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New Angle on an old OC

Some of you may remember a blog entry I later deleted featuring an OC by the name of Foxy Flash. Well, I've fleshed her out a little bit more since then, although I'm finding it difficult to write her story right now. Here are some details: "Foxy Flash" is her pen name. Her true name is Foxglove Trotter. She is a young mare who lives in Canterlot with her family. Her mother used to be a famous model, Petunia, who married self-made stallion, Salvador "Savvy Sal" Trotter, a business-stallion from a less well-off family who made good as a retailer, in a similar vein to Filthy Rich. She also has a (much lovelier) sister named Marigold, who is married to another stallion. Her best friend is a pegasus stallion named Slipstream, who is the oldest son of a pegasus family of similar social level to the Trotters. Fox's mother wanted her to become a novelist, since her cutie mark (a typewriter) represents her special talent for writing, and a novelist is an "appropriate" career for a well-to-do young mare. Secretly, though, Fox has always wished to be a writer and columnist for The Canterlot Chronicle, a newspaper which is known for printing the truth, no matter how embarrassing it might be for any rich and powerful ponies. Knowing that her mother would never condone her daughter writing for such a tawdry (in her eyes) publication, Foxglove hides her other life from her, remaining anonymous as she sends in her pieces for the newspaper. The setting is mainly Canterlot and Ponyville, in the current time of the show. I had intended for her to relate the adventures of the Mane Six from an outsider's perspective as she write columns about them, while having her own adventures in between. Foxglove tends to take after her father, rather than her mother, in looks and personality, so she isn’t particularly pretty. She’s a bit of a daddy’s girl. Traits – stubborn, headstrong, tenacious – not quite ruthless, but willing to go farther than is perhaps wise for the sake of getting a good story. Her personality is still developing, and probably will continue to change as I write, but that's the basic outline. Do you have any comments or suggestions? I'd love to hear them.

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Guess what?

Hey everybody. Notice anything different about me today? That's right. I got a haircut.
Oh, and this happened. Yep, I've lost the lovely purple text under my user name. Contrary to the image above, which is purely a joke, it was a voluntary decision on my part. For a whole year, I've been part of the moderating team. Although it really was a good experience for me, it is a role that can be difficult to fulfill at times, and of course, made many demands on my time, mind, body and soul. I still have mixed feelings about my decision to resign. I'm glad that I'll have more time to devote to other things, but also saddened to leave a group of people who I really enjoy chatting to and being part of a team with. The main reason I'm resigning is due to personal circumstances, largely to do with work and long commute times that take up more of my time and energy than before. It has nothing at all to do with issues either from the staff or the general member side. Basically, it's not you, it's me. With the newest wave of promoted mods, SCS, Sugar Cube and Wingnut, (Congrats, I'm sure you'll make me proud) along with previous mod DashForever (a most worthy fellow whether he has that fancy purple text under his username or not) back on the case, and the other mods and admins who continue to shoulder that burden, I'm happy at least that my leaving is not going to critically impact on the staff's ability to do what they need to do. The road is yours, now. Use it well. As a final request to the members in general: If you get a warning, please don't immediately rush to post some kind of status update crying out to all and sundry about how short the end of the stick that you just got is. In most cases, the warning is the end result of a long discussion and is by no means one staff member donning their ten-gallon hat, spurs and six-shooters to dispense frontier justice. In all probability, they are not targeting you for a personal reason, they are just doing what they are supposed to be doing. Someone's got to end up getting their hands dirty. Think, first. Take a step back. Did I deserve this warning? Could I have avoided it by acting a different way? If you've thought it through honestly, and you still feel hard done by, speak to the mod via PM first, and if you're still not happy with the explanation or wish to take the dispute further, open a support ticket. Shouting out from the rooftops via status update is never a good way to respond to being warned. Also, if you were arguing with someone and both of you took it too far, don't assume that only you were punished and they weren't. I've seen a number of times when a member calls foul and favoritism because they aren't aware of the fact that the other person involved was also punished, even though they were. You don't see everything that is going on behind the scenes. The staff do. Just be aware of it. That said, if you do truly feel you are in the right and the staff is in the wrong, then by all means, take the steps needed to get the decision reversed. Mods make mistakes sometimes, it's inevitable. But it doesn't inevitably have to lead to forum drama. Well, enough wagging of my finger for one blog post, ne? This isn't good-bye to the forums either, although I would like to spend some more time doing other things. I sometimes feel a bit one-dimensional, what with all the pony in my life. I have a few goals to work on. Learning to play the guitar is one. Getting to the 5-kyu level in Go is another. Get out more, meet more girls, that kind of thing. I feel free to come and go a little more now, but this place will still be a big part of my life for the foreseeable future. Might also get some time to work on my fanfictions, which I have a few good ideas about. Anyway, happy trails til we meet again, and of course, keep chasing those rainbows and staying on the Sunny Side of life. Represent.

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

 

Episode 78. “Simple Ways”: No Easy Path to Love

Now, if y’all will excuse me, I have a hootenanny of a time to prepa-ah. – Rarity It’s nearly Ponyville Day anniversary time, and the Pony of Ceremonies is announced: Rarity! She has a plan for an elegant celebration, with a cider tasting and silent auction, a dance, and a fashion show. The Mane Six are admiring of her plan, but Rarity has a bit of an ulterior motive. She wants to impress Trenderhoof, the travel writer who will be covering the event, on whom she has a huge crush, and to whom she has built a little shrine.
Even Norman Bates would be like, “Dude, that is creepy!” Convincing Twilight to accompany her to the station for moral support in meeting her idol, Rarity is beside herself with anxiety, freaking out when she thinks he might not arrive. Then when he does, she is too nervous to actually greet him, and tries to hide under Twilight’s tail. Twilight solves that problem with a telekinetic shove, and Rarity manages to welcome Trenderhoof… who is a bit of self-absorbed twit, but not necessarily a bad pony. As Rarity shows him around, he makes several condescending comments about the town, showing a casual arrogance that’s pretty grating. Rarity, however, still has hearts circling her head, and doesn’t notice. Finally, they get to Sweet Apple Acres, and while discussing the merits of the farm au naturel, begin to fall in love (Well, Trenderhoof does, since Rarity is already head over hooves for him)… until Trenderhoof notices Applejack bucking trees, and falls for her instead.
I sincerely hope that “twanging” sound was Cupid’s bow Spike tracks down Rarity to find her in full breakdown mode over losing Trenderhoof to Applejack. She seems to have totally forgotten what she knows about Spike’s crush on her, but it’s probably because she’s so focused on her own drama. She tearfully wonders why Trenderhoof is interested in Applejack instead of her, and finally concludes that the simple and hardworking ways of a country girl are what he sees in her. Determined to beat Applejack at being Applejack, Rarity tries to do some of the chores around the farm, but has absolutely no idea how anything should be done, sitting on top of the plough as if she thinks it’s going to move by itself. Of course, when Applejack demonstrates the right way to do it (pulling it), it ends up making Trenderhoof even more admiring of her. Rarity also tries a hoof at apple bucking while the other two watch, but her bucking is too much style and too little strength, and manages to knock down only one apple after an entire dance routine. She does look darling while she does it, though, especially in her presumably self-made work duds. Applejack delivers a rather subtle jab at her (“Your way sure is long on style...”) and excuses herself, clearly annoyed by both Trenderhoof’s fascination with her and Rarity’s attempts to win him over that are making it more difficult for her to finish her chores. When Trenderhoof asks Rarity if she thinks Applejack will agree to be his date to the celebration, she considers it the final straw, and storms off in a huff, leaving him looking rather bewildered. Even though Applejack tries to assure Rarity that she isn’t interested in Trenderhoof, Rarity is too jealous to listen, and vows to prove herself as country as Applejack to win him back. She decides do this by adopting an entirely different persona, and changes her plans for the celebration from “Small Town Chic” to the title drop for this episode, “Simple Ways”. She also dresses up in country clothes, including a straw hat, unkempt mane and droopy drawers, and speaks in a noticeably fake Southern drawl that she can’t keep up when her concentration wavers. Applejack finds it pretty hilarious, at first, but less so when Rarity refuses to listen to her and go back to her normal self. She leaves, declaring that she has to set up a hootenanny of a time, infuriating Applejack with her stubbornness (like she has room to talk about being stubborn! ) As Rarity organizes a less-than-her-usual-standard fashion show, a new model shows up: Apple Jewel. It is, of course, Applejack, showing that she has not forgotten the time she spent in Manehatten as a filly. Her mane is done up, she’s wearing an evening gown, and even some sparkling jewels. Even her accent, while still country, is nobler than usual. It sounds like much more natural a shift than Rarity’s attempt at changing her accent. And don’t forget the duck-face! The two proceed to repeat the conversation from a little earlier, but with their positions reversed. Applejack, still hoping to show Rarity how silly she is acting, gives a little smile and starts acting out an exaggerated version of Rarity herself. Rarity returns fire with a parody of her own, and gets steadily more unhinged as the scene proceeds. Eventually, she throws herself into the pig pens, loudly declaring her love for mud…
Except mud that lands on expensive evening gowns, obviously. This fashion disaster is enough to get Rarity acting like her old self, and she finally realizes how far wrong she has gone. She thanks Applejack for knowing her better than she knows herself, and compliments her on her new look. Applejack sheepishly admits that it’s actually one of Rarity’s gowns, horrifying Rarity, who gets Spike to go find some detergent, STAT! At this point, Trenderhoof appears in his own set of dungarees, saying he wants to give up his life as most interesting pony in Equestria and live on the farm. Applejack flat out tells him she doesn’t want him on her farm, finally making him understand that she doesn’t return his feelings. Rarity convinces him that he should continue to be a travel writer, and that he shouldn’t change himself to suit somepony else’s expectations… if somepony won’t accept you for who you are, it’s their problem, not yours. She takes her own words to heart, realizing that she should not change herself to suit Trenderhoof. With the lesson learned, Rarity proceeds to re-reorganize the plans back to her original vision, and the celebration goes off without a hitch. Trenderhoof asks Granny Smith to dance, showing that he’s come to terms with Applejack’s decision. He even ends up giving Rarity a rose at her fashion show!   Thoughts on the Episode This episode is a mixed bag for me. I was entertained by Rarity acting all country, and by Applejack’s attempt to balance out the situation by acting… well, like Rarity. She really cleans up nicely, and Rarity really dirties up nicely. It was fun to see both Applejack and Rarity parodying each other, and Rarity declaring “I LOVE BEIN’ COVERED IN MUD!” and leaping into the pig pen was a sight to behold. On the other hoof, it feels like this episode was designed to highlight every flaw Rarity has, and it recycles the plot from Season 1’s “Green Isn’t Your Color”. Something Rarity really wants for herself ends up going to one of her friends instead, and her green-eyed monster takes over.
Not that green-eyed monster, I meant Rarity! In this case, it’s the affections of Trenderhoof, rather than success and fame, but it’s pretty much something we’ve seen before. If anything, it’s worse, because she at no point tries to be happy for Applejack, it’s jealousy all the way. So we have Rarity’s obsession with Trenderhoof to the point of Stalker with a Crush, jealousy, manipulation of Spike when she isn’t completely ignoring the feelings she knows he has for her, changing her personality to suit somepony else, being angry and spiteful to Applejack over something Applejack can’t control and in fact doesn’t want, and selfishly focusing on her own problem to the point of risking the town’s reputation. Of course, these are all qualities we’ve seen before in Rarity, but in this case they’re all together, and there isn’t even justification for her bad behaviour as there was in “Rarity Takes Manehatten”. Not to mention her rather out of character moments when she is terrified of meeting Trenderhoof at the station, to the point where she tries to hide behind Twilight. This is the same problem that arose in “Daring Don’t”, and it’s as annoying to see Rarity do it as it was to see Rainbow Dash do it. The rest of the Mane Six (apart from Twilight) are pretty much unnecessary to the episode, having few lines and not really contributing anything to the plot. Pinkie was again made into a caricature of herself, being just there for gags. I’m not sure RD even had a single line that wasn’t a collective “ooh” or “ahh”, and Fluttershy had only one that I remember. Trenderhoof himself is a bit of tool, but he clearly means well, and is innocently unaware of quite how condescending he sounds. Being a character we’re unlikely to see again, he’s pretty two-dimensional, but I didn’t have much of a problem with him being there. He’s the necessary Apple of Discord for this episode, if you will, and really doesn’t need to be more than that. He can’t sing or rhyme, though. There are two saving graces in this episode. One is Tabitha St. Germain’s performance. She had to keep switching from Rarity’s eggs-hajj-erated cou-untreee drah-aal to Rarity’s usual Mid-Atlantic accent, and she does it impressively well. The second is Apple Jewel, the elegantly-coiffed, evening-gown-wearing, southern nobility alter-ego of Applejack, the counter-point to Rarity in country getup. So now Pinkie has Pinkamena, Rarity has Droopy Drawers, Fluttershy has Flutterbitch/Flutterbat and Applejack has Apple Jewel. Just Rainbow and Twilight need to get an alternative personality, and we’d have the whole set!   Highlights Apple Jewel strutting her stuff, showing off her plot.
And her duck-face! “I LOVE BEIN’ COVERED IN MUD!”   Pros: Funny dialogue and situations; Apple Jewel; Droopy Drawers; Good voice acting all around. Cons: Rarity shows off many of her flaws; Pinkie is a flat out waste of running time; Trenderhoof is a bit underwhelming; Plot is rehashed.   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

 

Looking at Rarity Part 2: Flawed Fashionista

As a Rarity fan, I often cite her complexity as one of the reasons to like her. That complexity comes about because there are some flaws which Rarity has and that need to be acknowledged. Fans like myself, and anyone who uses her complexity as a reason why she is a good character, can’t have our Fire Ruby and eat it too. We simply cannot try to explain away all her flaws, because then we’re implying she is perfect, and that isn’t what makes a character interesting and likeable. That being the case, I now want to look at her flaws, the ones I think need to be acknowledged. There are also come criticisms that fans may level at her that I don’t think are entirely fair, and I’ll explain why I disagree. So let’s have another look at Rarity, our flawed little diamond.   Manipulative Oh, for a certainty, Rarity uses her beauty and charm to get others to do what she wants them to do. In The Best Night Ever. she charmed some stallions into pulling the carriage to the Grand Galloping Gala. She successfully relieved Spike of his precious Fire Ruby in Secret of my Excess. Speaking of Spike, she often gets him to carry her things, and if he’s reluctant, she only has to bat her eyelashes at him. She flattered a decidedly unhandsome pony shamelessly so as to get his asparagus away from him. She expressed a desire to have someone eternally in her debt so that she could get them to do things for her in Spike at your Service. The thing is, even though I can acknowledge this as somewhat ignoble, the more vociferous among Rarity’s detractors tend to make more of this fault than it actually warrants. They mistake manipulation for selfishness, when it often isn’t the case. Let’s look at the examples above. The Carriage Incident in “The Best Night Ever” Twilight had enchanted mice into horses to pull the carriage, but they were chased away by Opal. There was a problem facing her friends, and Rarity is the one who knew exactly what to do. She simply asked some of her neighbours for help. They were quite happy to do so, and it was for the good of the whole Mane Six, not just Rarity. The Asparagus Incident in “Putting Your Hoof Down” First of all, many fans seem to forget that Rarity’s intention was to help Fluttershy, who had been unfairly deprived of her asparagus. That isn’t selfish, it’s supportive. Sure, poor Poindexter lost his asparagus, but how many fans notice that she actually paid him back the coin he had spent? She didn’t leave him short, even though he was eating out of her hoof and seemingly wouldn’t have cared if Rarity were to steal both his kidneys to go with the asparagus. She could have taken advantage of him far more than she did. Heck, he’ll probably remember the time a pretty girl pony flirted with him with a warm fuzzy feeling for the rest of his life. In my fanfiction brainspace, that incident actually made him braver and more confident about his looks, and led to him being happily married to a lovely pony lass in the future. (Hands off, fanfiction writers! This idea is mine! ) The Fire Ruby Incident in “Secret of my Excess” Anyone who accuses Rarity of being selfish or greedy in this scene is not giving it enough consideration. Let’s do a play-by-play, shall we? She originally enters the library in order to ask Twilight for a book about fashion. Before she can do so, she is distracted by the sight of the Fire Ruby, and gushes over how beautiful it is. At this point, there is nothing to indicate she wants it for herself. She is just appreciating it for its beauty and even turns away from it when Twilight asks her why she is there in the first place. Then she realizes that Spike called the gem “totally delicious”, and when he confirms that he is going to eat it, she looks devastated, not avaricious. This is the thing that some fans (perhaps willfully; perhaps not) misunderstand: she doesn’t want the gem as a pretty bauble for herself. She wants it because otherwise Spike will eat it and destroy its beauty forever. Rarity lives for beauty and the thought of something so lovely just being eaten and destroyed is unbearable to her. Twilight gives her the book she needs, and again, Rarity turns away from the gem and talks about other plans she has. Then she remembers that Spike is going to eat it. At this point, we see she wants to get the gem, and even bites her own hoof to stop herself from asking for it. In fact, she never does ask for it, even though she clearly wants it. She mentions again how beautiful it is. This is the point where Spike himself notices that she wants it. Eventually, he offers it to her as a gift. From her expression, it’s clear that she is taken aback by this: she actually shows surprise that he is giving it to her, and is genuinely delighted, pronouncing it as the most generous gesture she has ever experienced. None of the above is at all congruent with a callous and selfish manipulation. Any fan reducing this intricate interplay of motives and events to “she wanted it, so she manipulated him into giving it to her” is doing not only Rarity, but also Spike, a grievous disservice. It was a meaningful gesture of sacrifice and generosity on Spike’s part, motivated by the desire to make the one he loves happy. That Rarity got what she wished from it in the end is not an indication of her selfishness or manipulative tendencies. The fact that she continually turned away, kept herself from outright asking for it, and didn’t act like it was a foregone conclusion when she finally did get a hold of it, shows that she wasn’t single-mindedly dedicated to seducing the gem away from him. Greedy I often hear this repeated about Rarity. She’s greedy.
Sayeth whaaat? One of the very few times I would call her actions greedy is when she was under Discord’s influence, and that was clearly stated to be the opposite of her true self. In Castle Mane-ia, she again showed that she will go to great lengths to preserve something she considers beautiful. Like with the Fire Ruby, she wanted to preserve beauty for its own sake, not for her personal edification. That fans point to that as greedy is something that really boggles my mind. At most, she was hoping to gain some inspiration, and she is an artist, so seeking inspiration is perfectly all right. She wants things, yes, but those things are not generally material possessions. She’s pretty free with her jewels, as well. I don’t know how else to defend this point, since I can’t see where the fans who say this are really coming from. The only other example of pure greed I can remember is in “Dragonshy”, where she was focused more on getting a diamond than their actual reason for being there.   Snobbish A snob is someone who acts as if they are superior to others. Rarity does not act (usually) like she is superior, she simply has a certain standard of behavior and decorum that she strives to maintain, and she urges other to do the same. But she doesn’t allow the fact that she is more sophisticated than most keep her from maintaining friendships with the rest of the Mane Six, which is what a snob would do. A snob would not associate with those who do not act as upper class as they do. And let’s face it, her friends can sometimes be a bit lacking in the social graces. “Sweet and Elite” illustrated this quite neatly. The Mane Six invite themselves to an extremely exclusive party (second only to the Grand Galloping Gala itself, which required tickets and a guest list months before the event) and proceed to wreck the place like a band of hooligans. Yet Rarity not only acknowledged their lack of sophistication, but then stated that it didn’t matter, calling her friends “the most important ponies I know.” Again, snob certainly does not fit.   Whiney She was being deliberately whiney to annoy the Diamond Dogs. That’s all. She doesn’t even really complain all that much outside of that single episode, except for saying “Gently, please!” in “Dragonshy” when Applejack was pulling her harness too tight.   Lazy As I pointed out in Part 1, this is probably the least appropriate word to use for Rarity. She works really hard on her appearance, as well as her chosen line of work. She is extremely hard-working. The fact that she doesn’t carry her own bags doesn’t make her lazy. She expects that as a lady, she shouldn’t have to carry her own bags. Same with Sweetie Belle in “Sleepless in Ponyville”. In Rarity’s mind, she’s done enough just to be out camping, an activity she despises and only agreed to out of her love for her sister, and in line with what she learned in “Sisterhooves Social”. In both cases, I see it more as a matter of her feeling entitled to have someone else do the heavy lifting rather than a sense of laziness. Is that a good thing? No, it’s one of her flaws, but one that shouldn’t be mislabeled as laziness. If anything, it should fall under the snobbish category. Right, so now that the false accusations are out of the way (boy, doesn’t that sound defensive? ), I want to discuss what I feel are the legitimate failings of Rarity.   Entitled, Selfish Following on from the previous point above, Rarity does have certain expectations. That Spike should have to carry her bags; that Prince Blueblood should have been treating her as a lady in “The Best Night Ever”; that Sweetie Belle should have to do everything she can to make her own camping experience as luxurious as possible. This is a fault, even if the characters concerned seem anything but unhappy to do it, and it’s clear that sometimes, Spike does mind. She also forced her friends to work through the night, have a late dinner, and finally miss a show they were really looking forward to in “Rarity Takes Manehatten”. She has been particularly selfish where Sweetie Belle is concerned. She’s been getting a little better about it as of “Sisterhooves Social”. She still wants things for herself. She wants success, the adulation of the fashion world, and she wants a stallion to sweep her off her feet. Sometimes she has to struggle between this and her need to be generous to others. It’s a definite tug of war, but she usually makes the right choice in the end, even if she wavers along the way.   Obsessive and over-dramatic Much like Twilight, Rarity can sometimes be so focused on the little details that she misses the big picture. A prime example is the nest-building in “Winter Wrap Up”, where she lets her need to correct Twilight’s nest overwhelm her (to the point of tears) where it would have been much more sensible to trash it and continue building more. A rather more disturbing example comes from the recent episode, “Simple Ways”. Apart from her creepy shrine to Trenderhoof, she also becomes fixated on being “country” so as to get him to notice her. It takes a crime against fashion to bring her back to herself. There are other instances of this as well. Consider “Magical Mystery Cure”. She clearly had the power to rearrange the weather properly; it was just that she insisted on placing the clouds in lovely but useless patterns rather than uniform and practical ones. She also has a tendency to histrionics, often making a big deal out of the smallest things. I find these outbursts more amusing than annoying, but I can understand how fans could take the opposite view and see it as a flaw. (“I forgot the plates for the picnic!” Cue fainting couch and self-pity!)   Hypocritical Oh, so much. Sometimes she seems self-aware of it, but at other times, oblivious to her own hypocrisy. Self-aware examples come from: “Lesson Zero” where she has the gall to call Twilight a drama queen, when she was driven to the point of a teary tantrum over not being able to find a ribbon; in the same episode, when they think Twilight is going back to magic kindergarten, she uses the same line as for all the other really small issues, but at least she notices, and clarifies that this time it’s justified; being jealous of Fluttershy’s success even though she earlier stated that “a lady is never jealous” (she has the good grace to acknowledge to Twilight that her feelings are inappropriate); and snooping in Sweetie Belle’s saddlebag, but feeling betrayed at having her diary read without permission in “Ponyville Confidential”, even turning her own shortfall into an object lesson for Sweetie Belle. Speaking of that episode, it also has an example of the oblivious kind, where Rarity is quite content when others get embarrassed by Gabby Gums, but flies off the handle when it happens to her. Halfway through saying that “maybe they deserved it”, to boot. She also was oblivious when Discord asked for someone to provide him with a fainting couch, which Rarity seems to have on permanent stand-by (in case of drama emergency ), prompting her to answer everyone’s glance with “What…?” She was also jealous of Applejack getting the attention of the stallion she liked, and even tried to change her personality to suit someone else, which she later chided him for doing (although that was more like her putting into words for him the lesson she had just learned for herself, so maybe calling that hypocritical is being a bit harsh).   Vain She definitely is. Sometimes she can get so entranced by her own beauty, that she forgets everything else, and sometimes even becomes the stereotype of a self-centered, vapid bimbo that she usually manages to avoid. The most prominent example in the first season comes from “Sonic Rainboom”, where her magical wings went to her head, as it were, and ended up causing a lot of distress for Rainbow Dash, whom she herself had been most vocal about supporting. She also put a number of other ponies in danger due to her actions. In the end, it warped her character entirely out of true. The evidence for this: first, the laugh she gives when everyone praises her wings sounds rather unhinged; second is the utterly garish outfit she ended up wearing in the Best Young Fliers Competition. In her normal state, Rarity would never have dressed in something that tacky. It’s nearly as bad as any of the ugly dresses she ended up making in “Suited for Success”. Even in more normal circumstances, she still can be a bit of a Narcissus, in an almost literal sense. She often becomes absorbed in her own beauty when there is any available reflective surface for her to gaze at herself in. She again forgot what she was supposed to be doing in the Crystal Empire, having a self-indulgent fantasy of herself as a Crystal Pony, and bemoaning the fact that when she did get turned to Crystal, it was only a temporary effect. Luckily Applejack was there to make her feel better. And that concludes Part 2 of “Looking at Rarity”. Did your list of Rarity’s faults match mine? Do you think I let her off too lightly in some areas, or was too harsh in others? You’re welcome to leave a comment and let me know what you think. Part 3 is going to expand out from Rarity herself and delve more fully into her relationships with the other characters in the show, including but not restricted to the rest of the Mane Six

Sunny Fox

Sunny Fox

 

Episode 14. “Suited for Success”: Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Exile! I guess technically I’d have to move away to live in exile. Where would I go? And what would I pack? Oh, it’s going to take me forever to do all of that packing. What are you supposed to pack when you go into exile? Are you supposed to pack warm? – Rarity This is the episode that made me a Rarity fan. Before I watched it, Applejack was top in my book. So, with that, let’s jump in headfirst, and see why it happened. Rarity is busy with her dress for the Grand Galloping Gala, while gushing to Opal about it. Opal is unimpressed, but every sound noncommittal she makes, Rarity interprets as an offer to help her, leaving the poor cat balancing her mistress’ sewing supplies and being rather exasperated about it. Applejack and Twilight come into the Boutique, and despite noticing she is busy concentrating and deciding not to disturb her, they whisper loudly enough to each other to defeat the purpose of it. Rarity, exasperated herself, puts on a rather brittle smile as she turns and asks “Is there something I can help you with?” Twilight has an old dress with a button that needs to be sown back on, but Rarity declares it to be unfitting for the occasion, and insists on making her a brand new gown for the GGG. Twilight eventually agrees, thanking Rarity for her generosity. Applejack is also lackadaisical, stating that she was planning on wearing her old work duds. They reach a compromise: AJ can wear her duds as long as Rarity can spruce them up a bit. Rainbow Dash then comes crashing through the roof and into some of Rarity’s supplies, inspiring Rarity to make a gown for her too. She decides each of the Mane Six will get a new gown from her, and then they’ll hold a fashion show! Even Rainbow Dash is excited about it.
Rainbow Dash apparently likes cosplaying Plants vs Zombies Applejack expresses concern that Rarity might have difficulty making six original stunning dresses at short notice, but Rarity laughs it off. This leads us into… it. The song that is still my favorite, even after all this time: The Art of the Dress. Borrowing heavily from Stephen Sondheim's "Putting It Together", it features Rarity having the time of her life while she designs dresses for her friends, effortlessly using her telekinesis to move around a virtual typhoon of sewing supplies, and singing about how easy it is to make dresses. After the song, she brings her friends in to see her creations. Despite her enthusiastic explanation of how she came up with each dress, she finds her friends reactions oddly subdued. Eventually, they admit that while the dresses are nice, they’re not quite what they were imagining. Rarity is very disappointed that her friends don’t like their dresses, and stoutly insists on redoing them so that her friends will be 100% satisfied. As they leave, she quietly wonders exactly what she has let herself in for. Having redone Fluttershy’s dress, she brings her in to see it. Fluttershy tries to hide her dissatisfaction with the new design, but Rarity picks up on it anyway, and eventually convinces Fluttershy to say what she really thinks of it. However, she regrets it when Fluttershy gives a rather scathing criticism of damn near everything about her dress, demonstrating a hidden knowledge of sewing techniques. The episode then enters the dark reprise of Art of the Dress. I really cannot fathom why this part of the song was not included in the album Songs of Friendship and Magic. As I pointed out when I reviewed the album, it really is an oversight of epic proportions, since this half of the song is even better than the first half. Oh, well. I’m sure it will be officially available at some point in the future. Even if I have to track down Daniel Ingram myself and camp outside his house until he agrees to release it. Enough about that for now, though. The song continues at a much more hurried pace, to reflect Rarity’s flustered state of mind, and we see each of the ponies make ridiculous alterations. This scene also provided us with the 20% cooler meme, courtesy of Rainbow Dash. By the end, Rarity is both exhausted and deeply unhappy with the results of the others’ interference, and pronounces them to Opalescence as the ugliest dresses she has ever made. Her friends, however, are overjoyed with their dresses, even while Opalescence shows her disapproval of them. Rarity can’t even bring herself to say anything nice about them. Then Spike bursts in with (what he thinks is) good news. Hoity Toity, an important figure in the Equestrian fashion world, and a pony version of Karl Lagerfeld, has heard about Rarity’s dresses and will come to see the fashion show. Cue twitchy eye from Rarity, who realizes that disaster is around the corner. Rarity is hyperventilating backstage as Ponyville gathers for the fashion show, and Hoity Toity makes his entrance.
Brown-nosing: you’re doing it wrong. As Rarity feared would happen, the fashion show is a disaster, with Hoity Toity delivering a scathing indictment of the designs, everypony in the crowd laughing at his comments, and even the Mane Five belatedly realizing that they’ve overdone it on the redesign. Spike is entirely oblivious to this, however, calling Rarity out onto the catwalk to take a bow, and applauding enthusiastically, even though the crowd is silent except for some mutters and whispers. Despite this, Rarity is still pony enough to come out, showing a great deal of bravery and dedication to her craft. A few days later, however, she’s a total wreck, having locked herself in her room to wallow in self-pity, or whatever it is ponies are supposed to wallow in and crying about being made a laughing stock. The friends are unable to coax her out, and try to think of something they can do to fix the situation. Fluttershy suggests “panic”, to which Rainbow Dash comments, “That’s your answer to everything!” (It is too, she suggested back in “Dragonshy” that the dragon warranted panic.) Twilight, peering through the keyhole, sees Rarity’s unfinished dress and gets an idea. A little later, Rarity is considering exile and idly wondering what she should pack, when she hears Opalescence yowling from outside. She spots her pet, apparently stuck up a tree, and immediately runs out to rescue her, stopping short when she realizes it was Rainbow Dash who stranded Opal. However, it was for a good cause: to entice Rarity out so they can show her the dress they completed for her (using Fluttershy’s knowledge that she demonstrated earlier.) Rarity compliments them on their handiwork, and accepts their apology for not leaving her to do their dresses the way she wanted them, as they should have. She even gets a second chance to impress Hoity Toity, and the second take takes his breath away.
Trixie can suck it. This is how you put on a show! Her original designs are enough to amaze the hotshot fashion icon, and he compliments her for her impressive debut, and requests a dozen of each dress to feature in his boutique back in Canterlot… by the following Tuesday, causing Rarity another bout of twitchy eye. Meanwhile, Twilight delivers a dual moral for this episode: first, you can’t please everyone all the time, and if you try you’ll end up with a disaster; second, that you should accept a gift graciously, and not criticize it.   My Thoughts on the Episode This episode comes very close to a perfect study of Rarity’s character. It really shows a lot about Rarity’s qualities, both good and bad. Her generosity and self-sacrifice, her skill as a dress-maker, her love for her pet and her willingness to forgive others are highlighted, as are her penchant for histrionics and her tendency to overreact emotionally. Her positive qualities raised my opinion of her character, and even her negative qualities made for an entertaining episode. Her freak-out, and her later whimsical ruminations on having to pack for exile were very amusing to watch.
And she looks absolutely darling with her hair styled like this. There are a few things plotholes, though. We clearly see that Rarity’s unfinished dress is in the same room she has locked herself in. There isn’t enough time for the others to finish it in the time it took her to go out to Opal, so they must have taken it at an earlier point. It’s possible that she left the room at some point, allowing them time to get in and take it out, but then why didn’t they just wait for her in the room itself? Then there would be no need for the ruse with Opal in the first place. Another thing is that Pinkie mentions that Rarity hasn’t come out of her room for days, yet Hoity Toity (who said his time was valuable) is still hanging around long enough to be invited to the second fashion show. Why? Did he leave and come back, or just stand around doing nothing for days? There can’t be much in Ponyville to keep him busy, since he’s only there because Spike told him about the first fashion show. Not quite a plot hole, but how could the others look at their original dresses and not like them? Conversely, how could they look at the final dress designs and not notice how unremittingly hideous they are? Fluttershy at the least should have realized it, considering her earlier comment about Prêt-à-Porter versus true haute couture. (Why does France exist in Equestria?) Some other highlights are the second fashion show, where Rarity uses her magic to put on a visual feast, with an awesome musical theme for each pony and dress, and of course, this episode features the best song yet produced in the series (in my opinion, of course).   Pros: Great insight into Rarity. A wonderful song that is yet to be matched. Two morals for the price of one. Cons: Some plot-holes and question marks.   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 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 13. "Fall Weather Friends": Grudge Rhymes with Fudge

Forgive me, girls. I know I’m not an athlete, but shouldn’t the Running of the Leaves involve actual running? – Twilight Sparkle to Applejack and Rainbow Dash Applejack and Rainbow Dash are engaging in a friendly match of horseshoe tossing as the episode begins. Their good natured banter is marred a bit when Applejack ends up the winner, and is just a little bit too smug about it for the somewhat-of-a-poor-loser Rainbow to overlook. Rainbow suggests an Iron Pony Competition to settle once and for all who the better athlete is, and they seal the wager with spit and a hoof bump. After the credits, Applejack explains to Twilight and Spike what they are planning. Well, she tries to, since Rainbow keeps blurting out what she was busy saying, while doing stretches. Twilight agrees to be the judge, and Spike takes it upon himself to be the announcer, as the rest of the Mane Six arrive to watch. The first event is the barrel weave, in which Applejack manages to best her previous time. However, a slight nudging of the barrel nets her a time penalty. Now this scene is great for countering fans who say Applejack is no good at “fancy mathematics”, since she adds up the times just fine. She’s also pretty much the one who keeps the finances in check for Sweet Apple Acres, so obviously, she can do maths. Some fans really need to realize that sometimes a funny line like “Don’t you use your fancy mathematics to muddy the issue!” is just a funny line, not the basis for the entire character. (Yes, I’m exaggerating. Sue me. ) Rainbow’s agility is on display during her run, which is slightly slower than AJ’s time without the penalty, but still results in a victory for the multicolour-maned mare. As the events continue, more and more ponies start arriving to watch, leaving Twilight astonished to see how much the crowd has grown. The events include kicking footballs, rodeo, roping poor old Spike into a roping, etc. and any of them using the legs seems to favour the apple-bucking Applejack. Ball bouncing, however, is all Rainbow, which is a nice little reminder of Dragonshy. She also wins the bronco buck, although I suspect Spike was tired after Applejack’s turn, which might not be entirely fair. What definitely isn’t fair is Rainbow using her wings in the push up contest, although Applejack tries to ignore this in favour of being “a good sport”. However, as the competition continues, Rainbow begins to use her unfair advantage more and more. In the final event, Tug-o-War, Rainbow simply flies up to avoid being pulled into the mud pit, lifting poor Applejack into the air and leaving her dangling just like in Look Before You Sleep. When she tries to tell Rainbow off for cheating, she accidentally lets go of the rope, and falls into the mud. Rainbow claims victory, but Applejack is now thoroughly ticked off, and calls her out for cheating. Rainbow points out that they never agreed that she couldn’t use her wings; Applejack counters that she thought it was too obviously cheating to mention it. When Rainbow claims she would have won in any case, Applejack challenges her to a wingless rematch on the morrow to prove it; it’s the Running of the Leaves, a marathon to shake off the fall foliage.
Face/Off it ain’t. The following day, Spike urges Twilight to hurry up, since he wants to be the announcer for this competition as well. His hopes are dashed, however, when it turns out Pinkie is already “the eye in the sky” announcer, commenting on the race from the Twinkling Balloon. Luckily, Pinkie is more than willing to let Spike be her co-announcer, and hauls him up into the Balloon with her. Meanwhile, Applejack reiterates the terms of the race, and to ensure compliance from Rainbow, ties her wings up. Both are flabbergasted when Twilight joins them and the rest of the racers at the start line, and Rainbow pokes fun at Twilight’s lack of athletic ability and the fact that she has never run a race, only read about it before. Her jibes are actually pretty funny. The race begins, and Applejack and Rainbow lead the pack. Pinkie and Spike comment on the action, but Pinkie being Pinkie, her observations are all pretty far out of left field, leaving poor Spike to try to keep up the best he can. The race starts out pretty on the level, and the leaves are falling as the pack forges ahead. Front runners Rainbow and Applejack exchange some words, and Applejack suddenly trips. She immediately thinks that Rainbow tripped her, but Twilight arrives to point out that she tripped over a rock, and tells Applejack that she needs to pay more attention to where she is running. Somehow, Applejack is able to make up the ground, and passes Rainbow just as she decides to slow down a bit. Rainbow in turn catches up, and remarks that the race isn’t over yet, to which Applejack replies “It is for you!” and runs on ahead. This time, it’s Rainbow who trips over something and blames Applejack for it. Twilight, again coming on the scene a short while later, tells Rainbow that Applejack would never cheat, and even points out the stumbling block, a stump. RD is not convinced, even though she tripped long after Applejack had pulled far ahead of her, and decides that the cheating is now on. The two continue to try everything to slow down their rival, including using branches, tree sap, and even a swarm of bees (although that backfires on AJ, since the burst of speed RD gets running away from the bees puts RD ahead of her.)
Not the bees, NOT THE BEES! RD manages to send AJ off the track by reversing a direction sign, and she ends up on a cliff. Luckily, she gets a lift from the Balloon to get back to the front and continue running, prompting an outraged RD to point out that they agreed on “no flying”. AJ replies that they technically agreed on “no wings”, in a lovely little bit of loophole abuse. As they reach the final stretch, AJ and RD are so busy pulling each other back that the rope tying RD’s wings comes unraveled.
So much nom… RD declares “all bets are off” as she starts to gain altitude, but Applejack pounces and brings her down again, as they cross the finish line in a big ball of violence. Still arguing over who came first, they are shocked when Pinkie announces that they tied… for LAST place! Twilight comes up with a medal, but admits she didn’t get first place, only fifth. She says she did so well because she followed her book’s advice: pace yourself and sprint to the finish when the other runners are tired out. Princess Celestia herself comes out of the crowd, being there to watch the Running of the Leaves, one of her favourite events of the year. Both AJ and RD apologize for their behavior, but Celestia forgives them, saying that she understands how a pony can get swept up in competition. Twilight finishes by stating the moral of the episode: to remember that the friendship is more important than the competition. The poacher. Since they were concentrating on cheating each other and not on knocking down leaves, there is still a need for more running, and Applejack and Rainbow Dash, restored to their former friendly rivalry, set off into the sunset together. Highlights When Rainbow and Applejack are staring each other down after the marathon challenge, Rainbow blows a raspberry, causing them both to giggle for a moment, then their expressions get serious again. Rainbow and Applejack teasing Twilight about learning how to run from books: AJ: “Have you ever run a race?”
TS: “Well, no... but I do know a lot about running.”
RD and AJ trade glances, and both try to keep a straight face
RD: “And you know this from…?”
TS: “Books! I’ve read several on the subject.”
RD falls over laughing
RD: “What d’ya read, ‘The Egghead’s Guide to Running’? Did you, did you stretch out your eye muscles to warm up?”
RD is rolling on the floor at this point
RD: “Get it? Eye muscles?”
TS: “Scoff if you must, Rainbow, but the Running of the Leaves is a Ponyville tradition, and since I’m here to learn, I’ve decided I should experience it myself.”
AJ is also sniggering, but tries to be serious for a moment
AJ: “Well, I think that’s just dandy, Twilight. Good luck.”
RD: “Yeah. See you at the finish line… tomorrow!” Twilight passes Rainbow and Applejack during one of their altercations in the woods, and delivers the wonderfully backhanded insult quoted above. Analysis A pretty straightforward episode here, driven by the rivalry between two good athletes. Pinkie and Spike’s interactions are also funny, with the pink pony’s purile pontifications mystifying the less lateral-thinking lizard. The dialogue overall is very enjoyable, as is the lovely fall scenery. There are a few minor problems, as mentioned: how Rainbow concluded that Applejack tripped her when she was nowhere near her at the time; if Twilight was going so slowly, how could she catch up enough to get fifth place; both Applejack and Rainbow being a little too willing to follow the letter of the law than the spirit. But these are relatively minor, and the episode is highly entertaining. Pros: Good character driven plot; funny dialogue; a good moral; lovely animation Cons: Loophole abuse; some minor lapses of logic.   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 leafy side up!

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

 

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 12. "Call of the Cutie": Apple Bloom's Blank Flank Blues

*Deep breath* There’s a cuteceneara this afternoon and every pony in my class will be there and they’ll all have their cutie marks, and I wanna get my cutie mark, but I'm no good at selling apples, but I really want to go to the party but how can I go to the party if I don't have my cutie mark which my big sister says I’m gonna get eventually, but... I want it now! – Apple Bloom This episode introduces not only the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but also the Bully Duo of Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon. In the opening scene, teacher Cheerilee explains about Cutie Marks, the magical flank tattoos that all ponies acquire once they discover themselves. This lesson is ostensibly taught to the students, but it’s really for the benefit of the audience, and the students who already have theirs find the lesson incredibly boring. Apple Bloom, however, is fascinated. She is distracted by DT, who wants her to pass a note to SS. The second it touches AB’s lips, however, Cheerilee notices, somehow missing that the note came from DT not a fraction of a second earlier. When she confiscates the note, she finds it blank, and DT makes a joke at AB’s expense about the fact that her flank is as blank as the paper is. This scene pretty much sets up the plot of all the CMC episodes to follow. It also has palette swaps of Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo, the other CMC members.
Maybe they’re in disguise due to embarrassment about their blank flanks. While Apple Bloom is still put out about being a blank flank, her friend and fellow blank flank Twist tries to cheer her up by offering her some of her homemade candy canes. DT and SS also appear, inviting both of them to her Cuteceanera despite (or knowing DT, because of) their lack of cutie marks. Most of the episode features Apple Bloom trying everything she can think of to earn her cutie mark before the party. However, her overeagerness to sell apples at the market not only scares away the customers, but ends with Applejack telling her to go back home. When she stubbornly refuses, Applejack softens and encourages her to visit Twist, so that they can go to the party together. On arriving at Twist’s place, however, an unpleasant surprise awaits: Twist is no longer blank flank, having rather inconveniently realized that making candy IS her special talent. Twist urges her to come with her to the party anyway, but DT and SS happen to be passing by and passing comments, which makes Apple Bloom feel even worse.
Equestrian weather can be rather literal at times. Rainbow Dash notices the moping Apple Bloom, and offers to help her get her cutie mark: the key is trying as many things as possible in as short a time as possible. This starts a montage of epic failery, (I know that’s not a word, just go with it) with every attempt at anything ending in disaster, despite Coach Dash’s best efforts. While Coach is pondering what to try next, Pinkie comes past and offers to let Apple Bloom eat cupcakes. Once she is ensnared, however, Pinkie admits that she doesn’t have any cupcakes, but that they should make some, which of course, means a Random Song Out of Nowhere. It’s pretty catchy. Apple Bloom’s talent is definitely not making cupcakes, since they come out burnt to a crunchy crisp. The baking is interrupted by the arrival of Twilight Sparkle, whom Apple Bloom entreats to make her cutie mark appear by using magic. This also turns out to be a bust, since magic can’t make a cutie mark appear before it’s time (this does NOT prove that cutie marks are entirely immune to magic, as some fans seem to think, only that making one appear prematurely is impossible, since it requires an epiphany on the part of the young filly herself.) Finally having had enough, Apple Bloom decides that there is no way she will be attending the party without a cutie mark, but suddenly realizes she is already there: it’s being held at Sugarcube Corner! Her attempts to hide are foiled, and even her escape out the door is blocked when Applejack arrives and says how happy she is to see that Apple Bloom came to the party despite the thing with Twist. Then she leaves her to the tender mercies of her “friends”: Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, who are happy to have their punching bag in their clutches. Thinking quickly, she grabs a nearby table cloth and wraps it up into a makeshift gown to cover up her still blank flank. Then she outfoxes DT by claiming that not only does she now have a cutie mark, but that it’s so awesome that revealing it will make everyone pay attention to her and not to DT. Unfortunately, her bluff is uncovered when she trips and exposes her flank. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon start in on her again, when a new voice interrupts with the words: “You got a problem with Blank Flanks?” Cue Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo coming out from under a nearby table.
Just like Twisted Sister: they’re not going to take it… They come to Apple Bloom’s rescue, saying that her blank flank is a sign of her future potential, and revealing that they too are blank in the flank. The young party guests rally around the three, leaving DT and SS out in the cold. This is probably why DT seems to have such a grudge against them: they outshone her at her own party. But more about that later on. The three blank flanks become firm friends, and start calling themselves the Cutie Mark Crusaders, aiming at finding their special talents together. Twilight closes the episode with a message about how a weakness can be something that helps you meet your best friends. While the moral is a little bit forced, the purpose of this episode was to introduce the CMC and set up the plot line, which it does pretty well. It’s entertaining while simultaneously making you feel bad for all the bad stuff Apple Bloom goes through. Apparently the universe has a grudge against her. A question that could be raised is why Applejack and Cheerilee are so oblivious to the fact that Apple Bloom is being targeted by bullies. Plot convenience is really the only answer. Pros: Introduces the CMC; amusing to watch how epically AB fails at nearly everything Cons: Convenient plot; moral is a little weak. Highlight: Apple Bloom's kite not only crashes, but also disintegrates! 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

 

Sometimes, you just gotta join the rest of the guys in the asylum...

READ FULL ENTRY READ FULL ENTRY READ FULL ENTRY READ FULL ENTRY READ FULL ENTRY WHAT? IT'S MY BLOG, I CAN DO WHAT I WANT READ FULL ENTRY READ FULL ENTRY READ FULL ENTRY READ FULL ENTRY READ FULL ENTRY Well, I finally caved in and joined a forum fad. This one is cute enough that I couldn't resist. You finally, really did it. You blew me up. You maniacs. Have some Apple Bloom:  

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

 

Episode 74. “Pinkie Apple Pie”: Big Macintosh Almost gets a Line

Well, I guess that was the most terrifying cave in all of Equestria. – Granny Smith Twilight and Spike are busy being plot convenient when Pinkie decides to crash their study session on genealogy. Spike manages to explain to the mystified Pinkie what genealogy entails... he's come such a long way from not knowing what the words "precipice", "threshold" and "brink" are. (See Season 1, Episode 1) After using her Pinkie weirdness to cheat Jenga physics, and grab a scroll, she makes a startling discovery: she may be a distant cousin of the Apple family!
The horror! The horror! Just kidding. Applejack and family are in fact delighted to discover their relationship, and welcome Pinkie to the best darn family ya ever did see. They have the playful Apple Bloom and strong Big MacIntosh, the wise Granny Smith and the sensible Applejack herself. AB, Big Mac and Granny Smith provide some foreshadowing... AB's playing around sends her crashing into things; Big Mac has a pie slide off the stove he's lifting and land on his face; and Granny Smith's senile dementia (played for laughs) is highlighted when she refuses to admit that the bonnet she was looking for was on her head the entire time. Pinkie is tickled pink to be a part of this family.
I call this my "anime face"! However, they can't be 100% sure that she actually IS family, since the part of the scroll that could prove it one way or the other is smudged. They decide on a road trip to Cousin Golden Delicious, the family history buff of the Apple family, who they hope can confirm or deny the connection. After a plea from AJ to show their best behaviour for Pinkie's benefit, they set off with an overloaded wagon. A jaunty little travelling tune "Apples to the Core" follows. As with most Applejack related songs, the song features a strong beat, and each member of the family sans Big Mac, gets their own verse to sing. He does, however, contribute to the chorus. The song ends with the wagon breaking down due to Big Mac over estimating it's ability to carry the load (as foreshadowed earlier).
He's none too happy with Applejack making comments about it, either. Pinkie suggests they travel by river instead, and Granny Smith identifies a nearby tree with sap they can use to make a raft from the wagon parts. Everything seems to be running smoothly, with Pinkie taking pictures and creating a scrapbook, until the river splits into three. Applejack asks Apple Bloom to bring her the map. However, the filly's playful nature becomes her downfall (as foreshadowed earlier) when she accidentally drops the map overboard while dancing around. Granny Smith says she knows the way anyway, but due to her absent-mindedness and senior confusion, (going three for three, here) she ends up guiding them to the scariest cave in Equestria. "Ponies go in but they never come out," as she says. Which makes no sense, since how could they know about the cave unless somepony went in and survived it so as to talk about it? After making it out alive (Pinkie must have been Giggling at the Ghostly or something) Applejack tries to take over the wheel, leading to an argument which ends with the wheel coming clear off and falling overboard. Unable to steer, the raft falls over the obligatory waterfall, but makes it through with passengers and cargo... until Pinkie lightly lands on the top, and the whole thing breaks apart and sinks. Their spirits thoroughly dampened, the group arrives at Golden Delicious' home to find that she is out running errands. Pinkie declares she has time to get more scrapbook paper, and scarpers. The Apples berate themselves for arguing and ruining the trip, but end up forgiving each other. They conclude that they really didn't end up being the family they wanted to show themselves to be and that Pinkie might not want to be a part of their family. Pinkie, returning just in time to hear them say this, immediately points out that they are a great family, because even when things got bad and despite a bit of arguing, they pulled together in the end. She is still keen to be an Apple! Golden Delicious arrives home and lets them in... to say her house is "cluttered" is a woefully inadequate description.
Similar to saying the sun is "kind of hot". She has so much junk (sorry, family heirlooms) and so many cats that it's a wonder she manages to find what she needs... a book on the Apple genealogy. Opening it, they find the page they need is also smudged, making their entire trip a dead end. Pinkie is disappointed, but Applejack tells her that what the books says is unimportant, since she's proven herself an "Apple to the Core" for putting up with them during the trip. With a new wagon provided by Golden Delicious, the Apple family (all five of them) head home to write about what they've learned. Thoughts on the episode: I don't really know how to feel about this episode, which is why it took so long to get to reviewing it. The strongest impression I had from this episode comes from the series of running gags ("best whatever, ever", that damn eagle, the scrapbook pictures, etc) which is not really a good thing when the show is usually so character driven. In the case of Pinkie Pie, she seemed more like a vehicle for the gags rather than the Genius Ditz she should be. Her treatment by the writers just seemed a little shallow to me. And what is up with the weird powers her mane and tail seem to have in Season 4? Her mane is apparently hammerspace, able to absorb her scrapbook somehow, and her tail can not only use a camera, but is able to be back on her rump as the photo is taken, seemingly being in two places simultaneously! It's just Pinkamena Diane "Responsibility" Apple Pie being Pinkamena Diane "Responsibility" Apple Pie, I guess. Poor Big MacIntosh. He nearly had a line of his own here, but Granny Smith took that away from him. At least he got to say "Hey!" at one point. I like it when Big Mac gets something to say - one of the highlights of "Ponyville Confidential" for me was his tirade against the CMC - but I guess it's awesome because it's so rare. Still, according to Pinkie's reaction when they were talking, he's deep. What other wisdom is being kept from us? Applejack's stubbornness, matched against Granny Smith's, was quite funny to watch, but again, let's find some other flaw of hers to highlight. We've seen the stubborn side of her too often. The song was good, as I described above, but there are a lot of them. In the past 5 episodes, 4 have had a song in them. They're going to start sounding alike if they make an appearance too frequently. All in all, these are minor flaws, and the comedic slice of life episode is still one of the show's strengths, with a fine pair of morals: "being a good family doesn't mean never having conflict, but sticking together through the conflicts" and "really good friends can be a part of your family". Pros: Slice of life comedy is good. Some funny moments and gags. Good morals. Cons: Nothing really stands out as a shining example of awesomesauce. And what is up with the way Golden Delicious is living?   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 and enjoy the new episode in a few hours time.

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

 

Stop littering

Hooboy, this is getting out of hand. Guys, 2014 is the year of the HORSE, not the KITTEH. Get it right. Better than propane (and it's accessories) I guess. <<This message was brought to you by the Tongue In Cheek Comedy Association>>

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

 

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 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 70. “Flight to the Finish”: Cutie Mark Crusader Flag Carriers! YAY!

Professionalism, Miss Harshwhinny! – Rainbow Dash Although this episode focuses on the Cutie Mark Crusaders, it’s basically another Rainbow Dash episode. At least this one is a little bit better than the previous one. This is much more like the Dashie I know and somewhat like on a good day than the quivering fangirl mess we had before. If you’ll permit me to go off on a tangent: In the previous episode, Rainbow did not act like herself. Many of the reviewers who had a favorable reaction to it argue that it was actually in line with her character to fangirl over Daring Do, because she has fangirled over the Wonderbolts in the past. However, the way she acted in “Daring Don’t” is very different from the way she acted previously. In the episodes “Sonic Rainboom”, “The Best Night Ever”, and “Hurricane Fluttershy”, she did squee a bit when she got to spend time with Spitfire, but she was never gushing about how cool the Wonderbolts are and how lame she is compared to them. She kept her cool, even though inside she was squealing with excitement, and didn’t let her admiration keep her from taking initiative and acting. In “Wonderbolt Academy”, she even had the gumption to go to her idol, Spitfire, and basically say, “I don’t approve of the way this is run, I’m outta here!” All of this is a remarkable contrast to her interactions with her Daring Do, at least in the first half of the episode, so I still think she was acting out of character there. Getting back to the episode I’m supposed to be reviewing: truly, Coach Rainbow is best Dash, especially the way she has to keep reining herself in (no pun intended) in order to maintain her appearance as Rainbow “Professionalism” “Danger” Dash.
Fits right in with Pinkamena Diane “Responsibility” Pie I also liked the reintroduction of Ms. Harshwhinny, although her constant “we are not amused” face was a trifle annoying to watch, and the call back to the Equestria Games from the previous season. The best part of the first scene is where the blackboard drawing that represents the “style” requirement is quite clearly Rarity.
It seems even Ms. Harshwhinny knows a high quality pony when she sees one. This scene sets up the plot, where the Cutie Mark Crusaders compete for the chance to be flag bearers at the Games. Of course, they are pestered at every turn by bullies Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, especially when the CMC’s quite frankly awesome routine leaves everypony visible awed. The terrible twosome bring out their greatest weapon, “blank flank”… only to find it utterly useless against the CMC. Silver Spoon’s reaction of utter shock and confusion is one of the highlights of the episode. It also goes to show that the CMC are developing, in that they are no longer allowing their blank flank status to concern them. Realizing they need to try a new tack, the bullies then point to Scootaloo’s inability to fly as something that will put the CMC out of the running. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle are having none of it, but this is a sore point for Scootaloo already, and the spiteful words hit their target. I have to admit, much as I like some things about DT, this really is a new low she has sunk to. Of course, Scootaloo starts insisting that she has to be able to fly, or they’ll have no chance at winning, and nothing the other two can say budges her. This leads to their routine becoming as much of a mess as their Talent Show musical number from “The Showstoppers”, and that’s saying something. Despite her friends giving up for the night, Scoots continues to try to fly. The day of the competition, Scootaloo is not only late to the train, but also says that she wants to stay behind so that her inability to fly won’t ruin the routine for the others. This of course makes no sense, since the whole idea behind their routine is that it represents the fact that Ponyville has all three varieties of pony living in harmony. Leaving out the pegasii component renders the whole thing meaningless and therefore bound to fail. But she’s young and currently depressed, so she gets a pass on this logic. Apple Bloom, annoyed to the point of disgust, tells her they don’t want her anyway, and she and Belle get on the train, leaving poor dejected Scoots behind. Rainbow Dash, too excited now to be “professional”, says she hopes they win, and asks where Scootaloo is. On hearing how the two fillies treated their friend, Rainbow gives them a heck of a “What the hell, Heroes” speech, as is quite right, being the Element of Loyalty and stops the train so they can go back and fetch her. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, smugly satisfied that with the CMC staying behind, they’re definitely going to win, make a few mocking remarks and laugh as the train pulls away. And then Sweetie Belle delivers the line that quite literally made the episode for me: “I don’t like them one bit,” with the most deadpan expression and tone. Ah Sweetie Belle, you do get the best lines out of the CMC. That one is right up there with “Why does life have to be so ironic?” from “One Bad Apple”. Finding Scoots moping in her room, the two apologize for leaving her, and Rainbow Dash also comes to give her some comfort, with some inspirational words about how she thinks Scoots is great regardless of her flying ability. With the CMC back to full strength, all that remains is to get to the Crystal Empire in time. Scoots and her scooter, along with some skiing gear, provide the propulsion needed, and even gets her a hoof bump from Granny Smith as she passes, in another awesome moment.
High Five! Or is that a High One? Of course, their routine is enough to get them the prize, sending even Ms. Harshwhinny herself into a tizz with its brilliance, until Rainbow Dash ironically reminds her of her earlier insistence on “professionalism”. Final Thoughts Now this was a much better episode. Rainbow Dash is more in character, there are some really funny and really touching moments. The CMC also seem to be developing as characters, being less worried about their blank flanks and realizing that it doesn’t have to a weakness for them all the time. Of course, apart from Dash, none of the Mane 6 are present, which is refreshing. They weren’t needed and so they weren’t added, which I think is good writing. The central conflict about Scootaloo’s inability to fly was also quite natural, and so the plot flows along quite nicely, with some good pacing. Highlights:
The chalk drawing of Rarity.
The first song of Season 4 - passable but not brilliant.
Silver Spoon can’t believe that the magic phrase “blank flank” is ineffectual.
The CMC’s routine is genuinely impressive, especially with the streamers.
Sweetie Belle’s perfect lines.
Ms. Harshwhinny gushing about how awesome the CMC are. Pros: Good character-driven plot; good pacing Cons: A little predictable 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! Next episode appears to be a “superpowers for a day” plot. I’ve seen it done in many cartoons, and unless it’s done with the intention to parody the superhero genre, it’s usually not very good. Not to mention the last superhero themed episode is widely considered the worst of Season 2. But let’s not dismiss it without seeing what they do with it. Until then, 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

 

Episode 10. “Swarm of the Century”: The One Where Zecora Forgets to Rhyme

You’ve got a problem, all right! And a banjo is the only solution! – Pinkie Pie Princess Celestia is on her way to visit Ponyville, and preparations are well underway. While the town goes to town on the decorations, Fluttershy is searching the fringe of the Everfree Forest for flowers in honor of the Royal Visit. She comes across one of the cutest little critters you’re ever going to see. Despite seeing it devour an entire bucket of apples, she decides to take it home to show off to the others… leaving the empty bucket behind as an ominous chord plays in the background. Twilight and Spike are tidying the library, but keep getting in each other’s way. Spike suggests that only one of them should be doing this, clearly hoping Twilight will excuse him from the chore. This backfires when she agrees, but then tells him to continue cleaning and leaves. Once again doing the job of Mayor Mare, she goes out to oversee the sprucing up of Ponyville. One wonders, does Mayor Mare even have any authority in Ponyville now that Twilight is living there? Visiting Sugarcube Corner, she finds Pinkie eating all the treats that are meant for the Princess. When Twilight remonstrates with her, she claims taste testing. Just then, Fluttershy slides in, eager to show off her new pet… or pets, as she now discovers she has three. Twilight agrees that they are adorable, and takes one for herself. Pinkie, however, announces that she has no need for parasprites, but now has to go find a trombone. Many fans, at this point, blame Pinkie for not being clear about what’s going on. Personally, I blame Twilight instead. Pinkie is supposed to be ditzy; Twilight is supposed to be smart. One simple word, “Why?” would have cleared up everything. Fluttershy: Pinkie, do you want the other one?
Pinkie: Ugh, a parasprite? Are you kidding?
Twilight: A para-what? <<< The logical next question is “What is that?”
Pinkie: Now gotta go find a trombone!
Twilight: A what? <<< Another insightful comment. This is the perfect opportunity to ask “Why?”
Pinkie: A trombone... you know… <makes a trombone sound>
Pinkie leaves
Twilight: Ugh... typical Pinkie… She makes no further attempt to find out more, despite Pinkie having identified the little guys. She even seems to forget Pinkie ever mentioned them, as we’ll see later. Anyway, Twilight takes her new pet with her as she goes to visit Rarity, who is busy putting the finishing touches on a lovely dress… for Rainbow Dash. Huh, didn’t expect that… Also finding that her one has become three (do these ponies know nothing about geometric growth?), Twilight gives one to Rarity and Rainbow Dash, ignoring the arrival of Pinkie, who is still trying to collect musical instruments. This scene provides a nice little bit of fridge brilliance, as well, so take note of how Rainbow, out of all the ponies, is the only one to actually kiss hers. I’ll explain why this is notable later. As night falls, Twilight puts Spike and his new pet parasprite to bed, and seeing how peaceful they look, she stops feeling nervous about the Princess’ visit the following day, and goes to sleep as well. The morning brings a rude awakening, as Twilight discovers that the library is now absolutely full of parasprites. Spike is as stumped as she is as to where they came from, since he only remembers feeding the original parasprite during the night. They start to wreck the library, and Twilight and Spike hasten to capture the little guys. Meanwhile, Rainbow also finds herself in trouble, as the horde of parasprites she has all seem overly affectionate… probably because she kissed the one that produced all these others, as I mentioned earlier. Freaked out by this, Rainbow flies away in a panic. In contrast, Rarity is quite happy to have the little swarm help out with her dress-making… until one of them throws up in her face, and the vomitus becomes a new parasprite. Any pony would be grossed out by that, but when it’s Rarity… hoo, boy. She demands the parasprites leave her boutique, and also starts gathering them into her saddlebags. As she exits, she meets Pinkie, who has found a harmonica. When she plays a chord, the parasprites react to it, hinting at the resolution of the episode. Seeing all the parasprites, Pinkie announces a banjo as the only answer to the problem, and leaves again. All three end up at Fluttershy’s cottage, only to find she is having just as much trouble with her parasprites. Then Applejack arrives with more apples, which are promptly devoured, and the others rope her in to help them herd the critters away… except for one which Fluttershy kept, setting them back to square one… or ground zero… one may tend the resemble the other. The next solution, a tornado courtesy of Rainbow, is also doomed to failure, this time because Pinkie’s cymbals gets sucked in, disrupting the tornado and dumping all the parasprites into Ponyville proper. Hastening to the scene, the ponies discover the parasprites eating all the food. After Applejack runs back to protect her farm, Twilight casts a spell to ruin the parasprites’ appetite, which backfires spectacularly when they start eating everything that isn’t food instead. At that, the ponies scatter to protect their own interests. Rarity goes to the boutique and tries to shoo them away from the clothes, but when they all start throwing up, she is forced to retreat to a stool in the middle of the room and scream for help… and in comes Pinkie, grabbing another instrument and then leaving again.
Hey, Pinkie, I think Squidward wants his clarinet back… Applejack and family are guarding the orchard, which the swarm ignores entirely, instead eating the house. Applejack’s reaction is priceless. Twilight even seeks help from new friend Zecora, who is annoyed about being interrupted while she meditates and being dumped on the floor, forgetting for the first and only time to date to rhyme her lines (“Have you gone mad?”)
Zecora, the red-nosed zebra, had a paraspritey nose… Despite Zecora referring to them by the same name as Pinkie Pie, Twilight still seems not to remember these things are called parasprites. Zecora’s verdict is discouraging, to say the least. Running back to town, Twilight starts to crack under the pressure of the situation. Then One-Mare-Band Pinkie Pie appears, playing polka with a multitude of instruments. Twilight is bemused to see that the parasprites start dancing in time to the music, and begin to follow Pinkie in a neat line. As the rest of the Mane Six follow Pinkie, Celestia’s flying carriage arrives. Greeting her faithful student and friends, Celestia notices the Pinkie, parasprite and polka procession, and believes it to be a parade in her honour. The rest of the Mane Six just go with it, and Celestia regretfully informs them that there is an “infestation of bothersome creatures” situation she has to deal with elsewhere in Equestria, and the visit to Ponyville will have to wait. Before she leaves, she asks Twilight for her latest report, which Twilight ad-libs: “The solutions to your problems can come from those whom you least expect” or something. After that, the Mane Six go to apologize to Pinkie, and return “in triumph” to the still wrecked Ponyville. This episode is rather middle of the road for me. The central confusion could so easily have been cleared up if either party had bothered to clarify their side, but then, I guess that is the entire point of the episode. There are a few humorous moments, in particular when the parasprites ignore the orchard and eat the house. The Apple family’s reaction provides a lot of glee. The ending provides me a sneaking suspicion that Princess Celestia understands the situation better than she lets on. She looks more aghast than surprised to see the parasprite parade, despite professing not to know what these “adorable” creatures are. It’s quite possible she recognizes the parasprites, and since they are coming from Ponyville, she would be able to deduce that there is a problem there. She would obviously want Twilight to save face. The Guards who have been pulling her carriage also seem to have very knowing smiles, if you ask me. All in all, it’s highly probable that she has seen through the whole ruse. Highlights
Rainbow Dash, seeing Pinkie running full speed in reverse, delivers this ironic echo of a line in “Griffon the Brushoff”: Pinkie Pie, you are so random! The scene where Rarity thinks Pinkie Pie has come to help her against the parasprites, only for her to grab a flute from the table and leave again. Rarity just screams louder. Twilight’s brief trip to looney land:
Twilight’s brain: Snap!
Twilight: Okay, here’s the plan… Rainbow Dash, you distract them…
RD flies by shouting with a bunch of overly affectionate parasprites chasing her
Twilight: Good! Everyone (sic) else, we need to build an exact copy of Ponyville over there… we’ve got less than a minute! …beat… Zecora was right. We’re doomed. Pros: There are some very funny scenes. The way the situation goes from bad to worse is also very entertaining. Cons: Various characters have to carry the idiot ball for this to work. 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 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

 

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