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About AlexanderThrond

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  • Birthday 12/01/96

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My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

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    Twilight circa S2
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    Film, history, television, video games

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  1. Maybe I'll just go with "consciousness" or something like that in the future to avoid showing my ignorance.
  2. @Lambdadelta I was complaining about that in an earlier draft, but when scrubbing for examples, she seemed fine aside from being incredibly hyper, which is also true of Fluttershy and the supporting cast.
  3. @StitchandMLPlover Indeed, and I think it's because it's so easily to relate to and sympathize with her that the moral has so much impact.
  4. I had such a good time live-tweeting this. Not sure how you wound up attributing it to @Kyoshi, though.
  5. I really feel like Fluttershy and Twilight are one of the show's more underrated pairings. "The Hooffields & the McColts" isn't that much like "A Health of Information," but both are hilarious. 

  6. I had a really good time with this. The moral is really sympathetic and relatable, the plot moves at a high speed, and the episode is super funny from start to finish. I even kinda liked the "legends" stuff! There's some expository dialogue, and the characters all act like they had too much caffeine, but there's also a lot of intelligent character details which give this some surprising depth, some of which I only stumbled upon by writing my review. Full review at my blog. Additional thoughts: This is also the most fun I've had live-tweeting this show in a long time. Copying one of my favourite jokes: FLUTTERSHY: "I cross-referenced books and discovered that ancient thing is real." TWILIGHT: "Suddenly I am very attracted to you."
  7. This is the second week in a row where an episode I never had much interest in proved to be a pleasant surprise. "A Health of Information" is kinda simple and rather expository, but it's got a breakneck pace, a strong collection of jokes, and some surprisingly high stakes which lend the episode a lot of intensity. As I've said before, this show doesn't need a strong emotional core or a sharp eye for continuity to impress me. Those things are nice, but before it has that, all I want from it is to be fun. "A Health of Information" is probably one of the 5 most entertaining episodes this season. Not bad for a story which seemingly only exists to set up the finale! While helping Fluttershy find a moss for her sanctuary, Zecora catches a rare disease called Swamp Fever, which has no known cure and, if untreated, will eventually turn her into the same type of tree which gave her the disease. Blaming herself, Fluttershy immediately enlists the help of Twilight and spares no expense in finding the cabin of the Mage Meadowbrook, a healer famed for curing a great many diseases before vanishing suddenly. In the process, however, Fluttershy forgets to take care of herself. First and foremost, it must be noted that "A Health of Information" is easily the funniest episode since at least "Discordant Harmony." From Zecora's heartbeat sounding like a drum roll to Twilight becoming excited about Meadowbrook's diary, the silly gags keep coming, and they come at a much faster rate than other funny episodes this season like "Triple Threat" or "To Change a Changeling." The plot moves by so quickly that it never has time to lull, and the episode smartly fills that space with clever gags and cute character moments. A lot of the dialogue consists of characters just explaining the plot to each other and exclaiming how they feel, but even that is tied to individual personalities much more successfully than the likes of "Daring Done?." The cutest of these moments all come from Fluttershy, whose sheer determination is super endearing. Even more than "Flutter Brutter," this episode finds a comfortable balance between her soft demeanour, her caring personality, and her newfound assertiveness. This all seems quite admirable, but ironically, Fluttershy's determination is presented as an issue, since it leads to her not taking care of herself. Eventually, this culminates in her catching Spring Fever herself, which she continues trying to persevere through despite visibly suffering from severe symptoms. What makes this work so well is that it's so easy to relate to. Fluttershy starts neglecting her own health because of things which we usually admire in characters, and her feeling of being responsible for Zecora's illness is relatable and sympathetic. It's easy to imagine an alternate version of this story where Fluttershy's insistence is treated as a good thing, so when that's subverted and shown to be ultimately causing more trouble for both herself and others who worry about her, it's somewhat surprising, which makes for a very effective moral. Still, the characterization here does have issues, and a lot of them stem from the rapid pacing. While Fluttershy is mostly alright, she comes across as uncharacteristically hyperactive, which is a double edged sword. On one hand, it leads to a lot of the episode's funniest and cutest moments, but on the other, it's kinda distracting to see Fluttershy acting so weirdly. Maybe she had too much coffee. This weird hyperactivity extends to everyone else, especially Twilight, which is ironic given how the latter serves as the voice of reason here. Twilight tells Fluttershy to calm down, and even falls asleep on a pile of books at one point, but she too often comes across like she drank a whole case of energy drinks. Thankfully, this is yet another example of Twilight being great this season, and even her role as a voice of reason makes a little more sense here. Because we've so often seen Twilight becoming equally stressed out over much less important things than this, it makes sense that she'd know how to handle such stressful situations. Furthermore, it comes across better here than in "P.P.O.V." simply because she's been much more fallible this season, and it helps that she's also very funny in this episode, as in a brief scene where she and Spike are having a "cook off." This episode also introduces a new legendary character in the form of Mage Meadowbrook, and her flashback is perhaps the best one yet. Like Somnambula, we don't get a particularly deep sense of Meadowbrook's personality, but also like Somnambula, she comes across as charming and admirable, and the cultural aesthetic here is a bit less rote than any of the preceding legends, showing muted Cajun/Louisiana Creole influences without incorporating any tired mystical elements. This flashback is all about observing the natural world, and while its parallel for the main story is about as suspicious as that in "Daring Done?," that parallel also gives it the flavour which was missing from "Campfire Tales." Finally, and most intriguingly, the episode has surprisingly high stakes, as if Fluttershy and Twilight fail, Zecora (and later Fluttershy as well) will potentially be subject to a fate worse than death. This show can't directly mention death, but it can refer to characters slowly having their body warped into an immobile, toxic form, possibly being robbed of their sapience in the process. That's even worse than real swamp fever, which just causes death through anemia, and it gives the story a much higher level of tension than it might otherwise have. Rarely is there this much at risk in the show, and that makes the episode feel genuinely refreshing. Just when I was starting to give up on this show, it has surprised me with two unexpectedly enjoyable episodes which offer a lot of the things I missed this season. "A Health of Information" is upbeat and fast-paced, and gains a lot of energy just from having really high stakes. Top it off with a solid moral, some fun characterization, and the best "legend" yet, and what issues the episode does have seem minor given just how fun the whole thing is. See, this is what I want from the show. Give me more like this. Score: Entertainment: 8/10 Characters: 7/10 Themes: 9/10 Story: 8/10 Overall: 83/100 You can find more episode reviews at my offsite blog.
  8. What, was slowly being turned into a toxic tree for the rest of your life, hopefully losing all sapience in the process, not dark enough?
  9. Looking back, the tree in "Perfect Pear" doesn't look much like the tree in "Health of Information" either, so I guess that's one bit of dark silliness debunked.
  10. Oh wow, that puts a different spin on things. Might also explain why nobody specifically stated the Apple parents were dead.
  11. I thought the presence of a drum roll instead of a heartbeat was the joke. We're surprised by there being a drum roll there, but the doctor talks as if he knows exactly what that means. Subverting expectations.
  12. "A Health of Information" - Maybe too manic for its own good - all the characters are practically bouncing off the walls - but this is fast-paced, funny, exciting, and surprisingly intense. Meadowbrook is my favourite legendary character so far, the worldbuilding is possibly the best this season, there's a genuine sense of danger, and Fluttershy being so concerned for Zecora's well-being is adorable. A lot of the dialogue is just exposition, but it's exposition with a little personality thrown in. I kinda loved this. 

  13. Spoiler

    Inspired by @Dark Qiviut, here's my ranking of the season so far, alongside my out-of-100 numerical scores: A Flurry of Emotions (93) The Perfect Pear (83) A Royal Problem (83) Parental Glideance (80) Discordant Harmony (80) Triple Threat (70) It Isn't the Mane Thing About You (65) Not Asking for Trouble (63) Rock Solid Friendship (60) To Change a Changeling (53) Campfire Tales (53) Celestial Advice (50) Forever Filly (48) Fame and Misfortune (45) Honest Apple (40) All Bottled Up (38) Daring Done? (35) Fluttershy Leans In (35) Hard to Say Anything (25) Only "A Flurry of Emotions" is up there with my favourite episodes of all time, but "The Perfect Pear" is pretty close and may rise up on a second viewing. On the other hand, only "Hard to Say Anything" is guaranteed a spot on my bottom 10, but "Daring Done?" and "Fluttershy Leans In" do have a shot as well. As for my general thoughts this season: It doesn't really fix season 6's polish and consistency issues. I'm significantly more bothered by Rarity in "Forever Filly" than in "Spice Up Your Life," and nearly every other mane six character has at least one episode which really flubs their characterization. More importantly, the details in episodes like "To Change a Changeling," "Honest Apple," and "Forever Filly" are dubious at best, and several premises feel every bit as contrived as the worst of season 6. And that's not even getting into disorganized messes like "Fame and Misfortune" and "To Change a Changeling." It's still very safe. Even "The Perfect Pear," as great as it is, shies away from actually confirming what happened to the Apple parents, and a good number of episodes are very predictable, like "Not Asking for Trouble" and even "Triple Threat." There's also a distinct lack of experimentation, as even when it switches up the setting like in "Not Asking for Trouble" or even "A Royal Problem," it follows a bunch of familiar plot beats. Only "The Perfect Pear" comes across to me like the writers really moving out of their comfort zone. There's a weird sterility to a majority of these episodes. An uncanny number of them feel reverse-engineered from the moral without accommodating the characters or better ideas which may come up. "Forever Filly" is my main punching bag in this regard, because nothing happens in that which doesn't tie directly into the moral, but "Daring Done?" dabbles in it too, and while "A Royal Problem" gets it right, it'd still be better with even the slightest bit of space to breathe. Some of the character issues in episodes like "Honest Apple" come across as the writers, whether through stubbornness or laziness, refusing to modify the story structure or moral to suit the characters. The second half is more varied than the first half. In the first half of the season, the majority of conflicts resulted from one character irritating another, usually without any sympathy or insight given to the irritant party. The second half, aside from "Fame and Misfortune," doesn't really engage in that, instead focusing on much more satisfying stories about ponies dealing with insecurity. Mane six are frequently used as ciphers. As an extension of some of the above issues, I think the reason some are losing interest in the mane six is because this season has very frequently used them as mouthpieces ("Daring Done?") or background elements ("Discordant Harmony"). The latter might not be a problem if it weren't for the former, but it doesn't feel like the mane six interest the current writers that much. There's still a few episodes which give them depth and use their personalities for humour, but it's disappointingly common for these characters to just shout bland exposition when they're not supporting characters in their own show. The story premises feel like checking off boxes. Other people call this "long-awaited fan requests" or something, but to me it adds to the feeling of this season being dispassionate. Fluttershy gets goal? Mandatory Rarity/Applejack episode? Check. Applejack's parents? Yeah, sure, here. Spike is given responsibilities? Check. Even at their best, there's something fundamentally unimaginative about the stories which are being told here. "Legends" stuff isn't terribly compelling. If this is supposed to be a story arc, it's really not all that energetic or creative. Half of these are super generic myths which aren't even original to the show. I don't really know how you lot are able to care about this. Unfortunately, Starlight is used very poorly this year. Starlight's roles almost never enhance episodes. At best, her role could have been filled by literally anyone with minimal changes ("Rock Solid Friendship," "Triple Threat") and at worst, she can't be left alone without messing everything up ("All Bottled Up," "A Royal Problem," "To Change a Changeling"). I don't feel she has any positive traits which couldn't be filled by literally anyone else, and her negative traits don't make her all that endearing. I've always considered her presence a replacement, but I don't feel she suffices anymore. With that said, Twilight is phenomenal. I'm sorry, I never liked how Twilight was written after becoming a princess. This season, she acts like she did in season 2, and I'm really thankful for it. Twilight's the only overarching trend I consider positive, though; aside from that, the only thing keeping me from considering this season a total disaster is the fact that it still has a handful of decent episodes. I'm really not a fan.
  14. This reminds me of my wildest recurring idea, which seems wildly improbable at this point: "Lesson Zero," except Twilight is a princess and the issue is diplomatic in nature. I always imagine her turning Ponyville into an outright police state before someone snaps her out of it.
  15. 2. Clearly 2. There's not even competition, really. Even the best seasons since then couldn't reach 2's level.