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  1. Hey, everyone! I hope you all had a great holiday season, I know I sure I did. The hive really had fun celebrating Carol's Eve, and I actually got my brother to participate in festive social activities! Then for New Years we tried fireworks for the first time in the hive. We have a few new holes, but all in all I think it was a good learning experience. Before I go on any further, I really want to apologize. I missed January 6th, Huggo de Buggo Day, which one of your staff was kind enough to create over a year ago in honor of the changelings and our new means of sharing love magic. I would have arrived on time but, Chrysalis decided to gift our hive with gas bombs that repel insects. It took us two days to air the hive, and even now it still smells unpleasant. Anyway, Huggo de Buggo Day, for those who aren't aware of the calendar event, is crafted after 'National Hug/Snuggle Day' in the US/Canada. The changelings share love magic through relationships with others, and through physical acts of care and affection, so I guess you could say we fit the bill perfectly. As with last year, I hope everyone here is kind enough to give their friends and family a hug once in a while. People and ponies, like changelings are social creatures, so we all benefit from letting those around us know that we care. The only rule to remember is that some creatures like their personal space. @Pharynx only let's me hug him a few times a year, and I've...mostly learned to live with it! Oh, and if you see any changelings around the forum be sure to offer them a hug! Not only is it nice, you're also giving them something to eat! Here's to wishing everyone a wonderful 2020! I'll upload the Huggo de Buggo banner to the calendar event, that way it can be seen year round! Thanks to @Lord Valtasar for making the banner, and to @~C. Discord~ for creating the event! You guys are so nice! See you around, everyone!
  2. Artwork by the very talented Justasuta Introductions: Do you think my English teacher will let me use pony character analysis as a replacement for Shakespeare? Hello, folks. My name is NavelColt, also known by my old monicker, CD, C.Discord or ~Chaotic Discord~ if you're an OG boy from 13'. I am a fanfiction writer and lore analyst who's been in this glorious fandom since the near beginning, and I am here today to bring you my first proper, lengthy lore analysis since sometime in 2015. That analysis is for the changelings - specifically, the modern changelings. The fairy bugs, the rainbow buggos, the pastel beetles and their beetlemoose overlord. The changelings have been my focus of interest since season 6, when I was catapulted back into this fandom after my initial leave in late 2015. It started with Thorax's debut, a character who quickly rose to become my favorite character in the show, even dethroning Discord, himself. Since that time I have documented nearly 120,000 words in fan fiction, exploring the changelings, their lore, their day to day lives and Thorax's role as the changeling's new patriarch. What began as a few headcanon ideas has since expanded to an entire headcanon universe surrounding the modern hive. With the show now over, and no new canon content to be introduced, I felt it was time to sit down and actually put those ideas down on electronic paper. So please enjoy my headcanon universe for the modern changelings! If you find yourself intrigued, links to specific works will be found near the end. But first...a few points. Important Pointers: The MLP Comics are fantastic. However, I do not now nor have I ever considered the comics to be on the same plane of canon as the show, so everything here is crafted exclusively from the FIM cartoon. As a writer, reader and consumer of creative content in general I am someone who enjoys Slice of Life, closeness, feel-good stories and stories that focus on relationships between characters. If you're looking for a heart attacks and humor, you've come to the right place. If you're looking for adventure and excitement, she's in another castle. At the end of the day, these are just my interpretations. Feel free to see things differently! -- Key: Red Titles - Headcanon built off of pre-established canon Blue Titles - Pure headcanon, crafted in the spirit of the show's canon -- Backstory Tie-Ins: Thorax, a Source of Inspiration: "Evil? Oh, no, not me. All I've ever wanted was a friend." ~ Thorax, 'The Times They are a Changeling' Artwork by Cloureed From the moment 'The Times They are a Changeling' aired I knew Thorax was one of my newfound favorites. Thorax is the softest, most caring male character in this entire show. Not only is that a glorious stab in the face to gender stereotype norms, not only is it a perfect antithesis to Chrysalis - possibly the most ruthless villain to come out of this show - it is also part of what makes Thorax so enjoyable as a character. He seeks nothing but to help and protect those precious things around him, while he, himself is a precious thing in need of protecting. Thorax is like a modern, male spin on the trope Fluttershy's character was initially based on. This loving, caring changeling was then made the newly-crowned king of his species - a species scarred by a long, harsh rule under Chrysalis. A species he had never truly felt a part of, but could now nurture and care for. A home where he had never felt welcome could now be freely crafted into something that all changelings could enjoy. It was a redemption on a kingdom-sized scale, and it was a beautiful story waiting to happen. The King of Love Bugs was my very first changeling story. It ventured to show the ongoing, day-to-day process of the changelings rebuilding their hive, and working with Equestria's princesses to become a citizenship of Equestria. The story had one goal - to stay as canonical as possible, while building lore around the changeling's daily lives, newfound forms and magic. Most of all, it ventured to show the budding relationship between Thorax and his estranged kin. From Ruthless Queen to Paternal Patriarch: "Lately you and the other nymphs have made me feel more like a dad than a king. But, you know, I don't think they have to be so different." ~ Thorax, The King of Love Bugs, 'The Summit of Love' Artwork commissioned by me, and done by the very lovely Circus-Cinnamon Perhaps the most endearing concept surrounding Thorax becoming king is that he could now act as both a leader and father figure to the changelings, both the young and mature. What else would you expect from a cinnamon roll put in charge? Thorax had always wanted friends - presumably in the hive, at first, before he'd been pushed away by the state of Chrysalis's rule. Having the chance to not only make friends with other changelings for the first time, but to help other changelings make friends, themselves would be something he'd adore doing. The changelings denounced Chrysalis after discovering a better way to sustain themselves. They followed Thorax because they were ready to finally put themselves first, to become more than an extension of Chrysalis's will. This idea of sharing love, making connections with each other and sustaining themselves without the need to prey on others had become enticing, and Thorax was the greatest expert on the subject among their entire species. This is the basis for the relationship Thorax and his subjects would build. For adult drones Thorax became a voice of reason, a gentle, guiding hand and a willing friend. To the nymphs of the hive he became a playmate, a big, exciting jungle gym, and an attentive caretaker. The traits about Thorax once seen as weak in the old hive would now become advantageous in helping the hive grow, and helping the changelings adapt to a more peaceful lifestyle. * In 'To Change a Changeling', Thorax did just this by introducing a creative renaissance to the hive. Changelings were able to think for themselves, and discover hobbies and interests they'd likely never explored, before. He also introduced a space for changelings to communicate freely about their troubles. Though comedic on the surface, this approach speaks volumes to the kind of culture shock the changelings were working through, as they adapted to feeling and sharing emotions rather than feeding on them. Wholesome buggos, 'To Change a Changeling', S8 * Thorax's caring nature with his subjects can be seen in plethora via Ocellus - a nymph of no obvious relation to him, but whom Thorax has shown parent-like affection for on more than one occasion. Ocellus & Thorax, 'School Daze', S8 Ocellus & Thorax, 'Uprooted', S9 From Swarm to Pack - the Modern Hive Social Structure: "Why are you still here?" "Because I'm having trouble leading my pack, so I don't really wanna go home." ~ Ember & Thorax, 'Triple Threat' During Chrysalis's reign the hive operated autonomously as a singular unit, a hive mind. Individual drones did not have distinguishable features, and in nearly every appearance, changelings were presented in groups, moving and attacking as one. Very few times did we get to see changelings acting as individuals, other than Thorax. During this time, the changelings were referred to as a 'swarm' by Chrysalis and other characters. But following Thorax's ascension to the throne, things changed. Changelings were encouraged to pursue individuality. They were given the opportunity to explore unique interests and enjoy things that did not directly benefit the hive or its leader. Through Ocellus, we were shown that, like ponies and other species, changelings do in fact have unique parents, rather than being spawned in mass by a singular queen. Following this logic, it was safe to assume that the hive was a large community made up of smaller groups of families, all lead by a king/queen. The hive mind mentality and community structure of insects died with Chrysalis's status as queen. With Thorax's rise to power the hive took on a social structure more similar to pack animals. A tight-knit community that lives together, and whose members look out for each other, but is ultimately made up of smaller groups of families. The changelings had evolved socially just as much as they had physically. * The topic of whether Chrysalis is every changeling's mother is, and might always be up for interpretation. My stance is that the introduction of Ocellus's parents is proof that this concept is false. Changelings always had unique parents. Chrysalis forcefully collected all eggs birthed within the hive and had them raised together as a group of uniform warriors. In Chrysalis's hive, who you were born to or with was less important than the hive's strength. * Ocellus's parents were introduced in 'The Hearth's Warming Club', but were not titled as such until their appearance in 'A Horse Shoe-In'. Sharing Love - Modern Changeling Magic: "If my kind learned to create love for one another, maybe they wouldn't have to take it from others!" ~ Thorax, 'The Times They are a Changeling' Artwork commissioned by me, and done by the talented Underpable "After we transformed, we discovered something else," Thorax continued, looking around as the last of the group settled. With a glowing smile he rested his hoof on the head of a young changeling that had decided to curl up in front of his chest. "While long-term relationships sustain us from hunger, physical acts of affection and resting together rejuvenates our bodies from fatigue in the present." ~ 'An Elegant Discussion', The King of Love Bugs Love has evolved to be more than a food source for changelings. Like the Crystal Ponies, it has become an integral part of changeling culture, taking on a form of magic all its own. When a changeling is loved, be it through friendship, family or romance, they are eternally sustained from hunger. Though this process can occur with any sentient creature, when two (or more) changelings are each other's recipients, it creates an infinite circuit, a symbiotic relationship. Furthermore, when two or more changelings express love through affection, even simple gestures such as napping together or embracing each other, the bodies of all changelings involved are rapidly absolved of fatigue, physical pain and even minor injuries. The effectiveness of shared love magic is determined by three factors: time spent performing a loving gesture, proximity to loved ones, and the depth to which that changeling is loved. The exception to this rule is the hive's leader, Thorax, whose range of provided love magic is far wider than the average changeling. By merely being near his subjects, Thorax is able to restore their energy, regardless what he is doing. However, this process is still sped up through acts of affection and mutual rest. It is for this reason that Thorax created 'cluster naps', the concept of changelings sleeping in groups, rather than alone in individual bedhives. Perhaps the first major example of physical pack animal behavior in the new hive. Sharing Love in the Modern Hive, Reception and Adaptation: "Some changelings like the idea of communal energy restoration, while others think it's frivolous and degrading." "And others use it as an excuse to be lazy?" Twilight asked slyly. "Yeah, there are lazy changelings who try to use it as an excuse to sleep all the time," Thorax chuckled, rounding a bend in the corridor. "There are also changelings who get jealous when their friends share love with other changelings they don't know. And though I'm doing my best to curb it, there's still some bullying going on towards those changelings who enjoy communal resting. Trust me, if I'm not the one instigating it, even resting together can turn into a real mess." ~'Mornings are Never Easy, Twilight Sparkle', The King of Love Bugs Though Thorax was able to eventually convince the entire hive to accept the idea of sharing love, taking it a step further by physically spending more time together was a mixed response. During the hive's rebuilding, a massive internal chamber was built in the lower part of the hive, the part below ground. Thorax dubbed this 'the Nesting Chamber', and it would become not only the location where hive-wide cluster naps took place each night, but also a panic room of sorts, a secure place for the hive to commune in case of a large-scale threat. Thorax began to sleep here every night, along with every changeling in the hive who enjoyed the additional benefits of cluster naps. Those changelings against the concept of cluster naps remained in their individual bedhives, hollowed out holes along walls throughout the hive. Over time, as changelings grew more accustomed to spending time together, and growing as social creatures, cluster naps became more widespread. The nesting chamber is now a nightly routine for more than 80% of the hive, something Thorax couldn't be more ecstatic about. The Mental Effects of Metamorphosis & Pharynx's Relationship with Thorax: Flashes of past attempts to embrace his brother rapidly filled Thorax's head - the nightmares, fear and loneliness from his nymphhood, all met with a cold apathy. But as Thorax shed a tear down his brother's carapace, he could already feel the difference. No hoof pushed him away, and no disgusted tone reprimanded him. Without a word Pharynx had made him feel welcome - he was comfortable, and felt safe. The chamber, once ringing with a joyous laughter now echoed with an isolated sob. "P-Pharynx, I-I don't know what's changed with you but I'm, I'm so thankful for it," Thorax expressed, a tremble in his voice. ~ From Your Brother, with Love Artwork by my amazing friend and fellow bugbro fan, Rossmaniteanzu When a changeling undergoes metamorphosis, the very magic that allows them to consume and gain energy from love alters. It becomes a transmitter and receiver. The 'reformed' changeling is able to freely transfer love energy without conscious thought, and gains the ability to physically recover from concentrated doses of it. This is not, however, all there is to metamorphosis. By transforming and changing the very way their bodies handle love and other emotions, many changelings experience a moment of clarity upon transforming. The easiest way to describe this clarity is like stepping out of a several year long depression, and suddenly having levels of focus and patience you never thought were possible. It is a subtle, yet powerful effect. The greatest example of the phenomenon is with Pharynx. Prior to reformation, Thorax and Pharynx had a completely detached relationship. The bare extent to which Pharynx interacted with his brother was protecting him from bullies, or lightly bullying him, himself. Not long after Pharynx's metamorphosis, Thorax quickly found himself regularly interacting with an older brother that had, historically never given him the time of day. Though retaining his attitude, grumpiness and sarcasm, Pharynx's once ice cold demeanor has since thawed. The hive's guards can actually carry a half-way pleasant conversation with their captain now, and Thorax gets to revel in the joys of having a more attentive, albeit occasionally irritating big brother. * This clarity played a part in the alteration of the changeling's demeanors, going from ruthless hunters to artists, dancers and theatre performers seemingly overnight. It gave the changelings a clearer presence of mind to think about themselves, and what they wanted in life as individuals, rather than the wants and needs of warriors as part of a greater swarm. Love and Strength, Balance in the Modern Hive: "Thorax is way too touchy feely for the stricter aspects of ruling a hive," Pharynx went on. "He oversees the hive's social aspects, he resolves internal problems, and he helps look after the hive's young." ... "What Thorax lacks in toughness I make up for ten-fold. Since I...'evolved' or whatever, I've taken on all roles relating to hive defense, including training new recruits, overseeing patrol routes and maintaining the hive's grounds. But yeah, I'll also help Thorax with political tripe when he needs it, even if it's just talking him out of a panic attack every time he gets invited to a political event." ~ Pharynx, Mine is Dorkier Than Yours Another stellar artwork by Rossmaniteanzu Thorax's character was designed to be the antithesis of Chrysalis in every possible way. Where Chrysalis is self-absorbed, arrogant and manipulative, Thorax is kind, unassuming and naive in an innocent, almost childlike way. At a glance, Thorax is a far more desirable leader than Chrysalis, but his style of ruling is not without its problems. These problems came into play in, 'To Change a Changeling'. If Chrysalis is the far right then Thorax is the far left. The hive went from a group of alert, hardened warriors to utter pacifists who fell out of practice and couldn't even defend themselves. This is the basis for Pharynx's character. Just as Celestia and Luna each govern one of two important celestial bodies, together completing the night/day cycle, Pharynx completes Thorax by combining his loving nature and social wisdom with discipline, strength and pride in one's own strength. Pharynx reintroduced to the hive the only things Chrysalis had going for her entire rule, and those are security and strength. Alone, Thorax is no more efficient a ruler than Chrysalis, but together, Thorax and Pharynx are a better leadership than Chrysalis could ever be. Terminology & Fanfiction Entries: -- Conclusions: If you've made it this far, you've either skimmed and earned a hard , or you've worked your way through several years of one fan's organic interpretation of some truly adorable MLP characters. Either way, I thank you for taking an interest in this topic. Whether you've read my works or not, please feel free to provide some feedback, thoughts or your own ideas on changelings, their lore, etc. Whatever your response, here's to hoping I've had an impact on how you see the modern changelings.
  3. Hi everyone. Welcome to the Pharynx fan club, the rules are as follows: No bad language (no swearing, cursing) No bullying (no badmouthing any other forum members, let's all be friends here) NEVER post naughty/NSFW images (please keep this fan club clean for all ages) Have fun!!! X3
  4. 'His Two Favorite People' by Dragonpone Hello, everyone! For those of you who don't know me, my name is Thorax, and I'm the (still pretty new) leader of the changelings. It's taken me a while to build up the confidence to say that, honestly, but I suppose it's better late than never! I know everyone is busy, but I'm here today to share something with you all, and hopefully you'll be as excited for it as the changelings are! My kind used to take love forcefully under the rule of our former queen, and for a very long time we lived as emotion vampires, feared or even seen as repulsive by other species. In my own self-exile from my hive, I discovered that changelings could put an end to their constant hunger - not through stealing love from other creatures, but through sharing it with them. By expressing compassion for others, and receiving it in return, I proved to my kind that we could be more than parasites! Okay, no, this is ridiculous - you're ridiculous, Thorax. Why are you using that eyesore of a color? Who do you even expect to read that? Pharynx, what are you-hey, let go of the keyboard! I'm trying to make an announcement for Huggo de Buggo Day (coined by Spike by the way, everyone)! And, what are you talking about? I'm just using my chitin color...you're doing the same exact thing. Yes, because this is how you rock an exoskeleton. Yours is an eyesore, Thorax, because you're an eyesore. ...you know you don't have to be so mean to me, especially in front of everyone - I'm trying to do PR, here. Oh, I'm sorry; hello Pharynx's brother, I'm Pharynx, my lot in life - among other things- is to pick on you. Perhaps we've met. Sorry, everyone, Pharynx can be a bit...invasive, sometimes. You know what, I'll just use my eye color instead. Anyway, because of our discovery that sharing love is better than taking it, today is a very special day for the changelings! Now that my kind is peaceful, we've taken to celebrating our new self-sufficient way of life by sharing it with other creatures! Love is what gives us our energy, and that wouldn't be possible if not for our friends and family, who provide us with that love. Today, on January 6th, try extra hard to spread love and kindness to those around you! Whether they're a changeling or not, give them a hug! All of my hive will be doing the same, as we pay our neighbors a visit and offer them our company. I'm sorry, I don't actually have any events or anything for any of you, as far as this site goes! To be honest, the changelings just got a computer, and we're still learning how to use it. It took weeks for the drones to pester Pharynx into getting just one for the hive, because he's pretty sure the changelings are going to fall behind on hive chores and duties now that they have a distraction. Whiny little sacks of glitter...I mean for the Hive's sake it's practically a lamp with all that light it gives off. 'New Era of the Changelings' by inuhoshi-to-darkpen In summary, today is a day to celebrate the fact the changelings have joined modern Equestrian society, and that we are now creatures of love, not creatures who feed off of love. As you go about the site, as well as around in the world outside, give a changeling a hug! Give your friends and family hugs, as well! They're a sincere, personal way to show that you care. I'm actually gonna hurl, Thorax. If you must, but just don't get any on me, I have changelings to hug! ...you're such a dork, how are are we related, again? Thank you for reading, everyone! This is actually my first time posting on any website, let alone on this one. Could you let me know how I did in the comments? I'd definitely appreciate a hug in the comments or maybe on my profile, as well! I'll be doing the same throughout the day! I'd love to see if I can get more changelings on here, it seems like a really warm, friendly place. Until next time! Thorax -also Pharynx, an unwilling yet apparently much needed chaperone to this runaway hippie train No, don't leave that, Pharynx!
  5. From Your Brother, with Love - Slice of Life 5.5k words - Complete Summary: Thorax never gave up on him, even when everyone else had. With Pharynx now transformed, his cold demeanor has begun to thaw, presenting Thorax with something he's never had, before - an interactive, albeit slightly irritating older brother. Facts & Why You Should Read: There is a lack of Thorax & Pharynx sibling relationship stories in the fandom, so enjoy this one! Fluff, changelings, humor - what else are you possibly looking for in this life?
  6. The King of Love Bugs - Slice of Life, Comedy 70,000+ words - On-Going This story is my magnum opus for this fandom, and has a lot of history to it. Spoiler for exposition. Summary: Following the dethroning of Queen Chrysalis, the princesses of Equestria seek to build a relationship with newly-crowned King Thorax, and forge a never before seen alliance between ponies and changelings. While the changelings continue to discover new things about their bold metamorphosis, Thorax works to embrace his role as the changeling's new patriarch - demonstrating to the swarm a benevolent means of ruling far different from his predecessor. With the help of Equestria's princesses, his brooding older brother, and even a few unexpected friends, Thorax must now introduce the idea of peaceful changelings in Equestria, one escapade at a time. Facts & Why You Should Read: Potent levels of fluff and cuteness - forum goers with weak hearts have been warned. Follows along the events of the show as closely as possible, giving an 'off screen occurrences' theme to the story and its events. Intriguing lore regarding the changelings, their powers, relationships and way of life. 'Flower of the Wastelands' by Huusii. An unintentional but surprisingly similar representation of the first chapter.
  7. How would you describe Pharynx's personality in his original changeling form vs his new reformed personality? We mainly only see his former personality, but what do you think changed or stayed the same, personality wise, after his acceptance of love and friendship?
  8. *Deep Exhale* As the title suggests, I am NOT doing this of my own free will. It was either join this foreign exchange thing or sit in on an agonizing session of a feelings circle. (*Thorax in Background - It's a feelings forum!) Whatever! The point is, to get my younger brother off my back and to embrace my new reformed self, I'm willing to answer a few questions. Um, so I guess that's it then. (*Turns to Thorax - There. You happy? Now buzz off and find a feeling's circle to join or something. I can't do this if you're hovering over me.) (*Thorax: Okay. Again, Feelings...FORUM!!!) THORAX!!!
  9. Good evening, everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! The hits just keep on coming in Season 7 with, yet again, another episode that was more than exceptional. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that "To Change a Changeling" was downright inspired in certain moments, especially in its writing. Let's not waste any more time dawdling on introductions and just get to it, without further ado, this is "To Change a Changeling"! Starlight Glimmer and Trixie - Imperfect Mediators Given how influential the Cutie Mark Map has become as a plot device in the show for helping the main cast find new friendship problems, most of us going into this episode were assuming that Starlight and Trixie would be chosen by it to visit the changelings. Much to our delighted surprise, this was not the case. Now, make no mistake, I don't mind the Cutie Mark Map in concept, nor in how it's used most of the time; DHX has shown restraint in not using it too much to the point that it would become an obvious and forced plot device crutch, and it is definitely a staple of the show by this point, but not in a tired or overused way. Still, given how likely it seemed that it would be used here, it was still pleasantly surprising and noteworthy to see that Starlight and Trixie were simply on hoof to help by accident more than anything else. They were simply coming by to surprise their friend Thorax with a visit and see what the state of the Hive in general was, but they had no idea what exact problems they were facing. This both helps make perfect sense as to why Spike wasn't there, and also helps put into context why Starlight and Trixie weren't the best prepared to help with this specific issue; while they share similar backgrounds with Pharynx, Starlight was a true ringleader (and as such shares more in common with the still-unreformed Chrysalis) while Trixie was (and to some extent still is) just an annoying nuisance more than anything else, who just so happened to get incredibly dangerous at one point by virtue of acquiring an incredibly powerful magical artifact. What really made them most helpful in this situation is that they both knew how much it can hurt to not really feel like you belong anywhere or are a part of anything, which was definitely at the heart of Pharynx's issues. We'll get into those more later on, but probably the biggest reason they weren't willing to give up on Pharynx is because they could sympathize with his situation; if somepony else had been there, they may have focused too much on how Pharynx was affecting the Hive, not how the Hive's situation was affecting Pharynx as well. Now, some may raise that Starlight was willing to recommend that Pharynx be kicked out of the Hive, but in her defense she (1) didn't believe that Pharynx had any willingness, inclination, or personal reasons or potential to change for the better at the time, (2) was trying to figure out what was best for the most parties involved, which did in fairness have to put precedent on the Hive first and foremost, and (3) changed her mind about this after learning more about who Pharynx was as an individual and realizing that he did have the potential to find his own place in the Hive again. Even though her initial recommendation that Pharynx be kicked out as well as her plan to lure maulwurf to the Hive so that Pharynx might have the chance to protect it and prove his worth to it both backfired, she did remain perseverant in her efforts to help both Thorax, Pharynx, and the Hive, and ultimately her and Trixie's efforts forced them to confront Pharynx's issues head on, instead of letting them fester and grow worse. On top of that, Starlight and Trixie were, as always, an entertaining pair. Trixie's ego is still as hilarious as when it backfires on her (her "teleportation spell GO!!!" bit was especially amusing, as was her constantly being a thorn in Starlight's side), Starlight found herself confronted by more than a few problems she wasn't necessarily very well equipped to handle (largely because of cultural differences between the ponies and changelings) which led to many amusing results, AND to top it all off, Starlight had a Braveheart moment that inspired absolutely... NOPONY!!! Well, at least for five minutes, but to be fair, it DID eventually work! All in all, while neither Starlight or Trixie had all of the answers for the changelings here, they still found a way to help them confront their problems and ultimately resolve them, which is to be commended considering most ponies probably would have balked at a problem like this. Good outing from the both of them, all in all, very solid indeed! "HELLO! My name is Starlight Glimmer, and today I am here to tell you about the maulwurf: Half Mole, Half Bear, Half Razor Sharp Claws!" In all honesty, that thing is bucking terrifying The Changelings - Old Habits Die Hard Oddly enough, the changelings themselves were at the heart of the Pharynx issue, or rather why it wasn't resolving itself all that well. As we can see, the whole Hive by this point has been reformed by Thorax's efforts and is now attempting to build a society built on giving and sharing love with one another rather than taking it, and for the most part those efforts are going quite well. The changelings still have to take many baby steps, but they are definitely getting there. However, what seems to be taking FAR longer to change is an interesting tendency of the changelings we haven't really discussed, largely because we've never gotten to see all that much of it: group-think. What do I mean by that? Let me explain. Now, clearly the changelings under Queen Chrysalis were essentially her thralls; she would call them things like her children, and even though she had some level of affection for them, they had no choice over the direction of their lives. This seems to have gone on for as long as changelings have existed, which could be hundreds if not thousands of years, meaning in all of that time they got very much used to every single member of their society "agreeing" to follow every single one of Queen Chrysalis's orders about the direction of their society and what they should do for it. Under King Thorax, they now have free will, but they are clearly still getting used to it; this was very well evidenced in both the scene where Thorax shows off some of their new cultural activities, as well as the Feelings Forum scene, by a number of clear examples. (1) Thorax shows the changelings engaging in very simple, basic cultural activities, like theater, potluck, swing dancing, and arts and crafts; with all of these activities taking place in the same space, the scene almost felt like an adult version of daycare was on display. I do not say that condescendingly, it actually makes perfect sense in fact that the changelings would need to start with very basic cultural activities like that; they've probably never had any opportunities to do anything like that given that their entire existence has always been devoted to only fulfilling Queen Chrysalis's wishes or surviving from taking the love of others. (2) Building off of that, the Feelings Forum scene shows us a changeling explaining that she thinks she's supposed to be a green changeling since that's what she transformed into, but sometimes wants to be a blue or a purple changeling; given that she can easily change into these, she's tempted to, but since she was transformed into a green changeling, she thinks that might be living a lie and not who she really is. (3) In the same scene, another changeling shares how arts and crafts time helped him cope with his own personal insecurities. OK, that's bucking adorable All of these scenes show us ways in which the changelings are grappling with their emerging individuality as they struggle to embrace their newfound free will; new cultural activities give them opportunities to discover differences between themselves and become more comfortable with their identities as unique individuals. Yet at the same time, it's a struggle because not only were they once a society where every member followed the same exact direction and path, but they also largely looked the same in their base changeling form, and were used to impersonating others; now, they have both free will and unique appearances, and while they clearly want to find out who they are as individuals, they're also scared of doing so, and some still love the possibilities of being whatever they'd want to be with their changeling powers, even though they know that wouldn't necessarily be who they really are, and would feel like they're both lying to themselves and others. The biggest thing by far, however, making it harder for them to break their old habits and way of thinking is without a doubt the Pharynx problem. Pharynx is, to most of the changelings, just being a pain in the flank, and when they are all agreed that he's a problem, they fall into a bad habit of group-think. It's still hard for them to have disagreements with one another, so given that Pharynx is universally disliked by all in the Hive when the episode starts, it's easy to see how they'd so easily agree with one another that they just want him to go. It's the easiest course of action, and all of them seem to want it, so of course it makes the most sense to them all! The problem with this is that, in their earnest universal agreement with one another, none of the changelings besides Thorax consider what they'd lose in kicking out Pharynx. They're too caught up in agreeing with one another that he's got to go that they never ask themselves what he might have to offer to the Hive instead; he's the most different from the rest of them now, the new Thorax essentially. And where Thorax had no place in the old Hive before, Pharynx in their eyes has no place in the new Hive now. But the first time around, Thorax being away from his people clearly wasn't the right call; sure he needed to live with ponies in order to discover what sharing love is truly like, but ultimately he needed to go back to them in order to help save them. Likewise, Pharynx leaving his people wouldn't have been the right move either, but again, the changelings dangerous habit of wanting universal agreement and accord among themselves in directing their society almost led to this happening. Overall, we got a fascinating look at the state of changeling society in the midst of a massive societal and cultural overhaul which told us a lot about who they used to be, who they are now, and what they aspire to be, probably the most of a look we've ever gotten at changelings as a whole. Also, I can't lie, some of the background changelings were amazing. We got "splashed by Pharynx with paint" changeling, Feelings Forum moderator changeling, Feelings Forum identity crisis changeling, Feelings Forum arts and crafts changeling, but by far my favorite had to be "My soup is too hot" changeling! That guy CLEARLY has his priorities straight and knows exactly what folks are coming to the Feelings Forum for! Soup on, my man, soup on. Soup Changeling, the only changeling who got exactly what he wanted out of the Feelings Forum!!! Pharynx and King Thorax - A Tale of Two Bros As much of a douche as he was, this was hilarious So now we finally come to the crux of this episode, King Thorax and his older brother, Pharynx. These two by the end of this episode serve as an interesting converse to the Two Sisters, Celestia and Luna, in Equestria, especially given Pharynx's late episode transformation. Whereas with the latter, the elder sibling, Celestia, has always been more bureaucratically minded (not just in her duties, but much fanon speculates this is the case as well) while the younger sibling, Luna, has always been the more aggressive of the two (to the point that some fanon has speculated that she is the more involved of the two in Equestrian military affairs), Thorax as the younger sibling is the far more diplomatic of the two while Pharynx, the elder sibling, is far more aggressive and militaristic (which makes sense given that such aggressive behavior used to be the norm for the changelings). Another interesting development is that, as pointed out earlier, Thorax used to be the odd-man out among the changelings, while Pharynx was as in as one could be as head of patrol for the entire Hive; the changeling transformation and reformation, however, flipped this on its head. Pharynx, when the episode begins, is by this point universally reviled by the rest of the Hive, with the exception of his younger brother, but even Thorax doesn't know how to deal with him. This is where things get most interesting. Initially, when we heard the premise of this episode as well as saw the beginning, it seemed like the most likely route it would take would be in showing that Pharynx alone had to change. The idea that he might even be in open rebellion against Thorax was not off the table. However, it quickly became apparent that that was not the case. Pharynx did not initially capture Starlight and Trixie out of spite against Thorax, in fact, he didn't even know who they were; instead he brought them to Thorax, claiming they were trespassers and enemies of the Hive, but then begrudgingly accepted Thorax's vouching for them. This right away made clear a couple of things: (1) Pharynx recognizes Thorax's authority as head of the Hive, even if he doesn't agree with or understand the new direction he's taking the Hive, (2) who's in charge of the Hive mattered less to Pharynx than the state of the Hive itself. Now to be fair, I'm not letting Pharynx off the hook entirely. He was clearly a pain in the flank of most of the Hive, and for confusing reasons at times. He needlessly tears down or destroys some of the Hive's new decorations, constantly was butting heads with the other changelings and frightening them (even doing crazy shit like pouring black paint on a changeling to make her look more intimidating), and even seemed to miss sucking love from other ponies like they used to (he did not hide his disdain of ponies much at all, though that never really stopped him from working with Starlight or Trixie if he felt it was worth working with them). However, in his defense, most of this nostalgia seems to stem not from his enjoying being evil for the sake of being evil, but simply having a FIERCE protective streak in him, both for Thorax as well as the rest of the Hive; if he simply wanted to be evil for the sake of being evil, he'd probably have left already and joined Queen Chrysalis, wherever she's at. Instead, Thorax stayed loyal to the Hive, even if he hates what it's currently like and can't wrap his head around it because, like the other changelings, he's not used to the idea of a society where its members have different likes, interests, and ideas, including things they disagree on. Despite his stubbornly refusing to embrace things like a softer outlook on life and gentler activities like Thorax was promoting, Pharynx does actually love something; he loves the Hive, he loves the changelings in it, and he'd do anything to protect them. No joke, I ADORE Deer Bug Pony 2.0's design and coloring, the antlers especially tie the whole look together (@PathfinderCS agreed?)!!! Now, Pharynx is clearly a placeholder for ANY group of people (or an individual) who another, opposing group just wishes would go away, the idea being that life would be so much simpler if he/she/they were gone, rather than finding a way to work with them instead. More specifically, however, he is clearly a stand-in for a conservative individual; I do not say this, even as a moderate conservative myself, because of some victim complex or anything. Pharynx had his own issues to work out, certainly, especially in figuring out how he could still appreciate a place he very much still loved when it didn't look anything like he wanted it to and he felt he had no true place in it. But nonetheless, I have to very much commend DHX for making him so sympathetic in this instance, because while Pharynx was certainly acting like a jerk, the show was far more critical, it seemed, of the idea of kicking him out. The "progressive" changelings, if you will, for the most part thought the best solution would simply be kicking him out of the Hive, rather than finding a way to live with him and incorporate him into it, even if it was harder. The only reason Thorax even stood up for Pharynx wasn't because he was his brother, but because Pharynx showed him when they were younger that he did have his own ways of caring for others, even if he still had a gruff exterior. But it took Starlight and Trixie forcing a confrontation with the maulwurf to show the whole Hive how Pharynx still belonged; Thorax's initial plan to lure the maulwurf away from the Hive may have worked, but it might not have been a permanent solution. Pharynx, on the other hand, was the only changeling acting like he had any gonads left; now it makes sense that the changelings, now having to share love with one another, would initially try to avoid as much aggression as they could, but still, they clearly went too far and in their earnest embracing of their new lives, forgot that sometimes protecting yourselves requires force, not just peaceful solutions. Pharynx was far more a protector than an aggressor at his heart, even if he overcompensated for his new role as outsider in the Hive by putting on far too aggressive of an exterior. Some bronies have also pointed out that Pharynx isn't even just a stand-in for a lone conservative voice who feels like the world he has always known has, all too quickly, left him far behind, but also a stand in for military veterans. This is a very curious but accurate point, I believe. Pharynx, like many military veterans, feels that his efforts to protect the Hive are misunderstood and unappreciated by a soft public that doesn't understand why he has to do what he does. With how gentle the changelings have become by this point, he's clearly at a point in life where not only does his role in the Hive feel muddled, confused, ambiguous and uncertain, but downright pointless and thankless. This is probably at the core of most of his aggression, aside of course from his background as a servant of Chrysalis. He clearly needs to change and find a new place in this new changeling society, but he doesn't need to change as much as most of the changelings think he does. He can still have his gruff exterior and tough as nails persona, he just has to be willing to accept that the other changelings aren't like that now while still finding a way to work with them. In turn, the other changelings need to accept that Pharynx is the way he is to their benefit, that it's OK if he isn't as gentle or loving as the rest of them, that he can still love the Hive just like they do in his own way and even help them be better at protecting it too. At the heart of this episode is the complex message that difference is not a dirty word, even if that which is different from you may, on the surface, be a pain in the ass. When dealing with something or someone like that, you have one of two things you can do. You can either take the easy route with someone like that and just have nothing to do with them, ignore them, even cast them out from your life and society as much as you can; this is even easier if everyone else you know wants to do the same. But just because it's the easiest route doesn't mean it's the best route. In doing so, you keep both yourself and the person or group you loathe so much from discovering what you may have in common, that you both are, when you get down to it, both perfectly decent for the most part even if you look at things very differently, and that you both have valuable things to contribute to your society and each other, and can even make each other better when you find ways to work with and cooperate with one another. Taking the hard route and finding a way to do just that, live with, love, and appreciate someone who lives their life and views things completely differently than you do may be much more difficult, but it is also far more rewarding to you, the 'other' and society as a whole. I've made many friends myself, both in real life and on the forums, who have VERY different world views than I do, and while I may not share all of the same views with them, I know that deep down they're still good people who I am more than happy to know and be friends with, and that when we're friends with each other, we're both better for it. Pharynx AND the Hive both go through this transformation by the end of the episode, understanding that they both need each other and still love and appreciate each other, even if they don't always get each other. Not always getting someone else is OK as long as you don't let it blind you to whether or not they are a good person. This subtle and complex message is why I highly appreciate what this episode did, and why it is yet again another amazing addition to an already amazing season of MLP. Don't think there's really much else I can cover, so that's all I've got for ya today everypony! Until next time everypony, this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit*