Good evening everypony! Well, another year, another season of MLP. As we've come to expect from the quality of this show, Season 6, like virtually every season of MLP G4, was simply delightful in every sense of the word, and a fun ride to take with all you bronies and pegasisters as always. It was also capped by a very good (though not perfect) season finale, bringing to a close a great season with many exciting developments in the show for the story, characters, and setting. It's set the stage for many new and exciting things to come, but to close this season out, let's take a look back at both the season finale and the season as a whole. Without further ado, this is my full review of Season 6 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, including my thoughts on "To Where and Back Again: Part 1 and Part 2." Enjoy!
Season 6 was very much, thematically, a natural continuation of Season 5 in story, world building, and character development. I described last season as having something of a relaxed feel to it because there wasn't necessarily a clear end goal throughout the season that we were heading to in the story; granted we knew Starlight was going to come back seeking revenge, BUT none of the characters knew that like in Season 4 when they were all trying to get the right components the whole season to open up the box bestowed upon them by the Tree of Harmony. Similarly, this season didn't have any clear end point it was heading to either, which again made for a more relaxed feel for the entire season similar to Seasons 1, 2, and 5; most episodes stood on their own while also being a part of a greater whole. The focus of the season, however, was pretty clear, and again a natural continuation of Season 5; Starlight Glimmer was probably the most important focus of the season, as well as (1) more world building and the addition of new characters, (2) more new character development for older characters like the Mane 6, Spike, and the CMC, very different from their earlier developments in that the lessons they learned were often clearly for the more mature characters they've grown into, and also usually involved major changes happening in their lives (i.e. Rainbow Dash becoming a Wonderbolt, Rarity expanding her business, Twilight continually becoming more comfortable as a princess, etc.), and (3) continued payoff in the story from more developments in earlier seasons (like Starlight's reformation, RD and Gilda making up, the Mane 6 discovering Daring Do is real, the CMC getting their cutie marks, etc.). There was definitely a sense this season as it went on that, going forward, the show is only going to continue to expand in its scope in a number of ways; more supporting characters are most likely going to play increasingly important roles in Season 7 after what happened this season, we may see character combinations we've never seen before, and Equestria and the lands around it will most likely be explored further as well. All in all, I really have no complaints with any of this. There was just the right balance of plenty of new things this season with that which we're by now more than familiar with and love about this show, and really I for one will have no complaints if they take that exact same blueprint for this season and apply it to Season 7. It gives the writers plenty of room for growth and development in the show while hardly abandoning anything we already love about it, and for any show this old at this point, it's kind of an ideal situation. MLP's base is more than already established, and there's tons of canon for the setting, story, and characters, so now the creators get to take advantage of that by utilizing a nice, healthy balance of both new and old elements in fun, creative ways. I can't wait to see more, but for now, here are my Top 3 plot developments of Season 6, each wonderful in its own special way!
Top 3 Plot Developments:
(1) Main Cast Expands (possibly more than we even realize): In the long run, Season 6's biggest impact on the show will probably be the way it contributed to the show's world-building, but not just in a setting sense. After all, this is hardly the first season in which we've seen the show take us to new locations. Rather, the biggest area of world-building was character-driven, namely in how for the first time in a long time, it could be argued that the main cast expanded or has been set up to expand in ways we haven't seen since first introduced to the Mane 6 in Season 1. On the surface of course, we have obvious changes like Starlight Glimmer being a regular member of the main cast, or Spike having possibly his best season to date. But there were other changes that suggest greater expansions to the main cast may be on their way. Here's just a few for starters: (1) Trixie and Starlight are now best friends, (2) Spike befriended the first friendly Changeling on the show, Thorax, and Thorax in turn has become a part of pony society and, after the events of the finale, is now the new king of the reformed Changelings, (3) Discord interacted in a far more normal manner (for him, at least) with ponies that aren't Fluttershy, and (4) the CMC now have a griffon in their ranks, Gabby. After the events of the finale, it is not a far cry to believe that many of these changes may have more permanent effects on the show; Trixie, Discord, and Thorax, along with Starlight as their leader, all participated in a nation-saving event, and with Thorax's new position as well it's very likely we may see these characters (maybe not Discord, but certainly the other three) as featuring characters in episodes next season. The Cutie Map will most likely continue to be a thing, but who's to say that new combinations of characters couldn't happen? Perhaps Trixie and Twilight will set out on an adventure in which they finally make up with each other as well, or Starlight will accompany a member of the Mane 6 on one, who knows? Perhaps Spike will embark on an adventure with Thorax, or Discord will do more with Big Mac and Spike next season. Finally, there is a great potential that we will get more episodes like the delightfully surprising "Where the Apple Lies" which will provide more backstory for the Mane 6, and giving us a look at both these characters in their youth and Equestria at a different time than the present-day setting. In many ways, this season overall, while ultimately revolving around Starlight, also laid the foundation for more changes truly coming to fruition next season, and I can't wait to see where Season 7 goes as a result of everything that happened this season.
(2) Cutie Mark Map Still Matters: on the surface this might not seem like much since only about three episodes dealt with it, but this was a nice bit of continuity from last season that I'm glad they stuck with. It showed that the Mane 6's greater existential mission (especially Princess Twilight's), if you will, remains latched to the Cutie Map itself and that it wasn't just a one-season fad, and in many ways continued to utilize this plot device even better than last season did. Character-pairings like Rarity and Pinkie Pie, Twilight and Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy and Applejack worked wonderfully, and as I alluded to in my last point, it's possible that we may see different character combinations that go beyond the Mane 6 next season in regards to the Cutie Mark Map, even though other characters were not Element Bearers. But overall, I'd say the best part about this remains the continuity aspect; MLP has a chronology at this point, things that happen in the plot matter and create permanent changes to the entire setting, and few things highlighted this better than the Cutie Mark Map's return this season.
(3) Cutie Mark Crusaders New Mission: after the HUGE development last season that was the CMC finally getting their cutie marks, many long time viewers feared that the transition to their lives after getting them would be rough, from a writing perspective that is. Thankfully, these fears were laid to rest as the CMC have swiftly embarked on a new mission of trying to help others find their purpose in life while trying new pursuits of their own as well. What this means for their later professional careers isn't exactly clear yet, but like the Mane 6, they too have an existential mission of their own connected to their cutie marks, and this was most wonderfully encapsulated when they befriended their new friend Gabby the griffon and helped her "find her cutie mark" in discovering that she too was great at helping others just like they are. It was nice too that, in the "The Cart Before the Ponies" episode we had a CMC episode that didn't revolve around this purpose, since as always, slice of life episodes in general in this show don't have to revolve around the greater plot changes or character developments. I look forward to seeing them more in Season 7 (possibly older versions at long last considering the VAs, especially Michelle Creber and Claire Corlett, continue to get older), and hopefully the CMC itself continues to expand.
Mane 6 Life Goals: This is a small but important point, since it ties into what I said earlier about continuity in this show. As the show has continued, one of the best ways we've seen continuity is in characters, particularly the Mane 6, achieving dreams they've had since Season 1. In Season 6's case, this was most apparent with Rarity and Rainbow Dash. Rarity opened up yet another clothing store, this time in Manehattan (bringing her total stores to three at this point), a plot point which was handled in a couple of episodes. Likewise, Rainbow Dash finally achieved her life's dream of becoming a Wonderbolt, and while the episode in question in which this happened may have disappointed some, the significance of the development itself cannot be denied, and having seen her since then as a Wonderbolt, it is clear that this is not changing any time soon. Major developments like this are always great to see, and hopefully we see more next season.
A Royal Filly is Born: Aside from the season opener, this too didn't have huge effect on the show, but nonetheless we finally got a solid payoff from the news in Season 5 that Cadance and Shining Armor were expecting a child. Right at the start we got just that and got to meet Flurry Heart, and while she cannot yet speak (though I must say that Tabitha St. Germain's baby-noises are hilarious and adorable) and some people thought that her design and initial power levels were a bit ridiculous, all around she's been quite lovable so far and just the fact that two major characters in the show had a child should be commended. What they do with her in the future is anypony's guess, but for now I'm quite pleased with how Flurry Heart's turned out so far.
Hmmmmmmm... yeah, I could buy that's how it went
Top 3 Worst Episodes
This season was very much like Season 5 in that, for most episodes, there were none that I straight up didn't like as a whole so much as simply had very problematic elements to them. In Season 6's case, the most problematic episodes either bucked up their premise or had flawed premises to begin with, as we shall see. Another recurring problem was episodes which felt like they belonged in earlier seasons, not Season 6.
(1) "28 Pranks Later": This was undoubtedly my least favorite episode of the season, and the shame of it is that it bucked up a good premise. When I heard the episode title, the idea of a ponies-zombies crossover was DELICIOUS to think about. Unfortunately, it left much to be desired in execution. It was basically "The Mysterious Mare Do Well" lesson for Rainbow Dash all over again (this time about taking pranking too far instead of bragging too far) for starters, and therein lies the problem. I know some people have their problems with the Mare Do Well episode (I am not one of them), BUT that lesson at least fit Season 2; RD was undoubtedly more immature at that time and prone to brag about her feats. But a problem with taking pranking too far in Season 6? It just felt too OOC for RD at this point, especially when she made Fluttershy cry at the very beginning of the episode, a pony she should know not to prank at this point in the show. Besides that, the zombie crossover also underwhelmed; no matter what problems anyone may have with "The Mysterious Mare Do Well," no one can deny that the comic book aspects and shout-outs in that episode are delicious and do not disappoint in the slightest. Here, the zombie aspects did. For one, the title was misleading; it's a send-up to "28 Days Later," which would make one think that the zombie crossover might in some way resemble the terrifying zombies in that film, but instead the only zombie aspects were all "Night of the Living Dead" ones. On top of that, the way they were "zombified" was kind of lame and just not that funny; it felt like a joke more designed for younger kids than kids and adults alike, and given that zombies are such a beloved part of today's pop culture, that was especially disappointing. Overall, this is the only one of the bad episodes this season that was through-and-through more bad than good.
(2) "P.P.O.V. (Pony Point of View)": While the execution of this episode was very good and it also had a unique premise, it had one very major flaw: it suggested that this spat between AJ, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity could actually end their friendship. These are friendships that have lasted and developed for years by now, so the idea that something as small as their dispute here over a bad vacation could end it was simply ridiculous and something befitting Season 1 at best. Its presence in Season 6 was confusing to say the least, and again, while the episode itself was executed very nicely, the conflict simply doesn't work by virtue of when the episode was taking place. There is no way that this spat should have gotten that out of control at this point, and in Season 6, I can't ignore that as a problem with this episode.
(3) "The Cart Before the Ponies": This episode's biggest flaw is very similar to "P.P.O.V. (Pony Point of View)"'s, just to a lesser extent. Whereas in "P.P.O.V." the flawed premise was very hard to ignore despite good execution of the episode, in "The Cart Before the Ponies" the flawed premise was obvious but easy to ignore because of the good execution of the episode. The flaw is that the episode required three Mane 6 characters, RD, Rarity, and AJ, to act far more stupid, ignorant, immature, and selfish than any of them should reasonably be expected to (with their sisters/sister figure no less) at this point in the show in order to teach the lesson in the first place, that is, the younger characters teaching the older ones a lesson. This is not the first time any show has had an episode like this, but as I said in my original review, while this flaw was obvious, it was very easy to ignore because the episode itself was wonderfully handled. The flaw itself is still too obvious to ignore, but for the episode as a whole, it mostly doesn't matter, aside from still being an episode which would work better in Season 1 or Season 2.
The Mane 6
Twilight: This season largely saw Twilight in one of two roles, (1) as Starlight's primary mentor figure, and (2) supporting character, usually a calming voice of reason. Both of these roles make sense in her longer, ongoing character arc given that she's been the Princess of Friendship for three seasons now and has a protege of her own, similar to how Celestia mentored her in her younger years. While she was not the primary focus of this season, Twilight very much shined in this regard in that it's wonderful to really see her now no longer doubting herself as the Princess of Friendship and just very comfortable in the role. She hosts events at her castle and clearly treats it more like home, she's great at giving advice to her friends without fixing their problems for them, but rather guiding them as they figure out how to fix them themselves, and she just seemed for the most part to be very calm and levelheaded the whole season (aside from the occasional flashes of her losing her cool if situations got particularly crazy). While I expect Twilight will always be the main character of the show and may have a little more of the spotlight next season, overall she was great this season and I very much enjoyed this new, more mature side of her and hope to see more of it next season.
Applejack: Applejack had a very strong slice-of-life season without really any appearance in an earth-shattering or heartstring tugging episode. In fact, her strongest episode of the season oddly enough was one largely about backstory on her, "Where the Apple Lies." But there's nothing wrong with the kind of season she had, not at all. While I always love getting emotionally powerful Applejack episodes, it felt fine that we didn't get any this season, probably because the most emotionally powerful moments seemed to be largely reserved for Spike or Starlight. Plus it served as a nice reminder that at the end of the day, Applejack's about as down-to-earth a member of the Mane 6 as you can ask for. While she was in two of the "worst" episodes of the season, AJ herself was always a pleasure to watch and had some great pairings in episodes with RD, Fluttershy, and Rarity/Pinkie Pie. I myself was particularly pleased that we finally got a solid AJ/Fluttershy episode in "Viva Las Pegasus," which made up for the incredibly disappointing "Bats!" episode of Season 4, in which AJ was entirely depicted in the wrong the entire time while Fluttershy was totally in the right, when really the conflict was far less black-and-white than as depicted. Here, we got to see them work with each other wonderfully. Their similarities and differences were on full display and used to the episode's advantage, even when they had a spat which led them looking for different friendship problems altogether, and it was just nice to finally see that pair of two of the most down-to-earth of the Mane 6 work. Overall, while this was hardly AJ's best season to date, it was a very strong one, particularly in the second half of the season, and as always I look forward to seeing more of our favorite apple farming pony next season, and possibly finally learning more about what happened to her parents (there were definitely some interesting implications raised by "Where the Apple Lies," even if they weren't addressed in the episode).
Rarity: Rarity had a very similar season as Applejack (in fact, you're going to see this a lot with most of the Mane 6 since, again, the main group was not really at any point the major focus of Season 6, despite featuring in plenty of it). Lots of feature roles in slice-of-life episodes, when she wasn't doing that a lot of supporting roles of varying importance. Strangely enough, in two of her episodes in which she was in a leading role, Rarity was paired up with Pinkie Pie. This was both an unusual pairing in the show in general, but made even more strange by the fact that it happened twice. It surprisingly worked quite well in that, like Fluttershy and AJ, Rarity and Pinkie Pie are a pair with as many similarities as they have differences. They're both very outgoing and energetic, even having a common flair for the dramatic, but obviously Pinkie Pie is a bit more impulsive in contrast to Rarity's more measured approaches to situations. Point is, it was a good pairing and fun to see it show up not just once but twice (the addition of Maud in one of the episodes was appreciated as well). The closest to any sort of emotional arc Rarity had was her setting up her new business in Manehattan, obviously a major point of pride for her even if it's more of a character arc than really heavy emotional moment for her, but that was very nice to see all the same. I also particularly liked "Applejack's Day Off," it was just nice seeing Rarity look out for AJ like that and trying to get her to relax a bit more (even if I would've liked to see a bit more emphasis on the relaxing). Though I do have to admit that this season could've done with a bit more RariJack moments, that's still my favorite pair of friends in the Mane 6, and while "Applejack's Day Off" was perfectly fine, it has been too long since we had a really strong, powerful RariJack episode and I'd like to possibly see one next season. Besides that, Rarity was her generous self as always with new and old friends, Tabitha St. Germain delivered some delightfully entertaining performances as our favorite pony fashionista, and all in all she had a solid Season 6, what more could you want?
Fluttershy: Very interestingly, I would argue that along with Twilight, Fluttershy had the strongest season of any member of the Mane 6, for very similar reasons. While Twilight got to show off how comfortable she now is in the role of Princess of Friendship, Fluttershy was afforded many opportunities, both in starring and supporting roles, to show off how much she too has grown as a character. Sometimes this came across in little ways, like her interaction with Discord at the start of "Dungeons and Discords" where she very much illustrated how well she understands Discord at this point and how to influence his decision-making in her own, Fluttershy kind of way. But it was probably best highlighted in her strongest appearance of the season in the episode "Flutter Brutter." That episode was a perfect illustration of how far Fluttershy has come since Season 1; in it, we got to see that she has longstanding frustrations with her little brother's behavior going back to their childhood. Her parents shared her frustrations and yet they had a very timid demeanor similar to her old one, which explained a lot about her. Yet it was only now that Fluttershy was willing and able to take charge and do something about it, giving her little brother a dose of some much-needed tough love. This was quite clearly a result of how much Fluttershy has learned to stand up for herself since Season 1, and it was a delight to see her being so firm and assertive at this point. Of course she was still her lovable, gentle self for plenty of the season, and her timidity came through plenty of times too (sometimes in good ways such as in "Buckball Season," where she was quite adorable, sometimes not so well, like in "28 Pranks Later," though to be fair the problem there wasn't that Fluttershy got scared, but rather that Rainbow Dash was pranking her in the first place). Episodes like "Viva Las Pegasus" mixed things up nicely for her as well, and overall, like I said, Fluttershy's season was both surprisingly strong and varied, both unusual for a character like her, but I'm very happy with how things turned out for her. Here's hoping she has just as good of a season next season.
Rainbow Dash: Rainbow Dash had a surprisingly polarizing season, probably more so than any of the other Mane 6. That's not even to say that she had some of her worst appearances ever, just that some of the more problematic episodes involved her. Her finally joining the Wonderbolts is a perfect example of this; the development itself is huge, considering it's been RD's life goal since the show began, and it appears that it will rightfully be permanent and should have a major impact on RD's life as a whole. That said, as especially RD fans will attest, her actually joining them could have been handled better, namely in how the writers handled the idea of her being hazed as part of her "initiation" into the Wonderbolts by the rest of them. More than anything, it seemed needless and unnecessary, especially for such an important moment in her life. "28 Pranks Later," the worst episode of the season, was the other major example of a polarizing RD episode; on the one hand the premise was interesting, but on the other the execution left much to be desired and RD exhibited behavior I'd expect out of her in Season 1 or Season 2, not Season 6. That said, she had some great appearances as well. She was phenomenal (as were the rest of the Mane 6) in "Saddle Row Review," she had great supporting appearances (unusual for her considering RD is so good at being the center of attention so often) in episodes like "Applejack's Day Off" and "Flutter Brutter," and she had phenomenal starring appearances in "Stranger Than Fan Fiction," "Buckball Season," and "Top Bolt" (the latter was probably her best episode of the season, that or "Stranger Than Fan Fiction"). So again, despite some weak episodes, it would be wrong to say this was RD's worst season. Far from it, when she was depicted well, she REALLY was, and we got to see some of the best we ever have from Rainbow Dash, very much exhibiting just how far she has come and matured since Season 1. Combine that with the massive importance of her finally becoming a Wonderbolt, and overall Rainbow Dash had a very solid season, and certainly some very strong starring appearances (even a rare solo-outing in "Stranger Than Fan Fiction" in which she was really the only Mane 6 member involved).
Pinkie Pie: Every season it seems like there is one member of the Mane 6 who doesn't get QUITE as much attention or solo-appearances as the others. This season, it was Pinkie Pie, which isn't the worst thing in the world and actually kind of makes sense and works. When you think about it, Pinkie Pie had only two real starring appearances in Season 6 (in "The Gift of the Maud Pie" and "Spice Up Your Life"), and three sort-of feature roles in "The Saddle Row Review," "28 Pranks Later," and "Buckball Season." Besides that? Lots, and lots, and lots, and lots of SUPPORTING APPEARANCES. This works for Pinkie Pie, however, because she's such an energetic character that even when she's in a supporting role, she can easily manage to leave a major impression on viewers because, more than likely she'll do something outrageous. What's interesting about her true starring appearances is that both of them were alongside Rarity; I commented earlier that this is an unusual pair in the show but it actually worked quite well in both instances. Still, Pinkie probably showed up less this season than she has in awhile, and in many ways I don't quite mind that. With a character like her, it's easy to fall into the trap of leaning on her as a crutch, namely for quick comedy or random bits. There have been times in the show where it's felt like she's just there to be the funny one or say something silly. So while her absence at times was a bit unusual or noticeable, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing; still, I would like to see a few more starring appearances for Pinkie next season, especially more involving her family besides Maud. Overall, however, I'd say Pinkie had a perfectly fine Season 6; nothing particularly major happened in developing her character, but she was the same old, lovable Pinkie that she's always been.
Spike: oh boy, now THIS guy, this guy had himself a season! While as I said before Starlight Glimmer was most definitely the main character of Season 6, our lovable baby dragon, Spike, had himself his best season ever. By extension, this means that Spike had the best Season 6 out of all main characters who have been a part of the show since Season 1, and that's damn impressive! From the season opener, I think we had a really good feeling about how Spike's season was gonna turn out; he played a great supporting role there as an adviser and confidant for Starlight and really showed how much he'd grown over the years. But it just got SO MUCH BETTER from there. Spike was the star of easily two of the best episodes of the season, "Gauntlet of Fire" and "The Times They Are a Changeling." The former had one of the best new characters of the show (and dragon-lord waifu) Princess/Dragon Lord Ember and featured Spike just being an all around BAMF, while the latter was probably the emotional high-point of the season, showing Spike channel many unspoken emotions of his own, most likely stemming from his own dragon-heritage and adopted status, in convincing his pony friends to give a kind Changeling a chance (and getting his first solo song ever to boot). Besides that he also starred in one of the funnier episodes of Season 6, "Dungeons and Discord," and had some great appearances in supporting roles as well. Overall, I don't see how anyone could dispute that this was Spike the Dragon's best season ever, hands down, and all I can say is that it's going to be near impossible for them to top this season for him next season.
Spike, in his finest moment, in his finest season
Starlight Glimmer: Our newest main character also happened to be the primary focus of Season 6, which was very pleasant to see. In many ways, many of Starlight's episodes felt like we were focused on a Season 1 character placed in a Season 6 setting, and while that could've been bad, it largely worked wonderfully the whole season. Seeing Starlight overcome her own misgivings and insecurities about herself and her ability to befriend ponies outside of the Mane 6 was a very compelling arc to follow from the opening of the season to the end when Starlight finally realized she can be not just a great friend but also a great leader in her own right, if only she believes in herself and sets her mind to it. All of her major developments across the season were great as well, namely because they were unique in their own ways; she first (1) made up with her childhood friend Sunburst, and in the process helped save the Crystal Empire, (2) made her first friend all on her own, her new BFF Trixie, thereby helping Twilight as well patch things up with her old S1 antagonist (though I would argue Twilight and Trixie might still have some ways to go), (3) she then learned how to truly appreciate a pony holiday, Hearth's Warming Eve, which she didn't really think was that meaningful, which makes sense for someone who has spent most of her life distancing herself from the things most ponies care about, (4) she was confronted (in a small supporting role, no less) with the challenge to accept a Changeling as a friend, and in the process clearly reminded of her own past mistakes and the ways she had been forgiven by so many ponies for them, (5) she bucked up majorly when trying to once again take a shortcut in learning friendship lessons, relying on her raw talent in magic to solve her problems and in the process learning that she was actually making things much harder on herself than she needed to, and (6) finally closed the season helping to save all of Equestria from Queen Chrysalis, in the process learning that she is both a great friend and a great leader and shouldn't fear being herself or realizing her potential to the best of her ability. So yeah, needless to say, this mare was rather busy this season and went through some great character arcs time and time again, even sometimes when she wasn't a main character in an episode. I will say that the one strange quality of Starlight's presence this season was that in some episodes it was like she wasn't even around town, which felt odd at times, but that's literally my biggest complaint about her this season. Overall, Starlight really proved herself as a main character this season and made me for one look forward to seeing more of her next season in hopefully many more episodes to come. Can't wait to see what's next for ya, Starlight!
I won't lie, these two are kind of adorable BFFs together
CMC: I pretty much covered most of the major developments with the CMC already in my earlier point about how strong their arc was this season, so I won't repeat myself very much here. As characters, I thought this was one of their better CMC-as-a-group seasons; the downside is that the only CMC episode that was really focused on any of them individually was "On Your Marks" and sort-of "Where The Apple Lies" (in both cases Apple Bloom, though AJ's the real focus of the latter episode), but it was nice to see how close they were all functioning for the most part this season now that they've figured out what they're supposed to do after getting their cutie marks. I do hope we get one or two more episodes that focus on individual CMC next season (especially Sweetie Belle or Scootaloo since I think there may be more potential to change things up with them than with Apple Bloom), and some signs of aging among them might be nice as well (especially since Michelle Creber and Claire Corlett are clearly aging and it's starting to get far harder, if not impossibly, for them to do voices at the same pitch as they have for Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle). Plus I'd really love to see more from CMC members who have joined them over the last few seasons, like Babs or Gabby the Griffon. But overall, they had a really good season, especially coming off the emotional climax of getting their cutie marks last season. Can't wait to see more of these girls and hopefully they continue adding more members to the CMC and helping ponies discover their purpose.
Ah, same old lovable CMC- WAIT! Hmmmmmmmmm... one of these things is not like the other, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is...
Supporting Characters: Season 6 was a strange season as far as supporting characters go, for really only one big reason which I'll highlight at the end of this section. On the whole, it was largely fine. First of all we had some really great new supporting characters added all season long, and I would argue it was stronger in that department than even Season 5 was. Let's list 'em just to illustrate this point: there was (1) Sunburst in the season opener, (2) Princess/Dragon Lord/Dragon Waifu Ember in "Gauntlet of Fire," (3) Coriander Cumin and Saffron Masala in "Spice Up Your Life," (4) Quibble Pants (voiced spectacularly by Patton Oswalt) in "Stranger Than Fan Fiction," (5) Thorax, our first ever friendly Changeling, in "The Times They Are a Changeling," (6) the adorable Gabby the Griffon in "The Fault in Our Cutie Marks," (7) a whole bevvy of colorful characters in "Viva Las Pegasus," and (8) the adorable Vapor Trail in "Top Bolt." There were also some great returning appearances from old supporting characters, including Discord, Trixie, Flim and Flam, Snails (even I can't believe that one), Princess Cadance and Shining Armor (and their new bundle of joy in Princess Flurry Heart), Princess Luna, Maud, Cheerilee, Big Mac, and even Filthy Rich and Spoiled Rich had some notable appearances.
Bow down to your new Dragon Waifu everypony! BOW I SAY!!!
There were a couple of not so strong new supporting characters, like Zephyr Breeze and Sky Stinger (both of whom were extremely annoying to the point that I didn't even care that it was intentional it still made it hard for me to like them at all). These two didn't come close to being likable until about the last five minutes of both of their episodes, and boy did it make it hard to come around to them (though I did love seeing Fluttershy getting so assertive and mad at Zephyr, that was great). Some long time supporting characters also didn't feature too much; despite a couple of notable appearances Princess Luna largely was absent for most of the season, and Zecora didn't once make a major appearance. But now we come to the biggest disappointment of Season 6's supporting characters: PRINCESS CELESTIA.
Oh me oh my, why can't poor Celly get any love on this show it seems? Between time and time again being incapable of actually solving a national crisis (a plot device that seems a bit tired at this point, I mean, it was ridiculously easy for the Changelings to capture both her and Princess Luna, buck, all of Equestria's royalty was bucking useless in that so I can only help that that was one bucking stealthy operation the Changelings launched) and just disappearing for stretches at a time, this character just can't catch a break these days. Let's not forget that there was a time in this show where pretty much EVERY MAJOR EVENT revolved around Celestia to some extent. She was the main catalyst in sending Twilight to Ponyville and getting her to regularly learn lessons of friendship and report them to her, she bucking made Twilight a princess for crying out loud, and she's supposed to be her dearest mentor, and a mentor and leader to all ponies. Needless to say, since the end of Season 4, that has not been the case and it is NOTICEABLE!!! This is a character who is simply too big in her importance to both the show's setting and main characters to be ignored the way she has the last two seasons by the writers without it coming off as ridiculous. SHE CONTROLS THE BUCKING SUN FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, AND YOU'RE TELLING ME THAT THE HIGH POINT OF HER SEASON WAS A GAG ABOUT HER BEING UNAMUSED IN "No Second Prances" IN WHICH SHE DIDN'T EVEN SAY A BUCKING WORD?!?! It's too much, at this point, it's simply too much. Many of us in the fandom have long been asking for more Celestia, going all the way back to the early seasons, but instead she just had her worst season ever and this NEEDS TO CHANGE!!! She needs an episode next season, to put it mildly, she simply does. Nicole Oliver for one is too good in this role to ignore, but back to the character herself, this is a character that deserves better! Princess Luna has rightfully had a character arc across all six of these seasons, Princess Cadance has even had a character arc and sometimes major appearances in episodes (even if she maybe hasn't ever faced a friendship problem, unless you count "The Times They Are a Changeling"), but Princess Celestia, the sole ruler of Equestria for 1000 years, STILL DOESN'T HAVE A SOLO EPISODE?!?!? BUCKING RIDICULOUS!!! Writers, at this point I'm just begging for anything, anything at all. A fun little slice-of-life episode, maybe about a day in the life of Celestia or a romp with some other character on some random adventure, more about her and Twilight's relationship, maybe a look into her own mind and what her own fears and insecurities are, SOMETHING, ANYTHING!!! But the show simply can't keep ignoring such a big character without it coming off as a major flaw, and until that changes, until Princess Celestia finally gets the proper attention she deserves in the show, even in just one episode focused on her as an actual main character, it will remain quite possibly the biggest long-standing flaw of the show, and it's a shame that a season that was so strong for the most part in its handling of new and old supporting characters was so marred by such a glaring absence.
*sigh* Another season, another year of Celestia being largely forgotten by the show-writers... CURSES!!!
Background Characters: Season 6 was a far more standard season for MLP background characters than Season 5 was, and really that's to be expected. I didn't think going in that we'd get an episode like "Slice of Life" last season. That said, there were still plenty of highlights. The Spa sisters, Aloe and Lotus, actually got a rather notable supporting appearance in the episode "Applejack's Day Off," Bulk Biceps did as well in "On Your Marks," lots of the mainstays like Vinyl, Octavia, Lyra, and Bon Bon had plenty of small appearances here and there, and of course Derpy unsurprisingly had probably the most notable and best appearances of any background character this season. Derpy had herself fun cameo after fun cameo, the best being in "No Second Prances," "A Hearth's Warming Tale," and "To Where and Back Again," and every time she was just her lovable, cute, hilariously adorable self. One of the more important developments with her also was that there were at least two times where she appeared with Dinky, possibly confirming that Dinky is her daughter (which has been popular fanon for a LONG time). I would still like in the future to maybe see some of the background characters feature in slice of life episodes, perhaps with the Mane 6 or other main characters helping them with their own friendship problems, and I certainly think there's a lot of potential with an idea like that, but I also understand it might not happen (although it certainly would be easier for the writers than having to keep coming up with new characters for slice of life episodes). I'd also love to see bat ponies/thestrals feature as a canon race beyond their only appearance in Season 2, but again, that may or may not happen, we'll just have to wait and see. Overall, while our background characters didn't have the wow-factor that they did last season, they still had a very, very good Season 6 overall and I can't wait to see more of them next season!
Derpy Hooves: The true "star" of Season 6! Heh, see what I did there? Heh, heh, wink wink, nudge nudge!
Animation as usual was simply gorgeous on the show, and as usual it was also harder than ever for DHX to really improve on their animation. They certainly did, it was just a little more difficult to figure out how this season. This year, they really seemed to experiment with pony body-types and facial expressions more; in the former category I would say they were largely successful, ponies like Coriander Cumin had very unusual designs for characters in this show and the body movements on him as well were great, he really felt like he was moving like a pony his size should be. Facial expressions, on the other hand, were a bit wonky this season; half the time they worked really well and some of the newer or more unusual expressions were really funny, OTHER times however it felt like a bit much. The biggest offender would definitely be Pinkie Pie this year, there were times where, no joke, they made her face so exaggerated that her head would suddenly become 3x larger than her body and she sometimes wore these absolutely bizarre expressions that seemed like they'd be even a bit much in a show like classic Looney Tunes. I get that they were experimenting, but it just felt out of place in a show like MLP; it's a cartoon, sure, but it's not a cartoon like Looney Tunes is (even for a physics-defying character like Pinkie), there are laws of physics here and the characters can't just distort their body like, say, the Animaniacs could. So hopefully they just dial it down just a tad next season. I'll leave a couple of the worst offenders below to show you what I mean by "excessive" facial expressions. Overall, however, the animation was stunning, the colors crisp and vibrant, and the movement flowed as beautifully as ever.
Boy oh boy, was this season funny. Pretty much every episode, even the more serious ones, had laughs to offer, but with gems like "Saddle Row Review" (which was an absolutely fantastically put together episode), "Flutter Brutter," "Stranger Than Fan Fiction" (which was capped with a fantastic ad-lib credits-performance by Patton Oswalt), "Dungeons and Discords," and "Every Little Thing She Does," this was a funny, funny, FUNNY season! And really, the comedy played a big role in establishing the tone of this season; this was a heavily slice-of-life season, and that's indicative by the fact that really its main focus in the larger plot was on one character, Starlight Glimmer, more so than any other character. Ergo, the writers had a lot of room to throw in a lot more lighthearted episodes, and that was a lot of fun to see for sure. If there's a similar level of comedy next season, I will neither be surprised nor disappointed. MLP remains one of the funniest cartoon shows today, with a great blend of humor that both kids and adults can enjoy. What's not to love about that?
While Daniel Ingram remains great as ever, this was an odd season of songs for MLP. That's not to say the songs weren't enjoyable, but they were spaced out oddly. The season was mostly frontloaded with songs and, since a lot of those came in one episode ("A Hearth's Warming Tale"), only seven episodes of this season had any songs in them (12 total), compared to 16 songs in eight episodes of MLP last season (two episodes of which had multiple songs in them). The other strange thing about this season is that a couple of songs came out of nowhere and didn't leave much of an impression. "Can I Do It On My Own" in "Flutter Brutter" and "Derby Racers" in "The Cart Before the Ponies" are probably the two best examples of this, and while "Derby Racers" was a plenty pleasant tune, "Can I Do It On My Own" remains a puzzling song and about as underwhelming as a song in this show can be. It was downright bizarre that there was not a single song in the season opener OR the season finale, that is something we haven't seen in the show in awhile, and we didn't have a single song in the season after Episode 19! How weird is that?! But like I said, the songs themselves remained great for the most part, why wouldn't they, this is Daniel Ingram we're talking about? So with that out of the way, here's the best that Season 6 had to offer musically.
Top 3 Season 6 Songs
(1) Every Song in "A Hearth's Warming Tale": I'm cheating a bit on this one since this is not a single song but rather a collection of songs in a musical episode, BUT in my defense, each one of these songs compliments each other so perfectly that I couldn't imagine separating them, and the ways in which they compliment each other amplify them into the first position on this list for me. I would go so far as to argue that the full collection of songs in "A Hearth's Warming Tale" is the most impressive example of a musical episode in the show to date. Each song was effectively used to tell the story without ever feeling like anything was getting crammed in, and it made for one of the most impressively paced episodes in the entire show ever. Besides that, every single one of these songs were delightful in their own; "Hearth's Warming Eve is Here Once Again," was a fantastic opener and reprisal to close the episode out, "Say Goodbye to the Holiday" was a great villain song (can Starlight just please keep singing those, she's kinda great at them?), "The Seeds of the Past" was perfect for AJ and had a sad, sweet somber tone to it, "Pinkie's Present" was just the BEST holiday song Pinkie could ever sing, and "Luna's Future" had a weight to it that very much fit Luna's vocals. All in all, this was the finest musical achievement of Season 6 and Daniel Ingram and company should be damn proud of what they put together here, and I can't wait to see how they try to top it next season.
(2) "A Changeling Can Change": While I could not name this the best musical achievement of the season, "A Changeling Can Change" was undeniably the emotional high point of any song in MLP this season, for a number of good reasons. First, it was Spike's first solo, something we've been waiting for for a LONG time in this show. Second, there was a lot going on here, with Spike just pouring his heart out for a friend he hadn't even met that long ago and was really risking a lot for here, just because it was the right thing to do. Third, it was based on John Lennon's "Imagine" which, while not my favorite song in the world, is undeniably a powerful song, and Ingram very much channeled its spirit here. While Spike's vocals aren't exactly the most musically amazing, there was a heavy sincerity to it all (helped by the fact that, I'm pretty sure Cathy Weseluck herself handled the vocals), and that just made it a song that stuck with you more than any other this season, emotionally at least. Not quite the amazingness that was "The Magic Inside" last season, but again, undeniably the emotional high point of any song this season.
(3) "Find the Purpose in Your Life": This was, hands down, the best CMC song of the season, and while a part of that has to do with how pleasant it was, really it has more to do with what was going on. It was a great storytelling song in that it simultaneously showed how the CMC were becoming increasingly perplexed at how to help their new griffon friend Gabby, and at the same time it illustrated just how great Gabby is at helping others, hinting at what her special talent was. The combination of the CMC's group vocals with Gabby's own, plucky voice made for an all around pleasant experience and it was just a really, really lovely song.
"Spice Up Your Life": This song gets an honorable mention mostly because it was a very fun musical experiment, especially instrumentally, on Ingram's part, with very East Asian/Indian background instrumentals. Not exactly high culture or anything, but it was cool seeing him futz around with something newer like that, and Rarity and Pinkie Pie's vocals very much helped. If anything holds it back, it's just the fact that it's clear in the course of such a fun song that both of these friends are on totally different pages and on their way to bucking things up, which is exactly what happens. Still, the song itself is very nice.
"Derby Racers": This is really just a pleasant song and that's really the only reason I'm giving it an honorable mention. It really didn't need to even happen but, unlike "Can I Do It On My Own," I actually enjoyed this one, and really why not? You got the whole town of Ponyville singing along, a fun, bouncy tune, and cheerleader Cheerilee, what's not to like? But yeah, not a very impactful so it can't get too high of a rank, but a very pleasing tune and pleasant song to listen to all the same.
In many ways, Season 6 was actually very much like Season 3. While it was nowhere near as thematically or philosophically ambitious as Season 5 was, it definitely felt like a lot of important things were being set up or established for future seasons this season. Just as Season 3 set up a ton for Seasons 4 and 5, this season saw a ton of new characters and settings added, new developments for Equestria, including political given how things ended up with the Changelings, and most importantly of all, at least one and possibly more characters added/possibly added to the main cast. For the first time in awhile, I really don't have any idea where the next season of MLP will go from here, but I like to think of that as a good thing. It's nice knowing there's still so many things they can do in this show and not knowing what DHX will come up with next. I for one can't wait to find out, so until Season 7 everypony, this is Batbrony signing off one last time. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic Season 6 exit*