying unsuccessfully.

 

The rest of the ponies look after Flurry Heart and a solution in the library. Where’s the librarian, by the way? Of the groups that were just with the Crystal Heart, this group easily has the most interesting tasks simply because the previous 2 groups are given exactly one thing to do, and nothing else of interest happens while those previous 2 groups do their stuff.

 

Small scene featuring Spike and Starlight with the latter feeling down about her failure to connect with Sunburst. Starlight blames herself for the failure, and I guess this isn’t a bad scene since it shows that the former childhood friends couldn’t connect because the problems stemmed from themselves.

 

And another somewhat short scene with AJ, RD, and Fluttershy trying to convince the residents to get indoors and away from the blizzard, but the residents refuse because they want to see the Crystalling up close. A later scene with them shows that the residents don’t mind cold weather, but I don’t know how they thought Flurry Heart blasting holes through the castle was meant to be fireworks. The real problem with this part of the episode is that there’s very little to it, and it ultimately does nothing for the story or the characters, which is why it ends up feeling like (and being) filler.

 

Meanwhile with Flurry Heart, that baby still proves to be too much trouble since she keeps flying and teleporting. Twilight and Cadance look around for the spell to fix the Crystal Heart, and they later do seem to find a book with the answer, but it gets destroyed indirectly by Flurry Heart. It’s not even halfway through part 2, so of course that book has to get destroyed so the rest of the episode could be filled up somehow. I don’t know whose fault it is since Flurry Heart blasted some magic, and that magic got reflected off a few surfaces, but Pinkie says, “Oops,” for some reason. Maybe she was tasked with noting how their situation worsened. It’s also worth noting how Flurry Heart’s laser was deflected. Rarity used a mirror, so she isn’t able to create a magical barrier like the later two unicorns did. Shining Armor creates a knight’s shield to match his position as a royal guard, and Starlight creates a simple barrier surrounding herself and Spike.

 

Twilight decides to try and rewrite the spell from memory because she’s just that smart. I’m not actually against that, but I’m nitpicking (and yes, this might even be too minor for a nitpick) because I keep saying ad nauseam how Princess Celestia keeps getting screwed over from showing off whatever alleged skills she has while other characters get some kind of chance to shine. Actually, Cadance also got a look at the spell, but apparently her memory isn’t as good as Twilight’s.

 

Starlight expresses her failure to reunite with Sunburst to Twilight because Starlight thinks Sunburst is a major figure, which causes Cadance to suggest inviting him for possible additional help. Interestingly, Cadance remarks that she doesn’t know about Sunburst, so it seems the rulers don’t keep track of who moves in and out of their area. They better hope no evil pony easily slips in because of the lack of supervision.

 

The next scene Starlight immediately arriving at Sunburst’s place, which is a good move because there’s no reason to waste time showing her and Spike travel across the Crystal Empire. For some reason, Sunburst is unaware of the snow outside even though his place has plenty of windows. I guess he was just that busy with whatever he normally does. He refuses to help because he doesn’t think he can and later reveals that he’s not a much of a wizard like Starlight first thought. That took long enough for him to say since it was obvious he wasn’t, and it’s halfway through part 2 when he finally does so.

 

Back to the Crystal Empire residents refusing to move until Shining Armor shows up with an order to evacuate, and he also reveals that the Crystal Heart has been shattered. The residents didn’t get into a frenzy like Cadance previously thought, so they could’ve and should’ve been told sooner at least with a royal. I really don’t know what this part of the episode accomplished other than trying to get the residents to safety, but it took too long considering that nothing of interest happened while AJ, RD, and Fluttershy were around. So it ended up being filler because this could’ve easily been condensed into those 3 ponies immediately saying that the heart was broken, and everyone should evacuate. This whole thing only took a little over 1.5 minutes, but that can be plenty of time for 22-minute storytelling.

 

Now that Sunburst has exposed himself, he also admits his shame of only knowing about spells and magic but not being able to execute them. Starlight shows some sensitivity by not thinking less of him, though I’m still going to say her “reformation” from the end of season 5 was still rushed and nonsensical. Then Starlight expresses her personal history and the events from the end of season 5, and yeah her history is still stupid. I already gave my piece on that when talking about “The Cutie Re-Mark”. Sunburst even remarked that they should have kept up with each other, but I don’t know why they stopped in the first place unless their unknown childhood personalities had something to do with it.

 

Some other stuff happens like the Crystal Empire residents and some of the Mane 6 try to leave, and Celestia and Luna struggle to deal with the blizzard, but there isn’t anything I can find that’s worth commenting on, especially the latter.

 

Twilight rewrites the spell and tries to fix the heart with Cadance, but their attempt obviously doesn’t work because that would’ve been too easy, and Sunburst also would’ve been pointless. At least this attempt didn’t take too long. Celestia appears and announces that one of her former students, Sunburst, has the answers. Of course he does because a new character should be given something to do during their first appearance, otherwise there was no need to put them in the story at all.

 

Oh yeah, former student. That info is about as useful as Cadance being Celestia’s adopted niece. It’s too bad that Sunburst and Celestia don’t interact after this episode, so all this is yet another indication of what the creators think of that alicorn.

 

Anyways, Sunburst suggests combining that spell (but he threw out the paper for some reason) with others to fix the Crystal Heart including results from the Crystalling, a spell to deal with the surrounding blizzard, and a spell to curb Flurry Heart’s power. He also reveals to the others that he isn’t much of a wizard, and the others become skeptical of his suggestions for a moment until Starlight notes that he has studied magic for his whole life, so trying his suggestions can’t hurt. Hasn’t Celestia herself studied magic? And she’s also over 1000 years old. I mean, the episode even noted just earlier that she was his teacher, so how come she has absolutely nothing? More indication that the creators of the show don’t even know their own lore.

 

So Twilight, Starlight, and the alicorn sisters try to fix the Crystal Heart while the others present the Crystalling. Sunburst gets a crystal shard to absorb the positive emotions from the crystal ponies, he adds the shard to complete the Crystal Heart, and everything gets fixed. The ponies even become crystallized after this, but I still have no idea what being crystallized means other than looking shiny and more formal.

 

It’s almost the end of the episode, and I’m surprised that I’ve typed so much since the episode feels rather uneventful. The characters sans alicorn sisters (because they’re nobodies) are at the train station to meet Twilight’s parents, who speak for the first time. They don’t look that old unless ponies age at a different rate than humans. I mean, AJ’s Granny Smith is definitely old, but maybe a few years will give Twilight’s parents some wrinkles. And Flurry Heart finally gets her name. Hooray, I guess.

 

Starlight and Sunburst part ways and promise to stay in touch. I actually laughed (out of derision) during this part, especially when Sunburst spoke.

 

On the train, Twilight tells Spike that she didn’t feel like she did enough to help Starlight. But Spike responds that a hands-off approach might be more effective than she thinks by referencing Celestia’s “method”. Yeah, that doesn’t actually excuse Celestia’s lack of presence and input over the first 3 seasons. That hands-off approach looked unintentional since we never get Celestia’s perspective and thoughts, so I don’t even know if that’s her preferred method of teaching. It’s just another pointless attempt to fix that alicorn. And now it’s the end of the episode.

 

(cont. in next post)

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(cont. from above)

 

As usual, I hardly consider the 2-part episodes to be among the show’s best, and this is no exception. If I had to compare this to just the 2-part episodes until the end of season 6, this is one of the better ones, but I still wouldn’t call this one good. As in, I still only enjoyed 2 of the 2-part episodes, and I didn’t like the season 6 finale. So it’s only 2 out of 10. What an impressive streak for the show. And season 7 even had the gall to end with a 2-parter after not starting with one, but I’ll get to that at some point.

 

For the episode itself, I didn’t really care for it because I didn’t really care for the conflicts going on, i.e. the Crystalling (and some Flurry Heart shenanigans) and Starlight visiting her childhood friend.

 

For the Crystalling, very little has been given about the Crystal Empire throughout the show including this episode, so I don’t see much of a reason to be interested in an event that doesn’t say much about that seemingly special but nebulous area. So the Crystalling powers up the Crystal Heart. We already know that the Crystal Empire life depends on that thing. And what’s the worst that could happen if they never performed the Crystalling? I guess the citizens wouldn’t be too happy, and the Crystal Heart would be weakened, so that’s just the Crystal Empire (or at least the heart) being a lot of trouble to maintain.

 

But there’s another problem with this side of the story, which is that I didn’t care (in a positive way) for almost all of the characters here including the Mane 6, Shining Armor, Cadance, Celestia, Luna, and Flurry Heart. Because of that, I don’t find myself interested in whatever they were doing.

 

Most of the Mane 6 ponies get nothing of interest to do, and this is notable with AJ, RD, and Fluttershy. They were observers in part 1 and helped Shining Armor off-screen, so their off-screen stuff must not have been very important since the episode wouldn’t go through the trouble of showing their activities. In part 2, they tried convince the Crystal Empire residents to stay indoors and away from the blizzard, but those scenes accomplish nothing since they weren’t successful. Worse, Shining Armor is the one who eventually convinced the residents to move after revealing that the Crystal Heart was broken while those 3 ponies tried their hardest to not mention the Crystal Heart. Overall, I don’t know how AJ, RD, and Fluttershy were needed in this episode since their efforts were also made pointless.

 

Rarity got some moments here and there, more noticeably in part 2 when she tried to deal with Flurry Heart, but otherwise she also didn’t feel needed because nothing she did amounted to anything. I guess she helped find a pure crystal shard for the Crystalling, but that was so minor that even a background character could have fulfilled her role without affecting the story.

 

At least Pinkie had some interactions with Flurry Heart. Twilight asks her to help take care of Flurry Heart since Pinkie Pie has two younger siblings and has some experience with them, so that’s reasonable. And Flurry Heart showed some degree of attachment to Pinkie such as crying at the end of part 1 when she was separated from Pinkie. So Pinkie wasn’t useless, but I wouldn’t say she was overly useful. Better than nothing, I guess. 

 

Twilight unsurprisingly gets plenty to do since 2-parters have plenty of magic, and being a powerful user of magic herself helps since Flurry Heart went crazy with her own magic. And since she’s knowledgeable with magic, she tried to look for a solution to the Crystal Heart problem. Basically, her usual stuff. I didn’t mind that Sunburst was able to solve the problem since these kinds of episodes shouldn’t look like they depend entirely on her at the expense of others, but it’s still at the expense of certain characters. Twilight’s concerns with Starlight was a bit more interesting. She was interested in helping Starlight learn since she wanted to accompany Starlight, and Twilight was also disappointed at the end when she ended up not accompanying Starlight. And when Starlight returned without Sunburst, Twilight simply accepted the outcome and wasn’t angry or disappointed. Twilight won’t always be an effective teacher, but what’s given here is fine enough.

 

The royal couple, Cadance and Shining Armor, don’t fare much better than Twilight’s friends. They are here because they have to be since they rule the Crystal Empire, and Flurry Heart is their daughter. So what do they do? I can’t think of anything that is significant to their characters. The best the episode has is that they’re not immune to the problems of parenthood. Sounds good, but this is mostly given verbally, which of course doesn’t have the same punch as a dramatization to show how they act, think, and make choices. Anything else is minimal or basic. Shining Armor first shows up at the train station as tired, and anything else he does during the rest of part 1 pretty much repeats that he was tired out from being a father. In part 2, his most notable part was chasing Flurry Heart around the library. Thus, not much was given about him other than the ability to feel tired and being a “human”. Cadance somehow did even less, so the previous statement can also be applied to her. Otherwise, they come across as a helpless couple with an uncontrollable baby. That wouldn’t be such a problem if either their characters or abilities were more/better developed.

 

As for Flurry Heart, meh. She’s another troublesome and fun-loving infant, but that’s reasonable since she’s too young to develop a personality. I was honestly more interested in seeing this how this baby affected (outside of being a handful, and even some actual dramatization would’ve helped) and interacted with her parents, but that’s not what happened in season 6. I haven’t seen much of season 7, but I doubt my interest has been answered.

 

The show continues its usual shtick by making the alicorn sisters essentially irrelevant. Even though I said that Cadance and Shining Armor don’t do much, the alicorn sisters still manage to outdo the couple in terms of inactivity. They first appear in the episode right before Flurry Heart was revealed to be an alicorn, and the sisters admit not knowing why that’s the case without further explanation. That just comes off as Flurry Heart is an alicorn because plot says so. It’s not surprising that the rest of season 6 didn’t try to expand on alicorns given the show up to this point, but it’s still another example of wasted potential. Otherwise, all the sisters do is deal with a blizzard, and that’s it. We don’t even get any interesting dialogue between them. I guess I can be generous and say that they helped to a degree since the Crystal Empire could’ve been overwhelmed by the blizzard, but otherwise they contribute literally nothing to the episode. The stuff with the blizzard and the alicorn sisters dealing with it could be taken out without greatly affecting the story. Maybe the blizzard was just there to put them on a timer, but it otherwise doesn’t do anything else for the episode. Oh, I guess then the restoration of the Crystal Heart would be short 2 ponies, but the number of ponies blasting magic at the heart during the climax also meant nothing to the story. Celestia and Luna were here because Cadance had a baby, so the reason was for the sisters’ appearance was to have a royal getting a visit from other royals. Though considering Celestia and Luna’s usefulness within the show, especially in the case of the former, being absent in this episode wouldn’t have looked so out of place for them. Their contributions in the episode are so insignificant that their inactivity and uselessness instead become more prominent.

 

OK, so the Crystalling event didn’t have much to offer. What about Starlight, Spike, and Sunburst? It’s better, but it’s not good mainly because of the problems with Starlight.

 

Starlight was a selfish dick at the start and end of season 5, and now she’s a much kinder pony, but there isn’t much of a transition or connection between the two points which makes this change feel random. If she was always capable of genuine kindness, she’d act a bit differently during “The Cutie Map” (which tried to make her look noble) unless she was always meant to be a stubborn and delusional activist, but I digress. I already gave my piece with that episode. “The Cutie Re-Mark” was the episode that introduced Starlight’s history, and “The Crystalling” tried to follow up on her given history. I’ve also already given my piece(s) on Starlight’s history, so I won’t repeat myself too much. I mean, the episode even repeats her childhood history in part 1, and Starlight recaps “The Cutie Re-Mark” in part 2, and they already sound extremely stupid even with context.

 

Since this episode was following up on such flimsy backstory, it’s hard for me to be interested in what comes next since Starlight’s given and nonsensical backstory has to be used and taken into consideration. If any of the backstory immediately gets retconned, I don’t know why that retcon couldn’t have been given at the start. If her backstory gets ignored for whatever reason, then that bringing up the backstory was completely pointless. So it’s a lose-lose situation.

 

When they do reconcile in part 2, they regret not keeping in touch, but I have to ask yet again why that never crossed their minds in the first place. The episode doesn’t even show what happened from Sunburst’s POV, so I can still only assume he never bothered with Starlight after he got his cutie mark for no reason (he probably could’ve secretly been a dick, but this episode says otherwise), or he somehow forgot about her. And I have to repeat that he never shared his cutie mark with Starlight when he first received it. Again, all of this happened for unknown reasons.

 

Despite the episode following up on that stupid piece of history, I did somewhat enjoy the awkward interactions between Starlight and Sunburst because it was reasonable to a degree. It’s their first meeting after a long period of time, so there’s a lot of catching up to do. They would rather be interested in what the other is up to at the present, but both of them have something recent and relevant to hide, so it was not so easy for them to express themselves. What they expected and what they got didn’t quite match up. Starlight thought Sunburst was an important wizard, but after the latter revealed himself to be not-so-important or impressive, Starlight didn’t mind. This gave a pretty good sense of how much Sunburst meant to her since she was still supportive of her old friend. His revelation also encouraged her to reveal her (stupidly) evil history, and this let them reconnect since they both learn that the other isn’t so perfect. And this meeting also showed that Twilight’s advices worked, so that princess of friendship actually knew what she was doing, and she has that title for a reason. Overall, I’m still negative about Starlight even with these few positives.

 

Sunburst had an acceptable outing. He got a cutie mark after using magic, but it turns out he isn’t as powerful as he thought. And he was ashamed of not being a powerful user of magic despite various expectations including his own since he knew and studied magic. He shows his shame pretty well when he assumed that Starlight grew into someone impressive since she’s with a genuinely good figure, and he doesn’t seem to match up. Otherwise, nothing else stood out. Maybe I’m just irritated that he solved everything, but his knowledge of magic had to be used so the descriptions of him are meaningful and not just descriptions. His knowledge of magic shows when he crumples Twilight’s paper (he said that spell needed to be combined with others, so why did he trash it?), but this also made the alicorn sisters look useless and idiotic yet again.

 

Again, I’m fine with the sisters not knowing everything. The problem is that Celestia and Luna in this episode couldn’t answer anything. Why was Flurry Heart born an alicorn? They don’t know. How is the Crystal Heart to be fixed? They also don’t know. Not helping is that they couldn’t defend Equestria in past episodes, and they couldn’t send away a storm in this episode. So if they don’t know and can’t do the stuff I mentioned, what can they do? The show has never said. Twilight and Starlight have time traveled, so what about Celestia and Luna? Luna has some kind of an excuse since she was away from Equestria for 1000 years, but she’s still an alicorn with a flowing tail and mane (what the hell do those mean, by the way?) like Celestia, so she and Celestia are not average ponies. Celestia has lived for 1000 years, and she had 117 episodes of doing whatever she normally does off-screen, so she should have known and learned at least a few things. She even had Sunburst as a student, so she had to impart whatever knowledge she had to him, and I still don’t know what they are. The Equestria Games also curbed magic, so how did no one think to apply that to Flurry Heart? In short, the sisters are stuck with poor images, and this episode doesn’t help alleviate them. And this can even be applied to Cadance since very little has also been said about her.

 

Spike was good in this episode since he supported Starlight and Twilight. Starlight tried to procrastinate, and even though he went along for a short while, he kept the assignment as a priority and tried to help when Starlight and Sunburst were stuck. One touch I liked was that Spike had his boundaries as a helper. He didn’t do anything in Starlight’s place; he only encouraged her. During the train scene when Starlight was still nervous about visiting Sunburst, Spike gestured for her to tell Twilight about being nervous. He didn’t speak for Starlight, and he didn’t tell Twilight that Starlight was nervous. When Sunburst closed the door on Starlight during the first meeting, he pushed for her and not himself to knock again. And when the ponies were at a standstill, he suggested them to share something about their histories without saying anything about Starlight’s. He acted as a helper and didn’t do everything for Starlight, which helps his hands-off idea at the end of the episode when he tried to convince Twilight that Starlight could do fine on her own. Overall, he did good as a supporter.

 

So the episode as a whole isn’t so great mostly because I didn’t care about the main stories going on. Nothing of (positive) interest happens with the Crystalling because little is given about the characters and the alicorn situation, and the Starlight-Sunburst stuff was building on top of a mess (or messes) that shouldn’t have been so messy in the first place. The best I can say is that this episode doesn't suck.

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To Where and Back Again

 

We start with Twilight, Spike, and Starlight moving old books around because Twilight wants to relocate her old and new books. Twilight thanks the others for their help, but Starlight responds that she was helping out to show her own thanks. Twilight tries to be modest, but Starlight counters by saying that friendship has helped her, and I guess that’s sort of true. Maybe. Not really. The last major Starlight appearance before this was “Every Little Thing She Does”, which came shortly before this episode, and she was already hitting a roadblock. It’s also worth noting that she thought mind controlling her friends was a good move in that episode. I don’t know in what universe forcing others to act without control over themselves earns trust (which is essential to any kind of healthy relationship), so I also don’t know how she expected to earn points with that tactic. And just how effective was Twilight at teaching friendship if Starlight didn’t already know it was a bad idea? I’m mindlessly rambling, but the point is that line might work fine enough just by itself, but it does little for the more familiar viewers. I mean, she barely interacted with ponies not named Twilight this season, so it looks like I’ll just have to take Starlight’s words for it.

 

One random Superman reference later, and Derpy appears with a letter. Twilight tries to take it, but the letter is actually for Starlight. I don’t know why Derpy didn’t immediately say that or even gesture in Starlight’s direction. Turns out Starlight is invited to a celebration from the season 5 village ponies, but she’s nervous instead of thrilled because she still harbors guilt for being a bit of a dictator. I was going to say that she went back to them at the end of season 5 with only a short apology, and they all even embraced, but Rarity later points this out. Maybe that visit was much shorter than what was shown. I don’t know, whatever. Starlight feels nervous for some reason. The episode will later say that she was also nervous about being in charge again, but that didn’t come up until that issue was presented to her. Right now, she was just nervous about the villagers not believing she changed even though change was the point of her last visit.

 

Also, that celebration was said to be annual, so it has been held multiple times. Either Starlight held that celebration during her reign for whatever reason, or a few years have passed since the end of season 5. If this “annual” celebration was the first, there would be a mention of that, but the episode makes it sound like a regular event that isn’t anything new in-universe.

 

Opening credits, and Starlight is at the village, which is obviously a dream/nightmare because the episode wouldn’t have her immediately go there without highlighting her exact problems. Luna appears because she helps those suffering from bad dreams, and she tries to advise Starlight, but too bad the scene is actually meaningless.

From @Nuke87654's thread

On 8/30/2017 at 10:21 PM, Number? said:

Personally, the conversation between Starlight and Luna felt hollow. Luna says that the Mane 6 has helped her many times, but I can only think of 2 instances, which are the series premiere and "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?" (which was awful). There might be "Luna Eclipsed" as well, but Twilight did almost all of the work in that episode. At least Luna advised Starlight to seek their advice since they're still her friends, but that's beside the point.

This scene tried to draw a parallel between the 2 for having a troubled history and trying to redeem themselves. But Starlight's history came off as ridiculous while Luna's is hazy and ambiguous. In terms of redemption, Starlight's is slow and unconvincing like you said, and Luna - well, what path to redemption? In other words, I have no idea what the episode is trying to compare and contrast.

 

Next morning, and Starlight takes Luna’s advice and talks to the Mane 6. Starlight is actually nervous about going back even though she (thinks she has) improved herself, but the villagers might not agree. Twilight suggests bringing along another pony for emotional support, and Twilight was obviously hinting at herself. Well, if Starlight wanted to convince others of her change, who better than the one living with and directly monitoring her? But Starlight didn’t agree and instead chooses Trixie for some reason. Has Trixie been living in Ponyville starting this season? Anyways, the last time Starlight interacted with Trixie was during their very first episode together, which means they have only interacted once. Starlight had more interactions with Twilight and Spike, so I don't know why she didn’t consider either of them. Maybe Starlight thought her relationship with Twilight is more of a professional one since Twilight is her mentor, but I’m sure there’s some personal feelings since they live together. Short version: Trixie was the first pony Starlight considered? Their friendship was a bit shaky at first in “No Second Prances”, and even though they reconciled, they didn’t look like “best friends” by the end of that episode. Looks like I’ll have to Starlight’s word for it again. Trixie’s reactions seems like she still wants to one-up Twilight, but I also thought Trixie already got over that.

 

Trixie and Starlight head to that village, and the villagers warmly welcome back Starlight. But Starlight gets uncomfortable with an overwhelming number of requests, and the duo leave faster than they arrived. Those villagers were oddly demanding since they even surrounded Starlight. Were they just too happy to see her again? Starlight reveals that she is uncomfortable about being in charge even  over something minor as she doesn’t want to be reminded of her former villainy. Insert comment about her regret being unconvincing, but I already did that for some other episodes. And if the episode is making a big deal about Starlight being something of a leader, you can guess what will happen later.

 

The duo are back at Ponyville, and the Mane 6 plus Spike have all obviously been replaced. I know it had to be obvious to the younger viewers, but those Changelings really should’ve done their homework so Starlight wouldn’t get tipped off. They would also cover their tracks better if they actually knew anything about Starlight Glimmer, or better yet tried to replace her, but more on that later. Then again, Luna contacts her later that night, the imposters may as well be exposed sooner than later. I did like that Starlight didn’t accept fake-Twilight’s advice since it’s a sign of Starlight taking her friendship and self-improvement lessons seriously.

 

It’s nighttime, Starlight sleeps and has another strange dream, and Luna appears to warn her about the Changelings and to seek help. Luna even said that Starlight’s dream called to her. What’s that supposed to mean? I thought Luna just uses her magic and sees what other ponies are dreaming about. Starlight wasn’t calling Luna even indirectly earlier, so I have no idea what Luna meant. Why not just say that she was glad to have found Starlight and given her this warning? Then a Changeling shows up to take Luna away. Even though it looked like a Changeling (who wasn’t established to have dream powers at any point) appeared in a dream like the way Luna did, I’ll just guess that Luna was in a trance (which is what happened in Celestia in the season 7 episode “A Royal Problem”), and the Changeling broke her out of that trance. But I also have to ask where Luna was using her dream powers. It can’t be in the Changeling hive since that location neutralizes non-Changeling magic. If Luna did this outside the hive, why didn’t she just immediately use her magic to break away from the Changelings and rescue the others? Oh, of course, it’s the same old tired cliché of the alicorn princesses being helpless. Interestingly, Twilight wasn’t immune to this disease in this episode. Has she become an official alicorn at this point?

 

Also, Luna, Starlight, and Trixie talk about Changelings as though they are familiar with them. I guess the latter two are ponies that have been around in Equestria for a while, and I doubt the events in “A Canterlot Wedding” would be considered minor (as in, there might have been unknown publications such as through newspapers), so I guess Starlight and Trixie sort of get a pass. But how does Luna know anything about them? She was effectively absent throughout “A Canterlot Wedding”. Maybe she and her sister did some talking off-screen, but “A Royal Problem” later established that the sisters barely interact much less know each other. And of course, they somehow know Chrysalis’s name even though it was never directly revealed by anyone in-universe. Was it really too hard to have Chrysalis reveal her own name back in season 2?

 

Starlight and Trixie get inside the Crystal Castle, and the door to the meeting room happens to be ajar. How does that kind of stuff even happen? You’d think villains would put more effort into hiding their tracks if they’re trying to be sneaky.

 

Queen Chrysalis finally reveals herself, and she has kidnapped the Mane 6, Spike, and all of the royals all in one day. Actually, it’s less than one day because Starlight left and returned during daytime, so I have no idea how the Changelings did all this such short notice and so quietly since no one else is aware of this. Maybe the Changelings snuck up on them or drugged their foods. I don’t know. It’s par for the course for all the characters except Twilight at this point, so only her case is the one that deserves any kind of explanation. Seriously, when was the last time Celestia, Luna, Cadance, Shining Armor, Spike, and Twilight’s friends were even useful against the villain with or without some kind of magical power-up? I can only think of “A Canterlot Wedding”. Admittedly, the Mane 6 weren’t so easily overtaken at first by the minions, but the first 5 characters definitely don’t need an explanation. The uselessness is definitely forced in this episode, but it was also forced in the other 2-part episodes. Even though there has been some attempt at an explanation in the previous 2-part episodes, the real bullshit explanation has always been because plot wanted/needed certain characters to be out of the way so other characters can do their stuff. This episode just saved the time and trouble because explanations lost their meaning and stopped making sense a long time ago, and the explanation in this case was likewise still and always going to be bullshit.

 

Anyways, Chrysalis plans to get the most beloved figures so the Changelings will have plenty of love to feed on. She even noted that her attempt from “A Canterlot Wedding” wasn’t much, but I’m still not sure what exactly her plan was in that episode. She figured that conquering Equestria could help feed the Changelings since ponies are so full of love, but I don’t know how well that would’ve worked if the Changelings succeeded since the ponies would also be filled with a bunch of negative emotions. And since Chrysalis also brought up initially trying to get only Cadance, why didn’t she think to replace the rest of the rulers in the first place? I don’t know, whatever. I think any practical villain would’ve also taken Starlight, but more on that later.

 

Starlight pushes the door slightly which makes a creaking sound, causing the Changeling minions go out to investigate. It looks like Starlight is also bad at basic stealth. The Changeling disguised as Twilight even tries to sniff out Trixie and Starlight, but I don’t remember the show establishing Changelings to have a good sense of smell. Actually, this is the only time a Changeling tried to smell their surroundings.

 

Starlight teleports herself and Trixie outside, and Trixie panics because the situation seems too big especially with the princesses gone, and she was even calling it “princess-level stuff”. If Trixie has paid any attention to the various number of dangers and villains that have appeared, she should have noticed that the princesses (except when Twilight was a princess) weren’t relevant at any point. The “princess-level stuff” would be sitting on the sidelines. So Trixie panicking over the loss of the princesses was meant to establish the gravity of the situation, but after 6 seasons and 9 previous 2-parters of being irrelevant, this has no meaning. If anything, it’s just a running gag at this point. If I looked at the episode by itself, the princesses still don’t do anything, so “princess-level stuff” still has no meaning even within this episode.

 

Starlight wants to try heading to the Crystal Empire since nothing has been said about the royals there (yet), but Thorax (with a slightly different appearance that will be explained in part 2) shows up to deliver the obvious bad news. The episode should’ve brought Sunburst along so he could’ve interacted with Starlight and maybe try his hand/hoof at saving Equestria, but of course the episode wants to go with reformed antagonistic characters as the “heroes” of the episode.

 

Trixie panics again for a moment about the loss of all the powerful magical ponies, and I’m surprised that Starlight didn’t feel offended by that comment.

 

Discord appears out of nowhere for no reason because he had to get involved somehow. This is also the first time he has interacted with these characters, yet they somehow know who he is. I don’t remember Discord making a name for himself at any point unless the events from “The Return of Harmony” made headlines, so I’ll just have to guess that these characters (or at least Starlight) met him off-screen. Strangely, Discord only reacts to the idea of Fluttershy being taken when Starlight mentioned that other important ponies were taken. To be fair, he hasn’t interacted with many characters outside of the Mane 6 before this episode, though he did try to offer Celestia flowers at the end of season 4. Still, you’d think he’d show more concern about other ponies because he was reformed by the end of season 4. I mean, didn’t he bond with the Mane 6 in season 5 and Spike in an earlier season 6 episode? It’s fine if he showed special concern about Fluttershy, but he was arbitrarily indifferent about the others.

 

Anyways, Discord, out of major concern for Fluttershy, tries to teleport the current group (complete with supplies and even Trixie’s hat) to her location only to end up just outside the Changeling hive. If he doesn’t need to know where Fluttershy is, that means he could go wherever he wants even if he doesn’t know what or where he’s getting himself into. Not a surprise given his set of powers, but this also reiterates that he’s obviously overpowered, as in stronger than Chrysalis. How will she be able to deal with him if she can’t do so head-on? With a plot device that will be revealed early in part 2, which I’ll get to shortly later.

 

Starlight is then turned to for ideas because no one else wants to be the leader, and she’s the best fit based on her background. Then again, she does ask for ideas in the beginning of part 2 only to be met with silence, so whatever.

 

Part 2. Discord wonders why his teleportation didn’t work as expected, and Thorax explains that Chrysalis’s throne is made from a substance absorbs all kinds of magic except Changeling magic. Or the throne neutralizes foreign magic. How strange but unsurprising that Thorax possibly contradicted himself. Or to put another way, the creators have opened up a can of worms, though I’d like to point out that it’s not the first time they’ve done so (“Feeling Pinkie Keen” with the Pinkie Sense, “The Return of Harmony” when Celestia explained Discord’s escape, cutie marks determine the pony instead of the other way around, and alicorns being useless/pointless. There’s probably more, but I’m too lazy to think of them).

 

Thorax says that the throne is made from an ancient stone. First and most obvious question, where did that stone come from? This actually leads to a bunch of other questions because simply saying that the throne was made from some kind of stone has other implications and raises questions. If it’s naturally occurring, that means more of it can be found right wherever it can come from. Why didn’t Chrysalis bring that stuff back in season 2? She had no reason not to bring it that time. Actually, why didn’t she bring it along this time? How did the stone get so selective about magic? Did this stone exist before the Changelings? If it’s before, I don’t know how it somehow foresaw the arrival of Changelings. If after, I don’t know how it knew about the existence of Changelings and adjusted itself accordingly for the Changelings to conveniently find later. And how did the Changelings later find out about the existence of such a specific and helpful stone? No one else is aware of the existence of that stone, so I don’t know how these people even discovered it in the first place unless it was one hell of a lucky accident. If Chrysalis just so happened to use her own magic to change and create that stone, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t need that stone to nullify other sources of magic since she can already do that herself. Then again, a constant source might be helpful. Thorax also said that the stone “soaks up outside magic”, which is not the same as neutralizing the magic. If it simply absorbs the magic, the magic should still work even if it’s drawn to the stone. As in, couldn’t the magic still do something inside the stone? If it neutralizes, it should have some “invisible” barrier or release an “invisible” counter to the incoming magic. Or does he mean it absorbs and neutralizes outside magic?

 

I’m sure there are more questions that can come out of this, but I’m too lazy to think of them. And I’ve mentioned the most important ones I can think of, but all of that just points to this plot device being too blatantly obvious and convenient.

 

No one has a plan at first since they all rely on magic (Earth Ponies must really have it bad in these kinds of situations. At least Pegasus Ponies can fly.), but then Thorax mentions that the stone throne can be destroyed to eliminate its effects. He should’ve brought that up as soon as he introduced it because everyone else was raring to get in and use magic. I wonder if Discord could’ve conjured up a bomb, some kind of acid or chemical that can dissolve Chrysalis’s throne, or anything similar to deal with this plot device. But most likely, it wouldn’t work because that object was created by magic and will also get absorbed somehow even if it’s a regular object that was magically teleported. Then again, the bags transported by Discord came along without problem, so I have no idea. Things can’t be that easy for the main characters because there’d be no story. Actually, things would only be too easy with Discord around, so excuses have to be made if he was to be involved. That has been the case for the non-Twilight alicorns, and even that guy received a chance to shine unlike the alicorns. Otherwise, if it was just Starlight, Trixie, and Thorax, there wouldn’t be a need for the plot device. Sure someone will say that the Changeling minions can be dispatched easily like in “A Canterlot Wedding”, but the minions will probably be buffed for the sake of this episode. Or were the minions weakened for the convenience of the Mane 6 in season 2?

 

So they all walk to the hive, and I’ll admit that the episode manages to give some pretty entertaining interactions between this new set of characters. Even before the group started toward the hive, they also had some pretty good interactions with Discord being overconfident due to his powers, Thorax is rather meek and quiet since he couldn’t immediately get his point about the stone throne across, and Starlight is trying to be levelheaded and take charge. Trixie hasn’t done too much up to this point, or at least not much in season 6, but she’s snarky, sarcastic, panicky (she might even use the former two to deal with the latter), and supportive of Starlight in this episode. Anyways, Discord doesn’t take to the idea of being unpowered too well over the episode, which is a good show of how much he values his powers. And he also loves to talk which annoys Trixie and triggers various responses from her. If anything, a lot of the entertainment comes from Trixie and Discord. Starlight comes up with the idea to identify each other with a password since enemy Changelings could make things difficult with their morphing abilities. Discord mentions some ideas, and his line still suggests that he doesn’t think much of his teammates. But he trips and falls, which gets a response from Trixie to create a different password at his expense. He certainly doesn’t like being the butt of a joke as his expression showed.

 

We’re at the front(?) of the hive, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of guards for some reason. The group apparently got past the first 2 without effort, so the minimal number of guards are also not very observant. How have the Changelings not been conquered? Anyways, they enter the hive, and the hive can also change its appearance and shape… somehow. More magical stone, I guess. How long does it take for newborns to learn how to navigate?

 

After they get a little deeper in, they realize they haven’t thought about how to destroy the throne. I can’t help but feel that these kinds of scenarios are more common in real life than one would think. But again, for the sake of story, it wouldn’t be so easy no matter what is meant to play out. Whether the in-universe explanations work or not depends on you. More stuff, and Thorax claims that they are lost… somehow. I guess he hasn’t completely learned how to navigate the hive in spite of his previous statements.

 

Thorax reveals that he hasn’t been feeling hungry even though Changelings are said to be always hungry. And with his new shiny wings and making some friends, what could this possibly mean? The episode will say it anyways, so more on that later. Interestingly, he didn’t seem too aware of his new wings if his line was anything to go by. But Discord yells which alerts the enemy Changelings. At least the screw-up is in-character as Discord can be boisterous and sort of had his own reason.

 

Trixie’s talent for illusion comes into play as a disguised Thorax manages to ward off the minions. I’m guessing Thorax teleported as he managed to completely disappear from different spots. And Thorax pointed out that some of the minions went to the throne room after the group’s presence was discovered. Couldn’t he have just tried going directly to the throne room in the beginning?

 

Next set of guards, and it’s Discord’s turn to make a contribution so his partners can go further into the hive. But Discord enters a room full of cocoons and encounters a fake Fluttershy. If he didn’t make an off-hand mention of her in that room, the nearby Changeling probably wouldn’t have disguised itself since there’s no way it could know about Discord’s connection with Fluttershy. Soon, he becomes uncertain after finding himself surrounded by fake Fluttershy(s), and I have no idea where all those extra Changeling minions came from. Maybe they’re newly hatched and are somehow already familiar with Fluttershy.

 

The others wait for Discord, and he eventually does show up. It’s obviously a fake given the nature of Changelings, and we also didn’t see Discord busting himself out of his predicament. At least the episode doesn’t take too long to confirm the fake, and the password has to be useful at some point if the episode went through the trouble of making it. I did like that Starlight admitted to be too reliant on magic since she has tried to use it to solve problems in other season 6 episodes, and I did like that Trixie encouraged Starlight to push forward while admitting that she also doesn’t like Discord. Trixie also pointed out that the group managed to get pretty far without magic, so they’re obviously more capable than they think. Too bad a certain alicorn doesn’t her share of chances to look good especially in dire situations like this, but I digress. Anyways, Trixie takes one for the team while Starlight and Thorax head to the throne room. That closing scene with Trixie looked like the Changelings wanted to literally eat her.

 

The remaining duo do some more running around and eventually split up since they had an unspoken plan. Starlight eventually makes it to where I’m guessing is the throne room because I don’t know a better place for Chrysalis to display her trophies. Queen Chrysalis herself happens to be there. Maybe she was expecting a visitor. And she is aware of Starlight’s connection to Twilight, so I guess the queen did her homework before jumping in. But Chrysalis mocks Starlight’s worthlessness for no apparent reason. All she said was that she didn’t think Starlight was worth replacing without any attempt to explain further. I really don’t see a reason not to take Starlight. For one thing, not doing so would eventually lead to Chrysalis’s defeat, but of course she didn’t know that. Otherwise, Starlight would’ve been able to see through the disguised Mane 6 like Twilight did with fake Cadance back in season 2 because it’s not like the Changelings could perfectly duplicate the personalities of the replaced pony (I mean, the queen herself made an awful Cadance), and Starlight still could take some kind of action. It seems Chrysalis is oblivious to the idea of a major figure acting too unusual and someone with a close connection catching that. It’s too bad Chrysalis didn’t try to correct that mistake in this episode since Twilight smelled bullshit back in season 2. Lucky for Chrysalis, Twilight’s attempt to expose fake Cadance in season 2 was pathetically stupid. And since Chrysalis already knew about Starlight, did she also not know about Starlight’s magical capabilities? Or did she get lazy at some point when doing her research? Bottom line: there was no reason not to take Starlight as well.

 

It turns out that Starlight is actually Thorax in disguise, and I don’t exactly know how his disguise was exposed to Chrysalis. Maybe it was his eyes shining, but I thought that was for the viewer. I’m guessing Chrysalis can recognize if one of her minions is in disguise, but she didn’t recognize Thorax immediately in this case. I thought she could do better than that considering she’s the queen, but I guess the viewer needed a fake out, so whatever.

 

Starlight was actually in the back trying to break the throne with a chunk of rock. I feel like a joke about a rock breaking another rock could be made, but I don’t know how that would go. And did Starlight just try breaking the throne just now? She couldn’t have been at work that long since her effort made plenty of noise. Or maybe she attempted a quieter approach earlier off-screen to no avail. Chrysalis throw Starlight around twice, and luckily for Starlight, the show is for all ages. Starlight (using past experience) and Chrysalis exchange also ideologies for a bit, and I actually like the idea that sharing love could keep a Changeling “full” since instead of having to hunt ponies for an emotion because being in a platonic relationship keeps the emotions going between the partners.

 

However, as usual with these kinds of episodes, the climax is still lame and rushed. Chrysalis tries to drain love from Thorax, but somehow Thorax unleashing all of his love managed to convert the absorption into a magical blast. That blast is still made of love, so shouldn’t Chrysalis have been able to consume it? At worst, she would overeat unless that could also be problematic, but overeating wasn’t an issue with Chrysalis. Also weird is that a Changeling simply “unleashing love” created a magical attack. I’m not saying that can’t happen as friendship is also used as a weapon in the show, and the power of love was also used at the end of season 2 (not very well, though), but those instances had users who could actually weaponize friendship or love. I don’t remember Changelings previously being able to “unleash love” like the way they do in this episode.

 

Thorax suddenly transforms into a colorful new form as well as growing a bit larger. That’s apparently a Changeling’s complete or true form (or whatever term you prefer). Did any of them including Chrysalis ever know about this form? Starlight talks about the power of sharing love, thought this part probably should’ve been given to Thorax since he’s the one who learned about this, and he would’ve had a more of a role than just being a reformed Changeling in this episode. So the rest of the Changelings are inspired and suddenly decide to… I guess also release love, and this somehow creates more magical blasts that destroys the hive. I really don’t know how this works. And the Changelings were said to be constantly hungry, so how can they have so much love to throw at Chrysalis? Also weird is that the rest of the Changelings switch sides without a second thought, so they probably don’t like Chrysalis that much. But if they never she was much of a leader, shouldn’t there have been more like Thorax? I mean, those other minions have attacked innocent ponies, so I don’t know what their deal is.

 

The good guys pick themselves up, and Chrysalis eventually emerges from the rubble. Starlight tries to offer friendship to the queen as her own experiences (sort of) proved that friendship is more beneficial than revenge, but Chrysalis rejects and chooses revenge against Starlight instead. I know Starlight encouraged Thorax and the other Changelings to unleash their love against Chrysalis, but why just hold a grudge against Starlight? Chrysalis should also be pissed off against her minions immediately switching loyalties and attacking her unless she never liked or trusted them that much. So she runs away, and no one tries to catch her. They’re probably know that plot will let them survive no matter what happens, so whatever as far as they’re concerned.

 

Princess Celestia approaches Thorax and hopes for Equestria to establish a more positive relationship with the Changelings, but it’s not like that alicorn will ever get to do anything important. Even other characters are interacting with the dragons and yaks instead of one of the royals. By the way, since there’s no villain that holds a grudge against that alicorn, that’s further proof of her ineptitude as a guardian. Also, why is Thorax made the new leader? I don’t remember him demonstrating leadership skills in this episode or previous ones. Sure he discovered a better solution to the Changelings’ hunger problem, but that’s not the same as being able to manage and maintain an entire population. Actually, the same could be said about Princess Celestia, but I digress. I guess the episode had to give the new leadership role to a familiar character because then the show would have to go through the trouble to trying to develop another character. In short, Thorax didn’t do that much compared to the others in this episode.

 

Discord wants to celebrate this victory at Fluttershy’s place, but even she’s aware that her home isn’t big enough for everyone. So Starlight instead suggests going back to her old village to start over with the villagers. And the rest of the ponies come along. I wonder how the villagers felt about the non-Twilight alicorn princesses. Probably nothing considering how active they are in the show. And how did the alicorn princesses feel about a village in the middle of nowhere? Probably nothing again considering how active they are in the show. Starlight even mentioned that the festival at the village is almost over, but it looks like only 2 days has passed in the episode even though the festival lasts for a week. Did she get her invitation late?

 

To close the episode, Trixie and Discord have another amusing exchange. They’ve learned to respect each other after helping each other achieve a common goal.

 

By the way, last time I checked, there were Changelings that replaced the Mane 6 in Ponyville and maybe the figures in the Crystal Empire. Did they get the news of Chrysalis’s demotion?

 

Yeah, this is another lame 2-part season finale, as if the show isn’t short on those. But I definitely don’t hate this nearly as much as the season 5 finale because I can’t think of anything I liked about that episode while this episode had some entertainment value. Then again, it’s hard for me to get as pissed off here as I did with “The Cutie Re-Mark” because that episode is in a special realm of awfulness. Though I still ended up being irritated with “Celestial Advice” and “A Royal Problem”, but again I digress.

 

I’ve already given my thoughts on Starlight and the other main characters of the episode, the Changelings including Chrysalis and their plot device, and how the other characters were treated (though it’s still annoying that the Mane 6 rarely do anything as a group in these 2-part episosdes), so there doesn’t seem to be much else I can add at this point. Well, there might be a bit more. I did like that Chrysalis wasn’t redeemed since the show never tried to portray her in a positive light, and having major villains always becoming good guys would lose credibility because I doubt every evil being can immediately change their ways. Starlight wasn’t keen on being a leader when she remembered her own history, so she shows some regret over past actions. And she did prove herself over the episode, though it’s not like the other characters were fit to lead in terms of role or characterizations. But she does learn that she doesn’t need to wallow in past sins, and that she has become a better person/pony, though the latter could’ve been done better.

 

By the way, what exactly was the point of this lineup in terms of meaning? Sure it’s characters who were opposed the main characters at some point, and Chrysalis not reforming at the end means that not every villainous character can get better, but that could still just as easily have been shown if the Mane 6 were at the front. Maybe these characters’ past villainy was meant to be a counterpoint to Chrysalis not choosing reformation, but it’s not like these characters bond because of this similarity. They bond because they went through a pretty major experience together. And their past villainy doesn’t mean anything for this episode, well except for Starlight talking about her past sins as a leader which leads to another question. Where and how did Starlight learn about effective leadership? This episode by itself tried to show that how far she has come in terms of reformation, but looking again at past episodes for “bonuses”, it’s less convincing than saying how much she has learned about friendship. And any character, especially Spike, could’ve tried to convince Chrysalis about the effectiveness of sharing love instead of forcefully taking it.

 

Even though I did like how the main characters of the episode used their own skills to  get through the hive (Starlight being a smart leader, Discord using his love for talking, Trixie using stage magician tricks, and Throax for being a Changeling to navigate the Changeling hive), I can’t help but feel that this episode wouldn’t play out so differently if it were simply the Mane 6 instead of the “reformed” characters. Sure the different characters mean different personalities and different approaches, but we already have a leader  in Twilight, Pinkie someone who can easily create distractions, and Rarity can use “glamorous” tricks against the Changelings. Thorax would still be needed for the hive, though, and I don’t know what AJ, Fluttershy, or RD could do. Well, AJ and RD could be more offensive, and Fluttershy would sneak around. In other words, this finale tried to be different with the lineup and Starlight trying to be a leader, but it still feels familiar because past villainy doesn’t amount to much in this episode and thus the differences don’t make enough of a difference.

 

@Nuke87654 thought that this episode had too many conveniences and diminished the other characters too much especially with the lack of an explanation, and while he’s right about them, I don’t agree with the treatment being worse than “The Cutie Re-Mark”. Maybe it's slightly worse than "Twilight's Kingdom"? I did say in his thread that Twilight was the only one who did anything useful while her friends were useless outside of one part of that episode.

 

So to make a late response to one of his quotes:

On 9/9/2017 at 6:38 AM, Nuke87654 said:

It doesn't, but at least they were written better in comparison to this.

I guess having an in-universe explanation might be "better written", but we know the real reason certain characters have to get excluded. Thus, I don't think having an explanation really matters or helps when these kinds of episodes constantly resort to dumb excuses. He mentions the creators possibly not giving a crap about the other characters in the case of this episode, but I honestly don't think they ever gave a crap, at least not in the case of the non-Twilight alicorns. If they actually gave a crap about those alicorns, then they would've made major contributions to the episode or solving the main conflict. Just giving a lame excuse to not do anything is a transparent attempt to get them out of the way. In this case, they just saved themselves the trouble of explaining. Why? I don't know, but the explanation will always sound like bullshit to me, so no point in trying at least in my case.

 

And this isn’t the first 2-part episode with contrivances or characters being diminished just to make another look good. In “Twilight’s Kingdom”, the other alicorns are set aside just so Twilight could fight Tirek. Not helping that episode is that Twilight tried to praise the other alicorns even though they end up contributing nothing to that episode, so their importance is a lie. Same goes for “The Cutie Re-Mark”, which takes a dump on its own ideas and everyone outside of the Mane 6 (all friendships are important, my ass). This one is still guilty of diminishing certain characters, but it’s certainly not as bad in terms of scope and meaning. The previous 2-part finales tried to pretend that the princesses were useful but showed the opposite instead . This one is a tad guilty of that as well, but at least it was more upfront about its bullshit.

 

At the very least, this works better (remember that better doesn’t mean good) as a standalone than previous finales, though the big plot device still sticks out too well.

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Shadow Play

 

We start the episode with Star Swirl narrating over a book about elements (of harmony) spreading “light and virtue”. Unsurprisingly, the Mane 6 are the modern successors to the old “pillars” of Equestria since both groups have 6 members each representing some virtue or concept, and the leader of each group is a powerful mage. I doubt the element of sorcery is different from magic, but the creators probably wanted to differentiate them somehow. On the other hand, Twilight’s element has always been about friendship instead of magic due to the title of the show and her personal lessons. And I guess “friendship is sorcery” doesn’t sounds quite as appealing.

 

According to Star Swirl, a separate unicorn pony (Stygian, but he wasn’t named until part 2) brought these 6 ponies together. How did Stygian even know that these 6 specific ponies together would accomplish anything? The episode will say that he wasn’t much of a mage, so I doubt he has clairvoyance. Anyways, it turns out that this pony wanted the power that the 6 ponies had. Or so Star Swirl thought since he only said that he “believed” that Stygian wanted power. More on this later.

 

So Stygian gets exiled and later taps into the power of darkness to return as a vengeful Pony of Shadows. The Pony of Shadows was first and last mentioned in season 4, so I’m surprised the creators brought this back. This also sounds just like Luna’s backstory with the jealousy bullshit and using dark magic for revenge. At least this works better since this has some dramatization even though I have issues with it, but my thoughts are more relevant in part 2.

 

Anyways, the Pony of Shadows obviously gets beaten by being magically banished to a different dimension, but the pillars have to join him to maintain the spell. But the pillars also leave behind a “seed” that eventually becomes the Tree of Harmony so they can still somehow and indirectly protect Equestria. The alicorn princesses continue to be useless when it comes to defending Equestria. More accurately, they were already useless before they even took their positions. I guess the elements requiring users sort of mitigates this, but not much when considering the entire show. It’s too bad the alicorn sisters in the past didn’t try to implement their own methods of improving security.

 

Also, I know that Twilight’s crystal castle came from the tree, but the last time I remember that tree being directly mentioned was at the end of season 4. I’m surprised that this was also brought back after a fair amount of time. Normally, I’d say better late than never, but I have more thoughts about that idea for later. Also, the illustration of the tree in the beginning shows the 6 elements as crystals, but the “trunk” also has a crystal. Is the crystal simply supposed to be the trunk, or will the elements get some additional lore in future episodes? Hopefully there won’t be a seventh element or some similar nonsense as the idea of a seventh element was implied at any point in the show.

 

It turns out Sunburst was reading Star Swirl’s journal (or one of them, at least) to the Mane 6, Spike, Starlight, and the alicorn sisters. Where did that journal even come from? According to the MLP wiki, Sunburst found it when buying a random barrel of items from an antique shop right from the previous episode (which I didn’t see). Next question, how did that journal get there? I mean, if Star Swirl disappeared, would some other random pony just walk up to his journal and throw it to a random location? How did anyone who came across this didn’t simply dismiss it as junk? If Star Swirl is so revered (my memory is a bit fuzzy in this regard about how true this is in-universe), then the journal would more likely be kept as some major artifact in a museum.

 

Opening credits, and some extremely minor lore from the alicorn sisters. They were pretty young when all that stuff in the prologue happened, and it looks like The Journal of the Two Sisters will no longer be canon starting from this point, and that book will lose even more canonicity over the episode. For example, that book said that the sisters were mature enough to be considered for royalty when they first met Star Swirl. Though I have to wonder how young the sisters were exactly if Celestia already recognized that Star Swirl didn’t know friendship.

 

There’s still a bit more text to be deciphered, but Celestia doesn’t quite know enough “Olde Ponish” to translate. Unsurprisingly, Twilight is the one who happens to know the old language inside and out. She even, in her words, memorized every ancient text about Star Swirl. And the alicorn sisters are completely clueless in this regard because…? They’ve lived for a long time and personally knew that wizard, so why were they so indifferent and never tried to do their homework? I mean, I guess they could have probably done their homework a long time ago but forgot what they learn due to lack of usage, but the in-universe reason is ultimately pointless and meaningless when remembering the out-of-universe reason.

 

This is just another lame and dumb excuse to leave the alicorn sisters (particularly Princess Celestia) on the sidelines as usual because the creators are still too goddamn stupid to know what to do with them. Why were they ever introduced, again? And why are they ever brought up again and again if they serve no fucking purpose? I can’t say I’m surprised about this since it is 7 seasons/years plus one movie of stupidity up to this point, but stupidity of this magnitude is still painful and – well – STUPID. Instead of Twilight looking helpful or knowledgeable, I’m more irritated by the sisters’ persistent uselessness. And this notion also applies to other 2-parters of the show.

 

Again, I’m fine with Celestia not knowing everything, but this case still doesn’t help her image because it’s yet another example of her not being able to do something while still not saying she can do. Just to reiterate, she:

  • Can’t defend (and is ultimately inconsequential to Equestria according to “The Cutie Re-Mark”)
  • Can’t beat the villains or even help with the villains’ defeat
  • Doesn’t know anything about the Crystal Empire
  • Doesn’t (seem to) know anything about Star Swirl’s spell from the end of season 3
  • Has poor judgment for trusting the obviously untrustworthy Discord at the end of season 4
  • Doesn’t know why Flurry Heart is an alicorn
  • Can’t fend off a blizzard
  • Can’t do anything about Starlight’s cutie mark spell
  • And now she can’t read an old language (which I just talked about earlier)

 

At least a few of those are huge negatives, by the way. So to attempt to alleviate those negatives (good luck with the first point), what does she have to compensate? She did do an impressive spell in “Lesson Zero”, but that’s the only time she did anything impressive. I guess she has been keeping Equestria together for 1000 years, but too bad the show hasn’t shown how she does this. And why does this seemingly amazing ruler become so useless and incompetent when she shows up in a two-part episode? It’s also hard to believe that someone like her has kept Equestria together for that long. Just refer to “Twilight’s Kingdom” and “The Cutie Re-Mark” for good examples of her competence and helpfulness. What else? Uh, um… she can talk… and walk. Basic pony stuff. As in, who the hell knows?

 

So, the alicorn sisters let Twilight and company do everything decipher the journal. And what will the sisters do in the meanwhile? Take a guess. They won’t show their faces again until the end of part 2, so the answer is ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY NOTHING. In fact, those sisters weren’t even needed in the beginning because Twilight would already want to find out about Star Swirl’s fate. I guess giving the task to the Mane 6 and co. would mean that they won’t need to be surprised about Star Swirl’s return at the end of part 2, but those parts are hardly important to the overall story. Star Swirl and his fellow pillars don’t even need to be introduced to the other alicorn princesses to complete the story because the pillars can just decide to explore Equestria themselves without visiting any other royals. I guess leaving Celestia and Luna in the dark would be (too much of) a dick move since they should learn about major happenings in Equestria, but just remember that Twilight didn’t bother mentioning Starlight to them in season 5. And what the fuck do those other royals even do for the show (much less Equestria) at this point?

 

Continuing with the episode, Twilight and friends have apparently been trying to decipher Star Swirl’s journal for 3 days, and I have to wonder how much Spike and Twilight’s 5 other main friends contributed when considering their own knowledge of Star Swirl and the subject of magic. It turns out Starlight can read (but not understand like Twilight or Sunburst, which is odd since she rewrote one of Star Swirl’s spells at the end of season 5 unless that spell wasn’t written in “Olde Ponish”) the writing. Why didn’t she try to take a look at the book sooner? The characters learn about a location (Ponhenge) and head there immediately. Why not translate other parts of the book first? Actually, wasn’t Sunburst reading the book in the beginning of the episode? It seems that not everything in the book is in “Olde Ponish”. Did he take a stab at the stuff Twilight was trying to figure out? I would also ask why he didn’t read more of the book before presenting it to the royals, but I’ll be generous and assume he skimmed parts of the book, found some interesting stuff, and decided to immediately rush to the royals before looking at the rest of the book due to overexcitement. And was Star Swirl writing the stuff as he was fighting the Pony of Shadows? That might explain the illegible writing.

 

They main characters arrive at Ponhenge and don’t immediately find anything outside of a bunch of rock and stone structures. Twilight hoped to find an answer as soon as they reached the place for some reason. Again, trying to decipher the rest of the book wasn’t an option? But the trip to this location would’ve been pointless if they find nothing, so they get an answer after Twilight puts the book on a stone platform, and the book then magically activates and creates a holographic recreation of the pillars facing and dealing with the Pony of Shadows up to their own disappearance. I wonder if this style of filmmaking in Equestria has been applied.

 

So Star Swirl casted a spell to record this whole event and somehow put all this in a book after he disappeared? How does that even work? That’s like a suicidal person (let’s name him Bob) recording his very own death, and John (another hypothetical person who knew Bob) said that he found this recording. As in, John wasn't present when Bob killed himself, and no one else was around to stop the recording. So how would John’s situation work? I guess I can assume that Star Swirl’s recording was stopped as soon as he vanished, and I’ll also assume that his recording wasn’t on a timer and only worked when he was present, but I don’t know how he managed to put it in his book even with Sunburst’s (poor attempt at an) explanation.

 

Do the alicorns know anything about this place, by the way? My guess, hell no.

 

Twilight does some more researching and learns that the pillars and the Pony of Shadows were all banished to another dimension. But she wants to bring back the pillars because she thinks Equestria will be a safer place with them, or at least with Star Swirl. Pfft. Yeah, right. If these ancient ponies happened to be around in the present time, I doubt they would have been able to contribute in the 2-part episodes. Just remember how helpful the other alicorns were, or are in the case of this episode. Though I wouldn’t put it past the creators to have found a use those ancient ponies and still exclude the other alicorns.

 

She apparently didn’t fully understand Star Swirl’s spell since she didn’t know that she’d eventually bring back that evil entity along with the pillars. Didn’t these characters just witness a spell banish the Pony of Shadows with the pillars? Looks like they forgot about the Pony of Shadows since he wasn’t mentioned again until the end of part 1. Then again, Twilight only said, “I think I understand Star Swirl’s spell.”

 

So the plan is to retrieve the pillars from the different dimension with their corresponding magical artifacts. Twilight reads Star Swirl’s journal, and the artifacts appear over the their magical map to signal their respective locations. How would this have worked if they happened to stumble upon this journal before having the crystal castle? And Twilight’s friends appear to be familiar with the other pillars even though episodes from the first 6 seasons wouldn’t suggest that. I’m guessing previous episodes in season 7 have led up to this one, but I also don’t care to explore previous season 7 episodes to find out how things went down, so whatever.

 

Time for a scavenger hunt with the ReMane 5 plus Spike. I'm surprised that finding the individual artifacts wasn't the basis of their own respective episodes since there could be more exploration, lore-building with the ancient characters, and world-building. Or maybe the creators were afraid that these ideas might become repetitive. At the very least, I don’t have to go through the trouble of watching more episodes.

 

First is AJ at some archaeological site. There are some archaeologists who thought Rockhoof and his shovel are myths but are obviously proven wrong by the end of the segment. Outside of AJ pushing back a large boulder with her hind legs, nothing too interesting happens here. I also don’t remember AJ showing physical strength of that caliber in the first 6 seasons, but whatever.

 

The second one is Rarity trying to get Mistmane’s flower from a generational garden. I don’t know why, but I was mildly amused when the unnamed descendant of Mistmane slapped Rarity’s hoof with a shovel. Maybe it’s because Rarity doesn’t get into physically painful situations very often? And the flower also looks good as new despite being extremely old, so it’s probably an enchanted flower. The descendant is protective of the flower because the rest of the garden is messy and overgrown, but Rarity takes care of that in a few on-screen seconds. So the old pony never thought of cutting down the extras herself or even hiring a gardener? And was Rarity ever a gardener? I know she has a thing for styling and designing, but how does that translate to flowers and plants? The old pony is so grateful that she even gives Rarity Mistmane’s flower. I didn’t think that old pony would let go of an heirloom so easily, but whatever. At least let Rarity say that she needed it.

 

Third segment has Rainbow Dash and Spike together in the dragon lands. Considering this pairing, no points for guessing who they will meet. And how did Flash Magnus’s shield get all the way over there? Did someone who knew him just grab his shield and throw it to a random location after that pony mysteriously vanished? Maybe that was the same pony that threw Star Swirl’s journal to some other random location. Anyways, Garble happens to have it and won’t give it up so easily. This segment does have some nice moments such as RD and Spike sticking up for each other. This is best shown when Garble tries to toss a rock at Spike, but RD catches it and throws it back at Garble. And shortly after, RD tricks Garble into losing the shield. Interestingly, Garble challenged RD to a flying race, and RD was already in the air while carrying Spike and the shield, so did RD actually outpace Garble? I’d say this is the best segment because of the interactions and RD’s wits.

 

Fourth is Fluttershy helping some pony named Cattail move a “flash” beehive. She was looking for Meadowbrook’s mask which apparently has an effect on the flash bees. I remember that name from “The Cutie Map”. What happened to her magical artifacts? And did Meadowbrook happen to be good with animals just like Fluttershy? Cattail even remarks that he was willing to lend Fluttershy the mask, to which the latter responds that she wanted to help with her kindness, and you could also say that the other ponies are using their elements to help complete their scavenger hunt. Otherwise, nothing of interest happens in this segment. From what I’ve read, Cattail and the bayou they were at appeared in a previous episode. Again, I’m not very curious.

 

Finally, Pinkie Pie retrieves Somnambula’s blindfold from some pyramid. And Daring Do makes a small appearance here. I’ve also read that the Daring Do episode from this season alluded to Somnambula and a sphinx, but again I didn’t see that episode. Overall, there also wasn’t much to see here. Maybe watching certain season 7 episodes could add more enjoyment, but this episode should be able to stand alone and tell its own complete story, so I honestly doubt I’ll get much more from this episode for being familiar with previous ones. And I’ll also take for granted that those other episodes don’t have anything to offer me at this point.

 

We’re back at Ponhenge, and Twilight is excited to meet her idol. Or one of them. Didn’t Twilight idolize Princess Celestia? Though Twilight was arguably more concerned about not getting on Celestia’s bad side, but she still put the sisters on a pedestal in “A Royal Problem”. I’m going on a tangent.

 

However, Starlight questions whether trying to free the pillars is a good move or not. Why? She also did this earlier in the episode after Twilight revealed how Star Swirl’s spell worked, and Starlight’s reason in both cases is that she thinks messing with Star Swirl’s spell might lead to unintended trouble as she brought up her own time-travelling crap from the end of season 5. As in, Starlight remarked that she “nearly destroyed the universe” when trying to use one of Star Swirl’s spells. I thought it was just Equestria that was doomed, so why are other places suddenly important? And Starlight (ab)using the time travel spell didn’t directly “destroy” Equestria so much as she prevented the 6 ponies from coming together to stop various villains, so she only indirectly lead Equestria to doom with the alternate timelines. That episode was so messy and shitty that the creators couldn’t get the details right. The point is that Starlight doesn’t have an actual reason to disagree with Twilight’s decision to bring back the pillars, and the attempted parallel with Twilight reversing Star Swirl’s spell and Starlight’s time-travelling bullshit from “The Cutie Re-Mark” makes no sense. Starlight doesn’t even mention bringing back the Pony of Shadows as a side effect, so she is ultimately disagreeing because the plot needs a character with a dissenting opinion to later prove correct.

 

The rest of Twilight’s friends arrive to put the artifacts on Ponhenge, and the remaining unicorns cast a spell to undo Star Swirl’s spell. And it works as the pillars all fall on their respective stone platforms. It looks like they carried multiple things to magic limbo as the rocks of the past even fell with them. Did they transport any microorganisms? Will those old microorganisms be an invasive species, will they be outdone by modern microorganisms, or will they get along just fine?

 

Part 2

 

All of the ponies that were in limbo are a bit weak from using their magic, so even though the pillars were sort of initially “inactive”, at least there was a good in-universe reason. And those pillars will get to do something later. See writers, letting side characters do something isn’t hard.

 

The Pony of Shadows destroys Star Swirl’s book and Ponhenge and then tries to shoot Star Swirl himself, but Twilight manages to deflect the shot with her own magic. The Pony of Shadows even remarks that Twilight is almost as strong as Star Swirl. That’s admittedly some interesting lore-building as this somewhat confirms that alicorns aren’t always more powerful than unicorns. I was never against that idea, but the show almost never talked about alicorns outside of saying that alicorns are supposedly special. It’s still worth noting that Twilight is an artificial alicorn because she started out as a powerful unicorn, and her transformation thus wouldn’t need to increase her power. And I don’t think there ever an explicit statement about Twilight becoming stronger after transforming into an alicorn. So how allegedly natural alicorns like Celestia and Luna compare is still a mystery that I doubt the creators know the answer to.

 

The Pony of Shadows tries a bigger shot at Twilight, but Starlight’s help manages to stop him again. Personally, I would like to see Rarity get into a magical beam fight at some point. Actually, I don’t think she has ever used magic offensively, and while she has done some physical combat, that’s not quite the same. I guess I would’ve liked to see Rarity help Twilight in this case, but of course that wouldn’t make sense when Starlight was already present. And I don’t know if Rarity will get to try her hand/hoof at direct magical combat someday because the show hasn’t shown how she would try to handle herself in those kinds of situations. She’s a designer, so she can still be creative with her attacks. I’m mindlessly rambling again.

 

With 14 ponies plus a baby dragon staring down a weakened Pony of Shadows, his only option is to run away. The villain had to disappear momentarily somehow since part 2 just started. Having the big villain get beaten at the beginning of part 2 would be anticlimactic since that would literally mean losing at the moment he appeared.

 

Star Swirl is not very happy about his limbo spell being broken. This sets him and Twilight up for the rest of the episode as the former was said to not understand friendship back at the end of season 3, so having him be somewhat of a dick was reasonable, more on that as the episode goes on. As for Twilight, she thought highly of him over the show and is now thrilled to finally meet him, only to find out that he doesn’t share the same feelings. Normally, I’d say that this should make Twilight be more mindful and grateful of Celestia’s gentleness and kindness since that was another pony Twilight also admired to a degree and occasionally interacted with, but I doubt the show is even aware of a relationship between these two.

 

Also, Star Swirl assumed that Equestria was peaceful for a thousand years or so until Pinkie Pie corrected him. So, was Equestria overly peaceful during his days? At least Flash Magnus approves of the six new ponies as he compliments them while easily getting along with Rainbow Dash. Star Swirl on the other hand isn’t impressed. Based on his response, he was probably looking for hard evidence. There’s always his own time travel spell if he’s curious.  I was actually amused at RD flipping Star Swirl’s beard because this makes a good contrast to RD’s view of Princess Celestia during the early seasons. Again, too bad nothing happens with that alicorn.

 

To track the Pony of Shadows, a map is obviously needed, and what map would be used other than the crystal map? Star Swirl even recognized it as he reveals that his team was responsible for the creation of the Tree of Harmony and thus the crystal castle. Do the alicorn sisters know about the pillars’ connection to the tree? And doesn’t this mean that the crystal castle actually belongs to the pillars? I still don’t know where the small throne for Spike came from, though. And why does the tree have Twilight, Celestia, and Luna’s cutie marks? Do the creators even know about that last question?

 

And we learn a little more about the Elements of Harmony, which is that they are descended from the pillars’ own elements. Meadowbrook even said that the elements, or the Tree of Harmony, is “the living spirit of the land”. I don’t like that idea because that again makes other characters, most notably the other alicorns, pointless. This wouldn’t be so problematic to me if the show didn’t try to claim that the other alicorns were important in the first place.

 

Star Swirl is still intent on banishing the Pony of Shadows, but the Elements can apparently serve as a good substitute for Ponhenge. If the final confrontation is anything to go by, the Elements seem more powerful as that didn’t require the users to be banished with the Pony of Shadows. On the other hand, didn’t the pillars use the elements in the previous showdown? Why did they also need to be banished when the elements were so powerful? I’m guessing additional ponies wielding the elements helped, so this just means that the Pony of Shadows is probably the strongest villain to date since he was able to resist the elements unlike other villains.

 

And it seems Star Swirl is just that intent on dealing with the Pony of Shadows since he felt that losing the Elements was an acceptable option. He better hope that no other kind of powerful villain would decide to show up after losing them. Of course, this will unsurprisingly become moot by the end of the episode, but throwing out powerful weapons like that seems wasteful. I know someone who reads this will make a comment about the users being more important than the weapons, and that’s true, but weapons are still important to some degree. If the weapons weren’t important, then there would be no reason to bother with them.

 

So Twilight leaves to research possible alternative methods for dealing with the villain. Spike even gives Twilight a book about seaponies during that time. Other than being a reference to the movie (when exactly does the movie take place, by the way?), I can’t think of an in-universe explanation for Spike to suggest that book just by judging the title alone. She eventually finds another spell which doesn’t require other ponies to be banished with the victim, and I have to wonder how Star Swirl never learned about this spell. I guess that spell just happened to be undiscovered during his time.

 

However, Starlight isn’t comfortable about banishing the Pony of Shadows for some reason. Since the crystal map doesn’t activate until later, and Starlight also doesn’t learn about Stygian’s history until later, the situation possibly being a friendship problem hasn’t crossed her mind just yet. So why is she against this right now? She’s again just a pony who has a dissenting opinion for no real reason. And why didn’t she try to offer an alternative instead of just disagreeing? Doing the former would be more helpful than the latter, and this could also show how she is seeing the situation. But there’s another problem because as far as her perspective goes up to this point, the Pony of Shadows wants to plunge Equestria into darkness and hasn’t complained about his treatment from other ponies, so what exactly does Starlight plan to do about that? In short, Starlight’s dissent looks random.

 

Twilight’s friends and the pillars except Star Swirl explore Equestria, but nothing really happens outside of remarking how different Equestria looks to the pillars and the respective ponies getting along. The map also marked “dark places” in Equestria for the ponies to explore, and apparently those marked spots weren’t “dark places”, so how did the map even perceive those spots as “dark places” at all?

 

Twilight tries to present her new spell to Star Swirl, but he still holds a grudge against Twilight for her screw-up and refuses to take a look. This instead just makes him look dumb and close-minded since he doesn’t even know what exactly he’s dismissing. While the episode was trying to make him look close-minded about approaching villains, this scene was actually about a spell, which is his forte. So he wasn’t shooting down an approach to beating the villain; he was shooting down a spell that was suggested to him. If one point of his character was that he thought he knew everything about magic, he could look at the scroll and then point out how stupid the stuff sounds. But that wouldn’t really work as Twilight’s friends call him out, and he admits afterward that Twilight’s idea could work after looking.

 

And now the Mane 6’s cutie marks finally glow and indicate a spot on the map though I still have no idea how it detects friendship problems in the first place. It looks like they all forgot that the map only calls about friendship problems. At least Twilight has a good excuse because she wants to appeal to Star Swirl, but I don’t know about the rest of her friends. Starlight remembers the map calling about friendship problems and relays this info to Spike, and she also notes that they don’t know anything about the Pony of Shadows.

 

Starlight decides to get more information about the Pony of Shadows from the pillars sans Star Swirl, and we get a flashback. It looks like Equestria Girls may be canon since Star Swirl and his gang sent away the Dazzlings like Rainbow Rocks said. Anyways, the Pony of Shadows is confirmed to be a pony named Stygian, and he figured that there should be a special team of pony to deal with evil forces like the beginning of part 1 said. Again, how he got that idea is another question. He wasn’t part of the pillars, but he apparently tried to steal their respective artifacts for himself to use at Ponhenge. He was expelled after being caught, and he later returned as a villain. There’s more to this flashback as the episode will later show, and I do have more comments, but I’ll put them when the appropriate part(s) come.

 

Starlight also effectively shows how seriously she takes her friendship lessons and how much the lessons have impacted her since she came to a reasonable conclusion about the map’s activation, and she didn’t want to send away the Pony of Shadows after getting more information. Again, a recurring problem is that before the map even activated, she didn’t have an actual reason to be against sending the Pony of Shadows away. Initially accepting the option of dealing with the villain directly and then deciding against it after some revelations wouldn’t have been unreasonable for Starlight, and this could also better highlight the first sentence of this paragraph.

 

Starlight tries to approach Twilight about these new thoughts, but Star Swirl shoots down those thoughts, and Twilight is still too hesitant to disagree with her idol. Not being able to reason with Twilight makes sense given the context, but why didn’t Starlight try to approach Twilight’s friends about these thoughts? It could lead to a situation with Twilight having to pick choose between the idol (that she barely knows) or her friends. She would pick her friends for obvious reasons, and Twilight could also chew out Star Swirl after learning that she doesn’t need to follow him all the time (this part sort of gets covered in the end), so this alternative path could either be a very interesting one or a terribly predictable one depending on execution, but I'm going on a tangent again.

 

The entire group head to the Tree of Harmony to get the Elements. Star Swirl thinks that even if the Elements are gone, the pillars can still stick around to help protect Equestria. Like I said for part 1, I still don’t know if the story would allow the pillars to help. And would the pillars’ artifacts be able to substitute for the Elements of Harmony?

 

They finally get to the Hollow Shades, the location that the map indicated. AJ mentioned earlier that part of the Apple family might live here, but I don’t know what the point of that info was since that doesn’t mean anything in the end. The characters would’ve headed here anyways since that’s where the villain was. So they eventually get their final confrontation with the villain with every pony except Twilight and Starlight (the latter talking to the former) taking a shot. The villain manages to resist the blast from the Elements for a fair amount of time, which is an interesting contrast to other villains (NMM, Discord, and Tirek) immediately falling to them, though Tirek fell to supercharged Elements. But this is all for story reasons as the Pony of Shadows had to resist for a long enough time so Stygian himself could be conversed with.

 

And that’s what happens next when Twilight sees Stygian partially emerge from the Pony of Shadows and literally goes inside it, and Stygian reveals that the flashback wasn’t quite complete. Stygian feels betrayed by the pillars, which doesn’t quite match up with the initial statements of Stygian betraying the pillars. He makes some more statements about his role in the group and his actions, which ultimately sounds weird if you think about it. First, he said he wanted the pillars’ respect. Except for Star Swirl, those ponies seem like decent “people” at the very least, so I don’t know why they wouldn’t respect Stygian in the first place nor do I know how or why exactly he felt a lack of respect. Maybe there was a problem with Stygian and what/how he was thinking because he supposedly doesn’t have any special abilities unlike the others (despite being a unicorn who knew to bring these 6 ponies together), but this isn’t made clear.

 

Since almost everything about him is given verbally (with plenty about him given from other ponies, no less) instead of being dramatized (there is one moment in the flashback earlier in the episode showing him feeling dejected for not being praised with the pillars, but that’s it), this ultimately means that the episode doesn’t have much to say (or rather show) about Stygian as a “person”. He also reveals that he wanted to duplicate the artifacts at Ponhenge, but from the way the flashback played out, it looks like he took the artifacts without saying anything, which means he effectively stole them like the pillars said. So this whole screw-up really just makes Stygian look dumb because he never tried to explain himself at any point even when he was caught, and I don’t know what stopped him from trying. It’s also worth noting that he never considered expressing his feelings to them. Maybe he was just too shy about expressing himself, but even that idea is a stretch since very little is given about the him and the pillars sans Star Swirl in part 1, and hardly more is given in part 2. As in, not much is given about his relationship with the pillars. Overall, the episode tried to say that the pillars banishing Stygian was the wrong move, but the pillars’ reason for doing so made more sense than Stygian’s ideas.

 

By the way, what if his plan to duplicate the artifacts worked? He’d have to explain why the duplicates exist and what he did to create them. It’s certainly possible that he didn’t think that far ahead with his plan, and this is ultimately moot since he never created the duplicates. And the artifacts themselves have their own magical powers since he wanted to use his own to fight alongside the pillars. Could he even copy the powers of the artifacts themselves?

 

The ponies are eventually able to separate Stygian from his dark influence, and the Pony of Shadows itself gets banished to some magical dimension. The Elements themselves are still around and not gone as the ponies initially believed. It’s weird that Twilight would think that the Elements of Harmony would have to be sacrificed just to take care of the Pony of Shadows when that didn’t need to happen in previous villain encounters. I doubt the Pony of Shadows is more powerful than Discord since the former doesn’t exactly have the power of the latter despite resisting the elements, and the Elements were just fine after dealing with all kinds of villains, so all this uncertainty about losing the Elements pretty much pretty much amounted to nothing.

 

Star Swirl also apologizes to Stygian for ignoring him instead of trying to listen, but my comments about Stygian located a little further up still holds. He also apologizes to Twilight and commends her, and you can guess how Twilight reacts.

 

And now we get to the end of the episode, where the alicorn sisters are informed about recent developments. Thanks for nothing, ass holes.

 

The pillars also decide to explore Equestria since the place has practically changed since they left. This is really to make them recurring characters instead of major supporting characters, but at least this reason makes some sense. I don’t know how they will be used in future episodes, but I’m not getting good vibes after watching this episode.

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This is a weird episode. I’ve lost enough interest in the show to stop watching regularly, and any episodes that I’ve seen were ones involving Princess Celestia because I had to see if the creators would screw up with her. Yeah, her lack of usage in these recurring “epic” adventure episodes is one of the reasons I stopped watching, but more on that later as I’d rather talk about the episode as a whole.

 

This episode has a shitload of characters, but with only 44 minutes total to tell its story, only a select few will get focus. At least Twilight’s friends get something to do by getting the artifacts in part 1, and they get to interact with the pillars and confront the villain in part 2, so they weren’t as inactive as logs like in previous 2-parters. However, the pillars except Star Swirl aren’t very memorable because they don’t actually do that much outside of explaining and later also confronting the villain. At least they also weren’t useless, but that’s not much of a compliment especially because they’re given less screentime than Twilight’s friends. I can’t even remember any of the pillars’ names except for Star Swirl and Flash Magnus. I’m sure previous season 7 episodes expanded on those other ponies, but that just doesn’t solve the problem of those other pillars from being mostly inactive due to the large character count. Flash Magnus only escapes this problem because of his interactions with Rainbow Dash and also being somewhat similar to her such as being raring to go and thinking highly of the Mane 6 (which was mostly used as a contrast to Star Swirl’s attitude). Sunburst is also just there, and he’s excited about doing research and anything relating to Star Swirl, which is what Twilight also does in the episode. Because of that, I can’t help but feel that Twilight could easily take  his parts in the episode without affecting the entire product. Spike didn’t do too much here, but Starlight still expressed herself to him, so he’s still serving as a confidant for Starlight. Overall for the more minor characters, at least they weren’t useless unlike the alicorn sisters. Yeah, I’m getting to them, but later.

 

Now for the more major characters of the episode.

 

Twilight has talked about Star Swirl multiple times over the show because he was said to be some amazing wizard, but more on him later. At first she was just eager to learn about Star Swirl and his fate, and then she does, so it was typical Twilight for a while. It is strange that she (and everyone else) seemed to have forgotten about the Pony of Shadows when she wanted to free the pillars, but I’m not sure how this point could’ve been approached. Even if she was aware of the risks and had a bunch of contingency plans, the Pony of Shadows would always have come back anyways, and a bunch of bullshit excuses would have to be made. Otherwise, why give special mention to the villain? In short, the pillars would always have been brought back, and the villain would always have come along somehow to be dealt with since they were some of the main points of the episode. There’s definitely a better way to do the latter, but I’m not creative enough to figure that out. I guess she could always just bring back the pillars anyways while fully knowing that the Pony of Shadows would also return because she felt that bringing back the pillars was just that worth it (even though Equestria was doing fine without them), though she would also need to figure out a plan to deal with the Pony of Shadows possibly coming back. Hey, maybe bringing other powerful ponies (i.e. the other alicorns and Shining Armor so they could finally see some genuine action) could’ve been an option, but I digress.

 

Twilight mainly spends the episode (or part 2 at least) thinking that she’d feel more complete with Star Swirl’s approval, but she obviously didn’t need that, and it was done fine enough if a bit conventionally. When she finally did meet Star Swirl, they had a rocky start like I said much earlier. She spends plenty of part 2 to try to impress him only to get shot down because he wasn’t happy about her intervention. She thought highly of Star Swirl and wanted his approval, and Star Swirl wasn’t shy about showing disapproval toward her, which would lead to Twilight feeling dejected. Since this is a rather conventional route to take, there should be some details to make the this more enjoyable, and there are such as showing her more “geeky” side concerning Star Swirl. Twilight is also clearly uncertain about going with Star Swirl’s ideas, but she’s more focused on staying on his good side. When Stygian shows up, she throws that out and uses her own methods to deal with him. At the very least, the episode stayed true to Twilight and didn’t force other characters to be utter morons (Twilight’s Kingdom) for her sake.

 

Starlight is however a bit of a mixed bag mainly because of her initial actions, and I’ve pretty much given my thoughts on that, but I’ll do a short recap. In part 1, she thought that Star Swirl’s spell shouldn’t be tampered with because she caused a “disaster” when she messed with his time travel spell. And that reason is complete bullshit. Her modification of his spell worked perfectly. Like I said earlier, this attempt to draw a parallel doesn’t work because her modification of the spell didn’t create a disaster on the spot or whatever. Her antics did lead to Equestria’s doom as shown in multiple timelines, but it was very indirectly as those timelines actually resulted of the Mane 6 never becoming friends, the one thing she always tried to prevent. There’s no telling what exactly would have happened if she time traveled to prevent a major disaster or fix a major problem instead. Then in part 2, she was against banishing the Pony of Shadows for no given reason. You might say that she thought it was a friendship problem after the map activated and was later proven to be correct, and that’s true, but she was already against banishing the Pony of Shadows even before the map activated. As far as she knew at first, the Pony of Shadows was a dangerous villain. Even after thinking that the Pony of Shadows was a result of a friendship problem, she doesn’t try to tell this to her friends. Twilight had a reason as she was too busy appealing to Star Swirl, but having Starlight telling the others and then having the others talk to Twilight wouldn’t be unreasonable. So in a way, even though Twilight’s friends get a bit more to do in this episode, it still feels like they were pushed aside for the sake of another character (Starlight in this case). Not helping is that she is the only one who remembers in this episode that the map calls about friendship problems when the Mane 6 have remembered in other episodes. Despite my complaints, I did like that she was able to deduce the nature of the problem AFTER getting the clues which shows that her lessons did have an impact on her, and she’s applying what she learned to an appropriate situation instead of relying on magic to solve problems in some season 6 episodes, but the execution needed to be reworked.

 

Star Swirl appears in person for the first time (well, in part 2), and I actually like him in here. He doesn’t get too much to do (not even cast a bunch of amazing spells since he was busy with “research”. The best he does is cast a barrier and later shoot magic with everyone else.) since he had to share plenty of space with a bunch of other characters, but he’s given sufficient characterization. He’s arrogant, stubborn, decisive, and thinks he knows best. Celestia’s description of him not understanding friendship back in season 3 manages to stick with the above and also his rather poor attitude toward Twilight and Stygian, and the latter would later walk a darker path. Star Swirl wasn’t even concerned about Stygian after believing that he was corrupted beyond repair, and he would have hardly regret his decision to banish if Stygian did indeed become evil. Even with all those negative traits, he’s willing to admit when he’s wrong, so he’d also regret banishing the Pony of Shadows if he found out that Stygian was “innocent”. And he does immediately help Stygian after learning the truth. Overall, he’s not the nicest pony around, but he was memorable and not boring.

 

Stygian sounded interesting, but not much is given about him. And I’m not completely feeling what was shown about him. He’s yet another villain in the show with a “tragic” backstory, joining Luna, Starlight, and Tempest in this list. Ultimately, none of them are done very well. Luna’s backstory is completely vague due to lack of dramatization, and Starlight’s looks stupid due to poor dramatization. So Stygian and Tempest are in the “better” half, but – again – they’re not good enough. I’d say Tempest’s is done the best, but I’d rather talk about her when I talk about the movie, so more on her another time. So what does Stygian’s backstory have over Luna’s and Starlight’s? Compared to Luna, Stygian’s backstory is quite similar as both were possessed by evil entities after feeling unappreciated, but some dramatization for Stygian actually gave some idea of why the characters did what they did and how they acted. Compared to Starlight, Stygian’s backstory makes more sense as I don’t know how Starlight believed that Sunburst was gone forever and how she eventually believed that cutie marks were curses. Stygian was (said to be) the strategist for the pillars but didn’t get acknowledged for his contributions. That sounds good on paper, but as I said before, not much is given about him. He spends far more time as the villainous Pony of Shadows wanting to plunge Equestria into darkness for whatever reason, and this thus limits the amount of time that can be devoted to Stygian himself. In fact, Stygian himself (and not as the Pony of Shadows) didn’t appear until halfway through part 2. And since the Pony of Shadows has to be dealt with, the flashbacks involving him feel rushed and incomplete. All the episode said is that he felt unappreciated, which is fine. Then he suddenly gathers the artifacts at Ponhenge, the pillars catch him, and then they exile him, and this all happens in less than 30 seconds. I know that the main focus of the story is what’s happening now, but it’s too little because I have more questions than answers, and I pretty much gave my thoughts on all that when I commented on the flashback. The pillars and Stygian were essential to why the things in the present are happening, but there wasn’t enough given about them, and the rather minimal information makes their actions look somewhat random. The ideas for Stygian sound good, but there needed to be more time for him and the pillars so I can get a better sense of why they did what they did.

 

The story was fine if rushed, so – again – this episode needed more time than anything else. The two parts felt a bit separate since the first part was about getting the artifacts while the second was about dealing with the villain. But since it was the characters affecting the story (e.g. Starlight being against the plan, and Stygian becoming a villain), some parts needed to be reworked based on what I said above. I did like that a pony didn’t need to be “redeemed” because he wasn’t actually bad in the first place. Otherwise, most or all of my thoughts on the story can already be found pertaining to the characters.

 

What’s most interesting about this episode is that The Journal of the Two Sisters, which was published as some tie-in book to the show some number of years ago, is now no longer canon. Star Swirl found the Tree of Harmony in that book, but this episode said that he and his teammates indirectly created that tree. Also, Celestia and Luna said that they were young when they met Star Swirl, but the book mentioned that they were all mature enough when they met. I’m pretty sure there’s more conflicts between the two material, but I’m too lazy to look. It’s not surprisng that this happened since I don’t know if everyone who worked on the show would bother to keep up with various tie-in materials, but that book was written by AKR, one of the writers for this show. So she definitely didn’t communicate with the staff about this stuff, and she herself didn’t even know the mythology of the show, and this book is just one of her “guesses”.

 

Ultimately, even though I don’t hate this episode, I definitely don’t like it, either. I know I would’ve liked this better if it came earlier, maybe around season 2. But it’s pretty late into the show, which means that a lot of things have already been established. And what exemplifies this problem is the role of the other alicorn princesses.

 

I still wonder how those other alicorns fit into all this. I'm not saying that they had to be involved with or behind everything, but the show likes to say that they are important and/or special without actually reinforcing that idea especially in bigger stories like this, so the real problem for me is that the prologue doesn’t help address this persistent weakness (not that it could this late into the show). Thus, I wonder if (more accurately, doubt) the creators even know their own show.

 

For example, the elements are connected to 2 groups of 6 ponies, but 2 alicorns (even a lone one) could make use of them. Why?

 

To conclude this, I’ll just have to quote myself from somewhere else.

 

On 11/30/2017 at 11:43 PM, Number? said:

That's actually one of my personal problems with "Shadow Play". I don't dislike the episode, but I can't call it good mostly because of the show's messy mythology. That episode threw more shit onto the show, but there's a bunch of other shit that's still present and need cleaning. As in, do the creators know what kind of a world they're trying to make?

Now, there's the Mane 6, the pillars, and the alicorns who are available to try and defend Equestria, but will their contributions get distributed equally? Or will the pillars just be pushed to the side and get their introductions reduced to a nullity?

The problem with the 2-parters (and even the big movie) for me is a lack of credibility. We get a bunch of bad guys who wants to do who-knows-what to Equestria, but its alleged defenders do nothing. If the alicorns are nothing special, they should at least say that from the start, though I'm not even sure they can say that since "Twilight's Kingdom" showed that they have plenty of magic, and various stories still try to claim that the other princesses are somehow special. I mean, even the big movie had Twilight talking about this. In other words, the other alicorns may be minor characters, but the show tries to say otherwise.

I know that the show's mythology won't make perfect sense, and I can also understand if they haven't figured out everything at the start, but the show will be airing its 8th season soon enough, and it still doesn't look like they've figured things out.

 

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My Little Pony: The Movie

 

 

Well, I didn’t hate it. Everything balanced each other out into being somewhat OK, but don’t misinterpret this because there were parts that I hated. I already wasn’t expecting much just based on the premise because the show isn’t exactly good at telling stories that involve saving Equestria (despite having at least 11 shots as of now). I even hoped for the movie to turn out worse than “The Cutie Re-Mark” (my least favorite 2-part episode) just to see how stupid the creators can get, and I don’t know whether to feel disappointed or not about that hope being unfulfilled, but that’s neither here nor there.

 

I already said that I wasn’t expecting much based on the premise, and not helping is that plenty of new characters were to be introduced. The movie already has a minimum of 6 characters to make use of so none of them would feel out of place, something that the 2-part episodes already struggle with. It’s true that the movie will have more time, but all that extra time won’t help with too many new characters, and it ultimately didn’t.

 

And since there’s going to be some kind of “threat” to Equestria, the non-Twilight alicorns will no doubt be pulled in since they’re allegedly powerful authority figures. Of course, the show has already set a precedent with those alicorns by setting them aside at the respective episode’s earliest convenience. So even though I would’ve liked to see those allegedly important alicorns be as important as their titles implied, they were always going to be useless and inconsequential just like in the show because being useful would look out of place for them. All this means is that more (or the same) characters are stupidly wasted for the sake of Twilight, a storytelling element that I initially was a bit irritated with but now hate.

 

I’ve already talked a bit about the characters, so I might as well go on from there. The usage of its characters is the movie’s biggest weakness, and this is easily seen when 2 of the Mane 6 (Fluttershy and Applejack) have little to no presence in the movie. Fluttershy at least got a memorable and funny scene when the characters stormed an invaded Canterlot, and she counseled one of Storm King’s minions, but a single scene isn’t good enough in a full-length movie. So it looks like AJ gets the award for being the most inconsequential main character because I can’t think of anything important she did. I remember her mentioning cider at the beginning, but that’s just a referencing one of her jobs. She also tried to remind the others about the importance of their mission at least once, but those lines could’ve been given to any other character like Twilight without affecting the overall product. I’m not saying that all of the main characters needed an arc, but more there are a number of characters old and new who noticeably lacked presence in the movie.

 

Oh yeah, Spike got to tag along with the Mane 6, so I might as well talk about him. He got slightly more than Fluttershy and AJ, but that’s not saying much. The most he did was keeping Twilight company after her friends split from the group. It’s worth mentioning that he burned down at least some of the Storm King’s minions (including one right before Twilight was taken). I didn’t know his fire breath was that potent, but whatever. He, AJ, and Fluttershy did get some funny scenes here and there, but I’m not interested in mentioning them unless they really stuck out to me. Ultimately, Spike didn’t get too much, but it could have been worse.

 

Thankfully, the other main characters got a bit more to do. Rarity was the first to get a not-so-insignificant scene when she fixed Capper’s outfit after he brought the Mane 6 into his home. Too bad Capper planned something else, but Rarity’s efforts weren’t in vain, and I’ll talk more about that later. Her apparent image can come off as a lady who loves fashion and style, but it was nice to see her generosity pop up in this film. Or more accurately, gratitude from the bottom of her heart, but it’s effectively the same in this movie. She did give Capper a new set of clothes at the end to show her appreciation again for helping to take back Canterlot, so these two could potentially have an interesting relationship, assuming the show continues with it (and I watch it). 


Rainbow Dash got about the same as much to do as Rarity (i.e. adequate enough). She helped the pirates break away from the Storm King, but the execution is bit more iffy. I’ll talk more about that when I get to the pirates. She was still mostly her usual self such as being raring to go and even wanting to make a Rainboom at least twice in the movie. Making the Rainboom just like that when they were trying to avoid Tempest was probably the dumbest moment in the movie for me. Yeah, she was excited and happy about what she did for the pirates, but she wondered if Tempest saw the Rainboom after the fact. So she came off as needlessly stupid in that moment since there was a pretty big implication that she didn’t forget about Tempest while on the pirate ship. One rather interesting moment in the movie had RD believe that the pirates wouldn’t rat out the Mane 6 when Tempest showed up, so she was confident that her song got through to them (and it did). Like with Rarity and Capper, I don’t know if the actual show will do a bit more with RD and the pirates because there was a somewhat notable bond here too. Ultimately, RD and Rarity also don’t make huge impressions, but they at least still got to make contributions to the movie.

 

Pinkie Pie surprisingly got to be pretty active in the movie. did her usual stuff at first such as being energetic, cheerful, and fun-loving. Though she did get some odd scenes such as being cheerful throughout their escape (grinning while running away, jumping on the rope connected to the pirate ship because she thought it’d be fun, and also finally being cheerful about just narrowly escaping; Pinkie is usually more focused than this in 2-part episodes) from Tempest in Klugetown (which was strangely not named in the movie, but whatever) and from the pirate ship, and she and quickly drew attention to the Mane 6 earlier in Klugetown when Twilight advised the others just before to not do that. She may have a generally upbeat disposition, but she isn’t mindless and all about having fun during serious times. There were times when she acted silly in some 2-part episodes like during Discord’s introduction in “The Return of Harmony”, her investigation in “The Crystal Empire”, and her investigation with the pillars in part 2 of “Shadow Play”, but all those were minor scenes that don’t negatively impact the story. Pinkie’s act in Klugetown got the Mane 6 into trouble, but it was obviously a way for them to meet a guest. The problem in here is that Pinkie is forced to act this way to move the story along. Pinkie being happy about the narrow escapes are also minor in the same manner as the examples I listed with the show’s 2-part episodes, but they still stick out for the wrong reasons which I mentioned earlier.

 

But things picked up for her when the Mane 6 met the seaponies. Pinkie even bonded quite closely with Princess Skystar, who is similar to her in terms of personality. When the seaponies (or at least the queen) declined to help the ponies, Pinkie wanted to stay behind a bit longer to satisfy a saddened Skystar. This decision made more sense as Pinkie is one who doesn’t like seeing others unhappy and would much make them smile, and she still was interested in going back to save Equestria. But she got even more after the Mane 6 are banished from Seaquestria (which is also strangely not named in the movie). It turned out Twilight tried to steal from the seaponies while her friends were away singing, and Pinkie was understandably upset as she is sincere about making others happy and wouldn’t use this skill to take advantage of others. Well, actually Pinkie was hoping for help from the seaponies through song, but her main goal was to cheer up Skystar. What also helps the scene is that Pinkie is always for making new friends, and they were kicked because of Twilight’s deception, so there’s even more backing behind Pinkie’s reactions. Of course, Pinkie and Twilight reconciled toward the end (it’s not like they wouldn’t), but I did like that Pinkie also apologized because even though Twilight was wrong to steal the pearl, there are better ways the group could’ve handled the results such as not leaving Twilight or handling their emotions better. What’s interesting is that when Twilight seemingly disappears toward the end, the movie places special focus on Pinkie who even teared up for a moment. It’s another good bit of Pinkie’s feelings about Twilight. Overall, despite some objections, Pinkie fared well enough as she got to show different sides of herself and helped show the importance and power of friendship.

 

And now to finally talk about Twilight. She is unsurprisingly the most important out of the Mane 6 in the movie as she is also the main character of this incarnation of MLP. I mean, what were the chances of the movie putting someone else at the center? But I digress.

 

The movie tried to have her (re)learn the magic of friendship (she even spelled that out with the line, “Friendship didn't fail me. I failed friendship.”), which sounded fine on paper, but the execution was questionable. It went about this concept about as well as what “The Return of Harmony” tried, meaning that the trying to (re)learn the magic of friendship stuff was barely present. At least it was more present here compared to “The Return of Harmony”, but I digress again.

 

I’ll be recapping some of the movie because I can’t think of a better way to express my thoughts without actually doing plenty of recapping.

 

Twilight and friends (but mostly Twilight) went through a pretty bad experience in Klugetown because they initially thought Capper was trustworthy, but he intended to sell them. Also a decent touch was before meeting Capper, Twilight approached a merchant and tried to help him with a dropped item, and he immediately told her to scram. All of this was not a bad start because the atmosphere of and the sample of residents in Klugetown didn’t exactly give a friendly impression. After the Mane 6 escaped Klugetown and boarded the pirate ship, AJ suggested that they could ask to be flown to hippogriffs, but Twilight pointed out their previous experience. That was reasonable (and practical even when disregarding the Capper stuff) as they didn’t know these strangers and shouldn’t immediately trust them because that might lead to an experience similar to what happened shortly earlier. OK, so there were some seeds of whether trying to make friends (or at least putting trust in strangers) actually works, but the movie felt like it skipped a lot of steps starting at this point.

 

The pirates inevitably discover the Mane 6, and Captain Celaeno decided to throw them off the ship (or walk the plank, although both wouldn’t work on 3 of the ponies) per Storm King’s rules. But a whistle conveniently blew for their only meal break for the day, and the pirates immediately attended to that. They were even courteous enough to bring the ponies and Spike along. The pirates revealed, at least through their tones, that they weren’t very thrilled about serving the Storm King. Twilight even tried requesting a transport to Mount Aris, but Captain Celaeno rejected because of the threat the Storm King posed. Twilight wasn’t too happy about the rejection, but one pirate even added after that it’s “nothing personal”. I’m guessing that this was trying to add to Twilight losing sight of her strength, but it was ultimately too rushed. Twilight didn’t even try anything else, so she gave up more quickly her than Celestia did during the Canterlot invasion. It hardly looked like the pirates couldn’t be reasoned with based on what’s given so far. If the pirates were unfriendly and murderous all along, they’d  have tried to deal with the Mane 6 right from the beginning. Before meeting the pirates, they only met Capper, and that was just step 1 for Twilight. Now the movie just skipped all the way to the second last step.

 

The pirates then revealed their roots to the Mane 6, which impressed Rainbow Dash. Since everyone on the ship also didn't like the Storm King, RD was able to convince the pirates to be pirates again with a song. I guess the Storm King only makes idle threats, and if it was that easy to break away from him, I also wonder why they didn’t do so sooner. RD even stupidly made a Rainboom from sheer excitement which, of course, attracted attention from Tempest. I guess they couldn’t think of a better reason for Tempest to eventually find the Mane 6. The Mane 6 hid below the deck, and Tempest stepped onboard while demanding Twilight to show up. Twilight wanted to escape because she didn’t trust the pirates while RD believed that the pirates wouldn’t relinquish the Mane 6 so easily after the song. Twilight then conjured an idea to escape, and her train of thought here was actually practical and even reasonable. First, the others weren’t going to do anything as Rarity, Fluttershy, and AJ were sitting anxiously. I have no idea what Pinkie was trying to do, but it hardly looked like helping. And RD was just hoping that the pirates won’t blow their cover, and that didn’t immediately improve their position. Of course, she was later proven to be right, but she as well as the rest of the Mane 6 didn’t actually know much about these people. And if the Mane 6 were exposed, then that would have been more evidence of RD hoping. Twilight came up with a plan that’s guaranteed to let them escape with their lives. Not helping is that she didn’t sing with everyone else to see that the pirates were friendly enough, and that happened because she was more focused on getting to the hippogriffs, and she was so focused on that because she quickly dismissed the pirates without a reason. So there’s a reasonable conclusion, but it was preceded with a very shaky setup. I’ll say right here that how the story gets to the destination is more important than the destination itself (i.e. execution > idea).

 

So the Mane 6 escape the pirate ship, reach the base of Mount Aris, and climb to the top. Oh, and Tempest found the map Twilight left behind, which was pretty careless on Twilight’s part, but whatever. When the Mane 6 do reach the top of Mount Aris, they find the hippogriff kingdom to be long abandoned. Of course, things aren’t as they seem as the movie wouldn’t mention hippogriffs only to suddenly throw away the idea. There’s some humming from the distance, and it’s pretty convenient for Skystar to come to the surface of the pond right after the Mane 6 arrive . Or at the very least, it’s convenient for Skystar to start humming right after the Mane 6 arrive. Did she hum softly at first and then hum more loudly? Anyways, they encounter Princess Skystar, who quickly and seemingly disappears underwater without a trace.

 

The Mane 6 head into the pond and find themselves sucked into – I’m guessing – a magical whirlpool. Who even made that? Skystar didn’t show any magical abilities, so is the pond magical? They’re all thrown underwater, and – surprise, surprise – none of them can breathe underwater (is there a single-word adjective or verb for this?) and thus almost drown. I’m guessing Twilight couldn’t do anything as she was too busy holding her breath, but I went with what happened next anyways because Twilight shouldn’t be doing all of the work. Seriously, what can the rest of her friends do without her in a situation that might require some intense magic? Moving on, they all get magical air bubbles covering their heads to help them breathe underwater. Where did this come from? I’d still guess Skystar, but she never showed any magical abilities in the movie like I said earlier. None of the other seaponies show that ability or any kind of magic outside of their pearl which Skystar wasn’t carrying (or maybe she has super speed underwater), so maybe the water itself is magical. I have no idea, whatever. What’s also weird is that Skystar initially fled from them because she thought they might have been dangerous, and then returned to them to (probably) ensure their safety. Must be a moral code against killing.

 

Skystar takes them to Seaquestria, and it’s a pretty impressive-looking location. I wonder how the seaponies/hippogriffs managed to put it together, or if the toys based on this location look as good. Skystar introduces the Mane 6 to her mom, Queen Novo, and Novo seems to be pretty bored as she’s half-asleep and lying back on her “throne” with her head on one “arm”. Good thing her eyes were closed at first so she could be surprised at seeing the ponies instead of immediately seeing them and then scolding Skystar on the spot. Unsurprisingly, Queen Novo doesn’t want surface-dwellers in her underwater kingdom, but at least her reason isn’t some environmental one. Twilight asks about the hippogriffs, and Novo confirms to know about their fate but doesn’t say more. However, Skystar fills them in instead, and I actually like Novo’s deadpan lines in the background. It turns out that the hippogriffs have become seaponies thanks to a magical pearl. I wonder where they got that from, and if hippogriffs are magical in a similar manner to the ponies. The ponies have their own magical artifacts while still having unicorns casting spells, but that’s a question for another time. Like what the other princesses back in Canterlot did, the hippogriffs seemed to have immediately given up without a fight against the Storm King. Too bad they didn’t know how fragile his army actually was until much later.  Also, I actually like that the seaponies turned out to be the hippogriffs. For one thing, the new characters were no doubt introduced to sell more toys, so instead of having to introduce and exposit 2 different species, the movie only needed to exposit one instead to save time and to keep things simple(r). And second, I find the ability to change between different species magically to be fascinating as that opens up various storytelling opportunities such as consequences of being able to transform as well as transforming to adapt to an entirely different location like underwater in this case. Too bad I won’t watch much of the show, if at all, to find out if that will happen.

 

Queen Novo uses her pearl to transform each of the Mane 6 into another kind of seapony and Spike into a pufferfish. Twilight thinks the pearl’s ability will give them the edge they need to beat the Storm King, but Novo refuses because she is very protective of the pearl and doesn’t want to let it somehow end up with him. If the pearl was useful against the Storm King, Queen Novo probably would’ve tried it, or maybe she’s another royal who isn’t combative. She gets called away for a massage, and I have to wonder what this might imply since she’d much rather stay at home than team up with others to beat a common enemy. I’d say pretty lazy, but at least she’s willing to protect her home. However, the latter is only given verbally. She also doesn’t show up again until the end after Canterlot has already been saved, so her lazy image isn’t alleviated. Huh. Celestia and Novo being royals who do nothing to help. No wonder why they’re (alleged) friends.

 

Even though that scene gives a pretty bad impression of her, there’s a much bigger problem with the movie. Celestia at the beginning asked Luna to contact the queen of the hippogriffs, implying that Celestia and Novo know each other. This is never brought up again, at least not until the end credits when they actually get to interact, and who knows if that scene was canon. If Twilight mentioned Princess Celestia being an ally or at least a foreign royal that Novo knows, then Novo would have to try harder to defend her position and is more likely to instead lend a hoof because she’d look even worse for abandoning an ally. Or if Novo refuses, a convincing reason (that is beyond the scope of the writers) should be provided. This is another example of the movie feeling rushed because it needed something so specific to happen that important details like this get glossed over. Hell, Twilight had literally no reason not to mention Princess Celestia. This flaw becomes even more egregious when you take a look at the conversation between Novo and Twilight. Queen Novo expressed sympathy at Twilight’s homeland being invaded, but there is no sense of Novo knowing that Equestria exists or knowing that the outsiders are ponies. You could take out the stuff about Novo and Celestia knowing each other (make the ponies non-equid or non-equine animals instead for good measure), and the scene could still play out the exact same way with the exact same exchange while still retaining the exact same meaning. Of course, since Novo arrived at Canterlot toward the end of the movie, she knew about Equestria, Canterlot, Celestia, and ponies. However, that still doesn't help the exchange and in a way even made Novo knowing these things look random when referencing that exchange.

 

Anyways, Novo declines to help, and the Mane 6 feel dejected. But Skystar suggests that the ponies stick around Seaquestria, and I quite like what comes next from her. Skystar was shown to be excitable and cheerful not unlike Pinkie, but other sides of Skystar start to appear. She mentions a bunch of activities they could do together, which all involve shells. And she tops it off with her friends, “Shelly” and “Sheldon”. This already suggests boredom and dissatisfaction with her underwater life and can even offer a minor explanation as to why she was above water a little earlier. But above all, she’s also lonely, wants companionship, and feels trapped in her own home. She even emphasized earlier that the Mane 6 were the first guests they’ve had in a while and felt sad after learning that the Mane 6 couldn’t stick around. Her loneliness does seem a bit odd when there are other inhabitants in Seaquestria she could have interacted with (no explanation is given for this), but I’m willing to let this slide because Skystar’s dissatisfaction with her current life was conveyed convincingly through her deliveries. And maybe this is one of those things that is to be left to the viewer’s interpretation or imagination because too much explanations, especially if not related to the main story, can make a movie feel bloated. Maybe she couldn’t get a (close) friend because everyone she met was too uptight, or she couldn’t get along with them as well as she liked. And a relationship with one’s mom (who is a royal) or a royal worker (if they have any) works differently from a relationship with a (close) friend. Also, while Skystar was entertaining the idea of the Mane 6 staying at Seaquestria and talking about shells, everyone cringed except Pinkie who was enamored at Skystar’s interest and “friends”. It was obvious but appropriate for Pinkie and Skystar to be pretty fast friends.

 

To no surprise, the Mane 6 also decline to stay because doing so won’t restore Equestria, and Skystar is saddened. Pinkie cares about the happiness of others and wants to cheer up Skystar before heading back, to which Twilight surprisingly agrees with (but it’s obvious what she was really planning). Twilight lets everyone else go, and her friends don’t wonder why she is staying behind nor did Twilight say what she was doing except vaguely talking about needing a plan. And Twilight’s friends also don’t wonder why they don’t get to hear what she is thinking, why they don’t get to pitch in, or if Twilight might need some help with planning. Last time I checked, Pinkie was the only one who was enamored with Skystar, so why did the rest of the Mane 6 decide join those two? Everyone else just goes with Twilight’s command without question, and it feels pretty forced for the reasons I mentioned.

 

And so begins the song “One Small Thing”, which is basically saying that one small thing can be a big thing (or in a word, reciprocation). This sequence gets a bunch of other seaponies to sing along, and even Queen Novo joins the musical number toward the end of the song. And all this singing somehow gets Queen Novo to change her mind about not helping, which feels too fast in a similar manner to “Time to Be Awesome” quickly getting the pirates to ditch the Storm King. First, I’m not exactly sure what compelled Novo to change her mind. Sure Pinkie got the seaponies to sing, happily even, so Novo can guess that they’re trustworthy or at the very least nice. But she should already know that they’re ponies from Equestria since she already knows Princess Celestia, so what exactly was different about her views of ponies during the first meeting with Twilight and after the musical number? If Novo already thought at least a little positively of Celestia, I don’t know why she wouldn’t give the ponies a chance since she should know that most ponies (not all ponies are good) are trustworthy or at the very least nice. Like the meeting with Twilight not exactly clarifying that Novo is even aware of who or even what her visitors are, I really don’t know where she is coming from. And on a nitpicky note, if the magical pearl is so powerful and valuable, she should’ve put it under better protection. Sure Twilight was caught, but the fact that the pearl came out means that a team of thieves can steal it.

 

Continuing on, Twilight unsuccessfully tries to steal the pearl, and Novo gets pissed off because she thinks the song sequence was set as a distraction so Twilight could do her thing, so the Mane 6 are transformed to their original selves and banished from Seaquestria. Worth noting is that Novo indirectly called the ponies “strangers” after scolding them and Skystar, and my comments in the previous already covered this.

 

And now comes the big break up scene. When I first saw that scene, I felt nothing. I didn’t feel sad for the characters, shocked at what just happened, disgusted at Twilight’s words, or eager to see how the Mane 6 will inevitably get back together to save the day. The scene instead seemed so arbitrary and tacked on because the movie needed the main character to somehow lose hope, and they didn’t know a better way to do that. And this will be it for the recap as that was all I wanted to recap.

 

I couldn’t figure out why I felt the way I did, and I have even read around for some opinions about this scene. It was not something wanted to do at first, but I eventually gave in because I wasn’t getting anywhere on my own.

 

So here are some things I have found. The most common explanation is that Twilight was too desperate about saving Equestria, and that desperation plus rising stress over the situation not getting better as they went on led to her outburst. Again, all of this sounds fine on paper, but it’s the execution that matters. Twilight was apparently stressed about her friends not trying to help solve the situation. There are two problems I have with this explanation. First, why would her friends not be serious about the situation? They’ve almost seen the end of Equestria more than a few times, and they were never assuming that things will still work out if they goof off. And most of the goofing off came from Pinkie, and I’ve pointed out moments, but even she has been serious in 2-part episodes. Maybe there are minor moments such as Rarity hoping for a spa as they approached Klugetown, but stuff like that ended up as minor funny moments, and Rarity didn’t act on that desire when they actually stepped into the town. I suppose there’s Rainbow Dash and the other ponies singing with the pirates which ultimately culminates in a Rainboom that gives away their location, so that could count. But that’s just one instance. Maybe there’s Pinkie wanting to spend some time cheering up Skystar, but Pinkie was hardly disinterested in fixing things as she herself said. Of course, putting their main mission lower on her list of priorities is already saying something, but I’ll talk about that shortly later. Even if Twilight’s friends not being serious about the situation is for whatever reason true, there’s no explanation for why they weren’t being serious. Have their previous victories gotten to their heads? That sounds plausible, but that also hardly seems to be the case based on the way the movie played out, which means the idea of the filmmakers running with this idea is dubious. That would’ve been an interesting idea to play with, though. This just means that Twilight’s friends acted dumb just for the sake of her character arc. Even just taking the movie by itself, it still wouldn’t make sense for Twilight’s friends to not be serious about something like saving Equestria. And not helping again is that there is no explanation for this.

 

There are also too few instances of not being serious unless the point is that Twilight blew things out of proportion, but that’s not hinted at either. Continuing from my point about Pinkie wanting to cheer up Skystar, If Twilight thought her friends weren’t being helpful, why couldn’t she have confronted to them about this? They’re close friends, they trust each other, and they’ve been through a number of 2-part episodes together (not to mention a bunch of other episodes inbetween), so there’s no reason not to try talking instead of hoping they will take a hint. If she didn’t try talking to them because she thought her friends weren’t being serious, well – that’s all the more reason she should have tried. It’s not like she tried repeatedly to get them (or at least Pinkie) on task and failed.

 

What’s also weird is that even though the movie tried to test the power of friendship, friendship has rarely been the driving force behind a villain’s defeat. I know someone will say that they used the Elements of Harmony a few times to beat the villain, and the elements require friendship between the Mane 6. But if you really want to say that the Mane 6 used friendship to save the day, is simply being next to each other already enough to qualify? In that case, they are nothing more than ponies who know each other pretty well. Even though the season 1 premiere was sloppy, it did show friendship between the Mane 6 as they looked out for each other and also helped each other through a number of obstacles. Sure, friendship has also been relevant in the standalone, slice-of-life episodes, but the situations in those episodes are mundane and much smaller in scale, and thus too different. The approach to the slice-of-life problems would be different from the approach to a direct threat to Equestria This is why I compared the movie to a usual 2-part episode, and the movie likewise has bigger stakes with Equestria being in danger and a more fantastical feel especially with the villain(s) and the use/need of some powerful magic. So to add to the first sentence of this paragraph, some kind of use of friendship (much less making friends with others) has never been their first option when trying to save Equestria or when trying to deal with a powerful villain. There was ONE exception which was ironically in this movie. When Tempest first showed up to Canterlot, Twilight presented herself and hoped to talk things out. That might have been okay, but it’s too hard for me to ignore the 2-part episodes when this movie exists in the same continuity.

 

Not helping the movie is that in most 2-part episodes, it’s the Mane 6’s friendship that lets them save the day, which is not the same thing as friendship between other ponies. Why is this distinction important? Remember that “The Cutie Re-Mark” attempted to show (with Twilight even saying) that all friendships were essential to Equestria, but what was shown didn’t support that idea at all because the ultimate fate of Equestria always hinged on the Mane 6’s friendship, so that undermines any exception this incarnation of MLP will attempt and whatever this movie tried to prove.

 

Someone who might be reading this will no doubt wonder why I’m referencing the show’s 2-parters when they aren’t directly relevant to this movie. The movie itself is a standalone so it can mean something to viewers who haven’t seen the show but happen upon this, and I can accept that. But it’s still a tie-in to the show, and the filmmakers were definitely not disregarding the show when making the movie as they used familiar characters complete with their voice actors and the same settings, and various familiar characters (even fan-favorite background characters) have cameos. Even the season 8 premiere explicitly referenced the movie, which is definitive proof that the movie was meant to be connected to the show in some way. If the filmmakers didn’t want the movie to be in continuity with the show (which was still going on when the movie was released), then why not make a movie with a completely different set of characters in a different world? If the movie used the same characters and settings but blatantly contradicts important information that the show has established, would followers of the show be happy? I probably wouldn’t be unless I ultimately ended up quite liking the movie. As a result, the movie also can’t actually put her faith in friendship to the test because this idea doesn’t relate to anything the show has brought up.

 

Even if this movie wasn’t trying to connect to something the show has brought up so it could better stand alone, the movie didn’t actually put friendship to the test like I recapped earlier. To repeat, the experience in Klugetown and with Capper are fine enough, but the experiences with the pirates and the seaponies are not because they are ultimately too rushed, and the results come off as random. Twilight didn’t even try anything with the pirates after being turned down for requesting transport to Mount Aris. When she reached Seaquestria, she finally found the hippogriffs she has been looking for after a long journey. And when she asked for some help, she immediately got rejected. She didn’t try anything with the seaponies, either. You might say that two experiences (one of which seemed anecdotal while the other was an impersonal rejection) plus her friends being seemingly unfocused were enough to drive her over the edge, but I’ve already given my thoughts on those elements. One of the points of Tempest (I’ll get to her later) was to question whether relying on others, especially friends, is an effective tactic. Given how the franchise (and real life) works, it’s no doubt going to confirm effectiveness. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make a story out of that idea.

 

With no other options and Equestria not getting any better as they keep waiting, she resorts to stealing a powerful magical artifact. This is a reasonable conclusion for her to arrive at, but it’s also marred by another shaky setup. The movie shouldn’t even have jumped to Twilight immediately resort to stealing; it should have had her mention their origins and Princess Celestia indirectly sending them to the hippogriffs. Things would no doubt have happened very differently and even come with different meanings if that minor but important detail came into play. Thus, Twilight trying to steal the pearl and then shouting at her friends to show how much she has lost herself felt forced.

 

And now for the new characters, starting with Tempest Shadow since I just talked about Twilight Sparkle and what the movie attempted with her. Tempest is first presented as cold, serious, soft-spoken, and always on the offensive. That might fine on paper if the movie could keep making her enjoyable to watch, but she gets a backstory a little after half of the movie has passed. And her backstory is unsurprisingly tragic so the viewer can feel for her. I will say that out of all the villains with a tragic backstory in this incarnation of MLP (others include Luna/Nightmare Moon, Starlight Glimmer, Stygian), Tempest has the best-told backstory, but that doesn’t mean it’s good. Hell, her competition is lacking. Luna’s backstory has almost never been utilized, so she essentially doesn’t have one. Starlight’s is so goddamn stupid because it raises too many major questions due to the explanation being so minimal. Stygian and Tempest are not bad at most, but that’s not good enough. I’ve already talked about Stygian in my “Shadow Play” ramble, but in summary: it’s sounds fine on paper, but it feels rushed and even incomplete due to some important questions being unanswered. Actually, I could also apply this comment to Tempest’s backstory.

 

Tempest was even courteous enough to give her backstory through her stylized villain song, “Open Up Your Eyes”. She first viewed friendship positively as a filly, but of course she called her younger self and by extension that kind of viewpoint naive and foolish. She played happily with her friends. But one fateful day while she played ball with them, that ball went into a cave. Her friends were also unicorns but too afraid to go inside the cave (it’s worth noting that the cave had warning signs), and Tempest ended up as the only one who was willing to get the ball so they could have some fun again. As she tried to get the ball, she encountered an Ursa Minor that attacked and broke her horn as well as scarring her right eye. I don’t know how scratching an eye like that still left it functional. And I might be nitpicking, but that flashback made it look like Tempest tried to directly deal with the monster instead of running away when it showed up. She more got punished for making the wrong choice than the right one. Like I said, that complaint might be too petty, so I’ll just go with the movie’s intention, which is that Tempest was punished for making the right choice. Some amount of time passed, Tempest felt sad because she was left behind after taking some pretty bad injuries. She tried to use her horn again to pick up the ball her friends were playing with, but even that proved difficult as she instead casted unstable magic that burned the ball. Her friends were afraid of this display and subsequently ditched her. Tempest was initially saddened by this reaction but soon struck out on her own.

 

Now comes some pretty important questions. First, did she have parents?  The reason I ask is that her friends shouldn’t be the only ponies she was emotionally attached to if she had parents. I highly doubt her parents would be inconsequential figures in her life, but it’s not even clear if Tempest and/or the parents (or whatever family she might have) thought little of each other, or if Tempest was already an orphan. On the other hand, since the parents aren’t mentioned, the answer to their status wouldn’t matter, but that also makes Tempest’s starting position look random. I can buy that Tempest wouldn’t be that attached to some orphanage workers, but that would only work if I already knew that she was an orphan. If she did have parents who did care about her, what did they think of her situation? Because her childhood status was too muddy, the decisions she made after that Ursa Minor incident can look random. And I don’t like to say this, but her childhood experience seemed too anecdotal because this was just one (admittedly bad) experience, and  her relationship with her friends not being clear also doesn’t help. What happened immediately after the incident? Yeah, her friends were shown to have feared her, but what about before that? What did they think of Tempest after she lost her horn like that? They didn’t try to comfort her? A unicorn losing her horn doesn’t seem like such an insignificant event. I’m guessing they were meant to be close friends as they were the only ones shown, and then their abandonment turned her life sour, which is fine on paper. But if those friends left her that quickly and easily, they end up looking like shitty friends instead, and then I wonder why she hung out with them in the first place. Yes, from her perspective, her best friends abandoned her, and anyone in her position would hardly be happy about this development. But for the sake of storytelling and trying to show how and why exactly Tempest came to the conclusions she did, deciding that friendship is a dumb idea because of shitty friends doesn’t convey her bitterness nearly as well.

 

Adding to the weirdness is that Tempest would much rather forcefully take the magic from the alicorns when asking for their help was always an option. Somehow, her view of royal figures (or at least Princess Celestia since the other princesses were recent additions) even got tainted.

 

It is a nice bit of irony that despite her philosophy of doing things on her own and not depending on others, she still depended on the Storm King to fix her horn because she couldn’t do that herself. And there’s also Storm King not actually fulfilling his promise to fix her horn was also in line with her philosophy because he was already clearly unreliable. But that leads to another problem. Not wanting to trust fellow ponies is one thing, but what made her think that the brutish-looking Storm King was more reliable? Even kids are told not to trust strangers, and she herself derided the Mane 6 for trusting Capper. I doubt the Storm King was someone she knew during childhood, so he was already a stranger she first met him. Not helping is that during their first conversation in the movie, the Storm King was clearly and completely clueless as to what he was getting himself into. He wanted power, but he didn’t know that he was holding a magic staff, and he didn’t even know the term “alicorn”. He clearly didn't know anything about ponykind, so how did Tempest think he would be a solution to a broken unicorn horn? If she was so desperate, why go to this guy first instead of an alicorn or some other pony that is proficient with magic? Why exactly did she find other ponies so worthless, and what did guys like Grubber or the Storm King have over them?

 

I wouldn't say that the questions I asked about Tempest aren’t exactly unimportant ones. She gave up on the idea of friendship and by extension trust, but before she could decide that friendship (and/or trust) wasn’t worth it, there should also have been other important figures in her life because I don’t know why she’d quickly ditch them after learning she had some shitty friends. If there were no other important figures in her life, that should have been more explicit. And even though I thought it was a nice bit of irony that she ultimately had to rely on and trust another to (hopefully) get what she wanted (a comparison can be made to Twilight using her friends as distractions in Seaquestria, so she did rely on them, but not as friends), I still don’t know why she chose the Storm King before her fellow ponies. Having some irony doesn't make a story smarter, and her history felt so abridged that I’m left with too many questions. If I'm to understand what she has become, I need at least an idea of what she was before. All I got was that she liked having friends, but I don’t even know what she thought of the ones she had. She also balked at the idea of friendship multiple times, so was it something she held very close to herself during childhood? If so, that again raises questions as to why she had the friends she did because they didn’t hesitate against ditching her, and I doubt those who value friendship would decide to just trust and hang out with anybody they come across without a second thought. The Mane 6 didn’t blindly trust all ponies they met, and they have even encountered more than a few who weren’t so nice. And that just points back to my point about what Tempest thought of her old friends as well as what the friends thought of her.

 

Maybe she didn’t need to “symbolize” some aspect of friendship when she was young. Losing friends for whatever reason sucks, but her experience seemed too anecdotal for the same reasons I’ve already given, though I’ll expand on the single experience reasoning since I haven’t done so. If she truly was very close to them, then her conclusion can make sense. But I already said that they instead looked like shitty friends, an issue that opens another can of worms.

 

If she wasn’t that close to her old friends, then it’s pretty hasty for her to assume that friends are unreliable even though getting abandoned would still suck (and her friends can still come off as shitty ones). Drawing the conclusions she did from this one rather vague experience seemed like a bit of a stretch (not unlike Starlight’s experience), so it would be more reasonable if she was instead leery about approaching others because if she tried making friends time and again only to be chastised for her broken horn, or maybe if anyone she came across chastised her for having a broken horn, then her line of thinking would make more sense. Though I think the real problem isn’t other ponies being unfriendly so much as it is rejection, but the latter can feed the former, so whatever. Overall, the backstory for Tempest was a good idea on paper, but it felt incomplete like I said earlier. The results of her experience looks forced and even random so the movie could get a specific idea across.

 

There seems to be a belief among the creative team of the movie and show (and other fictional works as well) that giving a villain a tragic backstory makes them more rounded and interesting. And I won’t deny that having a backstory can appeal to me because it can reveal more about a character. But like I also keep saying, execution trumps idea. A tragic backstory is just that: a tragic backstory. For me, a character can still be interesting based on what they do and how they think, act, or feel. As in, what the character is doing now. If what I mentioned are done well, then there’s no need for backstory because it can get in the way of what is happening now. Isn’t that why the movie is mainly taking place at the time it chose? If it wanted to focus completely on the backstory, the movie should’ve been about that instead. But of course, it’s not since the Mane 6 (mostly Twilight) were to be involved. Backstory should only be used if it’s going to be important to the story and/or character, and how that goes down will determine its success, which will no doubt vary between different people.

 

In this case, the backstory was still important to the movie as they made it the center of Tempest’s actions and motivations as well as making her something of an opposite to Twilight, so more time should have been devoted to it.

 

Why am I mentioning all this? Tempest started as a somewhat generic villain before her song as she was menacing and no-nonsense, but that wasn’t too much of a problem by itself as it was even kind of fun for those reasons as well as her overall effectiveness (even though the other alicorn princesses were stupidly reduced to cannon fodder yet again, but it’s an unfortunate and unnecessary staple at this point). But then came her backstory in the form of a song. Hints of it were already given throughout the movie. She recoiled at the mention of “friends” in Klugetown and shortly later derided the Mane 6 for trusting strangers. Her broken horn wasn’t hard to miss, and the movie stated at least a few times that she wanted to fix it. There was even an implication of Tempest feeling insecure about her broken horn in one scene when she said that she wanted to show Equestria what she could do (I mean, why would she even be interested in something like that?), and she also wasn’t comfortable about being reminded of the injury. Well, there were 2 instances, first with Grubber after she talked with the Storm King, and one later with the guy Capper tried to sell the Mane 6 to. Not that much, and the intents from the examples hardly seemed malicious, but I’ll be generous and assume as such.

 

So what’s the problem? This implication and the backstory didn’t help much because the movie didn’t let Tempest do much else of meaning in the present time. Again, refer to my comment about her starting as a somewhat generic villain. The backstory felt like a history lesson instead of an essential addition.

 

The movie tried to explain her perspective and give more of an insight as to why she is doing what she is doing and who she is, but I haven’t actually learned that much about her as a “person” because the important stuff happened outside of the movie. Not helping is that she doesn't do anything of interest after her song. She hands Twilight over to the Storm King and asks him to fix her horn, to which he unsurprisingly rejects. Tempest is about to be blown away by the Storm King until Twilight saves her, and then Tempest soon returns the favor while being turned to stone in the process. But Tempest isn’t all bad, so she gets restored. The movie didn’t add any noteworthy touches to Tempest’s actions or character, so what I just recapped is pretty much all that’s there.

 

There was no doubt that this backstory would be used because Twilight’s character arc had her give up on friendship to compare and contrast with Tempest. But not much came out of this because the movie gave a backstory that felt too incomplete, Tempest didn’t do that much during the present time, and Twilight’s descent wasn’t convincing. Thus, I'm not sure how the movie was trying to compare and contrast its two biggest players. This does come close to some kind of cleverness at least during one moment. After the villain song, Tempest tried to convince Twilight that friendship is unreliable as Twilight first ended up failing with the help of her friends, but Twilight countered that she didn’t rely on her friends enough. This sounded really nice even as an exchange as the movie showed, but the execution didn’t do this exchange justice.

 

Clearly, having a backstory that sounds tragic doesn’t mean that you have a great character. Take a look at Princess Luna. When has that disposable backstory ever been productive for building her character? There was her season 2 episode, but that episode raised too many questions. Other than that, she had barely any presence in the show. And don’t try to convince me that her season 5 episode helped her because I rabidly disagree, and I’ve given my say on that episode. But I digress yet again.

 

All I’m left with concerning Tempest is that she doesn’t like having friends, she wants to fix her horn, and that’s as far as I can go excluding her villainy. It’s a shame that Tempest doesn’t leave much of an impact on me because there were also plenty of interesting ideas surrounding her.

 

At 2 points in the movie, she talks about how the alicorns are using their power. The first is right before talking to the Storm King when she says that their power is used for parties when it could be used for something bigger. This sounds like a parallel to Celestia’s line earlier when she said that the alicorns use their powers to serve Equestria. And the second is right before the Storm King takes Twilight, Tempest mocks Twilight for keeping all the power to herself when it should be shared. But what does the movie have to say about the use of great power (and possibly great responsibility)? Nothing, so why was it brought up?

 

What also bothers me about Tempest is that even though she may have a tragic history, her motivation seems so ridiculously shallow. She was willing to enslave ALL of Equestria just for the sake of her horn? How does she even justify something like that? Talk about an overreaction.

 

On something of a sidenote, I'd like to talk about Tempest's injury. As in, what if a unicorn lost her horn for any reason? That hardly sounds boring as unicorns almost completely rely on their horns for magic, so what’s a unicorn without a functioning horn? In Tempest’s case, she started off with little control and only able to make unstable sparks. After she gained more control, she can only make controlled sparks and blasts. She did demonstrate physical prowess to make up for the lack of magic, so I’ll give that credit. I’ll also be generous and assume she can’t levitate objects, teleport, or cast other spells as she never tried to do anything that wasn’t offensive. Sounds fine, and not all that bad as she could still wield some form of magic. But what her actual life was like with this injury is only given in snippets, which again is no substitute for actual dramatization. So it’s too bad the idea of a unicorn with a broken horn isn’t played with much.

 

OK, now it’s finally time for the other new characters. I can’t believe I went on so long about Twilight and Tempest. With the sheer number of characters that the film had to use, someone will no doubt  get the short end of the stick. Even among the main characters, Fluttershy and AJ were screwed over. As for the new characters – well – all of them sans Tempest (who even suffered a bit) got the short end of the stick due to rather limited screentime since the film would bring in Tempest to force the Mane 6 to run to a new location to meet another new character. As a result, these following new characters end up lacking presence due to only serving a basic purpose, which is to meet with the Mane 6 and be on friendly terms with them so they’ll be motivated to help the Mane 6 take back Canterlot. At least there was some fun to be had with these new characters even if they are a bit basic.

 

First, there’s Capper. He’s a street-smart con artist with a heart of gold. His portrayal is pretty run-of-the-mill even down to the voice performance, but Taye Diggs did an admittedly good performance as well. I don’t know why, but I find it amusing that the movie teased a minor attraction between him and Rarity. He even called her a “dazzling beauty” during his song. Of course, Spike was jealous after seeing Rarity being charmed. I wonder if the show has done anything about the two since getting brought up with nothing actually happening can be annoying, but the show hasn’t made a big deal out of Spike’s crush on Rarity, so this isn’t too much of a problem. To add to the attraction between Rarity and Capper, Rarity was interestingly vocal about her disdain for him such as her reaction after finding out he intended to sell the Mane 6 and he reaction when he showed up at the beach. This is strictly head-canon, but she’d only feel so strongly about him at those times if she already felt strongly about him at an earlier point. As for Capper himself, he displayed a surprisingly wide array of emotions. When Rarity first tried to sew his jacket sleeve, he was skeptical and suspicious as he also thought she’d charge some price, probably a big price considering the kind of place he lived in. After she expressed her actions to have stemmed from gratitude, he showed guilt, uncertainty, and even regret. This makes his heart of gold aspect more genuine. And he gets to follow up on the latter emotions after being captured by Tempest and misleading her about the whereabouts of the Mane 6.

 

Next up is the pirates, or just Captain Celaeno as she’s the only one to receive focus. There wouldn’t be enough room for her crewmates in the movie as they’re also not even named in the movie. Unfortunately, Celaeno is more basic than Capper as all she did was express disdain for serving the Storm King and enjoyed being a pirate. And I already mentioned that the pirates split from the Storm King too quickly and easily, so there’s nothing more I can add. At least there’s hints of the pirates being decent people as they brought the Mane 6 along for lunch, and they expressed no ill will toward the Mane 6, even choosing to not expose them to Tempest when she showed up, but they ultimately still don’t make much of an impression.

 

Things get better but also messier with Skystar and Novo respectively. I’ve already talked quite a bit about both of them earlier, so I’ll try to make this short. Skystar is similar to Pinkie in terms of personality, but there is one noteworthy difference. Pinkie is all about having friends, and so is Skystar, but the latter was bored and lonely enough to make friends with sea shells. She showed understanding as she wanted the Mane 6 to stick around but ultimately and sadly accepted that they couldn’t, and she also wasn’t angry with Twilight stealing unlike Novo, which convinced Skystar to join the Mane 6. Overall, Princess Skystar fared well enough despite her limited usage.

 

On the other hand, Queen Novo fared poorly because the movie forgot about one important element it brought up at the beginning: her relationship with Princess Celestia. After the invasion started, Celestia wanted Luna to seek help from the queen of the hippogriffs, i.e. Queen Novo. When the Mane 6 finally reached the hippogriff (or seapony) kingdom, the connection to Celestia was never brought up. And this really bothers me because all Twilight said is that Equestria is in danger instead of saying that Princesss Celestia needed Novo’s help. Scratch that, Twilight never said the word “Equestria” during her stay underwater, and Novo never referred to the main characters as ponies, so there’s no indication that Novo was even aware of who exactly the Mane 6 were or where they came from. As in, the Mane 6 could be complete strangers, and the underwater scenes could still play out the exact same way. But the only reason the Mane 6 went underwater was because they wanted to fulfill Celestia’s goal. But no, Queen Novo did know about Equestria as she flew over there to get Skystar, and the credits showed her and Celestia talking to each other. So, Novo was aware of ponies and Equestria? Why didn’t she help then? That makes for a pretty lousy ally. Novo’s position doesn’t make sense and even seems contradictory because the movie never explains her relationship with Celestia or Equestria. As a result, Queen Novo looked unhelpful and useless, not unlike Princess Celestia. The writers of MLP really don’t know how to make use of royals of the highest position. The worst part is that the stuff with Queen Novo had no reason to play out the way it did because one of the Mane 6 should’ve mentioned that Celestia sought help from them, and then there’s no doubt that the movie would’ve been pretty different from that point on.

 

Also, I have to wonder if Celestia were aware of the fate of the hippogriffs. If she was, I don’t know why she didn’t call them seaponies or – well – a term that isn’t “hippogriff” as that’s not what they were anymore. I guess the Mane 6 had to be thrown off track for a while by looking for hippos. Actually, I’m not even sure what the point of the confusion was as Twilight found out not long after what they were supposed to look for. There was a Queen of Hippos at the end credits for gags, but that’s it. If Celestia wasn’t aware of their fate, then I have to wonder what their relationship with each other is like since having a good relationship means that there’s some awareness of what’s going on with each other.

 

And why did Celestia think that the hippogriffs had an answer to the Storm King? The quest ended up being pointless and unnecessary since the final confrontation didn’t require anything from the hippogriff except for exactly 1 hippogriff. Actually, all the Mane 6 needed was just a few more people to combat the Storm King’s minions, who went down rather easily (one fell to a round of friggin’ cupcakes). And if they went down that easily, then they didn’t more need people, which adds to the pointlessness of the quest outside of Equestria. In fact, that just means the hippogriffs and the other ponies at Canterlot also wouldn’t have struggled too much in the fight. Granted, the Mane 6 were in a state of panic and confusion right after leaving Equestria, and the minions resisted Twilight’s magic, but that still doesn’t compensate for the minions’ poor showing toward the end. Not helping is that they were supposed to be pretty tough and intimidating for the main characters. I mean, action cartoons generally have huge armies of minions going down easily to the heroes, but they aren’t this underwhelming (again, cupcakes). This just means that the movie was rather poorly put together since beating the Storm King and his minions was one of its main goals. And I’m also tired of seeing the villains in these stories lose in such an anticlimactic fashion, but that’s MLP for you.

 

The movie could’ve brought the hippogriff army along after making them find out that running away and hiding wasn’t actually solving anything. With that, now there’s a bigger team against Storm King (maybe the pirates could also bring in other pirates), and Queen Novo wouldn’t have to look so useless. Though that still wouldn’t make up for the other alicorns being useless, so this movie needed a bigger overhaul than I imagined.

 

I haven’t talked about the Storm King or Grubber yet, but there isn’t much to say about both. Grubber is comic relief, but he didn’t leave much of an impression on me. He pretty much disappeared from the movie after finding the good guys hiding in a cake, so I wonder what happened to him. As for Storm King, his snark and hamminess along with his more threatening side can make for some entertainment, but he didn’t have an impressive showing due to being in the background until the final act. In fact, his lack of presence makes him feel superfluous since Tempest had a much larger role and was already opposing the main characters, not to mention that Tempest’s philosophy was already there to clash with the power of friendship (which barely happened). His invasion of Mount Aris was supposed to be a display of his power, but he lost credibility when he showed up clueless during his first conversation with Tempest, and he (and his minions) lost more credibility when it turned out that it didn’t take too much to deal with them. The Mane 6 could’ve tried to sneak up on their enemies for some advantage, but too bad Grubber discovered them in the cake. Another strike against his credibility is that he didn’t do anything particularly impressive with his completed staff outside of blasting magic and moving the sun. There was even one scene where he tried to blast Tempest, and she shot back with a blast that seemed to be equal in power to the one that Storm King fired. Y’know, the staff that had the power of 4 alicorns. This could be chalked up to the Storm King not actually knowing how to use pony magic, but that just deducts whatever credibility is left. Overall, I can imagine these guys being more fun, but only in a movie that actually had room for them as this one was already jam-packed with characters.

 

I’ll admit that I’m no good at critiquing songs, but the only one that stood out to me was Rainbow Dash’s “Time to Be Awesome due to being very upbeat and catchy. There was Tempest’s villain song, which was big, flashy, sounded echo-y, and felt all-consuming like a usual villain song (at least from an animated movie), and it also looked good here, but I already gave my thoughts on it when talking about Tempest. Otherwise, the rest of the songs were just there. They sounded good at least, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to them.

 

I feel like I should talk about the story of the movie, but I won’t mainly because this ramble is getting too long, and I have other things about the movie I want to ramble about. But my comments about the story can already be found with my comments about the characters. Why did I judge the characters? There should be a reason for me to follow these people when watching the movie. The action and results of their action comes from them, which drives the story and keeps the movie going.

 

I’ll end this ramble with some nitpicks and/or random thoughts. At the beginning of the movie, Twilight is nervous about having to ask the other princesses for favors because they’re the “most royal princesses of Equestria”, and she’s afraid of being turned down. It’s another stupid and worthless attempt to make Twilight look modest and/or less impressive than the other princesses not unlike what “Twilight’s Kingdom” previously tried; those other princesses will contribute absolutely nothing while Twilight does everything for them, and this instead emphasizes the glorification these kinds of stories place on Twilight especially over others, and very especially the other princesses (and their uselessness is also further emphasized as well). At this point, Twilight has accomplished more in the show than the other princesses combined. So even though this was a just a moment from the movie, it’s still one that I hated. What’s also weird is that the other princesses turn down Twilight’s light show suggestion because they don’t feel that sort of touch is necessary to the friendship festival. What? Did they think Twilight was asking for trouble? Did Twilight’s suggestion require strenuous effort from each of them? I also thought that Twilight was in charge of the festival, and if she thinks that could help the event, I don’t know why they’d reject. Did they really have something better to do while the festival was going on? Celestia did say that Twilight has everything she needed, but my question about the effort required still stands as this only looked like a minor favor. This is just a sloppy attempt at foreshadowing the solution to the conflict that will later come up, which is that Twilight always had something inside to deal with a problem.

 

Where was Discord? Wasn’t he an official friend to the Mane 6 by now? Good thing he was conveniently away as he would’ve been able to deal with Tempest on the spot. Or maybe he would’ve been too overconfident and become stone from the Storm King’s bombs. He can’t be allowed to solve the problem, so he would’ve been hit the same way the other alicorns were if he showed up.

 

Shining Armor was also conspicuously missing since he’s Cadance’s husband and Twilight’s brother. I sometimes wonder if the crew of MLP even remember he existed. Likewise, he and his guards wouldn’t have been much help since there wouldn’t be an adventure for the Mane 6 if the guards did their jobs successfully.

 

Ponies were also enslaved in the movie, and it felt like the movie didn’t really give a crap that this happened since everything went back to normal almost as if nothing happened after the Storm King was beaten.

 

Songbird Serenade is said to be very popular. Luna thinks that Songbird Serenade might appeal more to the participants of the festivals than the actual royals. I’m not against the idea, but this is the first time Songbird has ever been mentioned. I suppose it’s another way to make the movie stand alone.

 

Luna mentioned that there are hundreds of other ponies against a single Tempest (plus Storm King’s minions, but I guess Luna didn’t feel like counting them). It seems that almost all ponies aren’t the combative type. Princess Celestia even immediately gave up when Tempest started attacking. Too bad they didn’t know that the minions weren’t all that threatening.

 

Tempest petrified a Luna that was in the air. Good thing Luna didn’t shatter because I have to wonder what Tempest would’ve done next if that happened because her plan for the Storm King specifically required 4 alicorns. There was even a marking on the floor with 4 points so the staff could placed at the center and drain them of their magic. In fact, why does this area even exist? What purpose was it supposed to serve? I doubt any of the royals wanted to make a room with the sole purpose of stealing magic. Even requiring that many alicorns seemed so arbitrary and convenient because Celestia would have been the only alicorn princess when Tempest was young. Cadance was already an alicorn, so I guess there’s two. So it’s also a good thing Equestria happened to have the correct number of alicorns when Tempest decided to return.

 

Twilight’s desperation and hopelessness in the movie also seemed weird when has witnessed Equestria coming close to oblivion multiple times. And remember that Twilight saw multiple apocalypses during “The Cutie Re-Mark” alone, so she’s been through worse. I suppose coming close to an apocalypse multiple times doesn’t make the next potential one any easier to stomach. Huh, maybe there could be a story about Twilight (or anyone, really) getting weary about this. I don’t think that idea would’ve looked out of place in the movie.

 

Twilight’s reason for saving Tempest was because that’s what a friend would do. That’s not a bad reason by itself, but I don’t know why Twilight would consider Tempest a friend when they weren’t exactly friends at that point. Why not just have her say it was the right thing to do, or it’s better to help others than to let them suffer? Those would’ve been enough to show that there are ponies who are trustworthy.

 

I wonder if Twilight could’ve teleported out of her cage. Similarly, when the Mane 6 were trying to get the staff, I wonder why Rarity didn’t use her magic to take the staff.

 

Starlight made a cameo in the movie, and it's too bad she didn't get to come along, not that there would be room for her. I wonder what she did during the invasion.

 

Like I said at the beginning, I don’t really care for this movie. It isn’t horrible, but that’s the best thing I can say about it, and when was that kind of statement ever a compliment? I did watch the movie a second time to see how it would hold up, and I enjoyed it a bit better. Most notably, I didn’t care much for the new good guys when I first saw the movie, and I enjoyed them a bit more during the second round, but my feelings about the movie as a whole hasn’t changed. It’s full of the same shit that makes the show’s 2-part episodes so distasteful, i.e. useless “powerful” alicorns being removed somehow mainly to set up the villain (and thus not actually helping the villain since they just triumphed over a trio of losers), the villain being underwhelming in one way or another (Storm King lacking presence and being another with an anti-climactic defeat, Tempest for having a backstory that ends up not doing much for her), and the spotlight on Twilight who I’m pretty damn sick of because the show likes to glorify her in these kinds of stories. Yeah, Twilight still had to struggle in the movie, but quality of the execution aside, she still got to handle her problems, so that just means she’s capable of getting through obstacles that are thrown in her path. Again, that’s still more than what the other alicorns have done, so I don’t know why the movie (and the show even as of “Horse Play”) would still say that Twilight isn’t that much of a royal even though she has done far more than her competitors. That just makes the glorification even more blatant, and the intention to show that Twilight is a capable pony becomes insincere. Making Twilight the main character is one thing, but glorifying her at the expense of other characters (not to mention characters that I want to see actually demonstrating their usefulness but get barely any screentime as it is) has always been a stupid move.

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On 2/24/2017 at 5:54 AM, Number95 said:

Applebuck Season

This one is better than the previous episode. Again, the story is simple with AJ refusing help when she definitely needs it, and a lot of trouble comes out of that. In this case, however, the time is filled up better. I still don’t have too much to say, though.

I think Applebuck Season was one of my first episodes as I was a newbie in autumn 2011

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Horse Play

 

The first episode actually focused on Princess Celestia, a character that has been around since season 1 and also has some kind of a major (but vague) connection to Twilight Sparkle. A character who seems so mysterious and bigger (more in a figurative sense) than the average pony, and a character that the show likes to praise. It’s a shame that the show never followed through with the praise, and she instead ended up being a wasted character (and I hate wasted potential) who only chokes on shit and gets shoved into the background because the writers are too goddamn stupid to know what to do with or how to use her as all 2-parters have shown. She alone already raises a bunch of questions, but either nothing gets answered or the show unconsciously gives an awful answer. And if the writers had no intention of doing anything with her, why bring her up at all? Why tease about more interesting concepts in this universe if they don’t give a fuck about those concepts? Faust did work on the first 2 seasons, but I have no idea if she had any plans for Princess Celestia. And clearly the crew on the seasons after were even less interested in her, so why did those people keep her around? Only God knows.

 

And it’s now – what? Season 8? 176 episodes into the show? Really? I don’t know how or why it took this long to do something with a character that is allegedly important and has been in the show from the start. And accordingly, the people working on this show have fucked up so bad with her that anything they try at this point wouldn’t work, but I’ll take what I can get.

 

The episode starts with Twilight having already approached Celestia to celebrate the latter raising the sun for 1111 years. Spike was thankful for Pinkie reminding them, but a more interesting line came from Celestia’s response right after which suggested that she would have forgotten, too. I doubt Celestia is immortal, but a question of this nature can still be asked: What is time to an immortal? However, I doubt that’s something the writers have thought about. 

 

Twilight has written a play to showcase the first time Celestia has raised the sun, and Celestia is quite happy after hearing this. I know this is a way to show another side of Celestia that isn’t her usual professional one, but I’m surprised to see that Twilight was surprised. The show (and later in this episode) has said that they were close, so Twilight should have already seen those other sides of Celestia. Then again, it’s not like the show ever did anything with their relationship, so I don’t expect the writers to know what exactly they thought of each other or what they did together.

 

Celestia reveals some history about herself. She had friends of unknown species, and I wonder if those friends were fellow alicorns. If so, well – I know the writers haven’t thought much about alicorns in general. If not, then that could raise some interesting questions about what it’s like for regular ponies to live and interact with a “natural” alicorn, but I know the writers also haven’t thought about this. This is yet another example of an interesting idea going to waste because – again – the writers don’t really know what they’re talking about. I know not everything can be utilized as there are more ideas than could ever be made into episodes, but that doesn’t excuse the show’s wastefulness.

 

Her comments about theater creating a “magical experience” bringing out the “best in us” and forging a “special bond of friendship” are quite amusing. Good thing they don’t have Internet because they’d also find a lot of people bitching about entertainment. But at the same time, I do think there’s truth in Celestia’s statement as the Internet is also a place for people to discuss things they like. I wonder what the old times were like, then. And I there’s also some fun to be had making a work of fiction. Anyways, her childhood friends who may or may not be around anymore used to create plays for themselves, and Celestia wanted to be part of them but couldn’t because she had to hone her magical abilities. Too bad those magic lessons ended up being pointless. Still, the show is pretty damn clueless when it comes to non-Twilight alicorns, so I don’t imagine Celestia’s acting career (or whatever she chose for play production) turning out much better if she pursued it.

 

Upon hearing this interest in being part of a play (not necessarily acting as Celestia never explicitly said that, but I’ll mostly refer to it as acting for slightly shorter sentences), Twilight asks Celestia to be the star of the play, with Spike and Celestia being surprised at this request. I wonder if a ruler could make time to be an actress, but being a ruler (at least in real life) is pretty demanding, so I guess not. Then again, she could’ve tried acting on the side when she was growing up because her lessons in magic and maybe ruling as well ended up being pointless. I mean, when did the show ever prove that she was an effective ruler? Then again, there’s the last sentence of the previous paragraph to consider.

 

Twilight takes Spike to have a private conversation with him, and Spike objects to putting Celestia in the play because Celestia would normally the one giving out orders, and it would feel awkward to give orders to her. Even though Celestia may be a ruler, that doesn’t mean she has to control everything. It’s not like she’s a dictator. And she has been shown to be a reasonable pony, so she wouldn’t immediately turn down someone who asks her for something. Then again, I suppose he might forget about this considering that Celestia barely even exists in their lives let alone the show. Twilight tries to respond with reasons for doing something for Celestia, but they don’t actually work if you think about them.

 

“She's also our friend.”

Really? Considering how little they’ve interacted throughout 8 seasons, I wouldn’t know this.

 

“Celestia's always kind to everypony. So if we have a chance to finally do something for her, we should.”

Fine, I guess this one’s okay.

 

“How many times has Celestia helped us? Guided us?”

Not often. I can count the number of times she helped on one hand. The series premiere, “The Cutie Mark Chronicles” when Celestia calmed a Twilight with uncontrollable power, “Lesson Zero” when Celestia said that Twilight should send letters at her own pace (although the episode doesn’t really do much for both of them), and “Sweet and Elite” when Celestia helped Rarity get a room in Canterlot per Twilight’s request. That’s 5 episodes (counting the premiere as 2), and they’re all in the first 2 seasons. I wonder if there’s a correlation to Lauren having worked on the first two seasons, but that doesn’t matter. Twilight and friends are far more often doing something for Celestia while Celestia has barely done anything for them. Sure, Celestia raises the sun and makes Equestria a place worth living in, but any unselfish shithead in her position could and would do those same motherfucking things. And Twilight’s line suggests that wanting to help Celestia is a personal and genuine favor, not a generic and insincere act of gratitude.

 

As for the “guiding”, never. Celestia never taught Twilight anything or helped her learn anything, and Celestia never did anything for Twilight. Well, she did make Twilight an alicorn, but nothing else came afterward, so there was still no guiding.

 

“Been a warm, calming voice over our shoulder?”

I can only think of one, and it’s just this one. I wouldn’t be surprised to see if there was more that I forgot about, but I don’t give a fuck. The point is that this is another futile attempt at praising someone who never did jack shit.

 

Celestia points out that she has never acted before, but Twilight still insists because the students would appreciate Celestia’s appearance. Actually, the students did not give a crap about her appearance as the episode later showed, but whatever. I doubt the people working on the show have noticed.

 

We then cut to the other characters setting up the stage. One interesting bit that stood out was Fluttershy already memorizing her lines. I wonder what her role originally was. Imagine if that role was Celestia, but Fluttershy’s reaction much later in the episode doesn’t not suggest as such. I remembered her having stage fright in “Hearth’s Warming Eve” and “Filli Vanilli”, and it looks like she’s still not quite over it as the episode later shows.

 

Twilight shows up and presents the small but major update on the production of play. Everyone except AJ takes this as big news, though AJ was initially surprised when Twilight first presented this news. Rarity wants to get better material for the costume (funny how Rarity didn’t think to do this when Princess Twilight was doing the play, so Celestia continues to be hailed for some unknown reason, but I’ll talk more about this shortly later), Pinkie wants to bring in a bigger party cannon (I doubt one was ever going to be fired in the play), and RD decides to spread this news as far as possible (even making a rainboom as she took off). AJ wonders why everyone else seems to be overreacting as they have met Princess Celestia a number of times over the show (though I’m not sure about Starlight since Celestia was still barely present when Starlight was made to be a new character, but there is “A Royal Problem” where Starlight saw the alicorn sisters up close, so whatever). But Starlight points out that they met Princess Celestia in more formal settings. Last time I checked, Starlight didn’t meet the other princesses that often at all outside of “A Royal Problem” (though I suppose that could be formal for Starlight since she was not there for an average sleepover), but she did point out galas (that she hasn’t participated in as far as I checked) and world saving (there was the end of season 7, so I could count that). As for the others during the first 5 seasons, I could try evaluating how her appearances came off, but I’m too lazy. Though I’m pretty sure none of the Mane 6 ever met her in more casual settings (remember that the show has done almost nothing with Twilight and Celestia’s relationship, so why would there be anything else between Celestia and one of the Mane 6?), so I’ll take Starlight’s words for it.

 

But what I really wanted to talk about was that the episode tried to say the characters were overreacting simply because a princess was showing up, with Twilight responding that she’s a princess they always hang out with. But Starlight points out that Twilight isn’t a “princess” princess.

 

 

 

It’s another stupid ass attempt at trying to make Princess Celestia look impressive by downplaying Twilight. I have to ask again: What exactly has Princess Celestia done to be an imposing royal? Sure there’s her physical appearance, but does that really work when she hasn’t done anything to augment that appearance? Twilight may not rule Equestria, give out commands, or even look as impressive, but she has proven herself to be far more helpful and useful than her competitors. Even if ruling Equestria is demanding, I still don’t know how Celestia approaches her work (“A Royal Problem” didn't give any insight). And that still doesn’t excuse the fact that Princess Celestia has contributed nothing to the show, especially against threats to Equestria. Maybe she doesn’t have a lot of raw power or some other lame bullshit excuse, but she should at least have some knowledge of how to keep her country safe (which has hardly been the case as I can only think of one, which was Discord). Isn’t that also supposed to be one of her main tasks?

 

It’s only about 5 minutes into the episode, and I can’t find much that I actually liked mainly because the stuff that I should like have no weight.

 

Time to rehearse the play, and Twilight is apparently very proud of being the main contributor. Then again, would anyone (maybe except Starlight) know much about the history of Equestria? The Mane 6 did the play for “Hearth’s Warming Eve”, but that didn’t show the same events. Anyways, according to the play in this episode, it took a team of unicorns including Star Swirl to raise the sun (and maybe the moon as well, but the episode didn’t explicitly say so), but the other unicorns would lose their magic after doing so. This sounds like content from The Journal of the Two Sisters publication, so it looks like some of its content will be canon like the stuff about raising the sun, and other bits won’t be like Star Swirl being the one responsible for creating the Tree of harmony in the show when the book said he discovered it. However, what comes next is a tad muddy. Celestia could raise the sun without harm to herself, like the book said. But the episode called her a student. It’s worth noting that while she was learning with and under Star Swirl in the book, Celestia was already crowned princess before learning about this ability. What the episode gives away doesn’t necessarily contradict the book, but I’m wondering if the creative team behind the episode knew whether Celestia was a princess already or not before raising the sun.

 

On a side note, I wonder how the sun and moon were moved before unicorns came along.

 

Princess Celestia finally shows up to play her part, and it turns out she isn’t much of an actress. It’s always weird that bad acting in fiction is always portrayed with deliveries that can only be intentionally bad because there’s no way a person who’s trying to act would resort to the delivery shown. I guess trying to imitate legitimately bad acting might be a bit tough. AJ tries to use her element but is stopped by Twilight. I’d comment on this, but later as this problem only just got started.

 

Next is a dance number, which ended up not appearing during the actual performance. I guess the play was that badly ruined. Celestia is now not in sync with the other performers. I would say it’s her body size, but the students are different species and already have different body sizes. I could also say it’s because they’ve practiced before and Celestia only suddenly stepped in, but the episode made it sound like they needed Celestia’s approval first to actually produce the play, so they most likely just started rehearsing as I don’t know why they’d rehearse at all if they weren’t sure whether they were allowed to do the play or not. Actually, I’m not even sure what purpose the dance number originally served in Twilight’s play. Celestia’s line suggests that they’re celebrating the discovery of her power, but I thought a celebration even on stage would look a bit different from that. As in a festival, not just a dance. Part of the dance requires Celestia to throw Star Swirl’s hat off, but the hat hits the switch that opens the trapdoor that all of the students were conveniently on top of. Hell, the trapdoor was just wide enough for all of the students in a line to fit in. And either the hat is very heavy, or the switch is loose. It’s more likely the former because if the switch was loose, it immediately drop after being hit, but then there’s cartoon physics not unlike what you’d see in a Looney Tunes short. So, the answer is, who knows? And the incident was also an accident, which means the hat could’ve gone anywhere else but conveniently hit a lever to create another problem, which is the students dropping onto and breaking the prop for the sun. AJ points out that the “lead actress is a disaster,” but I doubt being a bad actress would have been enough to cause the second event.

 

Twilight finally acknowledges that Celestia isn’t much of an actress and weighs her options: drop Celestia out of the play and risk hurting her feelings while Twilight comes out looking like a “bad” friend, or keep Celestia around but then get humiliated which Twilight acknowledges will make herself a “worse” friend. I think it’s pretty obvious what the better option is when putting it that way, and just about any piece of fiction or generic advice would say that the truth hurts, or it’s better to be honest about something being bad than to lie that something is good because the lie would be an additional problem.

 

Spike suggests canceling the play because the play hasn’t been made public yet, which is met with approval from everyone else. Were they going to tell Celestia that the play was canceled? Otherwise, she’d wonder why they’d keep practicing if they weren’t going to perform it in front of an audience. I also thought there’d be some annoyance about their initial input being made pointless due to the cancelation.

 

However, RD just happens to come back and say that news of the play has gone pretty far. Twilight tries to think of another option, but AJ tries the honesty advice again. Twilight’s reason for keeping Celestia in the play is that she wants to help Celestia accomplish her dream of being part of a play. There’s also an exchange about honesty being important in friendship, but Twilight also says that helping someone else with their dream is also important. All that doesn’t sound bad on paper, but there’s a much bigger issue I have with Twilight’s reason, but I’ll get back to that later as this point in the episode isn’t the best time for it.

 

Twilight instead tries to give Celestia acting lessons, and the latter says an… interesting line.

“This is what I always knew theater must be about – that special stage pony bond of shared trust and honesty.”

I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean other than forcing Twilight and Spike to feel uncomfortable.

 

Method Mare actors On Stage and Raspberry Beret are introduced. Apparently, they appeared in the season 5 episode “Made in Manehattan”, and I honestly don’t remember that. They probably didn’t do anything of interest if I couldn’t recall them at all. Where did they even come from, by the way? Were they involved in the play from the beginning? If not, how did Twilight get them to the school so quickly? Anyways, they try improvisation by being mimes, which is an interesting way of showing off 2 talents in one moment. But Celestia isn’t catching on for some reason. So, she doesn’t know the meaning of the word, “improvisation”? She may have asked, “What box?”, but why did she not ask if this was part of the lesson? Why did the actors not explain themselves?

 

Back on the stage, the Mane 6 conclude that their sun prop is no longer usable, so Pinkie tries a yellow balloon, which immediately pops after coming into contact with a… pointy rock. I feel like calling it a stalactite, but they’re not in a cave, so I don’t know the proper term for this kind of rock at their location. That rock didn’t even look pointy enough to puncture the balloon, and it’s not like the balloon was pushed against the rock. But it was kinda funny, so why not? Amusingly, the deflated balloon even flew into the trapdoor.

 

Now it’s back to Celestia’s lessons, and this time they’re on visualization. She still isn’t catching on. Why don’t those actors say that they’re pretending or using their imagination? On that note, I don’t know why Celestia is so literal about this when acting especially on stage has always been about pretending or using imagination. I know this is supposed to be a further display of Celestia’s inability to act, but the actors can also come off as lousy acting teachers for not actually trying to teach.

 

Pinkie Pie tries again with the stage prop, this time using a burning marshmallow, but that of course fails because the episode must go on. How did she even set it on fire?

 

Twilight goes back to Celestia’s lessons again, and she didn’t teleport herself this time. She was apparently that irritated with Pinkie’s demonstration. Celestia is trying charades, and she’s also trying to express her love for Equestria. Like the other characters, I couldn’t tell that what she was doing, but I wouldn’t know how to express something like that with only my physical body and facial expressions. She should’ve settled for something simpler. Spike even called charades the simplest acting exercise. Is that true? I still think that they could’ve tried pretending and using imagination, but then again, I’m not an actor.

 

I do wonder what the actors were thinking as they saw Celestia like they did. That this (allegedly) big royal is a terrible actress. The show rarely gets into how regular ponies see the royals, but as much as I would like to ramble about this idea, I’m not in the mood.

 

It’s time for the play to start, but how much time has passed since Twilight invited Princess Celestia over? The episode makes it seems like it’s the same day but at night. So were they going to rehearse only for one day? I know this is fiction, but I don’t know how they could only work with one day of rehearsal much less production. Then again, one episode wouldn’t be enough to show multiple days of rehearsal, so whatever.

 

RD said that “every pony” was going to see it. Obviously, this won’t be literal due to limited space, but the turnout hardly seemed like an impressive portion of Equestria like RD claimed or hoped. Luna even shows her face among the audience. I wonder how she feels about the raising of the moon not being celebrated. I mean, I’d like to think that Celestia and Luna founded their abilities around the same time because I don't know why Luna would make her discovery far later than Celestia made hers. So why aren’t both of the sisters celebrated? Luna probably didn’t mind as that’s how she became Nightmare Moon, but I know the real answer is that the writers haven’t thought about this as past results have shown that they don’t know what to do with a non-Twilight alicorn. Whether moving the moon around drains magic or not is unknown, and I would assume so, but there’s my previous sentence. Did the creative team know about the publication The Journal of the Two Sisters, or did they just happen to imagine the some of the same things as AKR?

 

In the backstage, Twilight panics about the play having to go through even though Celestia has proven to be hopeless at acting. Twilight even mentions that she completely rewrote the script to give Celestia no lines. Why would Twilight bring up all this at the last minute? In a real play, the actors and actresses would be notified about any changes and then rehearse with those changes, and the playwright wouldn’t say that they rewrote the script during opening night. They’d push back the date of opening night if they weren’t prepared. And like I said earlier, production and rehearsal wouldn’t happen only in a single day. But the episode needed problems to pile up, so whatever again.

 

Pinkie reveals that she bought fireworks as the prop for the sun, which only mysteriously lights up when she pulls the lever. I doubt the lever would light up the fireworks, so that means they were already lit before being revealed. Or Pinkie lit them right before revealing them, or she bought already lit fireworks. She even admits that she didn’t test them, which of course means that they’re going to explode and burn their surroundings. I’ll admit that I was amused at Trixie’s minor cameo.

 

With so much going wrong especially right before the start of the play, Twilight has an outburst about the disastrous production and especially Celestia being an awful actress. And of course, Celestia happens to be close enough to hear it, though Twilight’s volume probably would’ve been enough. Twilight tries to apologize for her outburst, but that of course doesn’t work as well.

 

Celestia is unsurprisingly upset about what she heard, but not as unsurprising is that she is upset about Twilight not being honest from the start.

 

“I'm upset because, in all the time we've known each other, -“

Yeah, right.

 

“I thought I taught you about the importance of friendship, trust, and honesty!”

Princess Celestia didn’t teach her. Hell, Celestia never taught anything to Twilight onscreen. Twilight did learn about those virtues and give letters to Celestia when she started living in Ponyville with her new friends, but that’s not the same as Celestia personally teaching her those virtues.

 

Celestia then leaves for some reason. I guess there had to be a reason for a private scene with just her and Twilight. Meanwhile, the others try to stall the audience. Actually, it’s just Spike. I’m not too sure how he’s the ideal candidate for stalling, but why not.

 

Now for the most important scene in the episode, and also the scene that stood out to me the most: the private conversation between Twilight and Celestia in the clouds. The second time in the show (“Lesson Zero” all the way back in season 2 having the first) the two were more personal with each other. It should have been meaningful and impactful just based on the premise of the episode, the emotions from Twilight, and the alleged relationship between Twilight and Princess Celestia, but it didn’t pan out because this episode doesn’t have a foundation. Like I said about “Celestial Advice”, this episode was trying to build on a relationship that never existed, and thus much of the exchange becomes nonsensical and even arbitrary.

 

So the scene stood out all right, but not in the way it should have. *sigh* Time to continue my recap.

 

Twilight flies into the clouds to catch up and apologize again to Princess Celestia. However, the latter is still kinda steamed at Twilight’s dishonesty, so Twilight (tries to) pour out her heart to Celestia.

 

“You've guided me since I was a filly.”

So? That might have been true a long time ago, but the idea at this point no longer matters nor does the idea have any meaning. As I have said, Celestia has done nothing for Twilight in the show.

 

“You've given me knowledge and advice and friendship.”

You know what I'm gonna say next.

 

 

“Just once, I wanted to be able to give something back to you.”

*sigh* Again,

 

“I know what I did was wrong. I should've told you the truth. But I promised you could be in our play. I had to make it work. Nothing would make me feel worse than knowing I disappointed you.”

“I look up to you more than any pony I've ever met! I hate to let you down. Like I did.”

At some parts of this review, I said that I had some problems with Twilight’s reason for lying to Princess Celestia, and now I’ll explain myself further. Twilight wanted to help Celestia be an actress as Celestia has expressed some interest in acting. That idea by itself is not bad even though Twilight’s repayment reason is bullshit, but it’s ultimately shallow with AJ’s suggestion (and Celestia’s later note) for honesty not helping Twilight’s case. Wanting to help Celestia be an actress is one thing, but the episode makes it clear that she’s a terrible actress and has no chance of improving, so I don’t know what Twilight was hoping for even though she’s fully aware of those crippling and irreversible flaws. In short, Twilight doesn’t have much of a defense for choosing to tell a lie instead of the truth.

 

Here’s something that might make the episode more interesting. What if Twilight lied to Celestia because her fear of doing something she perceives as unthinkable (i.e. saying something negative about her idol to her face) overshadowed her desire to the truth? In this case, Twilight actually does know that telling the truth is the better option, but now there’s something stopping her from taking what she knows is the better option. Twilight has placed Celestia on a pedestal, but the pedestal has been broken in some way, which is Twilight learning about something Celestia is not good at. Would Twilight be in denial? Would she be afraid of the seemingly perfect image being tainted not just for herself but for others? Is she afraid of the image being further tainted as she can’t imagine Celestia being bad at even more things? The episode could’ve talked about the idea of placing someone on too high of a pedestal.

 

Of course, there are some problems with the episode trying that idea. Princess Celestia stopped looking like a capable and mysterious royal starting at season 4 with “Twilight’s Kingdom” where she was forced to be a stupid motherfucker just so Twilight can take all of the action for herself. So, I wouldn’t know why Twilight would keep putting a stupid motherfucker on a pedestal unless a reason was given, but it’s not like a reason would ever be given because the show hasn’t noticed its consistently deplorable treatment toward Princess Celestia. This points to another complaint I’ve made about the show’s portrayal of the alicorn, which is that the show is always saying what she can’t do while not showing what she could do. At least this episode was kind enough to do the latter a little later in the episode, but even that doesn’t work as well as it should.

 

Also not helping is the lack of a relationship between Twilight and Princess Celestia, a problem I haven’t been subtle about. Since Celestia hasn’t done anything impressive or anything at all for Twilight, I also don’t even understand let alone know why Twilight would look up to Celestia or be so desperate to do something for her.

 

So the reconciliation between the two doesn’t have much of an impact because there’s nothing between them. But they still want to continue with the play, and Celestia suggests that she might know how to pick things up.

 

Back to the stage, and Spike calls this whole endeavor a disaster. But Celestia steps in and says she knows how to deal with a disaster. If previous episodes are anything to go by, that’s also bullshit. But at least she’s given this one (but not enough) chance to take charge. She gives out commands to other ponies as she takes over production for the time being, and this would’ve worked much better if she also had more of a relationship with the other ponies. For example, why did she think that Fluttershy should play her? Fluttershy did play Celestia in the season 4 episode “Testing Testing 1, 2, 3”, but I doubt Celestia herself knew that. This scene was meant to be a display of Celestia’s leadership skills, but it comes off more as being lucky that things worked out instead of her knowing what she was doing. To be fair, RD would be the best one to get clouds, and she did help Fluttershy work with being the lead actress, but those are not good enough. I mean, wouldn’t a good leader know a thing or two about the people they lead? That definitely doesn’t apply to Celestia. And this display of competence is too small and short to be substantial, and even though I did say I’ll take what I can get, it still won’t be enough. More on that later.

 

Anyways, Fluttershy isn’t too thrilled about being the new lead actress, but Celestia tells Fluttershy to visualize being a royal. As one can already see, Celestia is applying what the Method Mares tried to teach her. A typical move as that would be a detail that a story wouldn’t want to discard (otherwise, the scenes with Celestia learning and failing to act would become long fillers), but at least this move does a little better at displaying Celestia’s helpfulness (calling this “leadership” would be too generous) than her previous scene of assigning tasks to the other characters.

 

The play finally starts, and the students show up to the stage with their costumes looking disheveled somehow. Did that happen because of the stuff with the fireworks? Their less than ideal appearance is met with laughter from the audience, which makes Spike the narrator nervous. Celestia tells him to improvise, and his solution is to be a smart ass about the dishevelment. I know the episode wanted to make use of the improvisation that Celestia was told about, but the execution is weird, and I’m having a hard time saying why I feel that way. I’m guessing it’s that one of the ponies the crowd verbally mocked the students for their looks, which is one thing. But it would make more sense for the comment to be more along the lines of, “Why do the costumes look so lame?” instead of the given, “You call those great sorcerers?”

 

On with the play, lead actress Fluttershy finally appears to try and “raise the sun” as per her role, but Twilight realizes that there’s no prop for the sun. I don’t know why Celestia suggested to play charades because all Fluttershy did next was gesture, which I’m pretty sure Fluttershy could have figured out if she didn’t become nervous as a result of suddenly realizing that there’s no sun on stage and if she knew another “prop” for the sun would be used. This bit comes off more as improvisation since Celestia’s expression after Twilight panicked suggested that she came up with the idea to raise the actual sun on the spot.

 

And she does just that. It’s worth pointing out that Luna, who is among the audience and doesn’t speak at all in the episode, was annoyed about her sister raising the sun during the nighttime. I’m honestly not sure why Luna would be annoyed because I doubt the concept of day and night belongs to either of the sisters. I also doubt the sisters own the sun and moon, and even if they did, the reason nighttime exists is not because of the moon (though human culture for some reason associate nighttime with the moon; I’m guessing it’s because of its greater visibility at night, but the moon can still be visible during the daytime. Then again, I don’t study human cultures). The existence of nighttime can arguably be more attributed to the existence of the sun. Without the sun, ignoring obvious effects on life, the Earth would always be in eternal night. And since daytime wouldn’t exist, there would be no reason to have a classification for day and night since the Earth only experiences one of these phenomena at all times and never the other. If only the moon never existed, also ignoring the effects of the moon on the Earth, day and night would still exist. So if anything, the existence of day and night should be accredited to just Princess Celestia. On that note, since Nightmare Moon wanted eternal night, I don’t know how’d she would pull it off unless it was only for Equestria. As long as the sun exists and the Earth is close enough, it will still be daytime somewhere on the Earth, and I don’t know what she would do about that. Maybe she would just block the sun. So it looks like there could be more to Luna’s resentment that was stated at the very first episode of the show, but I know it won’t get examined. What’s also weird is that while Celestia was raising the sun during the night, the sky still kept its nightly look even though it shouldn’t. Since the sun is simply rising in the sky, it should instead look like dawn. But I’m going off on a tangent.

 

The play turns out to be a success, and that must’ve been one short play. Maybe the destroyed set cut down the running time. Or more of the play was not shown on-screen. It also didn’t look like any pony paid an entry fee, so at least they didn’t get ripped off in terms of price. Celestia points out that she never actually needed to be an actress when working on a play, which I pointed out at the beginning as I noted that she never explicitly said she wanted to be an actress. She simply wanted to be able to work on the play at all, which is what she wanted all along and go, and so she’s satisfied. Good on her, but not good enough for me. She wanted to “share an honest bond of creativity, artistry, and happiness with [her] friends.” However, so little screentime was dedicated to her actually working on and fixing up the play, and she also doesn’t have much of a bond with the Mane 6 including Twilight (remember that Celestia also barely interacts with the Mane 6 in this episode), so her line makes little sense. Though I suppose everything being last minute kinda explains the former, but the point is that the line doesn’t have as much meaning as it should. It should’ve been worded differently.

 

So she may not be much of an actress, but she can apply what she (tried to) learn to help others. I wonder if this might mean she’s a better director than actor. She’s already a terrible actress, so it wouldn’t be hard to find something else she’s better at. On the other hand, directing requires some imagination and visualization, and I have no idea if she can actually do either of those.

 

The episode ends with Celestia fooling the others into thinking she’d rather pursue theater production than being a royal, so apparently she can be good at pretending when not on stage. Knowing the nature of the show, she’d get screwed over if she actually did choose theater, and the reason wouldn’t be because she’s meant to be a royal.

 

So that’s the episode. Did I like it? Well, that’s kinda hard to say. I guess I can say I liked parts of it or some of the ideas. Did I enjoy it? That’s also hard to say. Based on my recap, my tone came off as more sarcastic or even negative than genuinely positive, and that’s not far from how I felt when watching a second time. I did like and enjoy the episode during my first viewing, but that’s because I liked Celestia and was pretty glad she got a somewhat solo episode. But the novelty has worn off. I know I didn’t think it was great even when I first saw it, and I already gave my reasons over the review.

 

To reiterate, this episode was building on something that is stupid or doesn’t exist. The characters are surprised or aren’t receptive to Celestia’s awful acting abilities, and the episode was trying to make the idea of Celestia being bad at something to be incredible. After all, the episode spent almost all of her time continuously trying and failing to act. But when did she ever prove herself to be competent at any point in the show? Before this episode, never. And even what was given here is too little because she only gets to start fixing the play about 4 minutes before the episode ends, so there isn’t much room to actually show what she is actually capable of. Why did she think Spike should be the one to narrate? Why not give that task to Pinkie (she likes to talk, her positive nature can raise the spirit of the play), Rarity (she’s an artist and thus creative, so she can give some life to a worn down production), or Twilight (she’s passionate about learning and spreading knowledge, she is the main creative force behind the play, and she wrote the script which also includes the narration)? Why should Fluttershy have been the lead actress? Why not give it to a unicorn, another pegasus, or even Twilight who is also an alicorn? I don’t know how Princess Celestia thinks, so the fixes she provided feel accordingly small and even lucky. Any of the Mane 6 could’ve made the suggestions she did without the episode looking weird. Of course, it wouldn’t come as easily to them because they aren’t as much of a(n alleged) leader as Princess Celestia. But the fixes again ended up being minor (and I don’t mean subtle) displays of her ability because she never did anything worthy of her title (including in this episode), which points back to my sentence about her fix starting too late. So she helped throw together a play at the last minute. But based on my interpretation of her efforts, did that really support the idea that she's capable and competent? Not helping is that the episode still needed the play to happen, which means less time for her ideas and further diminishing her portrayal as something of a leader. As in, we don’t actually get to see much of her being capable of damage control or just a leader who knows how to make what she wants happen because those scenes go by so quickly and also because more time was spent on her being a screw-up.

 

There’s also hints of a relationship and Twilight’s perspective of her, but I have kept saying that those ideas never got off the ground at any point in the show. For example, I don’t even know what Celestia thinks of Twilight outside of her being a good pony. And I can say the same for what Twilight thinks of Celestia. Well, she looks up to Celestia, but I don’t know why, and Celestia’s incompetence over the show doesn’t give much of a reason for Twilight’s admiration to exist. Again, this is why the cloud scene has no meaning.

 

I said I would take what I can get, but this episode at the same time proves that it's too late for any fixes.

 

The episode might have been better if the show was better at handling Princess Celestia. But if the show was better at this, then this episode wouldn’t have happened, or at least an episode like this would have happened earlier in the show where Twilight might have learned to stop putting Celestia on a pedestal. And if an episode like this would have happened at an earlier point, it also would’ve turned out differently (e.g. no Starlight or students). Context matters, and without previous episodes to augment its own ideas, its attempts at a positive portrayal of Princess Celestia fail. 

 

Even her screw-ups don’t give much of an insight into her. She isn’t good at pretending or using her own imagination. So?

 

Despite my rather negative feelings, I don’t hate the episode. Or at least I don’t hate it as much as I hated “Celestial Advice”. I’m just saying that the situation around this alicorn shouldn't have gotten so bad. If the show didn’t fuck up so often, I’m pretty sure I would’ve liked an episode like this.

 

As for the students, they didn’t do anything in the episode, which is fine by me as I don’t give a shit about them.

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On ‎7‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 9:13 PM, Number95 said:

The first episode actually focused on Princess Celestia, a character that has been around since season 1 and also has some kind of a major (but vague) connection to Twilight Sparkle. A character who seems so mysterious and bigger (more in a figurative sense) than the average pony, and a character that the show likes to praise. It’s a shame that the show never followed through with the praise, and she instead ended up being a wasted character (and I hate wasted potential) who only chokes on shit and gets shoved into the background because the writers are too goddamn stupid to know what to do with or how to use her as all 2-parters have shown. She alone already raises a bunch of questions, but either nothing gets answered or the show unconsciously gives an awful answer. And if the writers had no intention of doing anything with her, why bring her up at all? Why tease about more interesting concepts in this universe if they don’t give a fuck about those concepts? Faust did work on the first 2 seasons, but I have no idea if she had any plans for Princess Celestia. And clearly the crew on the seasons after were even less interested in her, so why did those people keep her around? Only God knows.

There are two characters in this show that bring out a very weird reaction in me. They are both characters that I like but I can't help being convinced there is something internally wrong about them, I mean, in the inner workings of the franchise. While I'm convinced that Starlight Glimmer is someone's daughter's OC, I'm convinced that there is someone in the decision making process that absolutely hates Celestia with all the might of their black little heart.

Profoundly magical, and possessing of a commanding presence, ruling Equestria with her sister, the Elements of Harmony book describes her as and I can't imagine the cartoon landing her further from that. The cartoon can't even decide on what the hell is it that she does and Luna doesn't, while having no problem at throwing princesses around lie the term means nothing to it.

While at that, Jim Miller goes on to blabber that Celestia is like Superman and could fix anything too easily. Right... The only thing that will hurt a character more than sloppy writing is aimless writing.

On ‎7‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 9:13 PM, Number95 said:

And it’s now – what? Season 8? 176 episodes into the show? Really? I don’t know how or why it took this long to do something with a character that is allegedly important and has been in the show from the start. And accordingly, the people working on this show have fucked up so bad with her that anything they try at this point wouldn’t work, but I’ll take what I can get.

She isn't important. She is important in-universe, but neither the intended audience, the fandom in general, or the producers care much about that. All that the first two cares is for pop culture memes, pop culture references and the odd cute pony, while the third only cares that the IP owner renews the contract for more of their work. The quality that is implied isn't more than an after-thought and soe times it's more unintentional than anything.

I feel like a fucking hater saying this, but at least I know it's not my fault. It was not by lack of polite asking and educated feedback, years back.

On ‎7‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 9:13 PM, Number95 said:

Twilight has written a play to showcase the first time Celestia has raised the sun, and Celestia is quite happy after hearing this.

Twilight wrote a kindergarten level play, with kindergarten level actors to tell a story that's probably been told [i[ad nauseam[/i] by countless professional theaters and professional actors, recounted in songs and poems like a goddamn religion. Of course, that is on a reasonable world where things make sense. In this cartoon, there are Canterlot ponies watching a school play just so we can pretend that there are any level of stakes in this story. In this cartoon, raising the sun is only important when they don't know what the hell to do with Celestia but is barely mentioned when the focus is on anything else and ponies couldn't give a rat's ass about the lack of her raising the sun. This is the exact opposite of how you build lore around a character and anything it does. Celestia is supposed to be legendary, not a celebrity of a figurehead 'not-queen'.

On ‎7‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 9:13 PM, Number95 said:

Her comments about theater creating a “magical experience” bringing out the “best in us” and forging a “special bond of friendship” are quite amusing. Good thing they don’t have Internet because they’d also find a lot of people bitching about entertainment. But at the same time, I do think there’s truth in Celestia’s statement as the Internet is also a place for people to discuss things they like. I wonder what the old times were like, then. And I there’s also some fun to be had making a work of fiction. Anyways, her childhood friends who may or may not be around anymore used to create plays for themselves, and Celestia wanted to be part of them but couldn’t because she had to hone her magical abilities. Too bad those magic lessons ended up being pointless. Still, the show is pretty damn clueless when it comes to non-Twilight alicorns, so I don’t imagine Celestia’s acting career (or whatever she chose for play production) turning out much better if she pursued it.

This is bullshit. The cartoon fails to explain why she never did pursue what she said was her dream AND never explained why is it that she ended up 'ruling' the nation instead of pursuing her dream. And still, my profession is medicine, but I still find time, in my limited 80 or something life span to play games, write and publish books and watch dumbass cartoons. There is no excuse for the way the episode treats Celestia and her dream or her motivation.

On ‎7‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 9:13 PM, Number95 said:

Twilight takes Spike to have a private conversation with him, and Spike objects to putting Celestia in the play because Celestia would normally the one giving out orders, and it would feel awkward to give orders to her. Even though Celestia may be a ruler, that doesn’t mean she has to control everything. It’s not like she’s a dictator. And she has been shown to be a reasonable pony, so she wouldn’t immediately turn down someone who asks her for something. Then again, I suppose he might forget about this considering that Celestia barely even exists in their lives let alone the show. Twilight tries to respond with reasons for doing something for Celestia, but they don’t actually work if you think about them.

TL;DR: Twilight, again, acts as if she barely knows Celestia.

On ‎7‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 9:13 PM, Number95 said:

On a side note, I wonder how the sun and moon were moved before unicorns came along.

Exactly.

On ‎7‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 9:13 PM, Number95 said:

Princess Celestia finally shows up to play her part, and it turns out she isn’t much of an actress. It’s always weird that bad acting in fiction is always portrayed with deliveries that can only be intentionally bad because there’s no way a person who’s trying to act would resort to the delivery shown. I guess trying to imitate legitimately bad acting might be a bit tough. AJ tries to use her element but is stopped by Twilight. I’d comment on this, but later as this problem only just got started.

Celestia's acting didn't bother me because of two things: I'm already used to MLP and it's heavy hand on anything that requires subtlety; and because that is not celestia's job. If this episode was in a cartoon where Celestia is some sort of implacable, badass queen that nobody can mess with, the whole thing about her goofing off would've been even better.

On ‎7‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 9:13 PM, Number95 said:

But Celestia isn’t catching on for some reason. So, she doesn’t know the meaning of the word, “improvisation”? She may have asked, “What box?”, but why did she not ask if this was part of the lesson? Why did the actors not explain themselves?

And here is this problem at it's worse. Instead of making Celestia look like she's clueless, she simply looks like a moron. The problem is that it doesn't build up o her character. Anyone, regardless of their walk in life, could've done much better than the wise ruler of Equestria. It borders on the intentional mockery, as if Celestia is pretending that she doesn't understand.

On ‎7‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 9:13 PM, Number95 said:

Of course, there are some problems with the episode trying that idea. Princess Celestia stopped looking like a capable and mysterious royal starting at season 4 with “Twilight’s Kingdom” where she was forced to be a stupid motherfucker just so Twilight can take all of the action for herself. So, I wouldn’t know why Twilight would keep putting a stupid motherfucker on a pedestal unless a reason was given, but it’s not like a reason would ever be given because the show hasn’t noticed its consistently deplorable treatment toward Princess Celestia. This points to another complaint I’ve made about the show’s portrayal of the alicorn, which is that the show is always saying what she can’t do while not showing what she could do. At least this episode was kind enough to do the latter a little later in the episode, but even that doesn’t work as well as it should.

It always amazes me how much Celestia is defined by what she isn't, what she can't do. It's as if there is some other series about her that turns her into the ultimate Mary Sue.

On ‎7‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 9:13 PM, Number95 said:

The play turns out to be a success, and that must’ve been one short play. Maybe the destroyed set cut down the running time. Or more of the play was not shown on-screen. It also didn’t look like any pony paid an entry fee, so at least they didn’t get ripped off in terms of price. Celestia points out that she never actually needed to be an actress when working on a play, which I pointed out at the beginning as I noted that she never explicitly said she wanted to be an actress.

Of course Celestia was fine with it. Heavens forbid she actually shows a character by having preferences. Oh my GOD! Imagine the riots if Celestia suddenly grew an actual personality being sad she can't act, and should remain as the nation's leader, but is resigned because that is what she is good at doing, and how she better makes everyone's lives better, including hers. Holy shit! There would be a Third World War and it would be called the War of Celestia's Choice. That would be the end of the world as we know it!

Fuck this cartoon. Sometimes... Just... Fuck this stupid cartoon.

 

And the worst part of it, is that I acknowledged this episode as, maybe, the best they could've done with her and did acknowledge that it was funny. It's just in the wrong series.

 

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39 minutes ago, Metemponychosis said:

...

And the worst part of it, is that I acknowledged this episode as, maybe, the best they could've done with her and did acknowledge that it was funny. It's just in the wrong series.

 

If that's the best the could do for Celestia post-Season 2, that's kind of depressing.

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14 minutes ago, WaterPulse said:

If that's the best the could do for Celestia post-Season 2, that's kind of depressing.

It certainly isn't very encouraging.

They could've done anything with her, down to the benevolent leader with all the 'a ruler is a servant to her people' hoo-ah, or any of the typical benevolent ruler tropes. Instead she's a weird celebrity-thing that is talked about like she's a queen, but ends up being a weird, bland, nothing important. And I can't even complain about it because 'main character, target audience, something something, toys selling, entitlement magic bullet argument'. 

I wonder what G5 will do to her, if she'll eve be there. Thank the gods for fanfiction, fanart, etc...

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7 minutes ago, WaterPulse said:

I really need to read some good Celestia fics, now that I think about it.

I'll not direct you to specific fics, because tastes differ. However, in these two groups you can find some of the best interpretations the fandom can offer.

https://www.fimfiction.net/group/1216/celestia-is-the-best-pony

https://www.fimfiction.net/group/199784/aspects-of-celestia

Just be aware of the 'godlestias'.

And this one is nice for some heartwarming stories between Celestia and Twilight. But, also, heartbreaking.

https://www.fimfiction.net/group/197851/momlestia

It can be hard finding well-written fanfiction, but these groups usually have the best.

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