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MLP G5 Make Your Mark Chapter 2 Review


Misty Shadow

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Even though I've kind of already reviewed this chapter, I felt that it deserved a much more detailed review in the style of my MYM Chapter 1 re-assessment, so here we go. 

https://www.deviantart.com/mistybrightshadow/art/MYM-Chapter-2-Review-Pre-MYM-C4-Release-970987346

Prelude

Make Your Mark Chapter 2 is currently my favorite piece of G5 content. At this moment in time, it’s the second most positively received part of G5’s media, with the most positively received part being the movie. While the movie is still highly enjoyable to me despite its minor shortcomings, I am most attached to MYM’s second chapter at the moment. Granted, I’ve also been very engaged with Tell Your Tale, watching all of the shorts and getting at least some kind of enjoyment out of even the worst ones, and have been impressed with the comics thus far as well. Nothing beats the feeling, however, of finally getting to watch MLP like I would watch a show like Avatar: The Last Airbender, where every episode of the series is contributing to a grandiose story. It’s just too good of a treat to me to finally see every episode being centered around a world-changing plot that is consistently developing the show’s setting and characters.

Of course, I’m well-aware that just because a show is plot-centric, doesn’t mean it’s good. I dare you to try reading that statement without thinking of Velma. I’m sure you can already guess though that I have legitimate reasons for viewing MYM Chapter 2 as good. I’m sure you’ve also guessed that the way I plan to elaborate my reasons is through a breakdown of my feelings on every single episode from the chapter. Slight spoiler before we get into that, I do like every episode, even as I definitely subscribe to the popular opinion that some episodes are better than others. However, even the episodes that are not as good as others in my eyes and the eyes of many, I can make a case as to why they are still worthy inclusions to the series. So here we go…

Episode Breakdown

Izzy Does It

A very adequate opener to the chapter. While Make Your Mark Chapter 1 took some time to sink in, this episode immediately captured me and a lot of fans with its relatable plot and character conflict. It’s not without flaws. Zipp and Hitch aren’t immensely impactful to the plot, it’s not the funniest episode of the chapter (even as I’ll admit that gag with the pony mimicking Misty that I didn’t catch initially gave me a good laugh and I appreciate the humor in those scenes at the Crystal Brighthouse more now), and it treats us to a major stumble from Pipp that even had me sighing.

However, I love how well this episode sets up the dynamic between the show’s main cast and the villains, even giving us more insight to the dynamic between Misty and Opaline right out of the gate, the song in this episode is one of my absolute favorites, and it’s just really fun to compare and contrast how both Pipp and Izzy tackle creative block, something every creative type struggles with. I get why it’s considered the “true opener” to the series by many despite me finding greater appreciation for MYM Chapter 1.

Growing Pains  

What a perfect follow-up to this chapter’s humble beginning. Everyone remembers this one for Twilight Sparkle’s stunning return. Personally, I remember it more for how well Hitch sells it. Well, that, and how shockingly well Sprout of all ponies sells it too. Although it’s a minor disappointment how we never get a clear-cut explanation of what exactly happened to him after the events of the movie, his purposefully unlikable persona being a catalyst for the plot immediately reeled me in. It makes perfect sense for him to be unintentionally causing trouble in a way we can all understand, given that this episode explains that the ponies need to use their magic.

The writing is spot-on with how both the main plot and the subplot with Izzy intertwine with exposing the problem with Hitch’s philosophy. Rules and regulations absolutely do not fix everything and Hitch’s realization of this leading him to try getting rid of earth pony magic was beautifully done. Yes, he went too far, but that was the point. He loves the ponies of his town too much to be okay with them being in potential danger and grows as a character by having the courage to admit that he’s gone too far. If it was, let’s say, Sunny who had to stop him rather than him stopping himself, that would’ve been a letdown. However, what we actually got was an impressive moment of character development through self-reflection. Top that off with how Twilight’s message ramps up the stakes of the show’s plot, and you have an episode that perfectly encapsulates why I love this chapter.

Portrait of a Princess

I swear that it’s just a coincidence how I’m immediately talking about everyone’s favorite episode from this chapter right after that statement concluding my Growing Pains review. Everyone knows why this one works. Take the relatability from Izzy Does It and multiply it by ten, even people who don’t have siblings can see why the way Pipp and Zipp go at it with each other clicks with so many. Even if Zipp didn’t amuse me (and scare me, heh…) so much in this one with how much she was reminding me of my older sister, my heart still would’ve been touched by that endearing moment where she and Pipp realize how much they actually care about each other.

On one hand, it also amuses me how people say Hitch went too far with trying to get rid of earth pony magic out of concern, yet Misty is somehow not going too far with trying to murder Pipp and Zipp (under Opaline’s order, but still). Yet on the other hand, Pipp and Zipp being in life-threatening peril does make that heartwarming moment much more effective. This episode also got me to like Queen Haven more, with her not just contributing humor and her majestic singing to the episode, but also making said moment even more effective with the interesting background she gives on Pipp and Zipp’s relationship. The song’s really sweet too, I could never dislike this episode even as it’s not my personal favorite.

Ali-Conned

This one is easily the most divisive episode of the chapter. Even I had conflicting feelings on it at first. It’s mean-spirited, no denying that. However, let’s be real. I have to be brutally honest in saying that the mean-spirited nature of this episode…was essential. Contrary to what some say, Sunny is not a Mary Sue, and this episode illustrates exactly why this disparagement of her character is undeserved. A Mary Sue would be loved by the entire town for being her perfect self. It’s because Sunny has character that she’s willing to endure abuse and rejection from the town for being herself. This is consistent with what she was like in the movie and the townsponies are being consistent with what they were like in the movie with their cruelty as well. Just because they can now appreciate Sunny’s status doesn’t mean they appreciate her personality.

It’s made clear frequently throughout the episode that they are admiring Sunny for the wrong reasons and to continue with being brutally honest, Sunny brought some of her pain on herself with her naivete of this glaring fact. I can agree that Sunny’s naivete in this one with how she trusts Opaline’s cover as her “inner voice” is a bit hard to believe, even after Opaline’s dead giveaway line, but I honestly laughed at that line, because, well…that was the joke. I don’t find the Filly Four (or Three, not counting Misty) to be the most entertaining deliberately unlikable characters, but I enjoyed the subplot with Pipp’s “shadowbanishing” (especially with how hilarious Pipp is here) and Sparky. Its “be yourself” message tied in with the main plot’s message appropriately. Get why some are torn on this one, but it’s not even close to bad.

The Cutie Mark Mix-Up

This episode defines “flawed fun” to me. The plot is predictable, the message is predictable, and as far as advancing the show’s plot goes, it’s very arguably the least impactful. Yet there’s no flaw with this episode that stops me from enjoying it. …Okay, I confess, even if it’s just my bias for Hitch talking, my disagreement with making smoothies being portrayed to be as difficult as taking care of animals mars my enjoyment slightly. But nothing about the way this episode is flawed bewilders me or compels me to make a rewrite out of disappointment.

This episode’s predictability is very much in line with the predictability of episodes from its precursor, Friendship is Magic, where it’s obvious from the get-go that both sides are to be viewed as equally wrong and need to come to an equal understanding. It’s a very standard trope, and it’s very understandable why it’s so prevalent in entertainment. Here though, it might again just be my bias for Hitch talking, but I find it silly how him at least preparing smoothies competently gets conflated with him “not being able to make smoothies to save his hide”. Still, Sunny and Hitch bickering like an old married couple will never fail to entertain me, I really did like the humor in this one. Izzy really had me laughing and I was even able to chuckle at Zipp’s “bottom” joke. The other jokes were definitely better though. The weakest part of the chapter…but that’s not saying much.

The Traditional Unicorn Sleep-Over

Another fan favorite, this episode is often called the second best part of the chapter. Strangely though, even a beloved episode like this has attracted fallacious criticism of…Izzy being too trusting of Misty and inviting her to the Crystal Brighthouse despite having just met her. Yeah…because it’s not like Izzy has always established herself as the most unsuspecting pony out of the Mane 5 and had more incentive than ever to do this in ecstasy over having a unicorn friend for her celebration. Not to mention that her first encounter with Misty is hilarity. True, it is silly how Zipp’s the only pony to suspect Misty, but ponies being overly trusting is nothing new. Twilight and her friends got outsmarted by a child villain after all. I hope Hitch can join Zipp in being suspicious given that he’s also a detective, but I digress.

It’s still a ton of fun to watch how starkly Zipp’s suspicion of Misty contrasts with Izzy’s unquestioning acceptance of her, and of course, how Misty is always on edge trying to maintain her façade. What she believes about how magic left Equestria from the lies Opaline has indoctrinated her with is fascinating too. With her being a fan favorite character, it’s no surprise why the episode that features her most prominently is a fan favorite. It is an episode I regard highly myself, even as I enjoy Izzy and Zipp in it just as much as I enjoy Misty. More people need to appreciate the irony of how Izzy and Misty still share something in common other than being unicorns despite Misty knowing zilch about unicorn traditions. They both know all too well what it’s like to feel alone.

Hoof Done It?

This episode is what I used to consider the weakest part of the chapter. Remember my criticism of Pipp’s stumble in my thoughts on Izzy Does It? Well, her folly in this episode always grated my nerves a lot more and really jaded my view of this episode for quite some time, even as I still enjoyed it for the most part. Now, however, looking back on it in retrospect, I do understand the logic behind Pipp doing what she did better. With her being completely trusting of Misty and wanting to do something nice for her sister, it’s easier for me to give her a pass now that I can appreciate her well-intended actions more despite the consequences they had. Everyone in this episode is very likable with the part each of them play in the plot, even the Pippsqueaks shine in a great moment and in the song.

This was also the peak of the tension between Zipp and Misty, still love that part where it looks like Misty’s going to crack before Pipp steps in. This one is also very strong in regards to humor, with me still loving the heck out of the bathtub gag and Zipp questioning Izzy, and that song…oh man, it’s easily my second favorite song of the chapter. Already an earworm, and that Blitzkrieg Bop reference just seals the deal. It’s still not a favorite part of mine, but I have more respect for its high points than I used to.

Have You Seen This Dragon?

Now this episode, the final part, is what I’ve always considered to be the strongest part. I already thought it was cool what the characters could be like in a story where they find something important to them. Now, we get to see what they’re like getting together to find someone important to them. It’s awesome in every way, this one easily has the best plot to me and the main characters at their best to me, at least so far in the series. Especially Hitch. I know some people don’t like Dragon Dad Hitch. I know some people prefer Serious Officer Hitch. I can respect their opinions. But I have to ask…why can’t we have both? Hitch was being more than just true to his serious enforcer of justice self in this one…he literally turned into Batman he was so serious. They show Hitch at his peak and do a great job playing it for laughs at the same time. Genius.

And then there’s Misty, who’s also at her finest hour here. The perfectly competent and perfectly incompetent villainous henchman in one. One moment, you’re admiring how smoothly she can dodge Sparky’s traps, and the next moment, you’re laughing at her tripping and fumbling. It doesn’t even matter if you love Misty and despise Sparky, it’s still fun to watch because of the well-done balance between her competence and ineptitude. And then comes the ending, where I start feeling bad for laughing at Misty’s suffering once I see how unapologetically vicious Opaline is to the poor girl. It’s a brilliantly done dark and emotional moment at the end where Misty cries about how lonely and unloved she feels, and the perfect cliffhanger for the next part of the series where we’re undoubtedly going to see her start blending in more with the Mane 5 and standing up more to Opaline. What more could I want from this chapter’s finale?

Episode Rankings and Scores From Least Favorite to Favorite

I may as well list how I would currently rank every episode…

8. The Cutie Mark Mix-Up 8.5/10 B (Good, but obviously flawed)

7. Hoof Done It? 8.8/10 B+ (Good, but moderately flawed)

6. Ali-Conned 9/10 A- (Great, notable but minimal flaws)

5. Izzy Does It 9.1/10 A- (Great, but could use improvement)

4. The Traditional Unicorn Sleep-Over 9.2/10 A- (Solid, but could use a few improvements)

3. Portrait of a Princess 9.5/10 A (Very solid, little room for improvement)

2. Growing Pains 9.7/10 A (Excellent, very little room for improvement)

1. Have You Seen This Dragon? 9.9/10 A (Nearly flawless)

Overall Thoughts

I am honestly very satisfied with the quality of Make Your Mark’s second chapter as a whole. Even the least impactful part of the chapter helped move the plot along seamlessly and even foreshadowed an upcoming plot point, even the most controversial, mean-spirited episode was only mean-spirited in the name of giving a character the pruning she needed to grow, and even the worst episodes gave me something new to appreciate looking at them more objectively in retrospect. In this review, I did admittedly have to focus on reviewing each individual episode’s aspects rather than the overarching plot of the series, since we are currently only eight episodes into the plot and I don’t believe it’s been developed enough for me to give an accurate review at the moment.

However, I do like the current direction the plot is headed in with the way magic is being incorporated into the world, the way the main cast is being developed, and the likely impending turn the plot line with the villains will take. Growing Pains hit the nail on the head so well with how it expanded the world in the face of conflicts inevitably brought about by new magic, only Sunny had less character growth than I anticipated with her being the main protagonist, and Misty has not only captivated my heart, but the hearts of many fans who are excited to see how her character will progress with both the main characters and the main antagonist. The state of the plot right now is awesome for the standards of a young kids show.  

Some people would disagree, saying the quality of this chapter is okay at best. I can live with that. However, the fundamental adequacies of this chapter should not be ignored. If this new incarnation of MLP wants to try its hand (hoof) at a plot-centric show, why shouldn’t it? Would you rather be getting twenty-six “filler” episodes of a show you don’t like? If it has us asking all sorts of questions about the lore, that’s a good thing, since it shows that we’re invested in learning more about the lore. MLP isn’t even lore-heavy, so even if they’re supposedly “breaking the lore”, why shouldn’t they try doing what so many fans are already begging them to do? They can’t go back in time now and unmake this series a soft sequel to G4…so why shouldn’t they “do their own thing”? Regardless, I just watch MYM because I enjoy the show. I do not take how it relates to FiM too seriously, I just enjoy it for what it is and I’m always willing to back up my arguments as to why I like the show so much.       

Edited by Misty Shadow
Updated link.

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I don't exactly have the words for this, like you do - MYM has been fairly decent. Only significant problem other than the ones I've already told you is Sparky. I don't like him. Other than that it's pretty much golden for me for the most part. 

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