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Are The Friendship is Magic Comics Canon?

The comics are great. I like the art style, I like the darker stories, I like the funny little references they throw in. (Well, some of the artist OC cameos get a bit annoying, but eh) Some are better than others, of course, but overall, they're a hoot.
And Applejack agrees. The question is, are they canon? Or should they be considered an alternative continuity? Can we use the comics as evidence for headcanon theories in the same way as the show itself? Join me as I examine this question. The first 4 issues deal with Queen Chrysalis, which puts it chronologically after the Season 2 Finale. The second arc is the... sigh... "Nightmare Rarity Arc" (reasons for the sigh to be addressed when I've saved up enough anti-nausea medication to consider reviewing it... it might be a while...) And here is where things get interesting. You see, Luna is shown in this arc, but as she was at the end of the pilot, her "depowered" form.
Yeah, you go to your room and think about what you've done! During the events of the comic, she gets powered up by the POWER OF LOVE! This restores her to her default Season 2 appearance... wait a minute... Season 2?
Woah... that is badflank... but don't try to distract me! This is where we apply our brains (or whatever reasonable facsimile thereof I can muster...) You see, Season 2 has Luna in her new form by the 2nd (I have a different counting scheme... just go with it) episode, while the comic has her in her old form as late as following the Season 2 premiere. So we have a contradiction... oh, wait... no. You see, I was assuming that the comic arcs are presented in chronological order, but actually, there's no reason to make that assumption. The "Nightmare Rarity" arc could in fact be placed chronologically before the Queen Chrysalis arc, which wouldn't contradict the show. Thus proving conclusively that the comics do in fact follow the same continuity as the show... Well, unfortunately, there's more to the story. You see, during the "NightRarity" arc, we get this panel. There is not much else that this could be referring to, except the CMC being kidnapped in the events of the "Queen Chrysalis" arc. We still have the comic contradicting the show's timeline, so I have to conclude that the comics cannot be canonically linked with the show itself. I would consider it an alternative timeline of sorts, personally. Since generalizing from only one example could be misleading, I do have another example of a mismatch between the show and the comics. For this example, we turn to the comic featuring Princess Cadance and Shining Armor in High School, “Neigh Anything”. At the party during the climax, we have a scene where the past!Mayor Mare (one hopes that’s her title and not her real name, because otherwise her parents are clairvoyant) is talking with the past!Cheerilee about what their aptitude test results were. Cheerilee states that hers says she should be a teacher, and she disparages the notion (for those not fluent in Eighties Dudespeak, “grody” means gross, so she definitely is poo-pooing the idea of being a teacher here.) According to the show, Cheerilee’s cutie mark only appeared after she had decided to become a teacher and bring joy and learning to fillies and colts. Hence we have another contradiction of the show. Huzzah! Well, Sunny Fox, one might say, you can’t see her cutie mark with Mayor Mare in the way, so you can’t be sure she has one yet. Fair enough point, but luckily, I have an answer for it. From a previous scene with Cheerilee, we can clearly see that she already has her cutie mark. Thank you, comic writers! At any rate, I'll be reviewing the comic themselves in this section too, to give my own impression about each of the major arcs, along with ranking, a list of pros and cons, and of course a list of the references I got in each one. I hope you'll join me in my endeavour. Until then, stay sunny side up!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 72. “Bats!”: The Epic Rap Battle of Applejack and Fluttershy

It comes down / to just one simple fact. / They’ve crossed the line, / it’s time that we attack! – Applejack Once again, it's Applebuck Season, and Applejack is eager to get kicking as the sun rises over her orchards. So she trots around, looking at the apples in the trees, dreaming all her pony dreams, licking lips so greedily... you get the idea.
These apples are the apples of this Apple's eyes... apparently. To her dismay, she find only ruined apples, thanks to the Vampire Fruit Bats. Calling the Mane Six to help her, she explains the situation through song, after introducing our Chekhov's Gun for this episode: a giant, perfectly ripe apple for the Appleloosa's State Fair Produce Competition. Fluttershy, being friend to all living things, joins in the song and tries to take the VFB's side. There seems a slight difference in the way she views them, compared to Applejack.
Brought to you by Fluttervision

Brought to you by reality. (Patent pending) Fluttershy wants to set aside part of the orchard as a sanctuary for the bats, but the others in the Mane 6 (and Spike) end up agreeing with Applejack that them bats has gots to go... especially Rainbow Dash, who can't handle the thought of a cider shortage. Twilight has the idea of using a spell to make the VFBs not want to suck the apples, and goes to the library to find one. She succeeds, but it will require Fluttershy to use her Stare on the VFBs to get their attention, making her an accomplice in an action she doesn't think is right. She reluctantly agrees. Now this is a departure from Season 1, where Fluttershy stated that she doesn't control the Stare. Now it seems she does. So did she learn to do it at will, or am I just nitpicking? You be the judge. So the Mane Six round up the bats, with some comedic antics going on the while, then Fluttershy entrances them while Twilight casts her spell, which seems successful. The group head off for the day, but Fluttershy starts looking longingly at those lovely, juicy apples... The next day, Applejack finds that her fruit is still being sucked dry.
Since when does Twilight Sparkle ever fail? Since always. But when they find the bats, it seems Twilight's spell is still in effect. So if the bats aren't the ones responsible, who is? The Mane Six decide on a late-night orchard stake-out, only to find that the culprit is Fluttershy! But not their beloved wallflower Fluttershy, this one is behaving just like a Vampire Fruit Bat! Twilight soon realizes the reason... while using her Stare, Fluttershy absorbed the thirst for apple juice that Twilight was removing from the bats.
Seems like Fluttershy has some Twilight sparkle of her own now... The Flutterbat is much stronger and quicker than normal Fluttershy, and none of the Mane Six can catch her. Why Twilight doesn't use her "Stop" spell from Castle Mane-ia is anyone's guess. At any rate, they use the prize apple as a lure, and mirrors to turn the Stare back on Flutterbat. This stops her long enough for Twilight to reverse the effects of the spell. Having their good old Fluttershy back, the Mane Six decide to build that VFB sanctuary after all, and later on, Applejack provides one moral, with Fluttershy providing another. (This dual moral thing seems to be a thing in Season 4) Spike is once again the scribe as he writes their conclusions into the Journal. For AJ, "Difficult solutions are better than easy answers", and for FS, "Don't let others push you into doing something you think is wrong." All's well that ends well... but wait!
Why, Fluttershy, what big teeth you have! Final Thoughts
This episode borrows quite heavily from "Swarm of the Century", with a vermin problem that Twilight tries to solve with magic and ends up making worse. The spotlight is shared between Fluttershy and Applejack, with Fluttershy perhaps slightly in the lead. The plot flows along quite nicely, there is some funny character based humour, and the design of Flutterbat (if not the name) is really awesome. Speaking of characters: Fluttershy showed a bit more of her assertiveness, only being convinced to help by Twilight pointing out that she should think of protecting Ponyville's apple supply as well as the vampire bats. Rarity showed her closeness with Fluttershy, being very gentle in trying to persuade Fluttershy to help get rid of the bats, calling her "sweetness" and so on. Pinkie Pie was a riot, and actually helped out in the midst of her madness, which is good, but still might be considered a bit over the top with her gags. Her prehensile mane was one of the stranger parts of the episode, letting her drill through the ground and hold a flashlight. Rainbow Dash seemed more focused on the cider than anything. As for Twilight, it seems to me that she is getting a little bit taller with each passing episode. Pinkie and Twilight are standing on the same plane. The following lines from bottom to top (running right to left from Twilight's end) are back of the leg, base of the tail, snout, and top of the ear. She's gained quite a lot of height. The song in this episode was interesting, reminding me of "What my Cutie Mark is Telling Me", with it being more spoken than sung, at least during Applejack's parts. I haven't formed a firm opinion on it, but I think it's catchy enough, especially the chorus of "Stop the bats, stop the bats!" I did feel bad for Fluttershy being the only one on her side, though. Highlights Rarity ends up with "bats on her face", possibly a reference to Pinkie's line in "Ticket Master". Pinkie singing "Fruit Bat Roundup" to the tune of "Winter Wrap Up". Rainbow tackling a scarecrow, thinking it to be the culprit. (Again, works well with the Batman theme!) The Bat-signal references were very appropriate. Pros: A fun romp. The design of Fluttershy's bat form was delightful. The animation in general continues to be top-notch, with effective lighting and blurring effects. Cons: This season is supposed to have a overarching story-line, right? For what it set out to do, this episode succeeds admirably. A little predictable, but when the journey is this much fun, that doesn't really matter. Final Rating
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Stay sunny side up!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 69. “Daring Don’t”: Raiders of the Lost Plot

Now, Ahuizotle, you know I love you. But I can’t give you the ring 'til I’ve properly proposed. – Daring Do Rainbow Dash is getting impatient waiting for the next Daring Do book to come out. When Twilight tells her the release has been delayed even further, she gets the idea that mundane concerns might be causing the delay, and ropes the Mane Six into going for a journey to help her. So they head out, in a shout-out to Indiana Jones, with a red line on the map representing their travels. A little nonsensical gag reveals the line to be something Pinkie Pie (who else) is painting on the ground… Eventually making it to the house of the author of Daring Do, A.K. Yearling (subtle), they find the place a wreck. The owner herself arrives, wrapped up in clothes that do nothing to hide the fact that this pony bears a very strong resemblance to a certain in-universe “fictional” character. The Mane Six say they weren’t the ones who wrecked the place, and Yearling seems rather accepting of a bunch of strangers in her wrecked house and takes them at their word. Perhaps she has heard of Princess Twilight Sparkle, and therefore believes her. After the Mane Six go outside, a group of shady looking ponies arrive and confront Yearling, who tosses her disguise away to reveal what we’ve all already guessed by this point – A.K. Yearling is in fact Daring Do!
A.K. Yearling is my slave name… You may call me Daring Do! And right here, we have the first major contentious issue. Fans seem to either love or hate this revelation. I just find it old-pith-helmet, if you will. This particular twist is pretty common in cartoons. Now I’ve never been one to be against something based on the concept alone, but the execution has to be good for a cliché like this to work for me, and I just don’t see that they did anything unique with this idea. “It was real all along” is all that we get. Well, SolarFox, if you’re so smart, how would you have made this twist better? one might ask. Perhaps Daring Do has been embellishing her tales. Maybe Ahuizotle is just another pony who is Daring Do’s rival in the search for ancient artifacts, or is even the good guy in some way. It would be interesting to have Rainbow Dash having to deal with the disappointment of finding out her hero is in fact not so heroic. Just something, anything, to put a fresh spin on an old concept. Another problem with this reveal is that the Daring Do books are steeped in Aztec mythology, while the entire show up to this point has been heavily biased towards Greek mythology. We’ve had a manticore, a hydra, a cockatrice, Tartarus, Cerberus, the Pegasus race as a whole, griffins, and even the architecture of Cloudsdale (not to mention Pegasopolis from “Heart’s Warming Eve”): all of these are very Grecian in flavour. So this new mythology creates a fair bit of dissonance. To be fair, it is clear that the Mane Six travel a long way, so maybe Equestria has different mythologies prevailing in different areas, which is true of real life. Maybe the area of Saddle Arabia has djinn, sultans, flying carpets and the like... alright, I admit that would be intiguing... Anyway, back to the story. The Mane Six spend the next few minutes watching the fight from the window, while Daring fights alone to protect a golden ring. This is pretty cleverly lampshaded by Fluttershy, so a kudos point there. This fight scene is rather reminiscent of the crown throwing from Equestria Girls. The mid-level boss appears and takes the ring, leaving Daring Do herself injured. This is another small gripe: why is it that Daring Do gets injured every time she appears? And why does her injured leg heal completely a few scenes later? The thought that kept reoccurring to me throughout this episode was “We’ve seen this before.” I’ll come back to that. Daring Do flies off after the ring, and Rainbow “Planless” Dash goes haring off after her, leaving her friends behind. Loyalty, huh... maybe she’s just being loyal to Daring Do. Yeah, that’s it. Despite Daring repeatedly stating she works alone, Rainbow Dash won’t give up following her and trying to help. Daring almost manages to bamboozle the bad guys with an improvised disguise, but her attempt at bluffing is thwarted by the appearance of the Big Bad, Ahuizotle, who demands the ring from the aforementioned mid-level baddy. Revealing herself again, Daring is forced to fight Ahuizotle’s returning cat minions (“We’ve seen this before”) including the cute little white kitten. The cats don’t seem very well trained, attacking one at a time, and Daring is able to defeat them rather easily. Rainbow Dash continues to just watch instead of helping, and is more interested in returning Daring’s hat to her. This leads to her being grabbed by Ahuizotle. Yes, our brave Rainbow Dash, who has faced manticores, kicked a giant dragon in the face, faced down three other dragons to protect Spike, has been a hero in Ponyville… that Rainbow Dash, is reduced to the Damsel in Distress. With her as his hostage, Ahuizotle forces Daring Do to submit, and captures both her and the ring.
What’s wrong with this picture? You got it... cats can't tie ropes. Rainbow Dash is devastated at this turn of events, and despite the others catching up to her, is for a while unable to get over her own failure. She even decides to abandon her hero to her fate, in stark contrast to her Element (and that’s okay, the Mane Six don’t always act in line with their Element). Eventually, Twilight reminds her that Rainbow is actually awesome and they all head off to save Daring Do. A nice little fake-out, though, since we only see five ponies heading towards the fortress. The heroine herself is trapped in another over-elaborate, lingering, easily-escapable-with-any-kind-of-assistance death trap. You’d think that Ahuizotle would have learned better by now, after who knows how many books, and just thrown her straight into the piranha tank. Although perhaps he actually wants her to escape, to continue being a worthy adversary, given that the blocks she's tied to come straight out of the wall. Otherwise, the stupidity of this villain knows no bounds. Anyhoo, Rainbow saves her from falling straight into the piranha water, and Daring Do finally relents enough to team up with her. Meanwhile, the rest of the ponies interrupt Ahuizotle's ceremony, in another admittedly very well done action sequence, allowing RD and DD to sneak in. During their discussion, Daring reveals that getting captured was part of her plan, as was removing all the rings so that the fortress will collapse. So her plan is predicated on not only surviving a death trap she wouldn't have survived alone, but also in lifting gigantic golden rings she couldn't lift alone... with that kind of planning, it's a straight up miracle she's survived so long in the first place. The Mane Six battle distracts the bad guys long enough for Daring and Dash to lift all the rings, causing the fortress to collapse. Daring admits she couldn't have won without Dash's help, and then flies off to complete her book... which is about the events we've just seen. Exactly what story was she writing BEFORE Rainbow and Crew arrived, one wonders? I really hope Twilight also got a week-early copy, since she helped out just as much.
Wait, did Rainbow get cast as Short Round? Pros: It adds a bit to Rainbow’s character. There are lots of cute moments, and even some genuinely funny ones. The second half is stronger than the first half, if not enough to entirely overcome the bad first impression. Cons: The premise of the episode is a rather common twist, and is executed in a rather pedestrian manner. It also raises some concerns regarding the show’s universe, which take quite a bit of rationalization to reconcile. The Mane Six, particularly and especially Rainbow Dash, spend too much time in the first half just observing, instead of acting, which is particularly uncharacteristic behavior in Rainbow's case. Highlights: Daring Do giving Ahuizotl lip, and Rainbow Dash’s reaction to it. (You know what I mean, I don't even need a picture of it ) Return of Rainbow’s wub face.   Final Rating 5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Runs to find a bunker to hide from the RD fans... Stay sunny side up!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

The Bookend Diaries – Part 11: Back in the Saddle with "Princess Twilight Sparkle"

Well, Season 4 is officially underway! with a very satisfying two-parter right out of the starting gate. "Princess Twilight Sparkle Part 1" opens with a flying lesson for the most recently ascended alicorn princess, under the tutelage of Rainbow Dash. However, it seems Twilight's new appendages don't come with a manual. She ends up ploughing into the ground after trying to practice her "big finish" for the upcoming Summer Sun Celebration. This scene makes it pretty clear that Twilight is now taller and more horse-like than her friends, and her horn is noticeably slimmer and longer. Her wings are larger and of a different shape to regular pegasus wings. All of which is to be expected, and I like the changes personally.
She ate her Wheaties... While she may have changed physically, she's still the same old Twilight personality-wise, refusing to wear her crown or to allow her friends to treat her differently... for the moment at least.  In the next scene, the Mane 6 discuss the Celebrations to be held both in Canterlot and back in Ponyville. Twilight's new status means that she has to stay behind instead of being with her friends on the anniversary of their meeting and defeat of Nightmare Moon, which she is unhappy about. However, the others manage to convince her that it won't be as bad as all that. Twilight's stain-glass window is quite interesting to look at, having a picture of Starswirl's journal and another book with Twilight's cutie mark on it. The animation and lighting in this scene really is top notch. However, one gripe is that Pinkie continues to be the "gag" character, doing little more than making odd pronouncements and not otherwise contributing to the scene. The next scene treats her a little better, though.  Back in her suite, Twilight and Spike go through (what else?) a checklist. Being ahead of schedule, Spike suggests a quick trip to Ponyville, but Twilight worries about something going wrong in the meantime. Like in "Lesson Zero," her train of thought becomes a little erratic at the prospect of disappointing Princess Celestia. Also it has shades of Pinkie Pie from "Wonderbolt Academy". Princess Celestia herself soon arrives to provide both reassurance and quite a bit of double-nostril alicorn pictures.
These babies... She confides some of her feelings to Twilight, about how she previously dreaded the Summer Sun Celebration as a reminder of her having to banish her own sister. Now, she says, she can feel joy of her own in having her sister returned. This conversation really does add a lot to Celestia's character, and is pretty touching. Princess Luna, meanwhile, seems to be having a ball raising the moon outside. After their talk, Princess Celestia leaves Twilight to double-check her checklist. A freaky vine comes out of the ground and attacks her. Perhaps it's best that it happens off-screen... Twilight wakes to find that day and night have decided to join forces. With Spike in tow, they head out of the castle. The citizens of Canterlot (many of whom we've seen before from "Sweet and Elite", including Jet Set, Upper Crust and all the high class ponies Rarity accepted invitations from) gather around in the hopes that Princess Twilight will know what's going on. A Royal Guard rescues her from the press to tell her that not only Princess Celestia, but Princess Luna too, is missing. (Spike faints) They then ask her to give them orders. (Spike faints) Reluctant at first, Twilight steps up and tells them to keep looking for the other Princesses. Just then, a guard comes with a message from Ponyville... the Everfree Forest is attacking! (Spike faints - has he been taking swooning lessons from Rarity or something?)
It goes a little something like this... Back in Ponyville, the Mane 6 are having to deal with the encroaching Everfree forest. Fluttershy's animals are all cowering in her cottage, the entire Apple family is fighting a losing battle against weeds, with Big Mac taking the brunt of the forest's sauciness. His usual "yup" and "nope" make their appearances here, so this indicates we're not getting much more lines for him than that even in Season 4. In the sky above, Rainbow Dash is fighting a losing battle of her own against spiky black clouds. One even manages to knock her from the sky, but...
... and right before she hits the ground... shoom... she pulled out... hroom! The plants also seem able to affect a unicorn's horn, as poor Rarity discovers when her magic causes her teapot to go on a rampage. Opalescence is not amused in the slightest, despite Rarity's protests that she isn't doing it on purpose. Even magically challenged Sweetie Belle is not spared from the shenanigans, and ends up being chased by a curtain. The Mane 6 eventually find each other and wonder what's to be done.  While all this is going on, Twilight back in Canterlot decides to go to Ponyville herself. After a literal "forgot she could fly" moment, she and Spike take to the air. Bonus points for the spluttering engine sound effect as Twilight first gets going with a bit of wobbling, and for the seat belt gag (where was that hidden?), then the crash landing, leaving poor Spike to make the acquaintance of Mr. Window. Her friends are glad to see her, and Pinkie's Pinkie Sense gets a workout, allowing her to dodge a branch that then hits Rarity. Oddly enough, it's clearly "twitchy tail", which should mean something falling from the sky, not a branch coming in from the side, but meh... When told that the Princesses are missing, Rarity steals Pinkie's GASP! sound effect in retaliation. After thinking about it for a while, Twilight comes to the conclusion that Discord is the one behind all this, and they don the Elements of Harmony to summon him... and his bathtub. It's funny that he's singing "Winter Wrap Up" as he appears.  Discord himself is in good form, which makes me a little bit less inclined to say he's been ruined by being reformed. I prefer him as a villain myself, but even now, he provides a good deal of entertainment. His protests of innocence fall on deaf ears (except for Fluttershy, and even she isn't quite willing to believe him - she does however make the very good point of "innocent until proven guilty", so props to her for that.) He suggests asking Zecora, who has been driven out of the Everfree Forest.  Conveniently, she has a potion only an alicorn can get to work. I really do wonder why Twilight uses dark magic here, but perhaps that will be explained later. Drinking the potion, she gets a vision.  Back in the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters, Princess Luna comes out and appears to speak to Twilight, saying that she is not going to stand by while others "bathe in your precious light". Understandably confused, Twilight is then horrified to see that Luna is having a bit of a bad mare day ()
What do you mean, "We've run out of Moon Pies?!" Using her magic to cause an eclipse, Luna begins to transform into Nightmare Moon, in one of the most badass sequences ever shown in the show. The sheer amount of effort that went into this is amazing, and the zoom in on Twilight's aghast expression is fantastic. Now this, fillies and gentlecolts, is how you do a cliff hanger. Honestly, they should have just ended it there, and made everybody squirm for a week.  Whew! What a journey it's been and we're only half way through the premiere! Stay tuned for the next half of my review. Until then, stay sunny side up, everypony!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 71. “Power Ponies”: All the Superpowers except the Most Common One

Holy new personas, ponies! You’re the Power Ponies! – Spike / Humdrum Spike takes the centre stage in this episode. Late at night, he is reading a comic book instead of sleeping. Twilight tells him they need to get a good night's sleep, because the Mane Six and Spike are restoring the Castle of The Royal Pony Sisters in the morning. Of course, she relents a bit after he excitedly describes the plot - the heroic Power Ponies are facing their arch-nemesis, Maneiac, but their bumbling sidekick, Humdrum, keeps messing up. The next day, the crew are cleaning the castle, but Spike seems to be at a loose end, since his help is not currently needed. Twilight suggests he go read his comic book: wasn't Humdrum about to defeat the villain? Spike says Humdrum is only the comic relief, and never saves the day. Gee, could this scene possibly be setting something up? Spike, back in the library room where they found the journal, is stumped to find that his comic book doesn't have an ending... only a small verse (of sorts) written in on the last page in the corner: You can return to the place where you started,
When the Maneiac is defeated,
That doesn't even rhyme! He finishes reading it just as the Mane Six arrive, having decided to break for tea and biscuits: Take a closer look, to join the adventure in this book. The comic books starts to glow, and then sucks Spike in, a sight which strongly reminded me of the game Fable III, which features the player character also being sucked into a book. The rest of the Mane Six grab him, but they are all pulled into the book too. Well, Pinkie isn't sucked in as much as she jumps in with a "Whee!" They find themselves on top of a building, wearing the costumes and possessing the powers of the Power Ponies: Twilight is Masked Matterhorn, who can shoot energy beams from her horn. So not much change there. Pinkie is Filly Second, who is basically a pony version of the Flash. Again, not much change, just look at "Party of One". Rainbow Dash is now Zap, an expy of Storm from X-men, since she can control the weather (didn't she always?) Rarity is Radiance, who can create energy constructs from her bracelets, making her Green Lantern in purple. Applejack is Mistress Marevellous, who has a lasso she can control with her mind. The lasso reminds me of Wonder Woman, who has the Lasso of Truth, so I see what they did there. Another clue is the star symbol on her throwable horseshoes, which matches the one on Wonder Woman's tiara. Fluttershy is Saddle Rager. She is Hulk. That is all. Actually that's a really fitting choice, since we've seen Fluttershy angry... and we do not like her when she is angry... Spike himself has been given the role of Humdrum, who is basically Robin, only useless. They don't have much time to get over the shock of suddenly being in a comic book, and y'know, having super powers, before the villainness Maneiac appears, carrying the McGuffin she needs to complete her dastardly plans. And man, oh man, is this mare just so much fun to watch. Her power is her prehensile hair, which she variously uses like Doctor Octopus to talk on, or throw things. She can also use it like Spiderman to swing away. Oh, yeah, and she is utterly. Bugfuck. Insane.
The eyes... oh, Sweet Celestia... the eyes! The battle begins, with Pinkie (I mean, Filly Second) using her speed powers to escape from a thrown post box. When Applejack (I mean Mistress Marevellous) tries to use her lasso like a regular one to attack Maneiac, things don't turn out so good, leaving her roped (is this the second or third time this has happened to her?) to a streetlamp. At least the "mistress" part makes sense now.
I could caption this, but then I'd probably get a warning... She isn't the only one having difficulty. While Spike (I mean, Humdrum) knows all their powers, they don't seem able to control them properly. Matterhorn's attempt at a Cold Beam attack fizzles, and Zap accidentally summons a tornado instead of lightning, which sucks up our heroes instead of the villain. Radiance's attempts at making something useful are tainted by her unfulfilled desire for those tea and biscuits, and Rager doesn't want to be rude by Hulking out. Despite being able to briefly steal away the McGuffin, Humdrum trips on his own useless cape and drops it again. Maneiac sarcastically thanks him for helping her, before leaving (like Spiderman, as I mentioned before) by swinging away on her living tresses. Humdrum tells Marevellous how to use her lasso properly, which is by telekinesis and she uses it to "pop" the tornado. It's a comic book world, so we'll pretend this works. Humdrum is depressed to be the bumbling sidekick, but the others try to cheer him up. He's not really Humdrum, so he doesn't have to ruin things. They head to Maneiac's Top Secret Headquarters - a shampoo factory (who wrote this script, Joel Schumacher? That's as secret as Mr. Freeze hiding in an ice-cream parlour.) Matterhorn wants to decide on a plan, but as usual, Zap soars in headfirst, shouting a challenge and summoning lightning to zap the factory sign. At this, Maneiac's henchponies appear.
Evil has never been so FABULOOOOUS! The second fight begins, but while Matterhorn still seems to be having difficulty making her freezing ray work, Radiance has gotten the hang of things, levitating on flying carpets, creating giant parasols as shields (Hilarious in Hindsight to anyone who has seen the Fighting is Magic footage of Rarity ) tying up bad guys in strings, etc. Wait, wait, did Radiance just kill that guy when she bounced the falling sign back at him? Hard core. Filly Second is also putting her speed powers to good use, Marevellous can use her horseshoes as a bola, and Zap's gotten the lightning down pat. Only Rager is unable to help, since she can't seem to get angry. Despite beating the mooks, the Power Ponies find themselves petrified and depowered when Maneiac hits them with her Hairspray Ray of Doom, leaving only Humdrum free, because he's so useless. And... bucket. Despite his slump, he sneaks into the factory via the air vents. He finds the Power Ponies trapped in a cage, and regularly dosed with Doomy Hairspray, keeping them from recovering and using their powers. Maneiac's takes her time with a triumphant monologue about her plans to use a giant hairdryer gun to, you guessed it, take over Maretropelis (OF COURSE!) The Power Ponies remind her that Humdrum is still around to stop her, but she dismisses him as useless. This vote of confidence from his friends, however, cheers Humdrum... no wait, cheers SPIKE up, and he starts sneaking around and preparing a few plans of his own. He uses the tarpaulin to snag the henchponies, and knocks over the Hairspray Ray, which gives the Power Ponies the time they need to recover their powers and break out. The battle rages once more! But poor Rager still can't get mad, until Maneiac callously knocks down a cute little firefly. This results in one of the best pre-flank-kicking speeches ever to grace Friendship is Magic: Fluttershy: Are... you... kidding me?! I mean, I know you're evil and everything, but you'd hurt a teensy, harmless little fire-fly? REALLY?! Well, you're just a great, big MEANIE! There, I said it! What makes you think you're so special? Like the rules of common courtesy don't apply to you? WHY DON'T YOU PICK ON SOMEPONY YOUR OWN SIZE! Hulk!Rager takes the giant ray to the face and bounces it back at Maneiac, then proceeds to smash the hairdryer gun to little pieces, stopping only when she finds her friends staring at her in awestruck horror.
Fluttershy, we don't care that you're a giant hulking monster... you're still so cute! Maneiac herself finds she is having a bad hair day, as her own mane tightens up into a straight-jacket. She continues to giggle and cackle madly, though, so at least she's having fun. Spike begins with "Once again the day is saved...", which is really funny when you consider Lauren Faust's previous works, but they are sucked back to Equestria before he can finish it. The Mane Six babble excitedly about their adventure, and congratulate Spike for saving them, and remind him that he is an important part of the team. Lesson learned! Final Thoughts The idea of them being transported into the comic is very good. If this sort of trick had been used in the Daring Don't episode, I personally would have liked it much better, and many of the complaints fans had about that episode would have been avoided. But then again, I suppose then the complaint would have been that they're re-using the gimmick too soon. The costumes of the Power Ponies were very creative but their powers were not. In fact, the powers were extremely generic. They were, however, appropriately chosen for the ponies themselves. The villain was tons of fun to watch, laughing (what else?) maniacally, shouting out classic comic book villain lines about how "nopony can stop me", etc. The voice for Maneiac was provided by Ellen Kennedy, and she does an absolutely fantastic job. I wouldn't mind a story at some point about Maneiac somehow escaping the comic book, with a grudge against Humdrum, and having to be put back in again by the Mane Six. The actions scenes were well choreographed, and very entertaining, as well as including some luscious animation. Although at the end of my last Season 4 review, I admitted being worried about how they would pull this off, I think they did a decent job of it. It wasn't quite a parody of the superhero genre, but it didn't take itself too seriously either, which is a good balance. If there is a negative, it's that the plot was way too easy to figure out. The second the comic was introduced, it was obvious that they would somehow end up inside it, and that Spike would have to rescue everyone. Pros: Spike was in character, and showed once again that he can be useful; creative costumes; entertaining villain. Cons: Generic powers, utterly predictable plot. Final Rating 5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Keep emitting that yellow solar radiation, everyone!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 9. "Bridle Gossip": Meet Twilight Flopple, Flutterguy, Hairity, Rainbow Crash, Apple-teenie and Spitty Pie

It is unwise to venture down this road. Your actions will make my anger explode! – Zecora This episode introduces the very convenient Zecora to the show. This magical Zebra eventually became a kind of second mentor to Twilight, a role she was supposed to play more frequently, according to Faust. However, in her first appearance, she is feared as an evil enchantress by the Mane 6, with the notable exception of Twilight. We start with Twilight and Spike wandering through Ponyville, which seems to have become a ghost town for some reason. Spike suggests pony holiday, his own bad breath (no worse than usual, which implies either that bad breath comes part and parcel of eating gemstones, or that Spike doesn’t clean his teeth) or even Zombie ponies.
“GGRRAAAIIINNNS!” PS: Don't mine at night! Passing by Sugarcube Corner, their attention is attracted by Pinkie, who tells them to get inside quickly before “she” gets them. Finding the rest of the gang there (along with Apple Bloom) Twilight wants to know why they’re all hiding in the dark. Applejack points out the window at our new zebra friend, Zecora. How they know her name without knowing anything else about her is a question mark for me. Anyway, Twilight tells them about zebras, that her “garish” stripes are not a fashion choice but something she was born with; Rarity is quite overcome with horror at the thought. The others say that she lives in the Everfree Forest. We also get a bit more information about said Forest, furthering a comment made by Applejack in the pilot: “Folks say it don’t work the same way as Equestria!” Twilight tries to talk some sense into the others, along with some well-placed snark at their ignorant assumptions of evil intentions. Apple Bloom tries to chime in in support of Twilight, but is rather bluntly brushed aside by Applejack, because the “big ponies are talking”. When Twilight tells the others that if they were brave enough, they could talk to Zecora and get the real story, she decides that is exactly what she will do. She leaves unnoticed, to follow Zecora as she heads back into the Everfree Forest.
I am a brave pony… I AM a brave pony… oh, sweet Celestia, I hope she didn’t see me! Finally noticing an Apple Bloom-shaped hole in the scenery, the rest run out to find her, leaving Spike on guard. They follow all the way into the Everfree Forest, and right into a patch of pretty blue flowers, AJ grabbing her sister and lifting her onto her back. When Zecora tries to warn them about the Poison Joke (a play on poison oak… well, no dur), they take it as the evil enchantress threatening them, and shout at her to go away. Twilight is adamant that there is no such thing as curses. This is forgivable, since we don’t hear about curses being real until Season 3, but since magic can ban ponies to the moon or cause eternal night, one might think she’d be a little more open to the idea of magic being used for evil purposes. Applejack says as much, warning Twilight that sometimes “Old Mares’ Tales really are true.” The ironic thing is, all of the Mane 6 saw an Old Mares’ Tale come true in the pilot, so they should know this. Despite her doubt of the whole evil enchantress spiel, Twilight finds herself having nightmares about Zecora being evil. In the morning, she finds she has a problem… the opposite problem than one might expect: her horn has been cursed with spots and now flops around in a way that makes me wonder if this episode should have been censored…
Insert joke about “spotted dick” here… Looking for an explanation, Twilight dismisses Spike suggestion that this might indeed be a curse, as well as refusing to look at a book called “Super Naturals”, believing it to be about the supernatural. One space can mean a lot. Soon, her friends start arriving, each “cursed” in a different way: Pinkie Pie can’t speak because of a swollen tongue; Rarity’s coat has grown out until she resembles Fluffle Puff; Applejack has shrunk down to become a different form of apple-based cider; Rainbow Dash’s wings are on upside down, making her crash into things; and Fluttershy’s voice has become 20% deeper (Okay, I know, that meme is overused, but I so seldom employ it, you’re just going to have to forgive me.) Spike, of course, finds it all hilarious and gives them all insulting nicknames. He has trouble with Twilight at first, but eventually comes up with something for her too. Apple Bloom, blaming herself for the others’ misfortune, walks out to find Zecora, so she can make things right. She gains a teeny-tiny stowaway in Applejack, who notices her leaving and jumps into her big-little-sister’s mane. The others of the Mane 6 notice she’s gone, and have a brief panic attack over stepping or sitting on her. Pinkie Pie even checks under Rarity’s coat, eliciting an indignant, “Have you never heard of ‘personal space’?!” Some people think Pinkie replies to this question with a blunt “Nope”, but I personally think she’s just telling the others that Applejack isn’t in there. Realizing Apple Bloom is also gone, they decide to head out to Zecora’s hut in the Everfree Forest. Meanwhile, Applejack pops out of her sister’s mane and demands she turn around. AB simply refuses, since she’s now the “big sister”, and deposits her on a branch over a ditch. This leads to one of my favorite quotes from Applejack ever: see Highlights below. She isn’t stuck for long, however, since as the others make their way into the Forest, Rainbow accidentally crashes into the tree where AJ is, ending up with said pony in her mouth. AJ wiggles free, cobbles together a bit and bridle and shoves them into RD’s mouth. A well placed tiny knee to the stomach sends her new mount up, up and away. Meanwhile, the rest find Zecora’s hut, complete with strange masks, various ingredients, and a bubbling pot of something green. When Zecora herself wonders aloud where Apple Bloom is, even Twilight becomes convinced that Zecora is evil and hankering for some pony soup. Cue Spitty Pie and Hairity's high-pitched shrieks, (EEEEEE!) along with Flutterguys resonant baritone yell (AAAHHH!), a short scene which has me laughing every time I watch it. Along with RD and AJ’s arrival, they break down the door and confront the evil zebra witch. Rainbow’s wild flying starts wrecking the place, and even knocks over Zecora’s cauldron. She is outraged at their intrusion and accusations of witchcraft, and literally ends up butting heads with Twilight. She also has to deal with a minor major assault by Applejack, who valiantly ropes her ear.
Who is this wrestling with my ear? I find this pony very queer. Apple Bloom then appears in the doorway, and the truth comes out. Zecora had heard from AB about the Mane 6’s afflictions, which were as a result of the Poison Joke, and was making up a bubblebath cure, with AB going out to collect some necessary ingredients. Zecora’s explanation in rhyme confounds Applejack, who protests from her perch on the zebra’s ear, “Would somepony please talk normal?” Hypocritical humour at its best. She also amusingly takes offence at Twilight’s statement that their problems are just “little jokes” the plant has played on them. When Twilight asks where the cure comes from, Zecora shows her a book; the very one she dismissed because she misread its title: “Super Naturals”. Thus is the moral for this episode delivered: “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, applying equally to the book and to the Mane 6’s treatment of Zecora. One bubble bath later, everyone is back to normal, and Zecora has been accepted as an honorary citizen of Ponyville. Pros:
The humour in this episode is spot-on, from Spike’s dubbing of the ponies with nicknames reflecting their problems to Applejack’s many hilarious lines. The lesson is a good one, not to let outside appearances deceive you and to make sure you look a bit deeper to find the truth of the matter, and is delivered in a very natural way. Although Pinkie’s song is pretty standard for her, being a “work in progress”, the true delight is Flutterguy’s “smooth jazz” rendition, complete with beatnik backing. Cons:
The plot is rather straight-forward, and doesn’t really offer any surprises. Then, again, it really doesn’t need to, so this is nitpicking.   Highlights:
Pinkie: I heard… Zecora EATS HAY!
Twilight: Pinkie, I eat hay. YOU eat hay!
Pinkie: Yeah, but I heard it’s the evil way she eats hay… The exchanges between AJ and AB are priceless. AJ pops out of AJ’s mane
AJ: You turn around right now, Missy!
AB: No.
AJ: “NO”? You can’t disobey a direct order from your big sister!
AB tosses AJ up in the air and catches her, then puts her on a tree branch.
AB: Sorry, Applejack, but I’M the big sister now! Spike has a rare opportunity to mock the others for once:
Spike: This is hilarious! We’ve got Hairity, Rainbow Crash, Spitty Pie, Apple-teeny, Flutterguy and…
Turns to Twilight, and pauses
Spike: …eh, I got nothing. Twilight Sparkle? I mean seriously, I can’t even work with that.
Twilight: Eh he he. This is no joke, Spike.

And later
Flutterguy: Spike, aren’t you coming?
Spike: Sorry, gotta stay here and search for a cure…beat… Twilight Flopple! Final Rating 5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Stay sunny side up!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

The Bookend Diaries – Part 13: Season 4 Finale "Twilight’s Kingdom": Heroic Stupidity Strikes Again

How does it feel? Knowing that soon, every pegasus, unicorn and earth pony will bow to my will... and that there is nothing that you can do to stop it? - Lord Tirek So, Season 4 has come and gone. It certainly went out with a bang, providing us with the most impressive display of magical battle the series has yet seen. Still, despite the visual feast, the finale has its problems. Let’s plunge right in, shall we? The finale starts with another trip to the Crystal Empire, this time to meet with delegates from Maretonia. Spike is quick to remind everyone of his status as the Great and Honorable Spike the Brave and Glorious, which Rainbow is getting tired of hearing. Rarity has a glorious snark prepared, “And we never hear a peep out of you regarding your exploits…”, only to be gloriously snarked in turn by Applejack when she says Twilight gets to smile and wave as a princess: “And how is that different to smiling and waving as NOT a princess?” In contrast to the gang’s good-natured teasing, Twilight’s mood is rather dour, as she feels a bit disillusioned with her status as Princess. She doesn’t feel like she is actually contributing much in this role. This is made worse when it turns out her task during the delegates’ visit is to unfurl a banner, and she is shut out of the conference between the delegates and the other Princesses. The delegates are two of the ponies we saw in “Equestria Games”, a rather imposing stallion with a beard and a mare who looks very much like a taller version of Rarity, with an elaborate headdress. (Why the country isn’t called Maresopotamia is beyond me. Perhaps it sounded a bit hard to pronounce, so the writers decided to go with Maretonia instead.) On coming out of the chamber, they thank Twilight for understanding their desire to keep the conference between as few ponies as possible, and take their leave. When the other Princesses join her, Twilight pours out her heart to them in song. The three Princesses (also in song) try to reassure Twilight that she will find out her destiny in time. (Didn’t Celestia say she already met her destiny in “Magical Mystery Cure”?) This song is really kind of moving, and for bonus points features Princess Luna actually singing for the first time. Her singing voice, as with Rarity, is provided by Kazumi Evans. Her spirits somewhat lifted, Twilight retires for the night, as do the other Princesses. Unfortunately, things are not all hunky dory in Equestria. A mysterious hooded figure is prowling around, draining unicorns of their magic. Princess Celestia sees this happening in a dream vision, and Luna confirms her fears… Lord Tirek is back on the scene! Calling for Twilight and her friends, Celestia tells the tale of Tirek and his brother Scorpan. While they originally came to Equestria to take all the magic of the ponies, Scorpan eventually was befriended by them, and told them all about Tirek’s evil plan before booking. Beaten and captured, Tirek was sent to Tartarus. However, he escaped when Cerberus left his post way back during the events of “It’s About Time”. One wonders what he was doing all that time, but Celestia implies that his imprisonment left him too weak to steal any magic until now. However, now that he has recovered his strength, each pony he drains will make him stronger and more dangerous. While it’s great to have such a great call back to previous events in the series, it makes me wonder why his absence from the prison was never noticed. Somepony has been really incompetent. Either Twilight was stupid and didn’t tell Celestia about Cerberus going AWOL, or Celestia was stupid and failed to check to make sure none of the extremely dangerous prisoners escaped. (Are the villains in Season 5 all going to be Tartarus escapees? I really hope not. That would just be lazy writing.) I’m going to go with the second one, because that way, I get to do a thing where I set up a theme. It’s also likely that Twilight would have mentioned it in one of her reports, being the thorough pony that she is, so I’m leaning towards it being Celestia’s fault. Back to the story. Twilight assumes that the duty of defeating Tirek will fall to her, but is again disappointed when the Princess tells her that she is sending Discord instead. Since he can sense magical imbalances (when was THAT ability ever mentioned before?), the next time Tirek drains a unicorn’s magic, Discord will be able to find him, and defeat him. Since Tirek is so weak, he won’t be able to drain the more powerful Discord of his magic. Back in Ponyville, Twilight is yet more depressed that she isn’t being as useful as she wants. Discord pops in as Poppins, and gloats over that for a bit, before handing the ponies the journal they’ve been keeping with some of the “more interesting” parts bookmarked, and insinuating that the box might be important for Twilight’s Princessness, before leaving on his mission. Tirek drains another pony, and turns toward who he thinks is his next victim… only to find that the hunter has become the hunted, because it’s Discord! Tirek’s magical attacks turn out to be useless and Discord is easily able to capture him.
I’ve heard of splitting headaches, but this is ridiculous. Of course, it’s at this point that Celestia’s plan backfires massively. The wily Tirek manages to convince Discord to turn on the ponies (his devotion to Fluttershy notwithstanding) and help Tirek drain their magic. After reading the bookmarked parts of the journal, Twilight comes to realize the pattern that has been repeating over the event of the Season, and that each pony has been given something after inspiring another pony by standing by their Element of Harmony despite hardship. The flashbacks were a little unnecessary, in my opinion, and waste a little bit of time unnecessarily, but that’s a small gripe. Gathering their objects, Pinkie decides to interrogate Boneless… but he’s keeping mum.
I’d have thought a guy called Boneless would have been spineless too. Throwing it at the box accidentally results in the toy transforming into a true key. Of course, the Mane Six soon discover that each item can be turned into a key in the same way… but one keyhole is left over, since Twilight hasn’t found her key item yet. While this is going on, Tirek and his new ally are going around Equestria taking the pony magic. Once Tirek has enough unicorn magic, he is able to take the Pegasus flight ability (thus confirming that Pegasus flight is a form of magic rather being purely physical) and even the strength of the earth ponies, becoming larger, stronger and hornier with each meal. Princess Celestia calls Twilight and is forced to admit to her that she trusted Discord too much. Ya think? You sent the freaking Spirit of Chaos and Mischief (who once ruled all of Equestria) to capture another evil pony-goat-centaur thing who also wants to rule all of Equestria, and YOU DIDN’T HAVE A BACKUP PLAN?! You didn’t even consider that he might turn on you and team up with the bad guy? I mean, I can understand Fluttershy being blindsided by Discord’s betrayal, but you’re the leader of the entire country. You need to be a bit more savvy than that, Princess. And that’s my theme… Celestia is fugging stupid! At any rate, Tirek is on his way to steal the Princesses’ alicorn magic, and with it, he will be unstoppable. So the only option is for them to give up their magic before he can get to it. But it can’t vanish into nowhere… Twilight is going to have to contain it! “But wait,” you might say… “Silly SolarFox, you just said that Celestia didn’t have a backup plan. Doesn’t this qualify?” No, it doesn’t. First of all, it seems to be a response to the events. If they had given Twilight their magic before sending Discord out, as insurance, then it could qualify as a backup plan. Secondly (and this is another check mark under the Stupid Celestia column) one of the original reasons for sending Discord to stop Tirek is his ability to sense magical imbalances. So the “give all alicorn magic to Twilight” plan is fatally flawed, since Discord is obviously going to be able (and indeed, he does) sense that the magic is all in Twilight. Sure, he kept it from Tirek, but Celestia couldn’t have predicted that he would, especially since, y’know, he’d just betrayed them all. That being the case, this measure smacks of a desperation play, rather than a calculated backup plan. Luckily, we can have a slight break from Celestial Stupidity as the first half of the finale closes out. When the second half begins, the Princesses invest all their magic into Twilight, leaving them drained and weak, and Twilight sparkling. She is told to go into hiding, and not to tell her friends, because otherwise they’ll be in danger. Aren’t they already in danger? Tirek is looking to drain every pony in Equestria, so they can hardly get into more danger than that. A better idea would to tell them exactly what’s up and have them ALL go into hiding together, so he and Discord can’t use them as hostages against Twilight.
Then again, how likely is that to happen…? Oh. Right. So Twilight heads back to Ponyville, and keeps her secret, despite her frequent Power Incontinence confusing and concerning her friends. She decides to go alone to the Castle of the Pony Sisters, leaving her friends to keep everypony indoors, just in case. Meanwhile, Tirek drains the magic of the Royal Guard, including Shining Armor, who gives Discord a furious “How could you do this?” line, which actually does seem to somewhat shake him. Heading into the Throne Room, Tirek is furious to discover that the Princesses have hidden their magic from him, and he promptly sends them to Tartarus. Discord is seeking proof that Tirek will keep his end of the bargain, and to convince him, Tirek gives him a medallion that he says belonged to someone close to him, as a sign of their alliance. At this, Discord declares he does love a good accessory, and even muses that maybe Rarity has rubbed off on him a little. Seeing a stained-glass window of a fourth alicorn princess, Tirek realizes that she must now have the magic of the Princesses. Discord, admitting that he was holding that information back as insurance, tells him about Twilight and her friends. They quickly repair to Ponyville. The Mane Six members along with Spike are still unaware of his change of heart and ask him if his quest was successful. His response doesn’t thrill them… he traps all six in a cage and steps aside to reveal Tirek. Fluttershy is in tears when she realizes that Discord has turned on them, although he says they shouldn’t have been surprised. Discord: Surely you saw this coming? Fluttershy: *sobbing* I didn’t. I really didn’t. I don’t generally fawn over Fluttershy like her fans do, but just seeing that face so entirely heart-broken… yeah, that didn’t feel good at all. Applejack, trying to hold and comfort her, gives Discord such a dirty look it’s a surprise he didn’t melt on the spot. Tirek drains the ponies of their magic, and for good measure, decides that he’s had enough of this alliance, and he turns on Discord, draining his magic as well. Betrayed in turn, and utterly bewildered, Discord asks Tirek why… wasn’t the medallion a sign of everlasting loyalty? Tirek, now enormous enough to dwarf Discord, sneers that the medallion belonged to his traitorous brother and meant nothing to him in the first place. Applejack is less than sympathetic: Applejack: Surely you saw this coming? Discord: I didn’t. I truly didn’t.
Oh, Applejack, will you ever stop your trolling? As Twilight tries to get her magic under control (randomly teleporting across Equestria before ending up between two rocks), Tirek finds her. She manages to teleport to the library, but a gigantic blast from Tirek totals it. Luckily, Twilight is able to pull Owliwicious out before it goes up, and he beats a hasty, if somewhat sad, retreat. A moment of silence, for the Golden Oak Library... okay, now it's time to kick some pony-goat-centaur thing ass. Enraged by the destruction of the library, Twilight proceeds to open up a can of magical whoop-ass on the hulking brute, in what is the most absolutely amazing fight sequence, a la Dragonball Z, with zwee fighting, actual physical hitting, magical beam attacks, mountains being destroyed and all. Words can't really do it justice, it just has to be seen to be believed.
For your crimes against the Dewey Decimal System, I WILL MAKE YOU PAY! Finding the powered up Twilight Sparkle evenly matched with him, Tirek decides to play his ace in the hole - he shows Twilight her friends (the Mane Six, Spike and Discord) trapped in bubbles, and offers to release them if Twilight will give him the alicorn magic. But wait... what is that rainbow shining over each bubble in turn? Twilight agrees to those terms, insisting that Discord be released as well. After he lets them go, he takes Twilight's magic, and grows to absolutely enormous size. Meanwhile, Discord apologizes to everypony, and says that now he realizes how important their friendship is. He gives Twilight Scorpan's medallion as a gesture of his new and now genuine appreciation for the magic of friendship. Realizing they have the final key, the Mane Six hurry back to the box and open it. That same rainbow appears as they unlock it, and connects up to the Elements on the Tree of Harmony. Then it powers them all up. With their new powers (and new manestyles) they make short work of Tirek and send him back to Tartarus. Then they travel all over Equestria, restoring the stolen magic to the ponies. Finally, the box plants itself just outside of Ponyville and a castle grows out of the ground... The Princesses, now freed from Tartarus, arrive, and Celestia tells Twilight that this castle is hers. She's going to be the Princess of Friendship, and along with the others in the Mane Six. Even Spike gets a small little throne beside Twilight's. As the final song of the season plays, the Ponyville residents come to the castle, and the Rainbow of Light flies through Equestria, to be seen by all the new friends the Mane Six have made this season. And so the fourth Season comes to a close, and the great Pony Drought begins once more.   Thoughts on the Episode Visually, this episode is just gorgeous. Apart from the climactic battle, which is very impressive, there are some nice little touches as well. Things like Spike eye's not going grey (since he has no magic to begin with, unless you count the fire breathing as magic). There was also the part when Twilight had to lower the moon and raise the sun, where her mane started to flow and get all starry, just like Luna and Celestia. There are however, some really questionable decisions on the part of writers, as relates to Celestia and her plans. The logical problems don't ruin the experience entirely, but they're pretty darn grating when you think about them. Discord's betrayal and subsequent return to the fold are believably done. You really get the sense that he truly has learned his lesson this time around. A taste of his own two-faced medicine, if you will. About Tirek as a villain... it's pretty awesome that he can be both subversive and manipulative, as well as a threat purely on his ability to drain magic and gain power. His look certainly changes the most out of all the villains we've seen so far. His story arc was very creative, and I think the writing team can be said to have made up for their Celestia blunders. If anything, he can claim that he lost due to circumstances mostly outside of his control, although turning on Discord probably wasn't his smartest move. I hope that fans who complained that Twilight becoming an alicorn meant the end of her character development have seen the error of their ways. And the ones who complained that her friends are no longer important, too. This finale seems to have quite firmly addressed those issues. One more minor gripe, and it might not make me very popular, but I felt there was just too much Derpy. She features very prominently and distractingly in a few scenes, which is pretty irksome to me, not being a fan of hers. Of course, her hardcore fans no doubt feel otherwise. Well, Season 4 was very entertaining to me, and more than made up for Season 3 being a little sub-par. Now that Twilight has truly taken up her mantle of Princess of Friendship, it'll be interesting to see where she and her friends, go from here.   Highlights Applejack giving Discord a truly humbling ironic echo That final battle. Good lord! Pros: A visual extravaganza; A really effective and menacing villain; Closing out of the Rainbow of Light story arc on a strong note. Cons: Celestia is losing her touch; the Rainbow Power designs look a little silly   Final Rating
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Stay sunny side up!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 79. “Filli Vanilli”: The Highs and Lows of Fluttershy's Singing Career

“When / you / find / you’ve / got the music / got the music in you…” – The Ponytones In the opening, Fluttershy is busy feeding her menagerie, and unabashedly singing out of simple joy. That joy turns to horror when she realizes that her friends have been watching her the entire time, and her natural reticence reasserts itself. However, her friends admit that they entranced by her beautiful voice, especially Rarity, who urges Fluttershy to join her a capella singing group, The Ponytones.
Can we call them a barber-crop quartet? Despite the fact that The Ponytones are singing at an event for the pet shelter at her own behest, Fluttershy refuses to join due to her stage fright. Rarity is very disappointed, but is understanding of her close friend’s limitations. The group includes Big MacIntosh, Rarity and another mare, named Torch Song, as well as another stallion by the name of Toe-Tapper. After a quick run-through and practice, Rarity encourages them to rest their voices until the final practice before the performance the following evening. Fluttershy, meanwhile, has been listening to them as they practice and proves unable to stop herself swaying in time to their music. This makes it clear that she really would like to join in if she could get over her stage fright. The night of the performance, all seems in readiness… except for Big MacIntosh, who is late for their final rehearsal. When he finally does arrive, he is puffing and out of breath. Before he can do more than open his mouth, Rarity scolds him for his tardiness, pushes him into line, and blows the opening note on her pitch pipe. Unfortunately, he’s unable to start them off; he has lost his voice due to a Turkey Call competition the previous evening, where he was outperformed by Pinkie, of all ponies.
She can now add “turkey” to her list of birds she’s impersonated. The group rushes over to Zecora’s hut. She says she can cure Big MacIntosh, but her remedy will take more time than they have. Zecora suggests making the poison joke from Season 1 into a potion to deepen Fluttershy’s voice, making her Flutterguy once more. Fluttershy agrees, but only if she can remain hidden behind the curtains and have Big MacIntosh lip-sync to her singing. Suiting deed to word, The Parlatones Ponytones perform, making the evening a success, and getting many animals adopted.
Cheap price for deer. One of the group’s fans, a little pegasus filly by the name of Zippoorwhill, asks them to perform at her Cuteceanera, and despite Rarity making an excuse in order to save Fluttershy from another performance, Fluttershy herself is quite willing to continue. She can’t disappoint such a cute young filly after all. At the party and each subsequent performance, another booking is made, with Fluttershy always pretending reluctance. Secretly, though, she just enjoys the performing too much to stop. Rarity is not fooled by this for long, again showing that she can be very perceptive. At each performance, Fluttershy gets more and more animated, giving poor Big MacIntosh problems as he has to play catch-up with her improvised singing. Just before the final performance, however, Rarity takes Fluttershy aside and tells her that Big MacIntosh’s voice is healed, and she doesn’t have to perform as Flutterguy anymore. She convinces them to let her sing from the shadows one more time. During the performance, she gets carried away backstage, and ends up knocking down the curtain, revealing herself to all and sundry. Despite uproarious applause, her stage fright overcomes her again, as she has a hallucination of giant floating pony heads with spotlights for eyes. Pretty terrifying, actually. Distraught, she runs off back to her cottage. The others follow her there, and some innocently insensitive words from Pinkie set her to running again, earning her a rebuke from the others.
Taking the Spiderman connection a bit too far there, aren’t you Pinkie? Finally getting her to confront her fears, the others wring an admission from her that it wasn’t an all-bad experience, and that she did quite enjoy the singing. She’s even willing to sing with the Ponytones to the animals. However, she still won’t perform in front of strangers, and asks them to let her get over her stage fright in baby steps. Her entry into the journal states that she has learned that one shouldn’t let their fear keep them from being the best they can be.   Thoughts on the episode While Rarity is well known for her beautiful singing voice (Kasumi Evans) in real life, this is the first time it’s been acknowledged that her voice is just as beautiful within the show’s universe (that I remember, at any rate). While this is a good thing, it’s a little jarring to see Rarity, or even Big MacIntosh, for that matter, being in a pony singing troupe, since it hasn’t been alluded to previously. This also introduces a few instances of Fridge Logic. Big MacIntosh has been described as “very shy” by Apple Bloom, but he’s perfectly willing to perform on stage in front of large crowds? There is also a question mark of a similar nature floating over Fluttershy’s head. She has sung in front of a (much, much larger) crowd before, in “Hearth’s Warming Eve” and it was acknowledged earlier in that episode that she didn’t feel comfortable with it. Yet she is crippled by stage fright this time around, when the crowd she has to perform for is much smaller and mainly consists of Ponyville residents. This could be handwaved, perhaps, if she was able to mentally subsume herself into the persona of Private Pansy for the performance in “HWE”. Pinkie was superbly badly handled in this episode. For the pony who is supposed to make others feel happier, this feels like the writer was really taking liberties with her character. She doesn’t even have the excuse of playing up for the fun of it, as she did in “Luna Eclipsed”. Since everyone and their grandmother has pointed out this flaw in the episode, I won’t harp on it further. Rarity, on the other hoof, was wonderful in this episode. I refer not only to the aforementioned confirmation of her lovely singing voice, but also the way she handled Fluttershy, which was extraordinary. Remember that Rarity lives for bringing out the beauty in things, and Fluttershy’s voice is something she really wants to have others hear and appreciate. Yet despite that, she quickly accepts that Fluttershy can’t perform due to her crippling stage fright. It highlights her generosity in a natural way. She also quickly cottons on to the fact that Flutterguy is accepting bookings because she wants to perform, rather than just to avoid disappointing others. Yet apart from a knowing smile, she doesn’t give away that she’s seen through the ruse, surprising Fluttershy when she finally reveals it. This is a far cry from “Green Isn’t Your Colour”, where she couldn’t see that Fluttershy was only putting on a brave face. That’s some pleasing development there. Zippoorwhill… dear sweet deity of diabetes, is this filly cute. Like her namesake, she zooms around constantly, is over the moon to have the Ponytones perform at her party (“We got The Ponytones! We got The Ponytones!”) and she is even able to handle the disappointment when she thinks she may not be able to book them. I hope we see more of her and her daddy, who has a very interesting accent. As for the other Mane Six members, Applejack managed to provide some good humour, with her hat floating in mid-air due to her surprise at hearing Fluttershy sing, and the way she ascertains the situation with her rapidfire questions to Big MacIntosh. Rainbow Dash was a bit of a non-entity, and Twilight also had very little screentime, but then again, the focus was on Fluttershy and to a lesser extent on Rarity, so it’s to be expected. The plot itself was quite simple, which allows a natural progression of events. One negative is using Pinkie to push Fluttershy’s emotional buttons, but overall, the simplicity of the story works in its favour.   Highlights (Shamelessly copied from TVTropes)
Applejack's assessment of the whole situation goes down as this.
Applejack: Turkey call?
Big Mac: Eeyup.
Applejack: Trash your voice?
Big Mac: Eeyup.
Applejack: Zecora remedy?
Big Mac: Eeyup.
Applejack: Not quick enough?
Big Mac: Nope.
Applejack: Needed a deep voice?
Big Mac: Eeyup.
Applejack: Poison joke?
Big Mac: Eeyup.
Applejack: Flutterguy?
Big Mac: Eeyup.
Applejack: Better now?
Big Mac: Eeyup.
Applejack: And that shy filly was livin' her dream in the shadows because she couldn't bring herself to come into the spotlight?
Big Mac: Eeyup. Zippoorwhill gets the Ponytones.
And just Zippoorwhill in general, really. Pros: Continuity nods galore; Rarity and Fluttershy friendship highlighted; Big MacIntosh gets to say more than “Eeyup” and “Nope”. Cons: Pinkie, what have they done to you? Fridge Logic at points.   Final Rating
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Stay Sunny Side up!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Story Arc #1 (Issues 1-4) The Return of Queen Chrysalis

I think it’s about time I turned my nitpicking attentions to the IDW Friendship is Magic Comics, and subject them to the same stringent examination as in my episode reviews. My quest to over-analyze the franchise continues! ATTENTION, FAIR READER! SHOULD THOU YET WISH TO PURUSE WITH THINE OWN EYES THE COMICS, WE BID THEE BE MINDFUL THAT MESSIRE SUNNY FOX SHALT MAKETH NARY THE LEAST ENDEAVOR TO AVERT SPOILERS! THUS HAST THOU BEEN CAUTIONED! Thank you, Princess Luna. The first four-issue arc of the comics follows the fallout following Queen Chrysalis’ fall out of Canterlot. While it’s entertaining to read, it has a few problems, which make it just a little less enjoyable than it could have been. I’ll keep my commentary to a minimum in the summaries, which are intended more for readers who haven’t read the comic, and save most of it for the analysis. Issues 1 to 4: The Return of Queen Chrysalis Katie Cook: Writer Andy Price: Artist Part 1 Summary It starts off with the Cutie Mark Crusaders busy (what else?) crusading for their cutie marks in Fluttershy’s menagerie. The more off-beat comedy as compared to the show is immediately apparent, including a hippo with a bow just like Apple Bloom’s, and a lion named Mr. McBiteyPants. Unfortunately, some of the animals seem to be a little on the “weirdly glowing eyes” side, and rush at the CMC to fillynap them.
This is Shere Khan-age! The following morning, it seems the three fillies are fine, but they are acting very strangely, causing their sisters and honorary sisters some concern. But they’re not the only ones out of character; the rest of the town apart from the Mane Six and Spike seem to have become possessed, forcing our heroines (and hero) to lock themselves in the Library. Twilight tries to get hold of Princess Celestia, but she is incommunicado, due to a major magic surge caused by the approaching Secretariat comet. Twilight soon concludes that the odd behaviour of the Ponyvillians is due to them having been replaced by Changelings, and the group resolves to find out where the real ponies are being held. Seeing an eerie green glow from City Hall, they burst in to rescue the townsponies. Even Spike manages to look badass here, although his dragon fire does little more than anger his opponents. Pinkie eventually ends the battle by trapping the Changelings with gum shot from her party cannon. They break all of their fellow Ponyvillians out of their pods, but can’t find Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle or Scootaloo. At this point, Spike coughs up a giant green orb, which the Queen (now officially named Chrysalis) uses to communicate with them. She shows the Mane Six the three fillies she has imprisoned, and tells them they have only three days to rescue them, even providing a map to her location via the orb. Despite the obvious trap, which Rainbow points out, Rarity and Applejack want to rush off immediately. Twilight suspects the three day deadline is related to the comet’s appearance, and that the Queen intends to use it against them somehow. Despite her misgivings, the Mane Six have no choice but to follow the map, and they set off, leaving Spike behind to continue trying to contact the Princess.   Part 2 Summary The map leads the group to a mountain. Rainbow Dash wants to go over, but the rest of the group decide to stick together and go through a set of tunnels left by diamond dogs. The first obstacle they encounter is a enormous cave troll. Luckily, being a typical brony, he’s not hostile, but he still wants to play with his new pony “toys”. Rarity makes substitutes for him, and the Mane Six manage to sneak off. Unbeknown to them, the Queen is following their progress in her crystal ball.
That looks familiar somehow…

Oh, right! The Queen sends her flying monkeys Changelings to cause a cave-in which separates the Mane Six into pairs. They then turn them against each other by taking on their appearances and saying nasty things. This results in an argument breaking out, which is put on hold when a group of giant spiders attack them. Using their webs, they wrap the Mane Six up. Pinkie runs off and brings back the troll, who adopts the largest spider as his new “teddy bear”, allowing the Mane Six to go free. When they finally exit the caves, the argument flairs up again, and the pairs split up. Rarity and Applejack head off into the woods in one direction and Twilight teleports herself and Fluttershy away, leaving Rainbow and Pinkie together, but without a map.   Part 3 Summary Out of all the parts, this one seems to have a subtitle: “Love is a many splintered thing.” Why none of the other parts have one, I don’t know. It seems a little odd. Spike provides a summary of what’s happened so far. He also starts a flashback to Queen Chrysalis and her minions being flung out of Canterlot, as happened in the flawed but enjoyable season 2 finale. They landed in a land populated by cute little cats who love absolutely everything. The Changelings quickly drained them, ruining and corrupting their bright little land. Yep, we just had genocide in Equestria. Hands up, who still thinks the Changelings aren’t truly evil?
Anyone? Hearing that they need time to regroup for another assault on Canterlot, the Queen says that she doesn’t care about that any longer; she just wants revenge on Twilight, who ruined everything. She’s going to use the power-up from the Secretariat Comet to drain her magic. The next page reveals that the Queen herself is telling all this to her Cutie Mark Captives. Since the Mane Six are now split into the Mane Three Pairs, the Queen again sends out her minions to spy on them and report back, while she continues to watch Twilight. Fluttershy manages to convince Twilight that despite her friends being mean (sigh) they need to look past it and reconcile. Meanwhile, Applejack and Rarity are having dinner, with Rarity insisting on good manners despite “roughing it”. Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie are also shown; Rainbow is finally realizing the Changelings are responsible for the schism, and Pinkie brings out (rather frightening) costumes of the two of them to wear in case the Changelings try it again. Over the next few pages, each pair encounters monsters that they are forced to run away from, and in doing so, run into each other. Falling down a cliff, the Mane Six end up in a heap, and the various animals chasing them start fighting with each other, ending the danger. The Mane Six finally reconcile, despite still not cottoning on to the way they were tricked, and they travel the last few hours to get to the final showdown.   Part 4 Summary At their destination, they find themselves in a creepy castle. They open various referential doors, and eventually find the one the Changelings are behind. A fight breaks out as Twilight faces off against the Queen, while the others fight the Changeling minions. As the Comet nears, the Queen’s power grows, and she manages to trap the other ponies in pods with a powerful blast of magic. After seeing Twilight blast a giant hole in the wall, she decides that instead of draining Twilight’s magic, she wants her to come over to the Changeling Side and be her evil protégé. When Twilight refuses, the Queen gives her a choice – watch her captive friends drained of their essence in front of her… or join the Queen, in exchange for not harming them. Twilight gives in, hoping that at least they can save themselves and return to defeat the Changelings – and her if necessary – later on. As soon as they are released, the ponies charge in to try to rescue Twilight, but the Queen blocks them with a force field. The Queen then tries to renege on the deal: she’s going to drain out all Twilight’s love for her friends, and let the newly minted Evil Twilight do them in instead.
I am altering the deal… pray I do not alter it any further! Furious at this, Twilight renews her struggle. Realizing that she can also use the power up from the Comet, she eventually defeats the Queen, and rescues her friends. Outside the final dungeon, the Mane Six meet up with Princess Celestia and Spike, who have been battling Comet-Magic-empowered cockatrices in Canterlot. When asked where the Queen is, Twilight reveals that she and her Changelings are trapped in the castle by one of Pinkie’s costumes… which has been magically animated not to let them out until they can come up with a rhyme for “orange”.   Analysis: Writing Part 1 does a decent job of setting up the plot, but I feel that Part 2 drops the ball a little. A major flaw is the way the conflict between the Mane Six is handled. First of all, it’s a quintessential example of an idiot plot, where it only works by making usually intelligent characters be totally stupid. Considering what they already know the Changelings are capable of, there is no way the ruse of “separate and impersonate” should have worked. The Mane Six should have seen through it easily. Instead, they get taken in hook, line and sinker, and it’s only much later that Rainbow Dash alone of all ponies gives any consideration to the possibility that they might have been tricked. How the Changelings know enough about each character to so accurately say the right thing to hurt them is yet another mystery. Apart from that, if they had simply talked about what the “friends” had said and how they felt hurt by it, they would have discovered what had happened. A conversation like this should have been inevitable:
Pony A: “You said <<bad things x and y>> about me!”
Pony B: “I never said that, and I never would.”
Pony A: “Then who did? Either you’re lying about saying it, or it was someone who was impersonating you who said it.”
Everypony: “The Changelings can impersonate us! It must have been them!”
Q. Fucking E.D. If the Mane Six needed to be separated for the story to work, why not just have the cave-in force them to travel to three distinct and mutually distant exits from the cave? Then you could still have the three separate journeys in Part 3 and avoid the need for the nonsensical conflict at all. Unless I’m really missing something, it could have (and should have) been left out entirely. Part 3 really shines through with humour, letting each pair of characters banter with each other as they face various strange creatures and other hazards, with amusing interludes featuring the Queen getting more and more irate with her young prisoners. It’s easily the best part of the story. Unfortunately, it still has to spend time resolving the conflict from part 2, and again, I don’t think it was done that well. First of all, they STILL haven’t figured out that it was the Changelings who were responsible. Neither Rainbow Dash nor Pinkie brings up the idea at all. So they basically are forgiving each other for something the other didn’t even do. Part 4 seemed more interested in cramming as many references as possible than advancing the plot. It sort of stalls for a bit, until they actually manage to confront the Queen and her minions. Of course, the final fight is pretty breathtaking, although for a series meant to emphasize the Mane Six all working together and supporting each other, it’s a little odd to see Twilight pretty much singlehoofedly finish off the opponent. Still, the idea that the Comet the Queen was relying on becomes the very reason for her defeat is a wonderful example of irony, so that’s a big plus. You may be wondering why I keep referring to the Queen by her title rather than her name. There are some reasons for this. First of all, she was never named Chrysalis in the show. It was in the script, but no character actually says it. Even Celestia only called her "The Queen", and how they now know her name is left unexplained. Secondly, I think she's better represented as a title. Her position is the important thing about her. Of course, I'm in no position to criticize the tendency to use insect puns as names... the final reason is that "The Queen" just sounds much more intimidating and badass to me.   Analysis: Artwork The art is fantastic, showing both Ponyville and its inhabitants in a new way. Particularly noticeable is how Queen Chrysalis is drawn. At times she seems actually quite beautiful, and at other times she appears as a hideous, slavering monster. Price has the ability to completely change her from one form to the other, while still making her recognizable in both, which is skillfully done. I also was interested to see how large the wings of the pegasus ponies are in the comics as opposed to the show. It’s just a style choice, but you get a better impression that they could actually fly with wings as big as those.   References:
Part 1: The pod ponies idea comes from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.
Part 2: There are plenty of David Bowie references

Ziggy Stardust

Lyrics from "Diamond Dogs" The cave pony has some recognizable toys, including a Rubik's Cube, Optimus Prime, a magic Eightball and a slinky, and of course, the ponies provide the brushy brushy. Part 3:
Welcome to Wuvy-Dovey Smoochy Land aka Equestria Care-A-Lot
Twilight steals Nightcrawler's teleport sound effect. Good thing we didn't see any "Snikt!"
Triffids, Chupacabras, and Jackalopes, oh my! Part 4: Too freaking many to list!   Bonus Comic We actually get to see what was keep Princess Celestia and Spike busy during the events of the mane comic. The only problem here is that Spike implies in the mane comic that he rode a cockatrice into town, but the comic has him riding Princess Celestia into town to save the day instead. Minor gripe, and the rest of the short comic is fine.   Pros: Definitely great art. Parental bonuses galore. An exciting climax. Plenty of humour both dark and not. Cons: An unnecessary Apple of Discord added in Part 2, which could have been done without and didn't really make sense.   Final Rating
5 – The Latest ‘Daring Do’ Book Rank: A great story. It will be re-read frequently.
4 – Starswirl’s Journal Rank: A good story, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Twilight’s Sleepover Guide Rank: An average story. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Spike’s Power Pony Comic Rank: Worth reading once. After that, let it vanish to parts unknown.
1 – The Astronomical Astronomer’s Almanac Rank: Get Spike to sneeze on it, immediately! Keep on turning those pages, and as always, stay sunny side up!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 82. “Somepony to Watch Over Me”: The Perilous Pie Procession

I really wish my sister were here! - Apple Bloom The Apple family is having a counsel, and it’s finally decided that Apple Bloom is old enough to stay home while Granny Smith is away visiting, and her big sister and big brother deliver some apple pies to some far away towns. Despite Applejack having her reservations, she starts off on her journey. To make herself feel better, she leaves Apple Bloom with a long list of chores and instructions. Apple Bloom is over the moon to be on her own for once, but also determined to prove capable of staying home alone. She’s doing fine, until Applejack returns to check on her and startles her into spilling spaghetti sauce all over herself. Thinking her former concern is justified, Applejack becomes extremely smothering, keeping tabs on Apple Bloom constantly, slamming helmets onto her head at the slightest provocation, baby proofing everything in sight and continually reiterating that she can’t trust Apple Bloom to continue basic subconsciously-controlled life processes without her big sister being nearby. As the day wears on, Apple Bloom gets more and more irate. Enlisting the help of her CMC friends, she decides to deliver the pies that Applejack hasn’t, so as to prove she is independent and responsible. This leads to one of the few funny moments in the episode, as she starts to sing a song about the situation, only be shushed by Scootaloo, who claims there’s no time for a song.
A: I baked you a pie!
B: Oh, boy! What flavor?
A: APPLE BLOOM FLAVOR!
*Guitar riff!* Apple Bloom sneaks out the window and away with the pies, while her friends cover her escape with subterfuge. Sweetie Belle dons a spare bow and gets into bed to pretend to be Apple Bloom taking a nap. Scootaloo hides in the closet so they can take turns. Applejack comes in for a spot check, which she fails, as she doesn’t notice that her “sister” has a different colour scheme, a different mane style, and is more “horny” than usual too (pardon the double entendre). I guess those bows come from the same shop as Clark Kent’s glasses.
Hmm. Somethin' seems a mite strange here... Oh, well... ♫Hush now, quiet now, it’s time to lay your sleepy head…♫ Over the next few minutes of screentime, Applejack keeps popping in to ask if “Apple Bloom” needs anything, or if she heard a call. This might be why Scootaloo never gets a chance to play Apple Bloom, since she might not want to take the chance of Applejack coming in in the middle of the swap. At any rate, in her final check-up, Applejack muses aloud that perhaps she is being a bit silly with this whole issue (no… really?). This makes Scootaloo so happy that she shouts out and ruins the whole thing. The jig is up! As the two CMC tell her what happened, Applejack is horrified to find out Apple Bloom left without fire-proof boots, a lion-tamer’s chair, a snake-charmer’s flute and a hunk of ricotta and that she left hours ago. At this point, the episode makes a hard left turn into Surprise Creepy City. We rejoin the silly filly herself, as she follows the map, leading her (and therefore us) to the hellish atmosphere of the fire swamp. The only thing missing is the quicksand and the Rodents of Unusual Size – possibly because they’ve been eaten by the monster of this episode – the Chimera! The Chimera has a tiger and goat head in front, and a snake for a tail, all female, so kudos. Said monster is only too happy to see some pies, and a side order of tender young filly fillet. Although it isn’t the first time the possibility of something eating Apple Bloom has come up, (“Bridle Gossip” and the Apple Bloom soup) this is the first time it’s being presented quite this seriously. Despite the Chimera’s Faux Affably Evil manner, (even engaging her in conversation about annoying hovering sisters) it’s pretty clear that Apple Bloom is in danger of literally being filleted and eaten. That’s rather dark, and the evil gloating snickering of the Chimera’s three heads as it stalks her makes this entire scene border on Nightmare Fuel (well, at least for the target audience). As the Chimera chases her, Apple Bloom ends up pushing the cart to the top of a hill, only for it to roll down and into the foliage. She has bigger concerns, though, as the Chimera finally corners her. Things look bad for the plucky little filly… but guess who comes galloping to the rescue? ♫Applejack! BUCK, YEAH! ♫ Using her Fetish Fuel Boots of Flame Resistance +1, her Folding Lion-Tamer’s Chair (+2 vs Tigers), her ChiméPokéFlute (puts snake monsters to sleep; also awakens sleeping Pokemon), and the hunk of ricotta for the goat, Applejack makes short work of Three-in-One, leaving it pinned to a tree on either end.
Say cheese! Applejack tells Apple Bloom off for going on such a dangerous journey alone, but is happy her sister is safe, even if she did lose all those pies… wait a minute, no she didn’t! Apple Bloom returns the pie cart to her sister, making Applejack realize that a pony who can successfully be rescued from being eaten and NOT lose her pies along the way must be independent enough not to need constant supervision. Yeah, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but at least it ended Applejack’s overprotective streak. The pie delivery is made… to one of the more offensive stereotypes I’ve seen this show produce so far. We is hillbillies! We eat Swamp Water Casserole! Yeehaaww! And then the episode ends without any kind of moral being addressed. Perhaps because Applejack knew the moral all along? Or lazy writing? You be the judge!   Thoughts on the Episode Despite having a fire swamp, and a three headed beast of myth, this episode is surprisingly boring. Perhaps that is because it’s too one note in the first half. The comedy gained from Applejack’s constant babying is rather quickly overshadowed by the annoyance the same engenders, with a few exceptions.
I have to admit I laughed at the double helmet gag. As I’ve pointed out in one thread, I don’t think calling Applejack “out of character” is accurate. We know she’s very family orientated, and can sometimes go barreling along without noticing how her behaviour is affecting others (as in “Apple Family Reunion”). But she’s usually willing to have her sister run all over Ponyville, left her alone or in the company of two other fillies at her clubhouse, despite the thing being, to coin a phrase, “one big bad wolf’s fart away” from collapse and on a secluded part of the farm. Who was it who fixed up that clubhouse good as new? The answer begins with “A”, and ends with “pple Bloom”. Applejack even came along and acknowledged it in that episode. Now, for the sake of the plot 53(!) episodes later, Applejack suddenly doubts her sister’s ability to walk across a room without tripping and breaking her neck. That’s not OOC, that’s exaggerating a character trait (protectiveness of her sister) to absurd levels for the sake of a gag. I’m not sure which I dislike more, really. Not to mention that the gag itself wears thin very quickly. Then the central conflict is hurriedly resolved in a single line, after an event which by all rights should cement Applejack’s concern for her sister rather than assuage it. Never mind that your sister was nearly eaten, the real tragedy would have been the lost pies! Oh, they’re safe! Dodged a bullet there, alright. Is this episode as low in my estimation as “Daring Do”? Not quite, as there are a few appreciable jokes and scenes that rescue it from sinking that low, but it gets really close. Not every episode can hit one out of the park, but this one barely makes it up to bat.   Highlights Apple Bloom calmly accepting the decision, and walking off. The CMC wait until they are out of sight around the corner before they start celebrating. Tiger head: “You're lucky, you know. You've got no idea what it's like to have a sister constantly looking over your shoulder…” Apple Bloom: “Uh, actually…”   Pros: The Chimera fight scene. The aborted song, poking fun at all the fans who claim there are too many unnecessary songs. Cons: Flanderizing Applejack. The central concept played for comedy gets stale very quickly. Scootaloo has a moment of superb stupidity. Those hillbilly stereotypes. No moral worth mentioning. The resolution makes little sense and is very rushed.   Final Rating
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Stay fire-swampy side up!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

The Finger of God

The finger of God strikes the finger of God? The irony! I think we all know who's to blame... "I just don't know what went wrong!" Source: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/01/rios-christ-chips-finger-in-lightning-storm/

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Disney Princesses Tattoos

In my varied travels through the 'net, I came upon these: Tattoo-arific (I know that's not a word, just go with it) pictures featuring the most well-known Disney Princesses.   Which one do you like the best? Can you guess which one I like?   Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/donnad/disney-princesses-as-fierce-vintage-tattoed-pin-ups I had nothing to do with the creation of these, but I sure do like them.

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

The Bookend Diaries – Part 12: "Princess Twilight Sparkle" A Moment of Silence, Please, for the Pink Mane Celestia Theory

This might be a good juncture to say, "I told you so". Yes, it's immature of me, but I so seldom get this much vindication, I'm taking the opportunity to gloat. The first part of the second episode shows us the confrontation between Princess Celestia, and the newly minted Nightmare Moon, who is seeking to destroy her. This is probably the most intense action scene in the series so far, and seriously would not look out of place in most animés... except maybe for this shot...
Beware the power of my planking! Celestia seems either unwilling or unable to return fire with her own Solar Beam, and despite managing to dodge for a while, takes a full on hit from Nightmare Moon's magic, and plummets senseless to the ground. Twilight, for the first time ever, drops the title when she cries out in concern. Yes, folks, not "Princess Celestia!", just "Celestia!" Twilight, still unaware that she is watching a vision of the past, believes Celestia to be dead. Her mane seems to stop flowing when she's unconscious, but it restarts when she gets up, to Twilight's relief. The horseshoe finally drops for Twilight when Celestia, having no choice but to take it to the next level, DBZ style, reveals the Elements of Harmony, still in their Hyrule form. The Elements, when activated, start to spin around Celestia, and man, does it look amazing... not to mention badass. It does, however, strongly remind me of the finale to Avatar: The Last Airbender... I wonder if that was intentional.
#&%&$$&&&..... This caption has imploded due to the awesomeness of these two pictures. Despite tears streaming down her face (the most emotion Celestia has ever shown), she proceeds to smack a mare up with what could only loosely be described as a beam'o'war, since it's so very one-sided. Nightmare Moon is banished, and the vision ends. The next scene gives us a bit of comic relief after all the emotion, with Discord taking palpable glee in mocking how Twilight was behaving while in her trance. He also hangs a neat little lampshade on the distinct lack of musical accompaniment in this two-parter (thank Celestia for that) with "I do hope she breaks into a song this time!" Time for flashback, take two! The architecture here is interesting, with brick walls and thatched roofs, not seen since "Hearth's Warming Eve". It appears as if Discord took over not very long after Equestria was founded. More and more gaps in the history of Equestria are being plugged, and I for one couldn't be happier. I love backstory. Celestia and Luna face down Discord, using the Elements of Harmony in tandem, and turn him to stone. The very next instant, the vision shifts to show Twilight how they actually found the Elements on the Tree of Harmony. Of course, now we have to wonder exactly where the Tree came from, but I'm sure later episodes will shed more light on that. Looks like Season 4 is going to have an arc. Wonderful! All we know is that the Tree is somehow acting as a limiter on the Everfree Forest, and it appears as if that limiter has been removed. Finally making some progress, the Mane 6 head off into the Everfree Forest once more, to find the Tree. They almost immediately run into a crocodile, (which could be pronounced "Crackodile", it's pretty hard to decide) which despite being huge, is rather easily defeated. Disappointing, really. However, this scare is enough to make "team mom" Applejack concerned about risking Princess Twilight, and she convinces the group that Twilight should head back to Ponyville and stay safe, just in case Luna and Celestia are never found. This is despite the fact that a mere minute earlier, they all agreed happily when Twilight said, "Whatever happens, we'll face it together." In fact, this is one of the few things I didn't like in this episode. Sending Twilight back, only to have her come find them a few scenes later anyway. It just seems unnecessarily dramatic to me, although I guess what Applejack says is true enough in its own right. Ah, well, it gives us more Discord antics to enjoy, so I suppose it's alright. Not to mention the newest meme we're all going to be tired of seeing within a month couple of days: Twilight's golden scepter.
Well, it ain't no GAK, but it'll do... Twilight, needled sufficiently, heads back to find her friends, (how is Spike keeping up with her galloping...? Strange...) who have just managed to locate the Tree, and Pinkie in particular has located some stairs... methinks Sombra was here... he likes stairs, apparently. While Twilight is being attacked by spindly soporific scent spitting spores, Rainbow and AJ are having plant troubles of their own:
Everfree Forest uses Vine Whip! It's super-effective! Unable to figure out how to help the Tree, they start to argue over sending Twilight away, until Spike arrives and in typical Spike fashion, can only communicate that someone is in danger with one word sentences. However, it's enough for them to find and rescue Twilight from the evil vines. Then they all say what we've known all along... the Mane 6 need to stay together, no matter what. Back at the Tree, Twilight realizes that the Elements need to be returned to it. Of course, this defeats the invading vine army, much to Discord's annoyance, and releases the two Princesses, who have been trapped here the whole time. The Tree also provides this Season's mysterious McGuffin... a box with six locks. Celestia seems to know something about it, but even she is unaware of where the keys are to be found. On their return to Ponyville, Discord outs himself as the one responsible for the vine attack... which raises a question. If he knew about the Tree of Harmony and planted the seeds hoping to drain its magic, why didn't he know about the Elements and that they had the power to turn him into stone? Is he just being Discord, or is there a more nefarious plan in play here? I hope answers will be forthcoming later in Season 4. At any rate, the Summer Sun Celebration goes forward, Luna lowers the moon, Celestia raises the sun, and Twilight does her big finish that she mentioned at the start of the premiere. Notably, she flies exactly between the moon and the sun as she uses her magic to create a starburst (it's not a Sonic Rainboom, so RD fans, you can stop crying foul ) The symbolism is unmistakable.
The importance of being Twilight... And that was the premiere. Not a perfect episode, but near enough to it. The animation was beautiful, with plenty of shading, camera effects such as blurring and soft focus (I don't know the technical terms, but I do know it looks lovely). The actions scenes were detailed and enthralling. The characters, especially Twilight and Discord, were exactly as they should be. And last but not least, the removal of the Elements and the mystery of the Box set up the rest of the Season very nicely. Final Rating 5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! My friends, I am no longer worried about the future of Friendship is Magic. Season 4 looks like it's going to be a doozy. And you can count on your friendly neighborhood Sunny Fox to be there as the journey continues. Stay sunny side up, folks!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 68. “Castle Mane-ia”: Lunacy at Midnight Castle

I just wanted to restore ancient aaa-aaa-arrr-rrttttt! Waahhh! – Rarity Season 4 continues to show its quality with this episode. When watching it, I felt very much as if I were watching a Season 1 episode instead. Perhaps a lot of it has to do with the interactions between Rainbow and AJ, which hailed back to their friendly rivalry as shown in "Ticket Master" and "Fall Weather Friends". The second partnership in this episode is the one between Fluttershy and Rarity, again reminding us of the fact that these two are also closer to each other than to the others in general. The premise of this episode is a simple one: all of the Mane Six end up in the castle, each for their own purposes, and hilarity ensues, as each group unknowingly bounces off the other. The title itself works on three different levels. First, it references the Castlevania game series, second, it's a play on the word mania, and third, the Mane-ia part catches the general chaos of the episode very nicely. So the episode opens with the welcome return of Twilight's exasperated groan that first appeared in "Lesson Zero". Spike is getting his usual butt-monkey treatment, first by having his feather duster smashed by a book tossed in frustration, and then by being buried under a pile of books that topples over on him. Good thing he has those thick scales...
Celestia says, "Clean up those books, Spike!" I am the only one worried that Celestia is not only clearly magically spying on Twilight, but also writes letters pretty darn fast? I mean, I know, physical goddess and all, but still... the only thing I can think of is that she wrote that letter ahead of time, just knowing Twilight will go through all her Ponyville Library books in vain, and waiting for her to say that line... curse you, Trollestia! The letter informs Twilight that more information might be found in the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters. So it's off to the Everfree Forest again, which now is apparently so safe that they can go in ones and twos with nary a care; perhaps the Tree/Elements of Harmony are making it safe now? Intriguing... ...is what Twilight no doubt thinks on finding the Library in the castle.
Twilight: *Sccchhh-winggg!*
Spike: I need an adult... Meanwhile, Pinkie and Gummy are officiating the dariest dare of all darey dare dares between Applejack and Rainbow Dash... no, no, NOT THE BEES! They are covered in them, but the real test is who blinks first... so why are the bees even needed? Anyway, the beekeeper pony (I'm calling him Johnny Bee Good, but who knows what the fans will come up with) whistles them back to their hives, leaving the contest undecided, and the contestants in beekeeper suits. Tailor fit for their manes and in RD's case, wings... huh... wonder if Rarity had anything to do with modifying them? AJ has an idea how to resolve the tie, though. Meanwhile... meanwhile... the pretty purple-maned pony herself is en route to the Castle, Fluttershy and Angel Bunny in tow, having decided that the tapestries of the Castle could do with a touch-up, and maybe even get some inspiration out of it herself... a twofer. They are followed into the castle by a large, mysterious shadow... AJ and RD soon rock up as well, and AJ expounds on her Granny Smith's story of an evil pony of shadows, a being created by some left over evil of Nightmare Moon. Woooo!
I'ma tellin you, Rainbow Dash, I once caught a fish thhiiiss big! As the episode goes on, the two pairs end up unintentionally scaring each other, helped out by the Castle itself, which is apparently tricked out with tricks and stuff. Rarity gets a good dose of irony, being interrupted in the middle of a speech about how they must be very careful, only to have Angel Bunny send her and Fluttershy through a trapdoor by accident... or was it? Dun dun DUN!
Well...
...my work here is done. Applejack comes clean to Rainbow about why she brought them there (to continue their dare challenge - first to leave forfeits) while Angel Bunny manages to find Twilight and Spike, accidentally scaring Spike into revealing another hidden chamber... one with a journal left by Celestia and Luna. Poor Fluttershy is worried about her precious bunny friend, while Rarity provides some light. Fluttershy frets about Angel being trapped by fallen debris (hint hint) or being trapped in a dark place with no way out. Rarity calls her on that one...
Setting horn phasers to snark... Despite getting out of the hole, (after unintentionally scaring RD and AJ away) Rarity has had enough, but Fluttershy convinces her to stay and look for Angel Bunny. Twilight reads about "The Organ to the Outside" just as the mysterious shadow is revealed to belong to a mysterious cloaked and hooded pony, who begins to play said organ. Spike's concerns about the mysterious sounds are brushed aside by Twilight, and even Angel Bunny starts laughing at him. A new low for Spikey-Wikey. The organ appears to control the traps... don't know why that comes as a surprise, since the page we saw clearly shows the connections between the organ and the different rooms where traps are located. Applejack is separated from Rainbow, Rarity is separated from Fluttershy, and part of one of the tapestries is separated from the rest of it, much to Rarity's dismay. Meanwhile, Angel is given more carrots, which is apparently enough to keep him from missing Fluttershy. Rarity declares to the Castle that despite its ingratitude, she WILL restore the wall art.
Pinkie Sense could have prevented this accident. This assault on her person convinces Rarity that the Castle is in fact, malevolent, and she starts to back away... Ditto for Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash and Applejack, and they all bump rumps. Scared out of their wits, none of them realize who the others are, and the ensuing mad Dash around the room ends up knocking one of the tapestries onto poor Rarity, who protests "I was only trying to restore ancient ar-ar-art!" as it falls. Bonus points for the tapestry being one of Luna, who shares a voice actress with Rarity. Fluttershy mistakes some debris for Angel Bunny, and is horrified when Applejack knocks a pillar onto "him". The noise finally attracts Twilight out to the balcony to survey the mayhem below... she declares that everypony STOP! (A nice call back to Luna's "BE STILL!" from "Luna Eclipsed") and suits spell to shout, stopping everypony in their tracks.
STOP! Twilight time! The ponies are surprised to discover that they are all in the same place, Angel Bunny shows Fluttershy he's okay, much to her embarrassment, and all the ponies explain what they've been up to. Rainbow thinks maybe Twilight has been pranking them by pretending to be the Pony of Shadows, to which Twilight replies, "That's just an Old Mare's Tale"... in the middle of the freaking Castle that proved to all six of them that Old Mare's Tales are sometimes true after all... logic, what's that? The organ music continues, and they follow it to its source... Pinkie Pie! She explains why she's there, and it makes as much sense as usual for Pinkie. So in the denouement, Rarity fixes tapestries, Fluttershy babies Angel Bunny, Pinkie is Pinkie, AJ and RD seem set to continue their dare challenge, and Twilight provides our morals for the episode. "Friends can keep your imagination from going wild..." yeah, not so much, Twilight. Everypony was there with friends already. The real moral seems to be... "learning stuff can help you not be afraid and help you solve your problems", which makes more sense. Spike announces the non-existence of the Pony of Shadows, but the evil yellow eyes seem to prove otherwise...
No Pony of Shadows... Orly?

Of course, it could just be Zecora again... Let's bring this overlong review to a close, shall we? As I said before, this felt rather like a Season 1 episode. The way the ponies interacted and ended up scaring each other accidentally was well done, and entirely believable. You can quite forgive them for going crazy at the end there, considering what they had endured. Rarity was in fine form, Fluttershy really got me in the feels when she thought Angel Bunny was being crushed, Twilight is her usual adorkable bookworm self despite the wings, and Rainbow Dash and Applejack played off each other as rivals for title of most daring pony well. There are a few negatives, though. This episode continues the trend of Pinkie Pie being more caricature than character. Pinkie is best written when her nuttiness serves to conceal some actual intelligent thought processes going on behind the scenes, in other words, when there is some kind of method to her madness. For me, this episode just didn’t get it as right with Pinkie as they did with the others. Although if you listen to her explanation at the end, it's all to do with parties and Pinkie misinterpreting the others actions as part of a game, which admittedly is very Pinkie. It's the other parts, like the ringing the bell, the jumping around with funny faces, the gags where her score keeping is a set of kid's doodles, etc, that felt off. It’s also a bit far-fetched that she could just “know” how to play the organ, despite never having done it before. Although she has demonstrated abilities to play multiple instruments, it’s clear that this isn’t some kind of Pinkie ability, like her Pinkie Sense. Otherwise, there would be no reason why she wouldn't be able to play the flugelhorn well in “The Crystal Empire”. In fact, instead of it being Pinkie, this was a perfect opportunity to bring in one of the musical background ponies for a moment in the spotlight. Imagine how funny it would be if we found out Vinyl Scratch enjoyed playing classical organ music as well as wubs, or if it turned out to be Princess Luna come to reminisce about old times, and even play a few pranks Celestia style... hell, even have it be Celestia. Just not the usual suspect of one of the Mane 6, which could only have been Pinkie. Opportunity missed? You be the judge. Overall, a decent episode with a simple premise and a natural comedy that arises when the characters are simply themselves. Final Rating 5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Sorry for the ramble, folks, but always remember to stay sunny side up, and I'll see you for the next one.

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 11. "Winter Wrap Up": Twilight Sparkle Fails

The time has come to welcome spring, and all things new and green.
But it’s also time to say goodbye, it’s winter they must clean.
Twilight Sparkle, you may not sing; this kind of rhyming is my thing! This episode gives us the first proper song of the series. By “proper”, I mean not a Pinkie Pie “random song out of nowhere”, but an actual musical number featuring multiple characters. And it is glorious. But let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start. Twilight wakes up excited because it’s Winter Wrap-up Day, where spring is pony-ually (I know that’s not a real word, just go with it) brought to Ponyville. Spike is unimpressed and grumpily goes back to sleep. Fortunately Twilight anticipated that. She quickly gets her winter clothes on and rushes outside, only to realize it’s still dark out… and there is absolutely no snow to be seen. I sometimes wonder if anyone watches the episodes before they are released, because that is a major mistake, as we see plenty of snow in the rest of the episode. Twilight and Spike head to the Town Hall, where all of Ponyville has gathered and been assigned to one of three teams: the Weather Team in blue, mainly pegasii; the Planting Team in green, mainly earth ponies; and the Animal Wake-up team in tan. Twilight, being new, has no team assignation, and the song reflects both her desire to help out and her uncertainty as to what she can do without using her special talent, magic. Twilight tries to help the various teams, but lacking wings (for the time being), she can’t help the weather team. Her nest-building tutelage under Rarity’s discerning eye results in a disaster of a first attempt, which Rarity then spends the majority of the rest of the episode trying to fix. Her first attempt at lake scoring on skates with Pinkie likewise goes wrong, and when she tries to help Fluttershy wake up the hibernating animals, she keeps running into all the kinds of beasties she doesn’t want to see: snakes, bats and even a family of skunks.
Twilight just found out where BatBrony likes to hang out… Spike insists that Twilight should just use her magic, but she steadfastly refuses. They make their way out to Sweet Apple Acres to help with the snow cleanup. Applejack is doubtful, but lets Twilight try pushing one of the snow-shovel-thingies. Finding that she lacks the physical strength to move it, she finally breaks down and decides to try a spell – specifically, a “Come to Life” spell. Spike, noticing that she is using magic, approves. However, this doesn’t last long when Twilight’s snow-shovel-thingie starts going too fast for her, and she ends up ploughing into both AJ and Spike, and sending an avalanche of snow onto the space the Planting team has just spent the morning clearing of snow. Applejack is uncharacteristically but not unreasonably angry with Twilight, sending her running off in tears. Utterly depressed, Twilight is hiding in the bushes as Spike tries to convince her to lighten up. He doesn’t do a very good job, pointing out everything Twilight has proven a failure at. Nearby, an argument between Applejack and Fluttershy about how quickly to melt the snow breaks out. Fluttershy is actually very assertive in this scene, since the safety of her animals is at stake. More and more ponies end up joining the argument, until Mayor Mare arrives to give them all a stern talking to, for once proving that she does wield some influence in the town. I had wondered before. Even then, the town is unable to pull together, until Twilight realizes that her organizational skills can save the day. With the help of a nearby bird (and a little illicit magic), Twilight gets everypony's attention and organizes the crew in a musical reprise montage. Some things make sense, like putting the snow-plough, ground-plough and seed planters in a line to do three jobs at once; using Pegasus power to get rid of all the clouds, snow and ice with a tornado; or using teams of ponies to score the ice. But the way the Animal Wake-up team tie all the bells together so that they can be rung at the same time leaves me scratching my head. It isn't possible to tie the bells to the ropes faster than a pony can ring it at each burrow anyway. Not logical, but I guess for the sake of the story, it's forgivable. After a day and night of pulling together, Spring arrives on time for the first time, and to celebrate, the Mayor thanks Twilight and gives her the title of All-Team Organizer, with a swanky new vest to celebrate.
Who's got game? I got game! Pity nopony thinks to save poor Spike, who is napping on the last rapidly melting block of ice. Later, as he sits by the fire with a case of the sniffles, Twilight dictates her Letter to Celestia: "Everyone has a special talent to help others, and you can find it if you try hard enough. Also, ponies can do anything when they work together." Thoughts on the song: Apart from "Winter Wrap Up" being a whole-town, rousing musical number, it also provides a bit of foreshadowing of the episode, because after Twilight’s solo part, the tempo really picks up for the final refrain, hinting at the way that her help will speed up the process of wrapping up winter. It's a really catchy crowd song, with a good beat. Thoughts on the episode: The plot is pretty standard... the newcomer doesn't fit in anywhere, and gets discouraged, until she finds out she can do something to help after all. Still, it was funny to see all of Twilight's epic fails, you end up feeling quite sorry for her, and the happy ending comes when that she finds her place in the end. A really nice slice of life episode. Highlights: Rarity breaking down in tears while trying to fix Twilight's nest. The song, of course. The melodic reprise that also doubles as a hard-work montage. Spike kind of gets a bit of comeuppance for making fun of Twilight the whole episode through. Pros: A great crowd song, a good moral, and some funny moments. Fluttershy being assertive. Cons: Not an extraordinarily different take on the "awkward newcomer" plot; lack of snow in the opening scene is a really big mistake and really shouldn't have happened.   Final Rating
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Stay sunny side up!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

"Songs of Friendship and Magic"

It's been a while since I posted anything other than an episode review, isn't it? On hearing that Daniel Ingram's fantastic work from Season 1 and 2 had finally been released on an album, I went directly to iTunes and snapped it up. Here's the track list: However, I confess that I am a little disappointed in it. It's great that we finally have an official and high quality release of the songs, but I would also have liked to have some of the background music. How cool would it be to have the song that played at Fluttershy's modeling gig in full? Or the music that played during AJ and RD's Iron Pony Competition? However, this is the worst oversight of all: my favorite song "Art of the Dress", only includes the first verse, and not the later reprise, despite the Digital Booklet including the lyrics for the whole thing! That's just adding insult to injury!
There are no words... Speaking of the Digital Booklet, it's pretty cool. It includes the lyrics for all the songs, and even a full-colour map of Equestria. Even here there are a few niggles, though. The art features both the on-model and off-model pictures of the various ponies, even on the same page. That could have been done a little better, if you ask me.
That's pretty jarring, isn't it? Now despite all I've said in term of the negative, I don't actually regret purchasing it, and I would urge fans to do the same, regardless of the flaws. This is because I feel that the more fans purchase this album, the more incentive there will be for Daniel Ingram to release the other stuff he's holding back. Basically, I consider it an investment. I'd be interested in hearing from others who have bought this album, and what they think of it. Keep on listening to Daniel Ingram's sultry sounds, and stay sunny side up!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Sonata's Lament

I just don't get why so many fans wanted or expected a heel face turn from Sonata Dusk. As for me, I never saw any hint of remorse or doubt about her actions as a member of the Dazzlings. Not once did she look even the slightest degree uncomfortable with what was going on. Yeah, I get that she's ditzy and that she's cute, and that she loves tacos. I even compared her to Avatar: The Last Airbender's Ty Lee, who <<don't click if you don't want spoilers>> But really, I never saw any hint of redemption in Sonata herself throughout the entirety of the film. And it baffles me that anyone could look at the character and seriously see any hint of desire to turn from her evil ways. Oh, well. -_- I guess if you look cute and ditzy, you can get away with anything. To make the point, I offer this: After watching Twilight outright cry because of what Flash Sentry said to her and how he behaved, this appears directly afterwards, and Sonata is smirking the entire time (not to mention channeling Doctor Evil). Like, so a villain. And a moment later, she laughs just as loud and long as the other two do. Why no expectations of "coming to the Light side" for them? To conclude... Sonata does not want to be redeemed. She does not deserve to be. She is a villain, end of story. A cute, somewhat distracted villain, but a baddy nonetheless.

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Looking at Rarity Part 3: Allies, Associates and Antagonists

Mane 6 (and Spike!) Applejack This relationship has definitely seen the most development. From barely being able to stand each other for more than a few hours in “Look Before You Sleep”, they now seem to be quite firm friends. Of course, Rarity still tries to get Applejack to be more ladylike, and Applejack still thinks Rarity needs to be less fussy, but overall, they seem to have come to an understanding of each other. Applejack’s selflessness devotion to her family has helped Rarity strengthen her bond with Sweetie Belle, where before she was a little selfish. Applejack taught her the importance of compromising. Highlights:
Episode 46. “It’s About Time”: Applejack fixes the crack in the dam, while Rarity fixes up the leaves in AJ’s mane.
Episode 53-54. “The Crystal Empire”: Applejack cheers Rarity up with a kind word in “The Crystal Empire”.
Episode 61. “Spike at Your Service”: Rarity teaches Applejack how to play the “damsel in distress”.
Episode 73. “Rarity Takes Manehatten”: Applejack says bluntly, “Yep, you were pretty rotten…”
Episode 78. “Simple Ways”: They each parody the other. Twilight Sparkle I don’t usually ship Mane Six members together, but when I do, it’s Rarilight. If I were one to let subtext reign supreme, I would believe these two are already in a relationship. Right from the first episode, Rarity has been very touchy-feely with Twilight. Just go watch the end of “The Crystal Empire”, and tell me she doesn’t act rather tenderly towards Twilight there. She was the first to start singing, went to Twilight to raise her head up with a gentle touch to the chin when Twilight blushed, and put her hoof over Twilight’s as the train left. Sorry, Spike, you’re losing out to your adopted big sister. Even if you ignore the subtext, it’s clear Rarity has a strong regard for Twilight. She noticed she was bothered in “Lesson Zero”, she worried about Twilight not having her crown in Equestria Girls, and most importantly, although she wanted to marry a prince and be a princess, she has never once expressed the slightest sense of jealousy that Twilight is now a Princess and not her. That’s pretty telling, because she was jealous of Fluttershy, and they’re probably the two who spend the most of their time together. Highlights
Episode 16. “Sonic Rainboom”: Rarity rump bumps Twilight to encourage her to find a spell.
Episode 29. “Lesson Zero”: Rarity calls Twilight a drama queen, after a day of non-stop drama.
Episode 53-54. “The Crystal Empire”: Rarity starts the song to Twilight. Rainbow Dash Rarity’s relationship to Rainbow is similar to Applejack, only with a lot less butting of heads. They don’t usually interact, and when they do, it’s pretty low key. We mostly see Rarity doing nice things for Rainbow, like making her a pretty dress for Princess Celestia’s visit, or supporting her in competitions... at first. Not much else to say. Highlights
Episode 14. “Suited for Success”: Rarity facedesks when Rainbow can’t be any clearer about her dress than it needs to be cooler.
Episode 47. “Dragon Quest”: Rarity tells Rainbow she was surprised her plan worked, and gets a rump to the face in response.
Episode 61. “Spike at your Service”: Rarity gives Rainbow a very snarky response to her fanfiction plot, which goes right over Rainbow’s head.
Episode 75. “Rainbow Falls”: Rarity takes the relay horseshoe to paint it, to Rainbow’s annoyance. Fluttershy Indications are that Rarity and Fluttershy have been firm friends for a very long time. They often have spa dates together, and Rarity frequently tries to bring Fluttershy out of her shell. Being the prettiest and second-most ladylike Mane Six, they seem to have a lot in common. Their Elements are also quite compatible, since Generosity is being giving with one’s possessions and Kindness is being giving with one’s time and emotion. Other indications of their closeness include Fluttershy helping Rarity with Opal, Rarity calling on her when she needs someone to fly up and help her borrow the Castle decorations. She also tried very hard to be happy for Fluttershy when she caught the eye of Photo Finish, and felt terrible when she was envious. She also very quickly forgave Fluttershy for the vicious tongue-lashing she got in “Putting your Hoof Down”. Highlights
Episode 17. “Stare Master”: Rarity is speechless when a quiet word from Fluttershy pulls the CMC into line.
Episode 45. “Putting Your Hoof Down”: Rarity pushes a slack-jawed Pinkie’s mouth closed after Fluttershy stands up to Iron Will.
Episode 57. “Magic Duel”: Rarity creates a camouflage outfit for Fluttershy that includes bunny ears.
Episode 79. “Filli Vanilli”: Rarity quickly picks up on Fluttershy’s eagerness to continue singing. Pinkie Pie Again, not really much to say here. Rarity is sometimes exasperated at Pinkie’s antics, and can even be quite stern with her, but they tend to get along very well most of the time. Pinkie also seems to put some trust in Rarity. In “Last Round-up”, she simply leaps off the stagecoach and tells Rarity to catch her. Highlights
Episode 7. “Dragonshy”: Pinkie beats Rarity at Tic-Tac-Toe… 35 times in a row.
Episode 45. “Putting Your Hoof Down”: Pinkie and Rarity team up to help Fluttershy be more assertive, but she does so badly that Pinkie buries her head in the ground. Rarity tries to comfort her with a gentle hoof on her mane.
Episode 62. “Keep Calm and Flutter On”: Rarity checks her reflection in Pinkie’s newly polished hooves.
Episode 73. “Rarity Takes Manehatten”: After Rarity delivers her “going down in flames, isn’t friendship magic?” line, Pinkie gives her a sheepish grin and nods agreement. Spike This is one of the most important and talked about relationships in the series. Ironically, given that FiM doesn’t have much by way of romance. A lot of people give Rarity grief over what they see as her taking advantage of him. In some ways, they’re right, but it’s actually much more of a give and take than is sometimes recognized. Yes, she gets him to do stuff for her, but most of the time, Spike’s perfectly okay with it. And she’s hardly the only Mane Six who does. She also frequently gives him rewards for his troubles, such as gems to eat, a carrot-dog, etc. She also sticks up for Spike frequently, and went to great lengths to keep him safe in “Dragon Quest”. It’s clear that she does care for him in her own way. I suspect that Rarity simply doesn’t know exactly how to handle Spike’s precocious crush on her. After all, by the standards of dragonhood, Spike is not even a teenager yet. She can’t view him as a romantic prospect, but she cares for him and certainly wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings. So, until she can find a way to let him down gently, she keeps their relationship at status quo. Perhaps in her mind, letting him do things for her is a way of showing that she does want him to be around. Not always, of course, but I think that’s a large part of it. Highlights
Episode 19. “A Dog and Pony Show”: Spike valiantly defends Rarity from the Diamond Dogs.
Episode 36. “Secret of My Excess”: The most touching Rarity-Spike moment, as he tries to confess while falling, only for her to shush him and show that she already knows.
Episode 61. “Spike at your Service”: She takes a bite out of his terrible pie to make him happy.
Episode 73. “Rarity Takes Manehatten”: Rarity gives Spike that carrot-dog, which is promptly stolen by a bird. He has it again later, so either he got it back or bought a replacement. Family: Parents, Sweetie Belle and Opal Rarity seems to be deliberately avoiding taking after her parents, who seems like very friendly, if unsophisticated types. Middle class is probably a good way to describe them. We don’t yet know if her dad is a unicorn or earth pony, due to his hat. (BREAKING NEWS - He actually is a unicorn, as shown in "Imagination Manifestation"!) She hasn’t really interacted with them enough to get much of an idea of how close she is to them. While Opal can be temperamental, she seems to have affection for Rarity in her own enigmatic cat way. Her moods follow Rarity’s, and she tries to remind her mistress of her priorities at times. Opal seems to stoically suffer some of Rarity’s more whimsical tendencies, such as her baby-talking and coddling. Rarity’s relationship with Sweetie Belle is the focus of a fair number of episodes. While their sisterly relationship has had its ups and downs, Sweetie Belle clearly looks up to Rarity, and Rarity clearly loves her and tries to do good things for her. While she took her a bit for granted in earlier seasons, Rarity has gotten much better at compromising, mainly due to the events of “Sisterhooves Social”. Where before she would put her own comfort and desires first, she’s now more willing to sacrifice them for Sweetie’s sake. The most recent episodes have shown that Sweetie has long been harbouring a grudge for Rarity overshadowing her, and they may become even closer now that Sweetie has realized that Rarity doesn’t want to keep her in her shadow. Highlights
Episode 31. “Sisterhooves Social”: We get to meet Rarity’s parents. This episode also improves the sisters’ relationship.
Episode 35. “Sweet and Elite”: Opal taps the design for Twilight’s dress, and is annoyed when Rarity doesn’t notice.
Episode 58. “Sleepless in Ponyville”: Despite despising camping and “all that… ugh… nature”, Rarity is willing to brave the wilderness for her sister… as long as no heavy hauling for her is involved. Sweetie doesn’t seem to mind, just being glad that Rarity is there.   Romantic Prospects Fancy Pants Catching the eye of this stallion is one of the best things ever to happen to Rarity. He’s also later appeared in Ponyville and Manehatten. Could he be following Rarity around? And is that supermodel pony who always hangs on him just eye candy, or a romantic partner? For Rarity’s sake, I hope not! Trenderhoof Creepy shrine? Check. Trying everything she can to win him over? Check. Learning that changing yourself for someone else is a bad thing? Check. Getting over him?
Antagonists: Discord Along with most of the others, Rarity is skeptical of Discord’s change of heart. She blames him for the embarrassment of making her think a rock was a diamond, and so she has little patience or sympathy for him. Photo Finish Photo Finish was rather abrupt to her, made Fluttershy a star and caused Rarity to feel like she had betrayed her best friend by being so jealous. Photo Finish has yet to return in a speaking part, but she was present in a cameo during “Sweet and Elite”, so we could speculate that Rarity is over it. Prince Blueblood Apart from acting like a prat, he used her as a pony shield against flying cake. In the dress she was terrified somepony would spill something on in “A Bird in the Hoof”. A crime against fashion! After she told him just what she thought of him, she was forced to flee, and smashed her glass slipper so that he couldn’t find her. Despite this, he also had a cameo, so perhaps she has forgiven him too. Trixie Although Trixie has done some nasty things to her, Rarity seems to dislike Trixie mainly because of how she treated Twilight. Perhaps we can learn more if Trixie gets another episode (I’m counting the minutes ). Suri Polomane Suri represents what Rarity could become if she lost her sense of generosity. And morals in general. Although Rarity was deeply hurt by her betrayal, she didn’t try to excuse her own bad behaviour towards her friends. She also doesn’t seem to feel a need to get revenge on Suri for taking advantage of her generosity. Perhaps she considers Suri losing her talented assistant, Coco Pommel, to be punishment enough. And with that, I draw this three-part analysis of Rarity to a close. Do you think I was accurate? Do you disagree with my points or have something more to add? Any comments are welcomed. Until next time, stay Rarity-side up!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 103. “Amending Fences”: It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want to...

Twilight Sparkle! You old so-and-so! What are you doing here?! - Minuette Summary
After Spike comments that Twilight was a bad friend before coming to Ponyville, she decides to make a trip back to Canterlot to find her old “friends” so that she can apologize to and reconnect with them. The two revisit Twilight’s old quarters, to “start at the beginning”.
Apparently, it’s a very good place to start… I will give the writer a point here, for making a clever simile about how Twilight left her previous quarters and her friendships in the same incomplete state. Treasure that, writers, because you got virtually everything else wrong… but I’m getting ahead of myself. Twilight tracks down Minuette (Colgate to the bronies), and after a brief photo op, they head off to find Twilight’s other old “friends” , Lemon Drops and Twinkleshine. At Joe’s Donut Diner, Twilight apologizes for being a bad friend in the past. The three manage to brush it off while still somehow making Twilight feel worse. A visit to the school science lab triggers a flashback for Twilight, who asks where Moon Dancer (another “friend”) is. They track her down, but find she isn’t interested in seeing any of them. Twilight follows her for a bit, and sees she’s very isolated. She then finds out from Minuette that there was a time she seemed to be opening up… until the party Twilight blew off in the pilot episode. Twilight realizes that her nonattendance is the reason why Moon Dancer is so introverted and shy now. She resolves to apologize and help Dancer to overcome her past pain. Oh, the old awkward conversation in the library with everyone going “sssshhh!” bit. Really pushing the comedic envelope on this story, aren’t they? After that, Twilight takes Moon Dancer back to her old quarters, and proffers the key to the library, on condition that that she joins the old gang for dinner.
Oh, hai, Starlight Glimmer! By the way, how’s your stalker life? It doesn’t go well. Twilight, desperate to fix her mistake, enlists Pinkie Pie’s help in throwing a party for Moon Dancer. After Twilight again apologizes, Moon Dancer finally opens up and confirms that Twilight skipping her party really hurt her and made her retreat back into her shell. Seeing all the friends Twilight has gathered for her (including her sister), Moon Dancer decides to give friendship another chance. Spike gives her a photo of her friends, and the episode ends with Moon Dancer (now fulfilled) and the others heading out for a game of Calvinball.   The Bugz
I cannot understand why fans are praising the writing in this episode. I think it’s horrendous. Now don’t get me wrong… if you connected emotionally with Twilight and Moon Dancer’s story because you’ve had similar experiences in the past, and you like it on that account, I have absolutely no issue with that. Entirely without sarcasm I can say that I’m happy for you. But I will try to show that the story itself is very poorly written. The plot is artificially kicked off by a random comment from Spike. It’s not the first time this has happened (Lesson Zero comes to mind) but in this episode, going this route is missing a huge opportunity for the Cutie Map to come into play. Yes, remember that Map? The express purpose of the Map is to highlight situations requiring the magic of friendship. One would think that a pony that isolated, and (ostensibly) made so by the Princess of Friendship herself, would merit a response from whatever is controlling the thing. But not even a blip. Nearly halfway through the season, the Map has been used a grand total of twice. This was a perfect time to increase that count. It would also have been much more effective for Twilight to arrive in Canterlot, not sure why she had been summoned there, and then on encountering her old “friends”, had the realization that her past actions had led to this situation, and that she now had to fix it. Basically, I think it would be cool to have a moment of realization: "I'm not just here to fix the problem... I AM the problem!" You might have noticed I’ve been using quote marks every time I type “friends”. This is because whatever relationship Twilight had to the ponies she knew in Canterlot before moving to Ponyville, “friends” is not an accurate description. The pilot goes out of its way to establish that Twilight was isolated and antisocial. In the pilot, Twilight is tasked by Princess Celestia with “making friends”. Not “making new friends”, not “making friends in Ponyville”, “making friends”. There are many other lines that imply heavily that the Mane Six are her first set of friends. But perhaps you don’t consider that proof enough. And that’s fair, it’s got some wiggle room. Now how about A Canterlot Wedding? I don’t need the BBBFF song to make the point. Even before she starts singing, Twilight upright states the following: “Before I came here and learned the importance of friendship, Shining Armor was the only pony I ever really accepted as a friend.” There is no wiggle room or ambiguity there. Shining Armor was her only friend before Ponyville. And she didn’t even mention him until that episode. Now much less must she have cared for the “friends” who in Amending Fences are suddenly so important to her? She couldn’t even remember their names! Oh, and that’s a running gag that pretty much negates any and all emotion in the episode. Twilight can’t remember her friend’s names, her friends apparently don’t remember Moon Dancer until she brings her up, and Moon Dancer calls her “Twilight Twinkle” accidentally. Yet we find out that they were all friends before and Moon Dancer was so fixated on Twilight being her only chance to find friendship? Somehow, I don’t find that convincing. I can guess what you’re probably thinking. “Sunny Fox, didn’t you say in your Tanks for the Memories review that you don’t let continuity negate emotion? Aren’t you backpedaling here?” No. I still think an emotion connection with an episode trumps issues of continuity. But here, the emotional connection becomes unbelievable because what we’re given in the episode runs counter to what has been already firmly and unambiguously established. This is no minor point of fridge logic or a continuity error that can be handwaved; this is a full blown retcon of past events for the basis of creating a plot. The second major difference is that the emotional connection that is the focus of TftM, between Dash and Tank, has been built up over a few episodes, such as the quick, surreptitious nuzzle in Just for Sidekicks, and involves a pony that we already know very well and can connect with, ourselves. We feel Dash’s emotional pain because the relationship is believable in and of itself, and because the closeness of their relationship has already been established prior to the episode. This is most certainly not the case with Twilight and Moon Dancer. (tl;dr: Emotion trumps continuity, but only if the emotion is convincing.) Other decisions puzzle me as well. The flashback in the science lab has no real purpose. It doesn’t establish any meaningful backstory, other than to confirm Twilight and Moon Dancer went to school together. It certainly doesn’t help convince me that there was anything worthy of the name of friendship between the two. At best, it serves to remind Twilight that she hasn’t seen Moon Dancer yet… which is also unnecessary, since Spike already mentioned her as one of the “friends” to reconnect with, so Twilight doesn’t really need a flashback to justify bringing her up. Edit: @@Dark Qiviut has pointed out something I missed regarding the flashback. It establishes that Moon Dancer is very similar to Twilight (a bookworm and antisocial) and would therefore probably feel closer to her than the others, which might help explain why she took Twilight's rejection so hard. Good catch, DQ! That’s enough ripping the story to pieces. Let’s look now at the characters. Minuette was extremely annoying with her constant giggling. I previously described her as a “discount Pinkie Pie”. My mind hasn’t changed. And then when all three get together, the giggles have been tripled! She’s not entirely useless, as she is the main source of exposition for Twilight, but she really grated on my nerves the whole episode. Speaking of Pinkie Pie, she is brought in (rather unnecessarily, I feel: Twilight couldn’t have planned a party on her own?) to set up the party at the end, and to just be Pinkie. I get the feeling gravity has just entirely given up on being able to control her. It’s worth a chuckle, but it’s still reducing Pinkie from a character to a gag machine. The episode doesn’t do any favours for Twilight, either. She just assumes she’s so important to other ponies that her losing contact with them is causing them terrible suffering. She was right in Moon Dancer’s case but that’s, what, one out of five? She only could be about 20% wronger if she tried (hur hur hur). Her demeanour in the flashback reminded me more of Diamond Tiara than Twilight. How does one reconcile that with the happy filly who leaps around shouting “yes yes yes yes!” in the Cutie Mark Chronicles? This episode doesn’t make Twilight fallible and thereby relatable, since her mistake was made before her character development. I don’t consider her a Mary Sue, like some of her detractors do, but this episode certainly makes me wonder if they might not have a point about her being represented as infallible these days. The previous episode had a similar problem, because her “failure” wasn’t due to her but to the yaks deplorable tendency to make a huge fuss over tiny inconsequential details. I mean, what kind of immature idiot behaves like that? Now we come to the real millstone around the neck of this episode: Moon Dancer herself. Let me start with a question: if this character were to be introduced as someone’s OC, what do you think the response would be? Overwhelmingly negative, is my guess. A minor positive point is that they use the colours of G1 Moon Dancer, but she’s just a Twilight recolour with glasses and eyebrows; two thirds of Groucho Marx, as it were. Apart from her lackluster design, her fixation on Twilight is one of the least justified elements of the story. Apparently, Twilight hurt her by not attending the party she organized, thereby causing her to give up on friendship. There are a number of problems with this. First, she never actually invited Twilight to her party, or made it clear in any way that it was important to her. Twilight was given an off-hand, second-hand invite by Twinkleshine. Second, why was Twilight so important to her in the first place? That flashback indicates that their similarlity might have caused that. But oh-so-similar Twilight wasn’t the one who started to bring her out of her shell. Moon Dancer literally credits the three of them (Minuette, Lemon Heart and Twinkleshine) for making her think she might want to be more social, and as far as we’re aware, everypony but Twilight was at the party. Their support and friendship apparently wasn’t worth anything in Dancer’s eyes; it was Twilight or nothing. Third, as Spike mentions, she was given an assignment by Princess Celestia, and so couldn’t have attended the party even had she wanted to. Princess Celestia knew she needed to send Twilight to Ponyville to stop Nightmare Moon (she as much as says so at the end of the second episode), so the assignment would have given to Twilight regardless. Because of these points above, her reaction to Twilight’s absence from her party becomes an overreaction, and Twilight shouldn’t be blamed for that. All in all, I don't find Moon Dancer's reclusion and subsequence outburst at Twilight was justified, which really rips out the heart of the emotional conflict the episode is built around. What moral are we meant to take from this? "Attend every event you're invited to, just in case someone's self esteem relies on you being there"? "It's okay to shut yourself off from society because one person snubbed you once"? "Focus on one person and if they won't be your friend, give up on people entirely"? Or just maybe, it might be "Be careful of what you do, because even the smallest action may have consequences"? Yeah, let's go with that one. My point here is that the moral is kind of confused. They may have been going for something like the last one above, but I don't think they did a very good job of it.   The Shrugz
It was interesting to see Starlight Glimmer stalking Twilight. I admit I was not observant enough to notice her for myself when I watched the episode, so I only found out by reading the episode's thread. It has to be deliberate, and I'm glad to see that the writers are trying to build a continuing story arc. It doesn't make the episode better or worse, but it's definitely worth mentioning. I found this entire episode to be in a sense unnecessary. Going back to a single scene, that in all likelihood was there just to establish Twilight's credentials as a antisocial bookworm, and expanding on it, doesn't really contribute to the story of Twilight and the Mane Six learning good lessons through friendship. It's going back and revisiting your past, not improving yourself for the future. I want to see Twilight moving forward, not going back and trying to fix every mistake she's ever made. Let her make new mistakes and learn from those. Fancy Pants and Fleur de Lis appear to be a couple again. So much for my Rarity x Fancy Pants ship, huh? Or is Fancy Pants just a two timer? Yeah, I call shenanigans on the idea that Spike's tail can perforate and crush a present, disemboweling a teddy bear in the process, yet leave the picture (which generally would have been placed on the bottom of the box with the teddy bear on top) untouched. Minor nitpick, though, so it's a neutral rather than a negative. And what's up with the title of the episode, anyway? "Mending Fences" would have been just as accurate a title, with the added benefit of actually being an existing expression. Why "amending fences"? It just comes off as trying too hard to make the title some kind of pun (not a new problem with FiM...) Twilight can invade Flatland, if only for a few minutes. I find it somewhat amusing that some fans have praised this idea for showing a limit on Twilight's magical power. She can go from three dimensions to two and make herself into a sentient line drawing, and because it's a temporary effect, that makes it a restriction? Do tell.   The Hugz
As I've mentioned in the episode discussion thread, there is a lesson to be learned here, about how a single act of thoughtlessness can lead to hurting someone, and that one should be careful of that. It's somewhat mired in the poor writing, but I think that's what they were going for. Spike at least got a little screen time that didn't involve him getting dumped on by the universe. He also showed his more thoughtful side, by presenting Moon Dancer with a present. Which she apparently treasures, even though it didn't come from Twilight...   Pros: An interesting premise, and there is a good moral in there somewhere, trying to get out.
Cons: The premise is poorly executed, the central conflict is based on one pony's obsession with Twilight, the characters introduced are nowhere near as likeable as our Mane cast is, the moral is rather unclear.   Final Thoughts
I had hoped that on reflection, I would find a few more positives in this episode. Unfortunately, the opposite happened. The more I think about this episode, the clumsier and more nonsensical I find it.   Final Ranking:
Rarity’s Cutie Mark Rank – A scintillating story! Sure to be rewatched frequently.
Rock Candy Rank – A highly enjoyable episode, but it couldn’t avoid a cavity or two.
Tom Rank – Average. While it looked like a diamond, it turned out to be just a rock.
Boulder Rank – Below average. Take it out once or twice, and then leave it in your pocket.
Rock Farm Rock Rank – A terrible episode. Leave it where it lies. Wow. What has happened to me? Have I become jaded? I've spent most of a day typing up a scathing condemnation of a simple story about righting past wrongs. I blame Slice of Life... it all went downhill from there... Stay sunny side up, or whatever.

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 75. “Rainbow Falls”: Rainbow Shows her True Colours (As do the Wonderbolts)

It's not easy, practicing with two teams, is it? - Twilight Sparkle Rainbow Falls is set in the titular (and well-named) town where the qualifying rounds for the Equestria Games are being held. Rainbow Dash has joined Fluttershy and Roid Rage Snowflake Bulk Biceps in the Ponyville Relay Team, trusting that her superior speed will make up for the other two’s poor flying ability and allow them to qualify. According to Thunderlane and Blossomforth, who are part of other teams, each pony is only allowed to race in one event…Wait, that isn’t Blossomforth. *Checks credits* *Credits list a voice appearance by “Blossomforth”* Well, now, that’s just stupid.
Accept no substitutes! Her loyalty is put to the test when Soarin of the Cloudsdale Relay Team is injured in a training accident, and the remaining fliers, Spitfire and Fleetfoot, invite Rainbow to train with them… behind the backs of her friends.
Are they thinking what I think they're thinking...? More importantly, is that Diamond Tiara's mom in the bottom right? While secretly training with both teams works for a while, Twilight catches on, and confronts Rainbow, causing her to feel guilty. Her dilemma grows more horns when the Wonderbolts suggest she abandon the Ponyville Team completely to fly with them in the qualifying round, since Soarin won’t recover in time, and Ponyville has no chance to qualify in any case. In an effort to avoid making a choice, Rainbow fakes injuries of her own, ending up in hospital… next to Soarin, who praises her friends for visiting her… he hasn’t heard from his own team, despite the fact that his wing is better already! Angry that the Cloudsdale Team is willing to drop one of their members and blatantly lie to her to get her to fly with them, Rainbow confronts them, and reaffirms her commitment to her own team. Despite not getting what they wanted, Fleetfoot and Spitfire praise Rainbow for her loyalty, and then welcome Soarin back to their team. In the end, both teams manage to qualify, and even cheer each other on. As a token of her esteem, Spitfire gives Rainbow Dash a Wonderbolt badge, which briefly shines with a rather familiar rainbow… Analysis This episode continues with the story arc that became apparent in Rarity Takes Manehatten. It seems there is a theme naming pattern for these episodes, with the Mane Six member featured having their name mentioned in the title. If so, we can expect the upcoming episodes entitled Pinkie Pride and Twilight Time to form a part of the ongoing plotline. There are a number of similarities between Rarity Takes Manehatten and Rainbow Falls. Like Rarity was, Rainbow Dash is confronted with a choice between achieving a long time goal and remaining true to her friends. The mysterious rainbow that Rarity saw makes its return at the critical juncture, and it’s important to note that the colours of this rainbow are not the traditional set, but instead correspond to the colours of the coats of each Mane Six member (white, purple, pink, yellow, orange, blue). But of course, I’m no doubt telling you stuff you already knew… Both episodes also end with the featured character getting a small item of some sentimental value, which glows with the same rainbow. My belief is that each Mane Six member will be forced to give up their object in order to obtain their Key, which will look like a regular key. As for The Box itself, I expect it will contain some sort of substitute for the Elements of Harmony that they gave up in the premiere. This episode sees Rainbow actually having to struggle with her Element of Loyalty, properly this time. As I pointed out in my review of the pilot, her loyalty was not really being tested by Nightmare Moon, since she was posing as a different flying team, so the temptation was far less than it could have been. Here, though, it actually is the Wonderbolts who want her to join them, which makes it that much more of a struggle for Rainbow to do the right thing. She actually has a true conflict of interests here, and I don’t blame her at all for feeling ambivalent. I also really like that Spitfire and Fleetfoot both come off as somewhat of a pair of smug jerks. This is exactly what was missing from the episode Daring Don’t. Rainbow Dash is forced to confront the fact that her idols might not be as noble as she might wish them to be, and chooses not to emulate them. And even then, it’s kind of understandable… they think Rainbow is a better choice for their team, and being competitive as they are, and lacking the in-built need to be loyal, they naturally want her to fly with them. Despite their actions not being exactly noble, they do acknowledge that they were in the wrong, and praise Rainbow for making the right choice and sticking with her friends. It was a good dash of realism (pardon the pun) in a show that can be a bit too simplistic at times. Is it just me, or does anyone else get a subtle shipping vibe from Fluttershy and Bulk? He seems to do a lot of things to impress or amuse Fluttershy, and she seems quite happy to let him, plus he really seems to hate looking stupid in front of her… intriguing…
P is for... Embarrassment. No episode is perfect, though, and Rainbow Falls is no exception. For a start, and speaking of Bulk Biceps (how did his parents know to name him that?), he is suffering heavily from Depending on the Writer here. If he was such a weak flier as he is presented in this episode, how in the hay did he ever manage to get the nod for Wonderbolt Academy and why was he never shown to struggle with flying in that episode? Another question mark is why nopony but Twilight could see through Rainbow’s faking. It should have been entirely obvious, especially to Fluttershy, who regularly nurses animals back to health, and therefore should know when somepony is truly injured. Pros: Finally presents a proper conflict of loyalty for Rainbow Dash; continues The Box story arc; Gives a bit more depth to Rainbow as well as her idols, the Wonderbolts; Has nice call backs to previous episodes. Cons: Bulk Biceps is contrary to how he was established in earlier episodes; Some questionable gullibility from the Mane Six; That wasn’t Blossomforth.   Final Rating
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! PS: Oh, yeah, and Derpy was in this episode too, wasn’t she? I don’t particularly care for Derpy, but I’m glad for the sake of her fans that she was included in this episode and that she hasn’t been cut from the show.

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 77. “Pinkie Pride”: The Gathering of the Goofs (There can be only one!)

A super-duper party pony: that pony is meeeee! - Cheese Sandwich Following on in the same vein as Rarity Takes Manehatten and Rainbow Falls, this episode continues the Mystery Box and Key arc, and as the title indicates, this time it’s Pinkie Pie’s turn to learn that her friends are more important than being known as the best party planner. Again, I don’t see it as “relearning” their Element, but as realizing that their friendship should be the most important thing in their life. The opening scene returns us to Appaloosa, where we see a party of both ponies and buffalos is in progress. The one responsible makes his appearance… Cheese Sandwich, voiced by well-known parody musician Weird Al Yankovich. His “Cheese Sense” tingles, letting him know that his next destination is Ponyville. He sets off with his rubber chicken companion, Boneless.
So throwing parties all the time will give you the equivalent of Spider Sense? Meanwhile, in Ponyville, Pinkie is planning a birth-iversary (combining a birthday and the anniversary of moving from Cloudsdale to Ponyville) for Rainbow Dash. Rarity again comes up with the name – like she did with Flutterbat, although this time the word is slightly more imaginative.
Sweetie Belle: That’s not a word!
Scootaloo: What are you, a dictionary? Cheese arrives, and Pinkie is at first delighted to meet another party pony. However, he turns out to be too good at throwing parties, leaving Pinkie overshadowed. She decides to give up being the town’s soiree engineer, and goes home to mope. However, seeing pictures of all the parties she’s thrown in the past (and a few well-placed rainbows) she gets her mojo back! Confronting Cheese, she challenges him to a goof-off (which it would be more accurate to call a polka battle) at high noon… or since it’s already 3 in the afternoon, at 3:10, so that Rainbow Dash can judge between them and choose the best party planner. Their musical (and nonsensical) contest escalates to the point where it actually starts to annoy Dash and ruin her birth-iversary. Pinkie realizes this as the now-familiar rainbow flashes in her eyes. She brings the goof-off to a halt, conceding the right to plan the party to Cheese, so as to prevent making Rainbow any more unhappy. Things start looking up when Rainbow comforts Pinkie, saying that although the town got carried away with Cheese Sandwich, she’ll always be the resident party planner. Cheese Sandwich also arrives, to tell everypony a story about how he became the life of the party. In a flashback, we see Cheese as a shy colt, who is inspired by a very special young filly throwing a party. That filly is of course, none other than Pinkie Pie! He then gives her his friend Boneless, (complete with rainbow shimmer) to show his esteem, before leaving on his never-ending quest to spread the joy of celebration. Luckily, he has another friend, Boneless II, to keep him company.   Analysis So… many… songs! And I though Magical Mystery Cure was jam-packed with music. Of course, having Pinkie the character in the spotlight and Weird Al as a guest voice star, it was pretty much inevitable. Plenty of polka to go around. The highlight of the songs for me was the appearance by Diamond Tiara, who is grudgingly forced to admit that Pinkie did a good job of planning her Cuteceanera, which is rather a first for the character. I’m still hoping she gets a focus episode at some point. The focus of the episode, of course, is the pattern of the spotlight character be faced with a dilemma, be reminded that their friends are more important than the problem before them, and have a rainbow realization or a prismatic epiphany, if you will, lead them back to the right path. That being so, it wouldn’t be fair to point out the predictability as a flaw for this episode. Weird Al is great as Cheese Sandwich. As I referenced earlier, it’s slightly odd that he also has a variation of Pinkie Sense, although perhaps he somehow caught it from her when he was a colt. It would be rather ironic if the rubber chicken was the actual carrier of the Sense from Pinkie to Cheese, since we see that it was originally Pinkie’s rubber chicken that he picked up. Derpy is somewhat prominently placed in this episode. It seems that they’re going out of their way to include her, which her fans must be very happy about.   Highlights The banner of Rainbow Dash features a drawing of her that looks extremely accurate, but it turns out, it actually is Dash, and the picture drawn on it is revealed to be rather different, and much less skillful. Diamond Tiara talks about Pinkie throwing her party for her, and the interactions between her and Silver Spoon during the song are quite amusing. Cheese uses some of Pinkie’s lyrics from the “Smile” song, and then flat out denies it when she calls him on it. Of course, Weird Al is well known for polka compilations of other musicians’ works.   Pros: Continues the Season 4 story arc; has a great guest star in Weird Al/Cheese Sandwich Cons: Cheese Sense raises some questions.   Final Rating
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Stay sunny side up!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 76. “Three’s a Crowd”: A Chaotic Day of Sisterly Bonding

Oh, just before you go... just a little, small request... - Discord Princess Cadance is coming to visit, and Twilight couldn’t be happier. Fluttershy has been given the go ahead to research one of Equestria’s most elusive critters, the Breezies, and she couldn’t be happier. Pinkie Pie just got a flyer about Used Patio Furniture and she couldn’t be wackier. And that’s the opening to Three’s A Crowd. After the credits, the Mane Six see Fluttershy off on her research trip, Pinkie displaying her usual signs of separation anxiety, until a red balloon distracts her. She rejoins the others waiting at the station for Cadance’s arrival. Twilight has planned to take her sister-in-law to the Starswirl the Bearded Travelling Museum for some sisterly bonding. How much fan art is going to require reworking now that we actually see a picture of Starswirl is anyone’s guess. Even one of his bells from his cloak (you mean hat, don’t you, Twilight? That's what you're pointing at) will be on display. (Spoiler alert… it’s that one, particularly notable for being indistinguishable from any of the others. ) The others of the Mane Six pledge to keep anything from interrupting the two Princesses personal time. The locomotive from the Crystal Empire arrives, looking very technological. Pity they didn’t have the technology to oil the brakes… that thing is loud when it’s coming to a stop. Cadance alights, flanked by one crystal guard, and one Flash Sentry (For God’s sake, people, stop calling him Brad… you’re insulting all the Brads of the world. ) He even glances back significantly as he gets back on the train. This scene raised a hell of a stink, with fans decrying Meghan McCarthy for lying, since she said he wouldn’t appear in Season 4. I don’t think it’s as bad as all that, and yet another example of the fan base overreacting to things. He doesn’t speak, after all. Some official sources also suggest that it was an animator who put him in there, despite him not being in the script, and you can hardly blame Ms. McCarthy for that. Nor should Derpy fans be too hard on the animator. It was animator initiative gave us Derpy Hooves, after all. Anyway, the two Princesses head off together. No sooner are they out of sight than a spinning blue something comes zooming out of the sky towards the Mane Five, forcing them to “DUCK!” and crashing into a nearby tree. As they gather around to find out more, a familiar voice comes from the tree. It’s Discord, who claims to be suffering from the Blue Flu. His sneezes also have a variety of chaotic effects: burning all the leaves on the tree; lampposts coming to life; houses floating away in the background, etc
Go home, Berry Punch’s house… you’re drunk. Discord is acting very pitiable, but there are indications that he might be faking… he says he is so weak that a spoon is heavy enough to drag him to the ground, yet in the next scene, he picks up Pinkie Pie and then uproots the entire tree, while looking for Fluttershy (nice reference to the “I want to be a tree” line there) so she can look after him, as friends should do. Applejack practices her Spock impression. Is it just me, or does Applejack have the best expressions in the entire show?
Yer story is highly illogical, Discord. Discord reveals that he and Fluttershy have been pen pals for a while, and that while Fluttershy had told him about the trip to see the Breezies, he’d forgotten it was that day. He decides the others must take care of him instead, which makes Rainbow Dash bug out, leaving her friends to deal with the problem. I know, I know, she doesn’t feel loyalty to Discord himself, but that’s not the issue for me. She should be loyal enough to her friends not to just declare the situation someone else’s problem. It’s only a minor gripe, though. Pinkie is fine with taking care of him, but Discord distracts her with another balloon, so that he can force Rarity and Applejack to be “it” instead, to their consternation. They decide they have to comply in order to keep Discord away from the Princesses, but Discord overhears them. He “accidentally” sneezes on them and gets them sick as well, before leaving.
Applejack: "Cerulean?! What an awful colour!"
Rarity: "Cerulean?! … I can make this work." When he arrives in front of the sisters-in-law, Twilight is not happy to see him. Considering this is the first time Discord and Cadance have met in the show, Cadance seems remarkably nonchalant to see such a weird creature. Perhaps Twilight told her about him off-screen. She also conjures a health bubble to protect them both, right before another nasal assault by Discord. They agree to take care of him, and head back to the library to put Discord to bed. They are just about to leave when Discord asks for a glass of water… in song. Being Discord, the visuals are rather frenetic, and the song itself gets faster and faster as it progresses, building up to a crescendo of Maelstromic (I know that’s not a word, just go with it) proportions. John Delancie doesn’t exactly have a great singing voice, but it’s not entirely awful. And then there’s this scene:
Bad touch! Bad touch! At the end, Discord drops the glass of water anyway. Realizing that he won’t stop pestering them until his “illness” is cured, they settle in for the long haul. Luckily, Discord “remembers” a cure for the Blue Flu, but they’ll have to go to the very ends of Equestria to obtain it. He tells them about a flower, the petals of which can be brewed into a remedy. They get roped in to hauling him there, towing a gigantic golden throne reminiscent of the movie 300 for him to ride. Once they arrive, they discover that Discord neglected to mention that the flower is as large as your average tree. Combining their levitation magic, they manage to pull it out, only to discover an equally gigantic worm creature was living underneath, and is none too happy about their removal of its roof. This starts an action scene where the two Princesses use their wing and beam power to battle the worm, each having a turn getting caught in its vines and needing the other one to bail them out. Eventually they force it to retreat and block the hole with some boulders. They return with the flower to Discord, only to find him back to normal and gleefully dancing. Of course, he was never even sick in the first place! He claims that he was thinking one day in his thinking tree, that Twilight might say they are friends, but he felt that he needed a physical demonstration of their friendship.
Appropriately enough, Discord does his best thinking when he’s high. So he faked his illness in order to test Twilight’s vow of friendship to him. Or so he says, since it’s pretty clear that he was hoping to ruin Twilight’s and Cadance’s day together. Cadance, however, is not put out at all, saying that while the day didn’t go according to plan, it still gave her the time to spend with Twilight, and the events have brought them closer, despite Discord’s best efforts. He’s rather miffed about that, but about this time, his karma finally catches up with him. The worm rears up out of the ground and sneezes on Discord, getting him sick for real. Back in Ponyville, Discord is in quarantine, with Fluttershy back from her trip and looking after him, and all he needs is one last little thing… a teensy glass of water.   Highlights Discord hugs all the ponies
Discord: Let the healing begin!
Rainbow Dash: Not it! *Zooom!* Discord is legitimately sick this time
Applejack: I don’t want to go saying you got what you deserved…
Rarity: Well, I have no trouble saying it: You got what you deserved!
Applejack not being bluntly honest, and Rarity not being very charitable. Analysis About Discord: I see him trolling, I’m hating. Yes, I’m back to disliking the reformed Discord. All the sense of menace he once had has been replaced by silly antics, and we’ve already got Pinkie Pie for that. He’s become rather pathetic, an annoyance rather than a legitimate threat. It’s irksome to watch, although I have to admit that John Delancie voices him brilliantly. The plot was for the most part entirely predictable. That Discord was faking his illness should have come as no surprise to anyone, nor should the fact that Cadance would enjoy the day anyway, or that Discord would end up properly sick by the end of the episode. However, credit where it’s due… the flower being huge and the worm living in its roots were a legitimately interesting twist. *Successfully resists urge to make an M Night Shamayalan joke* The fight with the worm is pretty cool, and at least this episode provides a reason for Twilight to have wings and more powerful alicorn magic. Still not much was riding on the princess part of the equation. It’s also the first time we’ve seen two spell users work together to levitate one object that I can remember. The visual portion of the song was amusing to watch, but it’s definitely not an earworm like some of the other songs we’ve had in this season. John Delancie just doesn’t quite have the voice to pull off the parts that are sung. Pros: Some nice action scenes; a Discord song, which has novelty value at least. Cons: Predictable plot; Discord is sad these days. I’d give this one six giant flowers out of ten. Stay sunny side up!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 84. "Maud Pie": Can't Read My, Can't Read My Poker Face

I don't know if you've noticed... but I don't show my enthusiasm for things quite in the same way my sister does. - Maud Pie The Mane Six are gathered outside Sugarcube Corner to meet Pinkie in the pink before dawn, wondering why she called them to meet her so early in the morning. She invites them in, and they find she's been a tad busy cooking...
♫ In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
There's a land that's fair and bright... ♫ Many courses of rock candy later, the Mane Six have tooth pains and stomachaches, but Pinkie really wants them to choose the best flavours so that they can make best-friend rock candy necklaces with her sister Maud, who is coming to visit. It's a tradition between the two sisters, and Pinkie wants her friends and sister to share it together. She explains the origin of this tradition via art shift. She also mentions that she and Maud have been sending the necklaces back and forth since she came to Ponyville. In the next scene, the Mane Six and their pets are waiting at the picnic, Rarity wearing a gigantic crystal rock hat, which is falling apart. One crystal lands in the muffin bowl. As they discuss their anxiety that everything will go well, Pinkie appears and announces that she and Maud have arrived. It takes quite a while longer for Maud herself to appear, though, and her pace is best described as sedate, in contrast to Pinkie's rapid bounce. Not only is her walking sedate, her overall demeanour is very placid. She pauses a while before she speaks, and when she does speak, it's in a rather flat monotone. Twilight welcomes her and introduces the others. Rarity then steps forward to ask her about her dress and what it "says", only for Maud to point out that it doesn't "say" anything. On account of being a dress. Ahem. Burn? Rarity retreats. Next, Applejack tries by introducing the pets. Maud has her own pet rock (natch), named Boulder. Couldn't resist. As the picnic erodes on, Applejack offers Maud a muffin. She eats the rock that dropped in earlier instead, pronouncing it "crunchy". Now this is the point at which I first started to "get" Maud. She's soon to complete her Rockterate in Rock(et) Science, so she clearly isn't stupid enough to mistake a rock for a muffin. I think she did it deliberately, as a gag. Then she was probably wondering why her jokes were not going over well with her new acquaintances. See, she's not the "opposite" of Pinkie Pie in personality. She's just as wacky and fun-loving as her younger sister. The difference is that she expresses herself very differently. Rainbow Dash comments that Pinkie said Maud likes games, and Maud suggests they and Boulder play "Camouflage". It's like hide and seek, only waaaaay more intense. They spend the rest of the day looking at all the rocks in the nearby areas, trying to find Boulder. After hours, Maud announces she's found him... he was hiding in her pocket. Again, this seems like straight up trolling by Maud, and again, it doesn't go over well. Fluttershy suggest they call it a day, due to popular pet demand, and Pinkie, Maud, Gummy and Boulder say their goodbyes. Despite the rather stilted first encounter, Twilight suggest that maybe meeting in a big group was making Maud shy, and that one on one will work better. First up is Rarity, who tries to design some clothes for Maud, only for her to choose a dirty old dishcloth. Then when Rarity brings a bunch of them, she says this one will do and drapes it over her back. This is high quality trolling, especially since she stays deadpan when Rarity actually laughs at the joke. But she stops before the gag goes too far, and before Rarity spends actual time sewing the dishcloths together. On a nature walk with Fluttershy, we again meet Hummingway the hummingbird, and get introduced to a species of spider that Maud seems to have taken an interest in. Maud says she was looking at the rock.
He's taking it pretty well. (That flower must be a spider-orchid.) Next is Twilight's turn. Maud mentions she likes to recite her own poetry. You'll never guess what the topic is... yes, existentialism, nihilism and the absurdity of being, what else. At Applejack's farm, she helps with cider making by "peeling" apples with a rock. She still seems to be wondering why her rock-based humour isn't working. Rock tossing with Rainbow Dash also reveals a similarity to Pinkie Pie... Maud hurls the rock so far it pretty much creates a nuke. So she seems to have Pinkie's reality-bending powers, at least as far as rocks are concerned. RD concedes defeat, only for Maud to troll her by claiming she doesn't like winning.
Pinkie, have you been into the poison joke again? When they gather at Pinkie's to start making the necklaces, the group are forced to tell Pinkie that they don't feel it would be honest to make Best Friend Necklaces, because they just haven't clicked with Maud. Pinkie's mane deflates a bit, but she says she understands, leaving the rest feeling very guilty. Back at the library, a newly reenergized Pinkie bounces in to say she's figured out something to bond everypony. It's a giant obstacle course with something for everypony, including a giant rock tower to slide down. As Pinkie demonstrates each part of the course (applesauce slide for Applejack, shiny fabric pile for Rarity, a book wall for Twilight, a poker game of critters - I'm sure Maud would win that hands down... haha, get it, hands? - for Fluttershy, a cupcake wind tunnel for Pinkie, the rock slide for Maud; and the whole thing is a race for Rainbow), she gets trapped on the rock slide, and the giant rock at the top starts to slide down.
Boy, talk about your rock and your hard place... Before any else can react, Maud springs into action, flying through the obstacle course, leaping into the air, and drilling the rock into harmless pieces with her bare hooves. Showing the most emotion she has yet, she tells Pinkie that she went a bit overboard trying to make her friends Maud's friends. She decides to spend the rest of the time at the rock farm. Pinkie goes with her, leaving the rest to contemplate. As they talk, they realize that there is something to bond them with Maud... When the two Pie sisters arrive at the rock farm, the Mane Six are waiting for them. They apologize for the rocky start to their relationship, and explain that their mutual love for Pinkie Pie will be their bond, and ask to try again. When Maud still sounds the same as before, Pinkie points out that she is really excited, she just doesn't look it. A week later, and at the train station, the Mane Six each give Maud a necklace they made. When Pinkie and Maud trade theirs, Maud opens a box filled with every necklace Pinkie ever gave her. Only Twilight is around to see it, and she asks why Maud hasn't eaten them. Maud responds that she doesn't like candy... ...but she does love Pinkie Pie...   Thoughts on this episode There were 3 squees in this episode. That's too many. I'm really having to look hard for negatives here, because this episode is virtually perfect. Maud is delightfully funny, being so perfectly deadpan. As I pointed out, though, I think it's more of a issue of her introverted outer shell masking the chaos that's really going on inside. She isn't that different to Pinkie Pie inside, but as she herself says, she expresses it differently. Maud is a small pool that goes deep, hiding a lot under a calm surface. This episode is more of a character study of Maud than anything. No major events take place, no morals as such are learned, unless it's the moral of letting others express themselves as they want to. The constant rock puns were amusing in the low key way that Maud herself is amusing. This sort of humour is very much in line with what I like, so I found it very entertaining.   Pros: Simple plot. Some very dry humour. Maud looks awesome, whether smiling or not.
Cons: Too much squeeing.   Final Rating
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon!   Stay rocky side up...

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 73. “Rarity Takes Manehatten”: The Fashionista’s Big City Blues

Oh, why, look, there’s our friend Rarity, going down in FLAMES! Isn't Friendship MAGIC?! – Rarity After waiting over two years, we finally have another Rarity focus episode. The summary is going to pretty brief, since the nitty-gritty of this bloggy ditty will be what is revealed about the characters. It's Fashion Week, a fashion designer competition to be held in Manehatten. Rarity is off to the big city to show off her new design of clothes, using her very own patented cloth. The Mane Six and Spike have decided to come along to support Rarity, and to show her gratitude, Rarity announces that she has tickets for everypony to see Hinny of the Hills, a long-sold-out Bridleway show. After they arrive in Manehatten, Rarity explains how she came by the tickets... she had given some of her designs to the costume designer of the show, who in turn got her the tickets. She goes on to say that Manehatten is a place where going good deeds can result in others reciprocating in kind. At this point, Rarity sings about how she likes to be generous and kind to others, inspiring the rest of the Mane Six to join in as they do good things for various ponies around the city, including the bellhop of the hotel, a grumpy stallion with a grumpy cat cutie mark (and I hereby dub him Sourpuss. He had cruel parents, alright?) and a taxi driver who needs a wheel fixed. They spend so much time singing and helping other ponies, that Rarity finds she has only 10 minutes left to get all the across town, or she will be disqualified from the competition!
Okay. Who said it? Who said, "Well, it can't get any worse..."?! Trying to find a taxi at that time of day seems impossible, but luckily, the taxi driver whose wheel they fixed earlier arrives to give Rarity an exclusive ride. Off she goes... leaving Spike to wonder aloud why he feels they're forgetting something. Our heroines realise exactly what it is... Rarity's dresses! Arriving in time, Rarity break down in tears when she realises the mistake, but fortunately for her, the bellhop arrives with the dresses, which the Mane Six asked him to rush over. (Never mind the Fridge Logic of how he could arrive less than ten seconds flat after Rarity, while carrying a rack of dresses, considering the Mane Six would have to have gotten back to the hotel, fetched the dresses, found the bellhop, and then have him go after her with them.) Getting in line with her fellow fashionistas, her friendly greetings are interrupted by the host of the event, Prim Hemline, who is not very impressed with Rarity's tardiness (Twilight could relate). After she dismisses them, Rarity is approached by a pony who introduces herself as Suri Polomare, who she has met before. She goes backstage with Rarity, and admires her line of clothes. She asks for a bit of Rarity's special cloth for "accents", and Rarity generously gives her an entire bolt of the stuff. Arriving in good time the next day, Rarity is shocked to discover Suri's duplicity: she has created an entire wardrobe out of Rarity's cloth, and is taking credit for making it! Rarity confronts her, but Suri simply tells her it's "every mare for herself" in Manehatten. It turns out that she didn't even make the dresses, but instead left them to her beleaguered assistant, Coco Pommel. Distraught as only Rarity can manage to be, she goes back to the hotel and tearfully tells the others what has happened. They pledge to help her "no matter what it takes". Hmm. Looking around the room, Rarity is inspired to create an entirely new line of clothes with their help. A few hours later, however, and the enthusiasm has waned considerably. Rarity is acting very impatient and short with them. When they hear that dinner will be delayed by an hour, Rainbow Dash points out that they had hoped to be watching Hinny of the Hills by that time, which the others are also clearly thinking. This "betrayal" pushes Rarity over the edge again, and she rants about how she's glad they know it's "everypony for herself" and storms out. The Mane Five dejectedly return to their sewing, spending all night on the dresses. The next morning, Rarity rushes out without a word of thanks, much to Twilight's annoyance. At the fashion show, Rarity's new line "Hotel Chic", is a big hit with the crowds. Happily Rarity looks for her friends... to find the section of stands where they should be is empty. Realising her victory at the fashion show might have come at the cost of her friendships, she bolts out, leaving a flabbergasted Prim Hemline in her wake.
Stand aside! Friendship emergency! Back at the hotel, she learns from the bellhop that her friends have already checked out. Assuming they went back to Ponyville without her, she sings a dark reprise of her earlier song, as she wanders disconsolately through another sudden shower. Rarity goes to thank Prim for her time, but runs into Suri and Coco, who tell her she should stay away from the furious Prim. But there are also some more ponies here to meet her: her friends, who haven't gone back to Ponyville, after all! They said that they simply overslept and missed the fashion show, which Rarity apparently lost. Rarity declares she doesn't care about losing, and apologises for her behaviour. Her friends forgive her, but not without Applejack getting in perhaps her snarkiest line ever: "Yeah, you were pretty rotten!" Twilight assures Rarity that a little bad behaviour on her part is not going to make them abandon her, and they leave as friends. Rarity has even managed to get an exclusive performance of Hinny of the Hills for them all. Meanwhile, Suri is very satisfied... she has been lying all along about Rarity losing the competition! After the show, which everypony loved, Rarity explains that she managed to wrangle an additional performance by agreeing to do ALL the costumes for the next show. This will leave her stuck for a while in Manehatten, which the others are sad about. They are interrupted by Coco, who gives Rarity the trophy that she actually won as first place in the competition, and apologises for agreeing to lie about it for Suri, and a present. She also says that Rarity and her friends inspired her to refuse to believe that it's "everypony for herself" through their willingness to forgive, and that she has quit as Suri's assistant. Rarity offers her the job of designing the costumes, freeing her to go back to Ponyville, and probably launching Coco's own career as a fashion designer.
Much like this expression is probably launching her career as a fan-favourite. Rarity writes her entry into the Journal, "Don't let those who take advantage of your generosity stop you from doing it, and don't take advantage of the generosity of your friends." She then unwraps Coco's present: a spool of rainbow coloured thread. Character Study: Ah, Rarity. Yet more of your glorious HAM have you bestowed upon this episode. Seeing as she is the focus, let's look at what this episode tells us about her. First, the opening, where Rarity asks Spike to carry her enormous pile of bags. Some fans suggest that she is abusing Spike's crush on her, by getting him to do things for her. It's a weakness of the writing that often comes up when Spike is being the buttmonkey. It's worth noticing that apart from a slight frown from Twilight, which vanishes a few scenes later, none of the Mane Six seem to notice. And later on, she rewards him for his efforts by getting him a carrot-dog. Personally, I'd like to see the whole unrequited crush thing dealt with in an upcoming episode. It hasn't been brought up since early Season 2. "That is what makes Manehatten so splendid and amazing... you do something nice for somepony, and then you never know when they'll do something nice for you!" This line in particular could possibly be misunderstood or taken out of context. Rarity is not saying she is only generous because of what she can get out of other ponies. She is making an observation that the good fortune of getting tickets for her friends came about because she did something generous for someone else, and that incident is typical of Manehatten. And then she shared that blessing with her friends. Besides which, it's really just a restatement of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It's not quid pro quo. She certainly couldn't have foreseen that she would need a taxi, and decided to help the cabbie because he would help her later. She didn't even need to ask for help, it was offered. As for the song, it shows a number of ponies whom she helped, who never returned the favour. So she isn't going around being generous to get things in return, but she acknowledges that it's nice when it happens. As Rarity sings, it's her way of life to give freely to others. Let's examine her bad behaviour in the second act. Here, she treats her friends a bit callously, there's no doubt about that. But it's really quite justified. She's been on a emotional rollercoaster ride. First, from her happiness at being in Manehatten, to almost missing her appointment, arriving just on time, only to realise she forgot her dresses, to getting them back, to being given a bit of a talking to by Prim for being late, to being befriended by Suri, to finding out Suri has betrayed her... give the poor mare a break. Who wouldn't want to snap after all that stress? Running out without thanking the others is also understandable, since she's very stressed, and has to get to the show ASAP. The Mane Six also shouldn't escape criticism for their behaviour in complaining about missing the show, that they never would even have had a chance to see if Rarity hadn't organised it in the first place. First of all, Twilight had said they would do "whatever it took" to help her. Apparently, being willing to miss the show doesn't fall under that category. To Rarity, in the state she was in, it was another betrayal, on top of the one she'd been dealt by Suri. But let's talk about Suri Polomare. She is two-faced enough to put Discord to shame. Let's list her sins... approaches Rarity with false friendship, flatters her shamelessly (Rarity has done this in the past too) and then when offered the hoof, takes the whole foreleg, and uses the material she said she would use for accents and makes an entire line, probably in the same style as Rarity did, since she's seen all of Rarity's designs. Then she claims the cloth was her own creation, so add plagiarism and fraud to the list, and takes the credit rightly due to her assistant Coco. Then when she still loses, she lies through her teeth and is smug about it when it works. Hello, new least favourite pony! At least DT is honest in her dislike of the CMC, she doesn't pretend to be their friend and then back-stab them. Still, Suri gets her karmic retribution in the end, losing her presumably much-more-talented assistant. I could foresee her coming back as a villain a la Trixie, blaming Rarity for her losing the true source of her talent. Coco Pommel herself is an obvious reference to Coco Chanel, which implies that Rarity giving her the job as her friend's costume designer could well end up making her career. Thoughts on the rest of the episode: The song is the second "I Am" song for Rarity, and it's wonderful to hear Rarity singing on her own again. The lyrics are quite pleasant, all about how generosity is part of her life, and she suits word to deed. It's also good to see that her spirit is contagious, when the other start helping out too. The dark reprise also includes wet-maned Rarity, back for the first time since Sisterhooves Social, and really just makes you feel so bad for her. (Edit: @@Sunlight just reminded me that she had a wet mane in Magical Mystery Cure too. How could I have forgotten? ) I'm not sure exactly what was up with that shimmering rainbow that Rarity kept seeing. I hope that this is building up to something, because I have to admit, Twilight's alicorn/princess status is being really underplayed, to the point where I have to reevaluate my position that it needed to happen at all. In fact, this season as a whole has not yet delivered on the story arc that has been promised. A possibility is that this episode's mysterious shimmer and last episode's bat-fang are deliberately being left as hanging threads to tie up later, which I certainly hope is the case. A quick word on the animation... they continue adding a larger repertoire of subtle expressions on the pony's faces, little touches that continue to show an evolution of the art style. In particular, the look of Rarity's cloth, despite clearly being animated differently, didn't look out of place and artificial as has been the case in a few episodes. And the lighting and shadows when Coco enters the theatre are also very smooth and good-looking. The episode is for the most part well written and well paced. The bad behaviour exhibited by the characters is generally understandable and justified, and the resolution didn't seem forced. Rarity having her bad behaviour acknowledged and forgiven is a definite step forward from her Karma Houdini act in Sweet and Elite. Pros: It. Is. A. RARITY. Episode. Natural plot progression, a good song. Cons: Still not seeing any kind of story arc in these episodes, Spike-abuse is in full force in this episode. Villain may have been a little bit too villainous.   Final Rating
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Stay sunny side up, forum members. Forum, you just stay up, mmkay?

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Looking at Rarity Part 1: Reasons Rarity Rocks

Let’s just jump right in. Talented Her talent is recognized by ponies such as: Hoity Toity, a fashion bigwig (literally) from Canterlot (Suited for Success – review coming soon ); Sapphire Shores, the Pony of Pop, who also mentions that Rarity has been given at least one rave review as an up-and-comer in Clothes Horse Magazine (A Dog and Pony Show); the ruler of the land, Princess Celestia (A Canterlot Wedding); and in her latest focus episode, Prim Hemline, the fashion community of Manehatten and even a costume designer for the Equestria equivalent of Broadway (Rarity Takes Manehatten). So her skills as a fashion designer have been recognized in at least two major cities. It’s pretty apparent that if it were not for the fact that she consistently puts her friends ahead of her fashion career, she would already be a huge success. It’s not that she isn’t good enough to leave them all behind and achieve her dreams. She chooses to remain with her friends, and she is not willing to sacrifice her friendships for success, give or take the odd wobble. Sophisticated This is not a result of serendipity. She was not born into a high class family; quite the opposite, in fact, as her parents and Sweetie Belle make entirely clear. She has lifted herself up to that level, through nothing but her own hard work and determination. In Sweet and Elite, she proves that she fits right in with the most upper class ponies in Canterlot. All it takes is one chance meeting with Fancy Pants to set her up as the Pony Everypony Should Know. Even if that was a case of right time and place, she still made the best of the opportunity, as she later impresses the upper class ponies in the absence of Fancy Pants himself. Even in real life, making the right connection is often necessary for one’s virtues to be recognized, so I believe Rarity should still be given credit for making the most of her lucky break. And despite knowing who and how important he is, she didn’t just sycophantically agree with everything he said, like the hangers-on were doing. She was willing to vocally disagree with him. Finally, that wonderful accent, darling? That sort of accent has to be worked on and polished, much like a diamond. In many senses, she is a self-made mare. Which bring us to the next point. Hard-working She owns her own business, Carousel Boutique, and she runs it alone. She has no employees, purchases her own supplies, finds her own raw materials and she makes all her own dresses (I’m looking at you, Suri Polomare). With the possible exception of Applejack, she is the one who works the hardest out of all the Mane Six, and even then, Applejack has her family to help her, while Rarity goes it alone. Related to this, she is trendy, and I mean that in the most positive sense. Rarity does not follow fashions, for the most part. She actively looks forward and tries to anticipate what fashions will be popular in the near future, and she strives to stay ahead of the game. Another thing she works really hard on is her appearance, and that is the next thing I want to look at. Beautiful, Cute and Charming She is gorgeous. That mane deserves its own billing in the credits. Purple being one of my two favorite colours doesn’t hurt her case either (the other one is green, if you were wondering ). I’ve also always been partial to ladies with blue eyes, and Rarity’s peepers are just the right shade. The only pony (both in universe and out) who can compete in the beauty department is Fluttershy. The indications are that (apart from mane extensions ) Fluttershy is beautiful without making any effort to be (just look at how little mud her mud mask needs in Green isn’t your Colour) whereas Rarity works at being beautiful. She wears false eyelashes, frequently goes to the spa, and apparently brushes her mane a hundred times before she goes to bed and uses curlers. She brings out her own beauty. To me, the essence of Rarity is bringing out the hidden beauty in things. She strives to be better in her appearance and her behavior, and wants others to be better as well. She takes raw materials and produces beautiful dresses from them. She finds gems hidden in the ground, and if they weren’t already cut and polished naturally, no doubt she would cut and polish them as well. Out of all the ponies, her cutie mark is arguably the most appropriate to her character. She is also amazingly cute. Just look at her expressions.
How can you say "no" to this face? Finally, whether you agree with how she employs her ability or not, Rarity is able to charm just about anypony. And she does it without ruffling any feathers or making anyone feel bad to have her turn her attention to them. Even when she does it to get something for herself, she makes her target feel good about it. Caring and Forgiving Rarity is often shown to be very insightful into her friends. She recognizes when others are putting on a brave face, like Rainbow Dash in Sonic Rainboom. She noticed that something was bothering Twilight in Lesson Zero. She was the one who comforted Spike after he rampaged through Ponyville in Secret of My Excess, and defended him against Rainbow’s teasing in Dragon Quest, before trekking half-way across Equestria with Rainbow and Twilight in a dragon costume she made herself with no prior notice in order to keep an eye on him. And finally, despite being in a deep depression, she came running to the rescue when she thought her dear pet Opal was caught in a tree in Suited for Success. When the Cutie Mark Crusaders were found out to be Gabby Gums in Ponyville Confidential, Rarity was the only one who actually tried to explain why what they were doing was wrong, instead of just turning her back to three young fillies who had made a mistake and felt terribly guilty about it. She forgave her friends at the drop of a cat (pun intended) in Suited for Success, forgave Sweetie Belle for ruining the cloth she spend a long time making in The Stare Master, and forgave Fluttershy when she said some extremely hurtful things to her and Pinkie Pie in Putting your Hoof Down. Intelligent; Quick Thinking; Adaptable; Witty While Twilight may be the acknowledged as the brains of the Mane Six outfit, Rarity shows that she is far from vapid herself. She very quickly gets the number of the Diamond Dogs, and outfoxes them thoroughly by the end of the episode. In The Crystal Empire, she not only learns a traditional hat-making method overnight, but also manages to think up excuses for Spike’s sudden departure in order to keep the crystal ponies from realizing something is wrong. She came up with a great idea to explain why they had a fake Crystal Heart, which Applejack totally ruined. She also showed her ability to learn things quickly when she volunteered to work on Cadence’s hair, and despite skipping a step, she managed to correct the resulting disaster in time (Game Ponies Play). She also delivers her fair share of snarky lines. Tough Not only is Rarity both beautiful and intelligent, but she can kick serious flank when she wishes to. She may be a lady, but she can take care of herself. Notable scenes include her giving Applejack a roundhouse kick to the face and lugging around a huge boulder in Return of Harmony; coming just short of first place in a race alongside Sweetie Belle, and being athletic enough throughout that Sweetie Belle had no idea that it was not in fact Applejack running with her in Sisterhooves Social; facing down three teenage dragons in Dragon Quest (and delivering a fabulous line at the same time) and outright smacking Changelings in the face with a solid right hook during A Canterlot Wedding. Let’s face it, for somepony who is often called "prissy" she’s really quite a powerhouse. Dramatic Rarity is generally agreed to be one of the most entertaining ponies to have on the screen. Her flair for the dramatic and tendency to chew the scenery make her a riot to watch, and provide some of the series best lines (“I’ll destroy her!”; “Fighting’s not really my thing, I’m more into fashion… BUT I’LL TEAR YOU TO PIECES IF YOU TOUCH ONE SCALE ON HIS CUTE LITTLE HEAD!”; “Of the all worst things that could happen, this is the worst. POSSIBLE. THING! beat What? I really mean it this time…”) Of course, not everyone appreciates that aspect of her as much as I do, but I’m including it as a positive here in any case. Complex Now to be fair, none of the Mane Six are what you would call simple or flat characters. There is a lot of depth to all of them. Still, I feel that Rarity goes beyond the others in this category. Rarity wants good things for others, but she also wants good things for herself. She's caught in a tug of war within herself between these two motivations. For example, consider Green Isn't Your Colour. In that episode, Rarity wanted to be happy for Fluttershy and her success as a model, but she was also very jealous of the attention she was getting. And then she felt guilty for having those feelings, especially when things seemed to be going wrong for Fluttershy. That's just one example from one episode, and I could list more, but I think that suffices for the point I wanted to make here. She has her flaws, as well, which I will deal with in another entry at a later time. Now you may have noticed that I have yet to mention what most consider the foremost aspect of her character, her generosity. That’s quite deliberate. I don’t need to defend Rarity’s generosity in order to justify her being my favourite pony. Not when there are all these other great reasons to like her. If you want evidence of that, I’d recommend getting hold of @@ghostfacekiller39: he has a list. So that was Part 1 of Looking at Rarity, focused exclusively on what I think to be her good points. In Part 2, I want to look at some of her more questionable personality traits. I’ll examine the things fans point out as reasons not to like Rarity, and I’ll explain which ones I think are sound, and which ones I think would be Look forward to it, and of course, stay Rarity side up!

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox