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  1. Title: Campfire TalesAir Date: August 26, 2017Written By: Barry Safchik and Michael PlattSynopsis: When their sister camping trip is ruined by Fly-ders, Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash tell Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, and Scootaloo the stories of their favorite legends; inspired by the tales, the girls make the most out of their new situation. Episode Promo Sooooo, long ago I used to do these episode threads. I had a fondness for doing these occasional 'Dad Jokey' type images, usually poking fun at speculation, the characters, pop culture or the MLPF community. So I figured, why not?
  2. I searched in the Search box if there was a Apple Bloom fan club so i did not see any there so i decided to make a Apple Bloom fan club. Apple Bloom is my favorite CMC.As you know she has two siblings Big Macintosh (Older Brother),Apple Jack (Big Sister).She also has a grandma named "Granny Smith". I know there's fans out there that are a fan of Apple Bloom.
  3. Now,before you answer "helping other ponies find their cutie mark" or something similar,I need to make sure that I'm talking about her secondary talent,or rather,the talent that separate her from the rest of the CMCs Since season 1,the show had show us the talent of the two other crusaders.Sweetie Belle is good at singing,so she get a music note as her cutie mark representing her singing talent and a star to represent her potential to become a star/idol. For Scootaloo,we know that she has a talent of scooting by flapping her wings and speed herself up.And in her cutie mark,there's a lightning that represent how her talent towards speed,and a wings to tell us how she achieve her talent. But for Apple Bloom,things don't seem do concrete.The show never directly tell us her talent.It's true that she was shown to be able to do constructions,potion making,martial art and dancing.However,none of talents are especially symphazied as the other two did,and none of the talents manifest in her cm.In fact,it seems that many Earth Ponies have cutie marks of abstract meaning and symbolism rather than actual talent.For example,Cheerilee has three smiling flowers as her cm to show her caring nature.Diamond TIara has a tiara as a cm to show her talent in leadership.Applejack has the cm of three apples to show what she value most.Silver Spoon has a silver spoon cm out of...unknown meaning. An apple and a heart.The apple certainly don't mean any direct things like apple farming,making apple products and something like that.We know that Apple Bloom love helping others,but she don't seems to be more helpful than the other CMCs.So,what do the symbols here represent (other than a member of the Apple family)? My theory is that it represent her multipotentialist nature.Maybe the apple here is to symbolize growth. In the "Elements of Harmony" handbook,the description of her goes like,"Like her name suggests,she is full of potential but has a lot of growing to do."With this evidence,and her vague description on talent throughout the series,I think her cm is to show her learning ability,openmindness and curiosity in contrast of the "specialist" nature of many other ponies like the mane 6. So,what do you think the cutie mark truly represent?
  4. Note: Expanded my original thoughts. Credit also goes to @AlexanderThrond, @Odyssey, and @OptimisticNeighsayer for it. With a world as magical and fantastical as Equestria, any form of mystical being is possible. They may sound like fairytales (or "pony's tales," as what Spike once said about the Mare in the Moon). Not too often does the show do the opposite: establish the legend of a mystical jokester no one witnessed and make both ponies and viewers wonder if he doesn't exist. Considering the amount of lore in the series (both in the TV series and comics), it's an undertaking for the show to give this concept any benefit of the doubt. That was partially Applejack's role, as her stubbornness and eye for logic initially play a role in downplaying and explaining other ways for phenomenons to work beyond a "just-because" shortcut. Additionally, Applejack's stubbornness usually lasts all the way through the climax. The Mane Attraction is the lone time to use it as a strength rather than a flaw. Just like the lore, Rapp reigns her flaw in. Instead of making her impose her stubbornness on everyone else, she's stuck with a dilemma: promise Granny and Big Mac to help round up every apple in Sweet Apple Acres and not try to hurt Apple Bloom's feelings. More on this later. Building up this dilemma in the first half was its biggest weakness, and there are a few reasons why. The first half is loaded with exposition. The rest of the Mane 8 were written off early, automatically turning it Apple-focused. But using a one-line shortcut cheapens the direction. Even the lore of the confluence (the time where every apple is ripe simultaneously) doesn't hold much weight, as it's attached to the clunky "moon" length of time and explained very early on. Additionally, the episode repetitiously reminds the viewer how catching the Sass Squatch-like trickster*; once is fine, thank you. *The AJ Micro revolved around a "Sass Squatch," a mystical creature that changed apples into squashes, and Applejack was stubborn as Boulder to try to capture him alone for most of the issue. Until the end of the flashback, it was really slow and bland, with surface jokes that aren't all that funny. Usually, they were related to either Goldie's "crazy-cat-lady" shenanigans or Big Mac's exhaustion, and nothing more beyond that. One of the only ones to work that well was Goldie's cats distracting her to steal her pancakes. Although it was a problem for the whole episode, the dialogue in the first half was quite repetitive. I don't need to specifically hear "Great Seedlin'" all the time. Throughout most of her time as a foal and filly, Applejack learned of his legend and the reward for catching it, so he spent good time every confluence to set up traps rather than buck the apple trees. However, she forgot where one of the traps were and was stuck in a deep hole for most of the day. She felt so upset for it that she felt like she let herself and her family down over trying to chase a mystical creature that may not even exist. Therefore, as what @OptimisticNeighsayer wrote, she established a "sour grapes" approach to the fairytale, eschewed the Great Seedling as nothing more than fairytale, and focused primarily on working the farm. It established why she can be so work-driven (nicely pointed by Alexander Thrond, his post linked further down), shown in past episodes like Applebuck Season and AJ's "Day" Off. So why is this, by far, the worst moment of the first half? Because of this: Goldie and Granny don't treat her mistake as a big deal, even though it is to her, evident by her tone and glum expressions. Combine that with Goldie's smugness, Granny's decision to explain right there why AJ became cynical in the first place, and their disagreement from earlier, it unfortunately implicates that Granny told AB the story as a "gotcha!" to put AJ in her place. AB tries to soften the blow by staying by her older sister and refusing to join her grandma and relative (and Goldie shaking her hoof after they accidentally ran too close was a little bit of accidental karma), but neither of them were held accountable for not taking AJ's hurt seriously, making the overall tone of the moment and flashback really mean-spirited. To borrow from @Odyssey, if it wasn't shown in AJ's point of view or have her bitterness dominate the mood, then perhaps the scene would feel more whimsical, and the tone's direction wouldn't be so convoluted. Thankfully, the rest of the episode picks up from there, focusing on Apple Bloom and AJ's bond. Whereas Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo had bonding episodes with their older sisters (both biological and surrogate) previously, AB never had that, as episodes where she shares a focus are more on herself (and for Brotherhoves Social, her relationship with Big Mac). The one time where there was some kind of bonding episode between her and AJ was Somepony to Watch Over Me, and that's an AJ-focused episode and AJ's worst appearance of the first five seasons. Recall AJ's dilemma that I mentioned earlier, and I'm going to expand from @AlexanderThrond post with my own thoughts. Yes, she wants to help everyone else, but catchin' him mattered to AB. That's why she was gentle when talking to her about it and tried to add uncertainty to the legend. More importantly, AJ didn't want her own trauma to similarly affect her. In short, to softly ask that question of the Great Seedlin' being real or not was a warning without trying to intrude. But she was also willing to help her and make her happy however possible, which is why they agreed to compromise on Day 2: If they work together to harvest the trees, they'll set up the traps later. Rather than make AJ so stubborn to the point of blindness like her Micro, the episode eases her stubbornness and allows her to be open-minded to his existence being possible. This moment and AJ's flashback tie a little bow on the first half and commence the second half's direction, giving them the bonding episode they sorely needed. Two moments, though, really stand out. Their montage was really heartwarming. Rather than let Granny and Goldie get the best of her, she helped AB prepare the traps, using both her own memories back in the day to place them in the best spots and ability to build to build them faster and effectively. Skeptical at first, she progressively showed to having a lot of fun setting them all up. Pay attention to the change of facial expression from this to this to this. When she said she had fun, she meant it; the facial expressions and length of time they put in to building those traps back her up. You can tell she was starting to evolve from an ol' prune to a shiny plum. This was the first confluence since she was a filly, and by helping AB, she reminded herself of the good fun she had then. Yes, she still has responsibilities, but quality time with her young sis healed painful wounds and let her loosen up in life. While Big Mac struggles to clean the orchard on time, AJ and AB are having fun off-screen, and after discovering an empty orchard, they'll accept any help possible to solve it, including listening to one of Goldie's Great Seedling tales. After some advice on how to improve their chances of catching him, they have one of their best heart-to-heart moments of the series. Now, even though they don't know Big Mac unintentionally disguised himself as the mythical deer, the episode makes his identity way too obvious. From the opening shot, the camera spies on him being exhausted at the table and accidentally falling asleep on the breakfast table. Over the next eighteen minutes or so, his expression and behavior deteriorate, such as sleeping on the floor, not observing his surroundings, sagging and drying eyes, not cleaning up the apples right away to knock the apples down easier, sleepwalking, and so on. However, despite the mystery behind the Seedling, that wasn't the point. Its focus was on Applejack eventually letting her hair down to reminisce and enjoy being a kid with a sister who was too young to participate last time. The hunt was merely the plot device to bring them together. So is it the worst episode of the season so far? Yes. But compared to the previous first halves, is this way better than Boast Busters, AJ's "Day" Off, Fake It, and The Cutie Pox? One hundred percent. Overcoming first-half hiccups, Going to Seed's the AJ Micro done better and a fine overall addition to the series.
  5. Playing with the ages of the characters Granny Smith is at the edges of her "prime" when the Bright Mac and Pear Butter are very young, though they can talk (about three years old). Exactly 15 years later, they marry clandestinely and Buttercup joins the Apple family. Assume that they have Big Macintosh immediately. Applejack and Big Mac can be pretty close in age, say three years apart. Apple Bloom is born much later. Big Mac hasn't aged visibly between "Where the Apple Lies" and the first episode. Let's say he's 18 in WTAL and AJ is 15. Assuming Apple Bloom is born very soon after this episode, then she is 15 years younger than AJ, and 18 younger than Mac, and her parents were 36 when they had her. Then they died, I guess. Now assume Apple Bloom is six at the start of the first episode (five year old Sweetie Belle looks a little younger, so six is probably the youngest that would make sense). That puts the meeting of Applejack's parents 39 years in the past. Assuming Granny smith was in her early thirties at that point, now she's 70. Mrs. Cake, if she were the same age as the Apple parents, would be 42 now, but keeping this number low seems necessary. We can let he be two years younger than Pear butter. This number is controlled by basically every number previously mentioned, so they have to be kept low too. As an aside, the Cakes seem to be masterful at raising an infant, so it's possible they had a previous child who has since moved out. This is possible if they had an earlier child at around 20. Mayor Mare can be the same age as the parents. So if everyone were alive at the start of the show, the ages would be: Granny Smith: 70 ( = 6 + 18 + 15 + 31) Mayor Mare: 42 ( = 6 + 18 + 15 + 3) Bright Mac: 42 ( = 6 + 18 + 15 + 3) Pear Butter: 42 ( = 6 + 18 + 15 + 3) Mrs. Cake: 40 ( = 6 + 18 + 15 + 3 - 2) Big Mac: 24 ( = 6 + 18) Applejack: 21 (= 6 + 15) Apple Bloom: 6 Wow, that sounds about right actually. Applejack says she was late in getting her cutie mark, so she can be older than the rest. AJ and Fluttershy: 21 The rest: 20. Spike hatched when Twilight was about six, so he's 14 at the start of the series. I like the idea of Starlight being younger than the Mane 6, since her Father treats her like a child, and she acts out in immature ways. I don't think she had her village for that long, say one year, or else someone would have called the authorities. The season 5 premiere happens a little more than a year after the first episode. Assuming she started the village at age 17 (having skipped a grade or something) with other impressionable young adults and ruled it for one year, that would make her 18 on her first appearance, and 17 at the start of the series (off screen). Making Trixie the same age also makes sense. Starlight: 17 Trixie: 17 What do you think?
  6. WIP A Perfect Pair - Gone but not forgotten I'm including both of these characters together since they are indeed the perfect pair. I'm a hopeless romantic who was lucky enough to live a great romance and this couple is hooves down the greatest depiction of romantic love in FiM. This is as close to a holy grail OTP that the show can ever hope to achieve. Their story is as epic as the anticipation of finally seeing them depicted as characters, fully realized. The writers did not disappoint when crafting their love story. Many of us have waited years for this moment. I hope this topic will stand as a way to showcase them as a couple and also individually. A thread to remember them by in a sense. "A moment in our lives, a lifetime in our hearts."
  7. Why wasn't the CMC, Diamond Tiara, and Silver Spoon not at Camp Everfree? Snips and Snails were there, and they should be the same grade or at least some of the same classes that they are, for what we know from Friendship is Magic. So why didn't they go?
  8. Sometimes, you have to make threads about ponies. Threads about cute, underrated ponies. So here, I have made a Babs Seed thread. Just discuss and drop of pictures of Babs Seed. A few rules -No spamming post to become biggest fans -This is a children’s show, and believe it or not there are younger people who go on these forums, please limit content to suggestive only. For example you may post a picture of two ponies kissing, but they cannot be doing anything inappropriate, or showing things inappropriate. -Do not post a picture of other ponies in this thread, because they belong in their own threads, unless of course Babs is also in the picture. -Do not hate on another fan club -All of MLP Forums rules still apply. -Fan art is encouraged but all images with the exception of the cover image in this first post must have the proper spoiler tags. Large amounts of unspoilered images on a single page can often cause lag and nobody likes to deal with lag.
  9. This pose is really hard that it took me an hour and a half to get it right Just a weekend drawing after a busy week in uni, enjoy Apple Bikini if that's your thing.
  10. Having Starlight and Trixie together in the movie means it has to take pace after "No Second Prances" sense that's the first time they met. Not having the Royal Guard would explain why Celestia had Flash Magnus be the new drill sargent after season 7. Having it take place then would also explain why the changelings and the Pillers of Equestria were not in the movie but I'm not sure about the yaks but if the movie takes place after "No Second Prances" the mane 6 haven't been to Yakyakistan yet, unless you count Pinkie kinda. But griffins probably wouldn't want to help, and sense Ember just became Dragon Lord she probably needs to impose her rule, and that I don't think the ponies would trust all the dragons yet to listen to Ember. As for the map expanding, remember the map was broken after "The Cutie Re-Mark", which would also explain why it took so long and that Mount Aris needed to be repaired and the new train station there. As for Twilight saying "This happened while we were gone?" could be when they went after the Pony of Shadows instead of the Storm King. Why Sandbar mentioned The Storm King but not Queen Chrysalis nor the Pony of Shadows is that no pony would probably know that Chrysalis replaced the mane 6, the princesses, etc and that the Pony of Shadows never appeared in public, and why Apple Bloom was recapping the movie in "surf and/or Turf" was because The Storm King was what directly affected the hippogriffs. This I the best I can do saying it takes place between season 6 episodes 6-7 and explaining how. But there is one thing that contradicts all of this unless you can help me, the new throne room, it is possible they were working on a new throne room for a while and was finished in the movie in a different part of the castle and was going to turn the old throne room into something else but for what happened to the new one in the movie they had to go back to the old one while that was being repaired, but the whole of Canterlot got repaired when they retuned all the magic at the end of the movie? Write below if you can think of any reason why Celestia and Luna would still be using the old throne room until season 8.
  11. Had Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle finished a month ago, and Apple Bloom I just finished earlier.
  12. This was my entry for the NaPoWriMo: The Gift of Hearth's Warming. Unfortunately, it didn't win. but, if at first, you don't succeed try, try again. Now that I have somewhat of a better understanding I might give it another go the next time. until then, please check out the story and leave your thoughts down in the comments. I hope you enjoy.
  13. 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*
  14. 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
  15. THis is something that came up in my head. But what if some event requires one member of the main Cutie Mark Crusaders to leave Ponyville for another area? For example: Despite having a different Cutie Mark, Sweetie Belle ends up becoming more skilled with magic. So much so that it catches Princess Celestia's eyes and she is enrolled in the School for Gifted Unicorns. As a result, she has to live up in Canterlot, separate from Apple BLoom and Scootaloo. ANd every day, she misses her close friends. However, she sets up a Cutie Mark Crusader base to help the blank flanks of Canterlot find their Cutie Marks. What are you thoughts on this idea?
  16. "And then... the brash, hotheaded, boastful pegasus Prism Sprint painted ALL of the Peach family's peaches as a prank along with the earth pony who eats too much sugar, Blue Brownie, costing the Peach family an incalculable amount of loss in time, labor, and product! OOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" "Why does this story sound familiar when I've never heard it before?" "Just think about it, sugar cube, I'm sure it'll come to ya eventually." Good afternoon everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"!! Me oh my, this show has seriously got to stop throwing so much amazing at us, for real! I have not seen track records of flat-out great episodes in this show, this consistently, since Season 2 (in my estimation, at least). We got a break last week with an episode that was very much just good, not great, but the show returned to giving us more great episodes again this week in the delightful "Campfire Tales"! This one's gonna be a pretty easy episode to review as I can simply go sequentially through the episode itself, so without further ado, let's dive right in. This is "Campfire Tales." Alright, so this episode set out to do not one, but two things, and given that it had writers who've never written for the show before (Barry Safchik and Michael Platt, respectively), that was no easy feat. However, unlike with Becky Wangberg's atrocious debut in "Hard to Say Anything," these two clearly did their homework, and the result was a great episode. So, just what exactly did the episode aim to do? First, it needed to act as solid continuity to Season 3's amazing "Sleepless in Ponyville," which we all of course remember most for being the first episode in which Rainbow Dash decided to start acting as a surrogate older sister to Scootaloo, but was also just as enjoyable for the camping subplot in which Applejack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo all go on a camping trip together. Now, for the most part the episode handled the continuity great; it's one minor flaw was that the dialogue at the beginning suggested that this was their first annual camping trip since the last one, suggesting only a year had passed in the show since Season 3, and I refuse to believe that given everything that has happened. But that's easy enough to ignore, so I don't need to gripe about it too much. The other thing that the episode set out to do was add some very cool canon of its own to the MLP:FiM universe canon, while still juggling it's primary plot in the present, and in this the episode splendidly succeeded as well, introducing us to characters recently introduced to the MLP comics themselves in the still ongoing "Legends of Magic" series! Let's take a closer look at just how the episode succeeds in both of these respects. So to start things off we get an absolutely delightful opening scene setting up the camping trip itself, establishing that this is now an annual tradition of these three pairs of sisters. We see that Applejack is, as always, the grounded center of this group of six ponies (no surprise given that she's been trying to be a family matriarch since a young age due to the untimely death of her parents, especially for Apple Bloom, and she has the most experience being a dependable sibling of any of the older ponies here, so she can run a show like this no sweat); Rarity for her part has become considerably more practical for a trip like this, though delightfully still brings her own unique touch to it, just in a more reasonable manner; and Rainbow Dash for her part is mostly focused on using this time to hang out with Scootaloo, which makes sense considering (1) she's very busy as a Wonderbolt these days, so probably doesn't have much time to regularly hang out with Scoots, and (2) she has the most reason to do as much bonding with her surrogate sister as she can, seeing as she's been treating her like family for the least amount of time of all three older siblings and thus has the most developing of her relationship to do with Scoots. As for the CMC, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle seemed pretty chill in their activities, but Scootaloo's own behavior further emphasizes my point that she and Rainbow Dash's bonding is especially important to each other on this trip. While the other two pairs of sisters clearly see this as one of many things they do together, Scootaloo and Rainbow both clearly see this as an event that will always be special to them seeing as it was the foundational event of their "sisterhood." On top of that, Scootaloo also clearly is far more nervous in nature now than Apple Bloom or Sweetie Belle are; her nightmares on their previous trip clearly left a bad impression on her, and this was, for me, one of my favorite bits of continuity. In a lesser show, she'd be over these fears by now as if they didn't happen, but here the writers had fun with the idea of Scootaloo instead kinda not doing too well in nature, which added variety to the group as a whole. Some people can camp no sweat like the Apples, others do it while still needing as many comforts from home as possible, like Rarity and Sweetie (though Sweetie would probably do better without them than Rarity would), and others are either bad at survival skills, like Rainbow (given that she almost ate poisonous berries before Scootaloo told her what they were) or just do not do well in nature at all and find it to be an unsettling place they don't ever get used to, like Scootaloo. But anyway, moving on, the trip is off to a lovely start... that is until of course it's interrupted by a fresh spawn of hell in this show's canon, FLY-DERS!!!! Yes, Fly-ders, little bastards that are apparently flies crossed with spiders and all the more terrifying for it. These bastards from the Luna Bay area way up in Northwest Equestria will bite you, web you (apparently they're even carnivorous considering AJ, who seemed to know the most about them, was doing everything in her power to stay away from them), and web up all your shit too just because they can! In other words, they are the Equestrian equivalent of the hyena: NATURE'S ASSHOLE!!!!!! So after the swarms of fly-ders appear, the group is forced to flee into a nearby cave, and the older ponies (after Rainbow quite hilariously and recklessly fetches their campfire from the fly-der swarms) decide to raise their younger sisters spirits and pass the time (hoping the fly-ders will soon leave) telling them all campfire stories, namely stories about their favorite Equestrian legends. Applejack starts off with the legend of Rockhoof, a legendary earth pony whose sheer determination in the face of impossible odds magically unlocked his strength as he saved his village from certain destruction! The story itself was delightful, especially in seeing the Norse-type culture that Rockhoof belonged to, but the real highlight for me was in how Applejack told it. Unlock the other two pairs of sisters, this was a story that Apple Bloom had already heard many times (further highlighting how naturally close those two are as sisters, and delightfully conveyed in how excited Apple Bloom got at certain parts of the story, even squeeing in anticipation, which was too adorable). The backgrounds were especially impressive to me; while Rarity's story probably had the most artistically beautiful backgrounds, and Rainbow's even had the biggest, this somehow felt bigger, even though it was technically a more confined story than Rainbow's was. I think it has to do with how the volcano so nicely contrasted the blue sky; normally an erupting volcano would be surrounded by a sky full of ash and fire in a scene like this, but here you had this massive volcano overlooking this tiny pony village, but contrasted wonderfully by a picturesque blue sky. The lava effects as well, although hardly the first time we've seen them, were very cool, and Rockhoof was quite an awesome character. Since we know that the Season 7 finale is going to tie into the Legends of Magic somehow, I cannot wait to see more of this guy in the finale when it comes around! Aside from being an earth pony, Rockhoof didn't tie too explicitly into the Apple Family like the other two stories tie into their respective characters, but I was OK that; it's easy enough to believe this is a favorite story among earth ponies in general, so Applejack probably heard it from her parents too when she was younger, plus of course I could easily see a character like Rockhoof overcoming his smaller size to do the impossible inspiring younger earth ponies like Applejack used to be before she could do greater feats of strength. Huh, I wonder what he's screaming at... Oh... yeah, that makes sense The next interlude leads into my favorite segment of the entire episode, Rarity's story. Things are set up nicely when Sweetie Belle expresses boredom at their current plight. Rarity in turn starts to do something I wish we saw in the show more often, use her generous nature and eye for aesthetic beauty to the benefit of others in creative ways most would never think of doing. First she shows Sweetie Belle that there's more to the cave they're in than meets the eye, showing how flecks of gold dot its wall (further emphasizing her eye for spotting gems and precious minerals as well), and even uses their campfire to create beautiful shadow puppets (and a pretty humorous throwback to ballerina Twilight as well). I love now knowing that Rarity can both do this, as well as the fact that she clearly used the shadow puppets to help tell her story. While it's possible that Twilight told Rarity about what she did, for some reason I find it more likely (and amusing) that Starlight told Rarity when they were both talking about how OCD Twilight can be sometimes Then she proceeds to tell the best story of the lot, about a unicorn by the name of Mistmane. Mistmane lived in a corner of Equestria where some type of ancient Japanese-inspired culture was prevalent, and the scenery we got to see there was too amazing to describe! So many colors, beautiful buildings, backgrounds, and clothing we've never seen in the show before, and even unicorns with curved horns, something that has only appeared, to date, in either the MLP comics or fan art! As for Mistmane herself, she was a beautiful unicorn and powerful sorceress who was forced to defeat her best friend Sable Spirit, now the empress of their region, who, after trying to magically make herself more beautiful, only made herself more ugly instead, and in her rage chose to have all of her subjects spend their days doing nothing but beautify her palace. Mistmane easily defeats Sable, but then does an even greater act of heroism; saddened by the state of her home, and simply wanting to bring back hope to her people, Mistmane puts all of her magic into restoring both her home and Sable, at the cost of her own beautiful features. While it doesn't fix everything her people have lost, their hope is restored, as is the Sable's perspective upon being shocked by how generous and selfless Mistmane was for the sake of others. Sable resolves to reflect Mistmane's generosity as best she can for the rest of her days, and the land is restored as ponies return to leading their old, happy lives. Mistmane herself spends the rest of her days wandering the countryside, assisting ponies with her magic wherever she can, and spreading beauty along the way as she does; even if there's nothing she can do or nothing for her to do to help someone, the least she can do is make their day a little brighter with something beautiful. What makes this story the highlight of the episode is not only the fact that it's a beautiful story in its own right about generosity, the value of true aesthetic beauty when used appropriately, and self-sacrifice for the good of others and how that is the highest beauty of all, but also the fact that it gives us so much insight into Rarity's own philosophy about both aesthetic beauty and generosity, and how they tie together for her so naturally. This didn't sound so much like a story she would have grown up with like Applejack did, on the contrary, this felt more like something she would have come across when she was growing older, possibly during her college days (so to speak); the story was far more refined and developed than Applejack or Rainbow Dash's were, and it clearly held dear personal meaning to Rarity. She very deliberately saw herself, or at least a pony whose example she wants to follow, in Mistmane, though unlike Rainbow she did not flat out state it either. For her, in this moment, it was most meaningful sharing something so personal and beautiful with her friends and her beloved sister, further illustrating how, even in telling this story, Rarity's generous nature was on display, and also went hoof in hoof with her love of spreading beauty to others as well. Hands down the best segment of this episode for me, it just might also be Rarity's highlight moment of Season 7 thus far, making "Campfire Tales," oddly enough, Rarity's best appearance in Season 7 to date, which is incredibly odd given that she was not the primary focus of the episode itself. I cannot even begin to imagine how complicated and technically difficult some of the animation and backgrounds were in this story... I mean... JUST LOOK AT ALL OF THIS!!! Easily some of the best, complex, and most beautiful animation we've seen in all of Season 7, or the entire show for that matter, so far! Finally, after Rainbow causes a cave in when the fly-ders (little bastards that they are) start advancing on the group again, Scootaloo has a near panic attack, and Rainbow decides it's her turn to tell a story. Uh, Rainbow, I think ya got something on your... ya know what, nevermind, I'm sure you'll notice eventually The best part about the set up for this one (as well as the story itself) is that Rainbow is clearly telling this to calm Scootaloo down. It fits Rainbow's demeanor and personality that she is protective to her surrogate sister, and doing something like this is about as much of a softy as she typically gets. She may have acted a bit gruff at times, acting as though she were annoyed at Scootaloo's panic, but really you could tell she was just trying to put on a brave face for her as she reassured her everything was going to be OK. The story itself wasn't particularly remarkable (especially after Rarity's), but Flash Magnus is easily the best Flash on this show (suck it, Flash Sentry), and it did feature some pretty awesome flying scenes as well as some of the best dragon action of the show (including with, presumably, Ember's father, the former Dragon Lord Torch). I did find it super cool on a personal level that the commander of the pegasi in the Royal Legion was called Commander Ironhoof; I say this because I have a minor character featured in Equestrian history in my own fic-universe in my fic "Batmare Begins" whose name was Eisenhuf, that is, German for Ironhoof! Total coincidence of course, but it was pretty cool seeing the show runners decide that's a badass name for a pony just like I did some time ago. Other than that, the story featured some cool action and a cool new Equestrian hero (I'm going to presume it took place before the Sisters arrived since the pegasi seemed to be in old Pegasopolis armor), but a fairly standard lesson about one's loyalty bringing out your most heroic side. This felt more like a story Rainbow would have learned in school than from her parents, but instantly latched onto when she first heard it; being totally awesome as a result of your loyalty to your companions and friends is something she clearly prizes, so it's unsurprising this was one of her favorite stories. OK, that is admittedly bucking awesome... ...but holy shit, that's adorable!!! After the close of Rainbow's story, (and a failed attempt from Applejack to clear the cave in, but to her credit, she did come close; let's say she had her very own "Captain America almost lifts Mjolnir" moment and almost channeled some Pie-family magic into her strength) the sisters decide to go through the back of the cave, and follow an underground river. Their spirits have all been bolstered at this point by the stories, both young and old, and the river, fortuitously enough, leads to Winsome Falls, their destination for the camping trip. The younger sisters, emboldened by the stories they've just been told, are determined to salvage the trip here, and the older sisters are happy to oblige, glad to see their younger counterparts happy. The episode closes on a happy note, and all is well. Woah! Check out the return of wet-mane Rarity (bonus points for a lil' wet-mane AJ too ... oh don't look at me like that, YOU KNOW YOU WERE THINKING IT TOO!!! ) If this episode has any lesson at all (besides those contained in the stories themselves) it's in the power of older siblings to impact their younger siblings lives for the better in the low moments. Older siblings, especially when their siblings are genuinely smaller than them, can do things they can't, but more importantly are figures they look up to. This doesn't mean the things older siblings do always have to be big, rather, small acts are often some of the most important that their siblings will remember years later. The little ways they went out of their way for them when they didn't have to. As an older sibling myself, I loved getting to see these sides of Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash once more, always do whenever it happens, and so I found myself very, very appreciative for everything this episode did. It's another great episode of Season 7, and me, I got no complaints on my end about that. Until next time, everypony, this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit*
  17. Hey kids, it's your friendly, neighborhood Batbrony! Gee whiz, another Saturday, another new episode of MLP, boy oh boy I sure am excited! Well, let's embark on what shall surely be an enlightening and fulfilling experience for all of us and watch another new episode of our favorite show, MLP!!! *one episode of I don't know what the buck I just watched later* ... No really, what in the hell did I just watch? Because it sure as hay wasn't MLP! Uh-uh, I refuse to call that MLP, not in a thousand years would I call that MLP! What was that piece of ass strutting around pretending to be MLP?!?! Guys... I have to tell you. I never thought this day would come, and I really hoped it wouldn't, but, it is official... after five years of "MMMMystery on the Friendship Express" being my worst episode of MLP ever, I... I now have a new worst. It is this. Fillies and gentlecolts, "Hard to Say Anything" is... it is only TECHNICALLY the worst MLP episode I've ever seen, because I still refuse to consider this abomination to be an actual episode of MLP. It. Is. That. Bad. There is no truly easy way to sum up everything that hurts about this episode, so I'm just going to have to go through the whole episode from beginning to end, sharing exactly what I'm thinking as I first watched this... thing. Well... here goes nothing. This is *throws up in his mouth a little* "Hard to Say Anything." Alright, so things start off with the CMC getting some old costumes! Well, nothing wrong with that really, seems a bit odd that they'd be excited about that at this age, but OK, I'll bite. Well then it turns out that the "costumes" are a clown wig, a pirate hat, and mustache-gag-glasses. Uhhhhhhhhhhh, guys, you do realize that even five-year-olds know those aren't costumes, right??? Well as long as it's just some throwaway gag I guess it's no big- wait, what's that? These stupid not-costumes are a crucial plot-device that keep getting brought up throughout the episode? Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... why? I mean, really, why? The CMC (as demonstrated multiple times, including the past two episodes) are at a point in their lives where they're mentally and emotionally mature enough to solve problems with their intellect and by reasoning things through. The last time they needed costumes for anything was when they tried to get their cutie marks in a talent show, and (1) those were actual costumes that they made, (2) they were younger, and (3) it was just a bucking talent show and one of dozens if not hundreds of things they tried to do to get their cutie marks, not a potentially life changing situation like in today's episode! OK, so... not exactly off to a great start now, are we? Well, what comes next? Wowwwwwwww, that... yeah, that looks pretty bad guys. Frankly, your apple disguise in this episode was a better disguise than these... ...and that should tell you everything you need to know about how these work as disguises OK, Big Mac's here, and we learn he's taking some apples off to Starlight's old village for the fifth time in a single week. First of all, that doesn't seem possible for a number of reasons. First, the Mane 6 had to take a bucking train to originally get there when they first found the village. Because, ya know, it's in a pretty remote part of Equestria, and all. Big Mac, as far as we can tell, is just dragging his bucking apple cart all the way there. Second, Sweetie Belle distinctly mentions later in the episode that it was a long ride, so once again, I find it difficult to believe that even Big Mac could get to a location that is most likely hundreds of miles away five times in a single week just by dragging his heavy apple cart around. He may be strong but even he can appreciate and take advantage of the convenience of a train when the situation warrants it! But anyways, it clearly doesn't seem like that's why he's going, something which the girls quickly notice. Do they notice because they reason amongst themselves that it's downright odd that Big Mac would be making so many trips? Well, kind of, but not really. Really the big factor that leads any of them to conclude that Mac is up to something is Scootaloo saying she noticed him blushing, which just seems... dumber. I mean, who really ever notices anyone blushing unless they're right in their face? It's not like the blush alone was the only give away that something weird was going on, the CMC could've easily concluded that just by reasoning alone, but no, instead they figured it out because of something really stupid and cliche like noticing Big Mac blushing from a distance. Then they make some really stupid bucking guesses about why he's making so many trips and decide to tag along to spy on him. Not only is this decision made in a span of 10 seconds, but the CMC also decide that the best way to go about this is to lug along their "costumes" as "disguises" so that they'll "for realsies be spies guys, like, totally, they're totes legit now!" So now they're not pretending to be spies, they actually think they are being spies by dressing up in a clown wig, a pirate hat, and mustache gag-glasses... I would say this feels like something that S1/S2 CMC would do, but that feels like it would be insulting to S1/S2 CMC. In fact, I'm sure it would be insulting to them. Alright, so they get to Starlight's old village and what do they find? Well, it appears that Big Mac has a crush on Sugar Belle, that cute unicorn from the S5 premiere who used to bake nothing but muffins during Starlight's old reign but is now the resident baker and is having the time of her life baking all kinds of yummy treats, many of which "conveniently" require apples to bake, and since they don't exactly have many apple trees in the area, she has to evidently order quite a few from the Apples (though admittedly it even appears that she has more than she needs, BUT she keeps ordering them on a regular basis and, during this segment, is clearly giving Big Mac some verbal and physical cues, and more than a few suggestive looks). I'll be honest, this introduction to these two works for me. Sugar Belle is as adorable as ever, the two seem to be going through the flirty, bubbly, butterflies-in-your stomach phase of a relationship RIGHT when it's on the edge of blossoming into a full blown one, and their chemistry is pretty infectious in this initial scene. This beg's the question however, WHAT'S THE BUCKING PROBLEM!!! No, really, what is the problem? Even the CMC notice that Sugar Belle is as into Big Mac as he is into her, and really their initial encouragement that he just go and talk to her wasn't bad advice. Heck, they even point out that he didn't have a real first crush with Cheerilee considering it was a love potion, which, if you think about it, is kind of the pony-equivalent of a magical roofie. That's more than a little uncomfortable to think about and probably a big reason the writers decided to never go forward with making CheeriMac into a canon pairing; there would always have been questions, very uncomfortable ones, about whether or not their initial relationship was set off by first getting together when they were magically roofied, and frankly those are questions that shouldn't be asked in this show. So why I always did think that CheeriMac was a cute ship and am sad myself to see it die officially, I can understand why they would kill it and don't mind that, of all the ponies to pair him with, they chose Sugar Belle. That's actually a creative choice, really! She's not a local in Big Mac's hometown, and she's not a member of the Mane 6 or even a major character; she's just a random supporting character in a town very far away from Ponyville, which adds an interesting, long-distance relationship dynamic to her and Big Mac's pairing. Really, when we look at this episode from the outside, this is not just a good set-up, but an incredibly promising set-up for a really, really cool status-quo changer in this show that could have been so, so good. So what went wrong? Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I'll tell ya what went wrong. We've had shades of what's going to be so, so wrong up to this point, from some of the poor logic exercised by the CMC (namely those bucking stupid "costumes" they keep insisting are disguises, I swear I cringe every time Scootaloo puts that giant clown wig on and insists she's being a spy) but the moment Big Mac tries to express his feelings for Sugar Belle for the first time, this is where the s*** really hits the fan for the first time. You see, when Big Mac tries to do something that should have just been a routine stage in starting a relationship which, by all accounts, was on the brink of starting anyway... this guy shows up... Stop flipping your hair you obnoxious son of a turd's excrement This... is Feather Bangs, or as I like to call him, "Piece of Lazy S*** Excuse for Giving This Plot a Contrived as Buck Conflict." Just... just look at him. Breathe it in, folks, breathe the stench of fail that is this character in. Where do I even start? How about his introduction, or rather lack of one! Yeah, this guy has no build up whatsoever! We aren't told who he is, what he does, why the buck he has a crush on Sugar Belle (seriously, not once, he just seems to want to get with someone for the sake of getting with someone), or where the buck he even came from! I ended this episode still not knowing whether or not he always lived in Starlight's old village, moved there only recently, or if he even lives there at all! So yeah, HE HAS NO INTRODUCTION!!! He just shows up and starts flirting shamelessly with Sugar Belle. And you want to know what the really bucked up thing is? SHE SEEMS INTO IT!! WHY??? Two seconds ago she was eyeing Big Mac up and down and "accidentally" bumping her snout into his! NOW she's into this tool??? Why is this so? Why, why, why, why, why???????? I'll tell you why! LAZINESS!!! GRADE A LAZINESS!!!! Let's take a look at the "special" writer of this episode, shall we? The writer of this episode is a first time MLP-writer by the name of Becky Wangberg. Ya wanna know what else she's worked on? The Fairly OddParents and a bunch of other no-name shows, most of which seem to be on Nickelodeon. Now let me say this; Fairly OddParents at one point was a good show, much like SpongeBob Squarepants was. But also just like SpongeBob, Fairly OddParents lasted too long and got driven into the ground by Nickelodeon's insistence that they keep churning it out, and eventually became a shallow excuse of a kids show. More importantly for the purposes of our beloved MLP, I would never want ANY writer for Fairly OddParents touching MLP with a 10-foot pole because the shows are completely different from each other! Fairly OddParents was almost always a comedy-show first and foremost, actual lessons were largely an afterthought. And when it was good at that, it was just fine! When it was bad at it, it was badddddddd. But MLP has never, ever, EVER been a comedy-show alone; it has had episodes that place more emphasis on the comedy than anything else, but for the most part it usually tries to teach kids and adults alike smart but also accessible lessons. They may sometimes be simple, but the execution is usually so good that one can't help but appreciate the efforts that went into teaching these lessons, and many times the lessons are very complex. This episode was not just an opportunity to teach a good lesson about starting a romantic relationship, but was also a status quo changer for a major supporting character on the show. So who do they give it to? A veteran MLP writer? OF COURSE NOT, THEY GAVE IT TO A FIRST TIME SHOW WRITER WHO HAS NOTHING ON HER RESUME THAT WOULD SUGGEST IN THE SLIGHTEST THAT SHE WAS QUALIFIED TO HANDLE THIS EPISODE!!! If there is one thing that defines this episode more than anything else, it is how much the laziness put into the writing defines it. It is a laziness we are unaccustomed to seeing in this show, and it is quite remarkable how much said laziness, something you might more typically see in a show like Fairly OddParents today, brings down a treasure of a show like MLP so, so much. I will discuss this laziness later, but suffice to say that it is present, it is at the core of what's wrong with this episode, and it brings it down so, so, SO low! Alright, so... picking up where I left off, Justin Bieber as a pony shows up (man, I really wish I never had to say that), acts like a dumbass, and for some reason Sugar Belle now likes this. So Big Mac panics, because... Feather Bangs can juggle??? Anyways, he panics and the CMC decide to help. Heck, they even make a point of assuring him that they are MUCH more mature than they were the last time they tried to help him with his love life and would NEVER think of magically roofieing him or Sugar Belle! Well that's good, so do they suggest he do anything competent? HA HA HA, you poor bastards give this episode too much credit if you think they do! No, the characters who are probably late tweens or early teenagers by now (seriously, two weeks ago we had Sweetie Belle telling us she was into experimental theater right now, make up your mind show!) suggest that he do things as one would... in a fairy tale. This is dumb. OK. It's dumb. I don't want anyone telling me that the characters who tried to figure out if a griffon could somehow have a cutie mark, have time and time again tackled their own insecurities and feelings of failure and inadequacy, and are now helping other ponies do the same on a regular basis, would suggest that someone should try to get into a relationship by doing things as a Prince Charming would in a fairy tale in SEASON 7 OF THIS SHOW!!! Heck, I don't think they would in Season 1 or Season 2 either, but Season 7??? REALLY??? Guys, if you wanted to do the "Character A needs help expressing his feelings to and starting a relationship with Character B with the help of Character C" trope, why did you pick the CMC in the first place? The only circumstance in which they should have been the ones helping Big Mac out with his love life is if he and Cheerilee were for real getting together; that would have been an interesting opportunity for the CMC to make up for their past mistake when they tried to force them together. But why are they here??? They don't know this town, they don't know Sugar Belle, and none of them have ever been in any relationship, SO WHY ARE THEY THE ONES HELPING HIM??? A friend and I agreed after this episode that it would have made far more sense if either (1) Starlight Glimmer, or (2) Applejack were helping Big Mac in this situation than the CMC. First, they're both older so presumably at least know a little more about relationships by virtue of age alone. Second, they both know the town and Sugar Belle, as well as Big Mac; Starlight Glimmer is at least sort of friends with him, and Applejack is his middle sister who can easily take charge of a situation at a moment's notice. Either of these two would have easily been able to contribute more here than the CMC could, especially the CMC as they're being written HERE! OK, so first up, they try to concoct a false peril for Sugar Belle by having Scootaloo feign stealing her saddlebag. Can I just say I've never liked this trope? Anyone willing to create a false, EMERGENCY situation to attract a girl's attention, well... that comes off as douchey... at best. At worst, it comes off as a little creepy even. Maybe even cowardly. Point is, how much do you really care about someone if your icebreaker is MANIPULATING them?! Anyways, it doesn't work, because once again Feather Bangs pops out of nowhere and intercepts (literally) Big Mac's save. How he does this, I don't know. Once again, there is no explanation for his seemingly just knowing when Big Mac is about to try to make a move, or why he gives a buck! He's just there, and the thing that makes Sugar Belle falling for this even dumber is that she could see plain as day that Big Mac was about to catch her saddlebag before he even did! SHE KNOWS HE INTERCEPTED BIG MAC'S SAVE AND STILL SEEMS INTO IT!!! WHY?!?!?!?! His douche baggery was just on full display for all to see!!! Oh wait, I know, sing it with me kids, LAZY WRITING!!! So next, the CMC, HOLY CRAP---- D'awwwwwwwwwwwwwww, you're so cute!!! Who's a cute sweepy pony, WHO'S A CUTE SWEEPY PONY? YOU ARE! YES, YOU ARE!!! Ahem, anyways, the CMC decide that the best thing for Big Mac to do is... kiss Sugar Belle awake because that's what fairy tale princes do??? ... ... ... Uh oh... So like a smart person, Big Mac says that that's creepy and nowhere near reflecting where they're at in their relationship- oh no, he goes along with it. Wait, what? Uh, Big Mac... Dude, seriously, stop! Well, what did ya think was gonna happen you creepy dumbass!!! OK, people, in a different show the sequence of screen shots I just showed you could EASILY be the start of a VERY different sequence of events in, say, a show like Law and Order: SVU! Let's put this in perspective. Kissing someone awake is... not exactly something that many people except for the closest of couples do, like, couples living together, and even then it's not something they do on a regular basis. But are Big Mac and Sugar Belle a couple at this point? NOPE!! They are (although having flirted quite heavily already) technically just business acquaintances and nothing more at this point in the show. So what he just tried to do? Yeah, I'm calling it, that's attempted sexual assault in a public space and this episode is too stupid to even realize it! I don't care that it doesn't work, the show does not understand HOW bad what he just tried to do is. Throughout the episode they keep mentioning that the love potion was a REALLY bad thing, but this? This is played for laughs, and frankly, this is a million times worse than the love potion was even if one considers it a magical roofie. The love potion was a bad idea from kids who don't understand what makes for a healthy relationship, but this is a grown ass adult who has actual romantic intentions for a pony who, at this point, does not return said intentions. He is attempting to kiss her without her prior knowledge in a public space without her consent. THAT. IS. ASSAULT!!! YOU DUMBASS WRITER!!!!! So obviously Sugar Belle freaks out (because what the buck else would you do if a dude you kinda like but aren't in a relationship with was leering over you as you slept in a public space and about to kiss you without your knowing, I mean, REALLY GUYS!!), but then, who should show up but Douchey McDouchemane, I mean, Feather Bangs (gosh I hate that name... also his name doesn't really make much sense since he's not even a pegasus, what the buck). He offers her a random carriage ride, and she seems to happily accept; buck me, at this point she's giving him the same kind of eyes she was giving Big Mac earlier in the episode, so she seems to be pretty into him. I would be madder about her going along with his schtick, but frankly, he was the far less creepy one in this scene, and that's pretty badddddddddddddd. So finally, the CMC decide that Big Mac should try to win her over with a love song. Granted, it's cliche but frankly it's a breath of fresh air (at least in theory) after the night terror we were just presented with in Mac's last disastrous attempt. And honestly the song isn't that bad at first. It's nothing special, but it's pretty sweet (aside from the whole sneaking into her store thing and closing the door while turning the lights off), and Sugar Belle seems to appreciate it too. But then Feather Bangs comes back and we get easily the worst scene in the whole episode (and possibly the worst songs we've ever heard in the entire show), because HE brought his own song as well and... well, it's a Bieber song. I don't know what else to tell you. It's the MLP version of a Bieber song, and not a good one, with PLENTY of suggestive lyrics and visuals (I don't care if they were played for laughs, it made me more than a bit uncomfortable at points). Even worse, the whole sequence turns into a pairing of dueling numbers, so basically we keep jumping back and forth from a clumsy, increasingly bad country song to a terrible pop song, and the two genres clash so badly that they just further amplify how bad it all is. It's like somebody split up a bad bro-country song by completely separating the pop from the country, and it resulted in an equally bad pop song and country song. Sugar Belle's not into any of it, and is most DEFINITELY not into Feather Bangs... wait, what? Yeah, this whole song she clearly seems miffed at Feather Bangs when in the very last scene she was eyeing him up and down like a kid with a brand new lollipop and I don't know what the buck is going on now! Was she ever into him? Based on her earlier reactions, she had to be! Oh wait... oh you sons of bitches... LAZY WRITING STRIKES AGAIN!!! This is possibly the most egregious example of this in the whole episode. The only reason Feather Bangs is supposed to be here is because we're supposed to believe that he is a viable rival lover to Big Mac, vying for Sugar Belle's affection as much as he is, for most of the episode. The only way they're able to make us believe he has any chance as a rival is by showing Sugar Belle digging what he's doing, at least initially. But now that we're supposed to believe that she's really into Big Mac, not Feather Bangs, she is inexplicably showing NONE of the earlier interest she showed for Feather Bangs, even though he's basically doing the same s*** he was doing before, just on a bit of a bigger scale. Holy buck, that is AMAZING in its laziness! I mean, really. I don't even know what to say at this point other than... wow. Just wow. Characters flipping their behavior back and forth on a dime as easily as one would flick a light switch on and off. Buck me, that's lazy. This whole scene was ear-and-eye cancer... like, all of it, I seriously feel less healthy for having watched it So what more is there to say? After the "dueling songs" go disastrously, with Big Mac and Feather Bangs essentially destroying most of Sugar Belle's store, Big Mac and the CMC finally figure out what should have been a far easier lesson to teach, that showing someone you care about them in an especially special way means showing them that you know who they are and what they care about, and that you in turn care about them and what they care about. WHY WAS THIS SO HARD TO TEACH!!! So Big Mac makes her a new shelf, she loves it, they get together after some CMC shenanigans (involving, yet again, those bucking stupid NOT COSTUMES, WHY IS THIS A CRUCIAL PLOT DEVICE, IT'S NOT CLEVER?!?!?!), and they look really sweet and cute together. THE. BUCKING. END. Oh wait, no it's not, because in the last 30 seconds we're supposed to feel sorry for Feather Bangs and hope that the CMC help him figure out how to talk to mares. Uh uh, no way, you bastards don't get to pull that lazy, tired, "ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, he's not a bad guy, he's just misunderstood" trope in only 30 seconds when we have seen nothing redeemable about this twat since he was first introduced (if you want to call it that). I hate that lazy trope, and it's yet another perfect embodiment of the utter laziness that characterizes this whole bucking episode!!! Buck Feather Bangs and buck his lady problems, I hope every mare turns him down harder than a jackhammer chews up a sidewalk! So let me reiterate if it wasn't clear already... People, this was trash. Hot, steaming, burning, wretched smelling trash. This was SO much worse than "MMMMystery on the Friendship Express" in every way possible. "MMMMystery on the Friendship Express" insults my intelligence, and the intelligence of any brony out there, BUT to its defense (and I never thought I'd be saying this) it is well aware that it is nothing but a throwaway episode. Nothing important happens in it, it is just an episode for the sake of having another episode, that's it! THIS was supposed to be a status quo changer, THIS was supposed to be a major development for a major, recurring supporting character! We have barely seen any of the characters in the show get into relationships or the show itself handle the topic of romantic relationships; I hope it largely stays that way, but I also always hoped that the show would address it to a certain extent, because I always thought that this show, as good as it is, would probably be able to handle romantic relationship subjects better than most kids shows can. I still believe that, even after this episode. Sugar Belle and Big Mac are honestly, as I said earlier, a cute couple, and I think they could be a really good couple going forward! Nothing about the pairing itself is what turned me off in this episode, in fact, that's where the tragedy of it lies. This episode, for as bad as it is, feels like half of it IS good MLP. There are signs of the quality from MLP we've come to expect on a regular basis. The few genuinely funny lines in there (like Apple Bloom's "Quick, act like apples" line or Sugar Belle's "That's the whole town! It's just the one street" bit) are typical MLP fare, little details like Sugar Belle's reactions throughout the song numbers as well as the fact that Starlight's house has been replaced by a tree, the largely inoffensive beginning and ending, the three mares who keep fawning over Feather Bangs (the fawning itself is disgusting but they have fantastic character designs and are pretty entertaining to watch), these things work! Sugar Belle herself was honestly perfectly fine aside from when the script forced her to like what Feather Bangs was doing, besides that she was sweet, adorable, and her VA has the cutest voice! But at the end of the day I found myself and a friend agreeing with one another that the end of CheeriMac is the least of this episode's problems, and that should tell you a lot right there. The problem is the good was in a jumbled mess with sooooooooooooooo much bad, there was no clear cut divide between the two and on top of that, this was a lot of bad in an episode that should have been incredibly easy to do right. What we got instead was patronizing to its audience, treating us as though we were too dumb to handle a more complex plot, and even worse it had no right to be patronizing because the episode was so much dumber than it thought it was! If someone just understood who these characters are, how they behave, this premise, even with the CMC involved in it, could have easily turned into a good to great episode! And that's why I keep referring to laziness as being at the core of what makes this episode a disaster, because I don't know how else to explain it. A first time writer for this show bucking up an episode this badly in a critically acclaimed show that is in its seventh season? Laziness, plain and simple. There is more than enough material for this writer to have watched to have gotten more than a clear understanding of who these character's are for the purposes of her own episode, and frankly, I just think she didn't bother to do her homework. The only other alternative is that she's just that bad of a writer, and I really hope that's not the case because if so, I don't know how she's still getting work. But for the time being, I'm chalking it up to unforgivable laziness, and for such a piss poor effort put into what should have been such an important episode, "Hard to Say Anything" gets an F---------------------- from me. It is not even in my book an episode of MLP, because it is unrecognizable as MLP. I would expect this level of quality from other shows that Ms. Wangberg has worked on (on their bad days), but for MLP, this is simply unacceptable. DHX, please, learn from this and don't ever let this person work on this beloved show ever again, much less on episodes that should be so important. In fact, don't ever assign first time show writers such important episodes ever again. Congratulations, "Hard to Say Anything," you are now my least favorite episode of MLP, and I hope it stays that way, because I shudder to think of what an episode would have to do to make me hate it more than I hated this one. Buck me... that's all I got for ya this week everypony. Until next time (in a Celestia-willing better episode than this) this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off... to get a drink... or twenty!!! *cue dramatic exit to the bar* When an episode drives Batbrony to get drunk dressed as Superman, you know it done bucked up
  18. Here is a story I wrote back in June 2016, and it was based off a thought I had when I was watching the episode "Call Of The Cutie" on youtube back in 2011. One day in Ponyville, Twist was helping her family in the candy shop that they run. It had a few weeks since Twist got her cutie mark and Twist was having a goo time on this particular day. Meanwhile, Apple Bloom was playing a ball game with her friends, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. “Do you think we’ll earn our cutie marks playing ball?” asked Scootaloo. “Eh, who knows?” answered Sweetie Belle, doubtfully. Twist used to be friends with Apple Bloom, until Twist got her cutie mark way before Apple Bloom did. So Apple Bloom nowadays hangs out with Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. They’ve formed their own club called the Cutie Mark Crusaders and their goals are to help other ponies without cutie marks. Since getting her cutie mark, Twist doesn’t really talk to Apple Bloom as much as they used to. After Twist helped unloading boxes of sugar, she stopped to rest for a moment and to adjust her glasses. “Oh, pony,” she said, “It’s sure hard bringing in lots and lots of sweets. Takes a lot out of you.” At that same time, while Apple Bloom and her Cutie Mark Crusaders friends were continuing playing, Scootaloo accidently kicked the ball too hard and sent it flying through the air. “Oops,” exclaimed Scootaloo. “Scootaloo!” cried Apple Bloom, “That was way too hard!” “Sorry,” replied Scootaloo, embarrassed. “Come on!” cried Sweetie Belle, “Let’s go get it back!” Back at Twist’s candy shop, a delivery pony was bringing in a box with more candy supplies when the ball that Scootaloo kicked bashed him on the head really hard. “Ow!” he cried as the force of the impact caused his head to crush the box he was carrying. “Double ow!” he groaned again. Twist ran out to see what had happened just as Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle arrived. “Hey, look!” Scootaloo called out, “There’s the ball!” They found the ball behind the delivery pony whose head had flattened the box he was carrying. “You will pay for this!” shouted the delivery pony as he got up. “Uh oh,” said Apple Bloom, “Sorry, mister! We didn’t mean it!” “What happened?” asked Twist. “We made a mistake,” answered Apple Bloom. “I did,” Scootaloo said. “Apple Bloom?” asked Twist. “Yes, Twist,” replied Apple Bloom, “Remember me? We used to hang out together before you got your cutie mark.” “Yeah,” agreed Twist, “And back then, I didn’t have my cutie mark. But now, I do have a cutie mark.” “And I think we’d better help you out right now,” said Sweetie Belle. “Of course you will!” the delivery pony said in a cross sounding voice. “Sorry about that,” said Scootaloo again. So the three ponies decided to help Twist for the rest of the day with the sweets for the candy shop. Some time later, when the ponies stopped to take a break, Twist decided to talk to Apple Bloom after she’d finished. “Hey, Apple Bloom,” Twist said, “How’s life going for you?” “Doing pretty good,” answered Apple Bloom, “I’m hanging out with my friends.” “You mean Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo, your new friends?” Twist asked. “Yes,” replied Apple Bloom, “They’re my best friends.” “I see,” replied Twist, “And we rarely hang out with each other ever since I got my cutie mark and, of course, Diamond Tiara’s cute-ceanera.” “Yeah,” agreed Apple Bloom, “I really didn’t want to be made fun of because I thought I was the only pony without a cutie mark.” “I understand,” replied Twist with a comforting tone in her voice, “I’m sorry that you felt that way.” “It’s okay,” Apple Bloom replied, “It does happen.” “I know,” Twist said, “I was made fun at before I got my cutie mark.” “I remember,” said Apple Bloom. “Until that day came,” Twist said. “Then you became happy and I felt left out,” Apple Bloom said. In response, Twist said nothing for about a minute. The Twist said, “Apple Bloom, I’m sorry that I let my cutie mark prevented us from being friends.” “It’s okay,” Apple Bloom replied, “I just hope that-” “You mean you want us to still be friends?” Twist asked. “I would,” Apple Bloom replied, “No, I mean yes!” “That’s great!” Twist exclaimed, “Thank you, Apple Bloom!” “From now on,” said Apple Bloom, “You can hang out with us!” “Thanks,” smiled Twist. Then Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo met the two. “What are you two talking about?” asked Scootaloo. “This is my old friend Twist,” Apple Bloom explained. “We used to be friends until I got my cutie mark,” Twist explained. “We see,” said Scootaloo, looking at Twist’s cutie mark. “But now, she can hang out with us whenever she wants,” Apple Bloom told her friends. “Well, if you say so,” agreed Sweetie Belle. “I’m fine with it,” said Scootaloo. “Thanks,” smiled Twist, “But first, can we finish up in my shop for the day?” “Yes,” answered Apple Bloom. So they did. Starting the next day, Twist began to hang out with Apple Bloom and her friends more often. Of course, Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo still run the Cutie Mark Crusaders club.
  19. I have finished my latest review right now. I think this episode was okay. Enjoy and if you want to, share, subscribe and recommend, because every little viewer counts.
  20. Good afternoon, everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! Today I'm taking a look at the latest Season 7 episode to debut in the U.S., "Forever Filly," a fun, albeit flawed, little slice-of-life episode. Aside from this being noteworthy as being the first Rarity and technically CMC episode this season, there's not much else to say prior to getting into the review proper, so without further ado, let's begin. This is "Forever Filly." So for the most part almost everything in this episode worked, but in the end I found myself simply thinking of it as good, not great. This isn't on account of any kind of infuriating, obvious flaw, but rather something a little less noticeable and more subtle: the conflict set-up. Not the conflict itself, mind you, in fact this conflict is actually a fairly common one in movies and television. All we're dealing with here, in multiple plot arcs no less, is the "such and such loved one has gotten older and changed quite a bit and I haven't even noticed, and not only do I still want to treat them like I did when they were younger, but I'm also not ready to accept that they're older and have changed." It's a super common story trope, especially in long-running shows where characters have presumably gotten older (you've probably seen such an episode in more than one family sitcom before, usually involving some staple child character in the show getting older, graduating, heading off to college, getting married, etc., or even say a wedding movie where the focus is on the parents of the groom or bride). Heck, really this kind of story even falls into the broader category of the "coming of age" story, and is just one particular way of telling it, namely from the perspective not of the character who is coming of age, but of someone close to them watching them come of age. Here's the problem. It's not that the conflict in and of itself was a bad one in its premise, it's that it wasn't executed properly, and I think I know why. Poor pacing made certain character decisions seem impulsive and poorly thought out. Rarity went from being perfectly level-headed in her business dealings in the very opening of the episode to being an emotional wreck all in a span of five seconds, and then spent the rest of the episode acting as though she hadn't seen Sweetie Belle in years. Likewise, Zipporwhill (voiced again by, of course, Tabith St. Germain, because I swear if there's a character who needs a hilariously over-the-top or unusual voice, Tabitha is their go-to gal to voice her) seemed to be confronted with a problem that really shouldn't be a problem for her. I mean, her cutie mark is presumably because she has some kind of talent at connecting with dogs, so one has to ask why such a pony wouldn't understand the notion of dogs growing up and their behavior changing as they get older? I mean, don't get me wrong, I liked how her subplot tied into the final lesson, but more so because of how things wrapped up, not because of the conflict itself. That conflict too was poor in its set-up because it just didn't seem like Zipporwhill, even if she is still a filly, even if this is her own pet we're talking about whom she has an emotional connection to, should have a problem figuring out what her dog wants when that is presumably her talent and she knows this already because she has her cutie mark. And I mean seriously, it's a dog, plenty of dogs play with toys that they had as puppies if it's one of their favorites, and not to be mean to dogs or anything, but they're pretty simple in their wants and needs, they're nowhere near as picky as cats can be. But the bigger problem with this subplot is that ultimately its presence forced the main conflict to be rushed in its own execution, which is why Rarity came across as being so impulsive and irrational in some of her decision-making. If they'd simply removed the subplot, then they could have had a more basic but also more properly executed episode where Rarity had more time to set the conflict up and get it resolved. She could have set up spending a day with her sister but not so frantically in the show's opening minutes, not as such an emotional wreck, and everything would have come across as feeling a bit more real in execution. The ideas they were dealing with here are very realistic and relatable, I think everyone at some point (or multiple points) will realize that time has gone by quicker than they thought and that someone or something in their life has gotten far older than they used to be or changed a lot. But again, the problem is that because they jammed a plot and a sub-plot together in order to teach the lesson, the conflict set-up in both plot and sub-plot felt rushed, forced, and a bit unrealistic. The conflict set-up and pacing problems didn't ruin the episode or anything, they just kept an episode that was good to very good from being great, and that's just a bit of a shame. OK Jeric, this question is for you in particular; can't you just see Tabitha making this actual face in the recording booth? I mean, seriously, I'm picturing it and it just makes so much sense for her. I wouldn't be surprised if they animated it around whatever face she was making as she read the line. So what did I like here? Oh, a whole lot, believe me, I liked a ton. I did enjoy that they picked Rarity to have this conflict rather than Applejack; at first I thought AJ would be a better pick, but then I realized that AJ had to grow up from an early age (assuming her parents are dead) and would probably be more prepared for Apple Bloom getting older than Rarity was with Sweetie Belle. Her problem is over-protectiveness, not coddling, when it comes to being a big sister. Rarity, on the other hoof, moved out of the house at a pretty early age it seems, and didn't really grow closer to Sweetie Belle until Season 2 after the Sister Hooves Social. Unlike Applejack, who sees family all the time, Rarity is a character who it would be easy for time to get away from between her adventures with the Mane 6 and all of her business ventures, even after she's gotten closer to Sweetie Belle. So both the conflict makes sense for her, as do the emotional bouts; I just thought they happened too quickly, but really I have no problem with how emotional Rarity got over all of this because that does fit her character. I just wish such emotion had been more built up and better paced, like the episode would have been better served starting with Rarity worriedly realizing she hadn't spent enough time with Sweetie Belle lately, but getting more emotional when she realized there was so much about Sweetie growing up that she'd missed. But nonetheless, I like seeing focus placed on Rarity and Sweetie Belle's sisterhood, I liked this particular conflict, I liked that Rarity was put into this position both because it makes sense for her and for whatever reason seeing a character who in her own life (despite having a flamboyant personality) is usually so put-together and in control realize that there was so much she didn't know about someone so important to her, it just felt right. It resonated, it made this message all the more powerful because it helped further illustrate that life can get away from all of us, even those of us who think we've got everything figured out (contrasting the lesson she learned with how put together Rarity is in running the Canterlot Boutique in the opening scene is a perfect example of this). So aside from what I already highlighted as things that didn't work, I thought that Rarity was great here on the whole and loved that she was chosen for this particular type of episode. Sweetie Belle was another highlight, mostly in how she helped resolve the episode in the end but also because it was nice seeing the show recognize that there has been quite a passage of time since the start of the show and that characters have gotten older. Now it would be nice if her actual body got bigger, or if they didn't make things confusing by making it seem as though Rarity hasn't seen Sweetie Belle in years, but still, I liked what we got here all the same. The recognition of this passage of time was nice (which might have been further reinforced by how big Ripley, Zipporwhill's dog, now is as well as how much lower Zipporwhill's voice is than it was in her first episode back in Season 4), and I'd love to see more of it, especially in relation to the CMC. It was nice too that Sweetie Belle didn't really get unduly mad at Rarity; sure she got mad, but not in a "Sister Hooves Social you're not my sister anymore, I hate you" kind of way, but more in a "we're sisters and you're frustrating me right now as only a sister could, so while I'll forgive you later, sorry but we're having a beef right now" kind of way. She still helped Rarity learn her lesson indirectly (while learning it herself as well) by showing Zipporwhill what to do about Ripley, and even before getting mad she appreciated what Rarity was trying to do, just not how she was doing it. Overall, this was just a very good example of how to show that a young character has gotten older in a show without being too flagrant about it; granted, I still argue that her body needs to get bigger because hearing things like Sweetie Belle is into experimental theater while still being as small as she ever has been is just a bit ridiculous and makes it harder to accept, but this was a very nice start and it works with how Claire Corlett's voice has changed over the years as well (though as a quick aside, I must say that Michelle Creber's voice sounds even older now than Claire's does, good Lord writers, PLEASE make the CMC bigger already!). This shot is seriously cute, and while it initially may seem a bit OOC for Rarity, c'mon, she's bonding with her sister, siblings do things they don't typically do with each other all the time. Speaking as an older brother, I can totally buy it. Besides our two main characters, it was cool seeing the CMC finding new ways to assist ponies, namely in helping a pony like Zipporwhill who already has her cutie mark but felt disconnected from her special talent. Granted it was imperfectly executed, but I like the idea because it makes sense that they won't always be showing ponies what to do to get their cutie marks (though I guess they already kinda did this with Bulk Biceps). Zipporwhill's return was completely unexpected and, aside from the problems I already cited with her subplot, worked entirely for me, especially her lower voice; whether this was because she's older now or because the writer's decided the original pitch her voice was at in Season 4 was just ridiculous, doesn't matter to me, because it was a far better sounding voice than her original one and Tabitha did a great job with her accent. Finally, Sassy Saddles for the little she was in the episode at the beginning was fantastic. Her rapport with Rarity is great and I loved the little we got to see of the two of them working together, two ponies simultaneously very similar and very different in their talents and abilities and who when they're at the top of their game can equally appreciate what the other does in their establishment. Some of Rarity's failed attempts to bond with Sweetie Belle were pretty funny, particularly the photo shoot, but others felt a tad ridiculous and forced, like the puppet show or the balloon-making scene. I did seriously love this scene I must also note that it's bizarre, now that we've seen Ripley age, that other pets like Winona have not visibly aged. Still, the recognition of the passage of time in this episode, as well as its lesson of appreciating different stages of life while you have them (including for people in your life) because before you know it, they're gone, but when they are gone all you can do is appreciate what you have now rather than bemoan not having what was in the past anymore, that was all great and I appreciate it very much. It leaves me slightly hopeful that at some point the show might just be willing to tackle the subject of death and loss on that level, possibly in relation to the Apples, but at the same time I know realistically that that remains a long shot. All in all, this is a good to very good episode held back by a few very particular but not very maddening flaws, but important flaws nonetheless. I'm sure I'll enjoy rewatching it, but it certainly won't be an instant classic in my book either. That's all I've got for you this week everypony, thank you for your patience in waiting for my review, and I'll see you next week (probably late again as well since I might have work on Saturday). Till next time, this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit* But it's OK, cause they're Best Sisters Friends Forever!!! But yeah, seriously, diabetes for sure...
  21. It's been a month since I've started doing a daily drawing. And Oh Boy, it's been a blast. I didn't liked it at first, but little by little I think I became better... Maybe. It all started with this "thing" which I didn't take too seriously, but it was my first pony in a while. Close to 5 years without even touching a pen to draw. It hurted. Then I did this. I like this style better. It reminds me about those old joke magazines like MAD. I tried to replicate the last drawing's style, but didn't work. Her face is derpy without the cute. I actually like this Octavia, but i have to admit, the lightning doesn't make sense. It's a problem I'm struggle with even today, but sooner or later I'll overcome such flaws. Aaand, here I began to make those horrible intrusive text highlights. They take a lot of space and later when it's not 22 days anymore, it became useless. With this one I took a little risk. I like the colors, but they're oversaturated. Here's when I tried to do a background that wasn't just clouds or two colors. I didn't detailed that much, but I liked it when I did it. Today, not so much, but I kinda have respect to it.Was the first time that I tried to do a good shading... "good" xD well, it's not that bad. With this one, I tried an old, OLD comic book style which I didn't know how to do. It turned out decent, but it's nothing compared with other styles. I kinda like it even today though. This Luna brings me issues. I liked the concept, but the final results are... Special. The perspective is so messy, oh goodness. This I don't like. Not at all. Moving on! This was the first one that I really liked how it turned out. I like the highlights, the background is okay, and the lineart is charming. It was the best I did since the beginning imo. Besides, Dashie with Tank is an idea that I'd love to do more often. This was the time that I've started to do certain things, like the mane style, the shadows and highlights, and more "dynamic" poses. They're still stiffy, but here I noticed that I was improving after a long time. ... And I watch this one, and I laugh. Oh god, look at the expression, the proportions, the background! I thought it was ok, but now I realize that it wasn't that good as I expected xD It's not terrible, and it's better than the others, but still, it's not as good as the next ones, thankfully. That's a good sign. I like to mess with the ways of doing the magic effect. This one is... weird. The style is weird, the expressions are weird, and even the shading is. I kinda, sorta, maybe like it, but I feel ashamed every time I look at it well, it was more than 2 weeks ago. I think I've improved. Maybe. Now, this is one of my personal favourites. This is when I really liked how it was turning out, and I can't find any major flaws besides Luna's face. But even still, I think it's funny and doesn't ruin the whole image. Here's when my shading started to look good. I mess up sometimes, but I've learned my lesson since the Crusaders one. Oh geez... Welp, this was the image when all my mane styles started to be like silk... Not really, but I love Celestia's. And this one... I messed up with the shading in a couple of ponys, specially in Rarity, but I LOVE the feeling I receive from it. It reminds me about those promotional posters from movie theaters. And I love how Sunset, Pinkie, Starlight and Twilight look. With this one I tried to do a "good" background, but... Well, it's not that bad, but the pony proportions are messy, and the color is oversaturated again. I try to improve that even today. Keep it light and smooth, Eifie. Don't over do it. This one was simple. Notice the sense of movement and the way the ponys point to the next part of the text like they're dancing. They point to each other in a way, and I think it's fun. I really like to do Pinkie's mane, it's so messy and weird Even when I like the Fluttercord idea, I don't really like this one that much. The background is weird, and I could do the characters better. even though, I like the feeling it emanates. what I enjoy the most are Discord's wings. This one was fun to do. I love the Crusaders, and I enjoy doing them whenever I can. Even if the "18 days" image was just... Ugh. It's my least favourite. But this one redeemes that, right? (Redeemes? That's how you spell it? English is not my mother language, so don't mind me D: ). Oh my. The Apple-Pie family is tricky, but certainly fun. My thing is doing portrait drawings, and the style is weird but charming to me, haha! (Marble's mane is my favourite. Maud's expression is priceless.). And this one right there is special. Why? It was the first one that I send to Equestria Daily. And it was published. I won't lie to you, I was happy the rest of the day after I noticed that. Then Sethisto started to notice my drawings, and ever since many more of them were published on the page. I'm truly glad of that. I'm willing to do so much more because I have a little more feedback. The brony community is the best. Oh, and another one following the trend of the "13 days" one. Notice how now they're more balanced. Now is Twilight who has her eyes open, and the rest has them closed. She really is the princess of friendship, and I'd love to do more tributes about this fact. Kinda reminds me about the PPG. I think this one is my favourite. The shading is the best 've done in my opinion, and the message is fun. Celestia is used to be captured, so we don't have to worry. Some magical thing will save the day at the end of the afternoon. Should i say i really like the manes? This has a special place in my heart. Ember looks good, and the lightning is divine. (Sounds bad when it's my own drawing. I'm sorry! ) This one is a close second because the colors. This one is charming, and it's okay, but not of my favourites. I think I messed un a bit with the background, and the proportions are a little bit off. And Oh MY, what happenned to Sunburst's beard? That's not right! Besides Starlight's magic is light blue. Whoops. (Oh, you noticed the tea cup? Trixie approves. And the prediction came true, Spike and her shared a moment in the season premiere!). This was fun to do, but MY GOODNESS it take a lot of time, and it isn't even that great. The shading could be better, but that happens when you're on a schedule and try to do so many characters. Don't do that, people! Outside that, it's fun to watch and the illustration looks okay. This was the last one. Was the day before the season premiere, and I couldn't be happier. Notice how I get rid of the intrusive text since the "7 days left" one. I'm so glad about it. The countdown remains in the title, not in the image. And here's some others before and after the episode. The "meme" ones are too fun. I'll do some more this week. The title of this one is "Hiatus was just a nightmare, everypony!". It was published before the episodes aired. Those ones, you know. I hope you like watching them as I love doing them! Twitter! Follow me on dA for more!
  22. Oh boy, I simply don't get why some people in the fandom dislikes the Crusaders. I've always thought that they're funny to watch, and each of them has at least one heartwarming moment. I love their interactions and the episode when they got their cutie marks is one of my favourites... Welp, not really, but you get the point. Also, they sold me with their disguises of Glam Rock stars. I swear the series has one or two Bowie references. Of course the galore goes to the Beatles, but that's a story for another day. There's a gif version and the original Twitter! deviantArt!
  23. Hey everypony! This is my new crossover fanfiction that I've posted on FIMfiction.net, feel free to leave comments, criticism and suggestions, I don't bite! Thank you for reading. https://www.fimfiction.net/story/368718/1/scootaloos-nuzlocke-adventure/prologue-welcome-to-the-world-of-pokemon
  24. I wonder what kind of adventures will have the CMC on the incoming seasons. I sure hope they will have more development, identity as characters and individuality. Twitter! deviantArt!
  25. Welcome, today I would like to present you my new fanfiction. It is kind of Hearth's Warming story and unlike the usually thing. I would like to say it is different. They're no three ghosts, but three Crusaders instead. Enjoy and leave a comment, if you like. http://www.fimfiction.net/story/357711/hearth-warmings-crusaders-carol