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  • 1
  • ...
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  • .
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  • Spoken from my heart
  • GTA V Rarity vehicles.
  • Edd's Journal of events
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  • Stormy's unlucky Day (not a FimFic)
  • Sparkle Nonsense
  • Root of all Evil
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  • Just a blog
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  • The world from my perspective...
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  • Lunia's blog of things to share.
  • Classic Hardstyle Sessions
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  • SPOILER! My thoughts on the MLP Movie.
  • Music Theory Log
  • Crispy says things about stuff
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  • marlyly's piece of life
  • pinky promised SFM
  • Well, I'm blogging
  • The Ponyville Critic
  • .
  • RainbowGlass' Blog
  • MLP Forums Blog
  • Robotnik's Opinion on the 100th Episode
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  • PinkiePie97’s Blog
  • Lucky's Blog of Pone
  • this doesn't deserve to be called a blog
  • Sunshine and rainbows
  • SOUP's General Forums Blog
  • http://bronyreview.blogspot.com/
  • Venting blog, the Blog of Vent.
  • Fragilistic's WALL OF FUN
  • WhiteGuardian's Boring Blog on Everyday Brony Adventures
  • All Play No Work
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  • Hazy Thoughts
  • The Salty Corner
  • I'm Writting a Novel
  • WELCOME TO MY HOUSE
  • Important Poniverse Development
  • The Elements of Ilvermorny
  • A Common Collection of Misused Words
  • The Awkward Taco
  • Math.
  • ICEE Blogs
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  • Peek Inside A Broken Mind
  • Complaints and Grievances
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  • 3
  • rose chan's random thingys Blog
  • Why Do People Hate Flash Sentry?
  • Misses Videos
  • Fix's Ramblings
  • Sort of a needed update...
  • ZoeyandNicole's Blog
  • MLP:FiM Fan Cartoons/Animations/Shorts
  • Piano Playing
  • Sir Fluffernutter's things that are too silly for posts and not menial enough for status updates
  • Horror Movie Reviews
  • The Hall Of Justice
  • The Truth
  • SpeedIsMagic's Blog
  • lonkbloooge
  • Gamecubeguy's Smash 4 Tourneys
  • The King's Royal Decree
  • some stuff
  • Winged Ratchet's Future Discussion Blog!
  • Dramatic reading blog
  • New city, new place, less hair...
  • Skystar's Blog of all things life
  • Looney Tuner's Blog
  • Good bye Mom
  • Hello Every pony!
  • UFO stuff
  • FURP
  • Sporemanes Mind
  • Woft's Blag
  • Alan Crytex's Blog
  • My little Pony Fan Game creations
  • The Ever-Failing One Man Show
  • Insane Madly Inlove Shippers
  • Lovin Pancakes
  • Midnight Seeker's musings
  • Adaptations from books to movies
  • Incognito's Fan-Girl Rants
  • Duster's Cave Paintings
  • Rainb0wdashie's Blog
  • The thing that is a Blog
  • The MAIKUN Report
  • MLP: FiM "Sequel" Episodes in Season 5 and beyond
  • so the earth how is it doing?
  • The movie is canon, i dont buy it.
  • Jesse's locker
  • Dusk's Diary
  • REDACTED
  • Woohoo's Blog
  • Imagine yaps on and on about stuff.
  • A Hipster Is Me
  • Warmsoul's Blog
  • SkyHeart's Blog
  • B-Chan's gaming adventures
  • Fushia Jewel's Hotspot
  • Just Some Thoughts About The Show
  • What Really Grinds My Gears
  • Heavy Metal Blog
  • Ordered bands.
  • yungsparkle's corner of stuff
  • ARTPOP 2013
  • Automaticism out of the coconut.
  • Why I hate politics and functioning of the US govt
  • Sunsets Fade
  • Life of Me
  • Sig Hoovestrong's Blog
  • Why I start creating stories
  • Ride the Lightwing!
  • my plan for the forum
  • MLP:FIM Season 5 review
  • Flutersparkles blog
  • The Glimmerous Gazette
  • Unexpected inspirations
  • Stuff
  • *Insert generic blog testing name*
  • Blog of a Crazy Lady
  • Mr.Derpâ„¢'s Blog
  • Black Ops II: Map Pack #2
  • Well, that was disappointing
  • OC Jelly!
  • Space Woona Loves Luna!
  • depression
  • TheJLeeTeam's Blog
  • State of Cynicism
  • JMV Randomness Blog
  • AJ's Blog
  • Capper’s Chaotic Haven of Things and Stuff
  • Danganronpa: The Game about 2020
  • Dusty S. is terrible at names...
  • Riclo's main Blog
  • the pony nation of Uhlania & her fief kingdoms
  • Plague Doctor's Blog
  • Who's Your Favorite Pony? (All Opinions Will Be Respected)
  • Silver Quill's Tapestry of Tales and Tributes
  • Equestria Divided
  • Echo Narcissa's Blog
  • GARMES AND SHTUFF
  • Treble Sketch's Words
  • Silky's Corner
  • Zeal Crown's Blog
  • viper213's Blog
  • Me blogs
  • Gem Den
  • Moshi Moshi, FL_ desu~
  • Kolth's Writing Blaug
  • SCS's Blog
  • thebobmaster's Blog
  • Is Futurama even going to die with dignity?
  • dinomaster626's Blog
  • DoubleRainboom's Blog
  • Unbreakable's Thoughts
  • Flutterdashiem's Blog of Randomness
  • MethODDical Monologue
  • Chanel No.5
  • Star Struck's Blog of Randomness
  • HeavyWeaponsBaby's Blog
  • Reflect
  • teeeest
  • ewrf
  • 20% Awesomer Musics
  • Cider Barrel's Fan Fiction readings
  • Becoming a slightly better artist.
  • Kiss n' Make up
  • Talkin' Bout' Stuff
  • Random Stuff
  • Remix's Blog
  • DaisyChain's Blog
  • Candy Star's Random Blog
  • Gestum's Blog
  • h06zaman's Blog
  • Hazard Time's Blog
  • After 7 years of MLP: FiM...
  • EpicEnergy's Blog of Random Stuff
  • LowfatEnvelope's Blog
  • Eileen's Doodle Blog
  • Modphase's Blog
  • Princess HarmonyStar's Blog
  • None
  • The bloggity
  • Dusty's War Theatre
  • Random Reflections
  • Princess-Sunbutt Rambles to the Masses
  • Steele's open heart
  • Cold music from the heart
  • The Blog of Duskshire
  • Cake?'s Blog Entry 1#
  • TigerGeekGuy's Blog of Nothing Particularly Interesting
  • some blog talking about G5
  • TheBronyHeart's Blog
  • ,
  • Coffeesaxophone`s Blog In Space
  • A Dating-Sim
  • My Little Citrus: Reviewing is Magic
  • rainbowdash1212's Blog
  • Fallen Angel
  • [unused]
  • Only the best!
  • Blog
  • The Fizz blog!
  • My (Kinda) Personal Life
  • need help with move
  • Countess Coloratura's Blog!
  • Nori's corner
  • Blog de SkullBuster
  • Heavyshy's Blog
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II DLC Revolution
  • Kyoshiro's Blog
  • The Silver Six
  • Armchair Adventurer's Blog
  • If You're Lost, There is Hope
  • 41Hornet's Blog
  • The Top Ten Songs of Seasons 3 & 4
  • 0-0
  • Shadaking's 0% Blog
  • Just depression things
  • Rainbow dash isn't loyal enough
  • in the mind of perfect song
  • Horse Stuff
  • Dislogically Distastic
  • Heavyshy's Blog #2
  • Maxos's Music
  • turama is cancelled .... again!
  • OH MY GOD THERE'S A PONY IN FUTURAMA!
  • The Nitpicker's Guide to Roleplaying
  • My First Blog! And other things
  • Bronies Unite!
  • Renegade's Warehouse of Fanfiction
  • PeytonJay's Blog
  • Ink Scape's Blog
  • HighLunarStudios' Blog
  • Art Samplings
  • TO Fix an Empire AU
  • Arkra de Memoiri
  • NinjaCPU's Rants and Shenanigans
  • RANDOMNEZZ
  • Da Ponyd Snake Blog!
  • Cyangust's Blog
  • S-11C
  • Nuke87654's thoughts on whatever certain subjects that I feel I need to discuss seperately
  • Feather's Sexy Blog of Sexiness
  • Oryx and Koi's Art Studio
  • .
  • Palady Reviews: Friendship is Magic
  • HighLunarStudios' Blog
  • Stormy's Stuff
  • Dreamstar Moonlight
  • I_wesley125's boring world of incoherent thoughts.
  • ~StarChaser~'s Cloud
  • Riclo's theory blog
  • State of the Eight
  • Chasing Shadows
  • An Adventure Through Space and Time
  • Nuke87654's Video Game Reviews
  • Screwing About with Hypnosis and Life
  • Feelings Rollercoaster
  • A Random Moment with Stary Dash
  • Crystal Quill's Blog
  • Seva's Blog
  • The Decision 01
  • Swirly's Blog
  • Critical Stroll
  • NNL's Blog Countdown
  • The life of Parties like Pinkie
  • An Ordinary Blog
  • DJ Ponyda's Music Blog
  • shadowbrony's Blog
  • rgpbronie reviews to many pinkipies
  • Reviews
  • DELETED
  • Skate Stuff
  • A Big Can of Random
  • FriendshipBrony's Blog
  • I Have too Much Free Time
  • onlyone's Blog
  • The Citrus Files
  • What's It Like to Be a Farmer-Rancher?
  • BloggggG
  • Molporgnier's Blog
  • Birds of a Feather
  • Temp OH Thing
  • Pinkiepieness' Blog
  • Hanging with Hooves
  • Scribblings in the night.
  • When Noire is Tired.
  • Sergei's song of the week.(Discontinued)
  • Candy Star's Favorite Brony Music Blog
  • Midnight Frost's Tulpa Diary
  • The Brony Dragon Blog
  • A pout about Rarity
  • Carried my childhood with me
  • lyrabetes3939's Blog
  • Midnight Moon's Blog
  • Parso's Gaming Reviews
  • The Tale of A Small Town Brony
  • Gekoncze's cooking
  • Viricide Filly's Wondercave of Music and Hypnosis
  • The Rise of the Black Bird
  • Spiral to Hell: A Guid to Understanding Girls <3
  • Let's try to actually keep this up!
  • Blog about my life
  • Frozen's Blog of Random Stuff
  • Sailor Equestria's Public Presence
  • Jora's Blog
  • Blog
  • Dusky's Blog About Random Stuff
  • Journals of Wonko the Sane
  • DA PONESLAYR BLOG
  • Ponies for Star Wars
  • Fanfic Snips
  • Vinstar59's Blog
  • Should Zoidberg and Rarity get married?
  • Lunar Velocity's Gaming Guides
  • JCC's Brony Blogging
  • My Little DuffCreeper: YouTube Is Magic
  • Clover's Collection
  • Sailor Equestria's Public Presence
  • Jora's Blog
  • wolftitanreading's Blog
  • A Wannabe Talks About Stuff
  • My Struggles with Depression
  • First Blog :)
  • no
  • My Fandom Blog
  • Acknowledgement: How I feel about the forums.
  • Starlight's Sight
  • Gleaming blade's Blog
  • The Big Fellah's Big Braw Blog
  • 2014 MLPF World Cup
  • Duskie's Blog
  • Comfort- Hearts and Hooves Day Contest.
  • Solstice Gypsy's Blog
  • Wolfstuff
  • First Blog Post
  • Give Me a Ship and I'll Rate It
  • Dawn Glow
  • superponylinux's Blog
  • Commander Urdnot's Blog
  • That guy's game give away
  • Dannedanker's depressive blogging
  • Cloud Generator
  • Bronikky's Fabulous Blogtime!
  • Moost's Blog
  • Filler
  • Nionios' Blog
  • Fighting against myself
  • Candy Star's MLP Channel Announcements
  • The Pheinox
  • Brianna Changeling's Life
  • The Cash Vault
  • Rarity's Blog
  • Confessions of an American Trixie Fanboy
  • So much Diablo
  • kotakotakota's Thoughts
  • Lolnus' Blog
  • None
  • DragonKing235's Blog
  • Life Written By Destiny
  • [unused]
  • DR0ID-P0N3's Blog
  • Candy Star's MLP PMV Blog[Discontinued]
  • Ramblings of a unicorn princess
  • CodeHell's Blog
  • Warlock Boo's Scripts
  • Thoughts On Games, Movies, Shows,& Life
  • My own
  • A PerVexxing Blog
  • Blaze's Corner for Random Junk
  • Freewave's Thoughts
  • Foxy's Blog
  • Scoots reviewing the beginning of the Nolan trilogy
  • Sombra to skylar:!
  • The Wind Chaser
  • [unused]
  • How to Draw Tutorials
  • Burning Snow
  • DL33TED's Blog
  • My Good Friend
  • Gamecubeguy's PAC-TASTIC Combo Videos
  • Gaming, television, literature, and more
  • ExplosionMare Blogs
  • Tich's Tumblr
  • Heavyshy's Blog #3
  • The Scripture of Twilight Celuna Circuits
  • wickedjr89's Blog
  • Am I a bad person
  • FlashGear's Blog
  • XxConfusedUnicornxX's Corner!
  • Brony Game Commenter Blog
  • Bow to the Rain's Blog
  • Cosmic Connections
  • DL33TED's Blog
  • Sapphire's Renegade Thoughts
  • BubbleTea Blog
  • A Wannabe's Idea Dump
  • Because I can
  • Cloud Chaser's Blog
  • Serenity Under the Moon
  • The Amazing Spider-Man Breakdown
  • The Blog of User Funerals
  • Outkin's Blog
  • Blog
  • Pixel Stick's Blog
  • CosmicHoove's Blog
  • I've returned, kind of.
  • theonenamedDJ's Blog
  • Derpflutterbronys blog
  • Dear Twilight
  • Lil Pip's Blog
  • The writings of a clod
  • Music
  • Vicke's Blog
  • Sugar Plum thinks about things
  • Pony Hypnosis
  • Guyra's Corner.
  • The Dude's Movie Reviews
  • Snowy Storm's Blog
  • My Life......
  • I must be dreaming...
  • Saturday Group Chat
  • Metallic guitar's Blog
  • Fan Animations
  • The Chronicles Of Rooster
  • Steel Accord's Blog
  • Forest Hideout
  • Thoughts keeping me up at night
  • Overthinking Everything
  • Steamgamer27's Blog
  • Procrastination at its Best!
  • Guyra's Corner.
  • Everfree's Blog
  • The mind of Rev
  • The Godspell According to Renegade: How I Found Disenlightenment Through Postmodern Zen Buddhism
  • BionicBrony's Blog
  • Saturday Group Chat
  • Delzepp's Blog (guess this is as good a title as any)
  • Various Pictures of My Characters
  • 2
  • Stardust Balance's Blog
  • Vlog and what not... pod cast? Is that what they are calling them now?
  • Deep Thoughts No One Cares About
  • SweetieBelle Excel's Blog
  • Fruitastic Brony (Closed)
  • Equestrian Spring: Chaos vs Lawful
  • Octavia's Forum
  • DusK's Brony Music Picks
  • Moten's Story
  • My little journal: Literature is magic
  • The Nocturnian Era: Spiritual Bronyism in Hindsight
  • LullabySkout's Reviews
  • The Analysis Station
  • The war is real!! (Warhammer 40K Blog)
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  • blog of the insane
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  • The Depressed Cat
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  • old blog that i can't delete [1/4]
  • Brony and Pegasister Issues.
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  • Bird Hoovy finally noticed the blog option
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  • wat.
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  • Been awhile, eh guys?
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  • Opinionated Pieces
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  • The Adventure of Strawberry Cream.
  • Randomy Stories of Randomness
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  • Brechard's Blog of Bloggy Blobs.
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  • Things I Wonder About In MLP.
  • Inside the mind of a Chunk of Wood
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  • From The Mind of This Guy
  • First Fanfic
  • But yo booty don't need explain'n
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  • Archive of my old stupid opinions
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  • Wolves' blog 101
  • Senpai Talks
  • hasbro needs to get their act together. [rant]
  • YIGY Shorty Stories
  • The Blog of Storm Spark
  • Chatroom Announcements
  • My reaction to Alicorn Twilight.
  • Sugar's Sweet Sentiments
  • Gone
  • fanfics, fan art, and other stuff
  • Nostalgia Gamers Blog!!
  • Obscure and Underground Music
  • Good afternoon!
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  • .
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  • Finding my cutie mark
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  • Gone
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  • My experience with the forums
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  • A Small World
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  1. WELCOME TO THE STARLIGHT GLIMMER FANCLUB! She was equal and wanted to share True Friendship with everypony. And then she was reformed, and is the one and only student of the Princess of Friendship. She has amazing magical abilities that match those of the Princesses themselves. She is the first true friend of the Great and Powerful Trixie. It's the one and only Starlight Glimmer! Club Rules: - No hate on this or any other character. - No spam. - Don't claim that you're the biggest fan. - No overly inappropriate material. - Please focus on this character only: all posts must include her as the main topic. - Forum global rules still apply!
  2. Okay, the article is about a piece of merch rather than the show, but it has pretty big implications ahead of season five and the 100th episode. http://www.equestriadaily.com/2015/01/derpy-brand-blueberry-muffin-flavored.html It's not terribly imaginative, all things considered, but it's a huge step up from being referred to by a picture.
  3. Currently, The Cutie Map is the best two-parter of the entire show. It has the best pacing; a great moral; great use of primary, secondary, and background characters; and well-executed very dark themes. But one thing about this two-parter that really sticks out the most, and also helps make it so great, is how creepy this episode truly is. There's a lot of really well-done disturbing audio and imagery; part of it has to do with Starlight Glimmer's attitude and control over her village. The overall essence of her control is from one of the songs is this season's first half: In Our Town. In a thread I opened a few months ago, I highlighted and asked the audience about what part(s) of The Cutie Map that creeped them out the most. For me, one of them was this song. To echo what I wrote there, it's incredibly optimistic, and the catchy tune has a lot to do with it. But pay attention to the portrayal of the Equalists and their smiles. Everything feels controlled, and Starlight is the glue that keeps them under control. One mare had her locks unwound, and when Starlight wound them back up, she smiled very nervously. Secondly, the marching is very synchronized. Everything is done to the tune, and it looks perfect. The marches were not an added element, but an actual component to the songs, and for good reason: The song was inspired by World War II propaganda music, and many of the musical arrangements and messages you see and hear come from countries heavily influenced by this genre, like Nazi Germany. But you can really pinpoint Glimmer's tyranny from this meter (and easily the most unsettling line of the entire show): "You can't have a nightmare if you never dream." To quote my analysis of this section of the two-parter: But there's a lot more to it. Starlight Glimmer is a dictator and easily the most diabolical villain of the show. Yes, there are other nasty villains like Sombra and Tirek, but they never dove into psychological evil. While they lusted for total domination of Equestria, Glimmer intended to break you down mentally. She weakens you by stealing your original mark and replacing it with an equal sign that will completely control your personality. Then she locks you up and brainwashes you. That one lyric is Starlight's philosophy. Now I have some questions: What were your initial impressions of In Our Town? Have they changed in any way? If so, did these impressions change for the better or worse, and why? What details in the song stick out the most? They can be the visuals (animation, character expressions, choreography), audio, lyrical, or whichever. Ingram revealed on Twitter that WWII propaganda music inspired him to create this song. What's your response to it? Pretend you were out and about — in a restaurant, in transit, or in a park. Suddenly, someone told you or somebody else, "You can't have a nightmare if you never dream." What would your reaction be?
  4. Well fear not Sugar Belle fans, here you are. Our sweets making mare has her own fan club! I personally feel like we'll be seeing more of her rather then not just in the first two episodes. Rules: No spamming. No hating on other clubs or on this one, we're here to love Sugar. Don't claim to be the biggest fan of her Don't post pictures that don't relate to Sugar Belle General rules of course still apply
  5. I like episode 200 more than episode 100; however, I also think both episodes are still very amazing, episode 100 is actually one of my favorites in season 5. So which episode do you like better?
  6. There are season 5 finale spoilers (even if it's been two weeks already) So I've been thinking... The season 5 finale had a lot of alternate timelines, most of which were cut and dry, someone won who previously didn't sort of deals. All, except for one. The one that happened to be there when Starlight Glimmer was dragged to the future with Twilight. This alternate timeline was completely barren, windy, and de-saturated. There didn't seem to be other ponies or even traces of life in the immediate vicinity. All the other villains already had their timeline's revealed, so... who caused it? Maybe it was someone whom we would never expect, or perhaps it was a future in which no one won? who? or what? We may never know. But we can speculate.
  7. We saw in MLP: FiM that different worlds exist from Canterlot High to the dark versions of Equestria from The Cutie Remark. What kind of alternate Equestria do you think could exist? I came up with concepts that are different from the original Equestria down below. Feel free to make your own. In an alternate Equestria... Spike changes back and forth from filly to baby dragon thanks to Twilight's magic hatching him. Diamond Tiara is a Pegasus and Silver Spoon is a unicorn. Sweetie Belle is really Screwball, who just wants to have a normal pony life. Discord is married to Derpy and both take care of their hybrid pony/draconequus children. Pinkie Pie is the princess of friendship and has her own chocolate castle that will never melt. Applejack owns a baby hydra. Fluttershy is a friendly changeling who takes love from worms. Rarity's dream is to be a ice skater. Rainbow Dash has a part time job as a waitress at the Cloudsdale Hayburger Queen. Twilight used a spell to turn into a Smooze to teach a friendship lesson, but she hasn't been able to change back into a pony since.
  8. In "The Cutie Re-Mark (Part 2)" the final alternate future of the desolate wasteland, could Celestia have become Daybreaker causing it, or could Ahuizotl have finshed the ring ceremony from Daring Don't to "unleash 800 years of unrelenting sweltering heat"?
  9. (Except for the things she possibly actually did wrong) So, in Amending Fences, Twilight goes back to Canterlot to make nice with her former Canterlot friends, who she feels she wronged by leaving Canterlot for Ponyville. Most of her friends forgive her, but Moondancer wants nothing to do with her, instead pretending not to care about renewing the friendship. Of course, there is more to the story, and Moondancer is secretly harbouring resentment for Twilight skipping her "little get-together in the west castle courtyard," as shown in the first episode. Things come to a head when Twilight brings Pinkie in to put together a party for Moon Dancer, upon which Moon Dancer lets Twilight know just how much she was hurt by Twilight's no-show at Moon Dancer's party all those months ago. There is ultimately reconciliation and a happy end. Now, a lot of fans related really well to Moon Dancer, seeing in her an innocent pony hurt by an insensitivite act committed by somepony who is ostentibly her friend, and who became a recluse who had given up on friendship because of the bad experience she had. And that's fine. I'm not trying to convince anyone to not feel empathy for Moon Dancer. But I will explain why I personally don't feel Moon Dancer's story connected with me in the way the writers intended. First, we are presented with the idea that Twilight was wrong to forgo the party for a study session. As I see it, Twilight had zero obligation to attend the party. It's an invitation, not a summons. If she wants to spend her time with old dusty books instead, that's her perogative. And while she didn't know at the time that Nightmare Moon was due to return, she did seem to have something on her mind. She was reading history, but asks Spike to find a book on Predictions and Prophecies, which obviously is about the future. So she had a reason to decline the invitation: something had caught her interest and she wanted to learn more, which is typical Twilight. But even if she hadn't had a reason, I still feel it's unjust of both the audience and Moon Dancer to blame her for doing what she had every right to do. In the case of Moon Dancer, it's even more egregious for her to feel wronged, since she should have understood Twilight's decision. They are so similar, after all. I also think it's a bit unfair of Moon Dancer to expect Twilight to be more social just because she decided to be. And let's be real here, Moon Dancer didn't even bother to invite Twilight personally. Twinkleshine did the inviting. We don't even know if the invitation was on Moon Dancer's behalf as we are never given any evidence for such being the case. How was Twilight supposed to know that Moon Dancer was putting any kind of emotional attachment to her attendance? This could easily have been avoided if the writers just added another flashback to Moon Dancer inviting Twilight, and having her agree to attend, and then going back on that agreement when she saw the Elements of Harmony mentioned in her book. Then we would actually have Twilight going back on her word to a friend, and that would go a long way towards making Moon Dancer's reaction more justified. As written, this episode has Moon Dancer forcing responsibility for her own emotional well-being onto Twilight without letting her know about it or agree to it, and that makes it her own damn fault when she then gets hurt. (Consent? What is that?) Now, leaving her friends without even saying goodbye and then never contacting them; that I agree is a pretty crappy thing to do. If Twilight did anything wrong, this would be it. In fact, if the episode had made that the focus and that action was Moon Dancer's beef with Twilight, I might have found it more emotionally resonant. (It wouldn't negate all the bad writing, but it would have improved my outlook on the episode as a whole.) As it is, the party snub angle just muddies the water and makes the message of the episode weaker. What is the message now? "You are justified in making someone else your emotion crutch without their knowledge or consent"? "If somebody snubs you, take it so personally that you become a recluse and shut out everyone else from your life"? And more, that you're justified in doing so? This is pretty much what Moon Dancer does. How am I supposed to feel sorry for her when her reaction is so totally out of proportion to the "offense"? Another reason why the "Twilight hurt Moon Dancer by not going to her party" plotline doesn't really work is that all her other friends did attend that party, including the three that Moon Dancer herself points out as being the original reason why she wanted to be more outgoing in the first place. They even invited her out a few times after the party and she turned them down, because one pony (who wasn't even the impetus for Moon Dancer coming out of her shell, let's remember) didn't attend. That's simply self-sabotage, and it's not justified for the reasons I outlined above. While we're on that topic, I'm not entirely convinced the party was intended as a party for Twilight specifically. It's never stated to be the case. Even if one can infer it from context (arguable at best), that still doesn't change the fact that Twilight was unaware of the fact, and still had the right to decline to attend even if she were aware. The writing also suffers from other issues, even seeming to work against itself at points. It wants you to believe that these ponies were Twilight's friends, but then makes a few jokes out of her not remembering their names. Here's a friendship hint - if you need your assistant to list the names of your friends, you don't have any friends in the first place. Heck, I can reel off two dozen names of friends I had in high school and university (I'm 37 now) - Twilight couldn't remember four (after at most a few months / years). They even make the point that Twilight had no photos of her Canterlot "friends", as she had with the Mane Six. So, you'll forgive me for being a little bit skeptical of the supposed friendship. There's also quite a lot of retconning to make this former friends angle work at all. Previous episodes make it pretty clear that Twilight didn't consider friendship important until she went to Ponyville, and she previously stated that her brother was the only pony she considered her friend before meeting the rest of the Mane Six. Now we're supposed to swallow the lie (which is exactly what it is) that she had these ponies she considered friends in Canterlot. All in all, I'm simply not convinced that the relationship between Twilight and those ponies was anything close to friendship. As another example of what I tend to think of as manipulative writing, we see again the scene from the first episode, with Twinkleshine telling Twilight about the party and Twilight declining in favour of studying. In this episode, the scene is cut short, ending with the other ponies watching Twilight running off. The original scene had the ponies remarking on Twilight's lack of social interaction. The lines excised are as follows: Twinkleshine: "Does that pony do anything except study? I think she's more interested in books than friends." Twilight: "I know I've heard of the Elements of Harmony." I guess they didn't want to remind us that Twilight didn't go in for friendship back then, did they? Or that she was actually going to research the Elements of Harmony, thus giving her a valid reason to decline the party invitation... you know, beyond exercising her own free will. It's literally a few seconds of extra footage, so I doubt they cut it for time considerations. There's a difference between evoking and manipulating emotion. This lands squarely on the latter side, and I don't appreciate it from the writers. To be honest, it makes me kind of angry. To conclude, there are many problems with the writing and characterization of this episode, which preclude me from being convinced of the emotional story the writers are trying to tell. There are fans who do find it convincing, and really, I'm glad that someone at least could get edification out of this episode where I can't. Still, I feel that Twilight is being unfairly blamed for Moon Dancer's (to my mind) self-inflicted emotional pain, and I will defend her on that count. Until the next time I bloggity-blog, just remember: always accept any invitation. Somebody's self-worth might be on the line! That's totes on you, friend! Oh, and stay sunny side up, as always!
  10. And here, at long, long last, we are: the final episode of Samurai Jack. When last we left him, it seemed Jack had finally been beaten by the shapeshifting Master of Darkness… and Daddy’s Little Destroyer. Let’s see how this all pans out… What Happens Throughout the land, all the various peoples and groups that Jack had encountered gather around their viewing devices in dread, because Aku is making an announcement. Aku uses the opening from previous seasons to preface his gloating. Then Aku himself appears, showing off the captured Samurai Jack and his sword. In order to break the spirit of his subjects for all time, he is broadcasting live his final victory in finishing off Jack… if only he could decide quite how to do this momentous event just right… Jack pleads with Akushi to fight, but it seems to have no effect, and Aku finally decides to let her have the honour of killing his defeated enemy. However, before the final blow is struck, the armies of every group still able to put up a fight attack Aku’s tower. In the ensuing battle, Jack is blasted free. He tries to get the sword while Aku is distracted by the others, but Akushi stops him. While able to inconvenience Aku to a degree, the armies of good are unable to actually do any significant damage, and Aku even starts using his evil to create an army of his own. Things seem to be looking bleak for our heroes, but then the Scotsman’s ghost arrives with the red-haired, reindeer-riding cavalry! Scotland! F*ck yeah! Using a set of mystical ghostly bagpipes to transport his daughters through the sky, and to launch an attack powerful enough to affect Aku himself, the Scotsman reunites with Jack, naming each of his daughters and offering Jack his pick. I think the last one’s name is Ovalylongag… Jack demurs and shows the Scotsman his new girlfriend… but, said girlfriend still being a black blob of Aku’s evil at this point, the Scotsman is less than impressed. Aku, frustrated by the attacks on him, launches himself into the sky and rains down spears of darkness, to devastating effect. The armies of good are being routed, until the Scotsman uses his bagpipes to create a shield, and even destabilize Akushi. Jack is caught inside Akushi's roiling black blob, and struggles to reach Ashi, who is still fighting the ocean of darkness. It seems like they will lose the struggle, and Jack desperately shouts to Ashi that he loves her. Ejected from Akushi, Jack lands flat on his back, and Akushi begins to choke him to death. (Now there’s an erotic asphyxiation meme waiting to happen.) Then her hold on his throat loosens as Ashi, empowered by Jack’s confession of love, manages to overcome the evil, reverting to her black catsuit look. Aku orders her to kill Jack again, but this time she is in control and denies Aku as her father. He attacks and she fights back with the same powers that Aku has, like eyebeams and shapeshifting. It seems her victory over Aku’s compulsion hasn’t severed her access to his powers. All his powers… as Jack and Ashi both quickly realize, that includes time travel! Ashi stretches her arm to grab and return Jack’s sword. Then she uses her screech powers to make a portal back to the past and, as Aku realizes with despair, it’s one he can’t interfere with or destroy. Back in the past, the initial fight between the as-yet-nameless Samurai and Aku plays out as before, with Aku sending him into the future… however, Jack and Ashi arrive back in the following moment. Aku chokes out what will turn out to be his final words, “You’re back already?!” as Jack wastes no time using his sword to cut down, trap and then destroy Aku once and for all. Soon after, all the people the Samurai trained growing up, as well as all the citizens of the Empire, are gathering for his wedding to Ashi. As she walks down the aisle towards him, she suddenly stumbles and collapses. Jack runs to embrace her, as she tells him what is happening: since Aku was killed in the past, he never donated his evil essence to the Cult in the future and thus Ashi was never born. She fades away, leaving Jack clutching her empty wedding kimono. The disconsolate Jack rides his horse through a misty gloomy forest. He sits down by a tree and mourns. A ladybug lands on his hand, and he slowly smiles with renewed hope and lets it fly away, as the sun comes out and lights up the same trees that Future!Aku had destroyed. The screen fades to black as the title “Episode CI” lingers. So beautiful, it almost makes me forget the writers tearing my heart out and stomping on it... Thoughts on the Episode And thus the curtain falls on Samurai Jack. It’s been a long ride, with many ups and downs. I’m glad that we got this final Season to resolve Jack’s story, but… sob… They killed Kenny ret-goned Ashi! You bastards! In a way, I admire the sheer brass testicles / ovaries of the writers that led them to go this route, but… why? Why can’t we have nice things?! I didn’t think something like this would happen, really, even given how dark Season 5 could get. This… this was just mean-spirited. And it’s not like it was a necessary consequence of time travel, either. You can’t simply resolve the grandfather paradox by erasing Ashi. If Ashi didn’t exist, Jack would never have gone back to the past, thus wouldn’t have been able to kill Aku and thus make Ashi not exist. (I’m not going to do the cross-eyed joke! I’m not in the mood.) And then there’s the fact that Jack still remembers her… unless the ending scene is meant to imply that the memory of her faded away eventually, just as she did – unlikely with the way the scene was shot and how Jack’s expressions were shown, but still something your mileage could vary on. Speaking of delayed-reaction reordering of timelines, that’s another weird thing… why did it take so long for Ashi to be affected? Just so that the timing could be even more sucky for our poor hero? Dick move, writers, dick move. I mean, I can understand making the artistic choice they did, but I really did want Ashi to get her happy ending with Jack. I'm just really sad I didn't get to see my prediction come true... instead, heartbreak. But I'll live. If I were able to rewrite the ending, it would go like this… Jack and Ashi arrive in the past the moment BEFORE the Samurai gets sent to the future. Jack and the Samurai team up to take out Aku, and kill him with a super-cool double magical sword strike. As Aku dies, Ashi feels Aku’s evil leave her, as before, but as Jack tries to help her up, their hands go through each other. Jack and Ashi realize that preventing the Samurai from going to the future in the first place means they, the second copy of the sword, and the future timeline of Aku’s reign (coincidentally, virtually the entire series itself) all will cease to exist. After taking a short time to explain to the Samurai what would have happened, they start to fade away. Jack and Ashi redeclare their love for each other and share a final kiss as they fade out of existence, saddened but consoled by the fact that they are leaving existence together. The Samurai revels in his victory over Aku and the celebrations begin. Jump ahead a while, the Samurai is married, with a new born heir being held by the new Empress, wife and mother… who just happens to look a lot like Ashi. Bam! Perfect happy ending… Ashi still goes out, but now so does Jack, who now never had to suffer those 50 years of despair. We can still have our victory at a price without leaving the hero to suffer alone. Since the Samurai was never affected by Aku’s time travel, he ages perfectly normally, thus removing the question mark over whether or not Jack is still immortal. The Prophecy of the Guardian’s time portal is also resolved by never actually having happened, so the inconsistency of Jack’s older appearance in that vision vs the events of Season 5 is reconciled. All tied up with a neat bow, thank you very much! It’s such a pity the writers didn’t consult me, I coulda set them straight… sigh. Other thoughts: So in the end, the Guardian was apparently killed by Aku. I had hoped we might see him one last time… even if it were merely a flashback to witness the battle between them. Seeing the various friends Jack had made reappear en masse makes his absence even more notable. At least the Scotsman got his chance to shine and reunite with Jack. Oh, the irony… Aku managed to destroy all the time portals, yet still sowed the seeds of his own destruction by “blessing” the Cult of Aku. This lead not only to Ashi being born, meeting Jack and helping him regain his determination to destroy Aku, but also equipped her with the exact necessary power to negate all his efforts at preventing Jack’s return to the past. Add in the fact that he could have won if he had simply done to Jack what he did to the Scotsman a few episodes earlier and the Pie of Irony is complete, ready to throw in Aku’s flaming-eyebrows, fang-mouthed face. Heh. Overall, Season 5 has been a fun but bumpy ride. I give you my thanks for joining me on this journey. I may or may not write a review of the whole of the season/series at a later time, and I think I should probably start on FiM Season 7 like I’ve been saying I’ll do for the past couple of months. Please look forward to it, and join me again in the future. In the meantime, feel free to give your own perspectives in the comments. How did you feel about how the season wrapped up? Do you think my ending would have been better? (Because I do.) What did you enjoy most about the season? What did you enjoy least? Share your thoughts. And until the next time we meet, stay sunny side up!
  11. Why does this episode make think of John Lithgow and Sylvester Stallone? Huh… Anyway, the penultimate episode of Samurai Jack is upon us! Let’s see how the lovebirds are doing... What Happens Following on from the last episode, Jack and Ashi are kissing. However, the romance is dampened by the fact that they still have slug juice in their mouths, causing them to separate and spit the taste out. Reassuring each other that it isn’t a reflection on the kiss itself, they decide to get clean. While Ashi, still wrapped in Jack’s gi, goes to find some suitable clothes, Jack heads outside the ship and luckily finds a broken pipe to use as a shower. Ashi, now clad in a green one-piece dress, appreciates the view of Jack nekkid, but leaves his now-clean gi where he can find it. The two both manage to find some bugs in the desert to cook for dinner that night, despite being chewy and rather unappetizing. Jack reminisces on the beauty of the valley where he grew up, before Aku returned, and mentions that he thinks that he will only ever have the memory, which saddens Ashi. We switch back over to Scaramouch’s journey and Scarry has coopted an octopus to serve as his body. He finally finds Aku’s spire, and despite an automated recording from Aku that he is not currently receiving visitors, proceeds inside. He convinces Aku to talk to him and tells him about the issing-May ord-Sway of ack-Jay. Aku is pleased to hear this, and restores Scaramouch’s body as reward for bringing the good-bad news. They dance. Do the Robot! In the morning, Ashi wakes to find that Jack has left her behind in secret and follows his trail again. (Note the separate beds… I guess a kiss is as far as they went… pity) Jack walks through the desert, and finds himself in a familiar place… the wreckage of giant robots all around. As he clambers over them, he comes to a destroyed time portal and sees some familiar red sun-glasses broken on the ground. It seems the Guardian and his time portal are no more. (Ah, man. I had hoped to see him again. I guess prophecy is not infallible…) Ashi arrives and soon, so do Aku and Scaramouch. Aku does his usual “fooooolish Samurai!” bit, until Jack unsheathes his sword. Scaramouch barely manages to protest before Aku blows him up… this time for good. (He just got… Scarasmooshed… ) Jack tries to attack Aku, but the Shogun of Sorrow avoids him easily, despite being distracted by something that smells like him, but isn’t. Aku then turns to Ashi… As it turns out, Aku did once visit the Cult of the Daughters, and even contributed some of his evil (from his hands, I might hasten to clarify) for the High Priestess to drink, thus impregnating her with Ashi and her sisters. (So the name “the Daughters of Aku” turned out to be literal. I must confess, I didn’t see that one coming…) Ashi is unable to control her body, attacking Jack with a purloined sword. After they trade a few blows, Aku fully releases the evil within Ashi, turning her into a black-clad clone of himself, with GREAT FLAMING EYEBROWS! The fight resumes, Akushii being much stronger and faster now. Jack still manages to graze her with the sword, releasing the good part of Ashi long enough to beg Jack to kill her before she is again subsumed. However, Jack cannot bring himself to do it, and drops his sword. A triumphant Aku holds it up as Jack collapses before Akushii and… WATCH OUT! Thoughts on the Episode You see, Friendship is Magic: that is how you do a cliffhanger! I always disliked the habit of two-parters in FiM being aired together… it leaves no time for tension to build. And for now, that is where I will leave it. Comments welcomed, and look forward to a bumper review when this whole shebang is all wrapped up. Stay sunny side up!
  12. In this episode, another of my theories goes belly up (I sincerely hope), and I’m forced to make some retractions… what do you think of that, Jack? “Drinks all around!” Oops, wrong Jack. Anyhoo, let’s move on to the seventh episode of Samurai Jack, Season 5. Fish heads, tiger heads and Stanley Kubric inspired imagery await us… What happens A gigantic monolithic ship is hit by asteroids and crash lands. Next we see Jack and Ashi in a desert city. Jack samples some of the local cuisine and gets his head transformed into a fish. Ashi is less than enthused, but luckily it quickly wears off. They board a gigantic camel, along with a large number of tiger-headed aliens. In the crowded quarters, Jack and Ashi are pushed together, and it gets a little awkward… we see quite a bit of UST between the two as they try to avoid touching hands and any other bits, in fact. The will-they-or-won’t-they-tête-à-tête is interrupted as they are attacked by the tiger aliens, and forced to escape out a window. They swing down to the desert on the reins and continue on foot. A gigantic sandstorm begins, and they seek shelter in the crashed ship from earlier, which is revealed to be huge. They make their way deeper and end up getting lost, when something starts chasing them. Ashi gets bitten by a venomous slug, forcing Jack to suck out the venom. So, here’s Jack sucking on Ashi’s… um, ashi… Oh, by the way, “ashi” means “leg” in Japanese, so get your mind out of the gutter! You’re blocking my light. As they continue on, they find themselves being stalked. Their enemy is revealed as a colony of slugs like the one from earlier that form a giant monster. “My God… it’s full of slugs!” Jack eventually finds an armoury with a device that can destroy the monster, but the critical part of the explanation is lost when Jack is distracted by Ashi accidentally discharging a blaster into the wall. The two take the device and move on, Jack desperately trying to activate it. Ashi, having armed herself with a double headed sword and a shield, once again takes point as Jack struggles to use the device. The slug monster attacks them again, and Ashi ends up losing her outfit to its attacks. She feels no real qualms about fighting in the buff, but Jack certainly does and is forced to use his gi to cover her. When Jack admits he has no idea how to work the device, they trade roles back and forth. They finally manage to activate it just as the slugs swarm all over them. The device makes the slugs explode, leaving the pair alive, panting from exertion and covered with slug goo. Perfect time for a Big Damn Kiss! "Romance in Samurai Jack? Surely you can’t be serious!” “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.” MAKE OUT! Thoughts on the Episode On Jack and Ashi’s blossoming romance: *sigh*… the Rule 34 squad is going to have a field day with this episode. Which brings us to my first retraction: I was also wrong that Jack and Ashi would be revealed to be father and daughter. At least, I really really hope I’m wrong about that, because otherwise… ewww. Even worse, Ashi technically already fulfilled the first part of the Electra Complex double whammy, when she killed her own mother. We can probably take it as read that there is no familial relation between the two, because surely that would be a bit too squicky even for this season. With that caveat, I don’t really object to Jack and Ashi getting their freak on together. Sure, there’s an age gap and a probably even larger experience gap, but they’ve been through a lot together in a short space of time, and Ashi’s speech about how he saved her life and showed her the truth of Aku’s evil gives them bonus relationship points. Plus there’s a hint of real world psychology in the way they ended up, ahem, sucking face. Known as Misattribution of Arousal, in situations that involve a heightened arousal of the nervous system, the signals generated by fear, exertion or similar can be misinterpreted as physical attraction. How much this works in reality is up for debate, as with so much psychology/sociology research (the “squishy” sciences), but it’s a good enough working theory. Ashi not feeling any shame about fighting naked is a pretty clever touch, given the revelation that she always fights essentially naked, and Jack’s reaction to her nudity is adorable and in-character too. So all in all, the romance angle is pretty well justified in my mind, but YMMV. Since I’m in a retracting mood (I’m assuming Jack is not, at this point )… uh, do you remember my review of Episode XCIII, in which I opined that the tiger-wolf subplot was unnecessary and didn’t contribute? Well, whoops. Second retraction: that was foreshadowing for this episode that the tiger guys would try to kill Jack. This might also have been a bit of a clue, in hindsight. In other news: I liked the villain of this episode, a non-sentient hive-mind of venomous slugs. There’s been a great variety of foes for Ashi and Jack to fight this season, so the creativity category gets a solid ten out of ten. This show has never had a problem with creativity and it’s good to see this is still the case. In the category of things to question, I’m not sure how much I liked the fish-head scene. It seems rather out of place… although, one earlier season episode had Jack being magically transformed into a chicken by a bad tempered wizard, so perhaps it’s more a return to form i.t.o. the comedy? It just seems odd given the darker tone of Season 5, so maybe the contrast is responsible for this seeming like a Big Lipped Fishhead Moment. It also seems a bit odd to dedicate a whole episode to forging Ashi and Jack into a Battle Couple. Fun though it was, it didn’t really change much in the grand scheme of things, making it seem like filler. There again, it avoids the whole Avatar: The Last Airbender issue of keeping the leads’ romantic relationship up in the air unnecessarily, so perhaps the episode deserves its place in the lineup. To sum up, this was definitely an interesting turn of events, but I’m not entirely displeased by it. It’s good to see Jack having things going his way after how much he’s been suffering, and they do make a good couple… assuming as always that certain theories are wrong. Jack will one day be an emperor, after all, and an emperor needs an empress. In fact, I foresee the final scene of the season showing Jack and Ashi in the past, with their newborn heir as the ultimate happy ending… make it sho, numba one! And with that, little remains but for me to invite you to comment as you will, and as always, hope that you stay sunny side up!
  13. In this episode, questions are answered and unexpected characters make their reappearances. Join me as we rejoin Ashi and Jack on their quest to regain the Sword of Evil’s Bane… No, not that one… So let’s jump on our oversized budgerigars and have a look. What happens The episode opens in the past, as Jack Classic climbs a mountain pass, escorted by the cutest little mountain goats that ever did goat. At the top he finds some old stone pillars and (wonder-of-wonders!) a working time portal… and it’s not guarded by an African-American Blue Warrior… No, not that one… Jack leaps into the portal and it seems like his quest has finally been achieved… until, in the ultimate Dick Move, Aku reaches in and plucks him out of the time portal. Casually blowing the time portal to pieces with his eye beams, Aku gleefully informs his nemesis that that was the last one in existence and taunts him about how he almost made it back to the past this time. Enraged, Jack leaps at Aku, but the villain, leery of his sword, avoids his attacks and transforms the goats into gigantic evil minions to occupy Jack while he escapes. Still blinded by his anger, Jack doesn’t recognize these as the same goats who accompanied him earlier and he kills all three. Seeing them return to their normal forms, but still quite dead, Jack is horrified, and drops his sword. One of the pillars falls and knocks the sword into the pit where the time portal once was. Jack is left unable to anything except watch it fall into the darkness. Back in present day, Jack and Ashi ride a gigantic budgerigar (if you’re unfamiliar with the term, a budgerigar is a kind of small parrot – err, except that this one is, ya know, gigantic and all…) We’re gonna need a bigger Speedo(TM) to smuggle this one… The Australians out there should get that joke. They descend into the hole to look for the sword but are unable to find it. Ashi wonders if someone took it, but Jack, seeing the bones of one of the goats he killed, is sure that the sword abandoned him when he killed innocent creatures in his anger. He decides he needs to go on a spiritual journey to retrieve it. They return to the top and Jack sits near the edge of the cliff to meditate. Meanwhile, Ashi is left to guard his back, and it’s a good thing she’s there… an army of orcs has arrived to kill Jack. Ashi makes like Gandalf and blocks the path. Despite being derided for thinking “one little girl” is enough to defeat an entire army, she promptly does just that… However, the army is merely a distraction… an assassin slips past and starts to climb towards Jack. Ashi reaches the top first, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood giant parakeet, and is confronted by an unexpected enemy… her mother, the High Priestess. The HP tries to get Ashi to turn on Jack, but having seen the truth of things, she refuses, and they fight. The HP proves a strong opponent, but when she gets a chance to leap towards Jack’s unprotected back, Ashi throws an arrow through her and she plunges over the cliff. Exhausted, Ashi collapses. Meanwhile Jack makes a trip while tripping and reaches a temple with a small old monk who asks him to make tea. He does so, but when the monk tastes it, he declares it bad… Jack is not balanced internally, and therefore cannot make good tea. HalluciJack reappears and he’s once again the crazy version. He screams imprecations at the old monk and tells Jack to force him to give the sword back. Jack finally realizes that HalluciJack is the reason why he is no longer worthy of wielding the sword… or maybe we should call him… Mad Jack! Dun dun DUN! Eeeyarrrk! Gesundheid! Yes, Mad Jack is back! Jack faces off against the manifestation of his own negative emotions, and with Eye Beams of Understanding, destroys Mad Jack. This brings him back into inner harmony and he meets the three gods Ra, Odin and Vishnu. They not only return his sword, but they also use a clothes beam… No, not that one… …to restore his previous look. Shave and a haircut… three gods, 50 years and a secret test of character!... TWO BITS! Returned to reality, Jack is finally, truly truly truly outrageous back! He finds Ashi and revives her and she compliments his new (for her) look. Where to next? Aku! WATCH OUT! Thoughts on the Episode Well, a lot of interesting parallels with previous episodes are on display here. Of necessity, I’ll need to explain one or two things that happened in the previous seasons for context. First of all, there was an episode that featured Mad Jack… a being Aku manifested from Jack’s own anger; think Dark Link. He had all of Jack’s prowess and was essentially unbeatable in combat. Jack’s solution to this was pretty much the same one as in this episode… he calmed himself down and got rid of his anger, thus causing Mad Jack to fade away. My previous theory re Omen and HJ is therefore wrong, but I’m happier with it this way. It provides us with a great callback. Okay, so maybe it isn’t literally Mad Jack back, but it’s close enough for government work. Second, there was an episode where Jack was lured into a graveyard and attacked by zombies resurrected by Aku, who actually managed to steal Jack’s sword from him and pin him down. When he tried to stab Jack with the sword, however, it simply bounced off without leaving so much as a scratch. Jack then says that “in the hands of evil, [the sword] could never be used to harm an innocent,” before reclaiming it and forcing Aku to flee. Is there a contradiction here? Perhaps not; Jack is not evil, so he can harm innocents with the sword. It could also be that the transformed goats were given a veneer of evil by Aku, and this by-passed the protection enough that it could kill them, leaving them still dead when they reverted. Thus the heartbreak. Speaking of, this incident could help explain why Jack was so distraught when he thought the children from two episodes previous had died, and why he didn’t bother to check first. It’s still a question mark for me, but less of one now. The sword continues to display some measure of sentience and mystical power, literally vanishing from the world when its wielder was deemed unworthy to wield it. I mean, heh, what does it think it is, Mjolnir? Come to think of it, Odin WAS instrumental in its creation, so that kind of makes sense. Hmm... Well played, writers… well played. So here’s a bit of a discussion point – given that the High Priestess displays quite the serious skill of her own in fighting Ashi, who curb-stomped an army of thousands single-handed, why did she not simply join the Daughters when there were still seven of them and assist them in crushing Jack? Did she think she had to stay behind in case they failed and she would have to replicate the feat of having sextuplets? This seems like a serious case of Villainous Stupidity on her part. Poor form, writers… poor form! Well, at any rate, Jack has his sword back, HJ/MJ and HP (probably) are toast and Ashi is still alive. Aku’s days appear to be numbered… in fact, only three episodes remain! Join me again for the next episode of Samurai Jack Season 5. In the meantime, leave your comments below and remember to stay sunny side up!
  14. The fun fun fun continues with the sixth episode of Samurai Ashi… I mean, Samurai Jack Season 5. While Ashi tracks Jack’s journey, a villain unexpectedly returns, on a journey of his own. Will the villain’s dastardly plan succeed? Will Ashi find Jack before he does something irreversible? Isn’t it weird how the word “irreversible” is itself irreversible? (Well, not if you want it to make sense anyway…) Questions, questions! And the answers lie below, so let’s leap right in… What happens We rejoin a concerned Ashi riding on an airship. She is attacked by two large hooded creatures who have heard her asking about Jack’s whereabouts. She dodges them and tells them she is trying to find Jack to help him. They reveal themselves as two of the Woolies – a race that Jack saved in the previous seasons. We get a flashback to the relevant event. (Get used to that happening in this episode.) A staff member of the airship tells Ashi that Jack got off in this area, and she immediately leaps out of the airship. She uses her sickle-onna-chain to slow her descent into a forest and continues on her journey. Back in the destroyed village from the first episode of Season 5, what is left of Scaramouch reactivates and rejoices in being alive, baby… despite being just a head and neck, which reduces him to moving around at the pace that a bunny hops. Or perhaps the pace that a fox trots. How is he going to do the Fandango, now? With his phone destroyed, he shoulders the burden of giving Aku the news about Jack’s loss of his sword in person, and legs it, since he has some news he needs to get off his chest. You’ve got to hand it to him for being resolute, folks! You wouldn’t think he had the stomach for it! He’s not totally ‘armless yet! Okay, I’ll stop now. For every body’s sake. Ashi sees a group of Akubots riddled with arrows on the retreat. The archers responsible for the robot rout confront her and ask if she is a friend or foe of Jack’s. When she says she is the former, they lead her to their village complete with giant Jack statue and relate their tale (by flashback, natch). They were tricked by Aku (slight “retcon” there, I’ll come back to it) into gaining superlative skill at the cost of being enslaved to protect a magic Wishing Well. Jack defeated them and destroyed the Well instead of wishing for passage home, and thus freed them. However, they haven’t seen him recently, so she continues on. Scaramouch finds a port, and tries to board a ship. He is stopped by a bouncer (oh, the irony!), who won’t let him on because he’s just a head, and when he boasts about being Aku’s favourite bounty hunter / assassin, is pointed to a sign that lists him as #3. He finally gets on board by bribing a guy with a shrunken head into letting him use his body. Once they part ways, Scarrie opines that the guy looks kind of like a talking penis… Yes, he uses the actual word “penis”. We’ll come back to that, too. Back to Ashi, who hears rave music and travels down to Funky town. When she asks a party-goer if a Samurai came this way, a spotlight shines down on her. The DJ (who is YARC - Yet Another Returning Character) asks the obligatory “Friend or Foe” question, and then plays a tribute track to Jack, telling how, well, just guess… Yup, you got it in one… how Jack saved them once. They all dance the Jack Dance and make S shapes with their fingers, before sending Ashi to the next checkpoint. Said checkpoint is a clear water spring with a waterfall and pool and all. Ashi remembers a particular childhood ceremony, where was dumped naked into a bunch of presumably not entirely mundane coals, thus creating her catsuit by burning it directly onto her skin! She enters the pool and uses a rock to scrape the catsuit away. Since this leaves her naked, she creates a dress using the plant life around her to replace it. I guess it’s the latest spring fashion! (The joke works in two ways! ) Scarrie is enjoying his cruise, albeit with a few bumps along the way, but he manages to locate a phone and get through to Aku. Before he can spill the beans re Swordless Jack, though, he gets into an argument with some dogmen about the noise they are making, and is thrown overboard. Aku hangs up, never realizing how close he came to getting the information he needed to hunt down and destroy Jack once and for all. Huzzah! Good going, Scaradouche! You see, Lone Star, Good will always triumph, because Evil is dumb! Or something like that. Ashi finds a bar where she meets Da Samurai (YARC), who is now the bartender, and has been for many years. She hears how Jack defeated many of the bar patrons in the past, and even taught Da Samurai what it really means to be a samurai. The group is also graced by a cameo from Demongo the Soul Collector (YARC). Leaving the bar, she runs into a shadowy figure who directs her towards Jack (YARC?). She finds him sitting in a graveyard with a bare blade in front of him. The Apparition, who is finally officially named as the Omen in the credits, appears and floats over to her, telling her she can witness, but not interfere. When she asks what she is to witness, Omen responds “the end.” The Omen then tells Jack he has been dishonoured by his failures, and he must therefore commit seppuku. Ashi tries to get through to Jack as he prepares to disembowel himself, and the Omen fights with her. Overmatched by the spirit in strength, but agile enough to evade his attacks, Ashi continues to remind Jack of all the people he has helped over the years, and the lives he has saved (including hers.) Nothing seems to help, and the Omen declares “No more words!” but Ashi finally reveals to Jack that the children he thought he had helped kill are still alive. This breaks Jack out of his suicidal depression and he quickly puts paid to the Omen. Jack compliments Ashi’s new look, and thanks her for her help. She asks “What now?” and Jack replies, “It's time to find my sword.” Aww, snap! Looks like Aku had better… WATCH OUT! Thoughts on the Episode Let’s first deal with the ever-classy Scaramouch, and the “penis” line. Umm… yeah… for the record, I did NOT expect that sort of line in Samurai Jack. Ever. I kind of had to stop the video for a minute after that and simply... marvel. By the way, how does a robot even have the context for that sort of comment? All he should have down there is plastic underpants and a trademark! (I will wuvs you forever if you can tell me where that reference originates! ) He got very close to ruining things for Jack, but luckily, his cocky attitude (heh) got him in enough trouble that he wasn’t able to get the message across to Aku, so sighs of relief all around. "Evil will oft evil mars", indeed. If he had just been polite to those he encountered, he would have succeeded and that would probably have been curtains for Jack before he could get his sword back. Speaking of the sword, I’m glad that Jack is finally back on track as far as defeating Aku once and for all goes. While my suggestion that Ashi might have to sacrifice herself to bring Jack back to the land of the living was incorrect, (although she did risk being killed by the Omen, so give me half points, okay?) she might still have to do so to retrieve the sword. I hope not, though; killing her off after she finally came over to the Light side would be pretty cruel. Blood, eyebeams of death and mentions of male reproductive anatomy aside, I don’t think Season 5 is going to go that dark. Next, as I contemplate Ashi, there’s that whole thing with the origin of her form-fitting catsuit. It appears to be less a garment and more, well, wearable charcoal. This reveal pretty much means the Daughters have in fact been wearing little more than black body paint this entire time, which is just odd to contemplate. I mean, freedom of movement I can see as being an advantage, but what about modesty, huh? They aren’t Doctor Manhattan, with his "withdrawing from humanity" excuse, is all I’m saying. Plus the logistics of it all… how do the Daughters go to the bathroom or deal with menstruation or any of that? On second thought, maybe it doesn’t need to be thought about too much. I like Ashi's new look, particularly the Expository Hairstyle Change. It makes her look even more Asian, which brings me to a Wild Mass Guess: could Jack, somehow, be the FATHER of the Daughters of Aku? I admit it’s unlikely that the High Priestess was impregnated by Jack, given the whole “we have to kill the Samurai” deal, but it would certainly put an ironic spin on Ashi’s quest to kill him and subsequent conversion to being his ally. Then again, "[50 - Ashi's Age + nine months] years of no progress" + young man's body = rather big need for stress relief... intriguing... It's probably just my imagination running wild again, but time will tell. Ashi’s journey is a textbook example of a Continuity Cavalcade, with many appearances from characters featured in episodes from previous seasons or YARCs, as I decided to call them. It fulfills two purposes… it expands the knowledge of newcomers to the series and serves as a nostalgia buffet for fans like me. Best of all, because of the first point, it’s not actually fan service! Slice of Life, take note! Again, I note the distinct lack of the Guardian, but there are still four episodes to go, so plenty of time for him to reappear. Perhaps once Jack actually defeats Aku, he will age a bit (not the full 50 years, but a decade at least) and his appearance will become more like it was shown in the relevant episode, and we'll have a final Jack / Guardian showdown. Or maybe that’s all going to be retconned. Again, not much to do about it but wait and see. Genndy Tartakovsky, don't fail me now! Speaking of retcons, the archers mention that they found out after the fact that Aku was the one who cursed them. If I remember the episode in question correctly, the Well was a Jerkass Genie that had nothing to do with Aku: it granted wishes, but always in some kind of twisted, monkey’s-paw-esque way. The archers wished for unbeatable skill with their bows, which they were given... in return for becoming mindless slaves conscripted into protecting the Well. Jack decided he couldn’t risk his wish to return to his own time being corrupted in the same way, and therefore destroyed the Well instead. This episode says it was Aku’s doing all along… which I find somewhat unsatisfying. It’s not like Aku is the ONLY evil being in existence, and having it all bad stuff somehow trace back to him seems unnecessarily trite and simply bad writing, in the final analysis. Oh, Well. (Heh.) A quick word on the Jack Track; I blame that on Tara “Twilight Sparkle” Strong, as she provides the voice of Ashi. I guess she can’t appear in any series where there isn’t at least one musical interlude. In seriousness, though, I used the word “blame”, but the song isn’t that bad, and to see Ashi just having fun dancing for once was very heartwarming. Plus lots of hot swaying bods to look at. Why isn’t Scaramouch at the rave? Because he had no body to go with! Dah dum TISH! This episode again had no HalluciJack. Maybe the Omen and HalluiJack were connected in some way, so once the Omen had Jack ready to commit seppuku, HJ was no longer necessary. Maybe we’ll never know, but some clarity there would be appreciated. (Yes, I know I’ve implied in the past that “mystery is good”, but I want this particular thing explained, dammit! So sue me.) Again, this was a good episode, niggles aside. Plenty of call backs, more Scaramouchy goodness (as it were), Ashi getting a new outfit to mirror her change of heart, and best of all, Jack’s finally got his game face on, and is determined to find his sword, defeat Aku and get back, back to the past! And Sunny Fox will be with him each step of the way! Until the next episode airs, feel free to make your mark below, tell me what you think, and don’t forget to always stay, as they say, sunny side up! PS – I guess I should get around to reviewing Season 7 of MLP at some point… I'll keep you updated, y'all. Mwah!
  15. And he got biz-zay! It’s a whole family of Supers Scots! What happens Three armies arrive at Aku’s tower, one army of tanks, one army of rhino-riders and one army of statuesque red-headed Scottish warrior women. These are led by the Scotsman, Jack’s old buddy… now literally his old buddy. Although he is now grey-haired, one-eyed and wheelchair-bound, the Scotsman hasn’t lost his pep, and is delighted to have found Aku’s lair. After seeing what his daughter is wearing to the battle, he tells her and the others to cover up, producing a mass groan of “Da-aaaad…!” They obey him and cover themselves, promptly to uncover themselves again as the Scotsman gives the order to charge. The tanks and rhinos advance and launch missiles at Aku’s tower, while the Scots charge, the Scotsman's wheelchair being pushed by Scottish Daughter #1, Flora. Inside, Aku demands to know what all the noise is, and is told by his computer’s voice – no doubt on loan from Invader Zim – that he is under attack. Unzipping his vid-window, Aku is delighted to see some enemies he can crush – which he does, literally; he shapeshifts into a ball and simply rolls over the first two armies. Miley Cyrus, eat your heart out! Seeing this, the Scotsman realizes that the attack was foolhardy and instructs his daughters to run for it while he distracts Aku, who is aiming to complete the slaughter. The Scotsman taunts Aku, calling him a scared baby hiding in his crib, terrified that Samurai Jack is still out there inspiring people to resist him. Aku cuts him off by way of laser eyebeams, leaving behind the Scotman’s skeleton for a moment or two before it crumbles to dust. Aku is satisfied at first, but then gets depressed again at the reminder of the Samurai and goes back to his tower. The Scottish Daughters mourn the loss of their father and pick up his broken sword as a memento, but then his ashes stir and the Scotsman’s ghost appears. The Scotsghost is delighted to note he is back and back in his prime, no less. His answer to his marveling Scottish Daughters as to how this is possible? Why, Celtic magic, o’ course! Magic runes, laddie! All them fancy eye beams will get ye nowhere! The Scottsghost vows to raise another even bigger army and to find Samurai Jack to lead them. Meanwhile, Ashi and Jack are still on that island. Ashi has a vision of the High Priestess urging her to complete her mission and kill Jack, but she argues with it instead, saying she wants to know the truth. The HP accuses her of always being the weak one, but the vision ends. Ashi then gets to ride on Jack’s giant snake… wait, let me rephrase that… Jack summons a sea serpent to swim them to the shore, and says farewell to Ashi. She continues to follow him, however, and when he stops for the night, she demands that he prove to her that he is the good guy and Aku is the bad guy. Jack refuses, not believing she is able to let go of her long-infused hatred enough to accept the truth. She is angry at this, and makes as if to leave, but Jack changes his mind and tells her he will prove that he is telling the truth if she follows him tomorrow. Ashi lies on a rock looking at the sky and asks if it is true that Aku made the stars, but Jack tells her the fairy tale that his mother taught him about two children, Sun and Moon, who rode a phoenix and shot arrows into the sky to make the stars. D’aawww! Who’s a cute little anthropomorphic representation of a heavenly body? You are! Yes, you are! The following day, Jack and Ashi travel to a field of jagged rocks with a single tree. He tells her that this field used to be covered with those trees, but Aku destroyed them, leaving but one left as a taunting reminder of what he had done. Seeing she is still not convinced, Jack takes her to a space port, where a gang of exiled criminals have just docked. An official of Aku allocates them land that is already occupied by innocent, peaceful people, and it is implied the criminals will simply dispose of them when they land. The two end up in a village that has been destroyed, and all the children kidnapped. Ashi is finally convinced of the truth of the evilness of Aku, and they attempt a rescue, but the children have been given implants that allow them to be controlled and turned into an army of mindless beserkers. Jack tries to fend them off while Ashi tries to locate the controlling device. She does, but is trapped and electrically tortured by the operator while the children continue to attack Jack in a frenzy, who is unable to fight effectively due to his need to hold back. Ashi manages to free herself, knock out the operator and shut down the machine. This causes the children to “short out” and collapse. Jack, horrified that he and Ashi might have killed them all, gives a scream of denial and slumps down. The Apparition appears and tells Jack, “It is time.” Jack simply agrees, and walks off into the green mist. Meanwhile, Ashi comes back down to find the children lying there. She cradles one of them and is delighted when the child stirs. The rest start waking up as well. Overjoyed at their triumph, Ashi looks around for Jack, and is anguished when she can’t find him. She starts calling for him, for the very first time using his full name. Annnd… WATCH OUT! Thoughts on the Episode Huzzah! for the return of the Scotsman! I always did like that guy, and although I knew he would reappear (Thanks, Internet, for spoiling that! #sarcasm), it did me good to see him still fighting the good fight. Not a smart fight, mind you, but a good fight. And boy howdy, are his little swimmers strong! Every one of those Scottish ladies is his daughter. His poor wife! I assume she has passed by this point, since he doesn’t mention her. Classic cranky old father behaviour when he harangues them all for dressing like “ye was going to a dance!” and making them cover up, however briefly. Tension breaking moment of humour there, I like it, I do like it. The Scotsman is just hilarious in general, though. Seeing Aku effortlessly plough through two armies… “Ye know what, this was a bad idea!” Gee, ya think? Now all we need to complete the roster of awesome is for the Guardian to return. Aku claims to have destroyed all the time portals… but I think he missed that one. Because Jack has to go back to the past somehow, and that portal was the only one that came equipped with a prophecy. Although how that vision of an older Jack defeating the Guardian gels with the current situation of Jack’s current status as the Ageless, we’ll have to wait and see. Anyhoo, previous Season tangent ahoy! Gotta get back, back to the past present! I’ll admit my flabber was ghasted when the Scottsman was blasted. My gob was thoroughly smacked. After waiting so long to see his return, I felt it was a very unceremonious, nigh ignominious death. I mean, I know Season 5 hasn’t been puppies (with laser-beam eyes or otherwise) and rainbows (on fire or otherwise), but that seemed rather bleak even for the darker and bloodier tone the new episodes have got going on. Sheesh… Luckily, he soon comes back as the Scotsghost, so that turned out all right. Speaking of ghosts… while we don’t get a HJ appearance, we do get the Apparition… and boo yah! I was right about him being some sort of “Jack joins his ancestors in death” deal. In the wake of the “death” of yet more innocents, this time children, and believing himself partially responsible, Jack finally agrees it’s time to leave this cruel reality, shuffle off the mortal coil, join the Choir Invisible, pine for the fjords, yeah, you get the idea. I’m not quite sure I feel about that. Yes, Jack isn’t exactly a paragon of stability these days, but to just assume that all the children had died without even checking to make sure seems a step a little too far. With such good writing as we’ve been treated to up to this point, this particular development seems forced. I guess it ain’t SJ S5 without a cliffhanger ending. And the operator’s speech about “children are gullible and therefore easy to control”, while ironic in being delivered to Ashi, doesn’t really make much sense given that, y’know, the village kids are literally being controlled. It’s not at all the same situation as Ashi’s. Those nitpicks aside, though, this episode was fine. Perhaps not quite as engaging as some previous episodes, but Ashi is now on the side of right, Jack is off communing with his dearly departed, the Scotsghost is raising an army and things proceed apace towards their conclusion. And just one more review to go before we’re all caught up! Will Ashi find Jack? Will she have to remain behind in the world of the dead in order to send him back to the land of the living? Will Batman ever get rid of that bomb? Questions, questions! Please leave comments, commendations or condemnations below, if you consider that course congruent with your conscience. Chocolate chip cookies, you’ll have to send by courier. Stay sunny side up!
  16. I’m getting a sinking feeling that the theme naming of these entries is going to become harder to pull off... and speaking of sinking feelings, let’s check in with Jack and Ashi! What happens Jack falls from the sky, hitting a few branches on the way down that slow his descent enough for the snow to cushion his impact and save his life. When he regains consciousness, he leaps up in panic, swinging a spear around in case of attack (STOP! Hammerspace! ...Oh, God, I’m old…) The only creatures in sight are some crows, and Jack calms down a bit. He notices a blood trail, and follows it to find Ashi, lying as if dead. The crows begin to caw at him, Jack hearing it as a chorus accusing him of murder; in defiance, he shouts back that it was the Daughters’ choices that lead to their death, ending the latest hallucination… but not the last one we’ll see in this episode. When he gets close to Ashi’s “body”, she leaps up and attacks him with her sausage-onna-bun sickle-onna-chain (actually, the former is generally considered to be more lethal than the latter). However, on her own she is quickly defeated and left dangling wrapped up in her own chain again. She verbally lays into Jack once more, but when he just stands there watching her swing, she eventually runs down. Jack tells her she is confused about the respective locations of Jack and Aku on the spectrum of morality, and muses that he has met machines programmed with Aku’s lies and hate, but never a human. Ashi is having none of it, however, having been warned by the High Priestess that Jack is deceptive. Tricksy and false, precious, yesss. Their “conversation” is interrupted by a colossal worm devouring them and half the nearby landscape. Even while falling towards the monster’s maw, Ashi is still trying to cut down Jack, which pretty much just annoys him at this point. She knocks herself out on some of the floating debris, and Jack grabs her as they enter the body of the creature, Jack slowing their descent with his feet. After setting her down, Jack rests for a bit, only to hear joyous laughter from an awoken Ashi, who praises Aku and rejoices that Jack has finally been defeated: they’ve both been devoured and are in her opinion already dead. Jack replies that he has been inside giant beasts before and escaped. A group of large bugs approaches, and Jack uses the chains still wrapped around Ashi to make her into a backpack, to her annoyance. Presenting: AshiUshiro! Stylish and practical! Get yours today at your local GIANT WORM! She still tries to sabotage Jack, even as he fights, but a glancing blow from an enemy knocks her unconscious. Jack defeats the monsters and escapes further into the kaiju. During a rest period, Jack hallucinates some more (I’m getting tired of typing that word at this point), having a conversation with a British-sounding puffball and then HalluciJack. HJ scoffs at him for “getting involved” again with Ashi, and reckons that he should just give over trying to convince her to join his side and simply leave her to her own devices. Jack notes that Ashi is resisting him not because she is inherently evil, but because she’s been fed lies her whole life; she’s essentially an innocent victim. He also blames himself for the situation, since he never found a way to defeat Aku and return to his own time. While Ashi watches Jack argue with himself, another kind of bug monster abducts her, and Jack is forced to rescue her. Then back on his back she goes as the journey continues. Various scenes of odd Parasites Of Unusual Size ensue, until Jack and Ashi find themselves close to an exit from the monster (That’s good!)… pity it’s located over a pit of acid. (That’s bad.) However, various flying creatures are in the same area. (That’s good!) But so is a giant predatory flying fish. (That’s bad.) Barely avoiding the predator, Jack and Ashi are shot out of the exit, escaping the kaiju and landing in the sea. Luckily, there is an island nearby. Jack drags Ashi to it and then sits down to rest and recover. Ashi, seeing him with his guard down and his back turned, manages to find her sickle and creeps towards him. However, a ladybug suddenly flies past. Ashi remembers the High Priestess crushing one that found its way in the Cult's cave, and notes that this one lands on Jack's hand. He simply smiles and lets it fly away. Comparing his behaviour with what she has been taught he is like, she finds she is unable to kill him. She drops the weapon and hugs her knees while she contemplates and… SHE DOUBTS! Thoughts on the Episode I laugh at Ashi and Jack’s first conversation. “You are very troubled…and very confused,” indeed. It’s a minor laugh in a rather dark season. In retrospect, the whole getting swallowed thing was ultimately fortunate for Jack. Actions speak louder than words, and Jack’s continual heroism in keeping Ashi alive really hits home for her in the end. Not to mention the ladybug scene. Throughout Ashi’s appearances, there’s been one aspect of her nature that is highlighted: her curiosity. Curiosity is the bleach to indoctrination’s mould. A curious person asks questions and their eyes (and minds) are open, so they are the hardest to pull the wool over. Once she saw that Jack’s actions gave the lie to the picture of him she had been painted, she found it impossible to hold to her belief in his evilocity (Yes, I know that’s not a real word, just go with it). Of course, while she can’t simply kill him out of hand anymore, she still doesn’t fully trust him. She’s simply considering the new information she now has about him. While Jack is quite right about her being a victim of a slanted worldview and therefore blameless, he doesn’t seem to have extended that logic to the Daughters he has already killed. Or perhaps he has, and that guilt is just hidden. Will we see Jack having hallu – grrr… visions of the Daughters in a later episode? Perhaps he reasons that despite their innocence, at the time he had the choice of him or them, and can lay the blame for their deaths at the feet of whoever raised them to hate him. Questions, questions. Obligatory HalluciJack cameo is obligatory. Quite strange how he notes that Ashi has disappeared before Jack notices. Is HJ really a product of Jack's mental strain, or could it be somehow independent? A ghost Aku cursed him with that tries its best to get him to just "end it all"? I'm probably overthinking things. Jack inside a giant monster: been there, done that, got the furry-back armour. Still, Ashi is now at least entertaining the belief that Jack isn't the evil she was told he was, so the interlude didn’t happen without reason. We are moving right along to the reappearance of everyone’s favourite Celtic warrior, so I’ll see you in the next episode, and don’t forget to stay sunny side up!
  17. Here we go with the second episode of Season 5, featuring the first fight between immortal wandering Ronin Jack and the team of warriors dedicated literally from birth to slaying him, the Daughters of Aku. Things are going to get interesting... What happens The first part of this episode allows us to catch up with an old friend: the Shapeshifting Master of Darkness, the Emperor of Evil, the Shogun of Sorrow… the one, the only, AKU! After waking up, while dealing with dirt-tracking delegations and socializing with scheming scientists, Aku tries to brush aside any mention of the Samurai, saying he no longer cares whether Jack is still running around, and sinks back down out of sight. In actuality, though, he is very much in despair and depression over the issue. He has a conversation with a psychiatrist version of himself, lamenting the fact that his plan of destroying all the time portals and letting old age defeat Jack for him has backfired so horribly, since Jack no longer ages. Special Offer: Two LARGE HAMS for the price of one! He wonders idly if there is not someone out there who will take care of the whole having-an-immortal-mortal-enemy-thorn-in-his-side issue for him. Cut to Jack, as he is ambushed by the Daughters, who wreck his bike and attack him with such speed and ferocity that he can barely even track their movements as they hit from all sides. In the melee, he loses his Tuning Fork Sword to one of his attackers. Pressed to his limit, he manages to use a belt of grenades as a smokescreen and hides under a metal dome (wreckage of a giant robot Jack easily defeated earlier in the episode) as it begins to rain. And enter HallicuJack – a version similar in appearance to Jack as he had been in previous seasons, his hair still neatly tied up, clean shaven and dressed in his signature robe. Jack and HalluciJack have an argument as HalluciJack claims that these new enemies are too strong for him, and he should just give up. Jack responds that his opponents are only nuts and bolts; he has been in seemingly hopeless situations before, but then finds a way to survive. HalluciJack counters that that was when he still had his sword, and further states that he just wants this to end and that their ancestors are waiting for him to join them. Jack sees the Apparition again, but behind it, he sees the entrance to a temple. Ignoring HalluciJack’s certainty that he’ll be killed before he reaches it, Jack sprints for the entrance and its promise of safety, the Daughters soon following. Jack goes to ground in the darkness, but rather than searching for the needle in this temple haystack, the Daughters instead hide themselves to lure him out. After a period of stillness, Jack attempts to sneak out again, but can’t avoid encounters with the Daughters. Eventually, he runs into a giant cavern filled with sarcophagi and the remains of an unknown Warrior King and his armies. He keeps them up his sleevies… Jack hides in one of the sarcophagi, and the Daughters regroup in order to stalk him. After a tense game of hide and seek, Jack is discovered and the fight resumes. Finally, the last of Jack’s armour is destroyed, leaving him clad only in a loincloth. He manages to gain some distance and runs desperately through the corridors seeking escape. One of the Daughters (the one who took his Tuning Fork Sword) cuts him off, but with only a single opponent to face, Jack manages to take it back and in one swift counter-attack, slits her throat. Her mask falls apart, revealing the face beneath. Jack is horrified to realize that what he thought was just another machine was really a human being. He also discovers that she managed to stab him with her own dagger in the last moments of the fight. Bleeding heavily, Jack drags himself towards the end of the corridor, leaving a long smear of his own blood on the stone. He uses the Tuning Fork Sword on the walls of the corridor, and falls into a fast-flowing river, just as the temple explodes and partially collapses. Jack floats face down in the water, bleeding aaaand… WATCH OUT! Thoughts on the Episode Savvy readers may note that the summary makes no mention of the white wolf fighting the tigers. I left it out because one – it interrupts the flow of the summary unnecessarily; and letter number B – I feel it didn’t add anything to the episode itself. I know that the wolf’s story parallels Jack’s own struggle against the Daughters, and that the wolf himself reappears in the following episode, but symbolism for its own sake, particularly blatant symbolism, can be distracting and actually detract from a story. And I think it kind of did here. Also, we know Jack will survive, so showing the wolf apparently dead after the battle with the tigers doesn’t even work as misdirection. Still, these are relatively minor gripes. Back to the episode itself. Yay! Aku’s back, too! And we get to see his take on the whole situation, which is “yup, this sucks”. The psychiatrist version of Aku is pretty funny, seemingly being more eloquent than Aku himself, even though it doesn’t make that much sense, considering it IS Aku himself. While the original voice actor of Aku, Mako Iwamatsu, unfortunately is no longer with us, the new guy, Greg Baldwin (thanks, IMDB!) does a pretty good version… not perfect, but then, Mako was one of a kind. I had kind of hoped that Aku would remain unseen for a while longer, to make his eventual return to the small screen more impactful, but since we already heard him on the phone, I guess him being The Ghost in this season wouldn’t make that much sense. Greg Baldwin has bills to pay, too, you know. This scene does serve to give a bit of light humour amid the rather dark tone of the rest of the episode, so there’s that, I guess. This episode being mostly a running battle with Jack against the Daughters, there isn’t much to talk about apart from the HalluciJack scene (a rather darker mirror of the earlier Aku segment) and the hide-and-seek scene, so let’s go over those. The fact that the Apparition appears when the HalluciJack part of Jack mentions suicide firms my opinion that the Apparition is the representation of Jack’s desire to end it all, which he struggles against. There’s a bit of libido / destrudo dualism there – while the word libido has been co-opted to mean “sex drive” in common parlance, it’s probably more accurately described as the desire for life, as opposed to the desire for death – and making an external representation to portray an internal struggle is pretty common in fiction. Stinker HalluciJack is going to be a fixture from here on out, though, so we’ll have a chance to discuss him again further down the line. The scene with the cavern and the Daughters hunting Jack down is simply wonderful, and perhaps the best part of this episode – the music ratchets up the tension beautifully (the music is almost too beautiful) and Jack’s terror is highlighted here, but I do have one or two questions. First, I didn’t quite understand the firefly bit. Does that represent Jack’s fading hope the closer the Daughters come, or did the firefly somehow lead them to him – which doesn’t make sense since it was inside with Jack. Secondly, exactly how do the Daughters all gravitate to the correct sarcophagus, if the firefly was inside and didn’t lead them there? Any explanation would be welcome, since I don’t quite understand that part. The final fight with the single Daughter provides us with the non-robotic reveal, and reaffirms Jack’s superiority – while outclassed by the Daughters as a whole in this episode, one-on-one he is still the better warrior. In fact, the final stab the Daughter gets in probably would have been avoidable had Jack not been in a blind panic and already at the tail end of his strength from the previous fighting. This scene also cements the tone shift by actually presenting real, red, non-oil blood being spilled for the first time – on both sides. We’ve seen Jack get scratches now and then before, but actual messy, bleeding abdominal stab wounds is a first here. It’s done so suddenly that the blood is legitimately shocking on first viewing. Well, unless you’ve been watching the previews or adverts, it would be. It’s fortunate for Jack that the sister he faced had his TFS: convenient coincidence is convenient. Another honourable mention for the scenes fought in darkness, lit up only when steel strikes sparks. It’s simply beautiful to watch and gives an idea of just how skilled the fighters all are… just not quite skilled enough on the Daughters’ side, as the above paragraph demonstrates. Overall, despite some question marks, the second episode of Season 5 is pretty solid. The Daughters are set up as a legitimate threat to Jack’s life, his continual struggle with pushing himself on despite having little hope and running more on pure stubbornness to survive than any kind of end goal helps us identify with and root for our favourite samurai, and there is even a little comic relief from everyone’s favourite Architect of Annihilation Aku to keep the mood from getting too bleak. And that was episode, still bringing the thrills. I’ll be back to give my thoughts on the next episode real soon. Complain or compliment below, you know the drill. Stay sunny side up, y’all, and remember to WATCH OUT!
  18. Very recently in a close-by land...A wish really did come true... Yes, cartoon fans, Samurai Jack is back on the grid! A mere 13 years after the series was left in limbo, a final ten-part conclusion is airing. Jack's back, babe! And he is sporting a new beard, a new ride and a new attitude. It's beau coup cuckoo, babe! Skeeeee-dee-bab-bab-boo! (That's scat speak for SPOILERS AHEAD, YO! - and those spoilers will cover more than just the first episode - you've been warned!) What Happens The first episode of the new season begins with a trio of aliens (rather cute anthropomorphic dog-ant hybrids of some sort) running from Aku's minions. The three (either a mother, daughter and babe-in-arms, or a big sister, little sister, and a babe-in-arms, or some combination of those - does it really matter?) are quickly surrounded by the robotic bugs. Thinking this the end of the line for them, the two eldest each give a final message of "I <3 you", using their antennae to spell it out. All of a sudden a warrior in samurai armour riding a motorcycle appears and quickly lays waste to the robotic bugs, using spiked wheels, a staff/spear/trident thingie and even various guns. During the fight, his mask gets destroyed, revealing a familiar face with a distinctly unfamiliar amount of facial hair. "Jack" "?" signals the middle child. After defeating the final attacker, the Jack rides off wordlessly, with the grateful middle sister signalling "Thank you!" to him as he leaves. The intro plays... we get a voice over from Jack (Phil LaMarr reprising his role as the eponymous samurai) stating that "Fifty years have passed..." He also mentions that he has found that he is not aging and expresses his despair that Aku is choking the past, present and future. Despite the bleak overtones, Jack's final words show he is still determined to succeed... "Got to get back... back to the past... Samurai Jack!" The new season wastes exactly zero time in clarifying that it aims to be far darker than previous seasons, with a silhouetted scene of a woman crying out in the throes of childbirth. As each of the seven children is born, they are held up by the Cult of Aku and then placed on a altar. The high priestess (also the new mother of the seven - how she can bare to stand up and then doesn't die from blood loss, I have no idea) pledges the seven daughters to Aku's service - specifically to kill Jack, thereby succeeding where all others have failed. The next scene is Jack riding through a bleak desert (no symbolism there, no indeedy) and then finding himself in the Running of the Leaves. Shouldn't that involve actual running? He sees a column of smoke in the distance, but decides to ignore it. He comes upon a stream, and refreshes himself. He is soon disturbed by visions of his father, mother and his people, crying out to him and asking why he never returned to save them from Aku; accusing him of leaving them to die. He then sees a mysterious ghostly apparition of a warrior on horseback wearing samurai armour, which finally scares him enough to run towards the smoke. Stopping to make camp, Jack finds the visions returning in even greater force when he rests, pushing him to make haste. In an odd example of Time Dilation Story-telling, we see the Daughters of Aku training as they grow from toddlers to young adulthood. One of them in particular (named Ashi) stands out... first by making a mistake during the martial arts training (and being told that one mistake = death), then by sneaking away to gape at the beauty of the world outside their conclave enclave cave while the others face off an Amazonian fighter of their order (which scene incidentally provides us with the central tenet of the Daughters' training and indoctrination: Aku is a powerful and beneficent creator and the Samurai is an evil monster who seeks to desecrate what Aku has created - the jury's still out on whether the Cult as a whole believes this, or if it's just a convenient way of instilling a wish for Jack's demise into the Daughters). Later on, a teenage Ashi almost falls off a pillar, just managing to hold on with one hand. Another sister attempts to help her, but is stopped by the High Priestess, who states that "the weak have no place with Aku". She then grinds her staff on Ashi's hand and demands "Are you weak?!"... to which Ashi gives a kiai yell and then regains her footing and pushes on... to the approval of the HP. Back in modern day, Jack finally reaches the smoke, and finds an entire village (more like a city) in ruins, its now-dead inhabitants sprawled everywhere. As the smoke clears, the perpetrator is revealed... a robotic assassin who introduces himself as Scaramouch the Merciless (plus a tithe of titles too tiring to type). He exhorts Jack to take out his ka-ray-zee sword, and is delighted to discover that Jack no longer has his sword... a quick flashback reveals that it fell into a pit (presumably) many years ago. Scaramouch attempts to contact Aku via phone to relay this vital info, but Jack puts the kibosh on that by throwing a kunai at the phone and then firing a few Consecutive Normal Punches at Scaramouch's face. Unfortunately, Jack is not Saitama, and Scaramouch manages to recover and gain some distance. Scaramouch uses his magic flute to animate the rubble into a golem to attack Jack. Jack defeats the golem but then starts hallucinating starving children pleading for him to help them, prompting Scaramouch to observe that he's gone beau coup cuckoo. Scaramouch sends some rocks flying at Jack, inadvertently snapping him out of his reverie. This time, Jack manages to destroy the flute. Scaramouch is not particularly put out, using his scatting powers to remote control his scimitar and pulling out a "tuning fork" sword - anything it hits soon explodes. This causes one of Jack's daggers to blow up. Scaramouch declares "No one plays the blades like I do... NO ONE!" and sends his scimitar at Jack again. Elegantly dodging the attack, Jack allows Scaramouch to hit his final remaining dagger three times... and pause... (kidney punch!) Scaramouch declares it's been fun, but the outcome of the fight is clear... Jack's going to lose and die... until Jack nonchalantly throws the dagger at Scaramouch just as it explodes. This gives Jack the opening to cut Scaramouch in twain with his own scimitar. Scaramouch declares "th-th-th-the-the... that's all folks!" before exploding. Jack takes the tuning fork sword and strides off, once more victorious. Next we switch tracks to the Daughters as their final trial is at hand. The seven climb a spire, fighting off the best fighters of the Cult. Ashi dodges a few arrows, and uses one to stab the archer in the eye, before stealing her bow and shooting two of the Cultists her sisters are facing, also in the eye. Both turn and mutter "Ashi." (The Daughters do, I mean, not the Cultists, who are in fact dead now.) All seven make it to the top, to be greeted by the High Priestess, who declares their training complete and them ready... "You are Seven... but now you wear the face of One... One Purpose, for which you were born... to kill THE SAMURAI!" They exit the temple and WATCH OUT! Gotta get back, back to the past... Samurai Jack! Thoughts on the Episode Hmm, let me guess which of the Seven Daughters of Aku is going to feature most heavily from here on out... it's got to be... Grumpy! Oh, wait, that's one of the seven dwarfs... my bad. I doubt I'd have been hailed as any kind of seer for predicting that she would become one of the central characters this season (since she does). More on that later. The whole concept of the Daughters, from the depiction of their birth with attendant screams of birthing pain, to their brutal training regime, to their final violent test of readiness, highlights that the new season is going to be far darker and bloodier than previous... and I say, bring it on! Not to mention that their tight-fitting catsuits really accentuate their, um... skills. Jack himself is quite understandably having difficulty after fifty years of non-stop wandering the land, not even aging; a side effect of being flung into the future, it seems. The loss of his sword, being in itself a massive development, has forced him to update his armoury and adopt the use of guns (Holy Sidearms, Batman!) Then there's the hallucinations - his people alternately drowning in streams, burning alive, children begging them to save him, "have you forgotten?", "why have you forsaken us?" and all the rest... understandable manifestations of his guilt, although pretty disturbing to watch. And we haven't even met HalluciJack yet! Although we do first see the Samurai Apparition in this episodes. Some fans think this ghost represents someone Jack fought in the past and now wishes to escape. I'm more of the opinion that the Apparition represents Jack's final "solution" - killing himself and joining his ancestors. Which is really kind of messed up, now that I think about. Where there's life, there's hope, but Jack definitely is struggling with finding the will to keep going. Small prediction here: Jack will get his sword back - it is still the only thing that can actually defeat Aku. Unless he finds some other way, but if he hasn't managed to do so in 50 years... I also think that Ashi will help him to do it, maybe sacrificing herself in the process. Moving on to the villain of the first episode (the Daughters don't count): Scaramouch the Merciless, babe! "Hiya, Jack, baby, welcome to Scatman's World!" This guy is just a lot of fun, combining over the top theatrics with a pretty BA skillset. He also has a bit of hidden pride, seen when he declares "No one dances the blades like I do, babe. NO ONE!" while giving Jack a death glare, right before going back to Affably Evil scatting. His weapons of choice all fit right in with his theme of musical assassin - a scimitar he can control by scatting, which is heavy enough that Jack himself has to drag it along the ground, a pipe that can control the debris around him and even form it into attack monsters, and finally that sword that sets up a resonance on anything non-organic, causing it to shatter explosively. Although perhaps he is not as valuable to Aku as he suspects, since Aku doesn't recognize him over the phone. Despite being quite fun to watch, he is totally a bad dude, and Jack's fully justified in ending him for killing an entire village just to draw Jack out. The fight itself is pretty spectacular, demonstrating that while Jack may have lost his sword, he hasn't lost his skills. In the end, Jack doesn't even really seem to be pushed to his limits. Without his PTSD getting in the way, it would have been even more one-sided. The way he simply tosses his final dagger as an improvised hand grenade is not only made awesome by his sheer coolness, but also demonstrates that he has brains as well as brawn... although, that was never really in doubt for anyone who knows about the previous seasons. A quick mention of the animation - gorgeous as always! Just looking at some of the establishing shots of the landscape, I could weep for their sheer beauty. And the action is wonderfully animated too. This is currently my desktop background: So the final season of Samurai Jack is at long, long last under way. It hasn't disappointed me yet, 4 episodes into its 10 episode run, and I don't expect it will. What do you think of the continuation? (Not a reboot, thank Odin, Ra and Vishnu!) If you like, leave comments below and WATCH OUT! for my next review of Samurai Jack season 5, babe!
  19. So, you're probably aware by now that I didn't find Amending Fences quite the magnum opus that many other fans did. Nor did I find much to enjoy in the character of Moon Dancer (Moondancer?), whose emotional struggles strongly resonated with many bronies. Nor Minuette, for that matter, but in her case, it's more a matter of personal taste. I don't like people (or ponies) who giggle incessantly; that sort of thing annoys me. "C'mon, let's fly! *giggle* Get it?" No, Minuette, because that is not a joke. Twilight can fly, you can only run. Neither of you are fleeing, so "let's fly" really isn't a pun. But back to Moondancer. I didn't see a shy pony hurt by somepony's thoughtlessness just when she was starting to open up to the world. I saw a pony who is unfairly projecting her own insecurities and feelings onto Twilight, without Twilight even knowing about it. If she wants to attach expectations to Twilight without so much as making an attempt at cluing her in, then it’s her own fault if Twilight doesn’t meet those expectations. Yet the episode wants to pretend that Twilight is at fault for this. The writers, and even Twilight herself, are too quick to attach blame to Twilight for MD’s own neuroses. Twilight even says at the end “Back when we were in school together, you invited me to a party. I was so focused on my studies that I didn't show up.” Which is a blatant contradiction of what we saw in the pilot and the flashback based on it. (I'll build more of a point on this later.) MD herself never invited Twilight anywhere. Twilight got a backhanded invite from a different pony. MD set up the party for Twilight, but she didn’t actually invite Twilight, and made no effort to ensure that Twilight knew that it was important to her. As far as I can see, Moondancer inflicted all this on herself. tl;dr: The source of Moondancer's emotion distress is not Twilight's thoughtlessness, as implied; it's Moondancer's own expectations of what amounted to a secret test of friendship that Twilight "failed". Is my point becoming clear at all? Leaving all that aside for the moment, the premise of this episode is one that looks really good on paper. Twilight realizes she was a bad friend in the past, and finds out that her behaviour at that time hurt somepony else, who is still suffering because of it, and she apologizes and makes amends (which is what "mending fences" means, so the pun in the episode title also makes little sense.) Great idea! Sign me up! I just think there were a few problems with the execution of that premise. So, in the spirit of being constructively critical rather than just critical, I offer a few suggestions for alternative routes that MA Larson could have taken that would ameliorate said problems. Even if you, dear reader, remain convinced that the episode's "problems" are not such, I would say that no writer is perfect, and so no episode is perfect. There's room for improvement, even if you love the episode with all your heart. First, I feel the episode hamstrung itself by making the scene in the pilot, where Twilight blows off the invitation to the party, to be the cause of Moondancer taking the psychological blow that the episode focuses on. Why? Because, quite simply, Moondancer was not in that scene. So even if she knew it was organized by Moondancer, Twilight really had no way to know that declining to go would affect Moondancer so badly - at least not without a sense of intuition and empathy for other ponies that she at this point lacks. It's asking her to be aware of something she couldn't have been known, and then punishing her with blame for her justified ignorance. So how to fix this? You can still leave that scene in and have it work, but if you're going to rewrite the past anyway, why restrict yourself to what we've seen before? Have a flashback to earlier in the day, before Twilight started reading her history book, where she meets with Moondancer, and Moondancer does actually invite her to her party. She could even say "I'd really like you to be there!" Go the whole hog, and have Twilight actually agree to go! Maybe she then tells Spike about it, so he goes to arrange his gift (neatly sealing up a plothole in the pilot, by the way, namely why Spike knows about the party, when it seems Twilight didn't until she was told by Twinkleshine.) Then later, Twilight gets caught up in her reading, runs into the aforementioned trio, and decides her research is more important than the party, leading to her saying they don't have time for presents and parties, even though they're on a break. Now we have Moondancer actually inviting Twilight herself, and Twilight betraying her trust by going back on her word to attend, which something I would actually agree that Twilight should be blamed for. It's a bit of arc welding that could easily have been introduced, and would fully justify Moondancer's emotional pain. There are some other issues that could have been fixed with little effort. 1. The scene where Twilight imagines how Moondancer would have reacted to her no show isn't a flashback, and so we have no real way of knowing if that's what really happened or not. I mean, push comes to shove, I'd probably accept it as accurate, but it grates on me that we have an imagine spot rather than a flashback. How to fix this one? Have Minuette describe it as a flashback of her own. She's basically the main mode of exposition elsewhere in the episode, why not here? 2. Leave out the "I don't even remember my friends' names" running gag entirely. It takes up time unnecessarily, quickly becomes exasperating, and goes against both the idea that Twilight considered them her friends in the past and that Moondancer would have attached so much emotional significance to Twilight. In particular, "Twilight Twinkle" is a red herring in the context of the episode. 3. Use the Cutie Map to start the episode off, rather than using Spike's random comment. You don't even need to include a scene of her checking the map, just have her say "the map sent me to Canterlot". (Yes, yes, "show don't tell", but if time is an issue, this could be used instead) Then Twilight arrives, determined to fix somepony's problem, only to find she caused it in the first place. That would seem much more impactful to me, and drive the lesson home to Twilight more naturally than as it stands. So, those are the tweaks and changes I would have made to this episode. I've tried to justify them as much as I can, and I hope they sound reasonable. If you can think of anything I've missed, or you want to denounce me as a cynical cretin, feel free to comment. Oh, um, hello, Moondancer... that is a big stick, isn't it? *THWACK!*
  20. Twilight Sparkle! You old so-and-so! What are you doing here?! - Minuette Summary After Spike comments that Twilight was a bad friend before coming to Ponyville, she decides to make a trip back to Canterlot to find her old “friends” so that she can apologize to and reconnect with them. The two revisit Twilight’s old quarters, to “start at the beginning”. Apparently, it’s a very good place to start… I will give the writer a point here, for making a clever simile about how Twilight left her previous quarters and her friendships in the same incomplete state. Treasure that, writers, because you got virtually everything else wrong… but I’m getting ahead of myself. Twilight tracks down Minuette (Colgate to the bronies), and after a brief photo op, they head off to find Twilight’s other old “friends” , Lemon Drops and Twinkleshine. At Joe’s Donut Diner, Twilight apologizes for being a bad friend in the past. The three manage to brush it off while still somehow making Twilight feel worse. A visit to the school science lab triggers a flashback for Twilight, who asks where Moon Dancer (another “friend”) is. They track her down, but find she isn’t interested in seeing any of them. Twilight follows her for a bit, and sees she’s very isolated. She then finds out from Minuette that there was a time she seemed to be opening up… until the party Twilight blew off in the pilot episode. Twilight realizes that her nonattendance is the reason why Moon Dancer is so introverted and shy now. She resolves to apologize and help Dancer to overcome her past pain. Oh, the old awkward conversation in the library with everyone going “sssshhh!” bit. Really pushing the comedic envelope on this story, aren’t they? After that, Twilight takes Moon Dancer back to her old quarters, and proffers the key to the library, on condition that that she joins the old gang for dinner. Oh, hai, Starlight Glimmer! By the way, how’s your stalker life? It doesn’t go well. Twilight, desperate to fix her mistake, enlists Pinkie Pie’s help in throwing a party for Moon Dancer. After Twilight again apologizes, Moon Dancer finally opens up and confirms that Twilight skipping her party really hurt her and made her retreat back into her shell. Seeing all the friends Twilight has gathered for her (including her sister), Moon Dancer decides to give friendship another chance. Spike gives her a photo of her friends, and the episode ends with Moon Dancer (now fulfilled) and the others heading out for a game of Calvinball. The Bugz I cannot understand why fans are praising the writing in this episode. I think it’s horrendous. Now don’t get me wrong… if you connected emotionally with Twilight and Moon Dancer’s story because you’ve had similar experiences in the past, and you like it on that account, I have absolutely no issue with that. Entirely without sarcasm I can say that I’m happy for you. But I will try to show that the story itself is very poorly written. The plot is artificially kicked off by a random comment from Spike. It’s not the first time this has happened (Lesson Zero comes to mind) but in this episode, going this route is missing a huge opportunity for the Cutie Map to come into play. Yes, remember that Map? The express purpose of the Map is to highlight situations requiring the magic of friendship. One would think that a pony that isolated, and (ostensibly) made so by the Princess of Friendship herself, would merit a response from whatever is controlling the thing. But not even a blip. Nearly halfway through the season, the Map has been used a grand total of twice. This was a perfect time to increase that count. It would also have been much more effective for Twilight to arrive in Canterlot, not sure why she had been summoned there, and then on encountering her old “friends”, had the realization that her past actions had led to this situation, and that she now had to fix it. Basically, I think it would be cool to have a moment of realization: "I'm not just here to fix the problem... I AM the problem!" You might have noticed I’ve been using quote marks every time I type “friends”. This is because whatever relationship Twilight had to the ponies she knew in Canterlot before moving to Ponyville, “friends” is not an accurate description. The pilot goes out of its way to establish that Twilight was isolated and antisocial. In the pilot, Twilight is tasked by Princess Celestia with “making friends”. Not “making new friends”, not “making friends in Ponyville”, “making friends”. There are many other lines that imply heavily that the Mane Six are her first set of friends. But perhaps you don’t consider that proof enough. And that’s fair, it’s got some wiggle room. Now how about A Canterlot Wedding? I don’t need the BBBFF song to make the point. Even before she starts singing, Twilight upright states the following: “Before I came here and learned the importance of friendship, Shining Armor was the only pony I ever really accepted as a friend.” There is no wiggle room or ambiguity there. Shining Armor was her only friend before Ponyville. And she didn’t even mention him until that episode. Now much less must she have cared for the “friends” who in Amending Fences are suddenly so important to her? She couldn’t even remember their names! Oh, and that’s a running gag that pretty much negates any and all emotion in the episode. Twilight can’t remember her friend’s names, her friends apparently don’t remember Moon Dancer until she brings her up, and Moon Dancer calls her “Twilight Twinkle” accidentally. Yet we find out that they were all friends before and Moon Dancer was so fixated on Twilight being her only chance to find friendship? Somehow, I don’t find that convincing. I can guess what you’re probably thinking. “Sunny Fox, didn’t you say in your Tanks for the Memories review that you don’t let continuity negate emotion? Aren’t you backpedaling here?” No. I still think an emotion connection with an episode trumps issues of continuity. But here, the emotional connection becomes unbelievable because what we’re given in the episode runs counter to what has been already firmly and unambiguously established. This is no minor point of fridge logic or a continuity error that can be handwaved; this is a full blown retcon of past events for the basis of creating a plot. The second major difference is that the emotional connection that is the focus of TftM, between Dash and Tank, has been built up over a few episodes, such as the quick, surreptitious nuzzle in Just for Sidekicks, and involves a pony that we already know very well and can connect with, ourselves. We feel Dash’s emotional pain because the relationship is believable in and of itself, and because the closeness of their relationship has already been established prior to the episode. This is most certainly not the case with Twilight and Moon Dancer. (tl;dr: Emotion trumps continuity, but only if the emotion is convincing.) Other decisions puzzle me as well. The flashback in the science lab has no real purpose. It doesn’t establish any meaningful backstory, other than to confirm Twilight and Moon Dancer went to school together. It certainly doesn’t help convince me that there was anything worthy of the name of friendship between the two. At best, it serves to remind Twilight that she hasn’t seen Moon Dancer yet… which is also unnecessary, since Spike already mentioned her as one of the “friends” to reconnect with, so Twilight doesn’t really need a flashback to justify bringing her up. Edit: @@Dark Qiviut has pointed out something I missed regarding the flashback. It establishes that Moon Dancer is very similar to Twilight (a bookworm and antisocial) and would therefore probably feel closer to her than the others, which might help explain why she took Twilight's rejection so hard. Good catch, DQ! That’s enough ripping the story to pieces. Let’s look now at the characters. Minuette was extremely annoying with her constant giggling. I previously described her as a “discount Pinkie Pie”. My mind hasn’t changed. And then when all three get together, the giggles have been tripled! She’s not entirely useless, as she is the main source of exposition for Twilight, but she really grated on my nerves the whole episode. Speaking of Pinkie Pie, she is brought in (rather unnecessarily, I feel: Twilight couldn’t have planned a party on her own?) to set up the party at the end, and to just be Pinkie. I get the feeling gravity has just entirely given up on being able to control her. It’s worth a chuckle, but it’s still reducing Pinkie from a character to a gag machine. The episode doesn’t do any favours for Twilight, either. She just assumes she’s so important to other ponies that her losing contact with them is causing them terrible suffering. She was right in Moon Dancer’s case but that’s, what, one out of five? She only could be about 20% wronger if she tried (hur hur hur). Her demeanour in the flashback reminded me more of Diamond Tiara than Twilight. How does one reconcile that with the happy filly who leaps around shouting “yes yes yes yes!” in the Cutie Mark Chronicles? This episode doesn’t make Twilight fallible and thereby relatable, since her mistake was made before her character development. I don’t consider her a Mary Sue, like some of her detractors do, but this episode certainly makes me wonder if they might not have a point about her being represented as infallible these days. The previous episode had a similar problem, because her “failure” wasn’t due to her, but rather to the yaks deplorable tendency to make a huge fuss over tiny inconsequential details. I mean, what kind of immature idiot behaves like that? (Ha HAH, self-burn!) Now we come to the real millstone around the neck of this episode: Moon Dancer herself. Let me start with a question: if this character were to be introduced as someone’s OC, what do you think the response would be? Overwhelmingly negative, is my guess. A minor positive point is that they use the colours of G1 Moon Dancer, but she’s just a Twilight recolour with glasses and eyebrows; two thirds of Groucho Marx, as it were. Apart from her lackluster design, her fixation on Twilight is one of the least justified elements of the story. Apparently, Twilight hurt her by not attending the party she organized, thereby causing her to give up on friendship. There are a number of problems with this. First, she never actually invited Twilight to her party, or made it clear in any way that it was important to her. Twilight was given an off-hand, second-hand invite by Twinkleshine. Second, why was Twilight so important to her in the first place? That flashback indicates that their similarlity might have caused that. But oh-so-similar Twilight wasn’t the one who started to bring her out of her shell. Moon Dancer literally credits the three of them (Minuette, Lemon Heart and Twinkleshine) for making her think she might want to be more social, and as far as we’re aware, everypony but Twilight was at the party. Their support and friendship apparently wasn’t worth anything in Dancer’s eyes; it was Twilight or nothing. Third, as Spike mentions, Twilight was given an assignment by Princess Celestia, and so couldn’t have attended the party even had she wanted to. Princess Celestia knew she needed to send Twilight to Ponyville to stop Nightmare Moon (she as much as says so at the end of the second episode), so the assignment would have given to Twilight regardless. Because of these points above, her reaction to Twilight’s absence from her party becomes an overreaction, and Twilight shouldn’t be blamed for that. All in all, I personally don't find Moon Dancer's reclusion and subsequence outburst at Twilight was justified, which really rips out the heart of the emotional conflict the episode is built around. What moral are we meant to take from this? "Attend every event you're invited to, just in case someone's self esteem relies on you being there"? "It's okay to shut yourself off from society because one person snubbed you once"? "Focus on one person and if they won't be your friend, give up on people entirely"? Or just maybe, it might be "Be careful of what you do, because even the smallest action may have consequences"? Yeah, let's go with that one. My point here is that the moral is kind of confused. They may have been going for something like the last one above, but I don't think they did a very good job of it. The Shrugz It was interesting to see Starlight Glimmer stalking Twilight. I admit I was not observant enough to notice her for myself when I watched the episode, so I only found out by reading the episode's thread. It has to be deliberate, and I'm glad to see that the writers are trying to build a continuing story arc. It doesn't make the episode better or worse, but it's definitely worth mentioning. I found this entire episode to be in a sense unnecessary. Going back to a single scene, that in all likelihood was there just to establish Twilight's credentials as a antisocial bookworm, and expanding on it, doesn't really contribute to the story of Twilight and the Mane Six learning good lessons through friendship. It's going back and revisiting your past, not improving yourself for the future. I want to see Twilight moving forward, not going back and trying to fix every mistake she's ever made. Let her make new mistakes and learn from those. Fancy Pants and Fleur de Lis appear to be a couple again. So much for my Rarity x Fancy Pants ship, huh? Or is Fancy Pants just a two timer? Yeah, I call shenanigans on the idea that Spike's tail can perforate and crush a present, disemboweling a teddy bear in the process, yet leave the picture (which generally would have been placed on the bottom of the box with the teddy bear on top) untouched. Minor nitpick, though, so it's a neutral rather than a negative. And what's up with the title of the episode, anyway? "Mending Fences" would have been just as accurate a title, with the added benefit of actually being an existing expression. Why "amending fences"? It just comes off as trying too hard to make the title some kind of pun (not a new problem with FiM...) Twilight can invade Flatland, if only for a few minutes. I find it somewhat amusing that some fans have praised this idea for showing a limit on Twilight's magical power. She can go from three dimensions to two and make herself into a sentient line drawing, and because it's a temporary effect, that makes it a restriction?! Do tell. The Hugz As I've mentioned in the episode discussion thread, there is a lesson to be learned here, about how a single act of thoughtlessness can lead to hurting someone, and that one should be careful of that. It's somewhat mired in the poor writing, but I think that's what they were going for. Spike at least got a little screen time that didn't involve him getting dumped on by the universe. He also showed his more thoughtful side, by presenting Moon Dancer with a present. Which she apparently treasures, even though it didn't come from Twilight.. *cough*... bullshit... *cough* Pros: An interesting premise, and there is a good moral in there somewhere, trying to get out. Cons: The premise is poorly executed, the central conflict is based on one pony's obsession with Twilight, the characters introduced are nowhere near as likeable as our Mane cast is, the moral is rather unclear. Final Thoughts I had hoped that on reflection, I would find a few more positives in this episode. Unfortunately, the opposite happened. The more I think about this episode, the clumsier and more nonsensical I find it. Final Ranking: Rarity’s Cutie Mark Rank – A scintillating story! Sure to be rewatched frequently. Rock Candy Rank – A highly enjoyable episode, but it couldn’t avoid a cavity or two. Tom Rank – Average. While it looked like a diamond, it turned out to be just a rock. Boulder Rank – Below average. Take it out once or twice, and then leave it in your pocket. Rock Farm Rock Rank – A terrible episode. Leave it where it lies. Wow. What has happened to me? Have I become jaded? I've spent most of a day typing up a scathing condemnation of a simple story about righting past wrongs. I blame Slice of Life... it all went downhill from there... Stay sunny side up, or whatever.
  21. … – Vinyl Scratch Summary Cranky Doodle Donkey and his love Matilda are set to get married on the morrow, when the aptly named one mentions that everypony is asking him if he is nervous about getting married… today! Realizing that the invitations are for the wrong date, the asinine pair (no, that’s not an insult, that’s literally the latin term meaning “donkey”) rush to finalize the preparations a full day early. Hijinks ensue. Memes ascend. The wedding eventually goes off without a hitch, thanks to the Power of Wubs. Wow. That is literally the shortest summary I’ve ever written. Analysis First up, let’s get a few things clarified before I review this strange offering: one part episode, one part congratulatory hand…. shake for the brony community. Yes, the episode is very heavy on the fan service. And in some ways, that really annoys me. When I saw that Cranky was shouting at the pony who had made the mistake on the invitations, that it was Derpy messing something up again, and even worse, her first instinct is to placate him with muffins, I literally double face-palmed. I just sat there, head in hands, weeping inside, until the opening credits ended. And then I sucked it up and continued to watch the episode, because I try to reserve judgement on an episode until I’ve seen the whole thing (usually more than once too). And the fan service just kept coming. Fan service will always be a very subjective thing. I don’t care for it, in general, unless it’s subtle enough not to be a distraction from the story. That claim isn’t valid here, the fan service is front and center, interwoven as it is with the central “rushed wedding” story. And yet that story could have been told without it. Cranky and Matilda’s story is also Pinkie Pie’s story, so it could have been a Mane Six episode. (Did she even get a line? In the episode which central situation she was instrumental in bringing about? For shame.) I consider it a bit of a waste of a plotline to sacrifice that potential to serve as the vehicle for a “day in the limelight” for the (popular) background ponies of Ponyville. But here’s the thing I really want my readers to understand: apart from the above caveat, I can make peace with the fan service. And I don’t think it should influence how one views the quality of the episode, either positively or negatively. Sitting through this episode was somewhat of an ordeal for me, but that doesn’t in itself make it bad. And for those of you who also found the fan service hard to stomach, think of it this way: the writers obviously took the most popular and well known fan theories to ratify into canon. Essentially, they’re giving us what was voted by the majority of the brony community as the most popular! Democracy in action! If you don’t like it, you’re probably not part of the majority whom they were trying to please with it. Whether this point makes you less critical of the fan service, or more critical of the concept of democracy, isn’t for me to choose. It makes for an interesting case study of memetics, too. To reiterate: the fan service aspect of this episode isn’t going to change my opinion on it. Disclaimers out of the way, let’s move on. The Hugz There are plenty of returning cameos, continuity nods and the like. Listing them all would take a really long time. I’ll focus on just a few. The sea monster / serpent reappears, now definitely named Steven Magnet, and we find out that he’s an old friend of Cranky, and they had many wacky adventures together. I like this, it makes a connection between previously unconnected characters, harks back to Cranky’s comment that he’s “made many friends” in his journeys around Equestria and creates an awesome pair of bookends. There’s also the part where Steven cuts off one half of his beloved MUstache to serve Cranky as a replacement wig. A touching moment, and more proof that experiencing generosity leads to one showing generosity. Rarity influences this episode just by her pure generous awesomeness! It rubs off on everyone! Speaking of the wedding, I really enjoyed seeing that Changeling (another odd friend of the groom, it seems). If I liked nothing else about this episode, I would consider that worth the price of admission! His or her reaction to the other guests staring at him or her is great. There was also the interesting aside with Derpy's eyes, where we see that she can straighten them for a while if she wants to. This detail retroactively explains an observation I had made (but never pointed out) about Season 1's episodes: apart from the pilot, and up until "Feeling Pinkie Keen", Derpy (or perhaps I should say Ditzy Doo) was actually lacking her trademark derp. Every time she was in a scene, her eyes were straight. Obviously, about that time, the staff became aware of the popularity of "Derpy" and decided to roll with it. The Shrugz I can handle the confirmation of Vinyl and Octavia being house mates, (since I never cared about it one way or the other) but the decision to split the house down the middle as a representation of their… oppositeness… makes me tilt my head. Hey, Octavia, Vinyl: Two-Face called. He wants his house back! Hmm, Derpy and the Doctor. I know this was always one of the most popular theories, but where is the evidence in the show proper that these two spend much time together, before this episode? Lyra and Bon Bon are inseparable from way back within the show, but Time Turner (or are we now meant to call him The Doctor or is his name Doc, like the dwarf?) and Derpy aren’t usually seen together. Heck, the last time I remember seeing him, he was walking around with Roseluck! In fact, I don’t see much point in the entire sideplot with the bowling ponies, it just seemed to take up time while not adding much. Then again, maybe that’s just the episode trying to justify its title with some navelgazing. Either way, this is one of the more complicated and problematic elements of the episode. Hey, Doc: Tom Baker called. He wants his… oh, wait, I did this joke already. Never mind. Gummy being a Catatonic Philosopher is just a straight up stolen idea from “Bravest Warriors”, as in the Paralyzed Horse. It’s also somewhat difficult to reconcile with the scenes where we’ve seen him actively doing stuff, like trying to catch the balloon in “Party of One”, or affectionately biting Pinkie like in “Feeling Pinkie Keen”. It works as a gag, though… barely. The last really important relationship explored in this episode was the Lyra and Bon Bon / Secret Agent Sweetie Drops. A nod to the “official” vs fan-made name issue there, props. It also seems that Celestia is not above a little governmental conspiracy and cover up. What else is Spymaster Celestia hiding from the pony populous, one wonders? But of course, the main controversy here is the whole shipping aspect. While the two ponies frequently repeat that they are just “best friends”, you’d have to be naïve to believe that settles anything. Fans who ship these two are not going to be put out in the slightest. Let’s be honest, there’s no way the writers could make any kind of romantic connection explicit, so the “best friends” line proves exactly nothing. In fact, it sounds very much as if they’re trying hard to convince themselves of that… “We’re just best friends!” “But what about, you know... last night?” “Oh, that was just ‘best friend’ sex… Meant nothing.” “But…” “Oops! Gotta go!” "Wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am? I guess you really ARE a secret agent!" You see my point. The Bugz The flower trio gets a really awful treatment here. In “Applebuck Season”, the joke works because their reaction to a life threatening stampede of cattle is the same as their reaction to a distinctly less severe stampede of bunny rabbits. The overthrow of expectation provides the humour. If they overreact in the same way to EVERYTHING, then there is no overthrow of expectation and so that humour is vitiated. In an episode dedicated to expanding on background characters, this flanderization is extremely out of place and jarring. I don’t want to say the resolution was forced… but it was. Seriously, Vinyl and Tavi burst out of their house in a “Wubmobile”, pick up the bride, groom, cake, and guests accidentally, fly through the air while reflected in Gummy’s eyes in one of the trippiest sequences this show has produced, they crash into city hall… and then everything literally falls into place, including the three layer cake! That somewhat strains credibility. The closing thoughts from Twilight were unneeded, too. Pros: Plenty of continuity; some fan favorites get a bit of development. Cons: Really forced resolution, some characters are flanderized far too much. Final Thoughts Many fans have opined that this episode should somehow be given a free pass from criticism, because it’s a gift to the brony community. I think no episode should get a free pass. It should be treated as any other episode. Does that make me ungrateful? Maybe. Just because it’s a present, doesn’t mean I have to appreciate it. If my cat leaves a dead rat on my pillow, it being a present doesn’t change the fact that I’m left with a rat corpse… and a reason to incinerate my pillowcase. Or, in a slightly less extreme example, let's suppose someone gives me a gift of some kind of food I really, really don't like the taste of. In reality I might be forced to tell a bit of white lie to avoid hurt feelings, but here, there's really no need to pretend to be happy if I hain't. For those who want to somehow disavow this episode’s canonicity on the same grounds, that’s a no-go too. This episode happened, it is canon. Deal with it. Speaking of that, while I find a certain sly amusement in the fact that Derpy is now canonically called “Muffins” (Check the closing credits), I feel Derpy’s fans should be a little more put out by the fact that the writers didn’t even have the balls to use her true name in the credits. Not that it’ll make her fans stopping thinking of her as Derpy, of course. Nor should it. I’m still going to use it to annoy ‘em, though! If you liked the fan service, that doesn’t mean I think there’s something wrong with you. If you like fanon becoming canon, more power to you. It’s simply not to my taste, and I feel like the plotline of Matilda and Cranky had potential was not realized in order to shove in as much of that as possible. Once you strip the fan service aspect away, you’re left with a pretty middle of the road episode. It’s not terrible, but it’s certainly not anywhere near the best the show has produced. Final Ranking Rarity’s Cutie Mark Rank – A scintillating story! Sure to be rewatched frequently. Rock Candy Rank – A highly enjoyable episode, but it couldn’t avoid a cavity or two. Tom Rank – Average. While it looked like a diamond, it turned out to be just a rock. Boulder Rank – Below average. Take it out once or twice, then leave it in your pocket. Rock Farm Rock Rank – A terrible episode. Leave it where it lies. May the next episode be less contentious (than the previous two), and as always, stay sunny side up!
  22. None of us care about that dumb old idol. Don't you get it? We don't care about anything, and that's the way we like it! – Gilda Synopsis Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash are sent by The Map to the capital city of the griffon kingdom, Griffonstone. Twilight’s history books say it was a great city, united many years in the past by King Grover, using an artifact called the Idol of Boreas. When they arrive, however, the two find that the current reality is much different. The place is falling apart, nigh literally, and no griffon will give them the time of day… unless it involves getting money from them. It's a little "eyrie", but the griffons call it home… The pair comes across Gilda, who is as rude as ever, but they also meet her Grandpa Gruff. For a couple of bits, the older griffon confirms the story in the history book, and also describes the loss of the Idol during the reign of King Guto. A monster broke in to steal the idol, but both fell into Abysmal Abyss. The loss of the idol broke the pride of the griffons, leading to a decline of the state into its current… state. Deciding that the Map sent them here to fix the problems of Griffonstone, Rainbow Dash aims to retrieve the Idol, leaving behind the more-thoughtful-than-usual Pinkie Pie. While Dash enlists the aid of a surly and apathetic guide to abseil into the Abyss in search of the idol, Pinkie returns to Gilda to try to find out more information. After seeing Gilda help another griffon, she realizes something and runs to find Dash. Meanwhile, Dash is stranded in the Abyss when the rope she is using breaks, and her guide, hearing that Dash has no more bits, leaves her to her fate. Pinkie arrives and after a few false starts, runs back to Gilda to enlist her help in the rescue. Gilda remembers the good feelings her prior friendship with Dash provided, via flashback to Junior Speedster Flight Camp. She agrees to help. While rescuing Dash, Gilda sees the idol, as well as the remains of the monster who took it all those years ago. What’re you staring at? Forced to choose whether the idol or Dash is going to take the fall, as it were, Gilda makes the choice to save Dash from her predicament. This leads to reconciliation between the three, with Gilda apologizing for her behaviour in her first appearance. Pinkie encourages Gilda to befriend the griffon from earlier, and replace the bonds once created by the idol using friendship. The Map then signals them to come home. My Thoughts on the Episode This is a mixed bag of an episode. The writing is pretty tight, and provides a lot of foreshadowing. Two particular examples stand out. The first is when they get off the train. The platform they are standing on is in a state of disrepair. This provides an early hint to the poor condition of Griffonstone itself. The second is when Pinkie steps over a crevice, and some of the rock crumbles and falls. This detail hints at the danger Dash will face later in the episode, when the ledge she is on likewise begins to crumble. There’s been some… shall we say “vigorous discourse”… in the episode’s official thread with regards to the worth of the moral, which I don’t think I need to rehash here. Instead, I’d like to focus on a related but different matter. As in the premiere, the ponies are given what I’ve taken to calling the “Mission Accomplished” signal at the episode’s end, where their cutie marks flash and chime. But what mission was actually accomplished? Both Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie assume that the Map sent them there to “fix” Griffonstone’s problem. If Griffonstone is in such a bad way, it does indeed seem like the signal is given prematurely (¯Understatement, my old friend / I’ve come to talk with you again…¯) But that’s assuming Dash and Pinkie are correct in what they believe. Can I blow your mind, just a little? Maybe they’re not. If you look at what was actually accomplished, you might get the feeling that the Map sent them not to help Griffonstone, but to help Gilda. First point: if the objective was to help the entire griffon kingdom, it seems a little strange that the Map would send ONLY Pinkie and Dash, the two ponies who were wronged the most by Gilda in Season 1. Why not send the whole of the Mane Six? Second point: at the end of the episode, there are two things can be most definitely said to be “fixed”: 1. the relationship between Gilda, Dash and Pinkie, where she actually apologizes to them and they mend their fences. 2. Gilda's loneliness: she makes a griffon friend of her own, thus ensuring that she isn’t left alone again when the ponies leave. This feeling was strengthened for me by the fact that the Mission Accomplished signal is given after she returns and reports to the two ponies that her offering of a griffon scone was accepted and that she had been complimented by another griffon for the first time in her life. Third point: The Map accomplished one more thing with regards to Dash. Her broken friendship with Gilda was repaired. For one of the ponies whose new job it is to spread the magic of friendship, it might be considered somewhat of an albatross around her neck to have such a snarl of disharmony lying in her past. Biblical anecdotes regarding specks and logs come to mind. Perhaps the journey was as much for Dash's sake as for Gilda's. As a bonus, given this viewpoint, that controversial little moral becomes somewhat less of a glaring flaw in the episode. True, not true? I dunno. I just offer it as a different perspective on the episode. I think it holds up well enough to at least give it a bit of thought. Some other nice touches to this episode include the art shifts for the History of Griffonstone sections, yet another weird beasty (sadly deceased) to add to Equestria’s Monster Manual, a glimpse of the "aww, so cute!" filly and fledgling friendship in flashback form and some comedy provided by Gilda’s constant snark, as well as a few laughs courtesy of Pinkie Pie. The final scene was perfectly done. I know some people feel that it would have been funnier if Gummy had finished the cake, but c’mon, who do you think he is? Boulder? I find it much funnier to consider that he has literally been lying there in the same position throughout however long Pinkie’s trip took. So what are the negatives? (You know, apart from the obvious one…) Well, this tendency to name every single griffon using the letter G is really, really getting to the point of irritation. (Meet my newest sob story OC: Harrold the Griffon, banished forever for bucking the theme-naming trend.) Seriously? Grover, Guto, Gilda, Glenda, GRAMPA GRUFF (That’s a twofer, Celestia damn you!) It’s getting gauche, ghastly and groan-inducing! Good grief! Pros: Plenty of foreshadowing. There is a continuation of the arc started in the premiere. Gilda actually gets her redemption episode (finally). Cons: The moral is (from certain perspectives) as entirely broken as the houses. The griffons really need to explore the ramifications of the rest of the alphabet. Final Ranking: Rarity’s Cutie Mark Rank – A scintillating story! Sure to be rewatched frequently. Rock Candy Rank – A highly enjoyable episode, but it couldn’t avoid a cavity or two. Tom Rank – Average. While it looked like a diamond, it turned out to be just a rock. Boulder Rank – Below average. Take it out once or twice, then leave it in your pocket. Rock Farm Rock Rank – A terrible episode. Leave it where it lies. May the next episode be less contentious, and as always, stay sunny side up!
  23. Who said anything about anger?! I didn't say anything about anger! I'm not upset! And I am not angry! Do I look angry?! – Rainbow Dash Summary As the time comes to unwrap winter in Ponyville, with the help of the Pegasus ponies from Cloudsdale, Rainbow Dash finds that her pet Tank is acting even more sedately than usual. Hearing from Fluttershy that he is gearing down for hibernation, Rainbow Dash is unable to accept that she needs to say goodbye to him until spring. When her attempt at halting the inevitable advance of winter fails, she goes into a deep depression. Via a touch of tough love, courtesy of Fluttershy and her other friends, Rainbow Dash finally comes to accept the truth, and makes her peace with the idea of a petless winter. The Mane Six bid a fond “see you later” to Tank as he digs himself a place to sleep. Thoughts on the episode While the episode has a simple premise, and follows a simplistic view of the 5 stages of grief, it really manages to be emotionally effective. I would even go so far as to suggest that this is as close as this series will ever get to being able to portray a character actually dealing with bereavement, albeit a symbolic and temporary one. Let’s follow Dash on her journey. 1. Denial: Dash immediately denies what Fluttershy tells her about Tank needing to hibernate, and makes flimsy excuses to discount not only Fluttershy’s words, but even solid evidence confirming what she doesn’t want to believe. She even goes to get a second opinion. From Spike. When he seconds Fluttershy’s prognosis, Dash begins to segue into the next stage… 2. Anger: As the quote above attests, as Rainbow becomes less able to deny what is happening, she starts lashing out at Pinkie Pie and the others before storming off. 3. Bargaining: As it becomes clear to her that Tank really is going to hibernate, Dash tries anything and everything to stop the inevitable from coming to pass. Extra points for irony: her efforts just serve to speed the process. Is there mushroom in Ponyville for snow? 4. Depression: A textbook case, Dash secludes herself in her room, ignores the Mane Six when they come to check up on her, and responds to any attempt at engaging her with a subdued “whatever”. Then Fluttershy happens. With one sentence, she shatters Dash’s composure, finally forcing her to fully face the facts. 5. Acceptance: With the cathartic relief of a good old crying session behind her, Rainbow comes to terms with the fact that Tank will be leaving her for a while, brings him to the others so that they can also say goodbye, and even decides to stay a while after he covers himself to read him a bedtime story. I think it was a great idea to have Fluttershy be the one to force Rainbow Dash to face the truth, having learned that lesson in Season 4 with the Breezies. Sometimes kindness needs to be dropped in favour of some tough love, baby. There’s definitely a bit of a “what the hell?” moment with Rarity here when she says, “I can’t bear to see Fluttershy cry!” Fluttershy? What about Rainbow Dash? Yet even within this emotional turmoil, this episode finds a few opportunities for a good laugh. The whole weather pony conversation with Open Skies, Clear Skies and Fluffy Clouds is a great example of Who’s on First. There’s also the part where Pinkie says that Applejack “cries on the inside”. I mean, like, duh! Right? Rainbow Dash also manages to show off a great many new expressions. The thing about Dash is she usually tries to act cool and stoic, so when she does show her emotions, it tends to be very funny. Of course, this episode is not entirely without its flaws. There are some continuity issues that ruin the experience for some fans. If we assume the episodes May the Best Pet Win and Heart’s Warming Eve are aired in chronological order, then this isn’t the first winter that Rainbow has weathered with her pet, so this hibernation issue should have come up before. It doesn’t bother me much personally, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we can loosen the assumption above, and suggest that the wintry events of Heart’s Warming Eve happened before Rainbow ever met Tank, eliminating the continuity flaw. After all, as far as I can remember, Tank never appears or is he referenced in that episode. Even if this isn’t possible, it’s probably best to just accept that the writers stuffed it up, and that this is the first winter Tank and Rainbow are facing together. This brings me to my second reason for not being too concerned: the focus of this episode is the emotions Rainbow is experiencing as she bids farewell to her pet, and I’m not one to let a continuity error vitiate the emotion. I would encourage others to accept it as a flaw in the writing, put it on the backburner of their minds, and just enjoy the roller coaster ride. I guess what I’m trying to say is that continuity is the servant to the story, not the other way around. Still, the irony of the situation doesn’t escape me: they go to lengths to include the Running of the Leaves, the weather factory from Sonic Rainboom, etc, precisely for the purpose of establishing continuity and then make what appears to be a massive error in the same area. As with many other episodes, Rainbow’s crazy actions don’t yield any consequences. I can only suspect that the weather factory explosion was brushed off as an act of Celestia, and Dash’s involvement covered up. This definitely hurts the resolution a bit, and is not a good moral for the kiddies to learn. Final Ranking: Rarity’s Cutie Mark Rank – A scintillating story! Sure to be rewatched frequently. Rock Candy Rank – A highly enjoyable episode, but it couldn’t avoid a cavity or two. Tom Rank – Average. While it looked like a diamond, it turned out to be just a rock. Boulder Rank – Below average. Take it out once or twice, then leave it in your pocket. Rock Farm Rock Rank – A terrible episode. Leave it where it lies. Overall, I enjoyed this episode as a metaphor for dealing with loss in an emotionally engaging way, not shying away from the sadness but still sprinkled with just enough humour to keep it balanced. It’s flawed, but to me, endearingly so. Now let’s see if the writers will have the cojones to put one of the ponies on a bus! Stay sunny side up!
  24. Should Sunset have been Twilight's student instead of Starlight? It's a simple debate, should she have been and why? Let me argue for Sunset, see Sunset isn't actually that bad for a character, she made a mistake and it took her actual time to get others to trust her again not just the human mane 6 but twilight and the rest of Canterlot High as well, which can be relatable to many people and can actually teach a lesson to the target demographic like the shows "supposed to". for that reason, I would've like for sunset either pony form or her unseen human form to return or enter back into the portal and become pony twilight's student, shes smart, shes talented, and she has a lot to learn and twilight could easily have taught her and it would've been a lot more genuine than starlight, and maybe even have sunset do something grand and end up eventually making her own friends as the new mane six or even following in twilight's hooves and becoming an alicorn herself. Also having Sunset there for Starlight's capture of the mane 6 during the start of season 5 would have been extremely helpful because she could have easily figured out what was happening, she could have tricked Starlight into thinking she's betraying her teacher, and gotten starlight's true intentions and cutie mark discovered by the rest of the town, and it would've been way more believable then Fluttershy because Sunset herself was a villain at one point, and she's extremely crafty. Not to mention Sunset would end up driving Starlight away, Starlight would have to somehow manipulate the mane six into separating like in the season 5 finale, but without Starswirl's spell, and with them separated Sunset nor Twilight would completely notice because of how Sunset's teachings are really taking primary to Twilights and Sunset's attention, which would lead to a half season to a full season with Sunset learning friendship and making her own friends. This so when the next major threat does happen, (because we all know one will eventually), Sunset's group would have to step up and actually save the day, eventually leading to HER BECOMING STARLIGHT'S TEACHER and teaching her about friendship so that Starlight can redeem herself and become friends with Trixie like she is now. I also think Sunset would teach differently than Twilight, with her personality and all it would be a lot more challenging to both Starlight and Sunset. I also believe Sunset's teaching style would be very enjoyable to watch and to see her make mistakes while teaching Starlight about magic and friendship, which honestly could easily extend the series on to about 16 seasons before it got stale, adding new characters and groups to focus on, and etc.
  25. Throughout the show, every single adult featured has a cutie mark. The Mane Six, the background ponies, secondary ponies, et cetera. By the time they grew up, they all figured out what their talents were. So, they were able to spend the rest of their lives knowing their goals. No one is a blank flank other than fillies. Twist and Babs were blank flanks for a while. The Cutie Mark Crusaders are the most famous. But one question that lingers in this show: Are there any adult blank flanks? When you observe conversations between adult bronies, you can see why some speculate. Not everybody knows what their goals will be even after they graduate from high school or even college. Sometimes they will extend their careers into Graduate School and beyond. Some never figure out their lifelong goals. What their lifelong dreams and goals is a very huge dilemma for both kids and adults alike. By featuring an episode with an adult blank flank and treating the conflict with respect, you correlate this message to both kids and adults that ponies like the adult blank flank exist in real life. Since this season's morals and conflicts are even grayer than last year's, it helps add some realism into Equestria's worldbuilding. This leads me to the song featured in San Diego's Comic-Con last week, which will take place during the twenty-fourth episode, titled The Mane Attraction if the leak of the titles is true. Listen to the lyrics and watch the frames. The Lena Hall Earth pony talks about wondering who she was and what her goal was. Until now, she never truly understood her goal. The trials and turbulence she endured up to this point leads her to the grand stage. In one frame, a cutie mark flashes, and the crowd suddenly erupts into cheers the next. So, here are some questions. What do you think of the "adult blank flank"? What about the concept does it interest you or not? Who do you think the main characters in The Mane Attraction will be? Do you think it'll be Applejack, the CMCs, Pinkie Pie, or a combination? How do you believe the episode will play out? What is the conflict, and how will they resolve it? When will this storyboard take place in the actual episode? (I hope the very end.) What do you think is the episode's moral? A few morals this season are so subtle, sometimes you must figure it out through the context.
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