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Who didn't know when reading the title that this would be an AJ-and-Dashie episode?
Fluttershy being Teacher of the Month at a friendship school all the time is well-deserved. I keep emphasizing how her big heart and thus great capacity for loving and compassion makes her predestined for it, as she showed by authentically being a friend to Discord during his troubled phase.
What is worth pointing out and being puzzled about though is that this is the ninth win. That means nine months have passed since the founding of the school. Why would the writers want to do such a large jump? That could become inconvenient in the future. ... Continuity and consistency were never strong points of the writing. (Noticed how during the canoe adventure Silverstream and Ocellus threw away their helmets and their safety vests vanished and when they shapeshifted back they were wearing both? OK, that's a minor, borderline thing, but it's one thing that just came to my attention.)
Fluttershy suggesting AJ and Dashie do the field trip together was so along the lines of her teacher expertise. She observed quietly and then pointed out the obvious solution. It came across as an almost trolling-level idea, but was actually quite like a Salomonic judgment. She's totally pwning her colleagues. Again, deservedly Teacher of the Month. She's got it figured out.
I had some tiny hope though that Twilight Sparkle expected it to go wrong when she sends AJ and Dashie on a non-competitive, teamwork-oriented mission. - Nope. "I can't believe this. You're not teaching teamwork. You're competing with each other." - She thought they were past that? What made her think that? How much time to they actually spend together off-camera? I would assume enough, considering Pinkie even pointed out to everybody that a potted plant would be better at it than those two.
Let me take a jab a Twilight here and exclaim how I can't believe she lied to Celestia in the theater episode. Heh.
Since they got so many different species around now, they're not saying "everypony" anymore, but "everycreature". This seems odd to me, since there are our "everybody" and "everyone". But I could assume this is with the idea that "everycreature" emerged from THEIR world and need to find a new word, and that is also maybe wants to be in-your-face about how they made a move of racial inclusion. I'm just wondering whether that's also the word that everybody used in their world when not referring to ponies. For example, what do yaks say among themselves? Everyyak?
Now, the issue with AJ an Dashie was one of those things I like to briefly bring to philosophical attention, a case of a rigid mind trying to twist even the opposite of something into the same, basically showing the infinite power of self-deception.
That they would eventually teach by bad example was, too, kinda announcing itself as early as reading the episode title, haha. I am just glad Twilight scheduled another test right away instead of giving them the award anyway. And after all, they have a whole month left to work on internalizing the experience and lesson.
I'm just worried that month might pass like nothing. Considering how quickly the previous nine went by, hah.
P.S.: Seeing the friendship school architecture from so many internal angles makes me wish I had been able to learn in such an environment. It is an amazing building. Never underestimate the impact such beautiful art can have on the heart, which lays the groundwork for the teachings.
That's what I imagined Twilight telling her.
The episode had its highlights, but they were quite timid and enjoyed best without pointing them all out.
In the beginning, Celestia thinks theater brings out the best in people. Well, dunno about Equestria, but in our realm there often seems to be lots of jealousy, competitive friction and big egoes involved.
When Pinkie showed she counts the times AJ told her not to do something, I thought, well, that shows she cares, hehe.
When Celestia was whispering her lines, I thought: She really needs Rainbow Dash for voice coaching. (LOUDEEEER!!!!)
The plot was very predictable early-on, and although I foresaw awkwardness, I didn't expect the execution to be THAT bad, and it really didn't have to be. (But sense for the power of subtlety seems to be an art.) In a way, the intriguing point about this episode was that it had a theme of really bad acting while the episode itself has a badly executed script.
The lesson of telling the truth is really getting old, and while I understand the pressures that made Twilight make the mistake yet again, Celestia said at one point: "Didn't Applejack remind you that telling the truth is always better than a well-meant lie?" ... Hmm, didn't we have an episode involving AJ that conveyed something slightly different? About sparing someone's feelings?
And Celestia really has to try hard to be that bad at acting, especially since she just needs to be herself. For her sake, she's a thousand years old. One should pick up a thing or two. During theater lessons she's outright acting like she has a mental handicap. All very forced and exaggerated. That's so not her. Someone who is excited about theater would love to play pretend, and it got even weirder when she suddenly started giving Fluttershy acting tips. How can someone who is so passionate about something be so horrible at it, and how can someone so horrible at it be able to teach it? That seems unnatural and contradictory. Then in the end she must have unlocked an achievement or something, because suddenly she could act. But there wasn't really anything preventing her from utilizing that passion before for the stage play.
Pinkie's unaware-ironic fireworks line then was as clumsy as it gets. Again, really bad acting, hah. It wasn't even delivered in Pinkie's usual way where SHE likes to play the dramas of life.
P.S. (Pinkie scriptum): The balloon WAS the perfect substitute for the sun? Don't tell me Pinkie only has ONE giant yellow balloon in stock! I refuse to believe that! What kind of world is that supposed to be?!
UPDATE: When re-watching parts of the episode, I noticed someone is really not amused by this interruption of the night. "If my coat is getting pale, I'm gonna give YOU a tar coat!" - Damn cheaters, right?
Today at the drugstore I noticed some MLP merch. There were what looked like Kinder egg knockoffs in Twily, Dashie or Pinkie theme, a bit bigger than the real thing and with air holes at the top, so I don't even know whether there was chocolate in them, and the label was too small to read.
I hope Dashie doesn't get her egghead worries over these, haha.
But the really odd thing was something I at first thought was a Pez dispenser. But on closer examination it was a Rainbow Dash extendable lollipop!
I couldn't make a photo at the time, but imagine a Pez dispenser with a slightly bigger head. You push a lever on the grip and Dashie's head splits in half and the lollipop goodness emerges from it.
I found that slightly disturbing.
Also, that's a lot of effort put into one lollipop - for 1.50€. I guess the empty shell is for keeping once you've licked Dashie's brain away. (I didn't see any refills offered.)
EDIT: Now I realize this is probably so that you can keep it from making things sticky and don't have to consume the whole thing in one go. Arguably this might be even worse for the teeth, giving them sugar in small spread-out doses.
- Very obvious, predictable lesson. (Title basically spoiler.)
- Rainbow Dash.
- Old people.
- Some other main character ah can't remember right now.
- No Fluttershy.
- No Pinkie Pie.
- No Luna.
Couldn't get excited about this one.
Was also a bit too far-fetched how a pegasus like Rainbow Dash could get excited about a rollercoaster. She must be pulling way more g's half the time she's flying around.
Kudos though for successfully putting a crystal meth reference in a kids' show.
As I would say: Another "My Little Phony" episode.
By the way, very funny: Ponies Rarity asked to run her fashion shop before asking Fluttershy, apparently in that order: Rainbow Dash!! Pinkie Pie!! Twilight Sparkle - OK! Applejack - OK! she has experience from an earlier episode, she should have been first choice! Starlight Glimmer - OK! Still better than Twilight. :-P Big Mac!! Cheerilee - OK I guess. Granny Smith - oh dear! DJ Pon3?! CMC!!! Maud ... uh ... no idea, actually. I certainly wouldn't place her last though.
A cynical episode. One of MLP's messages is "be yourself", now it's pretending for wacky people to make money. OK, surely just as another lesson, and a new environment can bring back challenges thought mastered earlier.
(Caption typo. Can't be donkeyed to correct it.)
So judging by Rarity's average clientele, it's a whole lot of playing pretend in the Manehattan fashion scene. Should come as no surprise. It's kind of in its nature where people wrap themselves in ever-fancier garments like the daily bread.
The lesson is if you're assuming characters to please others, the greatest danger is that you might start to like it too much. It can become a convenience, a hiding place. It's all external. Being oneself and empowering THAT can be hard, and Fluttershy is a sensitive pony thrown into an environment where that applies very much. (So you see, roleplaying can have love or fear as driving motivation.)
I could also imagine that subconsciously she ended up spiting the customers with her roleplay because that's how she felt inside and wanted to vent that. She was using the pretentiousness to shun the pretentiousness; becoming a living mockery.
An angle I also consider in all this is that the shop clientele are struggling with the same issue as Fluttershy here. It's game that you either join and coerce others to join, too, or you make an effort to transcend it and heal yourself and others.
Fluttershy needed help there. She was overpowered by the situation.
What a nice celebratory mood the season is starting with, meeting old friend from the movie, connecting with the events of it, and generally welcoming so many characters to the show. Made me feel a bit like when watching Magical Mystery Cure.
But of course, as always, challenges arise...
Lovely how they're gathering from all corners after our little ponies spread the message far and wide through action...
One of those memorable moments, haha.
This outcome, this approach to things, is like another reminder that Twilight still isn't really the princess of friendship ... in my book, hah. (To me that should be Fluttershy. ... No coincidence that she has the biggest heart.)...
She's not missing either, of course...
The episode ends with me increasingly wondering. Certainly Equestria, too, is facing a constant challenge. Funnily... to preserve and cultivate a certain way of life.
Episode 2 features the visual embodiment of grief that, disturbingly, is as funny as it is sad.
(BTW Rarity really is pale in comparison. Don't believe me? Then you should verify it. Behold a pale horse every once in a while! It won't kill you.)
The hardships of having empathy...
EVERYPONY GETS A PARTY CANNON!!! ...
Pinkie Pie once again celebrating and joining in the small absurdities of life...
This kind of telegraphed itself at amplitude 11...
Here wondering whether the timing of imagery and easily misheard lyrics was intentional...
I don't think that's how it was intended, but it would be really funny...
Closing with obligatory group photo ...
This is gonna be GREAT! (Duh! )
P.S.: OMG, Silverstream is amazing!
FOREWORD: It was hard for me to get into the mood at first when right at the beginning of ep25 I was reminded of an incident a while ago where someone on the forums was inconsiderately posting spoilers about it where it didn't belong (Apparently some Hasbro spoilers I had missed because I only watch the show!) and had his behavior 100% protected and guarded by forum administration. By far not the first time I got loads of horseapples from that direction (and other areas of the fandom), that's why I stay away from there now and only write in the blog part. It got too infuriating again lately to observe the fertile ground for growing problems. ... The insanity of the world, you know.
... Now to some talking pastel ponies in magic land.
I will write this commentary roughly along the timeline and in the format of the thoughts that came up while watching.
So the mane 6 and Spike, all of them, go into an intense book-hitting,... but they didn't recruit Starlight Glimmer?!
The paradise of Equestria, where chewing on pencils is (for anatomical reasons) totally fine:
No heartcrossing or toflyhoping this time...
Who needs to decypher old ponish to figure out it's the Temple of Ponehenge if you got a picture of the location?
Sooo... I can't stop hearing "Pwnhenge".
Once again AJ is skittling. (Tasting the rainbow.) She did that strikingly often during the beginning of the show. This is almost like a little nostalgia reference:
When Starswirl said they didn't come to defeat the Pony of Shadows (who for brevity and hilarity I will just call "PoS" from now on ) but to contain him, I thought: Well, imprisoning him in a realm where no time passes kinda is defeating. Just as you can explode twice, you can defeat someone twice.
So that other dimension to banish the PoS to is called "Limbo". The show keeps picking up mythical concepts of past times, heh. My little Popeny
When the mane 6 started collecting artifacts we learned that AJ suddenly has powers beyond what we would have imagined. That rock she kicked away was disturbingly big. ... Must have been pumice. I wish Maud had been there to comment. Was certainly very conveniently timed, but we can attribute that to the time constraints of the show finale.
In the same style we also learn that Rarity is a super-gardener who can, like if at all we would only have imagined Twilight Sparkle, magically transform an overgrown mess into a royal palace garden with lots of healthy plants that all somehow seemed to merely have been covered by ugly half-dead vegetation. And in the process she can get all kinds of stuff in her hair despite merely pointing her horn all around.
It is so easy to make Pinkie Pie happy.
When Twilight had finally made a mess, I thought she should have listened to Starlight and have a plan B ready. Dunno why I assumed the plan was specifically designed to only bring back the wardens. - Oh well, opportunity for finally resolving the issue. Not unlike the Nightmare Moon thing.
Why, oh, why was Twilight so hasty with saving them when they were all trapped in a timeless state? OK, we later learn why, but it was already apparent here that she did it out of fan-admiration reasons, because obviously Equestria didn't really need the aid of Starswirl.
Personal note: Fans can indeed be quite selfish.
Starswirl then reveals that he's not the scholar we assumed when he said the words "for a millennia", when it is "for a millennium". OK, maybe the long banishment caused him to confuse singular and plural. Maybe the portal was a plurality and should have been a singularity! Another theory would be that this was related to another thing I noticed in that scene: Why is nopony there speaking old ponish? Did they slip in a translation spell in there without saying? Starswirl and his gang shouldn't be able to communicate with the ponies of the present.
At the castle was one of my favorite scenes because it listed the elemental association - I'm into that meaningful symbolic stuff:
hope -> Pinkie Pie (laughter) ... more like hop strength -> Applejack (honesty)
beauty -> Rarity (generosity)
bravery -> Rainbow Dash (loyalty)
healing -> Fluttershy (kindness)
sorcery -> Twilight Sparkle (magic)
You might know about the AJ+RD elemental confusion thesis, and here I would say if you swapped the two again, you could see how being honest requires one to be brave and how it takes inner strength to remain loyal. But apparently the associations from the old crew were not to match to the new elements so much as to the traits of the ponies. Fluttershy has a big heart, and that is THE source of healing. But laughter can also be healing, and hope can come from the heart, so there's another ambiguity there. One could really dive deep into philosophy here. The unicorns, Rarity and Twilight, had the most straightforward and fitting associations.
Alright, moving on.
Seems like an obvious nod to the MLP movie. (Which I haven't watched yet, but it is neigh-impossible to escape this iconic aspect of it.)
Then Starlight tried to console Twilight by saying "You didn't know it would happen." and my playful mind added "And I wish I had warned you. ... Oh wait."
Then Twilight goes and in still not having learned her lesson, tries to fix the problem by applying the same mindset yet again.
Then in a later scene her friends defend her against Starswirl's skepticism by saying she doesn't do anything half-way. Oh really? Didn't the whole crisis stem from Twilight doing a risky maneuver of pulling beings out of a prison dimension without planning for fixing it if it turns out to be a bad idea? I would call that literally half-way.
Twilight getting words of approval from Starswirl: The face of fangasmic life fulfillment.
When Starlight finally suggested talking to the PoS, I was like: Yeah, that was like my very first though. The PoS seemed quite open and talkative after the summoning.
This is maybe part of the progress the realm has made over the idea of glorious fighting against evil. It represents a summary of past successes in Equestria, showing how the old ways are for the past and the new ways are more powerful, have more heart. (This is a lesson our world is struggling with heavily.)
Starswirl is basically too much of an old grump, inflexible as people can get with age, carrying a grudge against Stygian.
Starlight, you've been through this in the past: When someone keeps making mistakes and you see what's happening, see the folly unfold, you gotta be assertive!
Then we have a flackback scene where - as another franchise nod - we see sirens troubling the lands. And when they showed banishing them in another Limbo portal, I thought: Hmm, maybe he accidentally chose the wrong dimension? I could imagine where they ended up.
Land of the pink moon! Sold!
And a nice fadeover with pink again:
The theme around the resolution of this little story is again a bit relatable to me, since I do a lot of sociological observation, and as quite often, I see a bit of sad irony or hidden lesson here.
The 'heroes' habitually take the credit for their deeds, but forget to credit those who made valuable contribution behind the scenes, if you will. (I am reminded a bit of the latest Daring Do episode - different point but related issue.)
And here comes the kicker: It is happening again. At the very moment they resolve the issue with Stygian, what do we see? Twilight Sparkle again being lauded as the Princes of Friendship, how she always manages to bring friendship into the world, as if SHE wasn't the clumsy student who needs her friend's help time and again, and here I was amazed at how well Starlight took it, considering she was the actual hero of the story. At that point I totally expected Twilight to mention how it was Starlight who practiced the magic of friendship there. Instead she had to bring it up by herself and got a brief seemingly humbled remark from Starswirl that contained the word "I" but not "you". I found that really vexing especially in the context of what had just happened. And as if that wasn't enough, at Canterlot Castle Starswirl again showered Twilight with praise about the magic of friendship. I mean, OK, I get it that Twilight reformed Starlight, but that, too, was something she only managed thanks to the support of her friends.
Only in the very last seconds, in a kind of "in private" moment, Twilight made a gesture of giving credit. As if her reputation or anything forbade her from giving credit publicly.
Starswirl said: "In turning away from others, you hurt yourself as well." And I feel compelled to connect that to my real life experience, because things are easily said as if they were universal rules. Sometimes turning away is the healthier option, or the only one. Some challenges are far too great. Although that is where concentrated virtue like with the mane 6 can pull it off. Stygian might not have seen a chance back then, being one pony against the group. We don't know the kind of energy that has accumulated among them. If a whole group turns away from one person, if they all share the same issue, there are some nasty energies going around.
This is why what is very powerful is to accept things the way they are in order to change them. They couldn't have defeated the PoS with condemnation, without accepting that he existed because of what came before.
You cannot change the past, only learn from it.
There are some thematic similarities to the episode Forever Filly, but more basically this was a total unicorn episode. Maud was the only non-unicorn, but she fit in just fine because of the theme.
The issue I see portrayed here that the episode sadly didn't even quite touch on due to it being like a unicorn mind bubble is that friendship based on common interests alone, not on interest in each other, is a relatively weak friendship. It's a wholly different level to base it on deeper bonds than just shared interests. New discoveries and all matters of the mind might delight the heart, but when they are gone, so is the delight. And usually just being together a lot in childhood creates a strong bond by itself, but here we saw an example where that, too, was just based on shared interests. (I have a deliberately puzzling saying to sum this up: "True friendship is nothing personal.")
Thus, Starlight was closed to just sharing joy with her friend, to generate/practice friendship instead of just expecting to reap the fruits. Her openness is very conditional; her friendship is not practiced in appreciation of itself. Once again I am reminded how Fluttershy should be the actual princess of friendship. She is very heart-focused, and that's where the source of potentially infinite strength lies. In fact, because of how she helped Discord, she should be the Princess Of Mighty Friendship (POMF). And since Pinkie Pie's element is laughter, she should be the Princess of Neighs (PoNeigh). But I digress.
This episode could maybe also be considered somewhat autism-themed, since these things seem typical troubles that autistic people face in their life. This would at least explain why the resolution was very modest and still based on the characters' traits that caused the trouble in the first place. A doing-what-works kind of approach that also preserves their character archetypes.
When Starlight commented on how the warehouse looked smaller on the outside, that was an amusing self-joke. Who didn't think exactly that? "Where the hay is that huge warehouse in Ponyville? Never seen it before."
Judging by the bed scene, Sunburst seems to have gotten too used to wearing his robe. Or maybe the reason he is wearing it all the time is because he's got some kind of insecurity. Starlight seems to know, since she's not inquiring about it. This is the same kind of oddity as with Fluttershy in an early episode. It's generally a bit of a downer to me if the writers ignore the characters' pony nature and just make them act like pony-shaped humans.
I found the brief Maud comedy dialogue very witty. Selfless humor, all in the perception, not in the performer. But then she kinda blew it and revealed she's just got a Cmdr. Data approach to it. From the show audience perspective it still worked though. She was funny when she claimed she wasn't and then wasn't funny when she claimed she was.
I like to say there's no such thing as a bad Fluttershy episode, but I have to and gladly will expand that to Pinkie episodes. Not much more to say here. I just enjoyed it way too much to do an analysis.
And I love the idea of half-birthdays. Such a pinkie thing.
Pinkie.Scriptum.: When it comes to hugs, she knows what she's doing. If the hug is too tight, you are too tight.
Oh and did anyone else see this for a brief moment?...
( I've drawn this myself. https://dowlphin.deviantart.com/art/Antlerjack-710062236 )
I definitely had to raise awareness of severe pie deficiency a moment later...
Not much to say for me on details here. Slight connections to Fame and Misfortune. When Twilight made a deal with Iron Will, the problem and likely chain of events was obvious.
They need to take the helm and do what Iron Will had in mind, but their way, through sincerity. A bit of a soft mutiny, maybe. Twilight could still improve her leadership skills there. Maybe get some assertiveness lessons from Fluttershy? (Oh well, as I said, it was predictable that things would turn out that way in the end anyway. Just make sure you apply this awareness to your life, too.) I just found it very unlikely how Twilight could miss the Northern Stars, considering she was looking in their direction, with only the ship's cabin blocking the view.
Lesson: Don't make deals with crooks, but set them straight, set proper standards. That contract wasn't even legit, considering nopony but Twilight's parents signed it. But apart from that, while law is a worthwhile concept, there are higher virtues that trump it. The Dao De Jing puts kindness over justice. The former is more powerful than the latter, i.e. it does not practice justice, yet somehow takes care of its concerns, too.
It is a really good book that I would suggest Twilight to read, so here's the segment from it that I am referring to, from a modern-language version (http://www.beatrice.com/TAO-pamphlet.pdf):
People with integrity
don't even think about it.
That's how you can tell
they have integrity.
Other people talk about
how much integrity they have,
when they really don't have much.
Truly powerful people
don't do anything,
but they get the job done.
Other people are always busy
but nothing ever gets done.
When kind people act,
they do so without thinking about it.
When the just act,
they're always sure
they're doing the right thing.
But when the righteous act,
and nobody reacts,
they try to force everyone
to do things their way.
If you're not in touch with Tao,
at least you can still have integrity.
If you don't have integrity,
there's always kindness.
If you don't have kindness,
there's always justice.
If you don't have justice,
all you have left is righteousness.
Right at the beginning when I saw Kettle Corn, I was like: Woah! Bagua calligraphy! ^^
The haiku thing then made it pretty clear that hers is an Asian arts theme. In case you didn't know, circle painting is a very profound practice about reading and getting to know yourself and your interaction with the world and ensuing inner state. I also want to point out that writing a haiku is about more than the 5-7-5 format. Good haikus contain a bit of a turn of expected events or such, surprising the reader in an enlightening-entertaining way. - An example of mine:
On the mountain's peak
Eagles circling beneath me
Sky reaches so deep
The episode touches many angles all worth pondering. Rumble was a bit of a wakeup call for the CMC's 'just doing their thing' and becoming a bit inflexible in their mind that way. Him being driven by own issues and rallying others to seek external affirmation and avoidance is of course another common theme, but in that he also had a teacher role. The CMC were right though that cutie marks have a mind on their own (I would say they're a symptom of the inherent Equestrian magic of the land) and one can always trust them to be a wise guide.
We probably don't have to mention that it was kinda obvious what Rumble's issue was early-on. But as I said, in a way only half of his issue was in lack of understanding (of his older brother) on his part. The other half was in the CMC's lack of realizing what was going on.
This episode's lesson is close to me because I have experienced something like this myself. I once participated in something meant to heal and guide, but the organizers were so used to just doing their thing again and again that they got stuck in a rut and had become a bit inflexible in their mind, going in opposition to what the healing and guidance is supposed to be all about. But that served an important purpose, a little crisis that needed to be experienced by all involved. And that's also the spirit of MLP episodes. Conflict arises as a means to shed light on things that need to be resolved.
Two episodes with Zecora in a row. Nice. Maybe the writers, as I, thought that she hadn't been around for such a long time that she deserves the extra screen time.
And a whole episode full of Fluttershy. Sweeeeeeet!
OK, some throughs while watching:
- How can Zecora possibly not know about those flowers? She seems to know those flash bees, she's pretty much a herbal witch at home in the place, she knows about poison joke, but not about what those blue flowers can do that are floating around, falling from trees?
- Fluttershy being out of breath from running to the castle... Why didn't she just fly? Is she really faster on hoof than flying?
- When she presented the situation to Twilight, it was probably just to not waste episode time and because miscommunication wasn't a tool of the plot, but to me as a communication buff it is always a joy to witness right-to-the-point talk like that, haha. She might have picked that up from Pinkie Pie.
- They were so worried about Zecora coughing bubbiles, but I don't find that so bad. Ask Pinkie Pie what she thinks about this.
- I kinda expected that Zecora would eventually lose her ability to rhyme, heh. Those weird blue flower diseases like to shake things up massively.
- The two 'Fluttershy door puzzles' in a row were kinda hilarious.
All those technical points aside, the message of this episode was very dear to me. ( And it was a Fluttershy episode! Always a huge plus! )
She cares so much for others that she can through cases like this enter an extreme imbalance that helps no one. After all, maybe the information about the mask WAS there in the book all along, as visualized, but she was too tired to make the connection. Then again...
What was a bit of the usual odd writing though was that in three days our smart pony Twilight couldn't figure out a solution. (But these maneuvers are kinda common in writing, actually.)
Another closely related lesson of the episode is that when you obsess too much over something, your mind blocks itself from utilizing things like intuition and calm observation. Sometimes you just gotta sleep over it to see more clearly.
While in execution a lot bothered me about this episode, the overall picture is quite fitting to show some differences of Equestria. I found it weird that toupets don't seem to be a thing there. It was a bit funny how they treat a mane like a very special and magical thing, but Pinkie Pie has shown long ago that there's something to it. Rarity just utilizes its magic in a somewhat different way, heh.
The bottle confusion was just one of those lazy things. At first I didn't even realize they had gotten two different liquids, because I assumed they'd at least get a label or such. The way it was set up one would assume Zecora did it intentionally.
And with all the different tries of toupets improvised out of anything but hair that gave a totally different look, it was odd that nopony suggested to her to use what's left of her mane for such.
P.S.: Role switch would have resulted in Punkie Pie. I'd have loved that just for the ... pun!
This episode starts with Pinkie pronking (you guys!). My favorite part of the episode.
I found the not well thought-out adventure chees a bit too much at times...
Walking straight across a straight bridge blindfolded shouldn't be that hard for a pony, and you can also sense the edge with your hooves if necessary, not to mention its movements giving away your center of gravity.
The leap of faith thing was an obvious Indiana Jones reference; no surprise in this episode, hah. But them not seeing the steam vents until they jumped was odd, not to mention them being oddly powerful, giving that scene a very strong arcade jump&run game flavor, and the fact that flying was disabled in the interior space of the pyramid didn't help, ha-ha. Immediately made me think of World of Warcraft.
That scene and the whole episode made me think of a "jump&pronk" game starring Pinkie Pie. (That would actually have been a good episode title, haha.)
When Rainbow Dash was captured by the villain, I thought: Why didn't she just fly off? But then when she was tied up she wasn't gagged and thus could scream for help. All seems like they tried to fit so much into the episode that they cut corners to a degree beyond the normal.
And then finally the villain publicly reveals his plan, but then is surprised by the backlash. This is a lot cheesier than what it is based on, touching on self-parody territory.
Oh and then the fact that Daring Do seems to care so much about the villager that she rescues them from danger, but doesn't bother talking to them. Reads newspaper articles about the mess she actually left and cannot figure out by herself that maybe she could help them clean up and/or explain why it happened. Dr. Caballero wasn't really the problem here, he simply exploited a void of communication.
Even for a kids' show the writing quality was a bit borderline. I can only assume that maybe they wanted to cram too much into one episode and the playtime limit necessitated such crude simplifications.
In closing, and in the spirit of this episode featuring Pinkie (Actually, I don't need that excuse, haha), two conclusion I took from the episode:
1) Idol worship is idle worship.
2) Daring Do turned more into Caring Do.
Interesting. First Thorax episode two eps ago and this one has a similar approach: Mess things up and that fixes the problem. Actually not that rare, actually, if you think about it. Starlight and Trixie themselves weren't the friendship problem this time as severely as Spike. But it was close. But more or less many episodes follow this pattern. When does the first attempt at solving the problem ever succeed? Exceptions from that are a delight to me. Magical Mystery Cure comes to mind. I am so glad they didn't have more time to drag that out.
Pretty early it was obvious to me the way to help Pharynx was to give him purpose again. There's a reason he was the only one preserving the old way. A pendulum that swung to the other side needed to come to the middle. No one left behind, so to speak.
Beautiful role reversal writing: Thorax used to be in a very similar situation as Pharynx was now.
Also, in how in the end Pharynx transformed, this episode expressed a very profound spiritual lesson: From acceptance comes change.
P.S.: I'll never get used to ponies walking on three legs while talking with their hoof. The animators should really focus on making them more expressive in other ways if they feel it necessary. It's mindbuck to me every time. Something I'd expect to see in a YTP video and laugh.
P.P.S.: Maulwurf - German word for mole. Nice easy pun for a mauling menace.
There's currently something going on in the Star Citizen community that fits so very well into that episode's theme (S7E14 - Fame and Misfortune), namely overly critical attitude bordering on the absurd and detached from reality, an explosion of confirmation bias.
There was a demo event at Gamescom and game testers were playing the demo, which followed a certain script. And they were roleplaying their characters with some relaxed banter. I found it pretty OK, almost background filler like, and most of it conveying practical information based on the situation at hand. They had to redo the first part of it due to a crash, hurried through that and just did their usual thing.
And so many people went nuts with RP hate. They were complaining about the quality of RP, about the very presence of RP, about the woman's voice, about the woman playing a male avatar (there are no female ones in the game yet), about them not just talking out of character instead, about their RP being done bad, wrong, cringeworthy, unrealistic, too scripted, bad timing, repeating lines etc. Anything you can think of.
I was just like: What the hell? Did I watch a different demo? How detached from reality do people have to be to be this super-nitpicky, intolerant and grumpy about game devs going out of their way working overtime at a convention event to deliver a demo (after having already done it a couple times to the press earlier and the whole event having had a delayed start at late evening) while they're in a crunch phase to get the next version out, as passionate as the fans, giving their best. So cold. And at that point it reminded me so much of Fame and Misfortune.
For reference, here the demo in question, with jump mark to where the main RP part begins. The context I mentioned might be missing to a degree, but again, this was a tech demo for a game and not an entertainment show event, nor a movie.
P.S.: Obligatory recruit referral page. ^^ http://starcitizen.dowlphin.de/
OK, let's see. A secretly-entertaining-two-guests story. Not sure whether we had that before. Watching it didn't leave me with enough energy to investigate.
The problem became visible quite soon, too.
In such episodes that can be difficult to watch because so formulaic, especially for a season 7 ep, the little things provide the contrast. Spike exclaiming: "Fighting! Yes!" was very funny, and also Twilight's extreme portrayal towards Ember, or the reaction to the claim she is so much like Starlight.
I just personally don't enjoy this story archetype easily.
It did advance the character stories though, so that became the main driving purpose.
I found it personally disappointing that Ponyville folk is scared of pink fire breath. I mean, seriously, how much nicer can you make a searing wave of air? Sneezing cotton candy? ... OH HEYYYY! IDEA!
What I found really good stuff was how Muffin Murderer - I mean Ember - had difficulty telling Twilight and Starlight apart. Might seem absurd to us, but it happens in interspecies relations or even interracial. One is being used to facial features and general appearance of one's own kind and less used to distinguishing detail of others. That might have been hinted at here. Ember has a different perception, calibrated to dragons. Although execution in detail would then leave some questions, since Ember remarks how colorful everything is in Ponyville, indicating that she does have good color perception. Hm, maybe she just has trouble distinguishing different hues of purple. Hmmmm, but Twilight has wings and Starlight hasn't. OK, forget all that, I think she just has an attention deficit.
The coffee cup scene and possibly others before in the show indicate that the sun is traveling across the sky, really making me wonder why Celestia has to raise it in the morning if it's moving on its own anyway. I think this is just inconsistency and I find it a bit sad when Equestria is assimilated too much to our world's ways instead of celebrating the differences. (Twilight or Pinkie eating flowers seemed a rare case from long time ago underlining their... ponyness? Equinity? )
The charge scene between Ember and Thorax was so ridiculously time-warped that it has to be called a parody, but it didn't quite click with me. Probably reminded me too much of Naruto, LOL.
In essence, the topic of this episode was, again, severe neurosis. Don't we love our neurotic Equestrians? (Must be something in the water, considering Ember and Thorax acted refreshingly natural.) But it also showed how focus on positive outcomes can help with that.
The whole complex of lessons that emerged is beautiful though because in order to solve the friendship problem, Spike was prompted to change himself. He experienced the cause first-hand, him being the problem. So the message is that we create a better world by bettering ourselves and that being a teacher also means being a student.
And then Ember and Thorax help each other solve their problems, so this episode towards the end severely gained 'meaty bits'. Spike then learned, which should relate him to Discord, that sometimes you can be a more passive influence, less controlling, just a catalyst for bringing about the solution through crisis. Problems are teachers and people can assume that role. That's OK, too. ... As long as you don't make it your purpose in life, right?
First, the theme of the episode seemed excessive in the execution. But it's not exactly rare that the writers do that and go all the way, like here with what amounts to mass insanity, making one wonder why the mane 6's popularity never seemed to have been received like this before the book publishing.
Second, the episode obviously conveys the point that if you adress the masses, better not let them know you too well and let you not know them too well. It's not desirable and not good, but sometimes the world can be tough as nails. But these situations are exactly where one has to decide to make an effort, to not just swim with the current, because the water stinks. Identify what is your sphere of responsibility and what is others and then avoid overextending. Going out of your way is commendable, but responses to that should be taken as indicators of whether it is appreciated.
Which leads me to the third point: This episode could almost be seen as a critique of the MLP fandom (but also of society and fandoms in general). And it is also how I feel about it sometimes. People have all kinds of reasons for liking the show, but the probably most valuable and most-needed part is often not really taken to heart. Or mind, if you will. Actually making an effort to make the spirit of Equestria come to life not just in easy but especially also in testing times, through honing character, I often felt that missing, including after my observations and experiences at conventions. In spiritual lingo one would say "bliss junkies".
The eventual song number took me a minute to thaw to because it was so bluntly thrown against the problem, and I could predict the (non)reaction to it (At one point I cynically thought that after it the rabble would probably ask for free concert tickets.), but it was a really nice, uplifting piece whose lyrics at times also felt to me like adressing the fandom. Felt a bit like a celebratory review to a last season actually, like a looking back at a long journey. Which made it even more touching. They also contained some headscratchers though. Do they really like what's flawed about people or do they have an easy time overlooking it when willingness to work on oneself is there? And Dashie's cocky confidence gives her the courage to fail? I thought she always had that and it was to not-quite cover up her fear of failure. (Little gem from me here: Failure is that which is at war with failure.)
Very nice conclusion: Just accept that you cannot adress the masses with high virtue material and expect it to be integrated. Unsurprisingly then it was foals who were still open to it, and those who are are the ones deserving to receive your attention and energy.
The episode is also art in that it offers people an empathic experience regarding the type of fans aimed at. Watching that mass insanity is painful, and you might go: "What warranted this suddenly?". That's how it makes the writers feel. When the mane 6 sing their beautifully uplifting song and then right after it - BAM - NOTHING received, that moment really sucked, right? You go: "This is becoming horribly cynical if not even an episode's highlight can solve the problem anymore". That is how it makes the writers feel. Over 20 minutes you are having their experience, so that you hopefully understand them and recognize the value of what's important about the show.
And the end was conveying the lesson of how to avoid overextending. Did you notice Applejack was first in mentioning they need to deal with the problem at hand, and Twilight said she should stay in the friendship moment? Applejack sang in the song that she has a tendency of wanting to please everypony. The mane 6 there had to focus on their close friendship to recharge their spiritual batteries for a bit in the face of overwhelming hostility.
I myself certainly had and still have to learn in a painful way that it is alright to give up hope on some people or to lose respect. It is a bow of appreciation to the good things in you that said people do not appreciate. They can eventually pick up the bread crumbs if they're lucky. They would just choke on more than that. Going all missionary on them would only feed the insatiable and signal that they have power over you, which is what the whole madness is based on. Sometimes it is wiser to let people stew in their own juice.
P.S.: At this point I thought: Oh yeah, Dashie, REALLY skillful attempt at a disguise, especially for you.
P.P.S. (Pinkie Pie scriptum):