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Found 833 results

  1. Varrack

    Coloratura Fan Club

    Countess Coloratura, nicknamed Rara by Applejack, needs a fan club. Her voice (Lena Hall's voice) was pretty stunning in today's episode, and her multiple designs throughout makes her deserving of one for sure. Rules: -No spamming -No hating on the character -All posts and pics must be related to Coloratura/Rara -No inappropriate content -Be respectful, and don't claim to be her "biggest fan" as that will most likely not draw positive attention -All forum rules apply And here she is
  2. Dark Qiviut

    S08:E03 - The Maud Couple

    Note: Over the last few weeks, some content originally leaked (e.g., the Student Six's names) have been officially revealed, and chances are more will, too. But as always, please keep all leaked content not officially revealed yet — and/or if you're unsure if you're revealing too much — under the "spoiler" tag. (Hit the eye icon to trigger it and type within it.) Title: The Maud Couple Air Date (U.S./Disc. Family): March 31st at 11:30am Writer: Nick Confalone Summary: "Pinkie Pie's super-best-friend-sister bond is challenged when Maud gets a boyfriend that Pinkie can't stand." DailyMotion:
  3. ​Right now, there is a super awesome LEGO Ideas Fluttershy's Cottage gathering support! (If it gets 10,000 supports, it will become a real LEGO product.) I think it can get to 10k, if all of us MLP fans band together and support it! Here is a link to the project's page: https://ideas.lego.com/projects/155537 Here is the project's description: Based on the colorful television show, comes a LEGO set that allows you to build, and play, your favorite scenes from the ponies' adventures in Equestria. This is an idea that I believe would make an amazing LEGO set, with fun functions, cool characters, and bright colors. This particular project focuses on "Fluttershy's Cottage". As you see this project, please know that the only way that this is going to become a real set, is if it goes viral. Please consider Posting on websites and blogs, sharing on social media, and all other things to get the word out. Thanks! SET INCLUDES: 1. Accurate, Fluttershy's Cottage (including a detailed exterior and interior.) 2. 10 detailed characters, including: Rainbow Dash (The loyal one), Pinkie Pie (The fun one), Rarity (The generous one), Applejack (The honest one), Fluttershy (The kind one), Twilight Sparkle (The Princess of Friendship),Spike the dragon (Twilight's assistant), Applebloom (Applejack's sister), Sweetie Belle (Rarity's sister), and Scootaloo (Rainbow Dash's biggest fan) 3. Pinkie Pie's Party Cannon 4. Different household items (Pots, pans, etc..) 5. Angel the bunny (Fluttershy's pet bunny) 6. Possibility of more animals from the show (Bear, bat, birds, spider, etc.) 7. Possibility of the Mane 6's pets (Winona, Tank, Owlicious, Gummy, and Opalescence.) My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic, is a show that I believe would make an amazing LEGO set. With colorful settings, loveable characters, and incredibly accurate detail, this is a set that any LEGO fan will love! Remember that this is just a potential set, and not the actual product. (If this project makes it to 10k, LEGO will make a professional one.) Please support this project to help my dream come true! Please also invite your friends to support it too. (It only takes a few seconds to support!) Come on everypony, let's get this project to 10k! Thanks to all who has supported, and all who will support in the future. You're amazing! Best wishes to all, JediPippin ​ I'm sure every MLP fan would love to build their own Fluttershy's Cottage. Wouldn't you? Please support to make our dream a reality! Thanks for your help everypony! You're the best! ​
  4. Pixie Doodle

    Pixie Doodle's Art Thread

    I thought I should make a little thread where I can post sketches and finished doodles of my MLP fanart that I wouldn't normally post else where! I'll start this with one of my favourite minor characters, Trouble Shoes! I am open to critique! So feel free to leave some constructive criticism. Other Pieces
  5. Note: This review has been edited to add more content. Do you remember dreading the thought of a Spike episode? I do. For so long, Spike episode were usually among the worst of the series, much less the season. For the first five seasons, no matter the plot, episodes usually starring him were usually awful; anything better wasn't the norm. But since Princess Spike (his worst outing of the show), everything changed. His episodes became good. DHX wrote him with dignity. Since Newbie Dash, the Spikabuse vanished. Even today, the thought of not bashing a new Spike episode is completely refreshing. Molt Down is the first S8 episode to star Spike, and the show's biggest evolution from the status quo since Newbie Dash. How does it approach it? By describing how a child dragon goes through puberty. Like real life, puberty ain't fun, and several allegories hammer that point home. Itchy, painful stone scales: rashes and pimples. Volume shifts: deepening of the voice. Armpit smell: body odor and hair. Fire burps: dunno. A period, perhaps? Sleep disruptions: teens being more alert late in the day. (Thank @Jeric for that pointer and the accompanying research.) Haber's jokes are equally as funny as sympathizing for Spike. Yet, the jokes themselves have an extra layer of dimension, because they're not all the same type, the characters' reactions vary, and visual cues round the story. Other great jokes include: Zecora stuffing each of her ears with a cottonball after Spike suddenly shouted. The camera's wide shot, Spike's irritated voice, and the squashing/stretching of the pot he's in as he complains create a perfect recipe for a joke. It's wonderfully timed and really hilarious. Smolder smacking Spike a little too hard in the back, accidentally driving him in pain. Pinkie's sudden shouting and liking that foul odor. Her sly faces really sell the characterization, too. Twilight grumbling at the thought of Celestia never creaking out. That said, not all of them. Sometimes they got a little repetitive or cringeworthy, notably Rarity's shouts after a while and the grossout shot of Spike's stone scale. But for the most part, they did their job. That said, let's talk about Spike. Although he grew considerably since hatching from his egg years ago, from how Twilight acted, this is the very first time Spike molted. The stone scale is painful already, but having so many throbbing and itching is completely foreign to him. Puberty is a part of life the majority of us experience, and whatever he has to endure throughout the episode parallels ourselves in some way. The stages of puberty poor Spike suffered through echoes our own. Impressively, despite many chances for Haber to unleash the most cringeworthy puberty-related joke possible, he restrains himself just enough to create them at his expense without crossing the line into Spikabuse. How does he do that? I'm not sure, but many of the guesses include: What Spike had to go through isn't his fault. Every dragon goes through this stage, including Smolder's presumably-older bro. The molt effect that Spike suffered from is no less different than any other dragon when they grow up. When they treat it as normal, we do, too. Spike's friends and Twilight don't ignore him. When they noticed something is wrong with him, they're there to help. They care about Spike and want to work with him so he can get better. Smolder interacts with Spike. Back in S2, Spike grew rapidly due to inherent greed, opening up a big implication into how dragons grew. Is greed the cause? Could Spike control it, which was a main part for two future conflicts? How did other dragons grow when they didn't show signs of greed? Smolder's description of greed-induced growth as not normal for a dragon cleared up so many questions and brought forth more insight on dragon lore and dragon culture in her homeland. Smolder has an attitude, and her description of dragon culture's response to the molt effect increases Spike's anxiety for the unknown, increasing the conflict's stakes. But there's one thing to note, which the episode makes very clear — as scary as her description of dragon life during the molt is, she's not treated as a bad person, and Smolder isn't written to be antagonistic. The molt effect is a part of her life, so what she and others experienced is expected. For the most part, she's prepared for the challenges; theorize that others back home do, too. Spike, on the other hand, isn't. He's lived with Twilight his whole life and knows so little about dragon culture. The molt effect, especially the smell, is putrid, and he fears that Twilight and the others will reject him, forcing him to live on his own. He's not prepared to defend himself from predators that relish for that smell, especially the roc. Because Twilight asked him to retreat to an area that won't fry anyone in the school, Spike assumes even more that the more out of control his molt becomes, the less Twilight will want him around. Can't you blame him for being so scared of growing up and fighting to alter the molt? Of course not! For obvious reasons, Rarity and Twilight are usual partners for Spike in his episodes, but they're all really good here. (Credit goes to @Truffles and his reply for this bit.) What makes them stand out here is their immediate empathy for Spike. In the beginning, when Rarity sees Spike hide something under his eye, she becomes suspicious and worried. She walks around him to sneak a glance at what's under his claws, but never gets frustrated at any point. When he admits to being embarrassed by the stone scale, she assures him not to worry, but treats his embarrassment with the respect its deserves. She's the first to recommend getting some of Zecora's blemish cream, and did so again after Pewee accidentally pinched his scale. Twilight gets worried when Spike sleeps in all morning and also sympathizes with him for getting breakouts, just like her years ago and also recommends heading to Zecora. When he accidentally destroys her lecture, she doesn't criticize him or make him feel worse. Recommends to leave the castle for his own safety and everyone else's. Despite battling a sudden ear infection, Rarity never stops thinking about Spike and asks her for blemish cream to help him with his stone scales. When they bump into each other, she notices his worsening condition and took out the cream (only for the roc to snatch her). Right on cue, Twilight shows up and heads to Zecora's to get the cream. Unlike Cart Before the Jerks and Complete Crap Clause, neither of Spike's closest friends and relatives treat his condition as a lesser deal to themselves or belittle him for it. Both of them treated his condition, embarrassment, and pain as important, never stopped thinking about him, and wanted to help him in any way they can. Zecora's really well written in a nowadays-rare appearance. But rather than be treated as merely a vessel to deliver plot devices, she becomes deeply involved in both the A and B plots: Spike's puberty and Rarity's phoenix-related ear infection. Her interactions with the characters and their problems add depth to her character, occupation, and relationships with others. One big change for this season is the treatment of the Everfree Forest, historically a really dangerous place to roam. What was a common plot device for the Mane Six, Spike, and CMCs to face conflict in S1, its dangers and presence became mostly absent after Princess Twilight Sparkle. But for the third time this season, an Everfree creature threatened creaturekinds' safety. And the chase scene was really tense. Zecora, Spike, and Rarity were in great danger, and the score and sounds throughout hammered in the sudden perils they faced. In the leaked version, the chase's tone was more comedic, courtesy of Twilight's lasers sounding like video game beams. Here, the comedy was more toned down, an excellent change from the leaked product. YO! Do you smell what the roc is cookin'?! Little details refine the episode and shape up the episode's quality. Two really stick out: As the episode progresses, Spike's limbs darken in color, foreshadowing his eventual molt and where it'll start. During the break in the chase, when Spike's old skin starts to encase him, the background music becomes louder and completely stops when he's completely cocooned. For several seconds, we hear nothing except Twilight firing at the roc, increasing the tension and making us wonder what will happen to the poor dragon next. So, what happened after he molted? THANKS, JOSH HABER! After everything he went through in this episode, Spike molting and earning wings is an excellent payoff. I don't know if he grew a little or not, but when you're making a child dragon molt, sticking with the status quo would be a complete slap to the face to Spike and the audience. Something about him had to change. Interestingly, even though his new wings feel earned, Spike and his friends treat his accomplishment as merely a new milestone in his life as he grows into adulthood. Here, MD brings forth a really great moral: For Twilight to deliver this lesson to him shows us how much he means to her, their hug proving their tight bond. DHX, please, more of their family dynamic! If there was one little problem with the chase, it's what Silver Quill pointed out: Twilight's magic felt kinda weak. Yes, you could argue that she scaled it back because Rarity and Zecora were trapped within the roc's talons, but she needed Spike's assistance to rescue them from their fall, when Twilight magically corralled them all during the movie. Conversely, the theme of growing was subtly foreshadowed through Peewee's reintroduction. The now-adult phoenix still interacts with his parents, but a sharp eye will notice he has his own nest now, indicating either a family of his own or the preparation for one. Spike may've released him, but they still know each other very fondly, evident by their embrace. Peewee grew up; Spike will, too. Back in Season 5, I panned Spike being handed the bouquet of dragon sneeze flowers, the lowest moment of the season. Rather than capping off a broken episode with a rather sweet moment, DHX doubled down on his buttmonkey status. After all, isn't FIM supposedly a feminist show? Well, you don't empower women and girls by making your only male lead a punching bag for abusive comic relief. It's hypocritical and massively sexist, one of the biggest stains of the series. But after that, the direction for his character improved. No longer did his personality shift to demand the plot. His role wasn't confined to pure comic relief. His episodes no longer beat him down or abused him just to teach him a contrived lesson. Starting out with secondary roles in Amending Fences and Re-Mark, Season 6 expanded his role, including becoming close friends with Starlight, bonding dragonkind and ponykind by working with and befriending Ember, and sacrificing his celebrityhood to stand up for Thorax. Season 6 was Spike's best season. Albeit a diminished role in S7, he was really good in Triple Threat, Owl's Well done right. Coming into Molt Down, Spike was having a great year. Now he left his biggest mark in the show since Times. His wings demonstrate his evolution in not just his character, but also his role. It's unknown whether his wings will have a big impact on the season, or it's just cosmetic. But what happens in the future will wait. When I watched the leaked version, I liked it, but wasn't totally happy with it. Days before its official airing, however, I was unsure whether I was fair to it or not. Now, when comparing the leaked version with the final product, the leaked Molt's lack of polish and missing score completely affected the episode's overall quality. The final product is excellent, well edited, and really makes the audience feel like Spike earned his pair of wings. Molt Down's one of the best episodes of S8 so far and one of the best Spike episodes altogether. P.S.: And, yes, Molt Down's change of the status quo's superior to MMC's.
  6. Berry-Bliss-Sundae

    General Is education free in equestria?

    I have had this question since I first saw '' the school for gifted unicorns '' ... I mean, in the series some schools have been seen (the ponyville school, Wonderbolt Academy, the flight school in cloudsdale) but ... these schools will be paid or free(paid by the government) to use for any pony that wants to attend? Obviously the school of unicorns is not free, just to enter you need to pass an admission test Maybe my question is a bit ignorant, but at least in my country public universities are considered "the best in the country" given their high academic level ... private universities usually you pay when you are not able to pass public universities (basically you pay for having a degree) or have a relatively easy career that, besides liking you this career, this career is not taught by the public university. Thanks to this '' lifestyle '' I do not know the educational system in other countries, but I do know that in countries like the United States and England schools, universities and... basically you pay for everything.
  7. To continue the pattern from S5, this is a review of S7 as a whole, with both tops and bottoms in respective categories. To view the rest: Season 5 Season 6, 1st Half Season 6 Season 7, 1st Half No apologies for C&P'ing content from my First Half overview (with some changes). Episodes Bottom-5: Fame & Misfortune Where do I start? a. The dialogue is atrocious. b. The RM6 published all of their lessons from S4, including the one from Daring Don't, revealing her identity. c. They publish their journal without testing their target audience via study group beforehand. d. Each of the fan representations they meet are quarter-dimensional, stereotypical caricatures. None of the characters who appear act like genuine people. e. The RM6 are abused everywhere they went. Ranged from not taken seriously (Pinkie) to objectified (TS) to trespassed (AJ) to boycotted (Rarity) to stalked/harassed (FS). The background characters are out-of-character assholes. f. Every "fan," including the Canterlot reporter, honestly believed the journal was a work of fiction, turning the background characters into straw men. g. "We're a Work in Progress" is the worst song of the show for manipulating the audience, excusing bad writing and behavior of the characters over the years, and glorifying their flaws (as if changing and evolving is a bad thing in the show and life). h. The background assholes don't learn their lesson, and the main moral disguises what they did as a setback. Even after they stop group-hugging, Rarity, AJ, and FS still have to settle major problems, and the harmful moral excuses the abuse they suffered. There's no care for continuity, characterization, or story whatsoever. It disregards their main demographics (children and guardians) to boost their own ego and attack the critics. No wonder why Larson disassociates from it and hates it himself. For anyone who wonders why I (enjoy) bash(ing) this episode, dogshit on the sidewalk doesn't deserve to be rewarded a participation trophy. Fame & Misfortune's the worst of S7 by far and the worst written episode of the series. If there were any minuscule saving positives, Starlight continued to show growth, and I gained much more appreciation for Stranger Than Fan Fiction and its nuances after watching F&M. Hard to Say Anything Two words: unadulterated shit. After about 7 to 8 minutes of meandering (but nothing genuinely wrong), the minute Feather Bangs Stereo Pop shows up, the episode flushes down the drain. Big Mac and the CMCs have their worst and second-worst characterizations in the show, respectively. Big Mac for following on the CMCs' hairbrained schemes to try to woo Sugar Belle, the CMCs for believing the fairy tales are how-to romance guidebooks. None of the jokes or twists work at any point — Stereo Pop's characterization is a blatantly dated Bieber parody, Stereo Pop's phallic cutie mark resembling an erect penis with testicles (hence why he covers it up in almost every shot), and the shallow song-off between Mac and Stereo Pop. Protip, DHX: Sexual harassment ain't funny, either. Big Mac's crush on Sugar is contrived as hell, too; not only for the blatant ending, but also by the fact that we don't actually see it develop; the entire crush plot is unrequited. You could've written this episode much more differently and make it better. Hell, Starlight would've been a fine secondary character. Instead, it's a generic, clichéd, by-the-numbers plot that DHX couldn't even write well. Hell, continuity stated in the episode (Big Mac warned the CMCs not to use love poison to force the romance through) was ignored to make it work. Honest Apple While the former was marred by a terrible middle and ending, this episode's marred by a terrible beginning and middle all the way to the climax. Rarity acted incompetent and out of character by putting her contest into action despite only two judges signing off on it with no possible backups beforehand in case someone had to cancel. Apple Bloom looked really dumb for not realizing her bow caused major problems (and is a contrived plot point to boot). But what really drags this episode down is a complete lack of understanding of what makes Applejack the Bearer of Honesty. Does she tell the truth? Absolutely. But she tells them while still caring about others' feelings! So, what does she do here? Turn into an egomaniac with no clue how to judge fashion properly and a lust to tear down their work. The worst moment, by far, is shaking the crossed-over-stitched feathers off Lily Lace's hat. An in-character AJ will NEVER pull this stupid stunt! The only way she was able to realize she was verbally abusive was when Strawberry Sunrise (upon introduction from Rarity) delivered her the same abuse in return. We're in season 7; AJ should NOT have to learn about how important tact is when being honest. The new characters in the episode? Unlikeable, stereotypical, generic, or all of the above. Hopefully, none of them return! Secrets & Pies This is a type of episode that would probably fit in S1, like Honest Apple. It makes no sense for Pinkie to behave the way she did towards Dash here. S&P is a stretched-thin ripoff of Party of One with worse characterization. Pinkie's characterization here is the worst of the season for completely falling for Dash's tricks over the years and her psychotic obsession for catching Dash in the act. Dash is out of character for dumping the pie down Tank's feeding tube twice (easily my least favorite scene and one of S7's worst moments). Dash is partially at fault for causing Pinkie's injury at the academy (that's what you get for crying "wolf!" all these years!). Like most episodes over the years, Dash is beat down to be taught a lesson, a cliché so worn thin and should be tossed in the trash. Unlike PoO, every joke is awful, whether it's repeated to the point of annoying (the "look at that" coverups with no proper variation) or disgusting (Dash trying to eat the dumpster pie, close ups of Pinkie's deranged and tired faces). A good moral — "Don't create a snowball of lies just to make a friend happy. It's more worth it telling the truth." — doesn't save this episode. A Royal Problem The saving grace in this episode: Starlight. No, her actions were wrong, but the episode built that up to the point where Starlight's nightmare was so soul-crushing that it could've damaged her psyche. More on that a little below. Celestia was great in Advice, for showing how human she is without devolving her character. Unfortunately, she and Luna are out of character here. Is it fine for them to bicker as sisters? Totally. But their bickering crossed the line into being personal attacks; each of them treated each other's important roles in Equestrian society as not just pointless, but wasteful, too. On top of that, they never understood that THEY were the friendship problem until Starlight told them directly to their faces, and even then, they were still too dumb to get it till later. (Seriously, Snips and Snails are smarter than them here!) So, when did they finally get it? When they witness Starlight's heartbreaking nightmare. Their lack of appreciation for one another makes no sense, since Luna's envy of her sister and lack of appreciation are why she turned into NMM in the first place. You'd think at their age, they'd figure something out. It's among their five worst appearances for each in the show. But the worst moment of the episode comes during the resolution when Celestia tells Starlight that she was right to swap their marks. Firstly, she performed her spell on them against their will. Just because they say it's okay doesn't make it okay. The princesses absolve her of her wrongdoing. That side would've been resolved had she asked first and the princesses not act like idiots. Secondly, when they say she did the right thing, Starlight's emotional pain during her terrible nightmare becomes an afterthought. That her self-infliction plot-wise and emotion-wise was pointless. Despite quality characterization from Starlight, background music, and animation hints, Celestia's and Luna's out of characterization, idiocy, and incompetence ruin the episode. Even though I have it fifth-worst in overall quality, it's currently my second-least-favorite episode of S7 behind Fame (and easily the most disappointing). Dishonorable mentions: Fluttershy Leans In, Daring Done? Top-7: The Perfect Pear Pear Butter and Bright Mac = best FIM couple and best-written parents of the show. Everything about this couple is the complete opposite of the likes of Flash/Twilight and Sugar Belle/Big Mac: The development of the romance is like someone who knows romance wrote these ponies. Their chemistry from foalhood to matrimony's completely organic and makes complete sense to the audience. They show how much they love each other during and after life. Every joke lands. Only the third episode to make me cry and did so on a few occasions. One of them when Big Mac asked Burnt Oak if they can return to hear more stories about their dad. More about that later. It has misplaced criticism about them leaving out how they passed as well as Granny avoiding the tree. This isn't that episode. TPP's about celebrating their lives, cherishing their pasts, and letting go of both lifelong pain and bitterness. Each note is hit as the episode progresses. Secondly, the entire Pear family disowned Buttercup for marrying an Apple, and they died early. The marriage site gives her too much pain to deal with. The ending provides the perfect closure for this episode. "You're in My Head Like a Catchy Song" = best S7 song. It's so simple in its acoustics, but, to echo RainShadow on YT, packs such an amazing emotional punch. One of three times this episode makes me cry, the other one being Grand Pear apologizing to Apple Bloom. Grand Pear = show's most tragic character. The night his daughter married and became an Apple is the last day he saw her alive. Unfortunately, he'll never apologize to her and has to live with an enormous mistake he'll never repair. The moment he broke down as he apologized to Apple Bloom captures the heartbreak he had to hold within for so long. And excellent voice acting by William Shatner (and Felicia Day for Buttercup). In my first half overview, I said this might be the best episode of the show when S7's over. I was wrong. It isn't simply the best episode of the show, but of MLP altogether. Shadow Play FIM's canon and timeline are constructed on the fly and operate season to season. When an episode many seasons later feels like everything beforehand was preplanned, that's a major compliment. Amending Fences handled it beautifully. Shadow Play executes it just as beautifully, but in another way. Previous episodes both during S7 and in the past hung little details about specific characters' pasts, including Star Swirl. Twilight finished his spellbook, because he couldn't figure out how important the magic of friendship truly was in Equestria. The era he predominantly lived in justifies that, and it's connected to his association with the rest of the Pillars, his venom towards Stygian after he stole their magical artifacts, and bitter shots at Twilight after bungling her spell to free them. This two-parter is nearly one hour shorter than the FIM Movie, but each line matters, is naturally spoken, and the cast is excellently balanced. Everyone here in SP matters and is treated with importance. Remove just one of the Pillar Six, Mane Eight, or Sunburst, and the whole story changes. Speaking of characters, Stygian is the best villain in the entire series. Not only is he a really good character. His backstory that resulted in him becoming the Pony of Shadows is fantastic. DHX could've just stuck with the intro animation — a great callback to the opening scene of the pilot — and leave us with the simple backstory. Instead, each scene builds up the PoS's birth and merger with Stygian more and more. His backstory mirrors Starlight's intentionally. Speaking of Starlight, this is her best appearance of the series. For the entire season, DHX took extra care of her appearances and characterization, making sure she's not only written very well, but also make her a part of Ponyville's society. Unlike S6, her appearances are much more frequent and vary in importance, whether she's the episode's central character in Uncommon Bond or near-background like FLI. Shadow Play's a culmination of what she learned since becoming Twilight's pupil to conclude season 5. Everyone's rush to condemn the Pony of Shadows through the Elements of Harmony echoes critiques some of us had for the EoH, which was a band-aid to force evil to assimilate to Equestria's society; Sunset's character reset exemplifies this flaw to a T. Instead, Starlight pursued the cause of the Pillar's division from Stygian to search for a real fix to the conflict. Like most of S7's second half, SP illustrates a conflict that doesn't put one side entirely in the right or wrong and explored this tension masterfully. It's FIM's best two-parter. Parental Glideance "Wow" perfectly describes this treasure. Easily the best episode by a debut (solo) writer in the series. Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistles = character-wise, two of the best canonical parents in the show. They play the embarrassing parent trope while still subverting the clichés, making them feel like they love Dash, and acting realistic. They're hyper, but so damn lovable. The jokes land perfectly. *gasp* The Wonderbolts are fucking LIKEABLE! Somepony call the Vatican! We witnessed a miracle! This episode also shows how to have a likeable character do a Putting Your Hoof Down rant correctly. There, Fluttershy calculatingly insulted both Pinkie and Rarity and then had the blame shifted to Iron Will that night. Here, Dash was at her limit's end, lost her cool, and immediately wanted to make things right. The criticism against the moral's execution is a flaw that doesn't even exist. Was Dash right to be upset at her parents? Yes. Some actions (despite having downplayed stakes) were reckless. Does she have the right to yell at them, slap Bow's hoof away, and implicate disownment of them because they embarrass her so much? No, she doesn't. She takes her supportive parents for granted, and Scootaloo would love to experience this feeling just once from her parents. The moral and execution were on the money. Marks & Recreation Is the cutie mark a pony's true life goal? What about their other passions? Will they be affected, too? Cutie marks are a part of Equestrian lore, but open up other questions, such as predestination, a choice of what they want to do for the rest of their life, their names associated with their mark, or living in a box. This underappreciated gem answers a few of these questions, streamlining its lore. a. Kettle Corn receives a cutie mark related to haiku poetry. @Batbrony highlighted VERY clever foreshadowing in his review: the circle she loves painting over and over is a zero in Japanese calligraphy, and a haiku is Japanese poetry. BTW, she was really good and cute in her curious, poetic, childlike ways. Her mark is unrelated to her name, one of the few in that regard. b. The CMCs are excellent in their roles, especially Sweetie Belle during her shouting match against Rumble. c. Rumble's blistering criticism and fears of a cutie mark trapping him in a box are believable. When he got no answer from Apple Bloom in regards to the last time she brewed potions with Zecora, he gained the leverage needed to retain his status as a blank flank. The song he led to rally the other fillies — "Blank Flanks Forever" — is solid and further developed the conflict. Thunderlane, now a Wonderbolt, is fantastic. His reason for sending Rumble to Cutie Mark Day Camp at Camp Friendship (calling back to Mane Attraction) makes sense: he wants Rumble to exit the box he himself created following his promotion to a Wonderbolt. The climax to resolve the conflict is both mature and tasteful. Yes, FIM could've simply made Rumble the complete bad guy and have the narrative shoot him down everywhere. Instead, the story used Thunderlane, he and the CMCs teaming up, and having Rumble witness and eventually decide to join the campers and TL at the campfire shows us that he can conquer his fear of losing his pastimes and hobbies. The moral — no one person is defined by a label — is fantastic. In all, a fascinating episode. Once Upon a Zeppelin Discordant Harmony Discord has his most likeable performance in the series. He was the spirit of chaos, but in many of his post-villain appearances, he was being a jerk for the sake of it. Here, he shows how much he cares for Fluttershy and wants to be seen as a valuable friend to her. Pinkie's advice's solid, but Discord's naivete with friendship made him take her too literally. Because he and 'Shy are close, it makes sense for him to feel really sensitive when ponies question it. Fluttershy continues to show off her growth from past seasons. Unlike Leans In, it does it better. She's not so timid anymore and really shows how much Discord means to her. Not in the way that Keep Calm implicated, but a genuine care for him. Like equals. When Discord became too normal and began to fade away, Fluttershy jumped into action to try to save him. More about her and the moral later. Out of every episode, this is the first to actually treat their friendship like one. Prior, the show tells us they're friends, but they don't behave like friends. Here, their friendship feels incredibly genuine, a long-time coming for this show. As a cherry on top, the moral is spectacular. More on that later in the overview. Uncommon Bond This great episode shows us how much Starlight grew prior to Shadow Play. This is an external conflict for Starlight: trying to catch up with Sunburst and figure out what they have in common so they can share memories and know each other better after being separated for so long. But when Starlight finds out Sunburst has smoother and better chemistry with Twilight, Trixie, and Maud over her, it's easy to see how discouraging and devastating it must be to her. As such, her rash decision to literally remake one of their childhood pastimes (including turning themselves into fillies) is believable, yet rightfully points out her idea as disturbing. At the same time, Sunburst, who was excellent here, isn't written to be a jerk, but instead got carried away and lost sight of his childhood friend. His interactions with her friends really fit into his character and, in some respects, can get really cute, too. Yes, he should've paid attention to Starlight's mood (she ain't very subtle about how she feels), but it was very clear he wasn't doing it to be mean. How they were able to find something in common fits them all. Instead of playing the board game, the life-size game brings a roleplaying element, alongside using each of their strengths to bond each other more. This episode and Starlight's conflict are very relatable to a lot of people, and everyone being in top form helps shape UB into being one of S7's best. Honorable mentions: It Isn't the Mane Thing About You, All Bottled Up. Note: From now on, F-graded episodes are divided into F+, F, and F-. S7 episode ranking: The Perfect Pear: A+ Shadow Play: A+ Parental Glideance: A+ Marks and Recreation: A Once Upon a Zeppelin: A- Discordant Harmony: A- Uncommon Bond: A- It Isn't the Mane Thing About You: A- All Bottled Up: A- A Flurry of Emotions: B+ To Change a Changeling: B+ A Health of Information: B Triple Threat: B- Celestial Advice: B- Not Asking for Trouble: B- Forever Filly: C+ Campfire Tales: C+ Rock Solid Friendship: C+ Daring Done?: C+ Fluttershy Leans In: C A Royal Problem: D+ Secrets and Pies: D Honest Apple: F Hard to Say Anything: F Fame and Misfortune: F- --- Top-13 episodes (in order, updated; A+ episodes in italics): The Perfect Pear The Best Night Ever Crusaders of the Lost Mark Amending Fences Shadow Play Sisterhooves Social The Cutie Map Parental Glideance Party of One Testing Testing 1, 2, 3 Pinkie Pride Slice of Life Suited for Success Honorable mentions: Lesson Zero, Sleepless in Ponyville, The Times They Are a Changeling. --- Bottom-13 episodes (in order, updated; F- episodes in italics): One Bad Apple Newbie Dash Fame and Misfortune Bridle Gossip Dragon Quest The Crystal Empire Rainbow Falls 28 Pranks Later Princess Spike Owl’s Well That Ends Well The Mysterious Mare Do Well P.P.O.V. Boast Busters Dishonorable Mentions: Putting Your Hoof Down, The Show Stoppers, Appleoosa’s Most Wanted. Morals: Bottom morals: 1. Fame & Misfortune: Your personality flaws are admirable and make up who you are. Like characters in a TV show, people in real life change, either through progression or regression. Everyone's personalities have a balance of their positives and negatives. Part of learning is figuring out how to improve and become better people. By championing and glorifying personality flaws, this moral's actively claiming that changing and improving to become better people is pointless. Consequently, they're preaching a really dangerous slippery slope. To put this into perspective: There's a gigantic difference between liking someone in spite of your flaws and liking someone because of your flaws. F&M preaches the latter. When connected into the show, it's very hypocritical. Why? Because it goes against one of show's core themes of becoming better. The Mane 8, the CMCs, Discord, and so on all have strengths to build upon and weaknesses to overcome. Character development is crucial to the show. Dash's self-absorbed ego, Fluttershy's phobia and timidity, Twilight losing composure so quickly are all well-known character flaws; even when the episode isn't done well, they work forward to improve. Secondly, what do Discord, Diamond Tiara, Gilda, and Starlight all have in common? They all had personalities and attitudes the show and protagonists didn't tolerate, and they had to improve so others could trust and like them (again). When they didn't, the episode rejected them, like Lightning Dust, Gilda in S1, and Wind Rider. This moral spits on their reformations and redemptions. You can read more about my panning of this moral in my status, some of which I C&P'd from. Fame & Misfortune: You can't change how they feel about you, but you can change how they affect you. In a vacuum, this isn't a bad moral. But given the context of the episode and offensive subtexts when paralleled to fans, the implications make this moral toxic. This moral is in response to how Ponyville and Canterlot directly harassed and bullied the RM6 to the point of altering their lives and devastating Twilight. The RM6 handwave all of it as just an obstacle in their friendship and mask it as criticism, thus telling us to tolerate the abuse. --- Top morals: Discordant Harmony: Your best friend may have nothing in common with you, but you're true friends because you care for each other. This is true for just about anyone. Many of us have at least one person we know who have nothing in common in personality, opinions, qualities, 'tude, and preference. Commonness doesn't determine true friendship, but by how much they love each other. Neither Discord nor Fluttershy share anything in common. Their personalities and tastes vastly differ, but they're still friends and show us that. More importantly, she's the one who took him in and trusted him. By delivering that moral, Fluttershy hones in past continuity and growth while not degrading her character. The Perfect Pear: Don't hold onto past anger and guilt of a mistake you can't fix forever. Celebrate their lives, and pursue new memories with their loved ones. I repeated this point ad nauseum since first watching it last June. People from all walks of life make mistakes they truly regret. While some correct their mistakes, not everyone does. Grand Pear is among the latter for disowning his late daughter on the last day he saw her alive. On the opposite end, Granny Smith grew so bitter of the Pear family for how they treated her that she didn't inform Grand Pear of their deaths until much later in life, adding to the grief and longtime feud and whitewashing Buttercup and Bright Mac's romance to her grandponies. Honorable mention: You have the obligation to your own time, even when you feel you must sacrifice it to make others happy ("Zeppelin"). New characters: Characters that appeared on screen prior to S7 (even when in the background) don't count. Even though Star Swirl and Meadowbrook were referenced in past seasons, they didn't make physical cameos until S7, so they're exempt. Bottom-5: Toola Roola & Coconut Cream: Both fillies are lumped into one as a result of one common role. For the first time all series, FIM used token characters in an episode. Their only purpose from a meta standpoint is to tell young girls, their primary demographic, that they matter…when the entire episode leading up to the ending lumped young girls/kids (as the fillies) with the rest of the abusive ponies (the adults). Token characters talk down to children by only telling them they matter on a surface level only. Stereo Pop. Fucking Stereo Pop! A blatant, dated parody of teenage Bieber and stereotypical boy bands. Without him, Hard would actually be able to go somewhere. And, no, that asspull at the end doesn't make him any better. Strawberry Sunrise: She is a straw mare. Her only purpose is to be an asshole just to make AJ understand how it feels to be in the designers' horseshoes. There's no personality beyond this point, and the episode treats her bullying as a good thing. This Canterlot reporter from F&M. He's there only to drive the vessel that the ponies who abused the RM6 see them as merely fictional beings in an autobiographical journal and attack the critics more. Dishonorable mention: Lily Lace (valley girl stereotype), Dandy Grandeur. --- Top-6: Buttercup & Bright Mac. 'Nuff said. Stygian: The best villain in the series. Basically a ponified Squib, he doesn't have the magical abilities the Pillars or any other unicorn have, compensating it with his intelligence. As Shadow Play builds up his backstory, he as a character enriches. Bow Hothoof & Windy Whistles: Eccentric, loud, yet also very dedicated to raising their daughter the best way possible. They're very endearing, relatable, and hilarious. Star Swirl the Bearded: After years of mystery, he and the other Pillars physically appear before the Mane 8. As a character, he's incredibly balanced. Wise, smart, understands magic like the back of his hoof, but also judgmental, difficult to convince, and bitter. When he gets mad at someone, you'll know it, and his putdowns of Twilight in Shadow Play, Part 2 exemplify that. He's a byproduct of the tumultuous era he lived in over a millennium ago. But when he admits he's wrong, he sets his ego aside. A marvelous character. Honorable mentions: Pharynx, Mistmane, Star Tracker. Mane 8: Bottom: Pinkie Pie. She's really good in some episodes this season, in particular Not Asking for Trouble and Daring Done? Unfortunately, her characterization took a collective turn for the worse. During Rock Solid Friendship, she pestered Maud and Starlight continually, contributing to Maud feeling she doesn't belong in Ponyville. In S&P, she fell for Dash's constant cover up and became obsessed with catching her in the act. Dishonorable mention: Rarity. --- Top: Starlight. Overall, she's the best written and most consistent. After a sloppy redemption arc, DHX takes more care to write her correctly. She's not as nervous and hesitant as before, has a sardonic edge, and isn't boring or unlikeable. She still has a ways to go, but the Starlight here transitions into a more-self-confident pony. Every episode she's in makes her feel like she belongs in both Twilight's circle and Ponyville altogether. Plus, she's given much proper use. Her role in Rock Solid's fantastic, and it's a nice touch how she worked with the RM7 to build Fluttershy's sanctuary. Uncommon Bond brings forth a personal side to Starlight, and she humanizes Shadow Play's conflict as the Devil's Advocate. Honorable mention: Twilight Sparkle. --- Full M8 rank (in order): Starlight Glimmer Twilight Sparkle Fluttershy Spike Rainbow Dash Applejack Rarity Pinkie Pie Moments: Bottom-3: Big Mac forcing an attempted kiss on a sleeping Sugar Belle. Ah, nuthin' like a scene that says, "Hey! As long as it's a comedy, sexually harassing girls is a-okay!" Anyone who thinks this… this… AND THIS… …is okay or funny is lying. Big Mac's trying to force a kiss on Sugar Belle, who had no idea he was there! If SB showed or said anything to suggest that she knew he was there and teased him, then this moment won't look as bad. As is, it has NO business anywhere, especially in an education-centric cartoon like this one! I predicted no other moment will be worse than this one months ago, and it remains such. The Canterlot reporter accuses the RM6 and their journal of being fictional. Rather than rewrite why, I'll C&P why from my review: … … … Where do I even start with this shit? F&M is FIM's third meta episode of the series. Only this time, the characters are portrayed as the showrunners' avatar, and those who are abusing the ReMane Seven represent the fans they're retorting. It's self-referential and doesn't hide it. When we as an audience criticize the Mane Eight, we don't usually do so because we hate the characters or expect the worst. We criticize because we know that this show is very good and has done great, yet can do better. As an audience, we relate to them in some way or another. It can be a mane pony, secondary, or background. Everyone has a preference of who they like and dislike. Nobody looks at a character exactly the same way. Guess what? That's okay. At the end of the day, we still love the characters as a whole and appreciate the show and staff for what they do. This "parody" is completely inaccurate in message, conflict, and theme. This exchange is the worst dialogue in the entire episode and causes the whole conflict to fall apart. They're characters, not real people. They exist only on screen, on paper, or within our own imaginations. It's the creators' job to flesh them out and make that character become high-quality and memorable. Neither the avatars nor antagonists are real. But in the universe, the characters ARE real and conquer major trials. Each time they wrote in the journal, they changed for the better, even after the episode sometimes doesn't work. Fluttershy after Breezies, Dash in Equestria Games following Rainbow Falls, Rarity after Simple Ways, etc. In canon, the characters aren't dictated by a writer's pencil or keyboard, because there, they don't exist. On the other hand, the antagonists see the autobiographical lessons as fiction and those who wrote them as fictional characters. Neither the antagonists nor protagonists are on equal conflict ground. The ponies questioning, bashing, stalking, and abusing the RM6 are treating them not as real people, but as either characters that we as readers want to replicate on paper and recreate or property that we can recycle. How the hell can the reporter — probably the one who released the 1.5/5-star rating, though that's just a guess — honestly believe the RM6 are fictional characters when he's talking to them directly? Once more, why do ponies from within their inner circles suddenly begin to see them as celebrities when they've known them for so long, anyway? This small exchange does nothing except tell the audience that all of these "antagonists" are straw men. Characters written to be proven wrong in order for the main characters to have the upper hand. What makes them so bad is that you're taking what could be valid points and eliminating them so the protagonists have the upper hand in everything they do. You're making what should be a complex conflict completely one-sided, thus telling parents that the episode — and show, if they watch it for the first time — is trying to emotionally manipulate children into viewing the plot through a black-and-white mentality. F&M uses real talking points from within the fandom, checks them off, and morphs them into abusive caricatures of fans rather than taking the good, bad, and recreating them into what fans as a whole truly are — people. In layman's terms, what could be a good lesson is morphed into a bad one. Straw characters helped ruin the Fluttershy Micro, Root of the Problem, Spice Up Your Life, AND here. NEVER use straw men to teach a lesson! The four Ponyville ponies stalk and harass Fluttershy. What makes this so painful to watch is two reasons: Fluttershy's history. She's a sensitive pegasus who not only battles a psychologically crippling phobia, and was also laughed at (Hurricane Fluttershy) and abused (PYHD). The ponies' reasons for harassing her: Why she keeps relearning the same lessons and one stallion whining about why he wasn't inserted into the journal. Are you KIDDING ME?! FUCK those four ponies! Dishonorable mentions: Vet reveals Tank swallowed a whole pie/Dash chucks pie down her chute in a panic. AJ destroys Lily Lace's hat. Pinkie's bkg. friends laugh at everything she says. Celly and Luna absolve Starlight for swapping their marks. Pinkie tells Dash to "eat up" with a deranged face. Celly and Luna fight. --- Top-4: Big Mac asks Burnt Oak if they can return to hear more stories of his dad someday. This tearjerker is full of great detail. Big Mac — a stallion of few words beyond his "eeyup" gag — being the one to ask makes knowing more about his parents feel more important. After he asks, Burnt Oak cries, indicating clearly how much he missed his close friend. Little touches in episodes like this one turns a great episode into an amazing one. Starlight cries after Star Swirl venomously disowns Stygian. Starlight reformed from her villainous days a few seasons ago, thanks to Twilight giving her the opportunity to change and follow a completely new path. While every Mane and Pillar wrote him off, Starlight sees Stygian as someone who should be given another chance, because she relates to him. Star Swirl casting a final judgment on him as someone unworthy to befriend cuts deeply into Starlight. If she was in Stygian's shoes, she'd likely share his fate. Buttercup sings to BM. Their relationship is real, and the emotional (but simple) song makes it more believable. Bow Hothoof admits to installing the music by himself. Firstly, best joke of the season. Secondly, narrows Dash's parents down perfectly. They devote their entire lives to their daughter and cherish her, period. It helped build up the fallout later on. Honorable mentions: Rumble jumps over the line that divides the CMC and blank flank camps. Grand Pear apologizes to Apple Bloom. Cadance offers motherly advice to Twilight following her meltdown. Fluttershy re-creates Discord's house. Granny Smith forgives Grand Pear and welcomes him to the family. What I want for Season 8: Continue the episode quality. Season 7 is the most consistent in its episode quality (with only 5 bad and average episodes each and 15 good ones), and this was with a lineup of mostly writers who didn't write for the show very long or debuted in S7. Nick Confalone, one of the best writers for S6, only wrote one episode in S7. Josh Hamilton wrote the best debut episode in the show, and Triple Play isn't that bad. The Fox Brothers's Discordant Harmony was a major beacon of great quality to help conclude the first half. While Lappin started off poorly with Honest Apple, To Change a Changeling and Uncommon Bond are great and excellent, respectively. Brittany Jo Flores debuted with Zeppelin, and it's a far more nuanced and clever episode than F&M. Haber, who returned in the second half, had the longest tenure. Haber to continue his magic touch. I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but after Haber returned to the show, the quality of the episodes spiked collectively. A couple of bumps along the way, but overall, the episodes were at least good. To repeat from earlier, the stretch from Mane Thing to SP was the series' best run since S1-2 (easily its best finish since S1), and who knows whether S8 will continue this trend or not. Once he returned, the direction changed for the better, too. Almost every episode contained dozens of shades of grey. By doing so, the conflict provides an extra side to the story, increasing layers to make the experience more rounded than one-sided conflicts provide. Episodes like Health of Info, M&R, SP, or Zeppelin wouldn't succeed had they not follow this direction. Starlight continue her arc. Her redemption arc isn't done, but she's come so far in the past couple of seasons, S7 being a major step up after DHX follied in S6. Now she's more self-assured and helped save Stygian from returning to limbo. She's heading in the right direction, and I want to see her develop more, maybe interacting more with the others beyond TS and Spike. Once more, watch your unfortunate implications and stereotypes. This got better following F&M, but chances are they may fall in that trap someday. If you have anything you might want to see for S8, let me know in the comments. Verdict: Season 7 was a huge step up for FIM. After S6, I worried whether the show would slow down or not. But not only did S7 squash those fears. FIM has a lot more left in the tank. With so many good and great episodes, and with Nicole Dubuc and Haber together to edit after co-writing Shadow Play so well, it's heading in the right direction. It's my second-favorite and second-best season of the show, and I can't wait what S8 has in store. For those curious about my season order from best to worst: 5 > 7 > 2 > 1 > 4 > 3 > 6.
  8. Vintjack Greasymane

    MLP:FiM Complete intro

    I'll be straight on this one: Do you find the entire MLP:FiM intro melancholy? I kinda find it to be that way I know that it was meant for a show that teaches how great friendship is, and how friends are important in our lives, so I thought I found it to be like that because I had no friends...aaaand nope! I have friends, many friends! So, that's not the right answer...but maybe I've gone very close...maybe I find it sad because it makes me see many great personalities which can not be related to ANY of my friends'. They are all great pals, and I always have lots of fun spending time with them, but really, none of them actually reflects any personality showed in the series...but I wouldn't be sure about that either, because it may affect my thoughts partially, but in the end I like them the way they are. Also, I happened to find someone else in the YouTube comment section who didn't know why that theme made him cry...so I basically found another one in my same situation (yes, it made me cry, too). So, what could the reasons be? Do/did you find yourselves in the same situation? If so, how do/did you deal with it?
  9. Good evening, everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! Well, I have some catching up to do on a few very important reviews, and what better place to start than with the momentous "My Little Pony: The Movie" (2017). The first feature length film featuring the canon ponies of Generation 4 (not counting the previous first Equestria Girls film that had a limited theatrical run, though it is worth pointing out that those were not considered canon when first released, but rather only just confirmed as being in continuity as of the Season 7 finale), "My Little Pony: The Movie" is a testament to the remarkable run that G4 MLP:FiM has had as well as the sheer size of the fandom it has generated. It is undoubtedly by this point one of the most popular and profitable media franchises owned by Hasbro, and even though Transformers may be more profitable still (though their box office returns have been dwindling quite a bit as of late), MLP is undoubtedly one of the most, if not the most, critically acclaimed television or film media currently being produced by Hasbro. Thus, a film was inevitable, and many were actually surprised it took this long to put one out into theaters, but it finally happened, and thus, just before the conclusion of MLP:FiM's seventh season, well over 150 episodes into the show, we finally got a theatrical feature for MLP:FiM. Was the wait worth it? Well, let's find out, without further ado, this is "Batbrony Reviews: My Little Pony: The Movie." WARNING: This should go without saying, but there are indeed LOTS of spoilers below. If you haven't seen the movie yet, this is your last chance to turn back now if you don't want it spoiled. A short disclaimer before I begin. Unlike many of my reviews, which either focus on specific characters involved or dissect every intricate detail of an episode, this will be a far more general review, even compared to my season finale/season in review blogs. My reasoning? Simple: this movie is 99 minutes long, packed with more actual content than even any episodes ever have been (including two-parters), though that is not to say it necessarily has more depth than any MLP episode ever has. But the film, I believe, must be analyzed as its own property within the MLP:FiM universe, not necessarily how it relates that much to the continuity of the show itself since it's not required to watch the show to understand what's going on (at least, not entirely). It is a part of the show, it is a part of the show's universe, but it is still it's own story, and while there is some chance we may yet see characters or species even introduced in the movie end up in the show, the movie in the long run will only have so much of an impact on the show itself. Therefore, I'll break this review down into five simple categories: Story, Characters, Music, Animation, Themes. That should give a solid enough overview of every important aspect of the film without becoming overly long or tedious. With that out of the way, let's begin. Story The story follows a familiar pattern for longtime fans of the show (at least in its general structure), but in its set up serves as a solid format for introducing newcomers to the show, in a sense. The Mane 6 and everypony else in Equestria are putting on a Festival of Friendship at Canterlot, and Twilight, of course, is nervous as hell about making sure everything goes right. After her friends reassure her that everyone will come together and do their part, Tempest Shadow, the right hand mare of the Storm King, arrives with a large part of his fleet of airships and attacks Canterlot! Three of the princesses are magically imprisoned, Twilight escapes with her friends, and they go on a number of adventures to enlist the aid of the Hippogriffs, who turn out to be hiding away under their traditional homeland beneath the sea as Sea Ponies. While their plans do not go as hoped, they still manage to make some new friends and allies, and in the end, take down the Storm King, reform Tempest Shadow and many of his defeated forces (namely Grubber), and free the princesses, Canterlot, and the rest of Equestria from his tyrannical grip (not to mention everyone else he'd been terrorizing for some time). Lessons were learned, friendships were made or reaffirmed, and fun and adventure was had by all. The End. Let's get this out of the way right now. This is not the best story that MLP has ever had, and if you're expecting that, you're going to be disappointed. Long time fans, in my opinion, should not go into it expecting this or even wanting this. The nature of a film based on such a long running series as MLP:FiM is not to be the pinnacle of the series itself. That is a disservice to both the fans of the show and moviegoers who have never seen one minute of the show before. Instead, a movie based off of a cartoon show that has been running this long (though I suppose it should apply to any show that has been running this long, even if others may have to deal with fitting into their show's continuity more depending on the nature of the show itself) is to give an accurate representation of what the show itself is all about. What are the core themes, who are the main characters and what are they like, and what is the general nature of the show as a whole and how it is executed. An older example of this (which, appropriately enough, our beloved Lauren Faust was closely involved with, having written the screenplay) is "The Powerpuff Girls Movie" from 2002, directed by Faust's husband, Craig McCracken. McCracken, Faust, and their team set out to accomplish the same exact thing that MLP:FiM: The Movie does, give audiences a general idea of who the Powerpuff Girls are, what they do, and why the show as a whole is worth watching, and they did it splendidly. This movie does the same about as well as the former did, in two important respects: it is a general enough affair that most general audiences could at least find something positive out of it without complaining about not knowing the show's continuity, but at the same time it does not compromise itself inordinately for the sake of newcomers, to the detriment of long time fans of the show. This is unashamedly an MLP:FiM movie, and it embraces every element that the fans of the show love, and that the creators of the show KNOW the fans love. It simply presents all of these elements in film format, not for television, so the pacing is slowed down, there are some longer conversations, and at times a tad bit of redundancy since, let's be honest, this crew is not used to creating something this long, but never in a bad way. The beats and general progression of the film are fairly predictable, but again, this is not bothersome if you accept the movie for what it is, something that is more interested in executing itself with its own unique identity as opposed to its structure being original or unique. The core themes of the show, at the end of the day, remain at the film's core, tying everything together: the power of friendship, adventure, humor, perseverance in the face of insurmountable odds, fun, exciting, and exotic settings, both old and new, and the capacity for new friendships to either emerge from hardship, struggle, and even hatred and conflict, and for old friendships to survive true adversity and trials. These were all there, and since they were, even if it was hardly the most nuanced or complex story ever presented by MLP:FiM in any format, I was still completely satisfied by the experience for what it was, especially because it was so confident in what it was and sure of itself. Overall, this was exactly the story this movie needed to deliver. Characters Unlike the aforementioned Powerpuff Girls Movie, "My Little Pony: The Movie" actually opted to add a bevvy of new characters, many of whom we probably won't see in the show again (though I know there's more than a few I wouldn't mind seeing again). This was probably mostly to help fill more of the film's running time, and that's fine, because they never felt like that's all they were doing. Every new character served a purpose and was very enjoyable to watch in their own way for unique reasons. Capper was a delightful, suave con artist who went through a nice redemption arc, Captain Celaeno and the Sky Pirates were a lot of fun to watch and not nearly as awkward as they appeared they could have been in some of the trailers, fitting into the overall flow of the movie just fine, Queen Novo was fun when she showed up but sadly didn't feature more (and was also pretty believable as another one of this world's rulers along with Equestria's princesses given how ardent she was in looking out for her people), I cannot rave ENOUGH about Kristin Chenoweth's Princess Skystar, who was every bit as adorable as I thought she would be (not to mention the added bonus of getting some Chenoweth vocals in MLP: The Movie did not hurt one bit), Songbird Serenade, by far the least developed of the new characters, still served her purpose well enough with some smashing great vocals from her VA, Sia, Grubber was surprisingly quite funny and even though he was clearly there just to be a comedic foil, it never got irritating to me, and the Storm King, while not nearly as threatening in demeanor as Tirek, Discord (when he was still a villain), Queen Chrysalis, or even Nightmare Moon, was the perfect villain for this movie, and hats off to Liev Schreiber for genuinely having fun with his performance. The standout of the new characters was, of course, Emily Blunt's outstanding Tempest Shadow (a.k.a. Fizzlepop Berrytwist), who serves as the primary villain for most of the film before the Storm King shows up near the end and she completes her character arc of getting reformed. This character is undoubtedly where the movie's writing is at its strongest. Unfortunately some might draw lazy parallels between her and Starlight, but the fact of the matter is that, even though their backstories and redemption arcs have some broad similarities, the specifics are far more different and nuanced. Starlight didn't believe in cutie marks to begin with, but never expressed a desire to be a loner until her revenge plot against Twilight (even then, her working by herself was more circumstantial than anything else). She wanted to be a part of something special, hence why she started her "utopian" community in the first place; she wanted a place to belong to that she felt functioned as an ideal home and society should. Tempest, on the other hand, by the start of the film has completely turned her back on ponies in general, not just an aspect of pony biology or what it means for pony society. She's far more anger-driven than Starlight ever was, and her purpose is singular: she wants to feel like a real unicorn again. She's extremely self-conscious, even troubled, by the injuries she sustained as a foal at the claws of an Ursa Minor that disfigured her and, most notably, cleaved off most of her horn, and she is willing to do anything, even doom all the other ponies of Equestria - since in her mind, none of them were able to help her anyway all these years, so why should she care about them now when they never cared for her - to get it restored and feel whole again. It's quite a tragic backstory, a little more on the nose than Starlight's, but still relatable, especially for anyone who has disabilities or disfigurements of their own and has ever felt like an outcast or not whole because of it. She even was willing to turn to the Storm King for help just because she believed even he of all people actually would help her, and clearly even the slightest chance that anypony cared about her was what she wanted more than anything else; unfortunately, as it turned out, not only did the Storm King end up betraying, but he really couldn't have cared less, and that flippant attitude of his actually really made his betrayal of Tempest all the more hurtful. He didn't do it out of purposeful maliciousness, he just didn't give a shit to begin with, and for a pony like Tempest, so desperate for any measure of love or care, such a glib attitude about her problems had to hurt more than even deliberate hatred from him would have. Thankfully, through a combination of words and deeds, Twilight and her friends are able to show Tempest the light by the end of the movie, and she in turn turns her back on the Storm King and helps them all save the day, finally finding a place among her kind, even without her horn restored. Of all of the new characters who should make a return to the show, Tempest is by far the one I'd like to see the most, though I'd certainly love to see them all at some point again (aside from the Storm King of course, considering he kinda caught a case of "death-by-shattering-into-a-million-pieces-of-stone-itis"), including Grubber, the Sky Pirates, Capper, and most definitely Queen Novo, Princess Skystar, and the other Sea Ponies/Hippogriffs (one has to wonder now if they'll end up all becoming hippogriffs again now that the Storm King is no longer threatening their land). Every single one of their celebrity voice actors, from Emily Blunt, Liev Schreiber, Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Peña, Sia, Taye Diggs, Zoe Saldana, and Uzo Adaba, all did a smashing good job, did not sound in the slightest like they were phoning in their performances, and seemed to genuinely enjoy playing these roles, and I commend them all for that, especially Blunt, who probably had the hardest job of the bunch in having to play as serious and straight of a role as Tempest Shadow. Other children's television shows and movie adaptations, take notes, THIS is how you make great use of celebrity guest actors; you give them actually important, well-written characters to work with, not just sloppily put together and poorly thought out roles that solely exist to make room for the celebrities themselves (I'm looking at you Disney, wasting Kristin Chenoweth of all people in dreck as bad as Descendants, FOR SHAME!!!). As for the returning cast, most of them had strong showings and all of them were exactly in character as they should be. The two exceptions are Fluttershy and Applejack; while both of them had a few moments here and there, neither of them had too much time explicitly devoted to featuring them, especially Fluttershy, and that's a damn shame. It wasn't bad enough that I think the movie's creators did them wrong or anything, not at all, it just felt like when it came down to picking who they were gonna focus on, they took the easy route and chose the more flamboyant and energetic characters from the Mane 6 with the biggest fanbases to feature, so it's just disappointing that longtime fans didn't get to see Fluttershy and Applejack really shine in a feature length film and first time viewers didn't get to see what makes these two characters so very special. That said, they had enough moments that I was sated with what we got, and they probably still got more moments than Spike did (who oddly enough probably had fewer major moments than Grubber did, which is just weird, but he had his moments too nonetheless). After that, Rarity probably had the 4th most amount of screentime of any Mane 6 character, and while she didn't get her own solo song number like Pinkie Pie and Rarity did, she still sang a few times and did get a wonderful scene where she got to display her generosity to Capper, which started his path to reform in a quiet and very nicely handled way. She also got some of the biggest laughs of the movie, more so I would argue in her visual humor than in any of her lines; I mean don't get me wrong, Tabitha was as funny as ever, but the animators made full use of a character as flamboyant as her and gave her some wildly funny expressions and visual gags (my personal favorite being her checking her appearance in a mirror in the middle of falling to her doom, good Lord that was perfect ). Rainbow Dash had a very strong showing for the most part and got about as much screentime as I'd expect her to get in a movie like this, but thankfully it never felt like they were egregiously turning the movie into "The Rainbow Dash Show" just to sate or please her huge fanbase, and her shining moment in inspiring Captain Celaeno and the Sky Pirates felt perfect for her, so I can't fault the writers for giving her that. Intriguingly enough, not just Twilight but Pinkie Pie as well were the two most important members of the Mane 6 here, and while for one that's hardly surprising, for the other it is slightly more so, but I think I know why. Twilight featuring front and center for the Mane 6 isn't surprising at all, and I long ago accepted that she will always be the main character of this show (even if one could argue she was not the most important character in certain seasons like Season 7). For a movie, it makes perfect sense that the centerfold character should feature more than anyone else. What was somewhat annoying was that we went through very old Twilight problems in a large amount of this film, like her worrying too much about a special event going correctly, or her losing faith in the power of friendship and trying to do things the easy way instead. Despite the size of the threat, and it was a major threat, make no mistake, it still felt a little tired to go through these problems for Twilight between Season 7 and Season 8, and it kind of reinforces arguments that this movie should have come out sooner; if this had happened in canon anywhere from Season 3 to Season 5 I probably could have bought Twilight being this insecure about these things, but she hasn't been such a worry wart in quite a long time now. I believe it was mostly so that newer audiences could get an idea for what things Twilight tends to worry about, as well as simply because it gave the film some more conflict for the Mane 6 itself (not to mention it tied Twilight's arc somewhat into Tempest's as well), so for the most part its forgivable enough, but it definitely feels redundant at times. However, Pinkie Pie as the second most important member of the crew was not an issue at all. At first glance it seems fairly obvious that she'd be one of the top 3 most featured characters of the group considering she has a large following, is very recognizable, and is already the funniest pony out of the bunch, or at least the biggest source of comedy (as she easily is here). But interestingly enough she was NOT just comedic relief, and that's where her performance was truly outstanding. Pinkie Pie, while not stupid by any stretch of the imagination, has in my opinion the simplest and most basic belief in the power of the friendship between herself and all her friends. That's not to insult her understanding of it or anything, it's just not really nuanced or complex for her (not taking some of her past insecurities into account, of course); she knows it's a wonderful thing, she believes in it more easily than any of her other friends, and she never loses faith in it or what it can accomplish. Facing as big of a threat as they do, that faith is incredibly important, and Pinkie frequently keeps the group going and does her best to bolster spirits however she can without largely ever batting an eye, and this is best displayed in two scenes. First, she tries to get exactly what they need from the sea ponies simply by showing them that the ponies are worth caring about through the simplest of actions, showing that they themselves care about the sea ponies and are willing to give them their time, even as their home is threatened and in terrible danger, enjoying the simplest of activities with one another because the sea ponies could use it, having had it pretty rough for some time hiding away from the rest of the world. And the best part is that was all going to work, before Twilight tried stealing the sea ponies magical pearl behind their backs and got the group banished. Afterwards, her next most important scene happens when Pinkie finally angrily confronts Twilight about her losing her faith in their friendship and trying to do things the wrong way, and in that moment she is the perfect choice for expressing the entire group's feelings towards Twilight. It's a rough scene to watch, but it makes sense why she's so angry seeing her longtime friend completely turn her back on doing things the right way, the way they know will work even if it's not always easy. It's raw, it's powerful, and it's one of Pinkie's most mature scenes ever. So her serving as the heart of the group here worked just fine by me, especially when one considers that this is but one of their dozens of adventures that they've had by now, and that all of them have had different moments to shine in each and every one. Someone is always stepping up when the moment calls for it, and this time it just so happened to be Pinkie, who as far as I'm concerned had the best arc of them all, especially since Twilight's was a little more standard and predictable for her and this kind of movie. That said, on the whole I thought that all of the Mane 6 (and Spike) had as a group the movie they needed; like many of their earlier adventures, this was most definitely more ensemble performance of the group as a whole than any one character (besides Twilight and to some extent Pinkie) dominating most of the screen time, and seeing as for many people this would be their first exposure to the Mane 6, it makes perfect sense that this is how the movie's creators would want to portray them. The nuance and complexity we longtime fans know is there for all of them is for the show itself, while here, we got mostly the basics, but also enough information that it was clear there's a lot of history and complexity to these characters beneath the surface. I'm having a hard time imagining how it really could have been better for them, so as far as I'm concerned, this was exactly the showing we deserved from our favorite group of ponies. As for supporting characters and background ponies, believe it or not, they didn't have nearly as much to do as we usually have come to expect from them. I suppose the princesses getting into trouble was nothing new on their end, but even the background ponies didn't do much in their cameos aside from look miserable a lot once they'd been enslaved by the Storm King's forces. Overall this wasn't terribly surprising given that the movie had so many new characters to introduce (who had background characters themselves, including an adorable sea pony foal who had some incredibly cute cameos). HOWEVER, there was a big, big, BIG exception to that general rule, one that pleased me GREATLY! That's right, in a giant love letter to the fans, none other than the greatest background pony of them all, Derpy Hooves, quite intentionally took a figurative bullet for the team when she desperately shoved Twilight out of the way from a magically enchanted item that Tempest had thrown at her to turn her into stone, saving Twilight's life and pretty much saving the day in doing so. Sure she spent the rest of the movie encased in stone, but by the end of it she was released and back to normal, good as new! It's an awesome shoutout to the fandom and lovers of Derpy like myself, and of all the background ponies to get that kind of love, she deserved it more than anypony else. Music The music in this movie quite evidently channels the general sound and feel of more Broadway-esque Disney showtunes of the past, particularly the grandly staged numbers of the Disney Renaissance. That doesn't mean like it ever feels like Daniel Ingram straight up lifted any tunes from Disney, oh no, it's just clear what his inspiration was. On the contrary, the music is great as ever, and each piece (unlike more thematically consistent Disney pieces) feel very unique and like they could be in a different movie altogether, but here it works since they're usually staged in radically different settings. The biggest exception to this rule, of course, is Sia's number at the end, but even that works just fine for what it is, even if it sounds the least like a song we'd expect to hear in this show. We Got This Together - The first number is a fun and fairly standard Mane 6 ensemble. Nothing particularly notable about it aside from it having a very pleasant tune, and I never complain about all of the Mane 6 singing together (which happens in most song numbers in this film, but it is most deliberately centered on them here). In fact I actually think the most memorable thing about this song is that it really was one of the first points where the movie truly got to show off its animation. Sure we'd already seen how different it all looked for about 10 minutes by that point, but this gave us a fun tour around Canterlot for about three and a half minutes, and all with a fun song playing to go along with it. A fun, solid opening number to be sure. I'm The Friend You Need - THIS song is where the movie's soundtrack really began to shine. "We Got This Together" is a great number in its own right, but it also sounds very familiar for the show. "I'm The Friend You Need," however is a tango sung by a male character (male characters of note being rare as it is in the show, it's even rarer one getting to sing), a style we've really never gotten to hear on the show before, and goodness me is it deliciously fun. Taye Diggs's vocals especially sell the number, and its visuals are quite fun to boot, with the ponies unsettling settings delightfully contrasting their Equestrian-selves. Time To Be Awesome - "Time To Be Awesome," in my humble opinion, is actually Rainbow Dash's single best song ever. It's kind of the anti-"I'll Fly" of her song numbers - while that song, from "Tanks for the Memories," has a good tune, it's also about her not giving a buck about how her trying to keep winter from happening is going to buck everypony else over all so she can just spend more time with Tank. The message never sat right with me or many other Rainbow Dash fans, not because the show was trying to sell it as the right thing, but because by making it such an upbeat tune, they kinda made it sound like the Element of Loyalty quite literally stabbing everyone else in the back was a good thing. "Time To Be Awesome," on the other hand, is the polar opposite. It has Rainbow Dash channeling all of her best qualities to lift others up and remind them that if they're willing to do it, it's not so hard for anyone to be awesome. That's Rainbow's loyalty at its best, when it inspires other to be their best selves. It doesn't hurt that both Ashleigh Ball and Zoe Saldana absolutely kill it on their vocals, and the kickass Celtic/Gaelic instrumentals (at certain points, sometimes mixed in with a dash of pirate-tune instrumentals to give it a swashbuckling feel when some of the pirates sing their own verses, including one voiced by none other than Nicole Oliver) are quite awesome as well. By far one of the best original tunes in the movie, it's only slightly soured by the fact that Rainbow Dash completely bucks everypony over, including the sky pirates she just inspired, when she hilariously unnecessarily does a Sonic Rainboom at the end, drawing the attention of Tempest Shadow and her forces. But ah well, that's RD for ya, and we love her for it. One Small Thing - BY FAR my favorite song of the entire. This song is catchy as hell. Repeat after me. This. Bucking. Song. Is. Catchy. As. Hell. It is everything I would ever want musically out of an MLP movie number. Memorable lyrics, a bouncy and deliciously fun tune, fun instrumentals, and bucking operatic singer Shannon-Chan Kent as Pinkie Pie and MOTHERBUCKING GEM OF BROADWAY Kristin Chenoweth as Princess Skystar. Holy shit, that is a delicious duo of amazing singing voices that absolutely delivered 1000000%, seriously, my choral singing self was so pleased by this. The second I heard Kristin Chenoweth was gonna be in this movie I could not wait to hear her sing in MLP and knew very well that her song could easily end up being my favorite of the movie, and my instincts were bucking right. She and Shannon-Chan were gems together and the song itself is insanely fun. On top of that, as with "Time To Be Awesome," it was yet another Mane 6 member at their best, this time Pinkie Pie getting to show how much just showing ponies a fun time can mean so much to them. She helps an entire city of exiled hippogriffs come out of their shells and simply enjoy themselves without even asking for anything in return, and until Twilight was caught trying to steal the sea ponies magic pearl, it was going to actually turn the sea ponies/hippogriffs into their allies. The way Kristin Chenoweth sells her own vocals, you can simply feel how much everything that Pinkie is doing for them means to them. A song like this is MLP in its purest form and one of the biggest reasons I have always loved the show, and definitely ranks up their with some of Pinkie Pie's most legendary song numbers like "The Smile Song." This song is pure joy and I love it so much!!! Open Up Your Eyes - This is, objectively speaking, probably the best song in the movie in terms of what it does for the plot itself. "Open Up Your Eyes" is not just a villain song, but a song that tells a story. Tempest's story. In it we get her entire worldview laid bare, and it's rather heart wrenching once it is all laid bare before us. Tempest is simply a loner who, by and large doesn't put her faith or trust in pretty much anyone at all after feeling dejected for so much of her life as a result of her injuries and dangerous broken horn. She only trusts raw power and those with it who she believes might actually care enough to help her, or at least give her what she wants if she does enough for them first. What comes next for her after she fixes her horn, who knows? We never get that far, and it doesn't seem clear that Tempest knows either what she ultimately wants. First and foremost, she just wants to feel whole again, because she feels like that's the only way her life might mean anything again. It's tragic, utterly tragic, and the soft visuals when her backstory unfolds make it even more so. It looks like the memory of a child laid bare, something innocent that goes so terribly wrong because of one accidental moment that never should have happened and changed so much for her. So as far as villain songs in general go, it's very unique. It's not a villain just cackling out their plan in song, or how evil they are or how happy they are that they're about to win. It's Tempest just telling Twilight a story and telling her to stop believing that her idea of Equestria and friendship is right, that the world is just a cold, dark place that will crush you if you let it, and the only way to keep that from happening is to crush others first. Tempest isn't exactly happy about this, she just wholeheartedly believes it, and when we see that, we see just how tragic as a villain she is. It's probably the best villain song that MLP has ever had and easily blows "This Day Aria," out of the water, though again, I must emphasize that it is hardly a traditional villain song, and may not even entirely fit that category. Rainbow - Sia sings a Sia song in MLP. That's it. What else do you want me to say? I mean it's a good song, even if it is radically different from the rest of the movie's soundtrack. I think what I most appreciated about it was that it was slow, like the movie was exhaling. It could've taken an easy route and been faster and more upbeat, ya know, a kind of party dance tune like so many kids movies these days end with, but instead it went for something a bit more emotional and quiet, and I really liked that. It doesn't feel like the ponies are moving on from a frantic climax to a frantic party, but instead are just breathing easily, enjoying one another's company quietly after saving the day yet again, and that everything is going to be OK, even for Tempest. The single most disappointing thing about it really is simply that Sia's character was literally in this movie just to sing that song. I mean, she shows up to Canterlot, sings some kind of awkward pop-jail number for 10 seconds (seriously, that was a weird scene and I have no idea why she of all ponies gave Twilight a meaningful look when she got back to Canterlot given that they'd known each other for a total of five bucking seconds), and then sings this song at the end. Honestly I think it would have been better if she just straight up showed up at the end of the movie for the first time, like her travel was delayed or something. At least it would have felt more honest then as opposed to her showing up at the beginning of the film. But anyway, yeah, I liked this song a lot and had no trouble with it being at the end of the film. There's about seven other songs on the MLP: The Movie soundtrack, and I can't speak to all of them since I haven't heard all of them yet. Some of them are covers of older songs, like their "Thank You For Being A Friend" cover (which is deliciously hilarious in concept but also is actually quite lovely the way they did it), and some are original numbers, like Lukas Graham's "Off To See The World," which you may have heard in the MLP: The Movie trailer and credits (and as much as I hate to admit it, I actually quite like the song, despite hating Lukas Graham and his annoying, smug Danish ass himself - seriously, who has a shoutout to themselves in one of their own songs about how humble they're supposed to be in the face of fame, that's so bucking stupid and asinine?!?!). Overall, I'd say pretty much every soundtrack number from the movie itself is more than worth adding to your music library, and if you haven't done so, you really should, they're all quite excellent and perfect for this particular project, definitely some of Daniel Ingram's best work to date, especially given what he was asked to do in making music so different from MLP's normal fare. Animation The animation in "My Little Pony: The Movie" is radically different from the normal fare we're used to in the show. The show utilizes about as advanced of Adobe Flash animation as one could possibly hope to achieve with that technology, but even so it is still distinctly CARTOON animation meant for television. The movie, on the other hand, uses Toon Boom Harmony, which has been used by movies like "The Princess and the Frog" and television shows like "The Simpsons" (at least since the mid-2000s). According to art director Rebecca Dart, they wanted to keep to the look and feel of the television show, and the use of Toon Boom Harmony enabled them to add "simple yet impactful changes" to the designs for the big screen, such as depth and shadows for their eyes and ears, and the impression of heart-shaped indentations on the bottom of their hooves. Some CGI models are sprinkled here and there, especially for some of the larger ships or objects, and while they look a bit out of place they looked overall much better in the final product than they initially did in some of the early trailers. Overall, while this animation is hardly groundbreaking or revolutionary, the distinctive look for this movie is very appreciated and very much sets it apart from the show and other MLP productions as its own uniquely animated feature. It's so polished that you can't help but appreciate how much hard work the production crew put into bringing this movie to the big screen using a completely new animation style, and is one of the most apparent testaments as to how sincerely this production crew worked to make an actually, objectively good movie and not just a quick cash grab. Themes As I've said throughout this review, a movie based on a show as long-running as MLP:FiM has to try to encompass the most general, basic elements that have garnered the show as much of a fandom as it has built up through the years, and this applies to the themes of the movie as much as anything else. They're probably the simplest part of the movie if I'm being honest, with the most complex elements entering in Tempest's story. Just because they're simple, however, doesn't mean they're not delivered well. The biggest theme that sits square at the center of the movie is just a downright simple, steadfast faith in the power of friendship to overcome all sorts of troubles that life may throw your way. The Mane 6 don't just embody this in how they stick together throughout the film, but also in how everywhere they go, they affect someone else's lives with their friendship. From Capper being reformed from his con artist ways after being touched by Rarity's simple act of generosity in fixing up his clothes, the Sky Pirates loyally standing by the ponies after Rainbow Dash inspires them to take up their Sky Pirate mantle once more, Pinkie Pie giving the sea ponies a day of joy and revelry like they haven't had in quite some time, and Twilight herself going out of her way to save Tempest even after all Tempest had done to almost destroy Equestria and her friends and loved ones. Sure, this movie doesn't exactly create the wheel, but it is utterly confident in what its theme is, sticks to it, and executes it as proficiently as it could. That right there, that focused and very clear-cut theme that is repeatedly reinforced through the movie, is very much worth commending given that so many children's films these days seem incapable of even justifying the reason for their existence and seem downright as aimless as they are pointless. Concluding Thoughts This was the movie I wanted. I'm not saying everyone else has to think of the film exactly as I did, but for me, a guy who's been a brony since 2012, this was exactly the feature length, theatrical film version of MLP:FiM that I have wanted for years. It didn't try to do too much, but it also had a point and purpose for its existence. It wasn't revolutionary, but it was clearly ambitious and well-crafted all the same. It was mostly made for fans, but invited first-time viewers just enough that some might be willing to come back for seconds in the show itself if they paid attention closely enough. Most importantly, it accurately reflected and embraced everything we've come to love about the show itself through the years, but simply did so in a film format. At the end of the day, no matter how different it looks or sounds or how much longer it is or how many celeb voice actors it had, "My Little Pony: The Movie" is distinctly, unmistakably as much a part of that universe as anything from the show ever has been. No compromise, no watering it down, this was a pure, unadulterated MLP:FiM experience, a love letter to Generation 4 of My Little Pony and all of its fans, and a true testament to how wildly popular this show still is and how loyal its fans remain to both the show itself, but more importantly, its core themes and messages. As the old saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and the creators of "My Little Pony: The Movie" clearly recognized that they didn't exactly have to change all that much in translating this television show to the big screen. I thank them for that, for embracing this show and all of its elements, and for giving us a truly memorable, fun, and downright thoroughly enjoyable cinematic experience!
  10. Season 5 is finally over! With a season containing so many great and memorable moments, it isn't hard to imagine why some of us may feel a little down with the lack of new episodes. But fear not! Season 6 is just around the corner, and I'm sure it'll be just as, if not more, grand as the last one. Feel free to use this thread to express your thoughts on the wait for new episodes, and to share any news regarding the new season.
  11. Das Story..... I think everyone has a story. I just don't think they meander and get side tracked that much...
  12. Good evening, everypony, and once again a very Merry Christmas to you all! I hope everypony has had a splendid holiday today and a wonderful time celebrating with anyone they can, be it family or friends! I've been meaning to do this for some time now, but I figured now's as good of a time as any considering the holiday season is all about spending time with those we love, and in turn getting to share that love with as many people as we can. While my beloved girlfriend and I have not gotten to celebrate the holiday yet, we will thankfully get to celebrate New Year's Eve together next weekend, and exchange some Christmas present with each other then. With her birthday being last month at the end of November, and our one year anniversary coming up this Valentine's Day, I wanted to get her a special little something as a way of continuously welcoming her in the brony fandom and pony family. While we're still in the middle of Season 1 of MLP, it's been a special part of our relationship from the get go; my darling was totally cool with the entire concept of the show when I shared with her that I liked it, and thinks that some of the fan art produced in it is incredible, plus she knows how important my pony people are to me at this point. She was even nice enough to go to the MLP Movie with me, which was simply a blast of a time together and something that was very special for the both of us to share in! So, for her birthday I commissioned my great friend Sapphfyr to design an OC for her just like he did for me a couple years ago in this cute little guy, Silver Lining. Working with her and getting input from her about her personality, they came up with an OC that is simply perfect for her! So without further ado, everypony, let me introduce you all to my girlfriend's very own pony OC, Topaz Blossom! Isn't she just the CUTEST!!! Topaz Blossom, as you can see, is a unicorn. We haven't exactly come up with just what for sure her profession is, but it's most likely something tailoring-related since my girlfriend works in dress and bridal gown store and most closely relates to Rarity (so yes @Jeric you can add her to your ranks of Rarity lovers ). The cutie mark is a very personal symbol for her; it's a symbol of the Christian Holy Trinity, but done up in the style of a Claddagh symbol/ring. My girlfriend has quite a bit of Irish heritage, and the symbol for her stands for both her faith and heritage, representing love, loyalty, and friendship. It felt most appropriate for her to utilize this as her cutie mark, and I couldn't agree more! Now that we've both got OCs too, Lord willing I'll be able to get some fan art of the two of our OCs together, which is something I've long hoped to do with any significant other. Any artists who wish to use these characters yourself, please contact me first, but I shouldn't have any issues for the most part (especially if someone just wants to make some cute are of the two of them together, I will certainly never say no to that! ). I probably won't be RPing with my OC (and likewise my girlfriend probably won't be RPing with her OC) any time soon, these two will be more reflective of where we are in real life than any kind of fanon we come up with them beyond personality traits and maybe some small backstory. But yeah, just wanted to introduce you all to her, hopefully sometime in the future I'll even get her to join the forums, even if she won't be super active. Oh, and before I go, I just have to share this gorgeous piece as well that my friend mirroredsea was too kind enough to put together for my girlfriend and I for her birthday as well! It would have been of our OCs but hers wasn't designed yet, and we both adore Pear Butter and Bright McIntosh, so asking him for a piece of those two felt right and I couldn't have been happier with how it turned out! Merry Christmas everypony, I hope you had a blessed holiday and that your final days of 2017 are wonderful as we prepare to ring in the New Year! That's all I've got for you everypony, until next time this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit*
  13. TwilightSparkleAndAJ

    its 2017 is the brony fandom dying?

    is the brony fandom dying if it is that will make me sad since i just recently got fully into the community i have liked the show since 2011 but i just got into the fandom recently pls make me feel better by saying something positive i just feel like i missed so much and it really hurts inside my heart pls i need guidance thanks
  14. Batbrony

    Elley-Ray Hennessy Q&A

    Good afternoon, everypony, and welcome to MLP Forums and Poniverse's latest Community Guest Q&A! Please join me in welcoming Elley-Ray Hennessy, the voice of Mistmane and a couple of other minor characters in MLP:FiM this past season. In addition to her work on MLP:FiM, Ms. Hennessy has 79 total acting credits to her name garnered from over 30 years of voiceover, television, film, and theatre acting, including in shows like Goosebumps, Babar, and Redwall, and films such as It Takes Two and Phantom of the Megaplex. This marks the first time that MLP Forums and Poniverse have ever had an actual member of MLP:FiM's voice cast as a guest, and we could not be more excited to have her joining us! First things first, I must clarify how this Q&A will be unfolding, so PLEASE read this carefully. Ms. Hennessy will not be answering questions in the thread herself; instead, I and a few other staffers will be relaying questions to her and the answers she gives us in a Skype conversation to this thread. If you see that I have quoted you in this thread, it is because I am answering your questions with her replies via my own profile. Rest assured, Elley-Ray herself is coming up with any responses we post, and you should feel free to ask as many questions as you want as we always do in these Q&A events. So please, ask away, but just keep your eye out for me to be the one quoting you any time one of your questions is answered. Just a couple more things before we begin. Seeing as Ms. Hennesy is an actual employee of both DHX and Hasbro on account of her work with the show, we have to lay some ground rules similar to when we've hosted guests like Ward Jenkins. While you should feel free to ask whatever you want within reason, keep in mind that many questions, especially those that pertain to her work on the show, may be ones that Ms. Hennessy is unable to answer on account of confidentiality agreements with the studio and her employers. We want to have a great time with our first VA guest, not get her in any trouble with her employers or act like obnoxious or self-entitled hosts. If you'd like to learn more about her, you can visit her own website here, her IMDB page here, and her Twitter page here. That's all I've got for ya'll this afternoon, everypony, so without further, ask questions of Ms. Hennessy to your heart's content! I'll start with a fairly simple and basic question to get the ball rolling: Ms. Hennessy, you've had all sorts of acting roles in a variety of mediums throughout your career. What originally inspired you to become a voice actress?
  15. Good morning, everypony! I've got some exciting news for you all this morning and I'm sure you'll feel the same way once I've shared it. Fillies and gentlecolts, it is my distinct pleasure to announce that on Saturday, December 16th from 3 - 5 PM EST, none other than Elley-Ray Hennessy, the voice of Mistmane and a couple of other minor characters in MLP:FiM this past season, will be joining us as our next Q&A guest. In addition to her work on MLP:FiM, Ms. Hennessy has 79 total acting credits to her name garnered from over 30 years of voiceover, television, film, and theatre acting, including in shows like Goosebumps, Babar, and Redwall, and films such as It Takes Two and Phantom of the Megaplex. This marks the first time that MLP Forums and Poniverse have ever had an actual member of MLP:FiM's voice cast as a guest, and we could not be more excited to have her joining us! Now, seeing as she is an actual employee of both DHX and Hasbro on account of her work with the show, we have to lay some ground rules similar to when we've hosted guests like Ward Jenkins. While you should feel free to ask whatever you want within reason, keep in mind that many questions, especially those that pertain to her work on the show, may be ones that Ms. Hennessy is unable to answer on account of confidentiality agreements with the studio and her employers. We want to have a great time with our first VA guest, not get her in any trouble with her employers or act like obnoxious or self-entitled hosts. And trust me when I tell you this based on my interactions with her, Ms. Hennessy is very excited to join us as well and really loves the fandom! If you'd like to learn more about her, you can visit her own website here, her IMDB page here, and her Twitter page here. That's all I've got for ya'll this morning, everypony, and please, share this announcement anywhere you can! We would love to have as many visitors as possible to ask questions on the day of the Q&A, and be sure to prepare some of your own before you show up. Have a great Saturday, everypony, I'll see you in Poniverse Events for the Q&A in a couple of weeks!
  16. Good afternoon, everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! It's the penultimate episode of Season 7 folks (considering the upcoming season finale is, as we would expect, a two-parter), and given how those have gone throughout the show's tenure, I think it's safe to say that most of us were very much anticipating this one. Let's rundown how penultimate episodes in previous seasons have gone as a quick recap: in Season 1 we were graced with "Party of One," easily Pinkie Pie's best episode of that season and still one of the funniest episodes of the show in general; in Season 2 we got the awfulness that was "MMMystery on the Friendship Express," a bitter pill to swallow considering the season as a whole was so outstanding, but quickly forgotten as well given how the season finale turned out; Season 3 saw "Games Ponies Play" as the penultimate episode, a fun little romp in the Crystal Empire that saw the Mane 6 having to help Cadance and Shining Armor get the Crystal Empire to win the privilege of hosting the Equestria Games (it was also a bit odd in that it was kind of the second part of a semi-two-parter episode in that the previous episode, a Spike-centric one, was tied into the events of the following episode); Season 4 saw a follow-up to the previous season's penultimate episode in "Equestria Games," which featured, what else, but the Equestria Games themselves, an event that had been built up starting at the end of Season 3 and throughout Season 4 as well, so while the episode itself might not have featured as much content from the games as we would have liked to see, it was very interesting seeing the payoff of so much build up; Season 5 had probably the greatest penultimate episode of the show to date in "The Mane Attraction," featuring one of the greatest songs the show has ever had and a very stirring, emotional episode as well about Applejack helping her old friend, Countess Coloratura, find her way again; and Season 6 had a fairly fun slice of life episode in "Top Bolt" as its penultimate episode, which was basically just another Cutie Mark Map episode. As we can see, penultimate episodes of the show's seasons (with the exception of the terrible "MMMystery on the Friendship Express") tend to turn out one of two ways: (1) they turn out as gems like "Party of One" or "The Mane Attraction," or (2) they're simply very fun slice-of-life episodes that may try some interesting things, like "Games Ponies Play" or "Equestria Games," but often just function as nice, quiet set up for the season finale, like "Top Bolt." So what did Season 7's "Uncommon Bond" turn out to be? Interestingly enough, it was mostly the latter, and I think some people were surprised by that. Sunburst hadn't appeared in a major role in the show since his first debut in Season 6 (not counting Starlight's flashback about him in the previous season's finale) and given their close history together, I think many of us were expecting a more, shall we say, impactful episode. Now that's not to say that the episode as is disappointed, far from it, in fact I very much enjoyed what we got. It was just a far slower and quieter episode in its execution, smaller in its scope, than I was expecting, but again, for what we got I don't believe that's a bad thing. Let's take a look at just why that is, without further ado, this is "Uncommon Bond"! As should become quickly apparent in this review, bobthedalek had a BLAST with this episode So the heart of this episode is definitely Starlight Glimmer, very fittingly I might add, and if there's anything in the episode that could be described as powerful, it's definitely her. Starlight has a very emotional performance, one which very much unfolds in the background of the episode, interestingly enough. She's hoping that she and Sunburst have a splendid trip together since he's visiting her in Ponyville for, more or less, the first time (at least for an extensive trip) and that they'll be able to reconnect the exact same way they used to as foals. That in particular is key here, and it's at the heart of Starlight's insecurities in the episode. As I've said before, Starlight is different from Twilight when it comes to making friends in a very big way; whereas Twilight is very comfortable with a large group of friends (and being the center that keeps it all together in the case of her and her closest friends), Starlight in contrast is someone who prizes each individual friendship for what it is for her, and each of her friends are not part of some close-knit group, but largely connected simply by their friendship to her. This is why things get awkward between her and Sunburst, because really, the last time they were truly close in their friendship with each other on a consistent basis was as foals, so most of Starlight's memories of Sunburst are from spending time together at each other's houses playing board games and dabbling a little with magic. Now, obviously Starlight has grown immensely as a character and overcome a lot of her old insecurities when it came to making and maintaining friendships since the end of Season 5, but it makes sense that her realization as to how different she and Sunburst have become over the years as they grew apart would panic her just a bit. It's her oldest friendship, and one which so many of her greatest mistakes and decisions stemmed from after Sunburst grew apart from her and she didn't feel like she had anyone else to turn to or rely on. Seeing the very ponies she's befriended in her time in Ponyville getting along more easily with Sunburst than she was (outside of when they got to play Dragon Pit together earlier in the episode) had to be dismaying for Starlight, and probably at the least convinced her that she was a bad friend to Sunburst, or at worst, that maybe they weren't really that close any more. It's an interestingly mature lesson for such a quiet slice-of-life episode, that being that over the years, we may grow very different from our friends, especially our earliest friendships, and to some extent that can be scary because it may seem like you can no longer recapture the magic of the friendship you two shared in your younger days. The episode's solution to such a conundrum is surprisingly simple, with it being a simple, quiet reminder that just because you and an old friend may grow very different from each other over the years, that doesn't mean that you two can't still be friends with one another or very close. As long as you find ways to enjoy each other's company, even if it's different than it was when you were younger, you'll both be fine, and you may even learn to appreciate the ways in which you are different from each other now. The key is simply to find a way to make the friendship work, not simply have it be the exact same as it has always been. That can be scary because old memories of how friendships used to be can be among the best one may have, and it's tempting to want to recapture that exact same experience, but it's not very realistic, especially as friends grow older or even closer. I have friendships on this site itself that used to largely be simply about me having a fun time with other fellow bronies, but these friendships have since grown to a point where both friends, myself and others, confide in each other our fears, insecurities, worries about our lives and the future, and what we're struggling with and how we can help each other as friends. These are not always fun topics or conversations, but they are fulfilling things to share with other friends, and our willingness to confide in each other make for very meaningful moments in our friendships and are testament to just how close we have become. For Starlight to learn that here, even in a little, quiet way, with Sunburst was great to see, and even though it may not be her best episode of the season, it was definitely an invaluable lesson for her to learn and a treat getting to see her learn it. That and, let's be honest, Starlight in a dragon costume looked BUCKING ADORABLE!!! Sunburst, for his part, was... a mixed bag, if I'm being honest. I don't think it was so much him as the type of episode he was in. While the lesson in this episode was great, we've seen this type of episode in cartoons before: the "this old friend of mine gets along better with my current friends than he does with me" episode. The difference between this episode and others like it is in the intent; other episodes like this one often paint the old friend as a douche for how they've changed, or are about the main character learning to appreciate their current friends more and moving on from their old friend, realizing they're not as close as they used to be. That was not the case here, as Sunburst was not an antagonist nor did he and Starlight end their friendship. The purpose of the episode was for them to find a way to reinforce their friendship. The problem is getting to that resolution, no matter how good it is, can be annoying, namely in that it required Sunburst to be unaware of the fact that the way he was behaving was hurting Starlight. He may have been having a great time in Ponyville, but considering it was Starlight who invited him in the first, who was the whole reason he was there in the first place, he should have been more attentive to how she was doing and realized she often didn't have much of anything to do in many of his activities. Yes, she tried to put on a good face for him, but even he asked early on if she really had enjoyed his antiquing all that much. The other problem with how easily he got along with Twilight, Trixie, AND Maud is that it came close to making him come off as Gary Stu-ish in some respects; I can buy that he and Twilight would share a hobby as dorky as antiquing, and even Sunburst being into geology isn't too unbelievable (though I'm not sure at what point he would have gotten into it considering his studies have always revolved around magic), but him being into parlor trick magic like Trixie too, that seemed a bit much. I get they needed him to befriend all three of these ponies in order to make the episode work, but it just seemed far fetched that he'd share all these interests with all three. Starlight may share connections with all three as well, but they're far more personal ones which makes them easier to believe. So overall, Sunburst's ease with finding so many things in common with so many of Starlight's friends, combined with his lack of awareness about what was troubling Starlight as the episode unfolded, made him frustrating to watch at times. Still, on the whole it's not like he had ill intent or anything. He was on vacation after all, and even though Starlight was his host, that didn't mean he just had to do everything with her. Sunburst didn't seem to be worried about their friendship at all until he realized what she had, that they really might not have much in common these days (though why they didn't dabble more in having fun with magic I have no idea considering we know they did this as foals, they both love studying and practicing magic, and they even had fun at first when Starlight did it with him later in the episode, at least until she upset him), so for all he knew she was having fun just like he was. And the solution he came up with to make Starlight feel better about where they stood was quite cute and heartwarming, not to mention he actually had some pretty fun scenes with Twilight and Trixie especially (his scene with Maud when he befriended her was a tad annoying, but again, mostly because his interest in geology came out of bucking nowhere). He even had some rather funny scenes throughout the whole episode, such as when Starlight wakes him up wayyyyyy early in the morning and I swear it looks like he looked down at himself in embarrassment because he realized he had morning wood. I know, I know, he's just embarrassed that she walked in on him naked in bed (same as Fluttershy way back in Season 2 with Rainbow Dash), but c'mon, it's so easy to think that's what he was embarrassed about! Overall, while he was quite frustrating at many points in the episode (mostly in order to make the story work), Sunburst was on the whole quite likable, had a nice return, and, if the ending of the episode (a bit of a cliffhanger/set up for the season finale) is anything to go by, should hopefully be playing a larger role in the show going forward, which would be nice. Our supporting cast here was essentially the rest of Starlight's closest friends, Twilight Sparkle, Trixie Lulamoon, and Maud Pie, and like Sunburst, while they were fine on the whole, because of what this episode's storyline demanded, they were frustrating at times. Twilight was probably more frustrating than the others since, if I'm being perfectly honest, she's got the most going for her in her life, and on top of that she's Starlight's mentor, so it kinda felt like she should have been most aware of any of the three as to how close Starlight feels to Sunburst and how important she would have considered spending time with him. But instead she merrily geeks out with him about antiquing which, while cute, she should have realized Starlight wasn't enjoying. Her reaction to playing Dragon Pit was, admittedly, adorable. Trixie and Maud, to their credit, had never met Sunburst before and didn't know how important Starlight considered this trip, so them making connections with him were just pleasant surprises for them that they ran with, but like I said, for Twilight to not consider that Starlight wouldn't be thrilled with her and Sunburst antiquing for hours on end while she was stuck there as basically a third wheel, bored out of her mind, was just a bit disappointing to see from her. Overall, however, all three were quite fun to watch for the most part. Twilight had her cute scene playing Dragon Pit with the two of them (seeing her geek out at her dragon falling was too adorable), Trixie and Sunburst bonding was pretty hilarious (not to mention she had some fun bits of continuity from earlier in the season, like seeing her, once again, turn something into a tea cup, and struggling to but managing to help carry Sunburst's luggage at the end of a the episode, a clear sign that her magic is improving), and Maud was, well, Maud, she's always a blast when she shows up. I quite enjoyed them all for the most part, even when they were making the conflict in the episode worse (unknowingly), and it was pretty cool seeing all of Starlight's closest friends come together for her at the end. Trixie, I... I think you may have a teacup problem. Like, for real. The animation, it's not really worth commenting on. I mean it wasn't bad, but there weren't any particularly ambitious set pieces. The same goes for the music seeing as there were no new songs (not surprising). The most interesting bit of world building was that spell Starlight came up with which apparently created a projection of Starlight and Sunburst's childhood homes but ALSO seemed to actually regress them in age; it was most disappointing that we didn't get to seem them as foals for a longer time because I was interested as to whether or not their emotional state was actually effected by their age. Starlight clearly had the same level of magic so it seems it didn't affect their physical capabilities (outside of how big they were, of course) but again, some of their reactions seemed a tad more adolescent, namely the way Sunburst had an outburst toward her and how Starlight teared up afterwards. That was really interesting to consider and, again, we unfortunately didn't get many answers since they weren't foals for very long. Also, holy shit was Starlight adorable as a filly!!! So what are we left with? Well, despite the issues I pointed out with the supporting cast to some extent, especially with Sunburst, I really wasn't that bothered by them. I mean, the most annoying thing about the behavior I had a problem with is that it was there strictly to make the plot happen, but at the same time it's not unbelievable (as we've seen in this show multiple times) that well-meaning individuals would make mistakes that, compounded, would really hurt a friend of theirs, and I always commend the show for not pretending that even its biggest characters are Mary Sues or Gary Stus. Those issues aside, this was a very quietly mature episode with a just as subdued lesson, but one which was very smart and mature as well. I appreciate when the show goes out of its way to show smaller behavior having a large impact on someone; this certainly wasn't an instance of Starlight unnecessarily "sweating the small stuff," but rather a nice highlight of just how important little things in life, like sharing a vacation with a friend and spending some quality time with them, can be, especially when things don't go the way you wanted and you're even left questioning the friendship itself. The set up for the season finale was very appreciated as well (not even the first time we've seen a book teased as a plot device for the season finale *cough cough* Season 3 *cough*), and I'm looking forward to seeing how Sunburst gets himself involved in it this week as well. All in all, for a quieter and more subdued penultimate episode, this was a very solid one and a nice, final starring appearance for Starlight Glimmer this season. Can't wait for the season finale to the most exceptional season of MLP in a long time, and I know the rest of ya'll can't either! I'll see ya'll this weekend everypony, until next time, this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit* What's the only thing that might possibly be cuter than filly Starlight? THIS!!!
  17. Good afternoon, everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! This week, we've got a flawed but still solid addition to Season 7, starring Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash in a fun little romp where the insanity and hilarity that unfolds (and the entertainment we derive from it) is probably more important than the lesson itself. It's a curious episode, not because what it does is particularly unique, because it isn't; in fact, this episode seems to quite deliberately lift from a number of past Pinkie Pie episodes (down to the name title itself if it can be believed, considering the episode is called, after all, "Secrets and Pies" and "Secrets and lies, it's all secrets and lies!" was something Pinkie was quite fond of proclaiming in "Party of One") to the point that it could accurately be described as a spiritual successor of not one, but TWO past Pinkie Pie episodes (and oddly enough, an improvement of one of them). It's also strange in that most of its execution in its first two acts (and the first half of the third act) are far more satisfying than its actual resolution, which leaves something to be desired. In any case, while it's hardly one of the more exceptional episodes we've gotten so far in the stellar seventh season of MLP, it is a very fun and likable one all the same, and fun romps involving Pinkie Pie going crazy are always a lot of fun if executed well, which this one is for the most part. Without further ado, this is "Secrets and Pies"! Hey now, I'm the one who makes Batman references around these parts! OK, in all seriousness, this Adam West Batman reference is as delicious as Pinkie Pie's pies look So, starting with Pinkie Pie herself, just what two past episodes of hers does this episode draw from, if not act as a continuation of? Strangely enough, her best Season 1 episode and her worst Season 2 episodes (the latter being my least favorite episode of MLP until "Hard to Say Anything" came out this season): "Party of One" and "Mmmmystery on the Friendship Express." The "Party of One" similarities are fairly blatant right from the start; while her ire in that episode was directed at most of her friends, Rainbow Dash in particular had a hard time avoiding her near the end of the episode, and here we have Pinkie Pie, what else, freaking out as a result of something involving Rainbow Dash. Her freakout also stems from a supposed betrayal, the difference between the two episodes being that in "Party of One" the betrayal was in Pinkie Pie's imagination and her friends were really just planning a surprise birthday party for her, whereas here, the betrayal was actually real and not something she concocted, even if some of what Pinkie Pie imagined about it was exaggerated. Hell, even the fact that Gummy acts as Pinkie's confidant during many of her scenes is similar to "Party of One." As far as similarities to "Mmmmystery on the Friendship Express" go, as in that episode, Pinkie Pie has a mystery to solve, and she has to apply logic and sound detective work to figure it out. The differences between these two episodes is that (1) in "Mmmmystery on the Friendship Express" the mystery itself and the fact that it couldn't get solved quicker than it did all stemmed from Pinkie Pie and most other characters in the episode either acting like idiots or stupid, selfish jackasses without any self-control for the simplest of things, and (2) Pinkie Pie didn't need Twilight or anypony else holding her hoof as she solved the mystery, nor did she present idiotic theories about what actually happened to large groups of ponies as though that was what actually happened. She may have at one point come up with the notion that Rainbow Dash was turning into some kind of demonic entity and blasting her pies with laser eyes, but the only character she shared that with was Gummy, and it was just a part of her bigger theory that Rainbow Dash (based on her findings) really didn't like pies, and had been lying to Pinkie Pie that she liked pies and finding ways to get rid of hers for years (which was actually true). She may still have been silly and over the top, but oddly enough, Pinkie Pie solved this mystery completely on her own, showing she'd actually learned a lot about applying logic and reason in solving something like this since the idiocy of "Mmmmystery on the Friendship Express." So yes, as should be clear by now, the episode revolves around Pinkie Pie's discovery that Rainbow Dash doesn't like pies (including hers) and has been lying to Pinkie Pie about this for years, and her subsequent reaction to that. Basically things unfold as you'd think they would if you've been watching this show long enough: Pinkie Pie freaks out when Rainbow Dash throws out a pie she baked for her behind her back, starts digging a little deeper and finds enough solid evidence to suggest she's done this with every pie Pinkie's ever given her, and subsequently freaks out and starts trying to get Rainbow Dash to either eat one of her pies in front of her or admit that she's been lying to her this whole time. As you can imagine, this involves a lot of hilarious and crazy antics, but strangely enough you quickly realize that Pinkie Pie's not really the antagonist here, nor does she have to learn a lesson. If anything, I found myself quite anticipating Rainbow Dash getting her comeuppance when she was finally exposed as a liar in this regard (one reason the resolution actually felt a little unsatisfactory), and the fact that the writers showed what started years ago for Rainbow Dash as a white lie/fib spiraling out of control into something neither she nor Pinkie Pie had any control over from the point of view NOT of the one who was telling the lies (RD) but rather from the pony directly affected by the lies (Pinkie Pie) was interesting. When I think about it, it's a little more unusual for the character lied to to be at the center of a story like this about the negative effects of white lies/fibs that grow out of control than it is for the character doing the lying to be front and center, but I liked how they did it here, especially considering it was Pinkie Pie front and center. The way she reacts to betrayals, just how crazy and emotional she can become when something like this happens, drove home the fact that, even if Rainbow Dash had good intentions, it still didn't mean that her lying to Pinkie Pie was overall a good thing. Her lying to her friend hurt Pinkie Pie very much, and made her question the trust she had in RD. The fact that this was Pinkie Pie being lied to (about whether or not someone was eating her pies, no less) also meant that the episode didn't have to get too serious in its content while still condemning the lie itself. Overall, I really enjoyed Pinkie Pie here and don't really have anything bad to say about her. She was fun, her crazy moments were great but the fact that she was right kind of made them even funnier, and at the same time, you couldn't help but understand why she was as distressed by RD's lying as she was; not only is RD one of her dearest friends, but baking in general is one of her favorite things to do and something she takes great pride in. To find out one of her closest friends has been lying to her for years about eating her pies, one of her favorite things to bake for anyone, was clearly devastating to her, and knowing Pinkie Pie as we know her by now, it's not hard to see why. Great showing from Pinkie Pie all around, she was the heart of this episode and it was better off for it. This episode did a great job of bringing out some of Pinkie Pie's more Looney Toon-esque characteristics, especially in some of the cartoony faces she was pulling off Rainbow Dash, on the other hoof, I have words for. Now, having the lie present for the sake of the episode working at all is fine, it made sense. But at the same time, the lengths she went to throughout this episode to dispose of pies without Pinkie noticing were RIDICULOUS!!!! I know that oftentimes (even before Pinkie Pie thought she wasn't eating her pies) Pinkie wanted her to eat them in front of her so she had to usually get rid of them right away, but even she herself pointed out later on in the episode that it was a hassle doing that for years. Hell, she even put her tortoise Tank's health at risk doing so, that ain't cool! She did this after already taking him to the vet previously for, wouldn't ya know it, getting him sick from feeding him pies she didn't want, so she knew in doing so that she was risking his health... AGAIN!!! Don't get me wrong, some of the ways she got rid of pies were hilarious (I particularly enjoyed when she tossed her "It's Not Your Birthday But Here's a Pie Anyway" Day custard pie up to a balcony and Shoeshine, upon finding it, gleefully exclaims "Huh! It's not even my birthday!"), but when you think about it from both a moral and logical POV, there's really no good reason RD kept this up for years. The only excuse I can really think of is that Rainbow Dash, like Pinkie Pie, is more prone to extreme behavior even for little things, and combine that with the fact that she HATES disappointing anypony, especially her closest friends, I can actually buy that it makes sense that RD would do such extreme behavior over such a little thing as not telling Pinkie Pie that she doesn't like pies for years. However, the episode made it a little harder to sympathize with RD's reasoning by emphasizing, in its end, a little too much that her heart was in the right place. The ideal lesson for this episode (and I think this is even what they were going for) is that while many white lies may come from genuinely good places, that still doesn't mean they're good things, and they can still hurt those we love; the problem is that by the end of the episode, the focus is less on the fact that what Rainbow Dash did was wrong, and more on the idea that it's easy for Pinkie Pie to forgive her because her motivations for lying to Pinkie Pie came from a good place and she just didn't want to hurt Pinkie Pie's feelings and wanted to keep seeing her happy at the thought of RD eating her pies. Even AJ points out that RD failed in that regard in that she still ended up hurting Pinkie's feelings anyway. But again, the episode focuses a little too much on the "good place" that white lies often come from, to the point that it almost felt like they were straight up exonerating RD for her behavior and even suggesting that there are instances where it's OK to tell a white lie. Now don't get me wrong, I know that life is grey enough that almost all of us will tell a white lie at some point in order to not hurt another, but the reason I really am not OK with how this lesson was delivered here is because this went from being a white lie to being something that RD was lying about for YEARS. Lies that are carried on for years are usually over really bad shit that you don't want anyone to know about, so for the episode to even accidentally suggest that that might be OK depending on what the lie is over is, in my opinion, not a good thing at all. Also, I'm sorry, but the gross out humor that was in the episode's final scene as RD was pledging to Pinkie Pie to eat a disgusting monstrosity of a pie that she'd somehow made was the low point of the entire episode. It felt completely out of place in a show that largely doesn't very often engage in gross out humor of any kind, it wasn't funny, the pie itself was genuinely distasteful to look at, and it felt like something you'd encounter in, say, Spongebob or The Fairly Oddparents during their later, far inferior seasons when they started delving into really bad, low brow humor aimed at the lowest common denominator. Overall, while RD was pretty entertaining throughout this episode, especially when Pinkie Pie was trying to get her to crack and admit she didn't like pie, I'm not sure she learned the right lesson (or any lesson at all), and even if she did, the resolution she and Pinkie Pie came to was just... not very satisfying. Well that's certainly... terrifying. But not quite as terrifying as... Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... seriously, what is this even doing in MLP? This kind of humor, at least at this kind of level, feels SO out of place in this show! How they kept themselves from throwing in something about Soarin and pies I have NO idea, the writers really missed a golden opportunity to make a great joke there! I'm sure it was just an oversight, but still, too bad they missed out on that one OK, it may be bad for his health, but in all seriousness that's bucking adorable and I want more The second best member of the Mane 6 here was, surprisingly enough (considering she wasn't in that much of the episode), Applejack! She was only in about four scenes (only two of which she contributed much to) but they were quite funny appearances. I think what made her really work here is that in most of her scenes she was playing opposite Pinkie Pie, and that afforded the writers the opportunity to have her whip out some really dry, sardonic humor, which really contrasted Pinkie's over-the-top, erratic behavior. Her stumbling into Pinkie's party cave and onto a slowly-going-crazy Pinkie Pie was quite hilarious in and of itself, especially in her reactions to Pinkie Pie's interrogation as to whether or not she'd ever seen Rainbow Dash eat any of her pies, and later in the episode, she seemed to be the pony most aware (besides Pinkie Pie herself) as to how much RD had bucked the pooch by just not telling the truth in the first place (glad to see that AJ is still very much the Element of Honesty). She even seemed unsatisfied to some extent by how everything resolved, sardonically exclaiming that she could've told RD in the first place just to tell Pinkie Pie the truth. Overall, it was just fun seeing AJ in a fun supporting role that really relied on her drier sense of humor. Twilight was present a little bit too, but mostly just to tow along with AJ, and if anything her presence with Applejack for most of the episode (especially towards the end) seemed mostly to reinforce that these two are still probably the most mature (emotionally at least) members of the Mane 6. Twilight's still the center of the group that holds it together and Applejack is the best member of the group for helping the rest stay grounded and level-headed, which Twilight herself often needs the most if she's starting to panic when things start getting out of control. When they're both acting grounded and mature, you just get the sense that both of them get this and really appreciate that aspect of the other's behavior, the fact that they are the least likely of their friends to lose their heads over something. That's not to say they both haven't lost it at times (especially Twilight), but when they're grounded, boy oh boy are those two levelheaded. Applejack: she has no time for anypony's bull shit Finally, this episode went to a surprisingly large amount of locations, and we got to see a lot of major or minor supporting characters (mostly during Pinkie Pie's investigation) including the Wonderbolts, Dr. Fauna, Cheerilee, and many, many more. As far as another way in which this episode contrasts "Mmmmystery on the Friendship Express" for the better, the sheer number of locations made Pinkie's investigation far more fun and interesting to follow than the one in that dreadful episode. That episode has, after they board the train, ONE SINGLE LOCATION, and it's not a particularly interesting one to even look at. In contrast, this episode went to (1) Sugarcube Corner, (2) the Wonderbolt Academy and Training Grounds, (3) Pinkie Pie's Party Cave, (4) Dr. Fauna's Vet Clinic, (5) the Ponyville Schoolhouse, (6) Rainbow Dash's Cloud House, and (7) various locales and streets throughout Ponyville! Yeah, not hard to see which was more fun to follow, especially when some locations were visited multiple times. There was also a wide variety of humor dotted throughout, from Pinkie Pie's insane brand of humor when she starts breaking down and going crazy, to Applejack's drier sense of humor, and even a whole lot of physical humor, most of which worked (aside from anything having to do with that ridiculous pie at the end of the episode). All in all, what did we get? Just a really fun episode which, while hardly perfect, was still very entertaining. The most interesting thing about it wasn't its flawed lesson, but rather simply the fact that it not only had so many callbacks to "Party of One" and "Mmmmystery on the Friendship Express," but actually improved on that second episode as well, fixing a ton of flaws from it. It's hardly one of the best episodes we've gotten this season, but as far as breaks from the litany of exceptional episodes we've gotten this season go, this was one of the more entertaining ones, and definitely not a bad final episode of the season for Pinkie Pie, not at all. I had a lot of fun watching it, and I hope most of you did as well! That's all I've got for ya today everypony, until next time this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit*
  18. This very special edition of "Batbrony Reviews" is dedicated to Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco (episode writers), Kaylea Chard and Jae Harm (episode storyboard artists), "Big" Jim Miller (episode director), Daniel Ingram (episode music), Felicia Day (Pear Butter), William Shatner (Grand Pear), Bill Newton (Bright McIntosh), Ashleigh Ball (Applejack), Michelle Creber (Apple Bloom), Peter New (Big McIntosh and Goldie Delicious), Tabitha St. Germain (Granny Smith and Mrs. Cake/Chiffon Swirl), Bill Mondy (Burnt Oak), Cathy Weseluck (Mayor Mare), anyone else who worked on the episode, and of course Lauren Faust for giving us this show and making this episode possible to begin with. Thank you all for all you contributed to making the perfect episode of a truly remarkable show. Those who regularly read my episode reviews have probably noticed by now that I have chosen to forego my usual introduction. No it didn't slip my mind, rather, it was very much an intentional decision. There is nothing "usual" about this episode, and hence a usual introduction would not have sufficed. The first time I watched this episode, I was too blown away by it, even after already anticipating it for over a month when word started getting out about how amazing it was, to really feel anything but pure joy. The second time I watched it, I spent the last five minutes of the episode crying; I have a feeling now that this may happen every time I watch it. I say this as someone who does not cry easily; the last time any movie made me cry, I believe it was Toy Story 3 back in 2010 (granted I don't go out of my way to watch sad movies, but still, even if I did I wouldn't be someone who cries just for anything). That movie made me shed some tears out of nostalgia, most likely because I was also fresh off of my freshman year of college and was watching it with my mom; this 22 minute episode of a show with a budget the fraction of what a Pixar movie costs, in contrast, made me weep like a newborn. What could have possibly elicited such a reaction? Nothing short of perfection, really. I've seen the best episode that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic will ever have to offer to me, and I'm perfectly OK knowing it can't get any better than this. Some things just don't need to be touched or surpassed, kind of like how The Empire Strikes Back will probably always be the greatest Star Wars film of all time. That's enough set up for this, however, it's about time we got this show on the road. Without further ado, this is Batbrony Reviews "The Perfect Pear." While I obviously do not have a set format for my reviews, this review will have a very unusual format. It will break down elements of the episode in all areas (be it story, characters, writing, voice acting, animation, music, etc.) as I go through what was recounted in this episode in chronological order as it happened, not as the episode itself was organized. Seeds of a Tragedy The family feud is an old story trope in much of literature (it's also something we even observe in history quite a bit). The most famous example in Western literature (at least the one most people probably think of first) would be "Romeo and Juliet," but I would argue it is not among the finest examples of a family feud in literature (and I would hardly be the only one to make such an assertion). While the lesson is powerful and the tragic elements inherent to a family feud are there, there's not quite enough for us, the audience, to latch onto emotionally in regards to caring about the Capulets and Montagues. Romeo and Juliet are teenagers who fall in love incredibly quickly and get married before they even really know what being in love for a lifetime truly is (and subsequently die before they know as well), and the only other supporting characters who we really are emotionally invested in in regards to the feud are Tybalt (Juliet's cousin) and Mercutio (who's not even a Montague, but just a close friend of Romeo) and they die before Romeo and Juliet even do. By the end of the play, any characters we were sort of emotionally invested in are dead, the only truly likable one left is Friar Laurence, and there are no Capulets and Montagues left who we know enough about to really care about them, other than the fact that they just lost two young members of their families because of their bitter feud (whose roots we also don't know much of anything about). The writing is certainly as poetic as anything Shakespeare wrote, and as I said before, the tragedy and powerful lesson are both there, but anyone who truly knows Shakespeare would never claim that "Romeo and Juliet" is his finest or most enduring work (even if it was their personal favorite). So what makes for a truly powerful way to tackle the tragedy of a family feud? Believe it or not, I believe that "The Perfect Pear" has done just that. Yes, at the risk of sounding blasphemous, a 22 minute episode of animated television has made me feel more emotional about the tragedy of its family feud than Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" ever has. How? I mean, really, how? Well, to get to the bottom of that, we need to start at the beginning. No, not of the episode, but of the feud itself between the Apples and the Pears. The feud starts fairly innocently. In fact, you could even be forgiven for at first thinking it's about to fall into an old cliche one encounters in many children's animated programs where a family feud or rivalry between two people (that is largely played for laughs in the given show or episode) stems from something really petty or silly even. That's usually a big root of the "humor" in the entire feud. However, this episode quickly makes it clear that it is not playing up any of the feud for laughs, but is rather treating it with the utmost seriousness. Although it initially begins with Granny Smith and Grand Pear, two fierce competitors in Ponyville simply trying to outdo the other at selling their agricultural wares, merely smack talking each other in the course of business, it rapidly escalates into something far uglier than a friendly rivalry. This is nicely highlighted with immediacy and subtle urgency by the episode in a smart visual cue at the end of their first true feud with one another in the Ponyville market. At the end of that scene, the ponies they've been trying to sell apples or pears too, ponies who are their friends and neighbors, go from being excited with their products to being completely put-off by the scene before them. They don't think there's anything funny about the feud, rather, if you look at their faces, they're clearly at least annoyed and think they're both acting obnoxious, if not downright dismayed and saddened by it all. What already makes this a sad state of affairs is that we both (1) already know from over six seasons of seeing her what a lovable character Granny Smith is (which both makes the ugliness when she's in feud mode all the more jarring, as well as early on suggests that Grand Pear too was largely amicable when he wasn't feuding with the Apples), and (2) the episode itself makes a point of showing us how much the both of them love doing what they do (in Granny Smith reading stories to her apple trees at night and Grand Pear in turn making blankets for his pear trees), growing and selling apples, pears, or apple or pear products. There shouldn't be anything wrong with loving your work, but because they take their competition with each other too far in a hurry, an inherent ugliness, at least when it comes to the Apple Family vs. the Pear Family, is added to their work itself, which we know is so important to both families, central to their very identities. And so, already tragedy emerges in the Apple and Pear Family Feud, with such a bitter, ugly element added to the thing which both families love so much: their work. They build a fence between both properties that does more than simply mark the boundaries of their properties, they're constantly trying to one-up one another, and it gets to a point where eventually, none of the Apples or the Pears, especially Granny Smith and Grand Pear, can even stand the fact that they share the same community or even think of an Apple or a Pear as their neighbor. Yet amidst this growing rift between the two families, a single, small hope emerges, which eventually becomes the best hope that both families have got. Love Blossoms This hope starts off small, as so many forms of hope often do. A tiny kindness, one foal giving another a cute nickname and sharing in a sweet moment with her, that's all there is to it really. Enter Bright McIntosh and Pear Butter, who almost immediately latch onto something as foals which, by this point in time, virtually every other Apple and Pear has forgotten in regards to one another: possibility. The possibility of being friends with one another, the possibility of being even more than that, and the possibility of the beautiful things that can come out of all of that, so much more precious than anything "gained" by feuding with each other. For them, the feud is virtually meaningless right from the start. Oh sure, one's an Apple, the other's a Pear, and they both are well aware of what their families think of each other. But at no point do they let that keep them from being decent to each other and their families for that matter. Decency in turn evolves into kindness; kindness into friendship; and friendship eventually into full blown love. From the start it seems as though these two were always destined for one another at some point in time, but that doesn't make the path they take to get there any less delightful to follow. Why? Well again, we return to that word, 'possibility.' In their growing love for one another, Bright Mac and Buttercup discover that it is possible to be even better ponies for overcoming the feud. Just as tragedy is inherent to the Apple and Pear feud by this point, so too is unconditional love inherent in how these two grow up around each other. They don't go about their business holding a grudge in their hearts that could consume them any minute or lead them to do bad things in turn. No, instead they go about each day letting their love for one another channel into everything they do. So what kinda lives do they lead? Does their love save Equestria from some centuries old tyrant or ward off some monstrous creature? Do they grow to become leaders in all of pony society who everypony else looks up to? Not in the least, in fact, not even close. Now, make no mistake, what I'm about to say is no knock on the show's main characters. If anything it's rather amazing that the show continually sells the Mane 6 as such complex characters when they've done so many remarkable things by this point in the show that they could easily, in a far lesser property, morph into Mary Sues. But what this episode does is something very hard and very rare in great love stories, or many stories in general of all kinds. It highlights what remarkable, beautiful things can come out of 'normal.' Because that's exactly what Bright Mac and Buttercup are, at least on the surface. They're farmers, they like life in their quiet little town with their friends and family, and friends, family, their work and each other is pretty much all they need. Describing it like that, this all sounds very pedestrian, and I can understand why. The only thing is, well... it's not, not in execution at least. Every step of Bright Mac and Buttercup's courtship is made up of very simple acts of love: the nickname of 'Buttercup' that Bright gives to Pear Butter; Bright's confessing he accidentally destroyed the Pear's water silo when he could have let her take the blame; the two of them sharing a picnic together, complete with him giving her flowers (even if he goes a little outside the box on that one, not by choice of course ); Buttercup writing and singing a song for Bright, confessing her love for him, and he in turn confessing his love for her with a carving of their cutie marks; their sharing milkshakes, dancing far across from one another in the town square, taking walks with each other through the seasons, or even Bright just doing a chore for Pear. These are simple, normal acts of love, and yet they tug on the viewer's heartstrings very much. Let's take a look at Buttercup's song to get a sense of why, because the song is the perfect encapsulation of what makes Bright Mac and Buttercup's love story so heartwarming. "You're In My Head Like a Catchy Song" is hardly the flashiest, longest, or most complex song that Daniel Ingram has ever written for this show. It may not even be the most technically impressive number we've heard on the show. And yet, somehow I now find a song that's really only two verses long and lasts just over a minute and a half is my favorite of the entire show. Why? Because it channels beauty through normalcy in the same way that Bright Mac and Pear Butter do. It's simple, one might even say bare bones, but therein lies its charm. If it were simple out of laziness, this wouldn't work at all, but it is very deliberately simple. The simplicity is sincere, intimate, the song not sounding like some grand, staged affair which we're not sure did or didn't just happen in the story itself, but rather sounding like something Pear Butter herself could have written. Horse feathers, it sounds like something any of us could have written! Writing music is hard, especially for people who don't do it on a normal basis, so as short as that song was, when you listen to it, when you hear the careful care and attention in Buttercup's voice that she gives to every note and word, you can just picture how long this must have taken her, how much time she spent making sure it was perfect for the stallion she loves. She could have written it in an afternoon, or days, or weeks even, whatever the case, we know she put time into making it just through the performance alone. That story, the story of what she put into it, how she poured her heart into it because she loves Bright Mac that much, that's where the beauty in the song stems from. It is a pure, sincere, intimate expression of her love, their love, and for those of us who have been in love before, it grabs us by reminding us of the things, big and small, we'd do for those we love. All of this, the sincerity, the intimacy, the pureness, pervades every single act of their love. Nothing seems staged, nothing seems forced, nothing seems like it's there because it's a cliche of love stories. Sure they may all be old standbys, but things like picnics with your true love, walking with one another, giving your sweetheart flowers, or singing your true love a song, these are old standbys because couples have loved them for generations. It's not about what they're doing, though, it's ultimately about how they're doing it. These two, from start to finish, simply work. There's not a moment they share onscreen where they don't seem like they don't belong together, and that's how you know you've got a great love story on your hands. It's one thing for a story to tell us that two people are "star-crossed lovers destined to be together," but it is another thing entirely for us, the audience, to universally believe it. That takes hard work and skill in both writing and execution. Overall, this beauty of normalcy that we see in both the song and these two as a couple, the simple acts of love, their honesty and intimacy, this is what grabs us and won't let us go. This is the true heart and soul of this episode, the idea that so many wonderful, beautiful, extraordinary things that you never even imagined or thought possible can stem from even the simplest love if its strength and pureness are immeasurable. We may not be capable of saving a magical land of talking horses with ancient, magical artifacts, but what we are all capable of is plain old love, whether it be for friends, family, or yes, even the love of your life. And just like Bright Mac and Buttercup, we too are capable of producing wondrous, beautiful things the likes of which we may have not once thought possible if we hold in our hearts a true, pure love for those dear to us as they did for one another. Tragedy's Greatest Blow And yet, just when things seem to be heading to an inevitably happy conclusion, that old Apple Family and Pear Family feud rears its ugly head again in the worst way yet. Very suddenly, Grand Pear announces that the Pears are moving away from Ponyville, much to Pear Butter's dismay. There is certainly a logic to his making the move; there is more business opportunity for them in Vanhoover and less competition from an equally ardent farming family, so there is plenty that makes sense about it. Yet the sad part is that one can't help but get the sense that these are not Grand Pear's overriding reasons for moving. He just has too much hate in his heart for the Apples by this point, and it blinds him to so much. Not simply what his daughter is going through with Bright Mac, but also the fact that this is his family's home by this point. That they have a loving community of friends and neighbors around them who love what they do, that they're a cornerstone of this community, that they'd be throwing all of that away in the name of profit and getting away from a family which he insists they can't stand. With all this in front of us, I can't help but conclude this move is more about getting away from the Apples, ignoring everything wonderful about living in Ponyville, all in the name of a stupid, needless feud. Most tragically of all, it threatens to snuff out the possibility of the beautiful things that may come of Pear Butter and Bright Mac's love for one another, the possibility that they have always believed in. In fact, it comes very close to doing just that; understandably, Pear Butter can't imagine leaving her family. We don't exactly know if her mother is still in the picture or around at this point as we never see her, and it doesn't seem she has any siblings either, so for all we know her father may be the closest family she has left, not counting her more distant relatives. So it makes sense, very sadly, when she sadly announces to Bright Mac that she has to stick with her family in spite of her undeniable love for him. Neither of them want it, clearly, but Pear is just too scared and dismayed at this point to imagine an alternative; in this moment, it must seem as though her whole world is falling apart right from under her very hooves. And it certainly seems that way to us as well. Love Always Finds a Way And so it's left up to Bright Mac to open another door for her, to keep the possibility of them and the beautiful things their being together might lead to alive. It's ultimately up to her to say yes, but he has to take a huge leap of faith, the biggest leap of faith he's ever taken or possibly will ever take in his life, to give her the opportunity to say yes. It can't be easy. He has to secretly arrange with his best friend, his love's best friend, and Ponyville's mayor itself everything needed. They have to somehow get just enough onto the border between the Apple and Pear's properties for a proper ceremony, and even a small celebration afterward. All this without their families or the love of his life even knowing. And yet he somehow does it, and then his carefulness is rewarded in getting to show it to her. Everything he's done, all of it for her, for them, for what they could have, believing in his heart and soul that it's worth fighting for and taking the biggest chances in their lives for. Confronted with all of that, reminded how much he loves her and she loves him, her belief is rekindled again almost immediately and right then and there, Buttercup and Bright Mac choose to get married. They don't need it to be a town event or an affair planned months in advance; in this moment it is perfect, as perfect as any love story could be, especially for them. We already can see, the second she says yes, how much safer and reassured she already feels; in her heart too, you simply know that she knows this is right, that this is what they're supposed to both have. Exchanging and burying an apple tree and pear tree seed with each other, they prepare to say their vows... But tragedy won't leave well enough alone. Their parents find them and for the first time, even though there's been plenty of evidence in front of them through the years, are confronted with the notion that their two children love each other. Even after their children tell them exactly how it is, finish saying their vows, and take their first true kiss as husband and wife, they're still too blinded by their mutual hatred to care. They assume that their kids are being stupid and foolish or simply trying to hurt them. They can't even consider the possibility that their children are acting more of the adult than they are. That all changes, however, when Buttercup says one single sentence. "But... the Apples are my family now too." That's when something clicks for one and snaps for the other. You look at Granny Smith's face, and she's shocked. A Pear has just said that the Apples are her family. Her. Family. Something happens in the older mare at that moment. A revelation, and suddenly you just know that their love, the beauty of it, its sincerity and the possibility it promises sweeps over her like a flood. For a moment she's genuinely too shocked to do anything. But on the other side something far worse happens in her father. He feels betrayal, from his only daughter (probably his only child) no less. Still blinded by his hatred of the Apples, he thinks his own daughter is disowning her family; in reality, she's asking him to be a part of another now as she is. He just can't see that, though, he simply cannot. So instead he lays down an ultimatum, a terrible one. Be an Apple or be a Pear: you can't be both, not in my eyes, and if you're not a Pear you're not my daughter anymore. It's the worst choice a father could present to his daughter in this moment, one Pear Butter should never have had to make. But she knows what's right, even if he can't, and even though she'd rather not have to make the choice at all, she knows she must remain true to the love that has guided her all of her life. There's so much at risk, but she believes in too much in the good and beauty that could come out of her and Bright Mac's love to say no. So she makes the choice. Grand Pear leaves in a rage. And as the disowned daughter weeps into her husband's shoulder, the first fruit of their love is born: Granny Smith comes over and extends a hoof and a smile to her. She accepts a new daughter into her life and family, and Buttercup in turn gains a mother and a new family. Although there is sadness this night, love is already overcoming it, overcoming the ugliness of years of Apples and Pears feuding with one another. Love continues its work through the years. Bright Mac and Buttercup settle down, Granny embraces her new daughter-in-law, and together they build a beautiful life and family together. Through the years Buttercup embraces being an Apple, leaving behind her old life as a Pear; we don't know much about this part, but I can't imagine it's out of hatred. Most likely it's just too sad for her thinking of her old life, of the family that left her behind. But as long as she has Bright and her new family, she is content, part of something intrinsically beautiful and special as could be. They go from being husband and wife to, eventually, father and mother as well, bearing three beautiful children together. They raise their children as best as they know how, with the entire Apple Family's love supporting them along the way as well. Life is as it should be: with their love, their family, their work, their friends and home and community, Bright Mac and Buttercup are set, having everything they could possibly ever want. The beauty and goodness stemming from their love continues to unfold more and more each and every day, until it's as normal to them and their family as the apples they grow. Then... then one day, they're gone. We don't know how. We don't know when. Based on our best guesses from what we've seen in the show, it was some time ago; Big Mac was probably somewhere around 12 or 13, Applejack anywhere from 8 to 10, and Apple Bloom may have been at most a toddler, but possibly still a young foal with barely any memories even of her parents. We'll probably never learn how it happened, and that's OK, I don't think we need to. It doesn't matter how, it doesn't even matter that it happened, really. Because as sad as it is, as terrible as their absence is in this show, as horrible as the loss must have been for their families and for their children especially, the most important thing is the beauty and good they brought into the world by taking their leap of love together. By believing in it and each other so strongly that it could not be denied. They may be gone, we may never even see more of them in the show again (though I certainly wouldn't complain if we did in more flashbacks or flashback episodes even), but they're not really gone. Everything that the Apples are in this show, especially their children, is a testament to who they were and how they lived their lives. We've seen this throughout the show, the wonderful thing that the Apple Family is for both Ponyville and across all of Equestria, and we now know what an important part in that family that Bright McIntosh and Pear Butter played. All because they believed in their love and the possibilities of it. That legacy has been there from the start of the show, even if the writers themselves didn't envision this story arc at the time, and in this episode we see it at work once more in a truly beautiful way, healing something that Buttercup and Bright Mac probably hoped ever since they got married would heal some day. It's the arc that ties this entire episode together, that gets the Apple siblings learning all of this about their parents and the beautiful love that they had together in the first place. And it's the final triumph of Bright Mac and Buttercup's love over the tragedy of the Apple Family and Pear Family feud. The Legacy of Love: Old Wounds Mended, Scars Left Behind, But Love Emerges From Tragedy An old stallion shows up in the Ponyville market one day, unannounced, just there to seemingly sell his wares. We're not even sure what his plans are, how long he really plans on staying. How long it took him to come here, to come back home. We're told he has a famous shop in Vanhoover, but this does not appear to be a businessman in his prime. He doesn't seem to care much about money anymore, or competition, or being the best; he just seems to enjoy selling his pear jam to others who seem to enjoy it. Maybe he's remembered that over the years, why he enjoyed growing and selling pears in the first place: because it made his friends and neighbors happy, and made him happy in turn. He seems gentler for it now, wiser and quieter. Then he spies a young filly. And he must know who she is. Perhaps he's seen a picture before, perhaps simply read about her. Or maybe... just maybe it's the fact that this filly is the spitting image of the stallion he hated for so many years for marrying his daughter, "stealing" her away from him. Whatever the case, he knows... it's his youngest granddaughter, asking him about his pear jam. He can't say anything, not yet. It's taken him long enough to muster up the courage to come here after all these years. So he starts by extending a small kindness to his youngest granddaughter with a gift of his pear jam; it's the first gift he's ever given to any of his grandchildren, the first endorsement he's ever given to his daughter's marriage and the life she built, the first time he's ever involved himself in the family they built. And it's with something he's loved making all of his life, but finally remembered why he loved doing it; because he loves sharing the thing he loves with others, especially his family. For now, that's enough for him. It quickly becomes not enough for the Apple siblings, though. Taken aback by the kindness of somepony they've always been told is in a feud with their family for unknown reasons, they do what their parents would have taught them to do, what they've grown up for as they've gotten older: they seek to find answers, initially because they hope they might end the feud. As they speak to first family, and later friends of their parents they never even knew about, they learn a story about their parents they weren't even seeking at first. They learn about their love, how strong it was, ways they take after their parents they didn't know about that played a part in their own story, how their parents love and devotion to one another left such a positive impact on their family and the friends their parents had in life. In the process, they gain new stories and memories of their parents to take to heart, pieces of them they never had and never got the chance to learn about, treasures they'll hold onto forever; you can see it in their eyes as they learn more and more, how special this all is to them, ponies who don't ask for much out of life to begin with and yet at this point cannot get enough of all of this. What's more, they grow closer to friends of their parents in Burnt Oak and Mrs. Cake, ponies they now know who have wonderful stories to tell them about the way they lived their lives. I hope going forward that the Apple siblings keep getting closer to these two; it'd be a wonderful character development to see unfold, a way for them to get closer indirectly to their own parents, and a way for Bright Mac and Buttercup's love and its legacy to live on in both their friends and children. And of course, they learn about the hurt that was never fully healed. About their grandfather, and what he did, the terrible, terrible mistake he made. After all these years, they'd be well in their right never to talk to him again. Nopony would really blame them if they chose not to. But that's not what they do, because they're their parents' children. Because they are the most precious, important legacy of Bright Mac and Buttercup's left behind by them, and they've been raised their whole lives to embody that love. They hold in their hearts a love that believes in possibility as much as their parents did with each other so long ago, and as long as they can believe in the possibilities of unconditional love, then they can find it in themselves to not shun their grandfather or hate him... but rather, to do what his daughter and her husband always wanted to do. Forgive him and welcome him back into their lives, now that he's ready to be a part of it. So they go off to find him, which doesn't take long at all in their small little town. When they find him, he looks tired. Maybe even a bit lost, like he's not sure now why he's here, if he can do what he came here to do in the first place. He couldn't have known he'd never see her again. He couldn't have known that the last words he'd said to his daughter would be words said in anger. He couldn't have known that he'd never get to share in the life she led with her husband, that he'd never get to see her as a wife and a mother. He has to have hated himself for a very long time for this. Then a tiny voice calls out as he's closing up his shop, and then there they are... his three grandchildren. Even his old eyes can see that. The big one that looks just like the boy he hated for so long if he were red as an apple, but with his mother's shade of mane and her freckles too; the middle one, probably close to if not around the age that Pear Butter was the last time he saw her, grown into a fine young filly herself with the best of her mother and father in her, a true leader; and the littlest one, a spitting image of her father but as sweet and gentle as her mother was, who probably never got to know either of them that well and has needed her siblings and her grandmother most of her life to be her parents. He's probably thought for years about what he'd say to them in this moment, but he couldn't have fathomed how hard it really would be. Words he's probably practiced in front of the mirror time and again all fall by the wayside, and in the moment all he can muster is a tearful "I'm... so sorry. I-I-I was just so angry, but I never..." It's the hardest thing he's ever had to do, but to his disbelief, not a second later his grandchildren are already embracing him. And just like that, he's home. The love of his grandchildren, the love that Bright Mac and Buttercup always had and believed in, it's all suddenly washing over him as it did Granny Smith on that fateful night so long ago, and it feels so good. Better than he could ever have imagined. He has another family now, as his daughter always wanted him too, and even though the sadness of the mistakes he made will never really be gone, will always leave scars, that's all they are now, scars. They're no longer the festering wounds that they were, and Bright Mac and Buttercup's love has finally healed the greatest, most terrible wound left behind by the Apple Family and Pear Family feud. As the Apple siblings bring their grandfather home to make amends with their grandmother, the two old farm ponies finally bury the hatchet and accept what their children always wanted them to: the possibility of loving each other and having one another as family. Reunited at long last, the family of Pears and Apples congregate in a tearful reunion years in the making beneath the branches of the physical embodiment and legacy of Bright Mac and Pear Butter's true love for one another: the intertwined apple and pear trees, sprouted from their apple tree and pear tree seeds planted so many years ago as their vows to one another, a perfect tribute to the beauty and goodness their love left in the world. These are the miracles of love. These are the wondrous things it can work. In an imperfect world, love is never easy, even at its strongest. But it is always worth it, because the good it can bring into the world and work into others' lives, whether it be with friends, family, or the love of your life, is always precious and priceless in comparison to any other alternative. One does not even need particularly remarkable circumstances to bring remarkable love into the world; one simply has to believe in that love strong enough, and the possibilities of it, to work something miraculous through it that only they can. This episode perfectly understands and conveys this as many, many, many other fictional properties, many with bigger budgets or resources throw at them, have failed to do, even if that was their intent. It's a remarkable piece of television, and it will probably always remain my favorite episode of My Little Pony. I am blessed enough, in this moment, to be courting a young woman myself, a friend from my own childhood; so much of what I saw in Bright Mac and Buttercup's courtship reminded me of the love and wonderful moments we have gotten to share with one another, and this episode left me hoping so hard that we are able to bring beauty and good into the world through our love as Bright Mac and Buttercup did. I know many other friends who, under different circumstances, have been touched by this episode as well; some who have gotten even further along in love with others, some who very much hope to be blessed with a true love like Bright Mac and Pear Butter had in each other, and some who even have not just taken part in such a beautiful, wonderful love like those two had, but have also known the hurt of losing the one they loved, a hurt all too similar to what the Apples and Pears experienced in losing Pear Butter and Bright Mac. Yet, just as Bright Mac and Buttercup would never trade any bit of their love for one more minute of life, just as they had no regrets for their love and all the good it did despite all the hurt they went through, just as all who loved them and cared about them, despite their sadness at their loss, feel overwhelming joy, happiness, and love recalling how wonderful they were, those friends of mine too don't regret one minute of the love they shared with their own true loves. They too in loving one another brought immeasurable good, love, and beauty into the world, and the fact that this episode can capture the truth and beauty of these acts that so many have shared in in real life, that is what makes it, for me, stand head and shoulders above so many works of fiction in general, and every episode of MLP. To those responsible for making it, thank you again. I can't wait to show it to my beloved Julianna next week, and maybe, just maybe someday I'll get to show it to children of my own as I teach them about what beauty and good true love can bring into the world. Miscellaneous Notes -Despite this episode being a little light on the laughs (not in a bad way, mind you, the episode was very intent in its approaching its subject matter with seriousness, care, respect, and gentleness even, with only some lighthearted laughs here and there), I got a huge laugh at the beginning from Granny Smith's line about praline obviously being a better topping on apple-fritter-flapjacks than caramel syrup. Also, as a quick aside, this show always manages to get me in the mood for pancakes whenever they show up; I don't know why, but among any of the food they show, the pancakes always look especially delicious! -This episode made me really want to see the Apple siblings doing more together. I mean, I know they've always been staples of the show, but here we got to see a side of all three of them we rarely have, and it was a delight. They all had great reactions throughout the episode as they learned more and more about their parents, and I would love to see long term impacts on all three of them as a result of this episode, like Big Mac spending more time with Burnt Oak, or Applejack or Apple Bloom getting closer to Mrs. Cake since she was such a good friend of their mom. And of course, obviously it would be wonderful to see more of Grand Pear, but I don't know how much we can expect since he was voice by William Shatner; either they'd have to get him for more jobs (which isn't impossible considering John de Lancie still regularly does work as Discord), or they'd have to find a voice actor who can do a good impression of his Grand Pear voice (certainly not impossible either, though hardly ideal). -Another notable laugh, possibly the best in the whole episode, came when we were first introduced to Burnt Oak. He was obviously designed to bear a striking resemblance to Sam Elliott, and clearly somebody took notice of this and just had to take advantage of it considering we already have a pony based on the Dude. So what did they do? They introduced Burnt Oak waving goodbye to The Dude pony as he walks away with a cart full of rugs!!! THAT. IS. SO. PERFECT. You could even say it ties the whole episode together. While I know it's possible that this was written into the episode, considering no dialogue was devoted to it, I would venture a guess that the storyboard artists were responsible for this purely visual gag, so props to Kaylee Chard, Jae Harm, and any other storyboard artists who worked with them on it (unless of course I'm completely wrong and it was written into the script by the writers themselves). -Our special guest stars Felicia Day and William Shatner both deserve praise for their roles as Pear Butter and Grand Pear. Felicia gave us a very well-developed personality in Pear Butter with not too many lines to work with, and little things like Pear Butter's occasional voice cracks or her very grounded personality made her an instantly lovable character. And of course I cannot praise her vocals in "You're In My Head Like a Catchy Song" enough, simply sublime. William Shatner did an equally impressive job with Grand Pear, and I was especially blown away by the fact that he was able to create distinct voices for Grand Pear at three different periods in his life (young adult Grand Pear, middle-aged Grand Pear, and elderly Grand Pear) as well as by the emotion he injected into the role, especially in Grand Pear's finally reuniting with his grandchildren and begging their forgiveness. Bill Newton did a great job as Bright McIntosh as well, and I would certainly love to see him reprise the role at some point. Top notch job from all three of you, and I for one certainly will not complain if they return to these roles in the show at any point. -Speaking of impressive voice acting jobs, let's give a hand to Tabitha St. Germain and Peter New. Tabitha of course killed it as Granny Smith and Mrs. Cake in the present day (also, I did not know until after watching this episode that Tabitha has always voiced Mrs. Cake, so let's just chalk that up to the seemingly never ending list of characters she seems to voice in this show), but like William Shatner, she had to voice characters at different periods in their lives, only she had to do so for two different characters. Her young adult Granny Smith voice was adorable, and I could even hear a tad bit of Applejack in there, and there were even subtle differences between her middle-aged Granny Smith and elderly Granny Smith. Same goes for Mrs. Cake, her younger and older selves somehow sounded a tad different, but not too much. Peter New, of course, did great as Big Mac (I very much appreciated that Big Mac was talking more here, it helped hit home how much this all meant to the Apple siblings), but I also forgot he voices Goldie Delicious, and that voice of his is hilarious! Goldie was a delight to see again, but he even managed to add some fairly heavy emotional moments to a character who has largely been used for laughs the couple of times she's appeared. A hand goes out to Cathy Weseluck too as young adult Mayor Mare and older Mayor Mare, though she had considerably less to do since her character was only in one scene. -Excellent callbacks to Season 1's "Over a Barrel" when Applejack both read a bedtime story to her tree Bloomberg and tucked him into bed. She clearly picked up reading bedtime stories to apple trees from Granny Smith, but apparently she somehow picked up covering them in blankets as well from Grand Pear somehow. While it's most likely that either Granny Smith or, even more likely, her mother Buttercup taught her that trick, I like to think it was genetic and just passed down to her from her grandpa. There were a couple of other excellent continuities in canon in repeatedly seeing the moon with Nightmare Moon still in it in the flashback's to Bright Mac and Buttercup's courtship, or Mayor Mare still sporting her pink mane when she was younger (callback's dating all the way back to the very first episode of the show and Season 2's "Ponyville Confidential, respectively). -Learning things the Apple siblings got from their parents was a real treat, even stuff that went unsaid. Things like where some of their physical features come from (Big Mac's mane and tail are colored just like his mom's, Applejack and Big Mac both have freckles just like she did, Apple Bloom has the exact mane/tail and coat colors as her father did, Applejack getting her hat from her father, etc.); learning that Bright Mac was honest just like Applejack; the fact that Buttercup had a talent for helping friends like Mrs. Cake figure out what they were good at just like Apple Bloom does with the Cutie Mark Crusaders; or the fact that Buttercup didn't like drawing attention to herself and keeping things low key just like Big McIntosh, were all wonderful things to learn. I guess we don't know if Bright Mac could or couldn't sing (he definitely couldn't play the guitar though), but it seems as though all three Apple siblings got their great singing voices from their mother, and Applejack most definitely learned how to play the guitar from her. But thankfully as well, the episode did not fall into the trap of doing nothing but showing how their parents were just like the Apple siblings; that's a bit of a cliche and it wouldn't have made for nearly as interesting an episode as one where we got to see their parents as interesting, unique, wonderful characters in and of themselves, not just carbon copies of their children. -Daniel Ingram deserves extra praise for the music as a whole in this episode, not just "You're In My Head Like a Catchy Song." All of the music did a great job of helping tell the story, and the manner in which it was utilized in scenes such as when the Apple siblings reunite with their grandfather helped make those scenes all the more emotional and powerful. Wonderful job, sir, truly wonderful. -Young Goldie Delicious briefly appears in one of the early flashbacks at one point, which is a super cool detail to fit in there. Also, is it just me, or does Burnt Oak bear more than a passing resemblance to Thunderlane? His young self really looked a lot like Thunderlane, and we do know Thunderlane is pretty bulky for a pegasus stallion, so it wouldn't surprise me if he had some earth pony blood. I'm very curious now as to whether or not they're related, possibly even father and son. -Cloud Kicker and Alula can be seen together in the background very briefly in an early shot in the Ponyville market, which was a little detail I very much appreciated myself. There's a lot of fan canon out there in both art and fanfiction, drawn from what we've seen in the show itself, that speculates they're sisters, so seeing continuity like that was really cool. -Another detail I thought was super cool was that it seemed like, especially in the earlier flashbacks, most of the ponies in Ponyville were earth ponies. It could just be a coincidence, but I get the feeling it was a subtle detail. After all, Ponyville was founded by earth pony families like the Apples, so it wouldn't surprise me if early on in its history most of the first residents who came during its initial expansions were earth ponies in turn, and it diversified among the pony races more and more as it grew. One of the few non-earth ponies in the earliest flashback was, of all things, Dinky, which implies one of two things: (1) either it was a silly oversight, or (2) they're implying that she is both Derpy and Time Turner's daughter, and that on top of that she may be doing some time travelling with Time Turner. Suffice to say, I like scenario #2 better. -I would love to hear how everyone else felt about or was impacted by this episode. Obviously plenty of you have already shared your thoughts in the episode's thread or your own blogs, but feel free to share any others here. It's an episode I'll certainly never get tired talking about. That's all I've got for ya'll this time, everypony, and thank you all for taking the time to read my most special edition ever of "Batbrony Reviews." Until next time, this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit*
  19. Good afternoon everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! Well at this point it shouldn't be any surprise that this season we were delivered yet another very exceptional episode, but here we are again, and boy oh boy was this one a long time coming for a very big reason. We all know by now that family and legacy have been the two major themes of Season 7, and this week the show hit on that theme yet again with a major appearance (for the first time ever in the show) of Twilight's ENTIRE family! We may have seen plenty of Shining Armor, Princess Cadance, and even Flurry Heart in the past, but strangely enough, before this episode, her parents, Twilight Velvet and Night Light, despite making multiple appearances in episodes throughout multiple seasons, had never had roles as main characters and had only spoken a few lines in a minor appearance in last season's "The Crystalling - Part 2." This was always a bizarre oversight, not quite as infuriating as Celestia being so neglected as a character before this season, but very head scratching all the same considering (1) we've seen them make appearances in the show since Season 1, (2) they are the parents of the main character of the show (not to mention a princess of Equestria), a major supporting character, and the in-laws of another princess of Equestria (or another kingdom entirely if you're one of those folks who don't consider the Crystal Empire to be part of Equestria). Well, after the show's writers finally rectified this strange oversight, I am happy to announce that Twilight Velvet and Night Light made splendid appearances and that both were not just likable as individual characters themselves, but also gave us a very solid glimpse into how Twilight and Shining Armor both ended up the way they are with parents like those two. There's a lot of other great things to unpack from this episode, so without further ado, let's dive in! This is "Once Upon a Zeppelin"!!! So the episode start with, oddly enough, the best Spike and Twilight scene of all of Season 7 thus far, if not the best Spike scene of the season. Now, the bad thing about this is it speaks to how little major attention outside of one OK episode Spike has gotten this season, but on the other hand he still has had some very good moments this season, and this one was a true gem. The implicit and total trust and love that Twilight and Spike have in and for one another was on full display for about two minutes, if that, with Spike insisting that Twilight take a vacation for herself when her parents offered while he stay behind to handle her work load. Twilight in turn objects by declaring that he's as much a family member of hers as the rest of her family (possibly the first time she's ever flat-out stated so clearly he is family), but Spike, while clearly appreciative of Twilight recognizing this, just takes everything in stride and still insists she take a nice break for herself. This is all capped off by Spike humorously predicting to himself that Twilight's gonna start planning a schedule of activities for the trip any second now, which she then does. While, as I said, a very short scene, there's a lot of heartwarming elements to unpack here. Not only is Spike's offer very selfless and generous, especially considering he already functions as Twilight's assistant virtually 24/7, but the way he and Twilight treated each other like family didn't feel forced in the slightest. Instead it felt like how two siblings would treat each other when one is just trying to do something nice for the other and who have the utmost confidence and trust in one another. Contrast this with Season 1, where not only Spike was considerably less mature but also Twilight treated him very often more like a son than a sibling, and you have an idea of just how much these two characters' relationship with one another has matured and developed since the show began. Ya know, I should be more surprised that Twilight would find vacation-scheduling/list-making while on vacation to be relaxing, but honestly after seven seasons I don't think any brony at all should be phased by this revelation Once the vacation itself begins the episode introduces a whole slew of characters, so we'll have to break down the episode by them bit by bit. Starting with our main character, Twilight was quite good here. I wouldn't go so far as to say this was her best episode of the season by any means, but if you're going to do 'Twilight stresses herself out unnecessarily because she's trying to juggle too much and please too many people without thinking about her own wants or needs' in Season 7, this is how you should do it. It's no "Lesson Zero" breakdown where the fault and blame rested squarely on a much younger Twilight's shoulders because she was making bad choice after bad choice, no no, for the most part Twilight was trying to please both her family and the ponies on the cruise (more on them later) as best as she possibly could by keeping a stiff upper lip about it. Her biggest mistake was that she underestimated how important devoting some time to herself would be in this situation, especially in the context of taking a vacation with her entire family, which is a very rare occasion for her these days given how busy she and the rest of them are (with the exception of possibly her parents, they seemed to be either retired or, if they're too young for that, just entering the twilight stages of their career-lives and seem to be very relaxed now that both kids are out of the house). Her other mistake is that she failed until the end to set some boundaries for ponies outside of their family who, although well-meaning, were a little too pushy, clingy, or cloying at times in their desire to let Twilight know just how much they liked her. These were undoubtedly a big mistakes, after all they're why there were any problems in the first place, but they are also very understandable mistakes, even for Twilight to make at this point in her life. She's a goodhearted pony who always wants to do the right thing for any pony she can, and given her responsibilities as one of Equestria's own monarchs (technically) it's hard for her to unwind when around others these days. Thankfully she learned her lesson by the end, and I can't even say her venting and lashing out at Star Tracker was that bad (more on him later too) seeing as, even though her anger itself wasn't good, her being brutally honest was how the rest of her family finally realized something was wrong for her in the first place (though they did keep asking if she was OK throughout the episode). All in all, this was about as solid an episode featuring Twilight in Season 7 as you could ask for, at least in an appearance that, while quite exceptional, was hardly something we'd call one of her best showings ever. Holy shit, that's cute!!! Moving on, the Royal Crystal Family (or should it be Imperial Crystal Family since it's an empire??? Whatever, point is, it's Princess Cadance, Shining Armor, and Princess Flurry Heart) had a pretty great showing as well. Flurry Heart, while she didn't have much beyond some cute and funny appearances, was her usual, adorable self. Probably her funniest bit was where she was at a playtime with a bunch of other foals and couldn't help but keep trying to stack them on top of each other like building blocks with her magic. Besides that, though, wasn't too much else to her, although her surprised reaction to Twilight doing something off-schedule was both hilarious and also suggests she may be starting to understand adults more and more... that or the writers just did it for the sake of making the joke even funnier. Today's episode features Princess Flurry Heart in "Shit You Do When You're Bored, a Foal, and Have Wayyyyyyyyy Too Much Magic" Shining Armor was one of the best scene stealers in this entire episode, which is pretty impressive when you consider that a "airsickness/seasickness" running gag is pretty hard to make funny in anything. I think what made it work here is that it not only gave us a look at Shining Armor's dorkier side (which is usually when he shines the most) but we also got to see him hilariously trying to handle airsickness which he tried to insist wasn't a thing the entire time in front of his ENTIRE family, quite literally. His sister was pretty much laughing her ass off at him, his wife was quietly trying to help him save face, and his parents (especially his mom) were pretty much coddling him (the funniest bit being when his mom literally lifted him out of the water with her magic, an image which just looked hilarious considering he looks to be a head taller than her). Don't get me wrong, Shining obviously wasn't just the butt of jokes; he still looked out for his sister and family and seemed to have a good time, but my goodness, "Airsick Shining Armor" was a terribly fun running gag. "I'M THE KING OF THE WORL- oh buck, nope, not good!" "As your LSBFF, I am obligated to find joy in your suffering." "I bucking hate you sometimes, Twilight." Finally, Cadance herself had an exceptionally solid showing with a bit of a subplot of her own evening, a pretty subtle one at that. The entire trip she seemed to look out for Twilight the most out of the entire family, most likely because she could relate the most to what Twilight was dealing with. They all wanted to make sure she was doing alright, but Cadance in particular kept approaching her and, after Twilight's breakdown, was able to tell her exactly what she needed to hear. She explained that part of being a princess means accepting that you can still be a good princess even if you are unable to please everyone 24/7. You have to be able to take care of your own needs still, and sometimes even wants are needs (such as Twilight needing some time to relax with her family). Cadance both explained and showed this in the episode in how her first and foremost priority, in most scenes, was taking care of Flurry Heart, and watching out for the rest of her family while she was at it. This is best displayed when Cadance explains as much to Twilight and Iron Will when they learn the exact nature of the air cruise, as well as when she makes sure her daughter doesn't get smothered with attention from complete strangers who just want to see their kids befriend a baby royal princess, even though they're well meaning. She's very protective throughout the entire episode, and much of that includes being protective of her family's privacy. The fact that this never came off as snobbish was very impressive, you could really sympathize with what Cadance was going through and why she was doing what she did, and I even found myself wondering if this is what watching out for their kids in real life is like for major celebs or public figures. But overall, as far as being the bearer of an episode lesson goes, this was definitely one of Cadance's best showings ever in that regard, especially in her role as a mother and her mentoring Twilight as her sister-in-law, friend, and fellow princess. This, however, will probably haunt her nightmares for quite some time... and mine, too. Seriously, who the hell sold that in the first place??? Now that we've got the familiar faces out of the way, it's time to get into some of the juicier and unexpected bits of the episode... which were admittedly a bit of a mixed bag, though largely solid on the whole. First of all, let's talk about, you guessed it... Twilight's parents, Night Light and Twilight Velvet (voice by Charlie Demers and Patricia Drake, though they had been previously voiced by Andrew Francis and Tara Strong). How were these two? Oh, a whole lot of fun! They weren't the amazing soccer parents that Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistle were, nor were they the sweetest of couples with an amazing romantic backstory to go along with it like Bright Mac and Pear Butter were. In fact, their appearance, while anticipated, wasn't nearly as fandom-mind-blowing as those previous two sets of parents were, considering, as I mentioned earlier, we've seen these two many times before. And yet it was still a very satisfying appearance all the same in which we got a very solid idea of how these two produced the children they did. First, you have Night Light, who, although both he and his wife are pretty grounded for the most part, is definitely the more straight-laced of the two. I mean, the guy's favorite thing to do on the airship for crying out loud is BINGO! This is the type of guy who, like Twilight, probably loves nothing more on a lazy Sunday than curling up in his favorite chair with a good book and a cup of tea, and I could easily see the majority of her love of organization, lists, and scheduling coming from him mostly. Not that Twilight Velvet seemed out of sorts or anything, but out of those two, she was, very surprisingly, the wild child of the two! I think many bronies were caught off guard by this character development, but at the same time most I've spoken to (myself included) welcomed it, as it quite refreshingly helps distinguish the two parents from each other. She still seems very similar to her husband and daughter, but she definitely has a bit of the "thrill junkie" within her; heck, speaking as someone who keeps a lot of his own likes and habits "close to the vest" myself, I could totally see Twilight Velvet being the same way. Not necessarily being dishonest in public about who she is to others, but simply keeping a lot of her own private likes and habits to herself, only occasionally cutting loose with them. The best bit in this, of course, was Twilight Velvet's literally riding a barrel over Neighagara Falls, a scene which was as hilarious as it was adorable. Twilight Velvet's reaction and adrenaline from it all was priceless, her wet mane whipped over her face looked adorable, and Night Light coming up and pecking her on the cheek to her delight while her face was still covered was even MORE adorable!!! And now Batbrony presents... lewd conversations with the Sparkles. Read at your own peril MAJESTIC AS BUCK!!! My lewd jokes about Twilight Velvet's "wild" side aside, this was the bucking cutest shot in this entire episode and it is as sweet as it is pure and innocent. It's amazing how just a little peck on the cheek from Night Light and the smile it brings out on his wife can reveal so much about how much they love one another, and I'm sure that many married couples or just people completely in love with one another could tell you (speaking as someone madly in love myself) that little gestures like that between two loved ones are some of the best parts of getting to shower love upon someone else you love. Doesn't always have to be a sweeping gesture, sometimes little reinforcements of one's love for another like that mean all the world to them. Also, c'mon, I mean... LOOK AT HOW BUCKING CUTE THAT IS!!! Of course, they had more good bits than just that. Their policy about accepting free tickets to a cruise, no questions asked (even though they had no idea what contest it was for to begin with), was too funny (especially how it came back to bite them in the flank later, not to mention it sounds like the setup to a slasher film); their looking out for their children was quite fun to see (especially the aforementioned scene where Twilight Velvet literally lifts Shining Armor from the water with her magic); and their soaking up attention from cruise participants thrilled to see the princesses was pretty funny too. Overall, they were just a cool, cute couple who behaved for the most part pretty much exactly as you'd expect Twilight's parents to behave - dorky, straight-laced, and just a little bit crazy, with just enough wrinkles and unique character traits thrown in there to make them stand on their own as their own characters. It was a great showing from the both of them and I am happy we finally got to see these two in expanded roles! Hopefully we'll get to see even more of them in the future. In yet another returning character, we, surprisingly, saw the return of Iron Will in this episode! The reason I list him here among newer elements is because (1) his return was so unexpected (seriously, I would never have pegged him to show back up in this of all episodes) and (2) he was written kind of... differently than in his first appearance. Let's recall, in Iron Will's first appearance in "Putting Your Hoof Down" he was, at the most, a minor antagonist, if even that. He didn't come off as deliberately malevolent or anything, just a bit of a shrewd businessman and slightly bully-ish in the way he threw his muscles around to intimidate others. But he was still a minotaur of his word who set out to ACTUALLY help ponies become more assertive, and when Fluttershy insisted that she wasn't satisfied with his services, he kept his end of the bargain and stopped demanding payment from her. He seemed like someone who overall was, at the end of the day, pretty decent, even if he was a bit of a hothead as well. Here, Iron Will was far more of a jerk and written as, if I'm being honest, a bit of a con artist as well. I mean, he did try to deliver a quality product to his customers until the end of the episode, but he bamboozled Twilight's family into taking the trip in the first place and then, when they finally decided they were done letting him drag Twilight all over the place at the end of the episode and explained the situation to the other ponies onboard, just skipped out on his angry customers for some bizarre reason. Now, make no mistake, hearing Trevor Devall in this role again (one week after he reprised his role as Thunderlane as well) was hilarious and a lot of fun, and for the most part Iron Will was still his old, over-the-top, bombastic self (like a... jerkier Mr. T, if you will). But again, his presence here was confusing at times, especially in his interactions with Twilight considering... well, he'd technically never even met her before! He'd met Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy previously, but certainly not Twilight. Now I'm sure it's both possible Twilight saw him around town and heard about him from her friends, but still, as far as we know, those two individuals had never actually met each other. Heck, I was confused as well how he'd heard about Twilight's tour of Cloudsdale; his other stories about her were obviously made up, but that first one was legit, unless of course he thought he made it up and instead accidentally told a legit story about Twilight. However, if I'm being perfectly honest, most of my critiques for Iron Will here are largely me nitpicking. He was for the most part a treat to see; his story about getting into the themed cruise business because the assertiveness-seminar market had dried up was as hilarious as it was random, and his exit at the end, like with everything involving Iron Will, was hilariously over the top! Overall, he had a fine showing, and was a lot of fun to see once more. Finally, we come to the cruise passengers themselves, who, let's be honest, were an obvious allegory and stand-in for the fandom, particularly fans when they encounter show makers and celebs at pony conventions. As in "Fame and Misfortune," their presence here was both mixed and very meta. However, it was definitively superior to the depiction of the fandom in "Fame and Misfortune" for a number of very good reasons. Generally speaking, the cruise passengers here, while often depicted in a negative light, were also depicted in a positive light as well (I'd say the balance between the negative and positive was 50/50) and they had a satisfying resolution to their place in the story arc. In contrast, "Fame and Misfortune" felt very raw and hostile in its treatment of any ponies who were supposed to be representing the fandom (with like the exception of one or two characters), and had barely any resolution with them even. As I said in my "Fame and Misfortune" review, there is nothing wrong in concept with the show delivering a message aimed squarely at the fandom about how we act as fans and how we should act; the problem there is that it feels more like the show makers venting about the fandom than actually, constructively saying anything about it. By itself it was just a meh episode for me, and I still stand by my earlier conclusion that it is such a divisive episode that there is no one right way to feel about it, whether one loves, hates, or just doesn't care for that episode; however, this episode's existence does bring down "Fame and Misfortune" quite a bit, since it was a far better handling of how the show should and can critique the fandom while still having plenty of positive things to say about it. Were the passengers oftentimes too exuberant, clingy, or nosy in their adoration of the princesses, especially Twilight? Sure, but the worst their behavior got was awkward to cringey, and they never treated Twilight or her family like assholes or jerks as so many ponies in "Fame and Misfortune" treated Twilight and her friends. They also had a better excuse for their behavior in that they thought from the get-go that the princesses were there as a part of the cruise specifically to see them, meaning they would never think of treating them like this in regular, day-to-day life; now, as a brony, while I would argue that going to a con doesn't give one license to just leave your brain and good sense behind and treat con guests however you want, there is an expectation at cons that celeb guests are there to see fans, unlike say if you randomly encounter a celeb in real life at a store or restaurant. Once these passengers were explicitly told by Twilight that she could use some space and time to be with her family, they were very respectful of her wishes and realized that they'd been misled by Iron Will. Once again the overall message directed at the fandom was that just because you're a fan of someone doesn't mean you should feel entitled, no matter what the circumstances are, to butt too much into their business, even if they're taking time to hang out with you, but it was delivered and executed so much better in this episode than it was at all in "Fame and Misfortune." Honestly this isn't even that different from how he behaved in the actual episode... The most obvious stand-in among these passengers, of course, was Star Tracker, and I'm even more mixed in my feelings about him than I am the passengers as a whole. For starters, I couldn't figure out whether this guy was supposed to be a teenager or an adult (I'm leaning towards the former but still, not sure), and whether he's one or the other does put his behavior into a different context. Also, while by the end of the episode we realized that he too was, overall, just a well-meaning pony who was really excited to see Twilight, the delivery in some of his humor was... odd. Like, my best guess is that the writers wanted to make it seem like he was just a really, really awkward pony, largely for the sake of humor. The problem, however, is that he does things like (1) keep invading Twilight's personal space WAYYYYYYY too much, (2) awkward gestures like continually biting his lip around Twilight or combing back his mane, and (3) talking with a very odd tone in his voice that his behavior ultimately came off for much of the episode as less awkward and more... creepy, really, especially in a sexually stalker-ish kind of way. Again, I really don't think that that was the intent of the character, but for me, that's simply what he came off as for much of the episode. Also, his freakout from Twilight stepping on his hoof was WAY too over-the-top. No offense Star Tracker, but frankly, ya acted kind of like a pussy in all that; I mean dear Lord, my mom doesn't flip out that much from someone stepping on her foot! Seriously man, NUT UP!!! I'm not even one to usually say that, but sheesh, grow a pair! Thankfully he was pretty cool by the end of the episode (though his standing up for Twilight to Iron Will felt a little forced, and I never really dug his voice actor; I couldn't figure out if it was an actual VA doing a bad, awkward teenager/obsessed fan voice or an actual fan who just wasn't very good at voice acting). Overall, as far as meta-stand ins for the fandom go, Star Tracker and the other passengers here, while not perfect in their delivery, were a significant step above the incredibly hostile, angry, and at times downright cruel crowds that Twilight and her friends encountered in "Fame and Misfortune," and in that respect they felt like they were a part of delivering a far more helpful and constructive message to the fandom than the latter were. This, however, will forever and always be terrifying Besides all of these players, there were plenty of other things that caught my attention in this episode for both better and worse. Finally getting to see an episode featuring a zeppelin the entire time was pretty awesome, and the design of the airship here was sweet. The one thing that bugged me with it was how the passage of time and distance seemed to work; the tour scene in particular was bizarre in that Iron Will seemed to point out locations in a matter of minutes that should be hundreds of miles apart from each other, and there's no way the ship was moving fast enough to get to those that quickly (hell, his pointing out Canterlot second on the tour was downright confusing considering they TOOK OFF from Canterlot). I get that that was largely because the show had to be fit into 22 minutes, but still, it was an odd flaw all the same. Some of the activities, particularly barrel riding over Neighagara Falls and Shining Armor's boat race, were hilarious, though I will say it's a shame that we didn't get to see a full scene of the actual Frozen North Stars. The one thing about that scene that bugged me was that Twilight's family didn't seem to consider at first that she'd be upset that she missed literally the one thing she'd wanted to do with all of them more than anything else the entire trip, but again, that's a minor nitpick. Getting a pretty even dosage of day and night scenes was pretty cool and unusual as well, as were the sheer number of settings in this whole episode. All in all, while not a flawless episode, this was still a very exceptional Season 7 episode and, especially for all of the new elements it had like getting to see more of Twilight's parents, a delight to watch on the whole! We've only got 4 episodes left everypony, and I've got a feeling they're going to be rather delightful (and please, while I'm on the subject, don't watch the early episode leaks so that we can support the official DHX releases of them, or if you do, please don't spoil them for anyone else). That's all I've got for ya everypony, until next time, this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit* This is what Spike gets for doing nice things
  20. Good evening, everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! This week's episode, while not quite as surprisingly excellent as last week's, was still, nonetheless, quite exceptional for what it was. Our last Cutie Mark Crusader episode of the season, "Marks and Recreation" features the CMC starting a Cutie Mark day camp for blank flanks, mostly so that they can help more than one at a time. However, trouble arises when Rumble decides he'd rather remain a blank flank than get his cutie mark, and convinces the other campers to do the same. Without further ado, this is "Marks and Recreation." So one thing that particularly stood out to me about this episode to start off is simply how many fillies and colts it featured. Now make no mistake, we've seen plenty of ponies from the CMC's age group before, oftentimes in episodes featuring them in school. The difference between those episodes and this one, however, are that, normally, most of the ponies there are mostly background characters. They might have some jokes or bits here and there, but for the most part they're not exactly critical to the plot. Here, however, not only was Rumble one of the main characters, but at least 2-3 of the other fillies and colts, including Pipsqueak, Kettle Corn, and Skeedaddle, were all supporting characters actively involved in the main events of the episode. Hell, Kettle Corn got her bucking cutie mark, then disowned it, and then re-embraced it all in the same episode! All in all, it was just very pleasing seeing how much young ponies besides the CMC featured in this episode, and I certainly wouldn't mind seeing more episodes like this one in that regard. Where this episode suffered for that, however, might just have been with the CMC themselves. Don't get me wrong, for the most part the CMC were perfectly fine. Their day camp idea was great, they were doing an awesome job counseling their friends, and they moved the action of the episode along just fine. However, when you get down to it, most of this episode (including its resolution even) is driven by Rumble and Thunderlane. The CMC usually facilitate most of what's going on, but this didn't really seem like an episode where they learned anything at all, they simply helped a friend learn a valuable lesson, but really his big brother helped him learn that more than they did. I wouldn't mind that the CMC kind of took a backseat in certain respects (again, make no mistake, they were still main characters, just not as explicitly as they usually are), if it weren't for one thing. The writers for some reason felt the need to force the CMC to not realize that Rumble was phoning in every one of his "attempts" to do any camp activities. The only reason I can figure they may have felt the need to do this is because the CMC didn't realize what fears about cutie marks Rumble may have had until Thunderlane told them he was good at all of the things they thought he wasn't good at, which led them to realize he was deliberately failing at them because he didn't want to get a cutie mark at something other than flying. I can kind of understand their reasoning, but at the same time, with how smart the CMC as a whole are - not to mention how obvious some of Rumble's "failure" at the camp activities were, seriously, the guy couldn't have been more obvious that he simply wasn't trying if he, well, tried - it felt really forced that they honestly thought he just wasn't good at any of these things. It doesn't break the whole episode or anything, it just felt like unnecessarily forced writing. Overall, however, the CMC had a pretty solid episode, and Sweetie Belle in particular gets props for easily the funniest moment of the episode when she straight up broke out her own version of a "Rarity freakout." They really should start charging for their cutie mark services at some point if this really is what they're meant to do their whole lives... oh don't look at me like that, YOU WOULD TOO IF YOU HAD TO!!! Thankfully, even though the CMC weren't exactly the bright spots of this episode, the true bright spots more than made up for it. First we've got Rumble, who prior to this has only appeared in minor supporting or background roles before. Here, excellently voiced by Vincent Tong (deliciously feeding the rumors that DHX intentionally casts him in roles that are at least somewhat douchey), he serves for most of the episode as its main antagonist before finally learning an incredibly valuable lesson. His fear for most of the episode is that if he tries something other than honing his flying skills, then he may accidentally get his cutie mark in something else that'll keep him from becoming a Wonderbolt like his older brother, Thunderlane. This is great on a couple of levels. First, speaking as an older sibling myself, I can totally see where a fear like this would come from for a younger sibling like Rumble. Younger siblings often can feel like they're in their older siblings shadow in terms of personal achievements and life goals, and may even struggle with figuring out what they want to do even as a result, especially if they idolize their elder sibling to a point that they want to be just like them. This is obviously not the case with all siblings, but it very often can be, and here that's clearly the case (though Rumble does seem to have some insecurity issues as well considering he clearly doesn't just idolize Thunderlane, he makes it very clear at certain points that he wants to be as cool as him, but not just thought of as Thunderlane's little brother). In all honesty, as a big brother, I do have to say as well that I wouldn't have had any complaints if Thunderlane had smacked some sense into Rumble THIS way instead On another level, it was great seeing the show once again delve into the lore of cutie marks and what concerns ponies might have about them, especially growing up. They're so commonplace in pony society that it's actually quite believable that most ponies would take them for granted and simply assume that everypony will "get" cutie marks (not just physically get them, but understand what they're deal is and what they mean to them). But the show has made it quite clear at this point that they do not mean the same thing for everypony, and that many ponies in going about getting them don't even quite understand what it'll mean for them when they do get them. With young ponies like those mostly featured in this episode, that was clearly the case, so it wasn't that surprising that they could be convinced by a pony like Rumble that cutie marks would just put them into a "special box," forcing them to pursue one thing for the rest of their lives while foregoing all other activities. That's even a relatable fear for children in general. Growing up, I think most of us at some point like to think we could basically be anything we want to be, but in the back of our heads (especially as we get older) that creeping notion that at some point we're going to have to be one thing in particular is always there, and I think a fear for kids who dwell on that too much is that they're not going to be able to try other things once that happens. Thankfully, by the show's end all of the younger ponies, including Rumble, had realized that they can do all sorts of things no matter what their cutie mark ends up being. Just because they're cutie mark signifies what they have a special talent for doing doesn't mean that's the only thing they'll ever be able to do, or even be good at or enjoy doing. Likewise, with adults in the real world, just because our careers may be in one particular field doesn't mean we can't do plenty of other pursuits in our spare time, whether they be hobbies, ways of giving back to the community, or other activities. It's sometimes hard work fitting everything we want to do in (something briefly indicated by Apple Bloom realizing she hadn't made potions with Zecora in some time), but balancing time to fit a lot of different activities into our lives is part of being an adult, and a skill that is more than worth cultivating. Overall, I was very impressed with the moral revolving around Rumble in this episode, plus just pleased to see a character like him as the episode's focus. So just how did Rumble come to his realization by the end of the episode that cutie marks keep you from doing anything else? Well, partly with the help of the CMC, but mostly because of his older brother, Thunderlane, another long time minor supporting/background character (voiced quite excellently by Trevor Devall, who actually voiced him way back in Season 2 and Season 4 as well, with, impressively enough, pretty much the exact same voice). Earlier this season we got an excellent revelation that Thunderlane, like Rainbow Dash, had actually become a Wonderbolt as well, which in many ways helped normalize the group quite a bit as well as not make Rainbow Dash look SO unusual as a member. Having two members from Ponyville makes it clear that you don't just have to be a Rainbow Dash-tier flier to get in, as well as emphasizes nicely that Thunderlane ain't too shabby himself when it comes to flying. Well here, the fact that he was a Wonderbolt was also, as discussed earlier, critical to the plot and Rumble's own insecurities about getting a cutie mark. First he got Rumble involved in the day camp to begin with, hoping that it might help Rumble explore a variety of activities he might enjoy and broaden his horizons, not to mention have fun with other fillies and colts while he was at it. But when the CMC finally confronted Thunderlane about Rumble's fears, he realized just how bad some of Rumble's insecurities were and set out to make things right, for both him and the other campers he'd persuaded to ditch the CMC's day camp. This final scene was excellent, showcasing both a Wonderbolt doing some normal, community service as a role model for younger ponies on his own time (something I've always, desperately wanted to see considering it just seems natural that members of a group like that would give back to their communities in ways like that, not just go around engaging in photo ops or autograph signings), as well as Thunderlane just trying to be a good older brother, reassuring Rumble that he doesn't have to worry about his cutie mark sticking him into one corner only. This is especially highlighted when he tells his brother how much he discovered he loved cooking once his service with the Wonderbolts forced him to take it up at points, and they then proceed to have some sibling bonding as they help cook a meal together. While Thunderlane was able to help the other ponies at the camp as a Wonderbolt, he was able to help Rumble as his older brother, and the presentation of both was fantastic. I'd love to see more of Thunderlane and Rumble in the future after this, and it was a true treat getting to see both of them get such big roles here alone. Besides those two, the rest of the supporting cast was a delight. Little Pipsqueak was adorkable as ever in his tiny, cute British-y way, though it would have been nice to see him make some progress on the cutie mark front. Ah well, I'm sure he'll discover his true calling as a worshiper of all things Princess Luna and/or the Night in general at some point in time soon enough. Skeedaddle was pretty funny here as well, both in his helping Kettle Corn discover her cutie mark in his leading the others in their haiku writing activity, as well as with some funny lines like "What if I get my cutie mark in being bored?" BUT, I have to say that out of all the supporting characters in this episode, the one who stole the show for me was, without a doubt, Kettle Corn. Holy shit, this filly had it all. First, she develops an obsession with painting circles (and they were always, ALWAYS the exact same circle, slightly unfinished even if you looked at them closely). That, however, does not turn out to be her cutie mark. What does turn out to be her cutie mark? BUCKING HAIKU WRITING, THAT'S WHAT!!! In fact, once she discovers that's her special talent, she starts saying haikus naturally in her speech (even when she's trying to repress her special talent), and it is as bucking hilarious as it sounds. And yet, despite all of that, she still loves, you guessed it, PAINTING CIRCLES!!! Even when she disowns her cutie mark and joins Rumble's group, she still. Loves. Painting. CIRCLES!!!! I don't know why I'm so obsessed with everything this little filly got up to in this episode. I think it's a combination of the fact that (1) she is pretty bucking adorable, along with (2) just how bizarre and hilarious both her special talent as well as her interest in painting circles was. In any case, for a first time character, this filly left a wonderful first impression in both how cute and hilarious she was, and frankly I kinda want to see more of her, I won't lie. Kettle Corn: she SERIOUSLY needs some circles and haikus in her life ASAP OK, I have to admit that if this is really what the writers were doing in depicting how Kettle Corn painted her circles, then I have to say... bravo, BUCKING BRAVO, that's a scary awesome and subtle detail to include for a character whose special talent is coming up with haikus! I mean... wow, talk about mind blown, right? Just got a few other miscellaneous items to cover before we wrap things up. The return to Camp Friendship, the same day camp where Applejack and Coloratura became friends as young fillies, was a fun callback to Season 5 (though I wouldn't have minded seeing AJ here if that were at all possible, even more so Coloratura even). Rumble's song "Blank Flanks Forever," while hardly one of the show's best tunes, was pretty fun and upbeat (even if it was a minor antagonist's song), though I do have one bone to pick with it that's REALLY silly. At one point in the song some of the fillies and colts in the background are waving their hooves back and forth to emulate finger snapping, like you might encounter in an old, 1950's doo-wop number. I can see why, in concept, this idea might have sounded bucking hilarious to the storyboard artists who most likely came up with it, but in execution it looked bucking stupid. I know I shouldn't overthink it, but WHY THE BUCK WOULD THEY DO THAT??? They have no concept of digits, why would they emulate finger snapping if they don't know what the buck finger snapping is??? Am I totally overthinking this? Yes, yes I am, but I don't care, this was bucking stupid, even if it was meant as a gag. Other than that, however, I had no issue with the song itself; hardly Season 7's best tune, but pretty fun nonetheless. Other than that, I've got nothing else to add. This was just a fun CMC episode with a very good, well-written lesson at its heart, and a great note to send the CMC out on for Season 7. Until next time, everypony, this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit* If we're all being honest with ourselves, we've all probably shipped Rumble with Sweetie Belle or Scootaloo at SOME point in time, so don't even pretend you haven't
  21. Good evening, everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! Goodness me, at this point the amount of exceptional episodes this season has become so commonplace that it's almost starting to lose its effect. But just almost. This past week we had yet another delight of an episode in "A Health of Information," and easily Fluttershy's best episode of the season. It was well-paced, well-written, had great appearances from new and old characters, and a side of its main character that we rarely get to see. Without further ado, let's begin, this is "A Health of Information." "Ya'll ready to learn all about the magic of... the perfect gumbo recipe?" So first things first, even though she appeared in this episode less than last week's, I'd say this was easily the better of Zecora's two appearances this season, so far at least. For starters, we got to see her helping somepony *gasp* outside of her damn hut! OK, fine, I know this is hardly the only time she's stepped outside of her house, but still, it's a rare enough occurrence that it stood out to me, plus it was interesting that she wasn't helping somepony brew something like she usually is. She was specifically helping Fluttershy track down a moss for some oxen visiting her animal sanctuary whose location in the Everfree Forest she was familiar with, though I have to admit this opening scene raises to points of concern. (1) Does this mean that oxen aren't sapient in this universe? If so that's fairly confusing considering both yaks and cows are. (2) Why the hell was Zecora fetching the moss when she ended up falling into the water in order to get them? Look, I know it set off the whole plot in the first place, and it even tied into why Fluttershy felt so bad about everything, but still, let me reiterate a common sense point that both Fluttershy and Zecora should have been well aware of... FLUTTERSHY CAN FLY!!! Like, I know Fluttershy doesn't like flying that much, but it's not like she would've been flying over a mountain, she would've had to hover like two feet over the water while she was gathering moss! It's not something that breaks the whole episode, but still, I kinda found it to be a silly oversight by both characters all the same. Why does Zecora look so bucking cute in this still image? Wings. You have them. USE THEM!!! Anyways, it's not long before this episode goes from being a pleasant bit of slice of life to a medical drama. Oh wait, my mistake, it doesn't become JUST a medical drama... IT BECOMES BUCKING NIGHTMARE FUEL!!! Why, you may ask? Well because of the disease in question which Zecora (and later Fluttershy and Doctor Horse) catches from a mysterious flower pod called Swamp Fever. I don't know what sick bucker on the MLP writing staff came up with this disease, but get a load of this... you've got silly symptoms like it causing you to exhale bubbles or causing you to break out in spots (which aren't exactly pox so much as polka dots), but it also gives you fatigue, confusion, causes you to eventually start sneezing lightning apparently, and worst of all is the end result. This bucking disease causes its victims to eventually TURN INTO THE TREES THAT DROP THE FLOWER PODS WHICH SPREAD SWAMP FEVER?!?! Well, I think it's safe to say that this is the appropriate response to that... Holy. Bucking. Shit. THAT IS THE STUFF OF NIGHTMARES!!! I mean, let's wrap our heads around what this disease in a children's television show does to ponies. It transforms their entire biological structure into a form completely unnatural to their own, and assuming they lose sapience, more or less kills them in the process of slowly transforming them into a bucking tree. That sounds like some bucked up idea that you'd find in a 1980's children's television show or film, and again, I have no idea who the buck came up with it for here, but it's bucking terrifying in concept alone. Not that I'm complaining, it certainly raised the stakes from the very beginning for everypony involved, but still, definitely wasn't something I was expecting here. Once Zecora's been diagnosed, we get to the real meat of this episode where Fluttershy shines, and on top of that a very solid, subtle moral is delivered as well. Feeling guilty for putting Zecora in a position to come down with Swamp Fever in the first place (and she's not wrong technically, which is possibly the only thing that KIND OF takes away from a still very powerful moral), Fluttershy throws herself into frantic efforts to find a cure. She sifts through Twilight's library even more ardently than the alicorn princess herself, and in the process (through some excellent research) discovers exactly where they need to go to find a cure, Hayseed, the old village of Mage Meadowbrook, a legendary sorceress and healer (some question how an earth pony was a sorceress, but we know that earth pony's do have their own type of magic and the ability to interact with and use magical elements, so I certainly think it's possible for an earth pony or a pegasus to be a sorcerer/sorceress in their own way). Once there, they track down her old home and even stumble across her descendant (seemingly sole descendant by the looks of things), Cattail, and also hunt down information recorded by Mage Meadowbrook in her old diaries leading them to conclude that the key to a cure for Swamp Fever is the honey produced by Flash Bees, who are immune to the effects of the Swamp Fever flower pods. During all of this, Fluttershy foregoes getting any rest for herself, and soon it becomes apparent that she too is coming down with Swamp Fever. In desperation, she frantically attempts to use her natural charm on animals, and when that doesn't work the Stare itself, to get honey from the Flash Bees, but neither works, and after getting stung by them, Fluttershy faints from her fatigue and remains unconscious for three days while nothing Twilight or Cattail do to retrieve the honey works. When she awakens, Fluttershy realizes that in not getting herself any rest, she not only endangered herself but also Zecora as well, since if she'd been fully rested she might have managed to retrieve the cure sooner. Realizing that Mage Meadowbrook successfully got honey from the Flash Bees by wearing a healer's mask with a stripe pattern similar to those of Flash Bee queens, who the males are subservient to, Fluttershy uses the mask to get the honey and heals herself, Zecora, and Doctor Horse of Swamp Fever, in the process also rediscovering the cure for Swamp Fever for good (very odd that Mage Meadowbrook only recorded the cure in her personal diary, but given that she seems to have lived centuries ago long before printed works in Equestria, we can give her a bit of a pass for not more widely publishing her medical knowledge). Fluttershy's character arc in this episode is at the heart of a very mature, subtle moral, especially personal and meaningful to people who can relate to it (such as at least one very dear friend of so many of us on the forums here). People who've had a loved one get diagnosed with a bad disease or debilitating medical condition in general often go through hell to help them get through it, if they can. They try everything they can to make it better, whether that be financially or just anything at all they personally can do for the one they love. They might drive themselves to such lengths that they even start blaming themselves for what's happening in the first place, or keep convincing themselves that they're not doing enough. Again, this message was just slightly undercut by the fact that this was technically Fluttershy's fault, but again that is easy enough to ignore when you consider just how good the message is. It is not good for one to neglect their own needs when trying to care for another, no matter how much you love them or how bad things may be for them. They wouldn't want you to do so since they love and care for you as well, and on a more pragmatic level, not looking after your own needs might actually make it more difficult for you to take care of them, much less yourself. While such perseverance and determination to aid another as Fluttershy displayed is certainly admirable and capable of achieving much, it needs to be tempered and balanced if one hopes to sustain such a drive in the long run. This is a mature message both on an intellectual and emotional level, and I am sure those who can personally relate to Fluttershy in this episode were very much affected by it and knew exactly what the show was doing. Beyond these core elements, the episode had a lot of other great things to offer viewers as well. Twilight had one of her best supporting roles in sometime, and a true one at that. Oftentimes a risk with having Twilight as a supporting character is that, by the sheer nature of who she is as the show's main character, she will dominate the screen time. Heck, we've seen her paired up (rarely) with Fluttershy in past episodes, such as when they visited the Hooffields and McColts, and while they were both supposed to be main characters in that episode, one could argue Twilight stood out far more than Fluttershy. Here, however, she was firmly a supporting character; Fluttershy took the lead on most things, while Twilight offered good support and mature advice the whole time. It wasn't even out of deference to Fluttershy or anything, Fluttershy just had a better handle on the situation from the start than Twilight did and she knew this. Her intro with Spike in which they were having a cooking competition was also rather cute and funny, a more normal side of Twilight we don't get to see nearly as much these days like we used to, plus it was fun seeing her do something not related to her love of intellectual pursuits like baking (also, those sweet potato muffins honestly sounded REALLY good if I'm being perfectly honest). OK, Twiley looks ridiculously adorable with flower on her little hoovesies and her horn! Remember kids, this is what baking too much does to you. Before you know it, you're having fever dreams about pans!!! Cattail was another fun, new element added to the episode. The entire village of Hayseed seems to have had an Equestrian version of Cajun-bayou culture, which was pretty unique to see in this show. While the real world parallels could only go so far, the show has never made a habit of stereotyping other cultures when it does have shades of cultures similar to ones in our own world, and the same was true here. In addition, his willingness to simply help Fluttershy and Twilight as soon as he learned what they were after was admirable to see seeing as he'd just met them, not to mention he basically opened his home to them as well (well, after they inadvertently broke into it, though in their defense they had no idea it was occupied to begin with). The lore with his distant relative and ancestor, Mage Meadowbrook, was quite cool as well, and it was nice learning about the last of the Legends of Magic (though I still think it would have been cool if Fluttershy's allegory among them were Somnambula). But all in all, the best elements of this episode that will stick with me going forward are those relating to its message and just how great of an appearance Fluttershy herself had. That's not to say the episode as a whole wasn't exceptional, it really was. It's just that these elements in particular are what make it particularly unique in its own way as an exceptional episode, especially in a season like Season 7 where there have been so many great episodes already. Well, that's all I've got for you everypony. I feel fairly certain that by the end of Season 7 this episode will still stand out as Fluttershy's best of the season, so it was a pleasure getting around to finally reviewing such a great episode. Until next time, this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit*
  22. Hi everyone, Hope you are all doing well and are looking forward to the movie in a couple of weeks! It's definitely been a while since I posted on the forums here. There is something that I have been meaning to get off my chest these past couple of months. After the midseason break, I have been unable to get myself to watch new episodes of My Little Pony. This has never happened to me before. I began watching MLP back in 2012, and would always catch new episodes the Saturday it came out. I never missed an episode of Season 3, 4, 5, 6, and the 1st half of season 7. The last episode that I watched was episode 10 (A Royal Problem) and I enjoyed it immensely! I loved Starlight, Princess Celestia, and Princess Luna in that episode. Glimmy has even overtaken Rainbow Dash as my all time favorite character in the entire show! Yet for some reason, I seemed to have lost that excitement I used to get when viewing a new episode. Don't get me wrong, I still love FIM. I have posters, plushies, t-shirts, music, you name it. I used to look forward to viewing new episodes of Pony as soon as the weekend hit. I don't want to get to the point where I look at it as another task I need to do to check off my "to-do list" for the day. I haven't reached that point yet, but I feel it approaching quickly. I have been in the fandom for nearly 5 1/2 years. Maybe a part of it is due to fatigue and just "growing out" of the series. This is where you guys come in. Has anyone experienced something similar to this before? How have you guys stayed engaged and excited over all of these years? Any tips and advice you guys are willing to share, I would greatly appreciate it.
  23. As should be VERY evident in this thread, the fandom artist community pretty much exploded after this episode Good evening everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! First of all, apologies for getting this review out so late. Just been having trouble making time for it over the last few days on account of a whole lot of exciting real life stuff that's been happening. But that will be saved for another day, for now, onto the episode itself! Without further ado, this is "It Isn't the Mane Thing About You." So first things first, I just have to say that this was an odd duck of an episode. Like, not a bad one, far from it. In fact in execution this is a perfectly good episode, and in tone very much in the same vein as predecessors from Season 1 or Season 2 of the show. But that said, what did stand out to me as apparent was the fact that this was a Season 7 subject in an episode executed like a Season 1 or Season 2 episode, and that threw me for a bit of a loop. Unlike last week's episode, this is not so much a bad or disappointing thing as simply an odd thing to ponder. I cannot help but find myself asking "What if this episode had been executed differently?" and in fact will do just that at the end of the review. But for now, let's delve into what we got here. To start, Rarity kicks ass here, and I don't just say that because of the end. This was undoubtedly a Season 7 Rarity performance; while the character has never been completely self-obsessed or shallow I cannot help but think that if this episode had debuted in Season 1, she would have displayed far less grace or restraint in how she handled things than she did here. Instead, we got a Rarity who, while more than understandably upset at her predicament, did not come across as particularly shallow at any point; if anything, we actually readily understood how being unable to fix such a situation could truly devastate her without it feeling forced. Rarity doesn't just put a premium on maintaining good looks to make herself feel better, she does it to make an impression on ponies both in her own dealings as well as when she's lending a helping hoof to them, as evidenced by the opening scene of this episode where she's going around town lending assistance to various businesses and establishments. This does have a practical effect in that, well, without sounding too shallow, if there's one thing folks love more than practical-minded people, it's practical-minded people who look radiant. Politicians like John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, etc. all had good looks and distinct images, and this applies to business as well. A great example that comes to mind is who will folks always associate as the face of Apple, Jobs or Wozniak? Jobs of course, and not just because he was the better PR guy and knew how to connect to what customers wanted, but because eventually he developed a distinct image that, while not Hollywood-handsome, was its own kind of handsome within the Silicon Valley world. Point is, Rarity looking good isn't just something that she shallowly does to make herself feel better; at this point, it's simply a part of who she is and how she carries herself about, and there's nothing really wrong with that. She doesn't think she's better than other ponies because of it, she doesn't really even flaunt it, she just enjoys looking fabulous and using that part of herself to help others try to realize their own potential to be fabulous in their own ways. When you're just having one of "those" days This makes her reaction to losing most of her mane more than believable, even if some of her bits during her most panicky moments are hilarious. She doesn't just focus on getting it back (even if that is her top priority), she really does try to go about her business as well but just finds at first that she can't. She also doesn't blame Zecora or Pinkie Pie, and tries to have as much of a stiff upper lip as she can. Let's also consider that this isn't just something Rarity would freak out about; she may freak out more than most would, but evidently losing one's mane or tail is something that most ponies dread and understand magic can't fix easily, if at all. Even her sadness is, eventually, oddly subdued; normally we'd expect to see Rarity having a grand and fabulously over-the-top display of drama when she's especially feeling low, but here her lowest point is Rarity just... well, not being Rarity. She truly feels at that moment like she's not her true self, and can't even muster the ability to lament her current state as grandly as she normally would. That was a nice, subtle touch and Tabitha St. Germain's handling of the subdued, restrained Rarity in that moment was very effective. The ending of course was fantastic, and Rarity rocking the punk look all over town was as unexpected as it was delightful to watch, especially when she kept acting like herself again, it contrasted the punk image so wonderfully! And her learning to always believe that she was always fabulous no matter what she looked like, so long as she still behaved fabulously and channeled that into everything she did, was a great lesson for both herself as well as those who may be most affected by this episode, and a nice continuation of part of the lesson from Rarity's own legend of Mistmane which she recounted just a few episodes ago. So all in all, I really have no complaints about Rarity's performance here or how she was written; I still enjoyed her turn in "Campfire Tales" more personally, and for me that's still her highlight of the season, but this was a splendid turn for her all the same. Zecora coming back (in the first of back-to-back appearances, how about that!) was a welcome return, and unlike Daring Do's performance last week, Zecora's appearance here was not, thankfully, botched. I was honestly a little disappointed we didn't get to see her just shoot the shit some more with Pinkie Pie and Rarity when she started talking about manes and how tricky they are to handle with magic, but that was mostly because an unfortunate truth about Zecora is that she's usually there for the purpose of plot devices more than anything else. Most of what she says is either exposition about something that will be critical to the plot, or words of wisdom tied into the lesson learned. Make no mistake, I still enjoy her as a character and think she was used well here, but it is something I've noticed about her over time, and really it's a big reason we should see more of her, so that she's not just being used in such formulaic and predictable ways. Also, I can't help but think she should have taken a little bit more of the blame here for what happened to Rarity; she may not have gotten the bottles mixed up, but she is partially responsible in that she had no labels for two VERY different potions that look exactly the same. Overall, however, it was just nice seeing Ponyville's resident zebra once more, and I'm sure it'll be even better seeing her in this week's upcoming episode! Pinkie Pie, on the other hand, kind of annoyed me here. Her performance was nowhere near "MMMMystery on the Friendship Express" levels of bad or anything, but the best way I can put it is that they wrote her unnecessarily stupid here for the purposes of the plot. This is not the first time this has ever happened to Pinkie Pie as her over-the-top nature is often exploited by the show to create some kind of foil or plot device that gets everything else rolling, and many times it too has come off as lazy writing for this character. Pinkie may hardly be the brightest member of the Mane 6, but some of the shit she was doing in this episode seemed to be stuff that a five year old could figure out. Her spraying of that ridiculously sticky silly string EVERYWHERE in sight felt like something she'd impulsively do in a bad MLP fanfiction, not an actual episode; her repeated suggestion to simply use any cupcakes she salvaged from the silly string rather than bake new ones came off as both lazy and inconsiderate to the Cakes or their customers (even if it was a funny gag at certain points); and she seems to have spent at least an entire afternoon, if not one or multiple days even, simply trying to clean Sugarcube Corner up with the wrong potion, and you're telling me that in all of that time she never realized that this might be shampoo and not a magical cleaner??? All in all, hardly Pinkie's worst showing, but not exactly a flattering one either. She did, however, admittedly look rather adorable at the end of the episode after the shampoo debacle The rest of the Mane 6, on the other hand, were phenomenal, especially at the end. Twilight and Starlight (honorary fill-in for Spike here as far as I'm concerned) did admittedly get off to a bit of a rough start, mostly in that they, once again, couldn't resist messing with the laws of nature by trying to do something with their magic which, not a second before, they had said they shouldn't when they tried to assist Rarity with her mane through their magic. Now look, I get that they were just trying to be good friends, but (1) they've both made this mistake enough times with often near disastrous consequences that they should know better by this point, and (2) Twilight's first attempt in particular was a really shitty thing of her to do. They're trying to help their friend get her mane back, or some semblance of it, and what does she do? Why steal another pony's mane of course, much to that poor bucking crystal pony stallion's horror! I don't even get how the writers thought they could play this for laughs when they literally just gave this guy the same exact problem that Rarity was contending with the entire time, except I doubt he has a group of friends that includes a bucking Equestrian princess to help him try to get over such a dilemma. That'd be like doing a high school drama episode where, in order to help a friend who was anorexic, her friends tried somehow "passing" her anorexia onto someone else. Not a solid solution guys, not at all! At least the rest of their magical attempts weren't harmful to anyone else, and it was fantastic hearing them at least say no to attempting using time travel to fix things, but still, it was kind of ridiculous that those two made as many attempts as they did when they were so sure to start out that it wouldn't work. Besides that, however, Rarity's friends were great. Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack in particular tried their best to come through, first in trying to come up with whatever kind of wigs they could (in all honesty Applejack's was probably the most likely to work, even if Rainbow's looked the prettiest, but dear Lord Flutters I don't know why you thought Harry the Bear's green plant wig would work at all... even if it was hilarious and adorable seeing Harry working on it), and second in trying to bolster Rarity's spirits and help her regain her confidence to channel her inner fabulosity no matter what she looked like. Applejack in particular had some very personal lines of encouragement and support, a nice dose of Rarijack and reminder of how close those two in particular are in a season where we haven't seen a whole lot of it outside of this and one other episode. Probably her best line was when she hearkened back all the way to their very first adventure, reminding Rarity of when she did her first major act of generosity among her friends in giving up her tail to Steven Magnet; this was not only a critical element of Rarity's own nature to remind her of, but also highlighted how close these two are in showing how much of an impression this memory in particular must have left on Applejack. In the end, their support and friendship was exactly what Rarity needed in order to regain her confidence. Ponyville itself was very much alive in this episode, again in a way reminiscent of Seasons 1 and 2. The Flower Sisters, Roseluck, Daisy, and Lily, in particular had great showings and even showed shades of character growth; while they came close to panicking like they were so wont to do in early seasons, they ultimately kept their cool (with some assistance from Rarity) and did some smashing business with their flower sales while they were at it. They also treated Rarity the least different of any other business associates around Ponyville after her mane fiasco, simply unable to help her when they couldn't see her mane, which felt like a far more natural reaction than the other two. Speaking of which, fan pony salesman and Davenport, the owner of Quills and Sofas, were not nearly as charming. Fan pony store owner was relatively harmless, but he came off as a really inept business owner seeing as he was hurting his own business... simply because he had all of the fans in his store going at once, which made it hard for any pony to even enter his store. Pretty stupid move on his part, plus his later comments about "non-fabulous" ponies seemed a bit... superficial, at least how he delivered them. Davenport, however, was far worse in that he wasn't just stupid for not having wider variety in his sofas to start out, but was also a complete jackass! Dude made a business arrangement with Rarity, a very simple one at that; she gave him VERY sound business advice that helped him improve his sales, and in return all she wanted was a custom-made chaise lounge. Hell, as far as we know she was even going to pay for it in bits as well, so the fact that he was willing to break that agreement just for a few more bits is dickish beyond all belief. If I was Rarity, I wouldn't do business with a guy like that ever again! How can you really trust a guy like that in any type of business arrangement if he's willing to straight up break his word when it comes to his own business?! Aside from that, we had some fun appearances from Filthy Rich, Caramel (who may or may not now be a father of a filly via Sassaflash, who he was dating back in Season 2), Granny Smith and Grand Pear (who could be spotted in multiple scenes selling apple and pear products at a shared stand in the Ponyville Market), Apple Bloom conversing with Burnt Oak (again, another great bit of continuity from "The Perfect Pear," even if it would have been cooler seeing Big Mac talk to him), Big Mac and Sugar Belle taking a romantic walk at Sweet Apple Acres (something which I missed in my first viewing, though to be fair they showed it sooooooo briefly that it really is easy for anyone to miss), and Derpy at both the beginning and end, including rocking the ONLY one of the Rarity-inspired punk manes that looked as fabulous as hers did! Seeing so many different faces from Ponyville showing up in notable roles here was great, and something that is far too rare at this point in the show. Mannnnnnnn, the Flower Sisters are SO CUTE!!! As you can see, all of the elements we had in this episode easily add up to a good, perfectly likable episode. So you're probably wondering in what way I think it possibly could have been better? Well, odd as it may sound, I really do think this episode, by virtue of its subject alone, could have been far more daring if it wanted to. Allow me to explain. The elephant in the room with the subject of an episode like this is twofold. Rarity lost something which she believed is fundamental to achieving her own identity. Not in a superficial way (mostly), but this is a character who loves being fabulous and sharing that side of herself with others in any way she can, so it's easy to understand why this situation would be so personally distressful for her. Obviously, this episode can easily be relatable for two groups of people: (1) more generally speaking, anyone who has lost due to unfortunate circumstances something about themselves they consider to be a defining trait, or (2) more specifically, people who have lost their hair, especially due to a medical condition of some kind. That's a pretty heavy real world parallel for any MLP ep, and there's no way the writers weren't aware of it. So how could they have pushed the envelope just a bit more with this one? In just a few little ways, really. For starters, even though Rarity's mane eventually grew back, we didn't need to see that at the end of the episode; it needlessly minimized what she'd gone through, as well as the triumph of how she'd just rectified her situation as best as she could. Going even further, she didn't even necessarily need to fix her mane at all; as awesome as the punk mane was, I couldn't help but wonder (1) why it didn't occur to her to do that in the first place, and (2) how she had enough hair to do that? For her it was a wonderful fix, but in real world parallels, lots of people can't always do such a fun solution as Rarity did. Some may have no hair to spare at all (though of course wigs are always an option), and for others the lack of hair may even be the least of their problems. So what could have happened instead? Well, I say, what if the Mane 6 hadn't been able to really help Rarity? What if no one at first could, and she herself couldn't simply fix it by going with a different mane style? What if eventually, she came across somepony who in many ways had it even rougher than she did? This could either have been somepony with some kind of medical condition, or if the writers wanted to be less serious, a character like Derpy who has been the town klutz for years and has had to always live with that. In either case, she could have simply talked with this pony, asking in awe how they've managed to stay positive or their chipper selves despite their struggles and challenges in life. Their answer? They never let whatever bad conditions or circumstances they had in their lives define who they were. They always stay true to themselves and never, ever let any limitations they face keep them from remaining who they are, for their own sake as well as for the sake of those they love. Doing it doesn't mean it's easy, just worthwhile. Such an example would have been inspiring to somepony like Rarity, and led her to concluding the same thing she did in the episode as it is, simply in more dramatic fashion as the result of a far more serious experience. Now again, I must reiterate that this episode did not disappoint me. Executed as it was, it was a very good episode. But I still strongly believe that it could have been more if it wanted to be, and can't help but regret that we'll never get to see what it could have been if treated just a tad more seriously, even if what we got all around was good itself. That's all I've got for you everypony, until next time this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit* Let's close this thread with, what else, a shitload of Punk Rarity pics!!! I won't lie, if this had happened, it would have easily been the most metal thing ever!!!
  24. Good afternoon everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! I'm sure you're all wondering why I'm posting my review of this latest episode so early. Well, while I normally always wait to write a review until after an episode has officially aired on Saturdays, I felt I had to make an exception this week since my girlfriend is briefly visiting me today and Saturday. If I waited, that'd leave me only Saturday evening and Sunday to catch up on this new episode and write my review on it, which is just more work and stress than I need. So without further ado, let's dive into "Daring Done?"! So, how did this episode leave me feeling? Welllllllllllllllllll, something like this... Very, very, very, very, VERY disappointed... That moment you need both Peyton Manning and a dog that looks just like him to sum up how disappointed you are Now do not mistake me, this episode is nowhere NEAR one of my least favorite ever in the entire show. Compared to a dumpster fire like "Hard to Say Anything," it's a bucking masterpiece. On its own this is just a very 'meh' episode, not that good, but not that bad either. HOWEVER, I still found myself disliking it more than most 'meh' episodes in this show, about as much as I would dislike an actually bad episode of the show. Why? Because like I said, it's an incredibly disappointing showing all the same. There was real potential here and some great ideas for what should have been at least a good, if not great, episode. It's nowhere near as infuriating in its disappointment as "Hard to Say Anything" was for blowing such a massive change in show canon with Big Mac getting into a relationship and all, but it is disappointing in these respects, which I will go through in detail. DON'T MAKE ME CHOOSE!!! BTW, most of the pics in this review will probably be from the Somnambula segment, simply because that's really the only part of this episode I loved through and through Disappointing Factor #1: We Don't Get Many Daring Do Episodes One of the most charming aspects about MLP at this point in its run is that there is a wide bevvy of beloved supporting characters in it. These come in two varieties: (1) supporting characters who we see with a pretty steady degree of regularity, such as Cheerilee, Big Mac, the Cakes, the Princesses, etc., and (2) supporting characters who only appear on special occasions, even less so if they have celebrity VAs. A.K. Yearling/Daring Do is definitely the latter, but she shows up far more than beloved supporting characters like Cheese Sandwich or Countess Coloratura because her voice actress, Chiara Zanni, isn't a celebrity voice actor like those VAs are. This means she's become what I'd like to refer as a "special staple" on the show; she's not a regular main or supporting character, but she is a well-enough established element of the world that gets referenced so often, or flat out shows up enough, that she can be considered in her own way to be a staple of the show. While her appearances are still special occasions, you'd like for them to leave something of an impact on the show as well, even if they don't leave the biggest of impacts. Normally this has been the case, to varying extents. Here, however, everything was handled so poorly that not really anyone came out looking better for it, including Daring Do. Plot points were forced and contrived to the point that I couldn't help but think that Daring Do could have probably figured out most of the problems she was facing on her own, especially considering what solutions she chose to come up with at the end. The idea of Daring's exploits having unintended consequences that make life harder for others is not a bad one, in fact it's a fairly well-explored theme in the superhero genre in general, but it was handled badly here for a number of reasons that I will get into later, including the fact that Daring simply couldn't figure out for most of the episode how to fix things (like I said, given what she figured out she should do, this shouldn't have been that hard to figure out). She created an existential crisis for herself when she really didn't have to, and her lack of resolute behavior made it come off as though she didn't have a handle on anything that was going on. Anytime the incredibly EASILY swayed crowd in Somnambula turned against her, she got sad, anytime they said something nice about her, she got happy; it's like the entire direction of her life, whether or not she retired, was hinging moment-by-moment on whether or not these ponies were in a good mood around her or when talking about her, it was ridiculous. Perhaps worst of all, however, was that absolutely NONE of the exploits Daring Do got up to here, even rescuing Rainbow Dash from a bucking pyramid, came off as epic or adventurous. It all felt watered down somehow, like a wilted flower, and for a character who has always excellently channeled the spirit of Indiana Jones, who in just her last appearance embarked on this amazingly fun and exciting adventure with Rainbow Dash and Quibble Pants that involved puzzles, temple traps, and a giant bucking crocodile monster, for any of her adventures to come off as lame and empty of adventure is the biggest sin of all. By far this was the worst Daring Do episode to date, and seeing as this is a supporting character who only appears on special occasions, it is all the more disappointing because of that. Disappointing Factor #2: Wasting a Cool Setting with a Great Background So @Jeric and I were at first convinced that this ENTIRE setting was being ambiguously referred to as "southern Equestria" which really doesn't make sense for one bucking town to be called that, but when I consulted the MLP Wiki entry on this episode, I realized the town is called Somnambula. However, while that name makes sense, I'm not sure they actually said the name once in the episode (although I could be wrong); the only time I recall them even suggesting it was called that was when the one villager said that Somnambula was the town's namesake, but again, I may be wrong and may have to rewatch it again. Either way, at least it's not called southern Equestria, that name is bucking generic as hell, though I have no idea what Somnambula itself is supposed to refer to considering it is drawn from the word "somnambulism" which is just the scientific term for sleepwalking, and there wasn't one bucking thing in this whole episode even close to that. Back to the issue at hand, this actually is a pretty cool setting, both visually and in its background. The idea of an Egyptian pony society (while a bit confusing considering all of these ponies in Equestria share the same country) is not a bad one in the slightest - though I will point out this was a missed opportunity to return to Saddle Arabia instead, I REALLY wanna see the Saddle Arabians again - and their looks, while a bit confusing given that they are clearly modern ponies in their garb but for some reason had ancient Egyptian eye paint, were pretty cool. Jeric even pointed out to me that one of the Somnambulans was wearing specifically an Egyptian hijab, not just a generic one, meaning somebody did their research in coming up with that look, and I give props for that attention to detail. Say what I will about this episode, the Egyptian hijab is a very cool detail all in all! I mean look at this, look at the bucking colors and gorgeous visuals in this one shot alone! AND ALL OF THIS GOT WASTED ON A THOROUGHLY MEH EPISODE?! For shame!!! Even cooler is the town's background, which is easily the best part of this whole episode. Somnambula has a really great story around her (with some cool alternative animation at parts), and a unique personality to boot from what we saw; she seemed to have this very kind, hopeful demeanor, even resonating what I would call a natural nobility even though it seemed she wasn't an actual noble herself, or at least not part of the royal family. She was smart but also clearly brave, and didn't seem to rely too much on her brains or her brawn, but a healthy balance of all sorts of commendable qualities. The Sphinx itself was a bucking cool villain in its design, and my only gripe with both of them is that, for some reason, the show makers didn't bother to get either of them voice actors, and I think that's quite the missed opportunity; both of these characters could have sounded very unique, but instead all we got was the random village pony reading their lines, it was kind of annoying and distracting. But like I said, her whole backstory about rescuing Prince Hisan and saving her land from the Sphinx was awesome and honestly I wouldn't have complained if it was longer, and Somnambula is another great addition to the growing members of the Legends of Magic. D'awwwwwwwwwww, who's a cute ancient Egyptian pony??? YOU ARE! YES, YOU ARE!!! The problem is that, ultimately, this cool setting and background all came to nothing. The city itself felt minuscule, largely because it seemed they didn't utilize nearly as much of it as they could have, and considering this thing was right next to multiple pyramids, that's a bucking shame. We're talking about the first time ever we've gotten to see MLP's version of Indiana Jones in an EGYPTIAN-type setting... guys... in case you forgot, Raiders of the Lost Ark is still easily the best and most beloved Indiana Jones movie ever, and most of that takes place in Egypt!!! There are so many great Indiana Jones callbacks they could have done here, but instead most of the episode was spent with the main crew dawdling about listening to ponies waffle between praising Daring Do or bitching about her, hearing an awesome story that had no impact on the present events, and then embarking on a really stupid and underwhelming adventure inside a, if I'm being honest, really boring pyramid, and that's saying something considering it was a perfectly awesome setting in Somnambula's own backstory! Hell, even the stakes are lame! What do Daring Do, Rainbow, and Pinkie ultimately stop Dr. Caballeron from doing? Stealing a bunch of glowing topaz! Like, I know it has huge meaning to the townsponies, but c'mon, all they did was stop them from carrying a giant ass sack out of town, that's it! We didn't even get any kind of epic chase, they just confronted them like Scooby Doo and the gang would confront a monster about to get unmasked. While this setting had great potential, especially considering it does have a pretty awesome background, overall everything about how it was actually used was simply underwhelming and not particularly fun or exhilarating. Disappointing Factor #3: Bad Editing and Bad Pacing Wowwwwwwwwwww, was this episode ever a hot mess in the editing and pacing department! The biggest problem probably stems from the fact that we wasted five minutes of the episode opening up in Ponyville and then at A.K. Yearling's house (speaking of which, where the buck is it exactly that they got to it so quickly AND apparently A.K. Yearling for some reason gave this exclusive interview to, of all papers, the bucking Ponyville Chronicle? I thought she was a recluse living somewhere in northern Equestria, what the buck is she giving an exclusive interview to the town paper of one of Equestria's most podunk little towns when she should be telling this to, oh IDK, a paper in like Manehattan or something?!); I'll expand on this point about the opening later in the review, but from there it was all downhill. We didn't seem to get nearly enough exposure to the town of Somnambula itself, most likely as a result of those wasted opening five minutes, which in turn made the setting feel too small and confined; some scenes lasted too long or seemed to drag, others didn't seem to develop enough; and finally, as a result of the bad editing and pacing, laughably stupid things would occur, like Dr. Caballeron kidnapping Rainbow Dash when Pinkie Pie and Daring Do were LITERALLY 20 FEET AWAY!!! Oh yeah, we're gonna tear that bit of stupidity apart later. Point is, everything about the pacing and editing in this episode (except, oddly enough, for Somnambula's story) felt off somehow, like it just wasn't right. It's not the worst I've ever seen in the show, but it is plenty of testament to how something seemingly as small or simple as getting the editing and pacing wrong in an episode can screw the whole pooch. Disappointing Factor #4: Plot Contrivances and Poor Continuity Good gravy, are there a shitload of plot contrivances and poor continuity in this episode! This is one of those cases where the plot contrivances and bad continuity honestly just get worse the longer the episode goes on, so I'm just going to list them off down below one by one. *deep breath* Let's begin! (1) The aforementioned "where the buck does A.K. Yearling live" plot point. We see Pinkie and RD read about her retiring in the paper, and then cut to them running to her house, with no sense of how far they just traveled! Not only is this a poor transition, but it, compounded with the fact that A.K. spoke to the Ponyville Chronicle, makes it impossible to determine just how far she does live from Ponyville, or even where exactly in Equestria she lives. (2) A.K. Yearling's inability to confront a very solvable problem. The fact that her actions as Daring Do are disrupting others lives in harmful ways is not a bad plot point, nor is her feeling bad about it bad; however, A.K. suffers an existential crisis from this fact that almost leads her to retire as Daring Do for good, when there are far better options available to her for confronting it which aren't all that hard to figure out, namely, using her considerable resources accrued from her Daring Do novel sales and royalties to pay for damages and costs she incurs in her adventuring! Given that this is exactly what she does at the end, the fact that she couldn't figure out she should do it before on her own is even more infuriating and stupid for it. (3) The "A.K. Yearling is Daring Do and vice versa" plot point is finally falling apart as a result of some really shitty continuity in this episode. It was always an awkward situation, but I was able to believe that most ponies didn't know Daring Do was real because I always figured her adventures took her to far away lands outside of Equestria. I still thought it would make more sense if she acted like she was just reporting on the REAL adventures of Daring Do, not pretending to be a novelist, but that theory held up well enough. Well that all went out the window because of this episode, because Somnambula is a town in Equestria itself, meaning Daring Do does indeed adventure in Equestria. Even worse is the fact that A.K. Yearling tells Rainbow and Pinkie that southern Equestrian (and we have no idea how much of Equestria that's supposed to cover) don't know about her books since they're not sold there, so they don't know who A.K. Yearling is and that Daring Do is a popular fictional character. What this essentially means is that while ponies in "southern Equestria" know that Daring Do is real but don't know about the books about her written by A.K. Yearling, vice versa, in "northern Equestria" (again, no idea how much of Equestria that is supposed to cover) ponies don't know that Daring Do is real and think she's just a fictional character because of A.K. Yearling's books. This is a terribly stupid plot point resulting from really bad continuity more than anything else, and it makes every pony in Equestria look like idiots. I know they don't have the Internet, but this country is probably the most developed nation in its setting and is pretty well-interconnected by this point, so communication isn't that primitive. So you're telling me that in all these years, no northern Equestrians have ever told southern Equestrians about the Daring Do novels and, vice versa, no southern Equestrians have ever told northern Equestrians that Daring Do is real? Nope, can't buy that, it's too big of a leap in logic. (4) The ponies of Somnambula are far too ridiculously easy to sway. Every single time both Rainbow Dash and Caballeron bring up a point for and against Daring Do, they agree with whoever's speaking, it's bucking annoying. I know it might be a joke about mob behavior, but if it is it isn't particularly executed that well or cleverly. On top of that, you're telling me that absolutely NONE of these ponies could recall seeing Ahuizotl on Daring's previous adventure there? The biggest reason I find that hard to believe is because he and Daring were responsible for the destruction of Somnambula's statue, which sits right in the middle of the whole bucking town, and not a single pony saw him at any point when that happened? That's a HUGE stretch right there. (5) Nopony recognizes Caballeron when he's hiding under nothing but a cloak. I know that A.K. Yearling's disguise when she's not Daring Do is fairly simple, but it at least has multiple pieces of clothing (hat, cloak, very big glasses) and is convincing enough considering how much of her it conceals. Caballeron, however, wears nothing but a cloak and his INCREDIBLY distinct five-o'-clock shadow is still visible even when he has it on. You're telling me that RD, Pinkie, and bucking Daring Do, his archnemesis, didn't at any point recognize him under that? (6) Rainbow Dash gets captured in the absolutely stupidest way possible... BECAUSE SHE FORGETS THAT SHE CAN FLY!!! It doesn't help that the abduction wasn't even particularly well handled considering (1) his henchmen just pop up out of nowhere and (2) THEY'RE STANDING 20 BUCKING FEET AWAY FROM DARING DO AND PINKIE PIE WHEN THEY ABDUCT RAINBOW, but for obvious reasons, the most egregious bit of forced plot in all of this stupidity is Rainbow forgetting that not only she can just fly away from them, but she just so happens to be a little thing called, oh, THE FASTEST FLYER IN ALL OF EQUESTRIA!!!!!!! There's really no getting around or justifying this one, it was just stupidity for the sake of moving the plot forward. Rainbow Dash: She... just didn't feel like trying that day (7) The pyramid rescue is a bucking joke and completely undermines the message of "having hope." Having hope does, admittedly, sometimes mean you have to take a leap of faith in certain things, BUT that's not all that it means. Hope is so much more than just about taking a leap of faith, and holding onto it does much more for someone than convince them to take chances. On top of that, this show has done the "you have to take a leap of faith" lesson before all the way back in Season 1's "Feeling Pinkie Keen," and frankly it was much better handled there. Here, they jumped down into a slime pit to their doom without any plan or reason to think this would work whatsoever and got BUCKING LUCKY!!! What did they find at the bottom, you may ask? Oh, just these bizarre contraptions that, for some unknown reason, blow puffs of air that are strong enough to float them across the gap! What? Don't you know those are super common in ancient deathtrap temples?! This plot device is one of the worst, most forced deus ex machinas I have seen in some time, and in fact it's so bad that it even ruins the Somnambula story to a certain extent. For starters, why would they even make these? What purpose were they actually supposed to serve? As far as I could tell, the bridge was supposed to be the only way across the pit, but because they have these in there, there's essentially no threat if one fell off the bridge or it wasn't there. Why would someone build a deathtrap slime pit if it wasn't supposed to be, ya know, an actual deathtrap??? Second, they shouldn't have needed to take a leap of faith at all if those were down there. I don't know how they could have possibly missed those devices considering they were clearly poking out of the slime below, so Pinkie and Daring should have been able to determine that they could just use those. Finally, while this doesn't have to do with the devices themselves, why was that "no flight" spell still in the pyramid? It really shouldn't have been after all of those years considering I was under the impression that the Sphinx just put that spell on Somnambula alone in that particular moment. To make matters worse, why did Dr. Caballeron tell Daring Do that the spell was there at all? He could have let her try to fly to save Rainbow and fall to her doom instead, problem solved! Overall, this whole climax was just one giant clusterbuck of stupidity and some of the biggest plot contrivances I've ever seen in this show. Disappointing Factor #5: Bad Character Writing and Utilization This point applies largely to the main characters. I've already detailed how A.K. Yearling/Daring Do clearly shouldn't have been so troubled by the unintended consequences of her actions that she simply decided the best thing would be for her to retire; she's been doing this for years, and she's a very different character than Rainbow Dash is. Whereas Rainbow Dash has always been impulsive, Daring seems like she's a healthier balance of adventurous, but also thoughtful and considerate. The very fact that these reports bothered her so much are proof of that. She's a successful novelist at that, and her adventuring requires a great amount of intelligence (not that Rainbow Dash isn't smart, but Daring Do seems like she's about as book smart as she is street smart), so she should have been able to conclude on her own that a sound way to fix the trouble she'd caused would have been simply paying for the damages and costs she'd incurred. Beyond that, she just wasn't particularly engaging to watch in general; she spent most of the episode moping, and the little actual adventuring she did wasn't really exciting at all. Always a shame to see such a good supporting character wasted here like Daring was. Pinkie Pie was fine for what she contributed, heck, she seemed to be acting of sounder mind here than Rainbow Dash was and offered some solid advice to Daring Do. Her presence was a tad confusing but I'll get into that later. Dr. Caballeron did unnecessarily stupid things like tell Daring Do that she couldn't fly inside the pyramid, or kidnap Rainbow Dash when Daring Do was standing 20 feet away; he may be traditionally an over-the-top villain, but he's still been competent enough in the past. However, by far the absolutely worst character here was none other than Rainbow Dash, both in her writing and very utilization. Rainbow may be impulsive, but she also loves solving a mystery, ESPECIALLY if Daring Do is involved. A dilemma like the one Daring faced required talking to ponies face-to-face and figuring out what their problems were, and what they needed to fix in order for them to be cool with Daring again. What does she spend most of the episode doing? Ignoring what the ponies of Somnambula are mad about and just loudly insisting that they should love Daring Do because she's "so awesome and cool!" It gets so bad that she straight up insults their own culture and belittles the statue of Somnambula as being crummy when she doesn't even know anything about why it means so much to them! I forgive this point only a little bit since she does seem to understand why they care about it so much after they've explained the story of Somnambula to her, but still, as a historian myself I know what a culturally insensitive thing it is to simply belittle another person's culture, especially when you don't know thing one about it. Rainbow Dash was acting like an idiotic Daring Do fangirl here, doing nothing but cheerleading for Daring Do for most of the episode in the most superficial of ways, which really isn't the kind of support Daring Do needed. She needed real friends who were ready to support her but also give her good advice and figure out how to address some truly genuine concerns. But instead she got Fangirl Dash, and considering just a few episodes ago we got an entire episode in "Fame and Misfortune" where the writers specifically called out and condemned the worst type of fanboy behavior in all kinds of nerdy fandoms, RD's behavior here feels hypocritical and in many ways makes "Fame and Misfortune" worse. Another point that makes "Fame and Misfortune" worse is simply the fact that RD's outing Daring Do as being A.K. Yearling in their journal wasn't what caused A.K. Yearling to retire; @Jeric and I both agreed that if that'd been the case it would have been a cool bit of continuity from that episode, but instead it's now clear that the show is simply ignoring that ever even happened, which makes "Fame and Misfortune" even less consequential to the show's continuity and canon than it already was. The worst part about RD, besides her poor writing in general (let's not forget while we're at it her forgetting how to fly, I mean, seriously) was that she didn't even have to be in this episode. She didn't really help Daring figure out to never stop having hope even if she made mistakes, that was mostly Pinkie and the story of Somnambula, and Somnambula wasn't even her Legends of Magic analogue, we already got that in Flash Magnus just a couple of episodes ago. So why did they include Rainbow Dash here? Simple, because it was a Daring Do episode and for some reason the writers feel like Rainbow is the only one of the Mane 6 who absolutely MUST be involved in any Daring Do episode. Frankly, that's a policy that I disagree with and I'll go into more details about that in the next section. But Daring Do is not some mirror image of Rainbow Dash, there's a ton more to her than that, so I don't see why other members of the Mane 6 can't just as easily adventure with her as well. Unfortunately, DHX clearly doesn't see it that way, and as a result RD just felt out of place in this story the whole time; she didn't really contribute anything, she only made matters worse for Daring, and the writers were forced to make her behave very stupidly in order to set up a very forced climax. Overall, this episode simply would have been far better if Rainbow Dash wasn't here at all, and if the show insisted she had to be, then she should have at least been acting far smarter and more considerate than she was here. OK, at first glance she may look like a terrifying, tyrannical pony Sphinx, BUT... ...I bet in reality she's just a cute widdle giant bird-cat pony who wants some belly rubs! What the Episode Could Have and Should Have Been As you can see, while the overall product we got in this episode was simply 'meh,' all of the meh elements in this episode make for a very unlikable product, far more unlikable than it should be. The worst part of this entire episode, as I said earlier, is that this could have at the very least been a good, if not great episode; the pieces were all there, they just simply didn't come together. A few changes, some minor, some major, would have given us something far better than we got, and so below I'm going to detail what direction I truly believe this episode should have taken instead. First of all, Rainbow Dash simply shouldn't have been the main character here. In fact, you don't even need to start it in Ponyville. The whole episode should have started in Somnambula so that we didn't waste five minutes outside of this setting itself, allowing the characters more time to explore this setting. Pinkie Pie could possibly still be there, but other candidates for supporting Mane 6 character could include Rarity (who would be well equipped to help with this dilemma) or Twilight (who really should be able to go on an adventure of her own with Daring Do, especially considering she's been a fan of hers far longer than Rainbow Dash has been). That said, the only pony who absolutely should have been there of the Mane 6, whether another Mane 6 member was accompanying her or not, is Fluttershy. For starters, it seems like she'd be better equipped to deal with this sort of problem; she's kind, considerate, and very much capable of listening to others but still offering helpful advice after she has heard their concerns. She could have been traveling to Somnambula for her own personal reasons, possibly to see some type of exotic creature, and while there she could overhear how much the locals didn't like Daring Do. After running into A.K. Yearling, she could explain to Fluttershy why the locals don't like her; Fluttershy would listen, be very supportive since she knows how to be kind and considerate to those struggling with some kind of personal dilemma, but also be in a prime position to help Daring confront this. They'd start going around, with Fluttershy asking others to explain why exactly they don't like Daring Do; she wouldn't impulsively shout them down any time they raised a concern, but patiently and quietly listen, possibly offering some gentle counterpoints now and then. She'd probably even be able to advise Daring on how to fix this situation after hearing their concerns. Secondly, Fluttershy just seems to be a far closer analogue to Somnambula than Pinkie Pie or Rainbow Dash are. After carefully thinking about it I'm pretty sure that Somnambula is supposed to be Pinkie's analogue from the Legends of Magic as opposed to Rainbow's, considering Flash Magnus is clearly hers, but frankly it's hard to see the connection in Pinkie's case too. I think it's supposed to stem from Somnambula spreading hope to others being comparable to how Pinkie, when she puts smiles on the faces of others, spreads hope to them, but to be honest that's not enough of a connection for me. While it's obvious that Mage Meadowbrook, a healer, will probably be Fluttershy's analogue, I think she clearly has far more in common with Somnambula than Pinkie Pie does. Somnambula may have been good at spreading hope to others in ways similar to how Pinkie does, but she also seemed somewhat quiet, reserved, thoughtful, and had this very natural nobility and grace to her demeanor and how she carried herself; watching her story play out, I was far more reminded about Fluttershy's character arc than I was Pinkie's. Fluttershy gives hope to others too in her kind, considerate behavior, and is usually very thoughtful in her actions. Hell, she has a very similar natural grace to how she carries herself just as Somnambula does, which ponies like Rarity and Photo Finish have pointed out in the past. Overall, it just felt like, after watching this, that Fluttershy would have been far more comparable to Somnambula than Pinkie Pie is supposed to be. Finally, having Fluttershy here would have gotten extra brownie points from me for simply being unique. As I said earlier, why should we have this rule that Rainbow Dash MUST show up in any Daring Do episode? Daring Do is beloved by ponies all over Equestria, whether or not they know she's real, and this includes multiple members of the Mane 6, all of whom have technically adventured with her at least once and are thus friends of hers just like Rainbow Dash is. RD contributed virtually nothing to the plot here and was downright unbearable at times, but having Daring go on an adventure with another member of the Mane 6 (or even a couple, like Fluttershy and Rarity or Fluttershy and Twilight) would have mixed things up a bit, giving this episode a distinct, unique element distinguishing it from all other Daring Do episodes. It's a shame the writers didn't consider this and instead went with the easier, lazier, more predictable route of giving Rainbow Dash the spotlight in another Daring Do episode, even though she really didn't deserve it here and only distracted from both the main problem as well as Pinkie Pie, who did far more to help Daring Do solve her personal dilemma than RD did at all. Other elements that could have been different as a result of these changes are (1) the town of Somnambula could have been more thoroughly explored if the episode had started there from the very beginning, (2) more adventurous elements could have and should have been added, including actual callbacks to Indiana Jones, particularly Raiders of the Lost Ark, (3) plot points wouldn't have necessarily felt so forced or contrived if characters had simply been approaching them more smartly and subtly, (4) with more time in Somnambula, Somnambula's own story could have been expanded upon to a certain extent, and (5) both Daring and the townsponies should have been gradually convinced that things weren't as bad as they thought and that there were good ways they could both resolve the problems they were facing and come to appreciate each other more. All of these new elements would have most likely resulted in a far better episode, one which was at the very least good, if not great, in its premise and execution. Unfortunately, that's not what we got. While most meh episodes in this show are simply forgettable, this one left a particularly bad taste in my mouth simply because of how much of its potential it failed to realize. It's hardly one of my least favorite episodes of the show ever, but it is one of the biggest disappointments the show's ever had, at least for me. With so much unrealized potential, this is a real shame, but it thankfully doesn't take away from the great things that this season has already done and will continue to do I'm sure. That's all I've got for you today, everypony, until next time this is Batbrony signing off! I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit* Huh... apparently the word of today for this episode is 'kinky'
  25. Good evening, everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! The hits just keep on coming in Season 7 with, yet again, another episode that was more than exceptional. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that "To Change a Changeling" was downright inspired in certain moments, especially in its writing. Let's not waste any more time dawdling on introductions and just get to it, without further ado, this is "To Change a Changeling"! Starlight Glimmer and Trixie - Imperfect Mediators Given how influential the Cutie Mark Map has become as a plot device in the show for helping the main cast find new friendship problems, most of us going into this episode were assuming that Starlight and Trixie would be chosen by it to visit the changelings. Much to our delighted surprise, this was not the case. Now, make no mistake, I don't mind the Cutie Mark Map in concept, nor in how it's used most of the time; DHX has shown restraint in not using it too much to the point that it would become an obvious and forced plot device crutch, and it is definitely a staple of the show by this point, but not in a tired or overused way. Still, given how likely it seemed that it would be used here, it was still pleasantly surprising and noteworthy to see that Starlight and Trixie were simply on hoof to help by accident more than anything else. They were simply coming by to surprise their friend Thorax with a visit and see what the state of the Hive in general was, but they had no idea what exact problems they were facing. This both helps make perfect sense as to why Spike wasn't there, and also helps put into context why Starlight and Trixie weren't the best prepared to help with this specific issue; while they share similar backgrounds with Pharynx, Starlight was a true ringleader (and as such shares more in common with the still-unreformed Chrysalis) while Trixie was (and to some extent still is) just an annoying nuisance more than anything else, who just so happened to get incredibly dangerous at one point by virtue of acquiring an incredibly powerful magical artifact. What really made them most helpful in this situation is that they both knew how much it can hurt to not really feel like you belong anywhere or are a part of anything, which was definitely at the heart of Pharynx's issues. We'll get into those more later on, but probably the biggest reason they weren't willing to give up on Pharynx is because they could sympathize with his situation; if somepony else had been there, they may have focused too much on how Pharynx was affecting the Hive, not how the Hive's situation was affecting Pharynx as well. Now, some may raise that Starlight was willing to recommend that Pharynx be kicked out of the Hive, but in her defense she (1) didn't believe that Pharynx had any willingness, inclination, or personal reasons or potential to change for the better at the time, (2) was trying to figure out what was best for the most parties involved, which did in fairness have to put precedent on the Hive first and foremost, and (3) changed her mind about this after learning more about who Pharynx was as an individual and realizing that he did have the potential to find his own place in the Hive again. Even though her initial recommendation that Pharynx be kicked out as well as her plan to lure maulwurf to the Hive so that Pharynx might have the chance to protect it and prove his worth to it both backfired, she did remain perseverant in her efforts to help both Thorax, Pharynx, and the Hive, and ultimately her and Trixie's efforts forced them to confront Pharynx's issues head on, instead of letting them fester and grow worse. On top of that, Starlight and Trixie were, as always, an entertaining pair. Trixie's ego is still as hilarious as when it backfires on her (her "teleportation spell GO!!!" bit was especially amusing, as was her constantly being a thorn in Starlight's side), Starlight found herself confronted by more than a few problems she wasn't necessarily very well equipped to handle (largely because of cultural differences between the ponies and changelings) which led to many amusing results, AND to top it all off, Starlight had a Braveheart moment that inspired absolutely... NOPONY!!! Well, at least for five minutes, but to be fair, it DID eventually work! All in all, while neither Starlight or Trixie had all of the answers for the changelings here, they still found a way to help them confront their problems and ultimately resolve them, which is to be commended considering most ponies probably would have balked at a problem like this. Good outing from the both of them, all in all, very solid indeed! "HELLO! My name is Starlight Glimmer, and today I am here to tell you about the maulwurf: Half Mole, Half Bear, Half Razor Sharp Claws!" In all honesty, that thing is bucking terrifying The Changelings - Old Habits Die Hard Oddly enough, the changelings themselves were at the heart of the Pharynx issue, or rather why it wasn't resolving itself all that well. As we can see, the whole Hive by this point has been reformed by Thorax's efforts and is now attempting to build a society built on giving and sharing love with one another rather than taking it, and for the most part those efforts are going quite well. The changelings still have to take many baby steps, but they are definitely getting there. However, what seems to be taking FAR longer to change is an interesting tendency of the changelings we haven't really discussed, largely because we've never gotten to see all that much of it: group-think. What do I mean by that? Let me explain. Now, clearly the changelings under Queen Chrysalis were essentially her thralls; she would call them things like her children, and even though she had some level of affection for them, they had no choice over the direction of their lives. This seems to have gone on for as long as changelings have existed, which could be hundreds if not thousands of years, meaning in all of that time they got very much used to every single member of their society "agreeing" to follow every single one of Queen Chrysalis's orders about the direction of their society and what they should do for it. Under King Thorax, they now have free will, but they are clearly still getting used to it; this was very well evidenced in both the scene where Thorax shows off some of their new cultural activities, as well as the Feelings Forum scene, by a number of clear examples. (1) Thorax shows the changelings engaging in very simple, basic cultural activities, like theater, potluck, swing dancing, and arts and crafts; with all of these activities taking place in the same space, the scene almost felt like an adult version of daycare was on display. I do not say that condescendingly, it actually makes perfect sense in fact that the changelings would need to start with very basic cultural activities like that; they've probably never had any opportunities to do anything like that given that their entire existence has always been devoted to only fulfilling Queen Chrysalis's wishes or surviving from taking the love of others. (2) Building off of that, the Feelings Forum scene shows us a changeling explaining that she thinks she's supposed to be a green changeling since that's what she transformed into, but sometimes wants to be a blue or a purple changeling; given that she can easily change into these, she's tempted to, but since she was transformed into a green changeling, she thinks that might be living a lie and not who she really is. (3) In the same scene, another changeling shares how arts and crafts time helped him cope with his own personal insecurities. OK, that's bucking adorable All of these scenes show us ways in which the changelings are grappling with their emerging individuality as they struggle to embrace their newfound free will; new cultural activities give them opportunities to discover differences between themselves and become more comfortable with their identities as unique individuals. Yet at the same time, it's a struggle because not only were they once a society where every member followed the same exact direction and path, but they also largely looked the same in their base changeling form, and were used to impersonating others; now, they have both free will and unique appearances, and while they clearly want to find out who they are as individuals, they're also scared of doing so, and some still love the possibilities of being whatever they'd want to be with their changeling powers, even though they know that wouldn't necessarily be who they really are, and would feel like they're both lying to themselves and others. The biggest thing by far, however, making it harder for them to break their old habits and way of thinking is without a doubt the Pharynx problem. Pharynx is, to most of the changelings, just being a pain in the flank, and when they are all agreed that he's a problem, they fall into a bad habit of group-think. It's still hard for them to have disagreements with one another, so given that Pharynx is universally disliked by all in the Hive when the episode starts, it's easy to see how they'd so easily agree with one another that they just want him to go. It's the easiest course of action, and all of them seem to want it, so of course it makes the most sense to them all! The problem with this is that, in their earnest universal agreement with one another, none of the changelings besides Thorax consider what they'd lose in kicking out Pharynx. They're too caught up in agreeing with one another that he's got to go that they never ask themselves what he might have to offer to the Hive instead; he's the most different from the rest of them now, the new Thorax essentially. And where Thorax had no place in the old Hive before, Pharynx in their eyes has no place in the new Hive now. But the first time around, Thorax being away from his people clearly wasn't the right call; sure he needed to live with ponies in order to discover what sharing love is truly like, but ultimately he needed to go back to them in order to help save them. Likewise, Pharynx leaving his people wouldn't have been the right move either, but again, the changelings dangerous habit of wanting universal agreement and accord among themselves in directing their society almost led to this happening. Overall, we got a fascinating look at the state of changeling society in the midst of a massive societal and cultural overhaul which told us a lot about who they used to be, who they are now, and what they aspire to be, probably the most of a look we've ever gotten at changelings as a whole. Also, I can't lie, some of the background changelings were amazing. We got "splashed by Pharynx with paint" changeling, Feelings Forum moderator changeling, Feelings Forum identity crisis changeling, Feelings Forum arts and crafts changeling, but by far my favorite had to be "My soup is too hot" changeling! That guy CLEARLY has his priorities straight and knows exactly what folks are coming to the Feelings Forum for! Soup on, my man, soup on. Soup Changeling, the only changeling who got exactly what he wanted out of the Feelings Forum!!! Pharynx and King Thorax - A Tale of Two Bros As much of a douche as he was, this was hilarious So now we finally come to the crux of this episode, King Thorax and his older brother, Pharynx. These two by the end of this episode serve as an interesting converse to the Two Sisters, Celestia and Luna, in Equestria, especially given Pharynx's late episode transformation. Whereas with the latter, the elder sibling, Celestia, has always been more bureaucratically minded (not just in her duties, but much fanon speculates this is the case as well) while the younger sibling, Luna, has always been the more aggressive of the two (to the point that some fanon has speculated that she is the more involved of the two in Equestrian military affairs), Thorax as the younger sibling is the far more diplomatic of the two while Pharynx, the elder sibling, is far more aggressive and militaristic (which makes sense given that such aggressive behavior used to be the norm for the changelings). Another interesting development is that, as pointed out earlier, Thorax used to be the odd-man out among the changelings, while Pharynx was as in as one could be as head of patrol for the entire Hive; the changeling transformation and reformation, however, flipped this on its head. Pharynx, when the episode begins, is by this point universally reviled by the rest of the Hive, with the exception of his younger brother, but even Thorax doesn't know how to deal with him. This is where things get most interesting. Initially, when we heard the premise of this episode as well as saw the beginning, it seemed like the most likely route it would take would be in showing that Pharynx alone had to change. The idea that he might even be in open rebellion against Thorax was not off the table. However, it quickly became apparent that that was not the case. Pharynx did not initially capture Starlight and Trixie out of spite against Thorax, in fact, he didn't even know who they were; instead he brought them to Thorax, claiming they were trespassers and enemies of the Hive, but then begrudgingly accepted Thorax's vouching for them. This right away made clear a couple of things: (1) Pharynx recognizes Thorax's authority as head of the Hive, even if he doesn't agree with or understand the new direction he's taking the Hive, (2) who's in charge of the Hive mattered less to Pharynx than the state of the Hive itself. Now to be fair, I'm not letting Pharynx off the hook entirely. He was clearly a pain in the flank of most of the Hive, and for confusing reasons at times. He needlessly tears down or destroys some of the Hive's new decorations, constantly was butting heads with the other changelings and frightening them (even doing crazy shit like pouring black paint on a changeling to make her look more intimidating), and even seemed to miss sucking love from other ponies like they used to (he did not hide his disdain of ponies much at all, though that never really stopped him from working with Starlight or Trixie if he felt it was worth working with them). However, in his defense, most of this nostalgia seems to stem not from his enjoying being evil for the sake of being evil, but simply having a FIERCE protective streak in him, both for Thorax as well as the rest of the Hive; if he simply wanted to be evil for the sake of being evil, he'd probably have left already and joined Queen Chrysalis, wherever she's at. Instead, Thorax stayed loyal to the Hive, even if he hates what it's currently like and can't wrap his head around it because, like the other changelings, he's not used to the idea of a society where its members have different likes, interests, and ideas, including things they disagree on. Despite his stubbornly refusing to embrace things like a softer outlook on life and gentler activities like Thorax was promoting, Pharynx does actually love something; he loves the Hive, he loves the changelings in it, and he'd do anything to protect them. No joke, I ADORE Deer Bug Pony 2.0's design and coloring, the antlers especially tie the whole look together (@PathfinderCS agreed?)!!! Now, Pharynx is clearly a placeholder for ANY group of people (or an individual) who another, opposing group just wishes would go away, the idea being that life would be so much simpler if he/she/they were gone, rather than finding a way to work with them instead. More specifically, however, he is clearly a stand-in for a conservative individual; I do not say this, even as a moderate conservative myself, because of some victim complex or anything. Pharynx had his own issues to work out, certainly, especially in figuring out how he could still appreciate a place he very much still loved when it didn't look anything like he wanted it to and he felt he had no true place in it. But nonetheless, I have to very much commend DHX for making him so sympathetic in this instance, because while Pharynx was certainly acting like a jerk, the show was far more critical, it seemed, of the idea of kicking him out. The "progressive" changelings, if you will, for the most part thought the best solution would simply be kicking him out of the Hive, rather than finding a way to live with him and incorporate him into it, even if it was harder. The only reason Thorax even stood up for Pharynx wasn't because he was his brother, but because Pharynx showed him when they were younger that he did have his own ways of caring for others, even if he still had a gruff exterior. But it took Starlight and Trixie forcing a confrontation with the maulwurf to show the whole Hive how Pharynx still belonged; Thorax's initial plan to lure the maulwurf away from the Hive may have worked, but it might not have been a permanent solution. Pharynx, on the other hand, was the only changeling acting like he had any gonads left; now it makes sense that the changelings, now having to share love with one another, would initially try to avoid as much aggression as they could, but still, they clearly went too far and in their earnest embracing of their new lives, forgot that sometimes protecting yourselves requires force, not just peaceful solutions. Pharynx was far more a protector than an aggressor at his heart, even if he overcompensated for his new role as outsider in the Hive by putting on far too aggressive of an exterior. Some bronies have also pointed out that Pharynx isn't even just a stand-in for a lone conservative voice who feels like the world he has always known has, all too quickly, left him far behind, but also a stand in for military veterans. This is a very curious but accurate point, I believe. Pharynx, like many military veterans, feels that his efforts to protect the Hive are misunderstood and unappreciated by a soft public that doesn't understand why he has to do what he does. With how gentle the changelings have become by this point, he's clearly at a point in life where not only does his role in the Hive feel muddled, confused, ambiguous and uncertain, but downright pointless and thankless. This is probably at the core of most of his aggression, aside of course from his background as a servant of Chrysalis. He clearly needs to change and find a new place in this new changeling society, but he doesn't need to change as much as most of the changelings think he does. He can still have his gruff exterior and tough as nails persona, he just has to be willing to accept that the other changelings aren't like that now while still finding a way to work with them. In turn, the other changelings need to accept that Pharynx is the way he is to their benefit, that it's OK if he isn't as gentle or loving as the rest of them, that he can still love the Hive just like they do in his own way and even help them be better at protecting it too. At the heart of this episode is the complex message that difference is not a dirty word, even if that which is different from you may, on the surface, be a pain in the ass. When dealing with something or someone like that, you have one of two things you can do. You can either take the easy route with someone like that and just have nothing to do with them, ignore them, even cast them out from your life and society as much as you can; this is even easier if everyone else you know wants to do the same. But just because it's the easiest route doesn't mean it's the best route. In doing so, you keep both yourself and the person or group you loathe so much from discovering what you may have in common, that you both are, when you get down to it, both perfectly decent for the most part even if you look at things very differently, and that you both have valuable things to contribute to your society and each other, and can even make each other better when you find ways to work with and cooperate with one another. Taking the hard route and finding a way to do just that, live with, love, and appreciate someone who lives their life and views things completely differently than you do may be much more difficult, but it is also far more rewarding to you, the 'other' and society as a whole. I've made many friends myself, both in real life and on the forums, who have VERY different world views than I do, and while I may not share all of the same views with them, I know that deep down they're still good people who I am more than happy to know and be friends with, and that when we're friends with each other, we're both better for it. Pharynx AND the Hive both go through this transformation by the end of the episode, understanding that they both need each other and still love and appreciate each other, even if they don't always get each other. Not always getting someone else is OK as long as you don't let it blind you to whether or not they are a good person. This subtle and complex message is why I highly appreciate what this episode did, and why it is yet again another amazing addition to an already amazing season of MLP. Don't think there's really much else I can cover, so that's all I've got for ya today everypony! Until next time everypony, this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit*