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Dowlphin

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. :twi:

7x14_RD_great_disguise.jpg.ef64ef3214ed3967a4a6c136b9773a3b.jpg

 

P.P.S. (Pinkie Pie scriptum):

599270b150949_WinkiePieDowlphin.thumb.jpg.7a49a404649bac6fabb18cb520dea085.jpg

Dowlphin

Remember Dashie's fear of failure and sometimes overbearing self-glorification? I think the real meat of this episode was written between the lines.
I'd say timing is important and that managing to get along better with her parents could only happen right now, in this episode, not sooner.
I think this only makes sense if we assume that indeed Dashie enjoyed her parents' praise, despite the embarassment. That would make her an odd personality though, because I haven't heard something like this happening. Could be almost schizophrenic. Again - Would explain some of the other troubles she had to deal with and her current personality.

I would say the overall lesson of the episode was that if your parents are like that... be cool.

(Dashie tends to pretend to be cool, but underneath it might look different, which underlines this.)
Remember that this is not primarily a show to teach parents (although it hopefully does teach anybody), but to teach kids, so it doesn't matter whether her parents were a bad example or not. This was about how to deal with it. B)

 

As for the details: The door was a hilarious idea. (Subverting viewer's expectations is always fun.) Scootaloo's reaction to Dashie's outburst seemed overly dramatically extreme. The nap joke was the lowest point of the episode; horribly forced.

Dowlphin

At first this looked to me like just another "be yourself" episode, but I think it is more interesting to look at how it was the environment that determined whether Discord was present or fading. He tried to adapt and fit into something not him and started fading. Someone else, a friend, Fluttershy, brought the environment back to nourishing him where he couldn't do it by himself anymore.
I.e. sometimes we need others to lovingly do for us what we cannot do ourselves, to add a perception of us that we may have lost, and that might require tangible means, as shown in the episode when Fluttershy's words didn't make a difference. Words are about minds arguing, and in that game, if the problem is in the mind, the problem will always win. As was shown by Discord just countering any of her suggestions with words.

Generally, the episode couldn't possibly have been a downer for me because, as I like to say, "There is no such thing as a bad Fluttershy episode."  <3  :squee: <3


P.S.: I was a bit disappointed to not see the words "Judgy Clerk Pony" in the credits.   :umad:

...

Oh well, TO ACTION! ^^

 

598a7dc4ac0b3_MLP7x12DiscordcreditsDowlphin.png.5d4c4d9718da0ddd976a91aba9df7761.png

Dowlphin
Did you ever notice?

 
I am also fond of the similarly shared color of Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy. I guess you could continue the chain from AJ to Fluttershy to Pinkie Pie. And you could also mention Rarity and Twilight Sparkle. A common theme of having lots in common, heh.
Dowlphin
I thought the black spots weren't part of Luna's cutie mark. Last time, when it was taken away, only the moon vanished. I assumed it's just her natural coat (and that it's naturally symmetrical). Hm, maybe that was just draining the power from the cutie mark.
Interesting dreams ponies have. Pinkie surfing on the gummyboard, wearing shades, I like that a lot, heh. And Derpy as queen, on her side another ... background character. ;-)
Starlight's dragon toothbrush was funny.
Twilight her frequent freakout self, but totally understandable why she couldn't calm herself. Still so much admiration for the regal sisters and projection of crucial importance to Equestria. (She underestimates the importance of everypony else's contribution.)
The episode was full with playfulness, action and lovely little details and a new insight into ponies' daily life.
I will close with one of my favorite pictures from olden times that immediately came to mind when realizing the theme of this episode. I call it "Maneheart"...
 

Dowlphin
I recently made a referral code bonus webpage   http://starcitizen.dowlphin.de   that gives a good introduction to the game. I played with the idea of entering the whole advertising game since my altruism focus doesn't seem to get me anywhere, but the more I read up on it, the more off-putting it became. So I'm always trying to get a little caress for my soul without playing in the hands of an ugly system, thus doing open, sincere, more personal advertising.   Star Citizen is gonna be an amazing game, unlike anything before, and I am very excited about being a part of the unfolding project. Now is a good time to join, because soon there will be a major update, and more generally early adopters are being rewarded. Check it out and share it and you'd do me a tremendous heartwarming favor if you used my referral code as mentioned on that sweet little webpage I made. :-)   (Oh and in case it tells you somewhere on signup that you need a quadcore-CPU and don't have one (yet): People have confirmed it can run on dualcores if they're performing well (e.g. somewhat overclocked and/or of newer generation). And it generally only affects the performance I think, not the ability to run it at all.)
Dowlphin
It's weird how that Daring Do fan seems to have never heard of Rainbow Dash and her and her friends' deeds. The stuff they have done that should be common knowledge, and the guy still argues about details, like there aren't worldsaving heroes in Equestria and he's not talking to one of them.
 
And his name is Quibble Pants. Well, his parents surely recognized his tendencies early and didn't hold back, hah. ;-D
Dowlphin
I don't mind at all that this episode doesn't match our season. Who said Equestria needs to match our timeline?
 
Kinda funny how things started out though:
 
Starlight Glimmer was like: "Bah, it's just about telling the same old story with the windigos again and silly singing and giving presents."
And Twilight is like: "Let me tell you a different story. One you haven't heard yet."
And then tells the Scrooge story.
 
It's a story where the main character, Snowfall Frost, hates that day of song-singing ... and sings a song about it.
 
Sad part for me was that what Snowfall Frost imagined a good Equestria to be is not bad, just not the whole picture. In our world, that part tends to be neglected in favor of lots of pretending/makebelief that everything is fine because it seems easier. So the reaction of the other ponies left a bitter aftertaste with me for a moment, since I tend to create connections between what is and what could be. Equestria has their effort part well-covered. So well that they laugh about it. Their effortlessness and celebratory mood is affordable, authentic.
Would be nice if letting go of the past is all that's needed. But even if you think you're done with the past, the past might not be done with you.
This was the popculture version of problem-solving, where the social environment is great and the only problem is within and everybody helps you solve it.
Equestria isn't exactly hardcore. ... Well, except for the occasional explosive magic duel, heh.
The point is that out goal should be to create a world in which the problems portrayed are actually that simple/easy to solve.
 
Well, Pinkie looked absolutely lovely again. So that was a sweet highlight and the most memorable part of the episode, in part because the pun was hers again.
Dowlphin
Could be a minor/major school villain, teaching the lesson of how people dig their own grave, so to speak. ... Ah, there are so many other facets and potential subplots in this.
 
The thought was inspired by watching this little crossover again:
 

 
P.S.: Somewhat related crossover comic of mine: http://dowlphin.deviantart.com/art/How-Dan-managed-to-abduct-Rarity-412825674
Dowlphin
An excellent episode. I like it so much!
 
Discord being in his own unique way the teacher more than ever, taking care of the last remnants of problematic ideas from the past that unsurprisingly Twilight would cling to the most, since she is very intellect-focused, and the mind is the origin of all suffering.
 
It also showed how easily one can fall into self-delusion by making up a self-image designed to avoid being honest to oneself. That kind of honesty being the crucial first step in having a positive impact on the world by having a positive impact on yourself. Thus also hinted at how when we THINK we got stuff figured out, safe and secure, that might be the most dangerous time.
 
And I especially liked the somewhat unspoken message in the lesson:
That true friendship comes from the heart, not the mind.
The mind on its own would attempt to create a fake of the real thing, an imitation. Something you can observe every day; best example corporate marketing, but also in individuals.
 
I also grinned knowingly at one point and was wondering whether the writers intended the hint at the irony:
When Twilight was at Zecora's place and insisted that there must be some kind of magic involved in her friends' behavior, I thought:
Well, DUH! There's indeed that one special kind of magic that causes people to have a great time together. You claim to be the Princess of Friendship, educated and skilled in various forms of magic. I'm quite sure you've heard of it.
 
By the way, Zecora's potion bottle was definitely magical, too. I mean, did you see how much liquid came out of the thing?!
 
You know, with stories like this, I'm not worried that they might run out of ideas and the show takes a nosedive. As long as they keep having fun like this and don't change the formula, it gives me a warm feeling when thinking about the future. With so many things in our world eventually becoming corrupted, there needs to be at least one exemplary defiant champion in our life. As long as the makers of the show heed their own lessons, we're all safe.
Dowlphin
Sadly I don't have a perfect memory, so I don't actually know whether there are scenes supporting this theory, but I thought:
Seems like any time balloons are shown in MLP, they float up, i.e. they are helium balloons. ... Do you know of any scene where Pinkie Pie inflates a balloon with her lungs that ends up floating upwards? If not, then I guess the writers really thought it through. ... Or not, haha. We're talking about Pinkie here. I would find it quite natural if her lungs expelled helium. It would be like the physical manifestation of her overall lightness.
A partial helium content in her breath would also explain her cute voice. ^^
And yours. Admit it: If Pinkie was all in-your-face talking to you, your voice would get squeaky, too.
It could of course also be that she's simply breathing out magic.
Dowlphin
Remember Pinkie Pride with the real-world footage thrown in? It immediately changes the character. By creating such a harsh, sudden connection to a different 'realm', the integrity of the intended realm is compromised. This is what's called "breaking immersion".
Said artistic tools CAN be for a specific reason sometimes, when the context fits, but to me it didn't fit in that episode.
 
It doesn't have to be that extreme though.
 
One example of it not being a problem is scenes where they use lighting effects or camera zoom and pan techniques - the latter even has been talked about in praise in Youtube videos. (I don't remember the episode with the scene I'm thinking of, but it was done in an elegant, subtle way, and served a specific technical purpose. It was not a style break, but a style enhancement.)
 
But lately there was another thing that immediately got me 'off-track in my mind', in season 5 episode 3 (Castle Sweet Castle) right after the intro, there was a zoom-in of what very much looked like painted, with tons of details, some kind of heavy blur filter, gradients and stuff. Well, I'll just post it here, then you can see for yourself - in case you haven't seen the episode. (Don't worry, no spoilers here.)
 

 
When I saw that, I lost attention for the plot of the episode, had to check again, was wondering why they would decide to suddenly put that attention-catching style break in there, was wondering whether I didn't pay attention and this was supposed to be a painting on a wall somewhere. (thus: immersion break)
 
Is there discussion about this specific scene somewhere? Or about the topic in general?
Dowlphin
It was an odd dream though, and I wish I had the energy and skill to draw comics from my dreams sometimes.
 
From what I can tell, a villain was on the loose. There was a scene in a dark castle hallway or something, but I don't remember anything from there. Then there was an icy lake, I was running along the outer rim where there were sheets of ice, and I grabbed Applejack out of the water. A moment later I see Twilight Sparkle ahead, with her back to the lake, acting like she was being threatened by something, defensive and somewhat scared. But when I came closer, I noticed her colors were lighter, and somehow I immediately knew it's not the real Twilight. Without having to think, I swung my katana and somehow mananged to - in a frontal attack - cut off her tail. LOL WTF, why did I do that?! Well, in any case, when I did that, she assumed a slight white-glow and had a wicked-evil grin on her face and that's when I thrust my katana straight through her from top to bottom, leaving a white-glowing line through her still grinning (holographic?) body.
That's when the dream ended.
 
 
Dowlphin
There's another Star Citizen ship concept sale and it's a space bike. And it being called "Nox" spawned a flood of puns as never before.
I was tempted to get the 2Pac with the black (Nox) and the silver (Nox Kue) one, but I'm not that bikuerious. So I ponied up the money and seaddled up on this space needle. Got the silver one. Seems more classy to me.
It is made by Aopoa, which is a manufacturer of the Xi'an race. So I named it Lady Xiarity, which sounds like sharity -> charity ->generosity, Rarity's element of harmony. This is a racing bike, so it has a very generous power-to-weight ratio. With all this in mind, the name seemed very aopoapriate.
This bike being named after a pony, it thus became an equine Nox. And in summer that's a rarity!

 
Here's the official ship teaser video:
 
and here's my recruitment page in case this bike nox your sox off and you want to join in on the pun: http://starcitizen.dowlphin.de
 
PLEASE XIARE! ^^
P.S.: I got another space bike, more of a cruiser. It's the exclusive yellow version of the Dragonfly - "Dragonfly Yellowjacket". I named it "Dragonshy Yellowcoat" . Also got a stealth fighter named "Mare Selenitatis"  and a big Constellation Phoenix class multicrew ship with a docked P-72 Archimedes snub fighter and a two-seated Lynx rover in the belly. I called them "Constellestia, Philomedes and Twily". (Also got a size-and-weight-optimized racing ship with huge engines called Pinkie and a Mustang Gamma racing ship called Dashie.)
... This is what it means when I'm calling myself a puntheist. Good puns are simply divine!
 
Dowlphin
It's a bit annoying when they do a kind of character development reset to get a message across. Although sometimes I wonder whether Twilight has changed at all. She still seems like being all the student.
It's like the Discord situation again where the lack of sincere acceptance and good will towards his reformation, the unwillingness to let the past be the past, drove him into Tirek's influence, and it required Fluttershy to be herself in practicing sincere kindness and forgiveness, which is her immense inner strength. It's a beautiful irony: As easily scared as Fluttershy seems, as much has she overcome some powerful deep fears. Because she carries her friendship in the heart and doesn't need to have it whacked over her head in a crisis.
 
Friendship is great, but it needs to come from within, and Twilight acted like someone who has no clue about friendship if it isn't sent to her from the outside. Awarding her the title "Princess of Friendship" might have been a bad idea; might get a bit to her head. (Then again, we know from all the ponies how their destination's fulfillment (the elements) often doesn't come easily.)
 
She should have learned from Pinkie by now that a desire to control can become unhealthy if not kept well in check. Learning that lesson is maybe one of the most valuable for cultivation of good character, of a healthy mind. The experience of "Woah, this is not what I intended!" is important to have and learn from.
 
Starlight Glimmer was the sane one in this episode. She was the teacher to Twilight and Trixie, who were two poles of the same mental issue.
 
Become aware of how the teacher in life is often not who you think it is.
Dowlphin
Three little things caught my attention in the beginning:
 
First I was surprised that pony hooves can sense the coolness of spit evaporating on a hoof.
 
Second I was wondering how AJ could kick an apple so hard that it smashes through a wooden target without smashing the apple with her hoof.
 
Third I grieved over the missed very first latin lesson for young watchers when AJ used "pegasus" as a plural instead of "pegasi".
 
The general message of the episode I can relate to a lot. Like Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy, I don't thrive on pressure, but excellence comes out when enjoying something.
In our world that needs a lot of cultivation, because so often results are believed to come from pressure, force. It's no surprise considering what kind of people have great influence over society and the means for success. It seems easier to be troubled than to be healthy.
 
Snails gave a good contrast metaphor for how not overthinking stuff can remove obstacles. This was even hinted at with his floating-buckets meditation-like pose in one scene.
Dowlphin
http://cryptic-enigma.deviantart.com/art/Princess-Fluffle-Puff-452263018
 
inspired me to make a tongue-twister. Try to say this fast:
 
"Fluffle Puff Plus Princess Plush Fluffle Puff Plus Princess Plush Fluffle Puff Plus Princess Plush Fluffle Puff Plus Princess Plush Fluffle Puff Plus Princess Plush"
Dowlphin
I wrote a comment on deviantART and realized it's worth blogging here. It is based on a picture I have in my wallpaper slideshow for a long time because it impressed me so much on a deep level:
 
http://moderatelydeviant.deviantart.com/art/Against-All-Odds-285429361
 

 
Twilight shows maybe the clearest example of the power of the controlling mind trying to force its way, fueled by negative emotion. Her energy shoots at Discord, but you see it strike her friends, too, mostly from Discord's head. True friendship empowers love and comes from the heart, while in this picture Discord is like an inner demon of Twilight, and her mental struggle with it gives it power and causes discord in her friendship, turning her friends against her and her against her friends.
The solution to this problem was eventually portrayed beautifully in her battle against Tirek when she allowed herself defeat and let her heart lead the way, against all conceptual fears.
 
Also, Pinkie has a duck in her hair.
 
UPDATE 2015-12-02:
While watching the season 5 finale, my desktop wallpaper switched to this. The finale is another reminder of this recurring message that more or less is in all MLP episodes and I appreciate it greatly. It is something worth moving towards, regardless of how little success we might experience at first.
Friendship brings together, because true friendship is fueled by love. And love is magic. Friendship comes from the heart and is empowered by it.
Dowlphin
Did you notice how deep the imagery goes? Those ponies are like avatars of their elements.
 
Pinkie's hair is round and swirly, any deviation from the norm won't even make a difference. Any child could draw those endless bends beautifully. Totally Pinkie.
 
Rarity's hair is exquisite - a real challenge, and artists can get frustrated trying to draw it properly. Totally a Rarity, requiring high skill.
 
Rainbow Dash wouldn't be satisfied with just some color. She wants the whole color spectrum in there, to stand out, to make people gaze in awe like watching a rainbow.
 
Applejack's hair is practical and simple, like a bundle of hay, and even colored in that style. Condensed so that it doesn't get in the way during work, yet allowing people to see its fullness.
 
Twilight Sparkle's hair signals a special snowflake with those streaks, haha. They're a pony's rallye stripes.
 
Fluttershy's hair flows like water, not resisting things, finding its way passively, just like her personality. The color is rose, basically pastel pink, and pink is often associated with the heart, which is what she'll melt when she looks at you. Her mane even forms a heart!
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