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Rock and a Hard Place: Equestria Girls and Season Four

Your Take  

5 members have voted

  1. 1. What did you think about Equestria Girls?

    • I loved it!
      2
    • I liked it.
      1
    • Meh.
      1
    • I didn't like it.
      0
    • I hated it!
      1
    • I don't know what to think...
      0
  2. 2. What did you think of my analysis?

    • It was great!
      1
    • It was good.
      4
    • It was alright.
      0
    • It was bad.
      0
    • It was terrible!
      0
  3. 3. What do you hope they do with Equestria Girls?

    • Treat it as canon.
      1
    • Treat it as non-canon.
      2
    • Treat some of it as canon.
      1
    • Treat it as canon, but don't acknowledge some parts of it.
      1

Before I begin, it’s rather important to note that the subject matter of this entire article contains very large spoilers for Equestria Girls, the theatrical Friendship is Magic movie. So if you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to skip this analysis.

 

Go ahead. I can wait. This whole thing was written up beforehand, so I’ve been waiting since before you even got here.

 

Good? Good. Now I’ll just say it- I liked Equestria Girls. I did. As someone who despised Magical Mystery Cure and thinks Twilicorn is a serious step in the wrong direction, I think the movie whose premise sounds like a bad fanfiction is top-notch. The writing is clever, the plot retains its surprises despite being somewhat predictable, the jokes are funny, the songs are up to snuff, and there’s a surprising amount of world- and character-building for a feature that takes place almost entirely in another dimension.

 

And that’s exactly where I plan to focus. Equestria Girls brings to the table four incredibly important revelations that have the potential to rock the foundations of our favorite equine-themed cartoon from this point forward. Or at least, a couple of them do. But we’ll get to those two in a bit.

 

First let’s explore the two rather minor revelations. Interestingly enough, they both have to do with the Elements of Harmony. In Equestria Girls, Twilight goes into the suspiciously familiar world of humans in order to retrieve her tiara. Without this tiara, which doubles as her Element, Celestia explains that the other five Elements will not function. So not only does the use of the Elements require the necklaces and tiara (or “artifacts,” as I will call them), they won’t work if one of them is missing. Furthermore, the only beings who can wield the Elements are the Mane Six. Not even Celestia and Luna can harness them; it’s all up to the six protagonists.

 

Equestria Girls completely destroyed those two bits of information. Because not only do Twilight and the rest of humanized Mane Six wield the Elements sans artifacts, the Elements are wielded with only one being established as a wielder.

 

(No, I don’t consider the alternate dimension-Mane Six-minus-Twilight to be the same as the Equestrian Mane Six-minus-Twilight. They have different memories, different cultures, and exist in a completely different setting. They are different characters.)

 

But those two won’t really come into play all that often in the future. It’s still going to be the Mane Six wielding the Elements, and the fact that the circumstances behind their use has changed will only matter for a small number of episodes. No, the really important revelations will almost assuredly be relevant to the show as a whole.

 

First of all, Twilight is now confident with being a princess. She feels less trepidation and anxiety than she did prior to the movie, and this is important. The show never treats character building like this lightly- it always comes back into play. Coming to terms with her newfound position was a natural place for the story of Twilight Sparkle to go, and this confidence and calmness will most definitely play into how Twilight acts in the seasons to come.

 

Clearly, this is a factor that I’m ecstatic about. People familiar with my analyses will know that there’s almost nothing I like better in fiction than natural, organic character development. This next revelation, though, is one that I’m still not sure what to think about. And given the history of the show and how it deals (or refuses to deal) with such subjects, I’ll put it as bluntly as possible:

 

Twilight Sparkle has a crush.

 

With the very special exceptions of Rarity and her decidedly shallow desire for a prince simply to complete the royal package, Shining Armor and Cadence because that was their entire point, and Cheerilee because she’s frankly unimportant, Friendship is Magic has refused to touch the subject of crushes and romance with a ten-foot pole, and with good reason. Earlier incarnations of the My Little Pony cartoon fell all too easily into the trap of many girls’ programs, depicting conflicts in the form of crushes as incredibly shallow and insipid as perhaps possible. Now suddenly, all of a sudden, our main character has a crush on somepony.

 

Needless to say, this development must be handled with extreme caution. If the writers handle it even slightly poorly, one of the de facto tenets of the show (“We will not portray girls’ fiction as shallow”) will be thrown utterly out of whack. Because when you get right down to it, there are three primary places this revelation could take us, all but one of which will prove catastrophic to the show.

 

First and foremost, it could be handled well, and prove to be beneficial to the show as a whole. Twilight and her crush, Flash Sentry, could mesh well together, and Flash could transcend his role and prove to be a clever, likable, relatable character that serves only to strengthen the show’s dynamic.

 

On the other hand, it could be handled poorly, and prove to be a detriment to the show. Twilight’s character could become insipid and shallow whenever Flash is present, Flash himself could prove to be as worthless and filler as King Sombra, and the Bronies would collectively groan as the show that had previously withstood the grasp of unbecoming girls’ fiction traps suddenly finds itself up the river without a paddle.

 

And then there is the possibility that the show would not handle the development at all. That is, all mention of the crush dropped, all hints at the crush silenced, and Flash Sentry himself made to be as canon as shipping between Lyra and BonBon. At first, that might not sound so bad. We’re back to the status quo, right? Only this time, we have ourselves a shiny new Twilight, brimming with confidence!

 

But it’s imperative to understand that this approach would thrust the show into another trap, and it would be caught between a rock and a hard place. If you ignore the crush but still maintain Twilight’s new confidence, as if everything in the movie besides the crush itself actually happened in canon, you find yourself with an ending to Equestria Girls that goes absolutely nowhere, a potentially great character that never gets mentioned again, and a chemistry that could have worked that will never see the light of day. To put it simply, that would be terrible story-telling. At best, it would be as if the writers are admitting that they wrote Equestria Girls without thinking ahead well enough to utilize the potential, and at worst it would be as if the writers have no qualms establishing a character before completely forgetting about him. The fact is, Equestria Girls can’t be canon in one aspect but not in another. Either you accept Twilight’s confidence along with her crush, or you reject both of them. Cherrypicking which aspects you choose to become canon is incredibly cheap writing, and I’ll be very disappointed if the writers have decided to go this route for Season Four.

 

Alternatively, the writers could take a similar route and pretend Equestira Girls never happened. That is, never bring up the crush, but also write for Twilight as if she never obtained that confidence boost. Essentially, treat Equestria Girls as strictly non-canon at any cost, which includes those revelations about the Elements I talked about above. Honestly, aside from rolling with the crush with good writing, this is the best option. This way, there is no cheap story-telling, no canon-cherrypicking, and Season Four can start with a clean slate. This would come at the cost of having to re-establish Twilight’s confidence, as well as having to consciously forget the new rules about the Elements, lest they be used in a way that doesn’t fit with established canon.

 

But this doesn’t come without its own shortcomings. I know there are fans of Friendship is Magic that look upon Fluttershy-centric episodes with exasperation, as they believe, perhaps correctly, that Fluttershy is just learning the same lesson in confidence over and over again. To them, this makes those episodes cheap. And if the writers ignore Equestria Girls, this is probably going to be a common reaction when it comes time to make Twilight comfortable with her position again. Sure, the movie wasn’t exactly canon, but it’s a piece of character development that we’ve already seen before. It would be acceptable if not painfully redundant.

 

So what are looking at when it comes to Season Four? Potentially some really good things! But then, also some potentially horrendous things that would really dampen the feel of the show. And I hate to say it, but no matter how good Equestria Girls was, Magical Mystery Cure still left a foul taste in my mouth. I’d hate to see it followed up by more disappointment. But I’ll give the writers more than a fair chance. After all, Magical Mystery Cure is literally the only episode of the show that I dislike overall. And no matter how you slice it, that’s a pretty fine track record.

  • Brohoof 1


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