OK, so... wow, way to end the first half of Season 5 on a high note, am I right?! Welcome back everypony to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews," and holy cow, was that quite the episode! I literally have nothing bad to say about this one, at all, so very much like the "Slice of Life" episode review, this review's going to be more of a big ol' text of fangasming more than anything else. Without further ado, let's jump right into "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?"
So before we get to the more substantive bits of the episode, namely anything having to do with Princess Luna, let's look at more crowd-pleasing elements first, cause there were A LOT from start to finish. So, first, the Mane 6. The episode for the most part had a nice balance of all of them, something we haven't seen much since the start of the season and doubly impressive considering the episode didn't actually star them as the main characters. They contributed heavily towards the lesson of the episode, but still, they were not the stars here, and the fact that they were so seamlessly woven into the screen time without taking away from Luna was incredibly impressive to say the least. Spike also had a great episode from start to finish, and was helpful in quite a few capacities. Definitely one of his better supporting roles this season, both in and out of the dreams (especially when Buff Spike returned). The Mane 6's dreams were all very entertaining and unique, and made sense for all of them (both the ideal dreams and the nightmares), though some stood out more than others. Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy's, and Rainbow Dash's were especially amazing and creative; Pinkie with her random inability to stay in one part of a dream the second her subconscious thinks of another spot (and dear Lord, how she keeps sanity doing that is beyond me ), Fluttershy's Angel Bunny nightmare was too funny (though Angel wasn't exactly any different than usual ), and OH MY GOSH Rainbow Dash's nightmare, PERFECTION!!! How do you do a Barney reference and an Anchorman reference at the same time? THAT'S HOW!!!
Jazz flute... so much jazz flute!
But even as amazing as their individual dreams were, they all paled in comparison to that final dream with ALL OF PONYVILLE!!! Holy cow, that was fun. Let's just list off everything that was here, in no particular order; we had a ton of callbacks, including Rainbow Dash and Applejack taking on their Power Pony identities, Spike turning into Buff Spike, Fluttershy turning into Flutterbat, and so on; we had a whole lot of new stuff as well, especially from the background ponies, including Lyra and BonBon being fused together in one of the greatest CatDog references I've ever seen, bucking Big Mac literally turning into an alicorn princess and simultaneously referencing magical girl anime (GOSH DANG IT, THANK YOU LARSON!!!), Filthy Rich flying around through the power of money (because of course he would), flying muffins (just go with it), flying Scootaloo with, I'll admit, quite terrifying looking giant wings, Rarity sewing up the sky itself (a very nice creative touch there that I for one liked very much), pretty much every other major background pony in Ponyville (including Mr. Cake actually getting a speaking role, which I liked), and GIANT DERPY WHO SOUNDS LIKE A CAT WHICH IS JUST THE MOST AMAZING THING EVER (only topped by BUFF SPIKE MOUNTING AND RIDING GIANT CAT DERPY INTO BATTLE, OMG THAT WAS THE MOST GLORIOUS IMAGE EVER THAT SHALL FOREVER BE INGRAINED INTO MY BRAIN, YAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!). And ALL OF THESE PONIES, the Mane 6, Spike, all of Ponyville were battling a nightmarish entity inside of a giant shared dream, and it was BUCKING GLORIOUS!!! So yeah, uhhhhhhhh... lots of "little" stuff like that that contributed to making this episode friggin' amazing.
Well that's just terrifying. Berry, go home, even in the dreamscape you're drunk.
Thanks, M.A. Lar- I mean, Scott Sonneborn! You did it, you madman, you! You actually did it!!!
Well... at least they're taking this awfully well.
This is the greatest thing I've ever seen
I stand corrected... THIS is the greatest thing I've ever seen!
Nightmare Moon's final nightmare: her own shadow come to life
But finally, we are brought to the core of the episode itself, and this is what lifted it from simply being amazing, to being "OH MY GOSH, GLORIOUS TRIUMPH OF AWESOMENESS!!!" I am talking of course about Princess Luna and the Tantabus. First of all, it is worth noting that this was Princess Luna's first true role in the show starring her as THE main character of an episode since "Luna Eclipsed" wayyyyyyyyy back in Season 2. She's had some very solid appearances since then, and has really been showing up a whole lot this season especially, but as an ardent fan of Princess Luna (Best Princess, now and always), I adored seeing her in a starring role here. Besides that, the issues addressed were very heavy, they were addressed very impressively, and they also made perfect sense for her character. The Tantabus, as we only learned as the episode progressed, was a nightmarish entity born of Luna's very own guilt. This is not just any guilt, this is the guilt of a thousand-year-old mistake, a mistake that hurt many ponies and cost Luna and her sister Celestia so very much. The weight of this guilt was especially apparent in Luna's words at the end when she finally confessed exactly what the Tantabus was through sorrowful tears as it looked like she was bringing suffering to Equestria all over again. That scene was simply utter perfection, and it's mostly because the writers earned it. Throughout the episode, Luna was desperately trying to fix this on her own, but for the wrong reasons; her guilt was fueling her desperate efforts, and that guilt in turn only fueled the Tantabus more and made it stronger. While she defeated it a bit quickly at the end, it still felt fine because she defeated it only when she finally realized that not only had her friends and all of Equestria forgiven her, but that she herself truly had changed. She need no longer fear that she will become Nightmare Moon again, no longer need let her past sins control or guide her actions. Indeed, so ashamed was she of her time as Nightmare Moon, so fearful that it could happen again that we learned she purposefully created the Tantabus in order to remind herself of her past failures every single night in nightmarish dreams of her own of her very own making. That is simply tragic, and it adds so many layers to Luna's character. But now she is free of her guilt, free of the pain she caused herself and others so many centuries ago, and that was all wonderfully encapsulated in that final image of Luna sleeping in a beautiful, serene dreamscape representation of the inner peace that she has finally achieved. I loved, loved, loved everything about Luna here, and while it may not have been her funniest showing (that honor still goes to "Luna Eclipsed"), it is still by far the greatest Princess Luna episode of MLP for me personally. She has finally closed the book on Nightmare Moon once and for all, and the fact that that sin haunted her for so long makes all the sense in the world. But now she is free at last of all the ghosts of her past, and dear Lord could it not possibly have been presented any better than it was here. This may very well be one of my top 10 favorite MLP episodes of all time from now on, it was simply that good, especially in Princess Luna's story arc.
Besides that, there were just a few other little things that were very nice about this episode. It was great seeing all the pets again, including Tank, who appears to be back from his hibernation, yay! The animation as always was incredibly top notch and we had a whole lot of very different but inventive and wildly creative locations to see here in the multitude of dreamscapes and the strange creations inhabiting them all. It was a cool bit of canon that apparently Celestia has never had any power to enter into or alter dreams, very cool that the writers cleared that up. And finally the pacing here was just too good, I swear, DHX has simply hit a sweet spot level of perfection at this point when it comes to pacing their episodes that few ever do. If they could fit such an epic episode with so much at stake into 22 minutes and still make it work, my gosh, what can't they do?! All around, this was just a perfect episode, and with a mid-season hiatus now in full swing, I don't think we could've asked for a better one to close the first half of Season 5 out. This'll probably be the last edition of "Batbrony Reviews" for a while, but don't worry, MLP and my reviews will both be back in no time ya'll, and I look forward to hanging out with you all again in a few months to close out the rest of Season 5! Until then, this is Batbrony, ecstatic and signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit*
A dream a thousand years in the making; sleep well, Luna