What’s that, you say? Where is my review of “The Best Night Ever”? I skipped it, for three reasons.
1. It’s my blog, by Celestia’s Royal Rump.
2. I want to watch BronyCurious' critique of the episode, but that might affect my own perceptions, so I want to get this one done soonest.
3. I personally consider "Return of Harmony" to be the end of Season I, not the beginning of Season II, no matter what the back covers of my DVDs or indeed the universe at large may claim. Why? Because the opening credits, and the way the glow of a unicorn’s horn is visually represented is the same as Season I episodes, that's why. (I do have to put season 2 in the tags, though)
Also, TBNE doesn't really fit in with the others. It has no real villain or even a particularly serious situation for the Mane 6 to overcome. It deals mostly with their disappointment at having their own expectations dashed. Fluttershy goes temporarily insane. The moral is "Wanting is better than having." There, I did end up reviewing after all.
"Lesson Zero" is what I consider the start of Season II. While it shares many elements with TNBE that I stated above, it at least had the effect of doing away with the "only Twilight sends letters" and the "each episode ends with a letter to Celestia" clauses that had been implicit until that point. (Yes, there were exceptions, like the CMC episodes, but they were exceptions, not the rule) The fact that it shook up the status quo qualifies it for Season opener status. At least, in my eyes it does. Now, onto the episode at hand:
It starts with a rather light-hearted scene featuring the CMC fighting over the meaning of the appearance of Discord (the irony) which apparently empowers him to escape his prison of stone. The dark heartbeat, the ominous crack in the statue, and the evil chuckle all serve to create a good sense of tension.
Cut to the Mane 6, having to deal with the first effects of Discord's chaotic magic. This scene shows off all the Mane 6 again, and reaffirms their teamwork. I particularly like Rarity here (What? Inconceivable!) She states that she isn't willing to come out from under her umbrella, yet passes it over to Twilight without a second thought when she thinks it will help her in her pondering. After solving the problem, they are summoned by Celestia.
This scene is important for many reasons. It gives a great deal of exposition regarding the EoH, adds more historical information concerning Equestria's past, and even serves as a reminder of the events of the pilot. Celestia also wastes no time bringing out the Elements and telling her task team to take down their foe at once. Serious business indeed, when the usually unflappable, extremely powerful and generally artful ruler gives you the weapon and points you in the direction of your enemy in such straightforward terms. Or would give you the weapon, if she had it to give. Dun dun DUN! The Elements are gone, leaving even Celestia with her jaw dropping.
And now the villain makes his entrance, in possibly the most unsettling way he can, by sliding around the stained glass windows. Discord, the mischievous spirit of chaos and disharmony. John de Lancie's performance as Discord is definitely one of the strongest points for this episode. Of course, he's had a lot of practice as Q.
Again, the way Celestia responds to him shows just how much of threat she considers him to be. Her expression, as Discord puts it, is indeed grim. Discord also shows that he is fully aware of each of the Mane 6 and their Element, all of which serve to make him even scarier. There is little worse than having an enemy who is not only powerful, but also knowledgeable about you. This leads to a problem down the line, however, which I will discuss more later.
Having given them his riddle, Discord departs. It's quite amazing how deep his simple few words are when you examine them carefully. "Twists and turns are my master plan. Then find the Elements back where you began..." His master plan was to essentially "twist" the personalities of each of the Mane 6 sans Twilight, and to "turn" them against each other. This so that even when they do regain the Elements, they will be in no shape to wield their power against him. This figurative level is masked by the more literal meaning, which Discord was clearly counting on Twilight to focus on, she being a literal sort of character, and it leads them directly into his trap. Well played, Discord... well played.
Another delightful bit of irony is the fact that right after Discord delivers his message, Fluttershy actually gives the correct answer, when she asks "Can we go home now?" Had Twilight listened to her, they could have gotten hold of the Elements without falling into Discord's trap, and defeated him rather painlessly. I'm sure that Discord, devious as he is, allowed them that possibility, just so that he could later laugh at them for not seeing it. In fact, his laugh as the Mane 6 head towards the labyrinth seems to be mocking them for that very reason.
My goodness, all these words, and I've only covered the first 10 minutes of the episode. I think it would be a good idea to pause briefly here.
More about this episode next time.
Until then, keep chasing those rainbows!