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  • After 7 years of MLP: FiM...
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  • Steele's open heart
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  • some blog talking about G5
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  • ,
  • Coffeesaxophone`s Blog In Space
  • A Dating-Sim
  • My Little Citrus: Reviewing is Magic
  • rainbowdash1212's Blog
  • Fallen Angel
  • [unused]
  • Only the best!
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  • need help with move
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  • in the mind of perfect song
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  • 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
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  • .
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  • Reviews
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  • When Noire is Tired.
  • Sergei's song of the week.(Discontinued)
  • Candy Star's Favorite Brony Music Blog
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  • A pout about Rarity
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  • 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
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  • Blog
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  • Journals of Wonko the Sane
  • DA PONESLAYR BLOG
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  • Should Zoidberg and Rarity get married?
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  • 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
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  • Comfort- Hearts and Hooves Day Contest.
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  • First Blog Post
  • Give Me a Ship and I'll Rate It
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  • That guy's game give away
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  • Filler
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  • Fighting against myself
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  • The Pheinox
  • Brianna Changeling's Life
  • The Cash Vault
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  • Confessions of an American Trixie Fanboy
  • So much Diablo
  • kotakotakota's Thoughts
  • Lolnus' Blog
  • None
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  • Life Written By Destiny
  • [unused]
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  • Candy Star's MLP PMV Blog[Discontinued]
  • Ramblings of a unicorn princess
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  • Warlock Boo's Scripts
  • Thoughts On Games, Movies, Shows,& Life
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  • 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
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  • The Scripture of Twilight Celuna Circuits
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  • Am I a bad person
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  • XxConfusedUnicornxX's Corner!
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  • A Wannabe's Idea Dump
  • Because I can
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  • Serenity Under the Moon
  • The Amazing Spider-Man Breakdown
  • The Blog of User Funerals
  • Outkin's Blog
  • Blog
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  • I've returned, kind of.
  • theonenamedDJ's Blog
  • Derpflutterbronys blog
  • Dear Twilight
  • Lil Pip's Blog
  • The writings of a clod
  • Music
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  • Sugar Plum thinks about things
  • Pony Hypnosis
  • Guyra's Corner.
  • The Dude's Movie Reviews
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  • My Life......
  • I must be dreaming...
  • Saturday Group Chat
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  • Fan Animations
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  • 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)
  • Green Bolt's Blog
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  • The Archives [100236]
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  • .
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  • .
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  • old blog that i can't delete [1/4]
  • Brony and Pegasister Issues.
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  • From The Mind of This Guy
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  • Archive of my old stupid opinions
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  • hasbro needs to get their act together. [rant]
  • YIGY Shorty Stories
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  • Chatroom Announcements
  • My reaction to Alicorn Twilight.
  • Sugar's Sweet Sentiments
  • Gone
  • fanfics, fan art, and other stuff
  • Nostalgia Gamers Blog!!
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  • .
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  1. MLP "Tale Your Tale" is good but lacks substance. The movie ("A New Generation, aka. ANG) also was lacking in substance, which presents a problem for this new series. Normally shorts don't need much substance, but they are also normally based on a movie, series, or show that has a good amount of substance, so to make a substance-lacking short based on a substance-lacking movie causes issues. These issues are apparent throughout the four currently released shorts in "Tell You Tale" (TYT), and will likely manifest themselves throughout this short series. The issues I'm referring to are lack of worldbuilding, lack of character development, and other areas that have little to no substance. Examples: 1) Sunny's lighthouse is fully restored in a similar way to The Golden Oak Library. How and when did this restoration occur? We don't know, and this problem is a result of lack of worldbuilding. 2) Izzy is (or was?) a bad roommate. Now what I'm about to say is debatable, but I'm going to say it anyways. I think that Izzy's behavior in ANG does not indicate that she would become a bad roommate. I mean, she was not as hyperactive and careless in ANG as she was in TYT, so where did this behavior come from? We don't know, so this problem is a lack of character development. 3) Hitch has a crab. Nowhere was this crab seen in ANG, so where did it come from and how did Hitch get it as a pet? We don't know, and this constitutes as lack of worldbuilding and character development due to the fact that Hitch's relationship with the crab wasn't developed at all before TYT was released. 4) Izzy was able to simultaneously sleep and cast a spell that levitated and moved Pipp's blanket. How was she able to do that? We don't know, so again this is an example of lack of worldbuilding. Those are a few examples that I listed, but there are probably more that I am not aware of as of now, since I only watched each episode once so far. My point in listing those examples, regardless of whether or not they are legitimate, is to solidify my point that lack of substance in shorts that are based on a substance-lacking movie leads to lack of worldbuilding and lack of character development and that leads to issues such as those provided above.
  2. As I am a big fan of original characters and joined this forum just so see some and give my opinions on some OCs of yours. I'd love to give the OC a rating of 1-5, in 3 categories. 1. Visual design (How good the OC looks when it comes to details and colors) 2. Background and personality (How thought out the OC is) 3. How well it fits into the MLP universe. Keep in mind, I do have experience with OCs myself, I have experience in making and critiquing art, so I'm not doing this out of personal preference. I will gladly give out constructive criticism if it is asked of me, otherwise I will just give overall feedback and a rating. I do want a picture of your OC, basic information, personality and backstory, and a cutie mark description with a story of how the OC got it. I hope to see at least a few of some of your beautiful creations! Have a nice day everyone!
  3. Ok, so this is really simple. Basically, someone posts a song. Then the next person gives it a score out of 10, briefly explains why, then posts another song for the next person to rate and so on. Example: User 1: Friday by Rebecca Black User 2: 10/10 Best song evaaar her voice is da bestest evaaaar!!!!lol Never Gonna Give You Up - Rick Astley User 3: 5/10 meh, not my kind of music. But I do like his hair. A lot. Winter Wrap-up - My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic You get the idea. The rules are that you MUST listen to to the whole song, or at least the first 5-6 minutes if it's longer than that. Whether you like the song or not! It can be anything as long as it's labeled music. Pony music, your favorite song, the song that you and your friend composed last night, a song from your favorite opera, a song you hate, ANYTHING GOES! Also, try to include a Youtube link to the song (or any other kind of link really, as long as we can listen to the song) to make it easier for others to listen to it. Also, try to stay classy and respectful. Not everypony has the same music tastes! ^^ Ok, so I guess I should start. Octopus - Syd Barrett http-~~-//www.youtube.com/watch?v=pL36NuJJLIQ&feature=fvst
  4. If you watched FiM in order starting with Season 1, how long did it take you to realize you were watching real art instead of infantile garbage? For some the turning point was “Bridle Gossip.” I have a friend who wasn’t convinced until “Luna Eclipsed.” For me, I had my suspicions that this show was actually good after “Friendship is Magic, Part 1.” Specifically, after the first ninety seconds. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic starts with a lore-establishing prologue. This is a common trope in epic fantasy, which reminded me of some of my favorite works, such as The Lord of the Rings, RWBY, and The Stormlight Archive. I was surprised to see this in the franchise my sisters adored when they were two years old. The story told in this prologue, which takes about ninety seconds, adds the first layer in a rich tapestry of lore, history, and worldbuilding that continued to increase throughout the show’s entire run. Real, genuine worldbuilding is hard to find even in adult-oriented fantasy, so it was already off to a good start. The story told here reflects the mythologies of dozens of different cultures. The rivalry of day and night, sun and moon, has existed for about as long as humans have worshipped gods. I’m a night person myself, so I felt for this Nightmare Moon character instantly. As soon as the prologue was over and we met the protagonist, I immediately noticed that her name was “Twilight” and her color scheme was reminiscent of the night sky. I wondered if she could be an intermediary between night and day (spoilers: she was), and I hoped that the writers would make the conflict more complicated that LIGHT GOOD DARK BAD (spoilers: they did). Despite this speculation, I was caught off guard when they redeemed Luna at the end of the second episode. But Luna’s redemption is a deep rabbit hole that deserves to be its own, separate discussion. Returning to the prologue of episode 1, it does more than build lore and draw upon mythology. The basic story it tells is powerful and heart-wrenching. A glorious pony outshone her younger sister. The younger became jealous and fought against her. The elder had to banish her away. Who’s really at fault? The first inclination is to blame the younger, but as we learned later, the elder was torn up by her decision to banish her sister. She missed her sister immensely and blamed herself for what happened. Once upon a time, these sisters loved each other. As we saw in comic books like “Legends of Magic” and fan animations like “The Fall of the Crystal Empire” and “The Moon Rises,” there was good and bad inside Luna, which makes it all the more tragic that the bad won out. This story hurts so bad that it’s made me cry multiple times (thanks, “Lullaby for a Princess”). Of course, I didn’t know all this when I watched episode 1, but all this expansion was only possible because the original story presented in the prologue was so powerful. I still had some reservations after the first ninety seconds. The show’s childlike attitude and style weren’t easy to get used to. But I kept watching because right off the bat the show demonstrated immense promise and potential. I’m hyped for G5, but living up to G4 is a tall order. It established itself as a cut above average in ninety seconds. What about y’all? Did a friend show you episodes out of order? Or did you start from the beginning? If so, when were you hooked?
  5. “Forgive me if I withhold my enthusiasm.” – Princess Luna What Happens It’s Nightmare Night (a.k.a. Hallowe’en) in Ponyville, and Spike (in a dragon costume) is impatiently waiting for Twilight as she puts on her robe and wizard hat. (And beard, and bells.) When she does show up, Spike is confused as to who she is dressed up as. Twilight tells him that she has dressed up as Star Swirl the Bearded, and asks if he ever read that book on Obscure Pony History she gave him (Nice call forward to Dragon Quest!) Spike is saved by the doorbell from having to answer, and opens the door to find some adorable fillies requesting candy with the traditional Nightmare Night chant; “Nightmare Night, What a fright, Give us something sweet to bite!” Also present is Granny Smith, acting as a chaperone, and Pinkie Pie, acting as one of the kids, who demands candy of her own. There is also Pipsqueak the Pirate, a young stallion recently arrived from Trottenham, who is having his best (and first) Nightmare Night ever. As Spike and Twilight head into Ponyville, which has been converted into a candy carnival, Twilight complains that no-one has yet guessed the inspiration for her costume, and musing on creating a study group (what else) to remedy this lack… of knowledge of a self-described obscure (meaning not well-known in general) period of history. Running into Pinkie and the foals again, Twilight listens to Pinkie and Pipsqueak for a while, until a Shadowbolt-costume-clad Rainbow Dash uses a storm cloud to scare everyone with a thunderbolt, and they run off again. Twilight remonstrates with Rainbow, who brushes off her concern by saying it's just a prank and flies off to find more victims, even as Spike chokes on a piece of candy. Rainbow Dash! That was not very Paragon! Renegade for life! Actually, Spike is perfectly ok (a digestive tract used to shiny rocks presumably would hardly notice candy getting stuck in there) and the two run into Applejack (dressed as the Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz). She guesses Twilight is dressed up as a country music singer (I suppose ZZ Top?) and then invites them to “Bob for Apples”… at least until Derpy pulls the plug on that operation… Literally! Mayor Mare is also getting in on the festivities, and invites the foals of the town to follow Zecora, who has also been included. I really love this, as it shows that Zecora has now been accepted by Ponyville in general. Zecora uses her magic to create green mist illusions of Nightmare Moon, and explains to her charges (and us, the audience) the symbolism behind the holiday. The costumes are used to hide from Nightmare Moon, and the candy is supposed to placate her hunger, so that she doesn’t gobble up all the little ponies. When Pipsqueak asks the natural question of why BOTH are necessary (hiding everypony and giving candy – shouldn’t either work as well on its own?), Zecora totally dodges the question… pretty much saying “because we said so”! Parents, amirite? At this point, a sinister wind starts blowing, and from the Moon, a mysterious chariot (pulled by everyone’s favorite sub-species of pony, Bat-Ponies!) appears, within which rides a mysterious masked pony. Pinkie leads the fillies (and Zecora, for that matter) in a panicked run back into the Ponyville Square (Candy Mane cameo!) and the chariot follows. Leaping down from inside it, a mysterious dark-coated, star-spangled-banner-maned pony pulls off her hood to reveal herself… Princess Luna! Using her EPIC CAPS LOCK VOICE, Luna announces her intention to convert Nightmare Night from a celebration of Nightmare Moon to a feast… which Pinkie takes to mean that Luna will feast on the ponies, again leading a panicked stampede. Although Luna tries to clarify that she comes in peace, her appearance and demeanour only end up frightening everypony. Taking this as a rebuff of her (in her mind) friendly overture, Luna leaves. Twilight, who seems to be the only one who realizes that Luna is trying to reconnect with pony society at large, finds her in the shadow of the statue of Nightmare Moon (nice visual metaphor there) and introduces herself. Luna immediately recognizes her costume as being a (pretty accurate) rendition of Star Swirl, and compliments Twilight on it. Twilight tries to clarify that she isn’t actually Star Swirl, but Luna is fully aware of who she is, and remarks on the events of the pilot episode viz a vie taking away of dark powers. At this point, she also reveals that she has been using the TRADITIONAL ROYAL CANTERLOT VOICE, because it was standard behaviour before her corruption and banishment, and she is unaware of how scary it makes her seem. Haha! Mine sister has nothing on mine Double-Nostril shots! In an effort to get Luna to lower her vocal volume, Twilight takes her to see Fluttershy. Despite Fluttershy’s reluctance sheer terror, it seems like Luna might be getting the hang of the Indoor Voice, only for Pinkie to come along with the foals and misconstrue the situation as Luna stealing Flutter’s voice, leading to another screaming stampede. Undaunted, Twilight takes Luna to Applejack, and despite a bit of a false start, Applejack actually helps Luna loosen up and just have fun, which naturally brings the ponies of the town closer to her. Luna even gives permission for the ponies to call her by her first name, never mind the Princess part. On their way to Bobbing for Apples, Luna sees Pipsqueak accidentally fall in. She rescues him, but comedic timing ensures that Pinkie arrives just in time to (you guessed it) misconstrue the situation as Nightmare Moon gobbling up Pipsqueak. Even he buys into it, which really upsets the Princess, and her anger undoes all the progress she has made, again causing the Ponyvillians to be frightened of her, and a bit of a riot breaks out… Having had enough, Luna declares Nightmare Night “cancelled forever!” and leaves again. Twilight tries to talk to her, but Luna is disconsolate over the recent events, and entreats her to "Leave me be, Twilight Sparkle..." Twilight, realizing that Pinkie is the one she really needs to convince that NMM is gone and that Luna is no longer evil, lures her into an alley to engineer a meeting. Luna and Pinkie seem to be on the verge of a breakthrough, until Rainbow tries to prank them again, the bolt of lightning frightening Pinkie and causing her to scream “Nightmare Moon!” and run away. Twilight teleports to block her and finally pins Pinkie down… only for Pinkie to reveal that, duh, of course she knew Princess Luna was good all along, but isn’t it just so much more fun to let yourself be scared on Nightmare Night? This gives Twilight an idea, and she tells a morose Princess of the Night to follow her and follow her lead… As the young ponies offer one last offering of sweets, Luna (in her Nightmare Moon persona) appears and claims their candy instead of their lives, before reverting to her natural appearance… however, since she joined in on the scary fun, she finds that the young ponies (especially Pipsqueak) actually do like her, and want her to return next year, Nightmare Night or no, to scare them again. Hearing this, Luna declares Nightmare Night to be back on the agenda! A delighted Pipsqueak runs off to share the news… As Twilight voice-overs the moral: “Even if somepony seems scary, it doesn’t mean they are… they probably just want friends as well” (Home Alone, anyone?), Rainbow tries to prank her and Spike again… only to get a thunderbolt up the plot of her own, courtesy of Princess Luna, sending her flying away, while Luna, Spike and Twilight all share a laugh... Thoughts on the Episode This has Luna… that alone makes it a top notch episode. It’s also the first episode that we see the “true” form of Luna in her role as Princess of the Night, having not seen her since the events of the pilot, when she presumably was Brought Down to Normal after being blasted by the Elements of Harmony. The fact that we see her as she will be for the rest of the series going forward is one I have used before as a counterpoint to the idea that the comics take place in the same continuity as the show, and I stand by that. But back to the episode… One of the twists is that Pinkie was fully aware that Princess Luna was not the same entity as Nightmare Moon, and her constant screaming and running away was just her playing into the atmosphere of the celebration… which is fair enough, but couldn’t she have at least clued someone else in on it? Plus, it might be contradicted by the Raindow-Delivered-Lightning-Flash… if she knew Luna wasn’t scary, why did the lightning bolt in question make her run? (And apparently, lay an egg…) Speaking of Rainbow Dash, she really did seem to be channeling the Shadowbolts here. I can understand using a storm cloud to prank others, but she showed literally zero concern when her actions put Spike into a bad (potentially lethal) situation, and when she ruined the “reconciliation” of Pinkie and Luna for a cheap laugh for herself. Learn to read a room, why don’t you, Dashie? She gets her comeuppance at the end, which is great, but I really didn’t like much of her behaviour in this episode. She comes across as mean more than anything. Of course, this is still Dash before the major part of her character development, so perhaps I'm asking too much of her for where she currently is in her personal journey. (Either that, or Nightmare Night enables G.I.F.T. behaviour.) Highlights/Quotes Spike continually comments on how Mayor Mare would be scary, if she weren't dressed as a clown, complete with rainbow wig. Spike: The rainbow wig just kills it for me... Nobody knows who Twilight is supposed to be. (Retirement home pony, Beardo Clown - the "o" is NOT silent, country music singer) Twilight casually swings Fluttershy's door closed before she can bolt for safety. The things I do for Luna... Pipsqueak tugging on Luna's mane: D'aaaaaaw! Pros: THE TRADITIONAL ROYAL CANTERLOT VOICE! It’s got Luna, and back for her first appearance since the pilot. Seeing the ponies, particularly the CMC, in their costumes was awesome. Zecora is clearly a part of Ponyville now. Candy Mane! Cons: Pinkie almost ruins everything. Rainbow Dash acts like a jerk. No Rarity, and Luna often sounds less like herself and more like Rarity (wait, why is this in the Cons section, again? ) Final Rating 5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently. (Ironic, no?) 4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great. 3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced. 2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden. 1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! This episode is one of the greats, and it totally holds up after all this time. Episodes like this made Season 2, if not the best, at least in my top 3 Seasons of Friendship is Magic. I’m not sure how this isn’t part of the blog already. I either left it out when reviewing the rest of Season 2, or it fell through the cracks after one of the server updates. I’m pretty sure I did a review of this one much more timeously, and rewriting this review is giving me flashbacks to when I was writing that previous version… but do you think I could find it anywhere on the interwebs or even my own hard drives, USB drives, etc? Nope. So. This is what you got. I hope it was an enjoyable read. Princess Luna is best princess, don’t even front. Feel free to comment, like and follow, and I hope to see all of you again soon. *Ahem* STAY SUNNY... SIDE... UP!
  6. Girls, can you explain why I look like I’m getting married at the bottom of a pit? – Cheerilee Hearts and Hooves Day (the Equestrian version of Valentine’s Day) has come to Ponyville, and love is in the air. Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo are busy creating a giant greeting card to give to their teacher, Miss Cheerilee. This construction involves large quantities of paper, lace, glitter and paint. Despite the rather haphazard method of its creation, the finished product looks oddly professional… and far too large to fit into the envelope. At school, Cheerilee thanks the girls for their gift. Sweetie surmises that she must have gotten an even better present from her “Very Special Somepony” but Cheerilee reveals that she is currently single, stunning the fillies. Despite their protests (and a rather put-upon expression from the teacher), Cheerilee insists she is content with her romance situation, and that the good wishes from her friends and students is enough for her. Then Sweetie got an idea. An awful idea. Sweetie got a wonderful, awful idea. (Yeah, I know: wrong holiday. What of it?) Sweetie decides the Crusaders should take it upon themselves to find a worthy stallion to be Cheerilee’s VSS, and they quickly head out into Ponyville to find the perfect match. Their search takes the form of a song, sung mostly by Sweetie herself, as they consider and ultimately reject all of Ponyville’s single stallions left and right. There are a few noteworthy images during the song. (Oh, hai, inspiration for Button Mash) Including the first outright acknowledgement of death in Equestria… yup, the “too old” pony is a priest officiating at a funeral: you can see the casket on the right of the screen. The other rather noteworthy entrant in the potential partner pageant is the stallion who is “too strangely obsessed with tubs of jelly”. Eventually, they come to Big Mac, who they find doesn’t have any plans for HnHD, and decide he will be the one. Apple Bloom points out that Big Mac is shy and probably wouldn’t make the first move on Cheerilee. They then decide to set up a picnic at the gazebo, to set the mood and get Cheerilee to make the first move instead. After the picnic is all set up, Cheerilee appears. The girls had brought her out, saying they need help with identifying a tree… an apple tree. Cheerilee is understandably confused. Just then, Big Mac also arrives, having come to fix the gazebo. The fillies then try to leave them alone, hiding in the bushes. Cheerilee looks long at Big Mac, leans in, and they think their plan is working… only for Cheerilee to point out something stuck in his teeth. “Oh, come on,” indeed, Sweetie Belle. Bonus points for the record scratch. The music sounds distorted afterwards, too. The two then head off in opposite directions, leaving the fillies flabbergasted by failure. Cue Twilight… who bumps into them while reading a book. She mentions that the holiday was started by a love potion, piquing the attention of the CMC, who borrow the book and then book it before Twilight can recommend any other reading material. She is not pleased. The CMC prepare the potion, and again call out Big Mac and Cheerilee, passing the potion off as punch they want the two to taste test. Cheerilee explains to Big Mac that she’s entirely aware that the three fillies are attempting to set them up, but they decide to humour them anyway and drink the “punch”. Punch drunk. Love. The delight of the CMC at their plan coming to fruition is quickly cut short by Cheerilee and Big Mac becoming Sickenly Sweet Sweethearts, complete with baby talk and pet names. At least Big Mac is saying more than his customary "Eeyup" and "Nope". On the other hoof, given what he is actually spouting, maybe that would have been preferable. Thoroughly weirded out by the lovebirds, as it were, the CMC retire to their club house to found out what went wrong… only to discover it went horribly right instead. It turns out the original love potion was given by a prince to a princess (interestingly, the princess in question is depicted as an alicorn) but they were so busy being in love that it ended in the destruction of their kingdom. Apple Bloom has a rather dark imagination, we find, as she imagines the results of Big Mac not being able to farm and Cheerilee not being able to teach being an epidemic of poorly educated and starving ponies. However, Sweetie explains that the spell can be broken if they can prevent the couple from seeing each other for an hour. Sounds like a plan… The fillies find Big Mac and Cheerilee at Sugarcube Corner, making even Mrs. Cake uncomfortable with their PDA as they share a milkshake… or would, if they could stop insisting the other take the first sip. When Mrs. Cake mentions wedding bells in the near future, Sweetie gets another idea… using preparations for a wedding as a pretext for keeping the sweethearts apart. AB and Scoots take Big Mac to get a diamond, and Sweetie takes Cheerilee to Carousel Boutique to get a wedding dress. Sweetie traps Cheerilee in the fitting room, while Apple Bloom stalls Big Mac by refusing all the proffered diamonds. A moment’s carelessness means that Big Mac escapes her. AB sends Scoots to inform Sweetie while she tries to stop Big Mac’s pronking progress. However, not even tying a rope to a house is enough to stop him. And this is exactly the sort of thing that drives Berry Punch to drink… At the Boutique, Sweetie is distressed to hear the news, but gets another idea on spying some nearby shovels. They quickly dig a pit trap for the suitor, and Big Mac calls out for Cheerilee just before falling in. Hearing her snookums’ voice, she busts out, veil and all, and heads for her beau. The CMC try to stand in her way, but she simply bowls them over and leaps into the pit. Fortunately, the two were kept apart long enough to end the spell, leaving a very confused Cheerilee to ask what in Equestria is going on and why she is getting married in a pit. The CMC come clean and admit that they made a big mistake trying to force the two into a relationship. Cheerilee thanks them for their concern but she and Big Mac agree the three need to be punished by doing all of Big Mac’s chores (presumably just for the rest of the day.) They also pretend to be going on a real date, just to mess with the fillies some more. And off they stride into the sunset together… Thoughts on the Episode Oh, Sweetie Belle, why do you do things? Without her bright idea to set up Cheerilee with somepony, none of the hijinks would have ensued. Although to be fair, only her first (well, and second, but that was more of a group decision) idea really backfired, the rest of her suggested courses of action actually did assist in ameliorating the first blunder. I think it would have been a little better for AB and Scootaloo to have come up with some suggestions that helped solve the crisis too, since as it is the episode is rather heavily weighted towards Sweetie. She is my favourite Cutie Mark Crusader, though, so I’m not going to object too hard to it. I thought the cringe aspect of the enforced relationship was pretty well handled… the way the two acted under the influence of the love poison was just balanced enough that it didn’t become too annoying, but still did enough to make it uncomfortable… which is as it should be, considering the CMC used literal date rape tactics on both Cheerilee and Big Mac. I’ll give Apple Bloom a point or two for being the only one to actually question whether they should be doing this. Pity she was so easily convinced to proceed. In the end, the fillies can be given a bit of a pass for overriding Cheerilee and Big Mac’s free will, since they are fillies, and such lapses of judgment due to immaturity are easier to forgive than in somepony you could reasonably expect to know better. (Looking at you, Starlight Glimmer!) The important thing is that they did learn their lesson, and they didn’t get off scot-free. Props to Cheerilee for assigning them some sort of punishment and not just letting it go. The moral is a little bit meta, since it seems to be a subtle rebuke to the habit some fans have of pairing up ponies without regard to whether it would actually make sense for them to be together. A little bit of romantic speculation is fine (I do it myself sometimes), but I disapprove of the lengths some fans will go to in shipping. See the “Die for our Ship” entry on TV Tropes for examples of the kind of things I mean. But back to the episode itself. As I mentioned above, there were a lot of stallions not usually seen around Ponyville during the song, which seems a little bit odd if you think about it, but hey, songs in the show have always needed some leeway in terms of realism. At least it gave the animators an excuse to experiment… although perhaps some experiments were not meant for ponykind to know… A very jarring image, that. Speaking of jarring images, the scene in Sugarcube Corner is possibly the most suggestive in the show to date. Dat cherry… And then there’s the shots of all three CMC fillies straddled by Twilight… That one gave me some “Hiiiiii, gurllzzz!” flashbacks. Brrr. Highlights/Quotes Watch Cheerilee’s expression when Sweetie asks about her not having a VSS… Single people everywhere can relate. The song is pretty darn funny… watch for that split second of morbidity, though! Cheerilee leans in towards Big Mac… soft romantic music plays… Cheerilee (dreamily): Big Mac…? Big Mac: Yup? Cheerilee (normal tone): …you have something stuck in your teeth… Sweetie Belle (In the distance): OH, COME ON!! When the love potion recipe calls for a Pegasus feather, Sweetie casually yanks one out of Scootaloo’s wings. Cheerilee’s Foe Tossing Charge towards Big Mac… then she leaps towards him with an expression of joy… until she realizes they’re about to collide face first… Pros: A good moral that works both in universe and out of universe. Some pretty funny things happen. Cons: Perhaps a bit too Sweetie-centric. Unsettling implications if you think about it too much. Carousel Boutique, but no Rarity? For shame! Final Rating 5 – Button’s Mom Rank: This episode has got it going on. 4 – Big Mac / Cheerilee Ship Rank: It seems like it should work, but there’s something not quite right… 3 – Button Mash Rank: Worth inserting a coin or two, but nothing super special. 2 – Hugh Jelly Rank: Once taste is enough, then put the lid on the jar. 1 – Love Poison Rank: For your own sake, don’t ignore the pony skull on the label… And once more, we get to see a familiar holiday done the pony way, and it is sweet! Not a perfect episode, but still probably one of my favourites featuring the CMC. Next we have an episode that is somewhat less romance themed, A Friend in Deed. Join me next time as we greet a new character and welcome him to Ponyville. Until then, stay sunny side up!
  7. I hate to admit it to myself, and I’d really hate to have to admit it to my friends, but… I love this book! – Rainbow Dash Twilight, Rarity and Pinkie are watching as Dash practices some of her precision flying. However, during a particularly difficult maneuver, Dash loses control and crashes into the ground, breaking one of her wings in the process. Confined to the Ponyville Hospital to rest and recover, Dash finds herself going nutty from boredom. When she complains about this to her friends during one of their visits, Twilight grabs a book from the library cart entitled Daring Do and the Sapphire Statue, and suggests Dash read it, as it’s one of Twilight’s favorite series of books and the protagonist, the eponymous Daring Do, is a lot like Dash herself. While she holds off for a while, she is eventually driven to open the book and start reading. Quickly becoming absorbed in the story (a basic Indiana Jones knockoff) she is surprised and embarrassed to find she does actually enjoy reading after all. As she works her way through the story, her friends occasionally come to visit her, but she is so hooked on the book that she would rather get rid of them… by means of messy mealtime manners, gratuitously giving up at games and shamelessly simulating slumber. Unfortunately for Dash, her wing heals pretty quickly, and she is discharged from the hospital before she can finish the book. After unsuccessfully attempting to persuade the doctor she is still injured, she resolves to break in. However, the new patient in her bed thinks she is a thief, and sounds the alarm. The doctors, nurses and night watch-pony all give chase, waking up the whole of Ponyville with the hue and cry. Finally cornered, Dash comes clean about her new literary habit, expecting that she’ll be made fun of, but Twilight assures her she’s just as cool, whether or not she is a reader. She even agrees to let Dash read her copies, and the episode ends with Dash curling up with the second book in the series. Thoughts on the Episode This ended up being one of the shortest summaries of an episode I’ve ever done. I could pad it out by including the story of Daring Do, but really, if you just say “Indiana Jones as a pony”, that’s all you really need to know. Not that the story within the story isn’t competently told, but there really is not very much you aren’t going to predict ahead of time. One of the better parts of the episode is how it weaves the story into Dash’s experience, which can get pretty surreal, such as when the menacing villain Ahuizotl gives his nemesis DD a bright and cheery greeting in Pinkie’s voice. There are a few other times this sort of linkage is done, which is really very cleverly interwoven. The humour in this episode is mostly quite subtle, like Dash getting bored within a literal minute, and her antics in trying to get rid of her visitors. Less subtle is the joke that drops after the chase: while trying to catch the “thief”, the hospital staff appear to be accompanied by a tracking dog, complete with excited barking. On bringing Dash to bay, the barker is revealed to be a pony in a straitjacket, one of the hospital patients. The joke does make me laugh, but it also makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. Making fun of the mentally ill is not something I would condone, but perhaps the very silliness of the idea vitiates the offense. The moral is standard, but appropriate considering the brony fanbase: like what you like, and don’t let how others’ perceptions of it dissuade you. Overall, the episode is just a fun romp. Highlights/Quotes Rarity describes a good book as “almost as good as silk pajamas”. Guess what she’s wearing when woken up? Pinkie has one of her moments: Pinkie: Yeah! I love reading, and my head isn't even close to the shape of an egg! It's more the shape of an apple, or maybe an orange, but a big orange! More like a grapefruit really... Pros: Some good jokes. The two main stories are interwoven well. An unexceptional but fine moral. Cons: The Daring Do story is bog standard, even though it’s set in a jungle. A possibly insensitive joke about the mentally distressed may offend some. Final Rating 5 – Daring Do Rank: A great episode. A tip of the pith helmet to this one. 4 – Circle of Jungle Cats Rank: A good episode, but might have a weak link or two somewhere. 3 – Housecat Rank: Aww, it’s so cute about how hard it’s trying. Not succeeding, but trying. 2 – Easily Escapable Death Trap Rank: Worth watching once. After that, assume it all went to plan and leave the room. 1 – Ahuizotl Rank: Hand it off to someone else, fast! Well, that was short! There’s just not that much to cover in this episode, I guess. You are of course welcome to point out anything you think I missed, or make any other comment you wish. Next time, Love (Potion No. 9) is in the air… until then, stay safe, read a book, and stay sunny side up.
  8. He’s Flim, he’s Flam, we’re the world famous Flim-Flam Brothers: Travelling Salesponies, non pareil! – Flim and Flam Fluttershy gets an involuntary early morning wake up call, courtesy of Rainbow Dash. After a bit of embarrassment and blushing, Fluttershy is quickly hustled out into the pre-dawn dark of Ponyville. Rainbow Dash is in a hurry to get her and Flutters to Sweet Apple Acres, because today’s Fighting Day – fighting for a share of the Apple family cider, that is. RD explains that Pinkie Pie usually gets there first and buys more than her fair share of cider, which ends up depriving RD of her allotment when the cider sells out. Despite her determination to defensively defuse the disastrous dearth of delicious drink, this year looks like more of the same, since not only is Pinkie camping out at the front of the line, but she mentioned the idea to most of Ponyville, so the line is already super long. Then Pinkie rapturously gushes about how good the cider is, and how she hopes it won’t sell out before RD gets some! A bit later, the Apples open up the cider shop, and Pinkie, as is her wont, buys about a dozen mugs. Of course, the cider sells out just as RD reaches the front of the line. “The only thing more delicious than that cider are your tears of misery, Dashey!” Suddenly a machine drives into view, with two ponies atop. These are the brothers, Flim and Flam, and they introduce (via song) their invention, the titular machine, which they boast can provide enough cider for all of Ponyville. All they need is the Apple family’s eponymous product, and 75% of the profits. Since this would lose money for the Apple family, they refuse to accept the deal, leading Flim and Flam to drop their affable façade and show their ruthlessness. They declare that they’ll simply become competitors instead, and drive the Apples out of business… and out of their farm and home, too. Eventually, the two sides agree to a cider squeeze off, a competition on who can produce the most barrels of cider, with the winner getting exclusive rights to sell cider in Ponyville. Mayor Mare agrees to be the referee, and Time Turner agrees to be the, um, timer turner. And so a battle commences: good old fashioned pony power vs. machinery and magic. After the Flim Flam bros take an early lead, Twilight asks if the Mane Six are allowed to assist, a judgment which Mayor Mare defers to the pair. They confidently claim that they don’t care if the entire kingdom of Canterlot assists the Apples, it being a lost cause. So the Mane Six join the fray… Fluttershy helps AJ knock the apples down, Pinkie and Apple Bloom catch them in baskets, Rarity and Granny Smith sort the good apples from the bad (Or as Rarity puts, the lovely from the horrid #RarityIsBestPony), Rainbow Dash assists Big Mac running the treadmill to crush out the apple juice, and Twilight magically stacks and tallies the barrels as they come out. It works so well that the Apples start catching up, shocking the FFB into action. They speed up their machine, but it starts sucking up entire trees along with the apples, causing the quality control to reject all input. In desperation, they switch off the quality control, allowing them enough throughput to win the competition. RD shows her loyalty by intending to fight for her friends, but AJ sadly agrees to the forfeiture of the cider rights and hence the farm itself. The FFB laugh in triumph as the Apples sadly drift off, the rest of Ponyville mourning along with them. The FFB start to sell their cider, but due to them switching off the quality control, the resulting mess is undrinkable, and an angry mob gather around them. Seeing which way the wind is blowing, the two quickly hightail it out of there, leaving in peace the Apples to sell the cider they produced during the competition. RD is again left just missing out when the cider runs out yet again, but Pinkie offers her a mug from her purchases, making peace, while AJ dictates her letter to Celestia. (Reproduced here in its entirety, because it’s just that damn good…) Dear Princess Celestia… I wanted to share my thoughts with you. [clears throat] I didn't learn anythin'! Ha! I was right all along! If you take your time to do things the right way, your work will speak for itself. Sure, I could tell you I learned something about how my friends are always there to help me, and I can count on them no matter what, but truth is, I knew that already too. And so the ponies raise a mug together. A good head but an ugly mug... and AJ is there too! Thoughts on the Episode Boy, everypony is greedy in this episode. Pinkie is greedy, buying far more cider than is fair. The Apples are greedy, since they allow this, when it would be extremely easy to implement a one-pony, one-mug policy. It shows they care more about the money they make with the cider than having their product be enjoyed by the most ponies. The Flim Flam brothers are greedy, wanting the lion’s share of the profits, when it would have been far more sensible to accept an equal portion or even slightly less, since without the Apples’ apples, they have no ingredients to work with. Speaking of the brothers, they’re quite a good addition to the villain roster. I hesitated a bit to actually categorize them as villains, rather than simply as antagonists, in the original sense of the term. Even as ruthless and greedy as they are, that alone doesn’t really tip them over the edge into villain territory. What does is how much delight they take in beating the Apples, even taunting them and laughing at their misfortune. Despite their name, they don’t really engage in any real dishonest behavior, unless you count trying to pass off as their cider what they made from the Apples’ produce. And their designs are pretty interesting. They are much taller and slimmer than the rest of Ponyville, in the style of Fleur de Lis, and their outfits are taken from The Music Man, the same movie being referenced in the song the brothers sing. As usual, Daniel Ingram’s composition is deluxe. There are plenty of funny things going on in the background, too. A point I’d like to make regarding the song. The chant of “cider, cider, cider” which repeats through the verses highlights a rather subtle theme that the episode explores… the power of mob mentality. In this episode, it both helps to set up the conflict and resolve it. Firstly, the song has bolstered the desire of the ponies for more cider, making it necessary for the Apple family to actually take the FFB’s bet. The smarter thing would be to just ignore the pair and pack up and go home. After all, the FFB have no product without being able to use the apples, or at least would have to find another source, cutting down their potential profits. But with the crowd already disappointed with the Apples due to the cider shortage, that option gets closed off. But mob mentality is also what ultimately saves the day. Due to the FFB cider being ruined, the brothers have to clear out smartish to avoid things getting ugly for them, leaving the Apples with the de facto right to sell their cider. The moral of the story may be “quality beats quantity”, but this other underlying thread in the episode deserves to be highlighted. Now let’s look at some bad behavior by other ponies. First, while Dash is, as usual, loyal and prepared to defend her friends, she also contributed to that negative mob mentality I noted earlier. When she is left ciderless, she inadvertently becomes the mob ringleader. She’s also shown as being much more eager than anypony else to get some of the FFB’s cider during the song – after initial skepticism, I must add in her defense. I think she can be forgiven, though, since her heart was in the right place, and her behavior was a result of her understandable frustration at losing out on the cider, largely due to Pinkie's careless greed and the Apples’ lackadaisical approach to selling. Pinkie also gets the Bad Behaviour Ball. First she buys way more than her fair share of the cider, and then she goes on to talk to Dashy’s face about how great the cider is and how she hopes it doesn’t run out, which it obviously will, thanks in part to her! Again, though, she manages to redeem herself by actually giving Dash a mug of cider at the end. As you could tell from the plot synopsis, I like the ending. Rather than a generic restatement of the moral, it actually bucks the usual trend of the show and provides amusement. Speaking of morals, I loved the bit when Twilight offers to help and AJ simply says “I’d love the rest of my family to help.” A far cry from the pony who almost ruined Ponyville through stubborn refusal to accept help in Season 1. I like when something like this is shown to actually have stuck and not be ignored. And speaking of amusement, there’s the opening bit when Rainbow Dash pulls off Fluttershy’s bedclothes, and she blushes and covers her chest, despite the fact that the ponies hardly ever wear clothes anyway. Funny, if not making a lot of sense when scrutinized. Horses don’t have pectoral mammaries. Although covering the correct spot would mean that the scene would not have gotten past the censors, so this is just a case of me being pendantic again. Highlights / Quotes If you watch carefully during the song, while the rest of the Apple family look uncertain, Apple Bloom is smiling and very much enjoying the performance. RD is about to get some cider, when AJ lassos the barrel and accidentally knocks her mug out of her hooves, spilling the cider on the ground. Rainbow Dash: <With a mouthful of cider-mud> “Is this some kind of cruel joke?” Yes, Dash, yes, it is: the writers' cruel joke. When Twilight announces they're catching up to the Brother, Flim does a spit take right into his brother's face. Pros: Good villains in design and demeanour. A nice twist on the Letter to Celestia pattern. A surprisingly subtle secondary moral. Some really sad moments. A rarity: a moral from a previous episode is actually remembered. Cons: Some bad behavior by some of the ponies. Final Rating 5 – A Proper 1420 Rank: A great episode. To be savoured at every opportunity in your community. 4 – Sweet Apple Cider Rank: A good episode, but something in there disappoints slightly. 3 – A Glass of Water Rank: An average episode. Nothing too good or bad. 2 – Mine’s got Rocks in it Rank: Worth watching once. Just don’t break your teeth. 1 – Flim Flam Jerk Cider Rank: Dreck. And that is the last episode to focus on Applejack for a while. Next up is Read It and Weep a.k.a. Dash’s Single Target Sexuality Eggheadedness. Come and read my words about the words that Dashy reads, next time around. Until then, make any comments crass, complimentary or contrarian you like (only not the first one, please), and stay sunny cider up.
  9. I just don’t know what went wrong! – Derpy The episode opens with Applejack racing around a rodeo course set up on her farm, while Apple Bloom cheers her on. During her jump over one of the fences, her hoof just clips the obstacle, unnoticed by AJ herself. She finishes by tossing a bale of hay, to applause from her little sister. Apple Bloom is enthused and gushes about how good AJ is and how she’s certain to take first prize at the Equestrian Rodeo. But AB isn’t the only one with expectations… Ponyville is organizing a grand send-off for their potential champion, and RD is helping put up the banner, with “assistance” from a certain blonde, grey-coated pony with bubbles for a cutie mark. Just managing to dodge a bolt of lightning, RD utters the historical line, “Now, careful, Derpy!” Said pony is jumping up and down on a cloud. She leaves off with that, but her clumsiness makes trouble for RD as well as damaging Town Hall further than the lightning did. Despite the setbacks, AJ manages to thank Mayor Mare and the town for supporting her, and pledges her winnings to help make repairs, before setting off on the train to Canterlot. A while later, and the Mane Six and Apples are waiting to surprise AJ with a Congratulations party. However, she doesn’t show, instead sending a telegram to say she’s delaying her return. The Apples are distraught, but our heroes vow to find AJ and bring her back. They proceed to Canterlot and ask around at the rodeo grounds as the rodeo crew pack away, and eventually, they are pointed to a town called Dodge Junction. On arrival, Pinkie needs a tinkie, and manages to find AJ almost immediately when she races to the station outhouse, catching her just coming out. (Is this the first mention of such necessities in the show? I think it is, but feel free to contradict me in the comments if I’m wrong.) Applejack is less than enthused that her friends have tracked her down, and she tells them that after the Rodeo, she decided to spend time in Dodge Junction for a change of scenery, and to farm something other than apples, namely cherries. They meet with AJ’s new boss, Miss Cherry Jubilee, who speaks of AJ winning so many medals at the Rodeo that Miss Jubilee offered her a job on her cherry farm. AJ entreats the others to return to Ponyville, but they refuse, suspecting that there is more to AJ’s decision than she is letting on. They take jobs sorting cherries as AJ works the conveyer belt, and make small talk in order to persuade AJ into revealing her secret. She won’t budge, however, and starts trotting too fast in agitation, leaving Pinkie and Fluttershy increasingly overwhelmed by the rate of cherry arrival. When Fluttershy desperately yells for her to stop, all the cherries end up flying at AJ, covering her completely in pulverized cherry. Momentum is a harsh mistress… She leaves in a huff, and the rest decide they need to stop pulling their punches; cue a staggered zoom cut on Pinkie Pie... In the orchard, AJ is bucking down the cherries, and Pinkie comes to help. After a while, she starts to talk, and just doesn’t stop. Eventually she wears AJ down, and she agrees to tell the Mane Six what the truth of her situation is, but asks if she can put it off until breakfast tomorrow. They acquiesce, on condition that AJ makes a Pinkie Promise™ on it, which she reluctantly does. The following day, AJ is nowhere to be found. Pinkie, furious at the broken Pinkie Promise™, leads the charge to find her. They catch up with her at the station, forcing her to flee in a horse drawn carriage. The Mane Six load up in a cart pulled by RD and Fluttershy and give chase. Pinkie manages to leap onto AJ’s carriage and demands an apology for the broken Pinkie Promise™. AJ claims she didn’t technically break the promise, since she specified “at breakfast”, to which she never went, unable to face the prospect of revealing what actually happened to her. Pinkie accepts her half-apology for the time being, and leaps back to the Mane Six cart, knocking Rarity and herself out. They are left behind as RD can’t waste time turning around to retrieve them. Well, Pinkie, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into. AJ decides to cross just in front of a train, hoping it’ll cut off the Mane Six Three cart. At this, the team pulling her carriage abandon her for endangering them. AJ turns back to gloat about her escape, but RD and Fluttershy just fly the cart right over the still passing train. AJ tries to run, but RD tackles her, knocking her bags open and sending all her medals flying. AJ finally tells them the truth: she won many medals, but none of them were first place. She also didn’t win any prize money. Feeling like she let Ponyville down, she wanted to work for Miss Jubilee to earn the money instead. Fluttershy and Twilight assure her that having her home means more than having her win or bring home a prize. Even RD can’t quite maintain her stoic exterior. Applejack goes home to meet her family and in voiceover, gives her friendship lesson report: Winning isn’t everything, and your family will love you regardless. Meanwhile, Rarity and Pinkie are heading home via handcart, Pinkie talking all the way. Rarity is not happy, and intends to give RD a piece of her mind when they get home. Thoughts on the Episode This used to be my favorite episode. I still like it a lot, but there are better episodes since. Let’s get the home-invading pachyderm out of the way first. This episode led to an unpleasantness that would come to be known as Derpygate. Basically, in the wake of the episode, there were scattered complaints about the portrayal of Derpy, claiming that it was offensive to the differently-abled, which lead Hasbro to change the scene. The RD line naming her as Derpy was removed, her eyes were slightly straightened, and all of her lines were redubbed. This was despite the fact that there were many more positive reactions to Derpy’s canonical inclusion, including from many differently-abled fans themselves. For myself, I definitely understand the anger and frustration of Derpy’s fans. While I think the new voice for Derpy (yes, I’m still considering it her name – it was broadcast originally as that) suits her better – and better matches her earlier line in Applebuck Season – removing the name and altering the eyes are not changes I support. As is so often the case, the vocal minority get their way. I’m sure they thought they were doing the right thing, but that doesn’t mean it was. Slice of Life went so far as to credit her as “Muffins” instead of Derpy. There is a certain amount of sense to such moves, however it might rankle. Hasbro want to protect their image, and to that end, they sided with the seagulls. It would have been more admirable if they had had the balls to stick to their guns, though. (Pardon the mixed metaphor there.) Moving on, this episode offers a lot of entertainment. There are a number of lovely minor touches. First, for Applejack: the fact that she didn’t have a perfect run on her own farm hints towards her falling short of first place. Quality foreshadowing, that. Then there’s the bit where AJ thinks the train is going to stop the pursuit… if you look carefully, you can see past the train where Twilight just tilts her head slightly, as if to say, “You’re kidding, right?” just before RD and Flutters fly over. AJ’s expressions are great too, from her pleased but embarrassed blush at being complimented, to her stubborn “you ain’t getting nothin’ out o’ me” face. She also delivers some great lines, especially at the end. She just sounds so frustrated and dejected over her lack of a first place finish, you really feel her pain. Pinkie also gets in on the act, so much so that this is almost a Pinkie episode. Her antics while holding it in are a rare example of good toilet humour (What? It’s not quite an oxymoron; that style of humour is hard to pull off well, but not impossible.) There’s also that ominous zoom-in on Pinkie along with “dun dun dun” music, contrasted as it is with the cute and silly image of her licking up some spilt cherry pulp. Not that it isn’t justified, since she shows that her prattle can be weaponized, although her dialogue is pretty funny on its own. But perhaps the best part is her nonchalant “Rarity catch me!” line as she leaps backwards at an entirely unprepared Rarity… watch out for Twilight’s duck, it’s awesome. Some other good points: Cherry Jubilee has a great design and voice, and seems really nice all around. The poor mailpony gets snubbed by Twilight, but at least he gets a slice of cake courtesy of your friendly neighbourhood Pinkie Pie. Some great lines, apart from those already mentioned, also stand out. In summation, there's a lot of good in this episode, and not all that much that is bad. I wish the original version had been kept, but even with that caveat, this episode is just really entertaining and on point for all the characters. Highlights/Quotes Anything Pinkie does in this episode. The end scene is pretty hilarious, with Rarity darkly swearing some sort of revenge for RD for abandoning them, while Pinkie just keeps repeating her cherry product names. Pros: Pinkie is hilarious. Very good Applejack expressions and line delivery. The small details just add so much. Cons: Derpygate… which is not a con for the episode itself, so it doesn’t affect the rank! Neener, neener! Final Rating 5 – Blue Ribbon Rank: A real winner. It will be re-watched frequently. 4 – Red Ribbon Rank: A very good attempt, but falls just short of glory. 3 – Rodeo Clown Rank: An average episode, assuming you don’t have coulrophobia. Not bad, not great. 2 – Cherry Rank: Nice once in a while, but too much may make you ill. 1 – Calamity, Mane Rank: Fails at the first hurdle. From an AJ episode, we change tacks and charge straight into... another… AJ… episode……. huh. At least the rest of the Apple family gets more screen time in this one. Plus new villains will be introduced… we may be in trouble! Nonetheless, nothing can stop the Smooze nitpicking! Join me for my next review… Super Speedy Cider Squeezer 6000. Until then, comment if you wish, and as always, stay sunny side up!
  10. Now how in thunderations is one of them twins a unicorn and the other a pegasus? – Applejack The Mane Six are all at the hospital, waiting to see the new foal born to the Cakes. However, Sugarcube Corner appears to have been having a two for one sale, since the foal turns out to be twins… and one is a unicorn and the other a Pegasus. Applejack wonders how that’s possible, but Pinkie is distracted by the prospect of having two new playmates. She also tries to celebrate their 0th birthday, to Nurse Pinkheart’s chagrin. Rarity and RD both mention that the babies may show bursts of unusually strong magic and wing power respectively. Cut to a month later, and Pinkie is having great fun with her new little friends, and also learning a bit about babies, including the need to change, feed and burp them. She has little interest in those things, though, just wanting to play some more. Suddenly, the Cakes remember a huge order from out of town that they had forgotten about. Strapped for time, they decide to find a baby-sitter, pronto. Pinkie volunteers, but they are reluctant to use her, not being sure she understands the difference between being a playmate and a caretaker. They ask each of the other Mane Six, but they all have good reasons why they can’t help… well, except Rarity, who just refuses, but is flattered that they considered her. With no other choice, they entrust the twins to Pinkie, and rush out. Abandonment anxiety ensues. The twins immediately start crying, heedless of Pinkie’s attempts to quiet them. They only stop when Pinkie accidentally knocks a bag of flour onto herself, something they find hilarious. Pinkie’s savvy enough to see where this is heading. She tries bathing, feeding and changing, making a mess of each one due to the mischievous antics of her youthful charges. Pound Cake used Water Gun! It’s Super-effective! Twilight at one point comes to offer her help, but a tactless remark puts Pinkie’s back up, and she icily declines the offer of assistance, shutting the door in Twilight’s face. Realizing that Twilight’s comment about some ponies not being up to the responsibility is a pretty accurate description of her, she decides to get tough. And it seems to work, as the twins capitulate to Growly Pie… until her back is turned and they vanish from their crib. Suddenly the tone shifts, the house becoming dark and eerie with a sinister shadow sliding about the ceiling, and Pumpkin Cake’s chewing on a squeak toy echoing oddly. The shadow reveals itself as Pound Cake, who can now fly. He proceeds to drag Pinkie all over the house when she tries to get him down. Pumpkin also gets in on the act with magic, phasing through obstacles, using telekinesis to get her toys, and even levitating, ignoring all Pinkie’s efforts to stop the two from running riot. Finally overwhelmed, Pinkie gives up and sits bawling in the middle of the room. This checks the twins, who realize they may have gone too far, and they cut the antics, even pouring flour on themselves to cheer her up. An understanding with her charges achieved, Pinkie puts them to bed and then cleans up the entire place. When the Cakes get home, she shows them the twins peacefully sleeping. They are astounded at how responsible Pinkie has proven herself in their absence and offer her the position of “go-to babysitter”. Remembering how tough a challenge the twins actually were, Pinkie balks, but hearing them say her name in their sleep convinces her to agree. And all’s well that ends well. Thoughts on the Episode A pretty heartwarming little tale of Pinkie learning to be responsible for baby ponies. I don’t have kids myself, but I imagine the scene of Pinkie just crying tears of frustration at disobedient infant antics would hit home for many parents. But I think anyone can feel bad for her and understand what she’s going through. The episode is loaded with Pinkie Pie sight gags, such as teleporting through viewing windows in the hospital, jumping out of cakes way too small to actually hold her, and even being both the stand-up comedian and rim-shot artist at the same time. However, it doesn’t help her against the twins’ onslaught. The flour running gag was used well, even coming back around in the end when the twins use it themselves to serve as an apology / cheer up move. Oh, that line from Mr. Cake… Some fans have speculated that his delivery of that line and the sheer illogic of the given explanation means that he’s trying to cover up the real reason for the “anomaly” implied in the episode quote: namely, Mrs. Cake’s infidelity. However, I disagree; and for more reason than just “this is a family show”… Since there are no male alicorns, the only way for the twins to get pegasus and unicorn genes would be if Mrs. Cake was unfaithful with a pegasus and unicorn simultaneously. That stretches the bounds of plausibility, if *ahem* nothing else. I think the handwave was telegraphed by Mr. Cake’s explanation – it doesn’t make sense in terms of real world genetics, but they’re going with it anyway, and the line is simply lampshade hanging. I know some people are instantly turned off by baby episodes, and to be fair, this episode doesn’t really do that much to subvert the usual plot points, so I can understand why it might be off-putting to some. I don’t really figure it’s enough to make the episode unbearable for me, but I can see the criticism as valid. The other criticism I’ve heard is that Pound and Pumpkin are simply too strong in magic and flying respectively to be credible, especially since young unicorns such as Sweetie Belle and filly Twilight are shown to have to try really hard to get their magic to work. It was pretty clearly spelled out that unicorn babies have odd magic surges, which is enough to explain it as far as I’m concerned. And since pegasus flight ability can be considered magic in its own right, I have no problem with the Pound Cake side of the equation either. Again, it’s not something I’d personally mark the episode down on, but I get why it’s a problem for some. Highlights/Quotes Pinkie (to Pound): This is a crib. It is only to be used for napping. sleeping, and on occasion, with permission, as an pretend old-timey western fort. Pros: Some good visual gags. D’aaawww levels are off the charts. Cons: Episode is about babies, with the usual tropes that apply. Final Rating 5 – Rarity Rank: An episode that truly brings me joy. I cannot recommend it strongly enough. 4 – Luna Rank: An episode I enjoy, despite some flaws. It might not be perfect, but that’s fine too. 3 – Derpy Rank: An average episode for me. It engenders no strong feelings one way or the other. 2 – Discord Rank: An episode that is not to my taste, but others might find it worth watching. Once. 1 – Trixie Rank: Ursa Minor bait. I would avoid this episode at all costs, and suggest you do the same. Hi again! It’s been a while since my last review, hasn’t it? How y’all doing? Next up is an AJ episode, and one I like. However, it did create somewhat of a scandal at the time. I’m sure you FiM veterans will know what I’m talking about, but I’ll go into more depth about it in the review, for those who might have only joined the fandom recently. Until then, stay sunny side up!
  11. 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!
  12. 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!
  13. 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!
  14. 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!
  15. I hate being alone. – Rainbow Dash You know that I said this is a bad Rainbow Dash episode? Well, I take it back. It’s a bad Mane Six episode. Heck, it’s a bad Ponyvillian episode. Nopony is going to come out of this one looking good. Let’s get this over with. Summary It’s a sunny day in Ponyville, but the local weathermare is reporting a high chance of DOOM! in the local area. Rainbow Dash helps out some of the ponies when disaster strikes, and is duly given due praise. However, she starts liking the praise a bit too much, and it starts inflating her ego. After a few too many boastful comments, the Mane Six start to get annoyed with her. Sometime later, a thief has apparently stolen Twilight’s balloon, and wrecked it, and is plummeting to her DOOM! while Dash delays her rescue to sign some autographs. When she does get on the case, the balloonist is instead rescued by a mysterious masked figure, leaving Dash to get tangled in the balloon. The fickle fools of the town immediately decide that this new hero is the bee’s knees, and Mayor Mare makes the new arrival eponymous. Dash is none too happy at being overshadowed. Over the course of the next few subjective hours of screen time, a pattern becomes evident. Dash arrives to help prevent a runaway vehicle, but fails. Mare-Do-Well pitches up and stops the cart, proving that she’s stronger than Dash (who is a Pegasus, why should she be strong at all, anyway?) At a construction site, a mechanical failure leads to a building falling apart. Dash’s attempt to boast is cut short by a plank flying through the air. Actually, I think Spiderman threw that one because Dash stole his catchphrase. She does manage to save one construction worker who would surely have been DOOMED by being crushed under falling bricks, but Mare-Do-Well saves the other four, by apparently being able to sense when debris is going to fall before it actually does. Not that the worker Dash saved says “thanks” or anything, the ingrate. Next, Rainbow sees a leak in the dam, and plugs it with a hoof… actually causing the crack to widen. Then she literally pats herself on the back, leading to the collapse she was trying to prevent. Quick! Get Superman to spin the earth backwards! We’ve already ripped off Batman and Spiderman, so why not? Mare-Do-Well saves her from the flood and magicks the rocks back into place, leaving Dash to wonder how she can compete. She tries to console herself by thinking about the fact that she can fly and Mare-Do-Well can’t… only she CAN. Dash sulks while the Mane Six discuss how wonderful Mare-Do-Well is: strong, fast, magical, fashionable and best of all, humble about her heroics. Dash shouts at them all and storms out, looking for something to prove she is better than Mare-Do-Well, but the DOOM! seems to be expended. Stupidity ensues, and eventually Dash gives up. She’s looking pretty DOOM!y… I mean, GLOOM!y. Things get even worse when she finds out Ponyville is giving Mare-Do-Well an award for her good deeds. Dash decides to unmask the Mare, and chases her around, eventually tracking her down and pulling off the mask to reveal Rarity. Then more Mare-Do-Wells come out and reveal themselves as the rest of the Mane Six. They were taking turns playing the Mare in order to show Dash a lesson about being a hero with humility. Dash gets the point, and this interminable episode grinds to its conclusion. Thoughts on the Episode There’s a comic in the episode discussion thread that perfectly sums up this episode’s huge fatal flaw. I’m sure you’ve already seen it. Despite the fact that sitting her down and just telling Dash that she was making too much of herself would probably have avoided this entire problem, their first reaction is to gang up on and humiliate her. The burned hoof may teach best, but you don’t go grabbing the hoof and thrusting it into the flame deliberately. There’s also not much point in having a moral of “don’t talk yourself up too much” when they were doing just that in praising Mare-Do-Well, who was them all along. One could perhaps argue that they were aware of that, but doing it purely to try to get through to Dash, but really, they could have just owned up to it right there instead of allowing Dash to leave. This episode doesn’t give Dash much respect either. Yes, she can be boastful, but not to that extent. And while she’s not book smart, she isn’t an idiot either. Once she saw that Mare-Do-Well had both a horn and wings, she should have immediately realized it could only be one of the Alicorn Princesses or multiple ponies sharing the wearing of the cape. The Royal Sisters are ruled out due to size, since they’re noticeably larger than most ponies and Mare-Do-Well is certainly not. That she didn’t cotton on is pretty much a middle finger to her from the writers. The citizens of Ponyville look pretty bad by the end, too. As soon as Mare-Do-Well makes the first rescue, they instantly forget about Dash. Even Scootaloo, who has always idolized Dash, turns on her. The construction worker whose life she saved runs off without a word of thanks, or even an acknowledgement that both of them were needed for the rescue. The whole town comes across as fickle and forgetful. Is there anything good to be had here? Maybe one or two of the jokes can get a slight chuckle. There’s also some continuity nods here and there, like Pinkie Sense playing a role in the construction site scene. The design of the Mare-Do-Well costume is pretty cool, despite being lifted from Batman. On the whole, though, this episode is just a chore to sit through, and it’s probably worse for Dash’s fans on account of how she gets treated… by the other characters and by the writers. Quotes (There are no highlights) Twilight: Call me silly, but I think all this attention might be going to Rainbow’s head… Pinkie: I think you may be right, Silly. Pros: Maybe one or two gags worthy of a smile; Pinkie Sense gets a reference. Cons: Everypony gets a slap in the face; utterly predictable; a botched moral; both Marvel and DC should sue for copyright infringement. Final Rating 5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently. 4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great. 3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced. 2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden. 1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the mooooon! Well, thank Celestia that’s done. After two episodes of Dash, the next one will focus on Rarity, with some bad behaviour on the part of my favorite fashionista pony. Hey, she’s not perfect, I can admit that. Tune in next time, same website, same blog, and as always, stay on the sunny side.
  16. I'm jutht too impathient to be pathient... - Apple Bloom Our intrepid Cutie Mark Crusaders Pin Twins Three Strikes Bowling Dolls arrive at the Ponyville Bowling Alley, aiming to get their cutie marks in bowling. However, bowling soon turns to blowing it: Sweetie Belle gets only gutter balls - and is incongruously happy about it - and Scootaloo bucks her ball so hard it ends up ricocheting all over the bowling alley, earning her some shocked stares from the other bowlers. On her turn, Apple Bloom appears successful in getting a strike. She also hears a spectator pony happily pointing out a cool, new "bowling" cutie mark. She is bitterly disappointed to find out that both the successful strike and the new cutie mark belong to another filly a few lanes over. Her own ball just manages to reach far enough to nudge the first pin. Although this technically makes her the best bowler out of the three, it sends her into a funk that nothing seems able to lift... not a cake from the Cakes, nor a hat from Rarity, nor a party from Pinkie. Still disconsolate, AB splits from the others and heads into the Everfree Forest. A trip over a root causes her to fall down and break one of her front teeth. The tooth hurts. Luckily, Zecora soon finds her and takes her back to her hut. She even mixes up a potion to mend AB's dental disaster. Realizing that Zecora has a potion, brew or tincture for any occasion, she suggests that Zecora might be able to mix a potion that reveals her cutie mark. Zecora denies this as a possibility and continues to mix up another potion to help a rooster who has lost his ability to crow. She shows AB one of the ingredients: "heart's desire", a flower that can be used to fix any problem. When Zecora has to leave to find a missing ingredient, she leaves behind AB... who begins to scheme... ¯You're a sneaky one, Apple Bloom...¯ At the school the next day, AB is proud to present her (literally) shiny, new cutie mark, a silver circle. She claims it's something called a Loopdy Hoop (I guess Hula Hoop is a trademarked name) and demonstrates her skills with it. Even Cheerilee is eager to see what tricks she can do. In the middle of her routine, another cutie mark suddenly appears... this one for spinning plates. Since no pony ever has two cutie marks, DT and SS (who else? ) declare they must both be fake somehow. (They're right, as it happens.) When AB is challenged to show she can do this second talent too, she does, eventually involving most of the town in her combination demonstration. A weary but proud Apple crew return to the farm, and AB says goodnight. Shortly, though, Applejack is awoken by a strange sound coming her her lil' sis's room...not that, actually it's tap-dancing. A third cutie mark has appeared, and AB now not only can tap-dance, she has to... I guess Gloria Estefan was right... the rhythm really IS going to get you... Applejack takes her to see Twilight, who was just reading about strange diseases. Spike finds her the right book and she reads out information about the Cutie Pox (roll credits!), a mysterious medieval malaise that makes multiple marks and adjudicates arbitrary acting out of the associated abilities. Worst of all, there is no cure listed... Hoping that Zecora might know of a cure, they try to head through town to her hut, but are slowed by Ab's involuntary talenting (I know that's not a real word, just go with it) including chess, window washing and lion taming. The townsponies panic and run when Spike lets slip that AB has the Cutie Pox. This gives Zecora, who has just arrived in town, the impression that the ponies are still afraid of her. After the misunderstanding is solved, Zecora reveals that she does indeed have a Cutie Pox cure... the seeds of truth, a plant that will only grow and flower when true words are spoken. She also makes it clear she knows that AB went behind her back and used up the last of her heart's desire. Pinkie tries to confess to eating more corncakes than she was allowed, but as high as she goes, it seems she's hedging, eventually begging for it to stop. Jeez, guilty conscious, much? Since there's a dearth of truth from El Pinko, AB finally admits to using up the last of the heart's desire to make a potion to fake her cutie mark, and that she didn't earn them honestly after all. This confession is enough to make the seeds sprout and grow a flower. AB quickly eats it, erasing all her marks and leaving her a Blank Flank once more. She apologizes to SB and Scoots for being dishonest about her cutie mark. Given the chance to report to Princess Celestia, AB explains that she has learned that she should be patient, and not will resort to dishonest means to get what she wants. She states that she will wait patiently for her cutie mark to appear.... yeah, that lasts about as long as you'd expect... When it's pointed out that AB actually managed to whip up quite a mean potion on her own, the CMC decide to try for their cutie marks in potion making, and head off at a gallop. Thoughts on the Episode While the premise for this episode might seem pretty fantastical, there are actually historical precedents, notable various forms of dancing mania, in which people seemed to be compelled to dance, even to the point of exhaustion, heart failure and death. I don't think it's a coincidence that the first uncontrollable action affecting Apple Bloom was a kind of dancing, nor that the Cutie Pox itself was last seen in Equestria many hundreds of year ago, mirroring the fact that such events were recorded in the 1500s. There's too much correlation for coincidence, and I do like it when we can see that the writers have done their research. The opening bowling scene was rife with Big Lebowski references. I see a little bit of parental appeal creeping in there. It's always fun to see ponified versions of characters from various movies. But, like, that's just my opinion, man. Continuing the theme of patience being a virtue, as most CMC episodes do, here again we see that AB's attempt at using the heart's desire to get what her heart desires backfires spectacularly. That magic is unable to make a cutie mark manifest before its time is also made apparent. Since the heart's desire seems to grant low level wishes, it "did its best" to give AB what she wanted, but since her actual mark appearing was literally impossible, what the heart's desire ended up doing was making something possible (if highly unlikely) happen instead... such as a sudden outbreak of a disease once thought gone for good. Similar to the dancing mania, this is a reference to something that does happen in real life, where diseases thought cured return to bedevil us as a species. As for things to mark the episode down on, there really aren't too many. Some fans were a bit offended by Applejack's comment about Zecora having a "zebra sense", which was perceived as AJ being a wee mite racist. Although Zecora always has had shades of the Magical Negro trope, that it was "Deep South" Applejack making the comment might come off as hitting is little close to home, and this could be considered carelessness on the part of the writers. There are also a few too many coincidences. That Zecora just happened to be making a potion with heart's desire, and that she just happened to have the cure for the Cutie Pox when she came to Ponyville to find a replacement for what AB had used up, and that the cure just happened to require a truthful confession in order for AB to learn her lesson... it all adds up to being a little too convenient. Almost as if Zecora planned it all along... hmmm... that bears looking into... But these issues are relatively minor, and could be considered nitpicks (where not outright paranoia... ) Overall, this episode is pretty enjoyable, and despite the ending subverting the moral, the moral itself is a pretty good one. This is not quite an indispensable episode, and it doesn't really gain anything on a second viewing, but there are no major defects in it. Highlights/Quotes The scene with a certain pink party pony confessing to conspicuous corncake consumption was pretty amusing, and totally in character for the somewhat gluttonous Pinkie Pie. Ponies in hazmat suits. That is all. Pros: Some real life research went into this. Some references for the adults in the audience. Good humour. A worthwhile moral. Cons: Possible unfortunate implications about "zebra sense". Some convenient coincidences for the plot to work. Final Rating 5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently. 4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great. 3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced. 2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden. 1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Stay sunny side up, everybody!
  17. Well, then, maybe I’ll try the Sisterhooves Social without a sister. In fact, I think I’ll try the rest of my life without a sister! – Sweetie Belle Rarity is having a wonderful dream which is intruded on by the smell of smoke. Thinking it’s a fire, she wakes up and tumbles downstairs… only to find that her sister Sweetie Belle is the culprit. The smoke is an intended “breakfast in bed” burning. An annoyed Rarity is about to give her sister a piece of her mind when her parents surprise her with a cheery morning greeting. It turns out, they’re going on holiday, and leaving Rarity to look after Sweetie for an entire week. After the parents leave, Rarity suggests they clean up the kitchen and prepare an actual edible breakfast. However, Rarity being Rarity, she ends up doing everything herself, to which Sweetie protests. Rarity reluctantly allows her to garnish the finished breakfast, but even that comes with overbearing oversight and demands that it be carried out perfectly. The tension between the sisters continues to rise as Sweetie tries to be helpful, but only ends up messing up something – she washes Rarity’s one of a kind sweater, shrinking it; uses up her stock of rare baby blue sapphires to draw a picture of the two of them, forcing Rarity to go find more; and worst of all, tidies up Rarity’s Inspiration Room, which only serves to disrupt her creation process. Rarity only just manages to push down her anger, but states that she needs a little alone time. A dejected Sweetie Belle goes for a walk, bumping into Apple Bloom, who listens to her tale of woe. Trying to be helpful, Apple Bloom suggests that Sweetie ask Rarity to join her for the titular Sisterhooves Social, an annual event held at Sweet Apple Acres in which sister teams can compete. Sweetie’s enthusiasm is swiftly dashed, as Rarity tells her that “playing games in the dirt” is simply uncouth. Angry that Rarity is so unwilling to do anything except on her own terms, Sweetie decides that she’s going to disown Rarity as her sister. In the heat of the argument, Rarity is only too happy to agree to these terms, and the two part ways. Sweetie ends up being consoled by the Apple sisters, and they show her how they work together at almost everything. As Sweetie remarks, it’s like they’re just one pony. Even when it seems like AJ is going to get angry on account of AB splashing her with crushed grapes, it ends with just a playful tussle, much to her relief. Meanwhile, back at her boutique, Rarity finds that the previous disasters Sweetie caused all seem to have unanticipated benefits: the shrunken sweater is perfectly sized for Opal Wopal, and her newly neatly organized Inspiration Room ends up giving her an idea for another line of clothes: “Full Spectrum Fashions”… Hey! I should sue! Although Rarity tries to rationalize away the good fortune so as to maintain her indignation, she finally comes across the picture that Sweetie drew of the two of them, showing that she really does love Rarity and appreciates the fact they are sisters. Overcome with remorse for her earlier behavior, and wanting to make things right and get her sister back, she heads out to find Sweetie so they can make up. When she does find Sweetie later that evening, who is having a camp out with the Apple sisters, her attempt at patching things up is quickly scuppered by her own inability to realize that she still wants everything, even the reconciliation, to happen her way, and Sweetie quickly rebuffs her, deciding to adopt AJ as new big sister… to the consternation of everypony else. Rarity is understandably put out by her failure to return to her sister’s good graces, but AJ finally makes her understand that being sisters requires a give and take, and that Rarity is failing because she is not willing to compromise. Rarity comes to a decision… The following day is the day of the Sisterhooves Social. Sweetie sadly wishes the Apples luck, but perks up immensely when Apple Bloom steps aside to allow Sweetie to be AJ’s sister for the day… and she means one day. As they come to the first obstacle, a mud pit, AJ falls in and re-emerges covered in mud. (SPOILER! ALERT: It’s actually Rarity, as one could see with a closer look at “Applejack”.) The eyes have it… Working together, the two manage to come within a gnat’s wing of victory, but ultimately get second place. Her spirits not dampened in the slightest, Sweetie Belle gives a big thank you hug to “Applejack”, knocking off her hat and revealing a unicorn horn. Rarity quickly shakes the rest of the mud off, and Sweetie realizes that the Apple sisters were in on the plan too. Given proof that Rarity really is able to put her own wishes aside in favour of doing something nice for her little sister, Sweetie Belle forgives Rarity and readopts her as sister. Rarity suggests they celebrate: with a trip to the spa. She’s quite serious about it, too. Fortunately, despite the spa joke and final semi-disagreement, Rarity really has learned her lesson, and is now willing to compromise with Sweetie… even if it does involve getting a little a lot just the right amount of dirty on occasion. Thoughts on the Episode While the basis of the episode is Rarity being selfish in her relationship with her sister, it’s not too much of an out of character thing for her. Rarity likes things to be organized, or not, the way she likes it in her own home, which is fair enough. I know from experience that sometimes an older sibling might be slightly less willing to do things that they would do without hesitation for their friends, in a “darkest under the lighthouse” kind of way. Both sides have a point here; Sweetie is driven by nothing but affection for her older sister and a desire to help her out, but good intentions don’t always equal good results. On the other hand, a sibling relationship does require a certain amount of compromise, and Rarity was at fault for not being willing to do that. The good part is that she does learn her lesson, and it stays learned. In a series that quite frequently has characters forget previous morals and lessons and so have to relearn them, this is quite the refreshing aversion, as we’ll see in some of the later episodes. Praise should also be given to both Applejack and Apple Bloom for not only behaving like sisters should behave to each other, but also AB being willing to relinquish her “sister rights” and a chance at competing in the Sisterhooves Social, and AJ for her sensible wisdom and wholesome advice. We have seen in previous and following episodes that that relationship is not always as perfect as presented here, but that’s an understandable move on the part of the writers, to contrast the one-sided relationship that Rarity and Sweetie have at first with a more equal partnership, as the Apple siblings represent. There was some decent humour in this episode, even if it wasn’t a laugh riot. The jump cut with Sweetie confidently predicting that Rarity will love the idea of the Social, to Rarity disparaging it is classic. The voice acting is great, with Rarity’s declaration of intent to get back her sister and Sweetie’s pretty spot on impersonations of her sister being fussy being highlights. Oh, and two words: “One. Day.” It’s interesting to see the contrast between Rarity and the rest of her family. Her parents, while seeming like good ponies, are nothing like their refined and elegant daughter, and it’s pretty clear that Sweetie takes after her folks much more than Rares does… especially the cooking skills. Rarity points out the burnt juice, but personally, I find it more impressive (for a certain value of “impressive”) that Sweetie is able to melt toast. There is really very little to criticize in this episode. Highlights/Quotes That previously mentioned cut: Sweetie Belle: That sounds like the perfect way for us to hang out! Rarity will think it's an excellent idea. <CUT> Rarity: What a ridiculous idea. The uncouth discussion… about being uncouth: Applejack: 'Uncouth'? She said the Sisterhooves Social was 'uncouth'? Apple Bloom: Yeah! Uncouth? [belch] Wait. What's uncouth? Sweetie Belle: It's not just the Social. She thinks I'm uncouth. Applejack: Honey, Rarity thinks everything's uncouth. Apple Bloom: [with mouth full] What's uncouth? Applejack: It means uncivil. Y'know, bad mannered? Apple Bloom: [belch] Applejack: Exactly! This epic fail at persuasion: Sweetie Belle: Hm. You want to me to go home with you, so that we can do what YOU want to do? Rarity: Um… yes? Sweetie Belle: Just forget it! She may be willing to lend out her sister, but not for very long: Applejack: Sisters for a day! Sweetie Belle: No way! Apple Bloom: One. Day. <A little later> Apple Bloom (poking Sweetie): One. Day. Good luck! Any example of Squeaky Belle, really. This moment: Even mud knows better than to dare stain Rarity... her fans can be a little protective! Pros: A good moral that sticks; some fine voice acting; AB and AJ are great here; some chuckles to be had. Cons: Nothing really worth marking the episode down on. Final Rating 5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently. 4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great. 3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced. 2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden. 1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Stay sunny side up!
  18. 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.
  19. 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!
  20. 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!
  21. If I can’t find a friendship problem… I’ll make a friendship problem! – Twilight Sparkle Season 2 contains some of my favorite episodes in the show. Up there, but no longer at the very top, is the episode I will review today: Lesson Zero. In many ways, it shows its original place as first in Season 2, some of which are explored below. What the episode is about On finding out that she’s in danger of missing a (self-imposed) Friendship Report deadline, Twilight desperately tries to find a friend with a problem she can solve, but comes up goose eggs, getting more and more unhinged. Beleaguered assistant Spike goes from concerned to downright anxious as her madness progresses, eventually sending her to see her friends at the picnic they had planned for that day, hoping it will take her mind off the problem. Wazzuuuuupp! However, her friends are less than solicitous, thinking that she’s overreacting to the situation, and sending her storming off. Things go from bad to worse when she uses an old toy named Smarty Pants and a magic spell (Want-It-Need-It Spell: works every time) to cause a fight between the CMC that she can break up and so have something to report. However, the situation escalates as the entire town gets brainwashed into loving and fighting over the doll. Running back to her friends, Twilight explains the latest mess she’s gotten them into, just as the sun goes down… and Princess Celestia herself arrives, for the first time in the show actually angry at Twilight. A simple counter spell sets things to rights, and a stern Celestia tells Twilight to meet her in the library. Twilight sadly bids her friends goodbye, certain she’s being sent back to Canterlot as punishment. As Twilight confronts Celestia, the others come in to defend her, claiming that they were at fault for not taking her concerns seriously. Princess Celestia hears them out, then agrees not to punish Twilight… as long as all six of them agree to send in friendship reports from now on... but only in their own good time. Celestia compliments Spike: he was concerned about Twilight, and asked her for help. As the Mane Six dictate a group letter about the moral of this episode, “always treat your friends’ concerns seriously”, Spike attempts to add his own self-congratulatory note, only to be stalled by a stern glance from Twilight. Everypony laughs! What the episode gets right 1. The cold open provides a throw away gag, with Twilight’s first item on her To-Do List is to “make a to-do list”. Her grin as she delivers this line makes the moment, as does Spike’s exasperated groan. 2. Speaking of which, Twilight’s own exasperated groans after her friends prove less concerned about things than she is, along with her squeak (Da’oh!) when she realizes Rainbow Dash is about to bomb an old barn of Applejack’s are some of the highlights of the episode for me. 3. The scene in Sugarcube Corner is interesting, showing not only Mrs. Cake’s kindness, but also foreshadowing Twilight’s later neurotic breakdown, where just for a moment her expression changes to this: Unleash the beast! 4. There are a lot of visual changes and upgrades, making this the first true Season 2 episode. The glow of a unicorn’s horn and the aura surrounding the object being manipulated is much more pronounced, with a darker colour and an undulating border replacing the vague pink glow of previous episodes. It’s also colour-coded for your convenience: Rarity’s aura is sky blue, Princess Celestia’s aura is a sunny yellow, and Twilight’s aura is reddish pink (Making them Cyan, Yellow and Magenta respectively! No black magic, yet, though.) 5. While the day starts out with the sun moving normally, as soon as Twilight realizes she might miss a deadline, it starts moving in increments, with an audible ticking sound. Even the windmill moves in time with the sun across the sky. This is an interesting and thematic visual, reinforcing the urgency Twilight feels as time proceeds without pause. Twilight’s mane getting more and more untidy as she slips further into her madness is a great touch. And those expressions… 6. The first half of the episode is Twilight trying to find a friend who needs help. Epic fail after epic fail results. Rarity only lost a ribbon; Rainbow Dash is smashing Applejack’s barn on orders rather than out of anger, and Fluttershy is apparently killing a bear! Lucky it was only a chiropractic/massage session. 7. There’s lot of rule of three in this episode: Twilight’s imagine spots that Spike has to interrupt; Sweetie Belle’s line “I really like her mane…?(!)”; Rarity’s line “Of all the worst things that could happen, this is the worst. Possible. THING!” For both sisters, the final repetition contains some sort of a joke. Sweetie’s third is delivered with as much enthusiasm as the previous two were missing, and Rarity follows hers up with “What? I really mean it this time!” when the others are staring at her after Twilight gets into trouble. 8. And boy, does she ever. Celestia is not pleased to find the entire town in the grip of a mind-altering magic spell. Some have suggested that this is partly due to Twilight messing with pony’s minds right after having Discord do the same, which makes as much sense as anything. 9. The scene of Twilight and Celestia in the library is great, because you can see Spike listening in and holding onto his tail. You might just think he feels bad Twilight is in trouble, but it goes even further… he is the reason she’s getting the dressing down in the first place, and is feeling guilty about it. Luckily, Twilight is happy to hear that he was taking her concerns seriously enough to call on Celestia for help. What the episode gets wrong 1. Once upon a time, I would not have hesitated to give this episode full marks. Alas, time has made me more jaded. There is a massive, massive problem with this episode: it relies on distorting Twilight’s organized, list-making personality to absurd levels to make the plot work. In this way, it is no different to, and even precedes,The Mysterious Mare Do Well andSomepony to Watch over Me. It’s one of the methods the writers keep using that I think is really irksome, and to find it in an episode I thought was so good otherwise is a major disappointment. The best episodes are always those where the character’s personality is natural, and the plot develops organically from that. I put Look Before You Sleep (S1) and Castle Mane-ia (S4) in this category, and those episodes still hold a special place in my heart. 2. Twilight’s deadline is self-imposed… Celestia never mentions a once-every-week aspect to the Friendship Reports. This makes the entire episode seem a little silly when you consider it. Even Spike is confused as to how Twilight came to that conclusion. Other Thoughts 1. Okay… now Pinkie Pie is a fourth wall observer, that’s already established. There’s a scene at the picnic, when she uncovers her picnic basket, only to reveal balloons and the basket floats away. Many fans seem to think this is breaking the fourth wall. It isn’t. She is looking at Fluttershy, not at the “camera”, and it’s Fluttershy’s confused expression that she reacts to. 2. At the end of the episode, Celestia shows that the ability to teleport isn’t unique to Twilight. Moreover, she can apparently teleport via the moon… well, I suppose she did spend 1000 years raising it and the sun alone, so that makes sense. Highlights/Quotes Rarity: “Please tell me I did NOT forget the plates! I did! I totally forgot them!” Summons a couch to lie on Rarity: “Why? Why? Whyyyy…? Ugh.” Notices the others staring at her. Rarity: “What? You didn’t expect me to lie on the grass, did you?” What Rarity says about Twilight, after spending the episode freaking out over trivialities. Rarity: “Ugh, what a drama queen! … Ahem, relatively speaking…” Her self-conscious smoothing back of her mane as she realizes the hypocrisy in the statement makes this work. Twilight telefrags the CMC’s beach ball and then: “Hiiii, guuuurllllz!” BRRR! The CMC fighting as hard as they can to NOT play with Smarty Pants, and Scoots waving a hoof by her temple to indicate Twilight’s gone round the bend. Mayor Mare outpaces the entire field, and is only overtaken by the flying ponies… so much for her being old! Celestia: TWILIGHT SPARKLE! Applejack (Removes hat): Woah, nelly… Pros: Makes many changes to the visuals and even to the premise: now it all of the Mane Six who are learning friendship lessons. Comedic episode with great running gags. There are some truly classic lines. Cons: Twisting the traits of Twilight for the sake of the plot. The whole problem is self-inflicted. Final Rating 5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently. 4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great. 3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced. 2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden. 1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Season 2 reviews are underway. I may be taking a holiday from the site soon (for reasons), but I’ll probably drop in occasionally to update this humble little blog 'o mine. How long can I stay away? Who knows? Who cares? Stay sunny side up!
  22. I have some good news and some bad news for you, dear readers. The good news is that there were some great Season 4 episodes. The bad news is that there are some real stinkers in there too. I ascribe to the idea that in situations like these, one should have one’s choice as to which kind of news to hear first. In the interests of following that principle, you will find my picks for the Best and the Worst episodes in Season 4 under the appropriate headings, hidden behind spoiler tags for your convenience (or perhaps inconvenience). It shouldn’t need to be said, but it will be anyway: these are just the way I personally feel about the episodes, and if you loved an episode I hated (or vice versa), that doesn’t mean I’m right and you’re wrong (or vice versa). Everyone reacts to things in their own unique way, and that is to be celebrated. If you think I got my facts wrong and want to correct me or wish to offer an alternative interpretation of events, feel free to do so. No guarantees you'll manage to convince me, but I'll try to weigh the evidence fairly. And so, I invite you to join me in a roundup of Season 4’s thrills and spills. The Good News The Bad News And there you have it, folks! Season 4, all tied up with a pretty little bow. Feel free to comment (politely, of course ) if you think I got the wrong end of the stick, or if you saw good or bad things I missed in any particular episode. See you in Season 5, and stay sunny side up!
  23. You know who's disappointed in you, Spike? You. And only you can make it right with you again. What would that take, Spike? – Twilight Sparkle The time has finally come for the Equestria Games to begin. As their train nears the Crystal Empire, Rainbow Dash takes the opportunity to give the Ponyville athletes a final pep talk. She encourages them to go for the gold in all their events, before admitting that it might be a bridge too far for the Aerial Relay team of herself, Bulk Biceps and Fluttershy (along with Derpy as reserve). They’re up against the Wonderbolts, after all. This scene highlights just how far Rainbow Dash has developed as a character. She shows a great deal of maturity, and is even willing to be vulnerable and forthright in front of others. This is a far cry from the Rainbow Dash who used to hide her concerns under a layer of bluff and bluster, even from her closest friends. Scootaloo is also impressive here, not only by showing that she can at least hover briefly at will, but also by encouraging Rainbow Dash in return. Well done, writers! At the train station, Spike is happily doing his usual task of looking after everypony’s luggage, while the Crusaders look on. He tells the fillies that he has a system to calm himself whenever he’s under pressure: he counts to ten, and afterwards is calm enough to do the job right. No sooner has he finished explaining this than he is swept up into a chair by two Crystal Empire guards, and brought to Princesses Cadance and Twilight. The Guards are contrite about unceremoniously dumping him out the chair as they bow, making Spike even more confused at their words and behaviour. His confusion is cleared up when he learns that, due to his heroics in the Season 3 premiere, he is considered a VID (Very Important Dragon) within the Crystal Empire, even having had a giant statue made in his likeness. Princess Cadance then asks him if he will do the honour of lighting the torch for the opening ceremony of the games. He readily agrees. Under the less than indulgent eye of returning character Ms. Harshwhinny, Spike comes out to do his duty… only for the enormous crowd filling the stadium to trigger a sudden bout of stage fright. Even his handy trick of counting backfires, as it makes him even more aware of the tens of thousands of ponies watching. At least now we know how he counted all the grass at Sweet Apple Acres so fast. Even after getting the signal to light the torch from Ms. Harshwhinny, he finds the pressure to perform is causing, shall we say, "a reptile dysfunction"? I’ve heard of having a “limp lizard”, but this is ridiculous… Unable to breathe fire, and without a backup (really, not even one just in case?), Spike tries to use himself like a lighter, recycling a visual gag from Apple Family Reunion in Season 3. Nothing works, and the crowd is starting to get restless at the delay. Princess Cadance eventually asks a guard to go down and help Spike, but Twilight acts faster, using her magic to secretly ignite the torch for him. A short time later, the Mane Six are congratulating the Crusaders on their flag waving routine, when Twilight joins them, and confesses her role in the torch lighting. They all agree the best thing to do is come clean to Spike. When he arrives, however, he is now convinced he has the ability to set things on fire with just his mind! I’m not sure how I feel about this joke. Spike is many things, but he’s not usually so stupid as to conclude he has new mental fire-lighting abilities, rather than realizing the more likely cause of his success. After a very awkward conversation with some of his Crystal Pony fans, Twilight mercifully puts Spike’s misapprehension to bed. The truth that he really DID fail in front of thousands of spectators depresses the young dragon, and he wanders off disconsolately. As the Aerial Relay takes place, Spike asks Ms. Harshwhinny if he can do something else for the Games. However, she doesn't know the whole story, and thinks he's just trying to gain even more popularity. She sarcastically comments that next he'll want to do a rock concert. At this, he gets an idea. An awful idea. The dragon got a wonderful, awful idea... After Cloudsdale's Wonderbolts narrowly beat out Ponyville for the gold, Spike volunteers to sing the Crystal Empire anthem, despite Shining Armor's best efforts to stop him. However, since Cloudsdale won, it's their anthem that is due to be played, one to which he doesn't know the words or even the tune. What follows next is without a doubt the hardest sceneto watch in the entire show, including all four Seasons and associated spin-offs. Spike has to make up the words himself, and he does about as well as you would expect, repeating lines about "being fast", "having wonderful trees" and "I hope this song is over now..." ad nauseum. Captain! The "dafuq am I listening to?" levels are off the scale! Only Pinkie isn't gob smacked over how horrible this situation is, bopping her head in time with the horrible singing (later done again in Rainbow Rocks, with Pinkie and Sonata) She even screams out "Nailed it!" in the ensuing stunned silence at the song's end. Now, am I the only one who sees the simple solution here? All they had to do was give orders for the music to be played really loudly (it can be heard in the background anyway). Then Spike could just mouth any words he likes, and they could claim that the music "accidentally" drowned out his singing. Soblem prolved! In the wake of the recent events, Spike decides to wait out the Games in his room, moping. The Crusaders try to persuade him to come out for the final day of the Games, but he refuses. Twilight, eventually having had enough, sternly orders him to come with her to view the final event: Ice Archery. Reluctantly and in disguise, he follows her, saying that she can't understand how he feels for having let everypony down. Twilight says she does understand, since she has let ponies down too. Spike still turns away... Out on the field, one of the ice archers is paying a little too much attention to his Cloudsdale competitor. He trip and accidentally fires an arrow into a low hanging cloud, which ices up and begins to fall onto the panicking crowd. Since all unicorn and alicorn magic is now locked by a spell to prevent in-game cheating, things look bad... until Spike, using various pegasii as stepping stones, leaps into the air and uses his fire breath to melt the iceberg and save everyone. The crowd cheers, and the Mane Six and even all three Princesses thank Spike for his bravery. Despite this, he still feels like he isn't worthy, leading Twilight to the epiphany voiced above. To give him back his confidence, Spike is tasked with lighting the fireworks in the closing ceremony of the Equestria Games, and delivers his final thoughts as he does so successfully... the person whose view of you is most important, is you. Bonus points for the fireworks exploding in purple and green... and even Ms Harshwhinny seems much kinder at the end. Thoughts on the Episode Once you get over the vicarious embarrassment of the anthem scene, you're left with another great Spike focused episode. Apart from that aforementioned scene, and the "I can light fires with my mind" joke, which thankfully is used to somewhat of good effect and then resolved before continuing with the plot, it's really just Spike struggling with a poor self-image, something we can all relate to at times. At the end of it all, he steps up and saves the day again, further cementing his status as saviour of the Crystal Empire... and let's face it, Precious Scales deserves it after all the crap he's been put through in previous episodes. And the ponies couldn't be happier for him. That's nice, isn't it? The writing was pretty good throughout this episode, from the opening scene showing Rainbow "Developed" Dash, to the excitement of the Games and the final action scene. Just one thing bothers me... where did Spike get that umbrella? There was a lot of good character jokes to be had here, and Pinkie was really on form, comedically missing the point in the fiasco that Spike creates, and "panicking" over the medal count. The Crusaders were also on form, with Scootaloo showing possible progress in her flying, and her surrogate sister relationship with Dash growing ever stronger. Speaking of Dash, her attempt to be nonchalant and overdoing it is perfectly in line with her character , as was Spike simply not noticing. Some other nice touches were various cameos in the crowd, including Prince Blueblood, the Maretonia Rarity clone, Cherry Jubilee, Fancy Pants, Braeburn; the list goes on. There are plenty others, go see how many you can find, even in this one picture.... I particularly like the one pony who is definitely Bulk Bicep's mom. He always did strike me as a momma's boy... There's also the griffins making a comeback! Highlights and Quotes Spike's reaction to giant statue of him with the Crystal Heart. Spike: Hullo, gorgeous! All the unicorns have to have their magic locked during the games. Rarity's reaction is priceless! Rarity: Hmph! <struts off> Ms Harshwhinny's reaction to Spike wanting to do MORE for the Games Spike: Maybe there's something else I can do for the Games. Y'know, something really worthy of the Crystal Empire's admiration? Ms. Harshwhinny: What are you talking about? You lit the torch for the whole thing! Spike: Uh, well, actually, that wasn't really– Ms. Harshwhinny: That wasn't worthy enough for you? Ugh, for pony's sake! Next thing you know, you'll be asking to put on a rock concert. *snorts to herself* Celebrities... After Spike's disastrous singing of the Cloudsdale Anthem Stunned silence... Pinky (From the crowd): NAILED IT! Pros: An episode that gave Spike the respect he deserves, while still making him suffer for his happy ending. Good character based humour. Concludes a major Season 4 story arc just in time for the finale. Related to the previous, many cameos. Visually spectacular. Cons: Some really cringe-making humour. Spike's belief that he can light fires with just his mind (the burning feather from Owl's Well notwithstanding...) also contributes. Final Rating 5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently. 4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great. 3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced. 2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden. 1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! Goddamn finally finished all the Season 4 reviews! It took a while, but sometimes the inspiration just refuses to strike. But it did, and it's done! In the next few entries, I'll look at an overall review of Season 4, exploring why it's possibly the best one yet, and also explore the many awesome songs and rank them, before turning my attentions to Seasons 2 and 3. There's also some other stuff I want to get going on writing, like some of my fanfiction, and even maybe some entries about shows that are not Friendship is Magic. Plus some Rainbow Rocks stuff, naturally! Looks like 2015 is going to a busy one for this fox! In the meantime, don't shoot ice arrows at any clouds, and of course, stay sunny side up!
  24. Spike! Never, ever, ever, ever take another book out of the library at the castle without asking! – Twilight Sparkle The preparations for the Ponyville Foal and Filly Festival are done, and the event is about to start. Pinkie Pie is of course thrilled at the prospect of having a giant party with the young ponies of Ponyville. But Rarity is also looking forward to it as she puts the finishing touches on a puppet theatre she was commissioned to do, with Spike looking on and complimenting her, as is his wont. Unfortunately, Rarity lets her tendency for form over function get the best of her again, and her client ends up with a really beautiful but utterly useless puppet theatre. It neither travels nor has enough room for the performance, and the puppeteer promptly announces his disdain at the offering before storming off. Rarity is naturally devastated, and goes into a funk, curled up on her chaise longue, crying over her failure and gorging on carton after carton of Vanilla Oat Swirl ice cream. Unable to console her, Spike decides to visit the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters Library, along with Owlowiscious, to find a spell that can help her. Behind a secret door, Spike finds a spell book bathed in lurid green light on a pedestal. The lock on the gate is no match for his fire breath. He grabs the grimoire, oblivious to the obviously evil exterior and the fact that the stairway is crumbling beneath his feet as he casually walks back to the main room. Owlowiscious is far less sanguine, but his hoots of protests are brushed off by Spike as he reads the title of his acquisition: Inspiration Manifestation (roll credits *ding!*). The subtitle explains more: the spell instantly brings ideas to life. Returning to Rarity, he succeeds in convincing her to try out the spell despite her lingering depression. Reading the spell, Rarity’s own magic is replaced by the magic of the book. As part of the incantation, we learn the only way to break the spell: speaking words that are true. …wrong episode, Zecora. After upgrading first the cover of the book and then her fainting couch to prove the spell works as advertised, Rarity thanks Spike before setting out to adjust the puppet theatre to something more practical. The new design is a hit with the puppeteer, who declares that Rarity has redeemed herself, despite being suspicious as to how exactly she managed it. Rarity quickly silences Spike when he’s about to let Opal out of the bag and claims “trade secrets”. Having saved the day, Spike decides to return the book to the Castle, but Rarity asks him if she can keep it for just a bit longer. He agrees, and goes home for the night. Returning the next day, Spike goes to the Boutique to get the book, and finds that Rarity has been up all night effortlessly creating design after design. About this point it becomes clear that Rarity’s sanity is slipping under the influence of the spell. She ropes Spike into a new endeavor: secretly (just between the three of them) using the book to provide “beautifying upgrades” to the village. After a morning of incognito transmutation, Spike is finally realizing that Rarity is going too far. After she runs off alone to do more “improving”, Spike meets up with Twilight. She is of the opinion that some kind of new villain must be responsible. Resolving to steal the book away and end the spell, Spike chases after Rarity, after finding a subtle hint as to where she might have gone. Hey, look, they got Blossomforth right this time. Looking at you, Rainbow Falls. Finding her on a nearby hill, Spike eventually manages to pickpocket the book away from her, and is forced to swallow the book whole (presumably destroying it with his fiery dragon digestion). Despite this, it seems the spell is still very much in effect. Realizing she doesn't even need the book anymore, Rarity totally loses her perspective, claiming that she is going to entirely transform Equestria itself with her new-found powers. And that’s the right way to turn Rarity into a villain. Looking at you, Nightmare Rarity comic. Seeing just how far round the bend his friend and crush has gone, Spike flatly refuses to let her continue down this path. He finally tells her what he really thinks of her recent actions: that while she might have the power to change things, that doesn't mean the changes are good, and that he fears he has let Rarity become “something awful”. With these candid words, Spike inadvertently triggers the ending condition for the spell, the magic dissipating and leaving behind a rather disorientated Rarity, who seems surprised to learn that she was the cause of “something quite terrifying” happening to Ponyville. She also tells Spike that he should never be afraid to be honest with his friends. Spike writes the friendship lesson he learned into the journal, just before Twilight returns home, having spent all day with both Princess Cadance and Princess Luna fixing his mistake. She firmly reprimands him for taking spell books out of the Castle Library without asking. Spike applies his new lesson and tells her that she doesn't look so good right now, making this perhaps the first time Twilight hasn't been happy at the end of a story. Episode Analysis This episode is certainly a much better offering than the previous episode, which I gave a pretty hard time. First and foremost, it was a Spike episode, which is a… I don’t think I need to make that joke, you make it in your head already… while Rarity was in more of a supporting role. Spike actually learns a decent moral, and even the way the secondary moral is brushed aside is very much in line with Spike’s tendency to miss the point. He also deserves praise for being brave enough to tell Rarity "no", despite thinking it would be the end of their friendship. On the negative side, one could say his usual obliviousness was taken to extremes for the sake of the story. Which is, I have to say, one of the less worthy ways to generate a plot. On the positive side, I feel that this episode was presenting a rather realistic (in terms of the show, of course, not real life) way in which you could turn Rarity into a villain – give her the power to effortlessly realign the world into something more congruent with her own sensibilities, under the belief that she knows better than other ponies how they and the world should be. The scariest demonstration of the power of the spell comes in during the party scene. There, she quite clearly altered the appearance and behaviour of the clown and musician ponies themselves. Although most of the time she seemed to stop short of actually overriding the will of the “benefactors” of her power, that seems more like a decision on Rarity’s part than a limitation of the power of Inspiration Manifestation itself. A frightening thought, indeed. Given that it took three alicorn princesses to undo the damage (with difficulty) that was done by one pony (effortlessly), one wonders whether even Discord could defeat Rarity when she is wielding the power of her. Creative! GENIUS! Oh, and Inspiration Manifestation, of course. There would be a caption for this picture, only I just got turned into a golden statue of a fox... Some other random thoughts: it was an interesting inclusion of Sweetie Belle’s parents actually spending time with the filly, and we finally see her dad without a hat to confirm that he is actually a unicorn. I also noticed Dinky was “paired” with a pony who was definitely not Derpy (Amethyst Star, I think), while other known sibling groups were also shown, such as Thunderlane and Rumble. Speaking of Derpy, did she even appear in this episode? I don’t recall seeing her. Not that it’s evidence against the common fanon of Dinky being Derpy's foal, but they could have used that opportunity to confirm the link for certain. (What double standard?) The other Mane Six all made token appearances, providing a few yuks, especially the bit where the poor robin was trapped in his new birdmansion. Although that was a bit of fridge logic… Fly towards the eye of the pony giving you the directions, ya dumb boid! All in all, an enjoyable episode, focusing on the problem that Spike almost unleashed upon an unsuspecting Equestria. Highlights and Quotes First... Rarity: We shouldn't even tell anypony that it's me who's behind all the fabulous changes I'll be making! Won't that be a fun little secret for the three of us to share? Spike: The... three of us? Rarity: You, me, and the book, of course. Then the brick joke: Spike: *sighs* I can't do it. I promised I'd keep all of this between the three of us! Owlowiscious: *hoots* Spike: Of course it's weird she meant her, me and the spell book. But– The spell book! Of course! If I can get it away from her, I bet she won't be able to use its magic anymore! *Owlowiscious rolls his eyes* Oh, come on, it's the perfect plan! I... just have to figure out which way she went. Cue ponies crying out about the blinding gold-paved streets. When Spike blames Owlowiscious for taking the book, the hapless owl gets this long-suffering expression on his face as if to say, "Whelp, time to take one for the team..." Pros: A good day in the limelight for Spike. A believable “start of darkness” story, and rather frightening potential for Rarity to become a true force of evil. Spike learns a good moral about being honest. Cons: Perhaps he should have learned “don’t take things without permission” moral instead. Stretching Spike's ability to ignore details to an uncomfortable degree. Final Rating 5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently. 4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great. 3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced. 2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden. 1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon! May you never be improved against your will and stay sunny side up!
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