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  1. 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
  2. This episode allows Fluttershy to shine, and shine she does in her timid and cute way. The start of the episode consists with the typical Angel Bunny actions and ends with the first indication of the episode's subject. Good opening to the episode. THe start of the first segment features Flutters trying to get everyone's attention and the subplot of RD bouncing the ball. Of course everyone is listening to Twilight and not fluttershy. Twilight doing Twilight things with the books. The montage that follows was a brilliant way to show how each of the mane 6 prepared for their mission. And the mandatory Spike cameo for this episode takes place. Segment two begins with the ascent of the mountain. Flutters of course is being extremely timid of course. And cue the mandatory early series Pinkie breaking into song trope as well. And of course... the quietest pony causes the avalanche. This was a good segment with RD of course being a complete and total jerk to Fluttershy following the avalanche. Segment three starts off with an assessment of what each pony needs to do to save Equestria from the dragon. The other members of the mane 6 try to convince the dragon to leave the cave, eventually ending in a complete and total failure with Rainbow Dash going in and basically ticking the dragon off to the point of him charging at the problem. This was very emplicmatic of RD's egodriven personality in the early seasons of the series. But what makes this episode great is of course Fluttershy standing up to the dragon and being selectively assertive. That made this first mane 6 centered episode (outside the series opener) great. Overall, this was a great episode that set the stage for later Fluttershy assertiveness moments. RD was very overbearingly jerky in this one, but other than that, it was a very good episode. Grade: A-
  3. The cold open was peak early series cheese, showing off the dynamic that Spike and Twi have. The episode sees the introduction of the dunces Snips and Snails, who are buying into the lies that were pitched by Trixie. Trixie's introduction was peak Trixie, as she brags heavily throughout her introductory scene. She also introduces the Ursa Major part of her story. And of course the morons Snips and Snails eat it all up. This was absolutely peak Trixie with her insufferable and constant bragging. Segment two started with the various Mane 6 members trying to show up Trixie with what they are best at, which Trixie would just use to humiliate them with. Twi continues to be adorable throughout this episode. But, what ruins this episode for me is the complete and total morons Snips and Snails continue to show just how dumb they really are. Twi just doesn't get that she wouldn't be bragging when she's defending her friends against Trixie. The two morons end up finding an 'Ursa Major'. The final segment shows just how much of a fraud that Trixie is throughout, and that Twilight had to clean up the mess (as usual). Twi was great in this segment using her magic to get what we would find out is a Ursa Minor and it showed just how great of a character that she would be moving forward. Overall, this was a good quality episode and Twilight was great in this episode. Snips and Snails were completely idiotic as well. It's a shame that Trixie didn't get another episode until season 3. Grade: B
  4. The cold open sets up that this is gonna be our first Pinkie/Dash centered episode. This is peak early series pinkie being pinkie and one of the episodes that made me a huge fan of her. It also led Pinkie to bond with RD over their mutual enjoyment of pranks (and of course the hiccups with Spike and Pinkie). Much of this first segment was peak RD/Pinkie pranking fun, which is what made the episode enjoyable to begin with. Gilda joins the fray and instantly I got transported into 'dweeb' land. THis part of the episode where Gilda is basically trying to pull RD away from Pinkie is one of my least favorite parts of the season. Gilda wasn't exactly a great antagonist to begin with, with her only defining variable being her 'friendship' with RD. Pinkie being persistent in her attempts to appear to Gilda als makes this episode pretty good. But... the only one worse is the part where Gilda basically screamed at Fluttershy for getting in the way. This does not make her a good antagonist, this just makes her a jerk. I know that's how they wrote her, but that's no excuse. The party was just one large prankfest to attempt to ingratiate Gilda into her new friends was a great way to end this episode. Overall, it was a nice early series episode establishing a bit of RD's past and the start of the RD/Pinkie dynamic seen throughout the entire rest of the series. It's just a shame that Gilda was in so few episodes, because she had so much potential as a character. Grade: B
  5. This was the first instance of Applejack being EXTREMELY stubborn, which is one of the reasons why I really enjoy this episode. It's a comedy of errors brought on Applejack and her insistence to finish the harvest following the stampede of cows in the first segment of the episode. The episode is made that much better with each of the 6s (besides Twilight) things to do throughout the episode, which made her more and more loopy by the second. Plus... DASHFACE! The second segment featured her doing the trick with RD and the botched muffins AKA baked bads with Pinkie Pie (and Derpy in the background) made this segment a fun watch followed up by AJ and Winona botching the 'Bunny Census' and the ensuing bunny stampede (didn't really care for this part). Twilight with all the alliteration followed up by AJ FINALLY accepting help ended this episode on a positive note. Overall, this was a quality early series episode focused on a character flaw of one of the mane 6. Not a classic, but certainly not awful either. Grade: B+
  6. The Ticket Master is a good example of following up a great premiere with another good episode, even though it was fairly unnecessary. With the overarching storyline being the Grand Galloping Gala, this episode basically starts the season long. This was also Amy Keating Rogers first episode, and knowing what we know now... her episodes are good for the most part. Each of the 5 coming up with reasons why the should go (besides Rarity and RD) were pretty good. Pinkie's antics (and the typical early series song break from her) just added to the greatness that this episode had. The drawback is the extreme persistence of each pony vying for the second Gala ticket. They just did not get it that Twilight couldn't choose. It ends in the best way possible of course, but this episode felt like filler despite starting off the Gala story arc. Overall, a decent to good follow up to the series premiere and did a good job to establish the season long story arc. However... it felt more fillerish than anything. The song breaks with Pinkie were fun, but overall it could have been better. Grade: B
  7. The rewatch starts today. Beginning back at the start... with the series review. Part 1: Seeing the book open up gave me chills. And of course I sang the theme when it played. The opening segment was peak Twi being Twi of course. Seeing pinkie appear on the screen put an instant smile on my face (best pony FTW!). Apple Bloom's puppydog eyes and expression... totally peak her. Rainbow's introduction is pretty much why I got interested in the show... the moment she started laughing is why I got interested. Rarity's intro is typically Rarity, and of course Spike... Fluttershy was being peak cute and adorable, totally one of my favorite moments of the entirety of part 1. Pinkie Pie's party is, of course, Pinkie being Pinkie. Seeing the background be repeated on this scene shows just how far the show has come over the 9 year run. Plus... CMCs huddled up before they were officially friends. Overall, the first part of the series premiere was a very solid start for the show, introducing each member of the 6 individually doing what they would go on to do best throughout the show. Grade: A- Part 2: While part one was all about establishing the main players and the plot for the remainder of the episode, part two was all about defeating Nightmare Moon and how to find the Elements. For the first time that these 6 being together, I forget how great they were together almost right off the bat and how they weren't going to abandon Twi even through they hadn't known her for that long. The episode shows off each of the 6's main traits... which sets up the plot for the rest of the series really. Fluttershy's was particularly adorable (because that's the type of pony she is). Pinkie's was my favorite of the bunch... because it was the first of her many random song breaks (and the first official song of the series). Twi going through each of the 5's representations really shows how great they were together right off the bat. For it being early in the series, the animation quality is fairly good. The moment with Celestia and Luna always makes me tear up because it's such a touching moment Yes there were a few animation errors here and there, but those will happen early in new series. Overall, part two was a solid way to end the series premiere with the 6's first challenge and enemy to defeat. My grade: A+
  8. EDIT : I AM A GIANT IDIOT, THE MANUAL ACTUALLY EXPLAINS EVERYTHING PROPERLY. I just didnt pay enough Attention...just ignore this Review. So...before someone says that there is also another Game called Superman 3 that was programmed but then never released, than yes. There is a Game produced before " Superman - The Game ", which would technically be the second produced Superman Game, that was based on the third Movie, but i didnt found an Emulator for that Game,so i just watched someone else play it. Its basically like Missile Command, you control Superman and you can fly around the different City Parts ( little Groups of Buildings ) while having to stop the Missiles that get shot from the evil Computer. ( in the middle of the screen ) You either have to block the Missiles by going trough them or use your Heat Vision. So you use your moving Keys and one shot Key. You cant use your X-Ray Vision anymore like in the first Game, but you have a little Mini Map on the Top i think, that lets you see anywhere. ( i guess it could be a replacement for the X-Ray Vision Power ) The Game looks like fun, but its really just, block the Missiles until all the Buildings are destroyed and get a Highscore. The Missiles go faster and faster every Round, until you lose. It doesnt have an Happy Ending, its just a Highscore Game, so there isnt that much to it. As i said, i havent played it, so...i dont know, could be fun. Now to the real second released Game : Superman - The Game from 1985. I actually have the Game for Commodore 64, which includes all the Combat Zones, but since i didnt want to spend so much Money on multiple old Home Computers, i just searched for an Emulator. I could only find the Spectrum Version, but i have to admit, that i didnt searched that long, but i trust Emu-Paradise the most, since it seems to be the biggest Emulator Side. And well...the Spectrum Version is shortened and has only one Combat Zone. The Commodore Version has 5 and better Graphics I wish i could play that Version. So, lets make this Post shorter by counting Positive and Negative things right away: ( and hope that the Post Editor doesnt brake again. ) Positive Things The Game looks better and you have 3 Powers now, Flying, X-Ray Vision ( represented by the Mini-Map on the button, which lets you see, where People are ) and your Heat Vision. Two Playable Characters, Superman and Darkseid. ( Darkseid can teleport himself and can use his Omega Beams. ) 5 Combat Zones and 6 Town Zones. ( The normal Town and an Underground Area, both divided by 3 Screens. ) Now the negative Things ( based on the Spectrum Version that i played ) This Game is confusing ! It says it has two playable Characters, but even the Manuel doesnt tell me, how i can change the Character ! The Manual also only partly explains to me, how the Game Works. It basically told me, i could pick up People and Items by pressing the Fire Button twice ( since you only have the directions Keys and one Action button ), but many times, it doesnt work.I cant pick up People and pressing the Fire Button mutliple times until it actually reacts and lets me pick up an Item, is kinda annoying. Also its weird, that when you pick up an Item ( and it tells you by a Number that you have it ) its still on the Screen for a few more seconds. You also have to change some barriers, to aim with your Heat Vision, because it gets reflected from the Barriers. What the manual didnt explain to me properly was, that i also have to change the Barriers in a way, that they would lead the normal People to a save Exit. That wouldnt be so bad, but some Barriers never change and pressing the Fire Button again for mutliple times until it finally reacts is again : ANNOYING ! Also, everytime you try to pick up an Item or change a Barrier, you automatically shoot your Heat Vision. And you have limited Power, which means you waste your Power every time. Everytime you try to get to a new Place in Town, you enter the same Combat Zone, in which you have to destroy Grenades that get thrown by Darkseid. Okay...which means spamming the shoot Button again. I can describe this Game in 2 Words : REPETITIVE and FRUSTRATING. Might be, that the Spectrum Version is the worst one and that the Commodore Version is better, but waiting for a Tape to load and spend houndreds of Dollars for a used System and then again Money, for the Tape loader, just for one single Game and then buy again an Amstrad Cpc, an Amiga and a Spectrum for the rest of the old DC Games, just seem to me, like a giant waste of Money. I would buy gaming Consoles, because they are often cheaper and dont need that many special Items and have more releases on them, but Home Computer...nah. I played the Spectrum Version and that gave me enough. Its a nice try for a second Game, you have one more Power, an even cooler Enemy and more Action, but the Problems with this game are just to much. Confusing Controls and Manual, spamming the Action Key everywhere because it doesnt react correctly, nowhere dows the Manual or the Game tell you how to actually change the Character nor does the Manual show you your Buttons that you have to use. ITS A MANUAL!!! ITS SUPPOSED TO SHOW YOU, HOW TO PLAY!!! WHAT WHERE THEY THINKING??? And some Items just dont work correctly, like Barriers that wont move or spamming the Action Key over an Item and not picking it up. I know, i know, maybe my Emulator or my downloaded Rom is broken...could be. Sure. Than just see this as the Emu-Paradise Download Version Review. The Game is not fun. Not at all. I would give this Game ( Spectrum Version ) a 3/10. The Spectrum Version is just spamming the Action Key the entire Game and hoping that something happens. It gets frustrating and boring and i actually stopped playing after a few Minutes because its just not fun. Its not working correctly, some Functions arent included and the Manual doesnt even tell you everything you need to know. I didnt played the Commodore Version, but i would give this one a 6/10. Good Graphics, a good Variety of Levels and different Combat Zone Mini Games. The complete Version seems to be a good second Superman Game. I see, that it trys a lot of good things, but if its again just spamming the same Key over and over and over again, i would probably get bored from that Version to. It gets one Point in the good because it looks better and has more Content than the first Game, which i would expect from a Sequel. But the Spectrum Version is a whole Load of Bull. S***. Maybe its just not the Game for me. Anyway, this is all just my Opinion and maybe i just suck at the Game. Or maybe im just to stupid, to understand the Game.
  9. I know I'm in the minority here but I didn't like it. Without trying to give too much away for a movie called "Joker" there was barely any Joker proper in it. It felt like a remake of "King of Comedy" with DC characters shoehorned in just to get more people to see it Spoilers Below:
  10. Note: Taken from here and edited. A second, fuller review/analysis of how it's the perfect FIM finale is on the way. - A nitpick, but the adults are looking a little older than what they show. They're all at least in their mid-thirties if not closer to 40, but the giant bags under their eyes make them look like they're older than Bow Hothoof or Windy Whistles. Lighter, smaller, subtler lines under their eyes may work more to better match that range. - Twilight apparently had a little too much trouble relocating sheep away from the line, and her animation as Future Twi isn't very polished. +/- Twilight looking like a Celestia recolor was a major surprise (and I can see why some don't like it), but over time, I've become more and more used to her. Her hair's beautiful, but the lack of strap over her crest makes it look like it's floating over her chest instead of being hooked around. + The new interior of the Throne Room is absolutely breathtaking. Beautiful color palette pleasing to the eye, excellent callbacks via the stained-glass windows (including updates since the finale, like Flurry Heart officially becoming princess and the Y6 saving the School), and the lighter pastel making the bolder-colored characters pop out. + Spike really shows how much he's evolved since becoming the ambassador, and I don't mean physically or vocally. He's part-royalty, Twilight's equal, and has done a spectacular job maintaining harmony throughout the world. Recall the very beginning of the episode, which he states to Twilight how he mediates peace between the Diamond Dogs and Abyssinians, a reference to one of the comics where Capper's originally from). Also, he's more mature despite maintaining a kid-like attitude, too. + What Twilight prophesied during the final battle before the last friendship laser comes true. Fifteen or twenty years into the future, several races are now at harmony with each other. Dragons, griffons, kirin, hippogriffs, yaks, changelings, and ponies are all in harmony together. There's no infighting; everyone's communicating with each other happily and without prejudice. Not only did everyone come to embrace the Magic of Friendship. But their own lives improved, too. (You got to see some of this affect the ReMane Six later, as Ocellus, Silversteam and Smolder teach at the School of Friendship, and Rarity lives and sells fashion at her boutique in Yakyakistan.) + Luster Dawn has that same naivety as Twilight, but at a very different angle. Twilight thought making friends was a waste of time, period, though was apparently never really taught friendship at any point. Sure, Twilight had friends in Canterlot, but never reciprocated those feelings. Here, Twilight teaches her best and most faithful student how friendship's the most powerful and most important magic in the School for Gifted Unicorns, but due to their time separated over the years, Luster wonders if friendship is worth it if the friendships fade away. Unlike Twilight back then, Luster's more outgoing, but doesn't embrace friendship as a result of seeing Twilight spend most of her time ruling alone. + As a result, Twilight tells and explains very intricately about how it can be easy to make friends, but it's much, much harder to maintain them. They may be separate more now, but they always stay connected so they have each others' backs whenever something bad happens or catch up on things. Back in her days, Celestia mostly had Twilight learn to make friends and understand friendship on her own. Here, she shows Luster that friends always matter in the most proactive, teaching way possible. Arranging a meeting with Luster on the day all gather. + The flashback itself is emotional. Twilight was absolutely justified to feel super upset and scared what happens next. The big baddies are in stone sleep, but all of them have lives. Despite the promise of ruling together, we don't know how they're gonna rule together, budget their time to do so, and if they'll remain together at all. She's moving away to Canterlot, and the day of the coronation may be her goodbye. It was also very subtle and impactful for the RM5 to use their preparation to admit they're grieving, too. They're so unnaturally happy and casual to see Twilight head off to Canterlot, but their conversation at the Castle of Friendship shows how that happiness is truly everything but. They don't know if Twilight will be able to communicate with them ever again. Also, the criticism of Twilight not moving the capital of Equestria to Ponyville's nonsense. Canterlot has been Equestria's capital for well over a millennium, if not before Celestia and Luna were princesses. In addition to Canterlot having a firmer legacy than Ponyville, moving an entire capital would be a task of epic proportions. To be able to share their sadness, fright, and despair reminds he audience how close they are, no matter what trials they face. They were scared, and it's okay for them to be scared. Their cries felt very real, and it's heartbreaking to see them all slowly break down, especially ones like Pinkie (her words just got me crying, literally). Everyone was so obsessed and focused on the "perfect" coronation that everything went terribly wrong so quickly when things got complicated. The hilarious screwups were a very refreshing break from the drama. With the coronation over, they can laugh it off knowing it's over. They had their hardships today, and to have this break means they can relax. Because of this, Twilight has a clear head now and can use that knowledge over the years to come up with a great idea: every moon, they meet once under the Council of Friendship. It was a challenge they had to face, and they found a way to conquer it. The ending really marks the end of a long era, mirroring FIM's, too. Celestia and Luna are no longer ruling, and they felt confident in letting Twilight and her friends rule Equestria on their own. Yes, they'll be more happy to help her whenever they need it, but the RM7 are confident and can be trusted in helping Equestria move on to its next chapter. + The moral is excellent in concept and better than excellent in execution. I already talked about that extensively. + The episode took another bold, daring direction by giving everyone definitive lives with both occupations and sometimes love lives. not only on what they're doing. CheesePie, SugarMac, YonaBar, and LyraBon are more than confirmed, but ones like FlutterCord and AppleDash are hinted with subtle clues (i.e., Fluttershy's lunch bag and bluebells, AJ/RD's banter). It's DHX's story, but their lives also have a purpose: no matter how much your lives change, your friendships keep you connected. Everyone's extremely busy now, but they always manage to meet together. When they don't, they see them. Starlight and Sunburst still lead the thriving School of Friendship. Look closely, and you see all of the confidence from the Young Six. (For example, Smolder openly has tea with Ocellus, a hobby she once derided and hid until What Lies Beneath.) + Not everything ends happily. Granny Smith and Goldie Delicious are gone now, and AJ and AB are wearing their scarves in their honor. + The Magic of Friendship Grows. All of it. It's emotional, hopeful, and beautiful. This song got me crying at times. The background shots during the final chorus are extremely moving and very well-done. But there are two things to mention: The final shot of all seven watching Luster walk away with new friends is absolutely fantastic. Even more beautiful is the sunset glow, a literal twilight sparkle as one YouTuber wrote. The final shot: the book to open FIM closes, indicating the end of an era. (Pay attention to the "fin" on the left page, a great piece of detail in a show that doesn't always show the English alphabet so clearly.) This is an EXCELLENT episode! A magnificent cap to a great, successful show!
  11. 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!
  12. 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!
  13. Because Season 9 was its last, FIM was likely going to go out and try to deliver the best episodes possible. Out of the gate, Dubuc and Haber co-wrote Sparkle's Seven, one of the best comedic, animated, and written episodes of the series. Taking ideas from the lead voice actors, they blended together a tremendous script that never let up, delivered an excellent allegory of how well-made predictability transcends poorly-made unpredictability, and used that allegory to create an excellent plot twist. If you wanna read my review, it's right here. Unfortunately, no episode review for The Last Crusade, but my love for it from the minute it debuted early never wavered. While Sparkle's Seven doesn't take itself too seriously, this was an emotional roller coaster from the minute Scoot realized her parents were coming home. Mane Allgood and Snap Shutter were, to put it bluntly, very bad parents for not being able to spend time with Scootaloo, and the parents (and episode itself) know it. Therefore, they come up with a solution that allows them to do the job that Equestria depends them upon while simultaneously taking care of Scootaloo. Unfortunately, it completely overlooked the fact that Scootaloo has hundreds of close relations back in Ponyville and all over Equestria. In trying to resolve a dilemma, they made Scootaloo even more upset and put her at greater odds with them. The only way they were going to let her stay is to show them that the CMCs truly changed their lives for the better; with help from Aunt Holiday, Auntie Lofty, and every resident they knew, they successfully convinced Mane Allgood and Snap Shutter that separating the CMCs would only hurt Equestria over the long haul. Letting her stay in Ponyville and promising to spend more time with her when the train let them was the right solution for the story, lessons, and characters. Both TLC and Seven are outstanding and extremely close in quality, but by the skin of its teeth, Last Crusade overthrew it. No other episode came close to toppling it…until The Big Mac Question. Line 'Em Up! I long repeated this, and to write it again, the dialogue since Shadow Play has really improved, the verbal comedy especially. Since Dubuc relinquished her role as co-editor, the comedic dialogue has, sadly, been somewhat of a step down. Thankfully, I'm reminded through BMQ that the same wit never really left, and that when it's on, it's great. Discord, for that matter, was the king of these great lines. Here are just a few: The first line wasn't quite true, but the second completely was, historically speaking. (The line is doubly important for adding context to the episode's central lesson of how keeping things simple are what really makes things special, but I'll get back to that later.) Not a bad callback. Once more, Discord has a point. Every time someone hopes for the better, something goes wrong. But Discord's the Lord of Chaos with a childish, immature streak, too. Since he wasn't alerted of Big Mac's proposal plan, he became giddy and impatient (with a great mariachi reference [taking a page from Star Trek: TNG]). As he read a message on a painted apple, he quickly realized something was awry in his own way. Big Mac's riddles were clumsily written, sometimes confusing, and easily gave away the second location. In trying to come up with the "perfect idea," Big Mac created a major flaw in his plan. However, Discord still isn't completely accustomed to the "friendship" aspect of Equestria, and given his long, immortal, antagonistic history, he maintains a defiant, devious streak. After he uses his magic to lay every single wooden apple around Ponyville without fully looking at the riddles, he soon caved in to Spike's glares and doubt, agreeing to double-check. From the beginning, Discord believed this game was overblown and instead should give it to Sugar Belle instead, only to have it rejected for "not being romantic" and breaking BM's rule of discovery. Afterwards, when he missed his chance to actually get Sugar Belle to see an apple, he went about spreading "the love" in, once more, his own way: giving the wooden apples life and instructing them to their own posts. Unfortunately, like Big Mac, his instructions and direction were also not quite clear, so the apples popped up whenever another pony passed by, leading to delicious, entertaining chaos. Without it, Discord's involvement in the episode would be out of character and as bland as Cart Before the Ponies. Chaos drives Discord, and his ability to create havoc and mayhem makes for a more entertaining conflict and story, especially around Big Mac and Spike. On the other hand, it puts him into fault. Instead of thoroughly double-checking and making sure everything goes right, he cuts corners and tries to be cute and creative (tho I don't mind ), leading him to become responsible for the spider-looking apple monster. Also, I disagree with the criticism of Discord regressing. Sure, he may not have developed like D&D and TBUBD, but he understands how much Sugar Belle means to Big Mac. Despite his severe disagreement with the plan and Spike's commitment to it, he regrets worsening things and helps rectify the errors with everyone else offscreen as BM and Sugar proposed to each other. Furthermore, this episode shows some subtle growth from Break Down: After a lot of complaining over the lovey-dovey stuff and wanting to play O&O instead, he doesn't let his opinions interfere with Big Mac's proposal and tries to simultaneously help her solve the riddles and respect Spike's pleas. The Time Is Right Michael Vogel's among the best writers of the current crop. The Big Mac Question adds to his résumé, and with Hader co-writing, they co-created well-done, well-timed comedy. Discord's spilling of littler, more innocent secrets works as a joke for a big reason. As written already, Discord still hasn't fully accustomed to friendship, notably keeping a secret. FS's fright of clowns, Twilight's sleepwalking, and Octavia's date have a more innocuous, lighthearted zephyr; yes, he's spilling them to Spike and Big Mac, but not maliciously. This joke leads to the punchline right before the intro: shouting excitedly that Big Mac plans to propose to Sugar Belle. Everyone's curious reaction to the echo is really hilarious, and even better as one of them — Shoeshine — hears it and shrugs it off. Even better, they repeated the very same joke while keeping it fresh. It's 100% understandable that Apple Bloom's family will soon expand with Sugar Belle becoming her soon-to-be sister-in-law. Her giddy face sells her excitement well, so when she shouts out loud and everyone's as confused as before, you still laugh. Every single "shocking" misadventure by the CMCs: Scoot heads to the bowling alley and accidentally causes a Lebowski stallion to throw a bowling ball into a lamp, breaking the wooden panels below. When AB heads to the sanctuary, she shocks a monkey into a sleeping canopy of Smoky and family. SB opens a sauna, where a relaxing mare throws a body towel over her head when she finds out her privacy's invaded. Spike has a point. Discord's poor directions made the apples believe that the next pony to come close will receive the poem, and it followed each pony wherever they went. In trying to make Sugar Belle see an apple, he — surprise surprise! — helped unleash a boatload of chaos at the Ponyville market. Relocating them back to Sweet Apple Acres was another unwise decision, as they merged into THIS monstrosity! However, instead of actually going on a rampage to find Sugar Belle, the apple monster with its six, spidery eyes successfully delivered the assigned message in its grossest, yet most sincere, message of marriage right onto Discord. Yes, all the apple spit's gross, but not done with any ill intentions, and Discord didn't do a lot to make the problem better. Secondly, notice how the large apple's voice is very similar to Big Macintosh's? A nice, little way to get Peter New to talk in his Big Mac voice while making it sound as garbled, menacing, and childlike as possible. Whenever Granny Smith spoke, she was "spaced out," giving DHX plenty of leeway to pluck some great Star Trek references. Beyond "where nopony has gone before," she said this: >References Q >Inspiration for Discord …cheeky cheeky! Yet, the timing of the humor alone wasn't just right. As the apples chased Ponyville in Act 1, the animation crew snuck in this tender moment: Ever since FIM started, Lyra and Bon Bon have always been side by side, and the brony fandom established a long-time ship out of it. In Slice of Life, they teased the possibility despite hammering in the "best friends" line with the cheek caressing, couple-like arguing late, and the bedroom eyes. Over the last few seasons, their "friendship" began to really evolve, especially since S8 when DHX knew the finish line. Just a few examples: Grannies Gone Wild: Everywhere they went in Las Pegasus. Break Down: Exchanging Hearts & Hooves Day gifts. Marks for Effort: Bon Bon buying a green cactus, presumably for Lyra. End in Friend: Having lunch together. Dragon Dropped: Sharing a milkshake together, ala Buttercup and Bright Mac. After what happened in DD, you knew that the animators were just going to do something with Lyra and Bon Bon. From Season 5 onward, their evolving relationship was clearly no accident. While the main stories developed in front of us, their arc developed from the background. I guarantee you someone in this fandom will go back, find all the foreshadowing over the seasons, and build their story. Why is their proposal so significant? Representation matters. The TV debut to Auntie Lofty and Aunt Holiday introduced a same-sex couple for the first time in the show's history. While they're secondary characters, their presence in Scootaloo's life mattered, and they helped lead the CMCs' idea for a CMC Appreciation Day. It demonstrates how significant the brony fandom truly was to the growth of this show. In the beginning, everyone was surprised by how good Friendship Is Magic truly was. Although viewership and overall size of bronydom has dropped over the years, it still has its viewers and dedicated bronies. The brony fandom created this popular fanon ship all the way back to season one…and animator Morgan Shandro made it canon. Lofty/Holiday and LyraBon are special in their own rights. The former gave the LGBTQ+ community well-needed representation in a very popular family show and directly impacted the story. The latter came after years and years of development, and the animators decided that this was the right time to make it official. BTW, how apropos for Lyra to propose by dropping on one knee like a human? Drawing to a Close A giant reason why Shadow Play's one of the greatest episodes of FIM is how it blended so many arcs into one. Changes of editors + writers = changes of direction. The team turnover means new people post and publish episodes that match their own vision of FIM, so you have a wide array of stories that sometimes go nowhere. This two-parter blended so many arcs (the Pony of Shadows, Star Swirl's lack of understanding friendship, the Pillars, Starlight's redemption) so seamlessly that it looks like the creators intentionally left them vague so that they can be completed at the right time. It's one of the most impressive feats this show has ever done. Big Mac Question blends so many arcs in a smaller scale and closes them. Back in The Cutie Map, Spike explains his preference to be with Big Mac as the reason for skipping the Mane Six's first friendship quest. More than a season later, Nick Confalone expanded this little gag into its own story by including Discord in the Guys' Night Out duo. Two seasons later, they all acted like they knew each other since Spike hatched. BMQ added another chapter into this arc with one central goal. Once Hard to Say Anything concluded, Sugar Belle and Big Mac became an item. Over this and the next few seasons, the writers and animators sprinkled in romance between 'em, solidifying their unity. This episode called back to how they became an item in the first place: Big Mac renovating her shelf to add more space for her desserts, and Scoot recognized the blueprint for it inside SAA. Also, great call by Vogel and Haber to have Sugar Belle plan to propose to him, too. Usually, the male proposes to her, and Big Mac planned to pop the question at some point today. However, Plot 1B had Sugar Belle plan her own with Mrs. Cake's and the CMCs's help, showing that Sugar Belle had some ideas and offer of her own to prove her own commitment as his wife. Speaking of the CMCs… As the episode lampshaded, they earned a reputation of concocting schemes, either with success or failure, since they first met. After multiple tries, they finally got Big Mac to become an item with Sugar. Here, they felt guilty for accidentally contributing to the confusion that almost caused them to break up. (In Break Down, the delivery ponies mistook Sugar Belle for Sweetie Belle after smudging the address, leading them to believe she had a secret admirer.) For the first time all series, they're aware of the consequences. By working with Sugar and helping her to find Big Mac, they feel like they can make up for at least some of it. Yet, as what the episode showed, even their good intentions sometimes don't go according to plan. All series long, Spike's romanticism has had an impact on everyone and himself. In Break Down, he hinted his romantic "expertise" by reciting a poem of his unrequited crush on Rarity, only to be hilariously interrupted when Discord ignored him. XD Here, he brags to an offscreen character how he's so romantic and tries to help Mrs. Cake deliver all the proposal messages to the desserts…only to have his idea burn to a crisp. Lyra's and Bon Bon's series-long, evolving relationship, as explained before. Plus, notice how Bon Bon popped the question just after Lyra? Their dual proposal and rings subtly foreshadow Sugar's and BM's later on. Sugar Belle was one of the four ponies the Mane Six met when they first arrived in Our Town, and led them into an underground rebellion so they can regain their magical talent and break free from Starlight's tyranny. At season's end, she forgave her, and later helped invite Starlight to return to the village for the festival. After To Where, DHX slowly incorporated her into the secondary cast. The time she became super-heartbroken over losing her boyfriend and then became super-happy when they reunited was the moment I permanently bought into their romance. When Big Mac talked about how he loves her snorty chuckle, you can tell they really love each other. When they were going to marry was only a matter of time. Aside from being part of the timeline of Dungeons & Discord, Hard to Say Anything, and The Break Up Break Down, it is the perfect sequel to the franchise's greatest episode — The Perfect Pear — and references it in so many ways. Decades ago, Buttercup suspected that Mrs. Cake — Chiffon Swirl back in the day — enjoyed baking, so she gave her ingredients and challenged her to be creative. Her instincts were proven right, as she got her cutie mark and became lifelong, close friends with BC, which continues long after her passing. Here, she's essential to the story by agreeing to take part in Sugar Belle's 21-dessert surprise proposal. When the Pears were about to relocate to Vanhoover, their parents married in secret at the rock that borders the Pear and Apple orchards. (Notice how Bright and BC planted seeds in their opposing orchards, which directly contributed to the growth of the intertwining apple-and-pear tree around the rock in which they declared their love for each other. During their walk together, they find themselves at that tree, and as they talked, the sun sets perfectly within the iconic heart, spiritually indicating their support for Sugar Belle and their romance. Knowing who his father was like means a lot to Big Macintosh. Here, he envisioned proposing to Sugar Belle at a similar desk like the one he built for her a few seasons ago, calling back to Bright Mac's own declaration of love to Buttercup at the rock, only to teasingly falter. Through this episode and his heart-to-heart chat with his girlfriend, we see he knows more about him now and how much his understanding of his parents matters so much. Now that he's older and wiser, he wants to respect their legacy. Sugar Belle’s poignant wisdom and subsequent glow also suggest agreement by them with her, too. The first time Mayor Mare officiated a wedding, she worked with Bright Mac to rush one in before they relocated far away. That wedding was set up quickly and in secret from the feuding families with no certainty if they were going to be together. Bright Mac wasn't lucky just to get her to witness their surprise, but also complete the vows before the Pears moved. This doesn’t happen here. The wedding at the now-grown tree was well-planned and included the wanted decorations, guests, streamers, and so forth. From the start, Sugar and BM know they want to spend the rest of their lives together, a massive contrast from the pressure Pear Butter and Bright Macintosh felt then. One of the two twists within the episode: everyone explaining to Applejack, the unknown narrator. (The other being the wedding, which I'll get to later.) She was the one who agreed to go on that expedition to find out about why the Pears and Apples feuded for so long, which introduced their parents’ pasts to them, brought them closer to them, and helped them forgive Grand Pear. Her tears show how touched she was of not only the story they told her, but her brother's marriage. Speaking of… Grand Pear only had a couple of cameos here, but his biggest one was his appearance at his grandson’s wedding. The last time one took place there, he abandoned his own daughter and never saw her alive again. Several decades later, he returned to Ponyville. Their forgiveness and witnessing of the beautiful intertwined tree together began the long-awaited healing process. This time, he (and Granny) returns to the very same site, stands beside the other Apples and Burnt Oak, and gives Big Mac his unconditional blessings, closing another gap that caused a massive, increasingly bitter divide between himself and his mother-in-law. How poetic is this sequel to have another marriage take place at their tree. Two seasons ago, the Apple kin rediscovered their parents’ legacy, how they introduced each other, and fell in love thru very bitter times. Come to the end of the episode, and that long-standing bitterness that divided the Pear and Apple families for so long is healed. Well, BMQ breaks a second, not-so-talked-about barrier: Sugar Belle’s the first non-Earth Pony to be part of the Apple family. (Also, recall AJ scolding Twilight for using magic unsolicitedly on her farm in S1? Intentional or otherwise, this episode implicates that the Apples welcome unicorn magic full-time on the property now.) A Lesson in Execution BMQ's primary lesson — "When you tend to make things complicated and make mistakes, the simplest things are the most desired and cherished" — is magnificent, but the way it's taught brings that home. Before he takes out his ring, Big Mac wants to show Sugar Belle his commitment to being her husband matters by helping her find him. How? By using those painted apples with attached clues, she travels from one location to the next before meeting him at the hilltop near Sweet Apple Acres. Unfortunately, his plan never properly flourished. Not only did she miss the first apple, but he had to go back to his barn to pick up the screwdriver he left behind. When he realizes she wasn't coming, he walks to Sugar Cube Corner to find her. Discord tries to help Sugar Belle find the first apple, but she misses it twice, resulting in his poor strategy of having the apples follow whoever sees them first. When he cleaned it all up, Sugar Belle still never saw it! Deciding to cut to the chase, he brought her to that same hilltop, only to realize he left. He blindfolded her and then brought her back to SCC. He may believe in romance now, but doesn't quite understand it still. Instead of helping each other out, Spike and Mrs. Cake were so sworn to their own party's secrets that they created an imaginary buffer that prevented helping each other out. When Spike tried to help Mrs. Cake, he found out that Mrs. Cake messed up her desserts and later accidentally burned every one of Sugar Belle's messages. Spike isn't always the politest dragon, and BMQ's no exception. In order to make Sugar's search for BM as perfect as possible, he got a little too worried over the arrangement, placement, and visibility of each apple, glared hard at Discord for not checking carefully, and refused to ease the game's difficulty. Why did he blow his magical fire on the remaining notes? Because he believed they would be able to get into the desserts quickly and easily, only to screw up badly. However, he didn't accept all of the blame, bluntly criticizing Mrs. Cake's terrible desserts. Mrs. Cake accepted a very difficult challenge of baking twenty-one desserts. Immediately, things went terribly wrong. During the rush, she had absolutely no idea what ingredients she was using and whether she used them at all. Poignantly observed by Scootaloo: Fortunately, no pony tasted them. Sugar Belle orchestrated her entire twenty-one-dessert proposal with Mrs. Cake and added another one with its own message to call Big Mac down to the shop. The purpose of having just one word in each dessert was to help Big Mac solve the proposal puzzle after he eats each once, but to bake that many meant Mrs. Cake's margin for error significantly decreased and must work harder than usual to finish on time. On her end, discovering Discord and Spike at the doorstep meant overlooking the apple on the step and running off as quick as they can to find Big Mac. The Cutie Mark Crusaders tried to find Big Mac to give him the dessert as promised. But when they couldn't find him at the barn, Apple Bloom called back Granny's advice and took it a little too literally, causing trouble of their own and annoying her friends in the process. The fact that everyone's plans were too complicated is kind of the point. Every single pony's so focused in trying to create the perfect proposal, they overlook serious flaws. What everyone had to figure out was that by messing things up, they discovered the true worth of commitment and dedication. They never had to go over the top in order to fix it, either. Pairing it down the essentials was all they needed, something Discord comprehended well beforehand. Sugar Belle was the first outside of Discord to truly figure it out after Big Mac felt upset for screwing up his own proposal and feeling that he let the legacy of his parents down. Because he doesn't talk much, his words matter a lot, so when he expresses his sadness, you really feel it. However, despite problems of her own, she understood that this was nothing compared to what they (and when she was controlled by Starlight) endured. To her, this was merely a blip. Mistakes happen; they can use 'em to grow closer and really show their love for each other. I read a few comments on Derpibooru calling their dual proposal cute, and it really is. <3 Their solid chemistry sells the warmheartedness! But I won't end my review until I call out two other things in this episode: All episode long, Spike wore nothing. For all we know, the fourth wall or a character we had no idea existed until then interviewed all of them. What slowly began to change, though, was when he wore a suit and tie for the first time. As a result, the wedding surprise was kept under wraps from the audience; showing him wearing his suit and putting on his bow tie really makes their marriage all the more impactful. Had we knew they were eloping at episode's end, this whole journey would've felt completely pointless. After a lot of great humor, chaos, and a little bit of drama, Discord alerting the apples to drop and sing "happy marriage, happy apples!" was perfect, heartwarming cuteness on top of already perfect cuteness! He might've added to the problems, but he respects their wedding ceremony and uses a subtle, Discord-y twist to show it. Consider this his own, special way to appreciate his friendship with everyone, their marriage, and their future lives. Conclusion What else can I say about this one? The Big Mac Question is really funny, really cute, and really heartwarming. Vogel and Haber tackled all of the emotions at exactly the right time and provided a magnificent cap to several arcs, some of which date back to the first season. This is the new-best Season 9 episode and one of the ten best of the series.
  14. Note: Expanded from my forum post. Credits to comments by @BornAgainBrony, @Truffles, and @Ittoni for the review. This whole episode is packed with lots of smaller details, which on rewatch go a long way. One of the first instances is this exchange between AK and her former fans. At first, it looks like a throwaway line that Groom Q.Q. Martingale threw in there. But in the beginning of Act 2, that concerned filly returns to her book signing, where we see more of this exchange: During my rewatch of the saga last month, I assumed it referred to kicking away the wild cats, one of them a housecat, during Daring Don't. But those weren’t accidents; she tried to defend herself. Despite her initial denial, she finally admitted to not only accidentally kicking a puppy, but didn’t put it in any of her books. Why does this small exchange matter? The Daring Do Series is a series of autobiographical events, but because she’s trying to sell stories to children as well, she sanitizes, alters, and omits things that might disinterest or repulse the audience. She edits each book to make the stories more sellable and sells the books as fiction. For a long time, that tactic worked; each "character" has become memorable, and there's a huge Daring Do fandom out there. Now it's starting to backfire. It opens the door for the possibility of more laying beneath to the whole Daring Do saga. Remember, the series is written in third-person limited perspective, every adventure in Daring’s point of view. Groom Q.Q. Martingale's opens that point of view, painting her stories in a more negative light while still making sense. More importantly, Caballeron’s response becomes more credible to the general audience. Yes, he’s scheming to steal the Truth Talisman of Tonatiuh, but because of the editing of her own book, she opens things up for him to explain his own side and sprinkle truths both big and small that she didn’t tell. As omissions and inaccuracies big and small add up, doubt clouds the Daring fanbase's head, which Fluttershy and the little filly represent. Innocuous details like the flower being the wrong color now implicate she has something to hide. During that exchange, Dash busts back in to warn A.K. that Caballeron is bringing Fluttershy along to Tenochtitlan. During the frantic warning, she looks around to see if anyone was around (not seeing the filly), just to see if no one is sneaking around. Like Dash herself, A.K. Yealing forgets about the child, revealing her original identity as Daring Do to the filly's shock and delight. Despite the growing scandal, some ponies still idolize her and want to grow up to be just like her. Another one comes in Fluttershy's first scene in the Tenochtitlan Basin. Notice his twinkling highlights and small smile as she tames Ahuizotl's jungle cats. For the first time all series, he shows sincere appreciation for someone other than himself. Usually greedy and selfish, he watched firsthand how much someone's selflessness and unconditional caring mattered. He brought her over to trick her; despite carrying that trickery throughout, his plan began to both crack and evolve. Yet, that crack didn't quite begin there. After Caballeron scolded at Rogue for almost poisoning himself, what does she do? Take out her traveling picnic with apple juice to Caballeron's surprise and share her lunch with them out of appreciation. Rather than snub her, he and his henchponies accept her generosity. Had this not happen, Caballeron's appreciation for Fluttershy from that point forward won't make sense. From the very beginning, Fluttershy was convinced that there's more to the Daring Do saga than what A.K. Yearling told through her books, even though she witnessed Caballeron and Ahuizotl firsthand commit bad actions. Talking personally with Caballeron while in the bookstore only made her more curious. So, was she gullible and naive? Absolutely. However, her naivety is much more believable compared to buying a too-good-to-be-true rag doll from Flim and Flam during Best Gift Ever, and one key moment shows she isn't that gullible: This indicates awareness of the events and an expectancy of Caballeron to try to explain the problem. So how does he respond? With a plausible alibi surrounding a museum that closed down from lack of funds. Daring's long history of storing many sacred artifacts on her shelves, destroying temples older than the Royal Sisters, and thus the homes of many animals (something she cares about deeply) also invited questions on her behalf. While she listened to and questioned him, he explained his lies while remaining grounded to Equestrian reality, and his book while under Martingale has enough credentials to sway many ex-fans. Additionally, she was very well aware throughout that Martingale was Caballeron, talked to him as if he was Caballeron, and never reacted at all when he reveals his identity to her. Also, Fluttershy never wavers her unconditional kindness regardless of any circumstance. During the entire expedition, she stayed true to her embodied Element of Harmony and exemplified it wherever she went. In each scene, Caballeron and his gang slowly show appreciation for it, both subtly and obviously. Beyond the examples from above: At the closure of the first expedition scene, Biff, Rogue, and Withers smile in thanks for Fluttershy. At the base outside of Tonatiuh's pyramid, Caballeron yells at Biff for suggesting to take a shortcut, and Biff feels disrespected by him despite being second-in-command. Fluttershy reassures him that he will and she believes in him (which happens inside the central room). Once they reach the top, Withers relaxes under shade, unaware that he was under an active, dangerous flyder hive. Instinctively, she whispers to stay still and called the flyders away for just a moment so he can escape. Again, Dr. C smiles appreciatively. On an unrelated note, Tonatiuh is the Aztec god of the sun, and the only way to enter his temple is to place a sacred relic in a pedestal once the sun reaches its apex. If intentional, clever tie-in to its mythology. Inside the temple, Caballeron tricks Fluttershy to getting the Truth Talisman of Tonatiuh (I'll get back to it in a sec), and once she retrieves it, lava spurts out. Previously, Caballeron and his henchmen were somewhat cowardly and only went after the treasure. If something bad was going to happen, they'd leave it behind. That doesn't happen here. Instead, they instinctively knock down a totem pole, and Caballeron rescues Fluttershy from certain death. Again, they didn't have to do this, but they chose to rescue her and save her. Yes, they retrieved the talisman, but because of her kindness, they returned the favor. Fluttershy's naivety in this scene, however, is problematic in two areas: Throughout almost all of Daring Doubt, Dr. Caballeron was very competent. However, his use of false despair to convince Fluttershy to fly up and steal Tonatiuh's talisman wasn't convincing whatsoever and lazy. By falling for his bad acting, she crosses from being just gullible into becoming dumb. Fluttershy reveals to having no idea that Caballeron planned to trick her the whole time. If Fluttershy knew beforehand he was scheming yet went along, it subverts the idea that she was too gullible, instead showing she knew what she was doing. OTOH, it also makes her really reckless, implicating she knows Caballeron poorly acted, yet helped him steal the talisman and put her own life at risk. Right after he reveals to lie to her, he soon reveals that he valued her kindness and friendship, a smaller subversion in and of itself and downplays unneeded drama, but it also lessens the weight of his small change of heart. Caballeron revealing his lie through the Truth Talisman could've gone either way with varying implications. The canonical path, as stated before, shows her unconditional kindness, especially after her ignorance towards Angel's needs fueled the conflict, but it made her look way too naïve and made his eventual understanding of FS's kindness at the end feel too lucky. OTOH, had Fluttershy showed controlled kindness, then you risk repeating the unfortunate implications of controlling Discord's channels of communication in the form of "kindness" from Keep Calm. Personally, I prefer the innocent path here, but it could've showed a more nuanced degree of taking elements from both. Now to focus on the other side, Rainbow Dash was written much better here compared to 2, 4, 6, Greaaat. To echo @BornAgainBrony, Daring Doubt is a shining example of giving Dash negative traits without making her out of character or miserable. Yes, her rush to judgment was written in the wrong, but at no point does Dubuc demonize her for her black-and-white "good guy, bad guy" assumptions. With the allotted time given to her, Dubuc rightfully justifies her prejudices. Daring Do and Rainbow Dash are both very good friends and better confidants. Whenever she's about to publish something new, she delivers a copy to her two weeks in advance. The entire main crew, especially Dash, is trusted by her to keep her identity a secret. BTW: >RM6 out her in Fame & Misfortune >episode retcons the journal again Not the first episode to handwave this atrocity's existence! As a result of Daring and Dash trust each other, they exchange information and secrets. If something goes wrong, Daring knows Dash will be there to try to help. Here, that's exactly what happened. When Dash first sees Groom Q.Q. Martingale, she immediately recognizes him as Caballeron despite a much more complicated disguise, an immediate improvement of Daring Done. Watching Fluttershy buy into Caballeron's story was a major shock; she has every right to be upset and urgently warn Daring about what he was after and why he manipulated her like that. No one can argue how abrasive and pushy she was here. But Caballeron began yet another scheme, decided to tag someone along to unknowingly help him retrieve the Truth Talisman to get rich quick, and took her to a temple with very dangerous traps (one in which FS got caught in minutes later). Her worries are perfectly justified. Imagine if Fluttershy got hurt — she wouldn't forgive herself for not interfering sooner! Once Caballeron admitted through the talisman that he lied, she got right in his face, as any good friend would. But then he admits through it his and his henchmen's gratitude for Fluttershy's kindness and generosity, Dash's edge immediately dissipates: Ditto. Speaking of lines, the dialogue during the escape (especially those influenced by the truth teller) was top notch, and some of the lines were really, really funny. Some of the best are: Caballeron fighting with the talisman, finally relenting to reveal he still held onto Lapis-Lux's diamond. Clever, clever. Perfect timing to sneak in a clever "Day" Off callback, eh? Now, let's talk about the thorn peaking out from the pond. Ahuizotl has earned a reputation in the Daring Do books as one of the most memorable villains within the fanbase. In reality, both he and Daring have been massive archenemies, even though Dr. C's an even bigger one. Several times, he has tried to kill Daring Do in order to prevent her from taking relics throughout the Basin. In Daring Don't, he searched for ones himself — the Rings of Scorchero — to trap Tenochtitlan Basin in a massive heatwave, only for Daring and her friends to foil his plan. One of her latest books involved Ahuizotl heading to Somnambula to separate the Doomed Diadem of Xilati from the Tiara of Teotlale (a.k.a., the Sister Crown Relics), and Daring raced the clock to steal it back and return it home before a cursed night was cast over the land and Somnambula was sunk beneath the sand. Daring Doubt shifts things a bit, at first accusing Daring of getting by his jungle cat army and then attempting to steal Tonatiuh's talisman, even though he has no idea that Caballeron and Fluttershy are inside. After they escape, we don't see him again, but once we do, he's furious. Not just an evil furious. He was at his angriest throughout the show's history. Despite his history as a villain, who can blame him. It was safe and secure, and from his reaction, he clearly did NOT want it stolen. And he shows the knowledge of Tonatiuh's temple by waiting for them at the main exit, and his anger really takes over. He wanted to retrieve that talisman and play no games, going so far as to cornering them in a dead end and ramming into it, threatening to hurt them and trap them under the temple rubble until they return it. At this point, Daring accidentally gives Fluttershy what may be the solution: Think about this. They steal the talisman, and he becomes supremely upset when he catches them. She's the only one astute enough to understand that something was missing, this being why he got so mad, and the only way to solve it was to confront Ahuizotl himself. Dash justifiably assumes that he's "just a bad guy," but FS realizes that the world sometimes operate so one-dimensionally. On one hand, Ahuizotl's explanation for being ferocious and violent has some merit, something both @Ittoni and @BornAgainBrony explain in their posts in the episode discussion. Throughout the series, Daring and Caballeron have been taking artifacts throughout Tenochtitlan Basin, and in doing so, many ancient pyramids have been destroyed. Whether it's in the name of profit or protection, they're still stealing from them and displacing them, which each carry massive consequences. Ahuizotl is given charge to protect not only the basin, but also the artifacts of these same ancient beings. For those who watched the series throughout, this explains quite a bit why he and his crew of Aztec ponies searched for those rings, began the ceremony inside the dark tower, and came so close to beginning that heatwave within the basin. If he completed his plan, then neither Daring nor Caballeron would rob the temples again without potentially deadly consequences. Also, I see why the episode establishes him as a guardian in the first place; he's sly, territorial, knowledgeable, and old enough to know every nook and cranny of Tenochtitlan Basin from the back of his three hands. But thanks to Cabby and Daring's rivalry, he's caught in the crossfire and at risk of being replaced; Tonatiuh's talisman being the tip of that sun ray. On the other, it overlooks a very specific piece of continuity, which was ironically referenced in Act 1: Why did he travel to Somnambula, allegedly separate the Sister Crown Relics, put hundreds of lives at risk, and cause Daring to go on one of her most dangerous journeys? What made him decide to apparently team up with the Wild Bunch Gang to steal Xilati's diadem from where it belonged? None of this was answered, which it should've. He did many things both in the main and secondary canon that we would consider evil, and this would easily be his worst. Given how Daring Doubt tried to explain his actions and make us at least understand his position, you can argue one of two answers. By forcing Daring and Caballeron to go to Somnambula, there's a chance that both of them would get stuck there and sink under the ground, which would keep every relic in Tenochtitlan Basin safe. With them out of the way, he won't have to worry so much about them grave-robbing anymore. Since this plot is about clearing up misunderstandings by listening to others, there's also the likelihood that he was caught in the crossfire. The gang chased her through Somnambula after she retrieved the Doomed Diadem from them and apparently Ahuizotl. Could Ahuizotl have been trying to recover it too, only to be caught in the crossfire? Given how the books are in her perspective, it makes his motives look more sinister than she believed. Theory #2 is more in character to the portrayal of his rivalry with Daring and Daring Doubt's dismantling of Daring's limited perspective of the journeys. But without a clear answer, we can only guess what truly happened and must rely on headcanon to fill in the gaps as well as reviewing little, overlooked details from previous episodes. An episode with this important a moral and with a very gray perspective of humanity must be treated with respect. Is it? I argue yes, but if others don't, I can see why. Ahuizotl's apparent trip to Somnambula may not have been that important in Daring Done, but when observing the arc as a whole, this plot point is now crucial in overall scope. Unfortunately, this resolution fails to deliver any explanation, much less a decent one, creating a massive plot hole in a worldbuilding idea that never fully delivered. Therefore, Daring Doubt doesn't adequately explain why Ahuizotl acted so violent this whole time. Fortunately, this episode's resolution isn't completely unsalvageable. Review all of the reformations over the seasons, from Diamond Tiara to Starlight to Sunset. What do they all have in common? In some way or another, they all change their ways, even if their personalities don't. What happens here isn't a true-to-FIM reformation or redemption, which — again — @BornAgainBrony points out well. Nobody agreed to anything other than a truce related to Tenochtitlan Basin. As long as neither of them steal treasures or destroy the temples, Ahuizotl won't come after and threaten them. But that doesn't mean their feud won't continue anywhere else. Daring Do will still hunt for treasure and store them however she can so no one else can destroy or desecrate them, while Caballeron's greed remains (only without one sidekick ). What this episode establishes is how despite being enemies, neither of them truly have any moral high ground. No true good or bad guys exist in the reality of Daring Do; Fluttershy has that wherewithal to deliver an objective perspective to help put them all on the same page and listen to one another. Plus, @Truffles points out an important distinction between Ahuizotl's explanations and Garble's reformation from 9A. Throughout the series, DHX established Garble as a petty, stereotypical teenager with a lust to pick on Spike whenever possible, and will threaten anyone if he doesn't get his way. However, Sweet & Smoky tries to introduce a more sensitive side to his personality by being close to his younger sister Smolder, who's more open to his quirks and talents. Thanks to his past actions, his secretive side's hard to sell, even after he opens himself up to save the baby dragons from freezing to death inside their eggshells. Daring Do's triangular feud here lacked that key position of listening from the get-go, and creating a series of limited-perspective books that prop up Daring's status as a hero only invited extra questions about the lore. Until the climax, nobody ever asked Ahuizotl about his behavior before, evident by how taken aback he was to FS's question. Daring's urgent line in trying to figure out an escape route and Fluttershy's awareness created a plausible out for a truce. This review, though, won't be complete without praising the ending. How hilarious is it that after trying very hard to avenge his losses over the years, his decision to become a best-selling author himself would be his most successful path. The way he presents himself to the audience makes him credible, and patting his hair as he reads is a nice touch. All in all, Daring Doubt dares to deconstruct the world of Daring Do. At times, it works. At times it doesn't. But overall, the good heavily outweighs the bad. I like it a lot, and rough edges aside, it's nicely done. It's a good episode and the best one of the Daring Do arc.
  15. Note: Credits go to I_Am_Number_6 on EQD, @Jerica, and @gingerninja666 for this review. Starlight Glimmer had one of the biggest arcs of the whole series. Debuting in The Cutie Map as Season 5’s top villain, Twilight successful convinced her to reform and change her ways. Rather than condemn her to Tartarus or exile, Twi elected to proactively teach her the Magic of Friendship. Even though she learned all the lessons academically in between To Where and Celestial Advice, she realized she wasn’t ready to lead once more. Throughout Season 7, confidence exuded out of her, showing more comfort in her opinions and ideals once again; Shadow Play and its creative genius helped Starlight show her intellectual bravery at its best, leading to her next chapter of her journey that began in Season 8. With A Horse Shoe-In, today’s chapter continues to near its final destination, and SG has (once again) a fantastic appearance. At the very beginning, viewers are reminded that she will become the next head of the School of Friendship once Twilight moves to Canterlot and replaces the Royal Sisters. However, Twilight’s reminder carries more in-verse weight than in Beginning. Spike issued Starlight’s promotion to Headmare via Royal Decree. As Princess of Friendship, she has the authority to announce it, especially to those she’s close to. More importantly, Twilight exercised this decree with a clear head. Back in BotE, Twilight was in the middle of a massive meltdown, so when she told her the news, she wasn’t prepared for what came next. Now she is. By telling her with a clear conscience, she put in a lot more thought into who’ll succeed her and (like before) trusts Starlight into making the right decisions. Ain't this heartwarming and cute?! Her trust for Starlight is reaffirmed in two other moments. In Act 1, Trixie reminded her that Twilight never did anything alone, including running the School of Friendship. As one of six teachers, they all took care of the students together. Because she had close friends helping her, Starlight told Twilight about her new idea: hiring a Vice Headmare to help alleviate the work. What does Twilight say? After blowing up in Trixie’s face, she and Twilight share a heart to heart in her classroom. During the interviewing process, Starlight really wanted someone she knew well to be Vice Headmare, but because Trixie didn’t take it so seriously the first two tries and then took it so seriously the last that she accidentally put her students in danger, she let her frustrations take over, yelled at Trixie over it, and angrily told her that she would never be VH. Twilight reminded her that, yes, she has friends to help her, but not every friend is right for the job you offer, and that she has to tell them immediately before it gets out of control. Now, is Starlight right to be upset with Trixie? Absolutely. Is Trixie a capable VH? Not at all. But Starlight isn’t fully innocent, either, as she ignored the signs from earlier, insulted her, belittled her worth, and put her friendship with Trixie at risk. Apologizing to her was the right move. As for Trixie herself, she showed aplenty to prove she wasn’t qualified beyond a blind flash beehive transfer. In Twilight’s classroom, she skipped a completely important history lecture on friendship, napped with everyone (with helpful tips from Gallus ), and didn't feel ashamed of it. Afterwards, she shouted at Grandpa Gruff and expelled him from the School of Friendship. Both of these showed extreme opposites of what she looked for. On one hand, she didn't care for the subject the students are learning. On the other, when push comes to shove, she cared maybe a little too much, rightfully defending a student’s reputation to a surrogate who gave little about him and losing her own temper rather than constructively using her anger to maintain her rep as substitute. That said, despite her neglect for studies, extreme measures, and lack of thought, Trixie's certainty she'll be hired is merited. What inspired Starlight to create this permanent position? Trixie’s reminder of Twilight’s friends helping her run the school. Rather than go away and wait for lunch, she followed Starlight, overheard the whole conversation, and assumed that Starlight will hire friends to help them like Princess Twilight. As a result, this whole interviewing process felt like a game to test her meddle, and she won't bite. Read this exchange from Act 2: In Starlight's mind, she wanted Trixie to really show she can lead a school and help the students learn, but she was way behind compared to Hooves and Octavia. However, Trixie assumes Starlight just wants to test her with one final step before letting the rest of the "competition," and the language from both of them is loose enough so you see where they come from while being unable to break through that communication barrier. And it was that barrier that caused Trixie to not take Starlight's anger seriously the first time, followed by confusion, and then hurt once she realized what Starlight wanted and after SG made her feel worthless. In addition to helping complete another chapter to the overall arc of Season 9, the episode carries a message of how nepotism can cause a system to become corrupt if left unchecked. Because she did so poorly, SG almost DQ'd her once and then told her very softly in their second interview she wouldn't hire her. But as a result of Trixie setting the expectation of being hired (and thus placing herself above Octavia, Hooves, Big Mac, and Spoiled), Starlight was caught in a major dilemma. How can she tell Trixie she's not qualified for the job? Regardless of her own temperament, how well will Trixie handle the disappointment? What if she finds out through someone else that she will lose the opportunity? Conversing with "Phyllis" (and protecting her from Trixie) and holding off the truth only added to her dilemma and increased her frustration. Fortunately, when the problems became too big to ignore, she put her foot down, and Twilight's "motherly" advice helped her even more. In addition to how your friends may not always be the best fit for a job, a nice, subtle secondary moral floated in the background, which @Jerica caught and told me about in my Discord convo with her. Out of the five interviewees, Octavia Melody was easily the most qualified. During the substitution, she easily had the most fun while taking part in Laughter class. As she instructed her students to play their instruments, Pinkie Pie suddenly played the yovidaphone loudly behind them. Did anyone get upset? Nope. They continued playing and had a blast playing their favorite instruments no matter how good they were. And, yes, they all laughed. Hard. In her one-on-one interview with Ocellus's parents, she understood her knowledge of music, praised her student for quickly improving in her work, and got along incredibly well. While in the same Bridleway Theatre as the special playing of Hinny of the Hills back in Season 4, her students sat in their seats as Octavia prepared. Initially, Gallus was bored as hell. Then the lights went out. Out came Vinyl. And they began to play an exciting remix of classical music to everycreature's delight (great callback to their remix and friendship from Slice of Life ). Octavia understands that not everyone's tastes are the same, but she knew how to loosen her hair and create joy to those who wish for it. Yet at the end, she turned down the job. Why? Fear she'll lose her time for music. Even though she's so good in those interviews, music's her passion, and she doesn't want to give it up. Sadly, you sometimes have to choose, which isn't easy. Bittersweet it may be, watching her tell Starlight she would love to accept the offer but decline would add a major gut-punch to the episode and add some real, down-to-earth weight to this episode. What would also add weight would be to see Gallus tell Trixie how much he appreciated her passionate defense of him to Grandpa Gruff. Most ponies won't have the guts to tell off the temperamental griffon like that, including Starlight. No matter how narcissistic Trixie can be, she knows her limits and cares for at least her students' psychological health. Apathy for his guardian's growth and openly belittling him while he was already down were massive signs of disrespect towards her and her students, and she showed Gruff he hasn't earned her respect in return. If there's a scene showing Gallus thanking Trixie for defending him, it'll show both some chemistry between them and how her presence matters. Containing it off-screen softens the impact, but his off-screen gratitude meant she has some a place in the school after all. With the changing of the guard approaching, the School Counselor spot needed to be filled, and Trixie more than showed she qualifies. As clichéd as this sequence can be this season, adding a montage would really help Sunburst show his credentials. In the climax, she hired him after Trixie contacted him via scroll, a passionate interview, and admission of not having to take much care of Flurry Heart anymore. If we see him have a world of fun teaching his students in one of his classes, conversing pleasantly with the students' parents, and then go on a very fun field trip together (maybe to The Crystal Empire to greet Mistmane, Cadance, and Flurry Heart), then you can really sell his passion for teaching. Having her hire him in a quick, expository flash-forward makes the resolution feel a little rushed. Nothing close to ruining it, but makes his hiring as Vice Headmare tough to sell. To end this review on a high note: This episode does a fantastic job reintroducing the Vice Headmare occupation without contradicting continuity, a point brought up by I_Am_Number_6 on EQD. Back in A Matter of Principals, she hires Discord for the same position after she lost her temper and ruined the buckball field, but he loses his job instantly after the RM6 returned from their "friendship quest." Here, she went through the process with a lot more care and thought, especially since Twilight's soon leaving for Canterlot. In addition to in-episode growth, Starlight shows continual growth, too. Back in No Second Prances (her first self-contained episode post reformation), she forces Big Mac to talk against his will. Here, she understands not everyone's so comfortable to talk and won't force him to do a job he feels he can't. Thank @gingerninja666 and his friend for pointing it out. Also… BAD idea, Whooves! What a big, pleasant surprise to see a brand-new writer take on FIM this late in its running! Ariel Shepherd-Oppenhein did a splendid job in her Pony debut and executed a very solid, very good episode, one that may be Starlight's last once it's all finished.
  16. Note: Review expanded from here, and credits to a comment by @BornAgainBrony. Back in Sonic Rainboom, Rarity showed her vanity, a big flaw to her character that hadn't been shown before. Was her behavior all that positive? Not at all. However, her position was completely believable. For the first time, we watched her gain recognition and attention outside of her comfort zone; it didn't matter if they were staring at her delicate wings or not. So it's easy to see why that vanity-dominant ego influenced her to join the competition as well. In Dragon Dropped, her envy for Gabby replaces her vanity. She enjoyed spending all her time with Spike and felt jealous of Gabby, fearing that she could lose not only it, but Spike's memories of her altogether. A combination of envy and fear of being forgotten drove her into assuming she must go to extreme lengths to retain contact with Spike. Like in SR, Rarity’s bad side here was thoroughly explored while not making her unlikeable or out of character, starting with the small and working hard as she could to retain the status quo. Several moments add up: Spike initially overhearing Rarity as he wrote his latest note to Gabby, immediately setting the tone of the entire story. The fact that he kept his newfound friendship with Gabby a secret out of fear himself. No one else doing his jobs as good as he, including collecting the gems from the cave without waking the bats. The first montage (which I'll get to in further detail later). Staring crazily at him! (Blink, and you'll miss it!) Not reacting at all after Gabby broke up with him. But Spike’s broadening horizons by becoming a close friend with Gabby meant he was growing, and his friendships around him were maturing. He spent a lot of time with her and helped her grow into a better pony. But with Gabby now in his life, he can further connect with other species. Like the Dragon Lands, Griffonstone’s reputation isn’t the best; to bring Gabby there helps him understand the decreasing prejudice against dragons and connect with someone on a deeper, more mature level. So why would Rarity feel jealous of Gabby anyway? Fearing a negative reaction, Spike kept his friendship with Gabby a secret ever since he started communicating with her and pretended it never happened. After Gallus began studying overseas in Ponyville, Gabby began to fly over to Equestria more often, which made it more difficult to keep it under wraps. Pay attention to the initial conversation, and from the visual and audio cues, it looks like it had been building for some time, but the open was the first time she grew really suspicious, because he didn't hear her and admitted to having other plans. Turning down invites was rare, but it looks like it was going to become more common. The montage contained are a few sequences: Spike tasting the best gems, carrying her bags as they leave the shop, and relaxing in the spa together. Throughout those three scenes, we see not only how much they enjoy each other's company, but help and adorn each other, too. Even though Spike carried all those bags, she rescued him as he nearly tripped over a step and waited for him until he could see. My favorite's the spa scene, as Spike enjoyed eating those cucumbers. Juxtaposing perfect scenes from the past with present-day struggles and boredom show us how much she misses Spike. Without his inherent wit and loyalty around, things weren't the same. Watching them enjoy their time while she struggled added extra salt into the wound, especially when Spike ate Gabby's maraschino cherry. In the past, there was implication that Rarity occasionally took advantage of him, and although I disagree strongly with the complaint, scenes like Rarity teasing Spike for wearing a cute, pink apron for the dragon migration witnessing meant they can't be dismissed. For most of the series, their friendship and his unrequited crush were in his point of view. For the first time, we see it in hers. By focusing their friendship on her, we connect to her beyond the surface and focus on how important his presence and friendship meant to HER. Going back on how she felt she took it for granted calls back those criticisms, and Haber very wisely and cleverly responds constructively to them, making her do things she wouldn’t do if it were someone else. Yet, their strong, series-long bond makes those decisions and actions believable, helping us understand where she’s coming from, even when when she does bad. And needless to say, she does some very selfish things. Take him along that two-day expedition that only occurs once a year, then a two-day vacation to a Power Ponies convention (Rarity, I've been to BronyCon four times; foot-aching comes with the territory ), and finally a day-long gameplay of O&O. All with complete intention to hogging all the time with Spike away from Gabby and make them forget about each other. She baited him, earned the outcome she wanted, but at the cost of a super-depressed Spike and a Gabby with enormous pain in her heart. This is why Twilight's presence in Act 3 matters. She's very close to Spike and never saw him like this before. Something was really wrong, and Rarity inadvertently outed herself as the perpetrator. Twilight's quick-thinking and stern disappointment gave her a major wake-up call, solidifying her own doubts of whether they will truly make up or not (suggested by her to start the third act), and making her realize what a massive jerk she was to them both. Friendships change, but it doesn’t mean the good times will end, and she has no business trying to put in effort to "steal" him away when he wanted to be with others. Yeah, like what @BornAgainBrony wrote, this episode is clearly playing on the love triangle plot and Rarity’s feelings for Spike without delving into the “romantic” part that loomed over the show for so long. Bringing in Gabby to the fold and establishing connections between them was a really great way to exploit how much she meant to him and vice-versa. However, unlike Tanks for the Memories’s death allegory, the stakes in this one and Rarity’s action match the predicament and tone Haber is conveying, whether it’s romanticism or friendship. Speaking of the connection, how Gabby and Spike began their friendship was a great payoff to a flaw from Fault in Our Cutie Mark. In the former, Twilight’s happy “discovery” of griffons getting cutie marks went unresolved. Haber takes advantage of it, using that hanging plot point to establish their “penpalsmanship.” In their time on screen, they show excellent chemistry. Rarity was at her most selfish here, and like Twilight in Trivial Pursuit and Fluttershy & Angel from She Talks, she needed to learn how her awful actions affected those around her. In Sonic Rainboom, her vanity nearly cost her her life, but Dash was the lead. In Sweet & Elite, her selfishness put her at risk of choosing her friends and the Canterlot Elite, only to realize what was right when she finally needed to choose. Here, she witnesses these consequences the hard way and was completely responsible for it. Now that she’s much more mature and developed, she can accept the anger from Gabby and disappointment from Twilight better. Swallowing her pride, apologizing to Gabby and Spike, and letting them go on their own after they make up shows her remorse felt genuine. Dragon Dropped is Rarity’s best episode of the show. If it’s her last, a phenomenal conclusion.
  17. Note: This review has been edited to clean up and add more content, and credits go to comments by Sloppy Steve, The Dragon Warlock, and TwilightIsMagic for it. Yes, it's true. Real-life snakes can’t eat vegan; they're obligate carnivorous, so they can't digest vegetables in real life. Wolves are also primarily carnivorous, though do eat vegetation at times. If the animals behaved they do here, then yes, having carnivores eat vegan food here would be animal abuse. However, the episode makes a very clear distinction that puts the onus on the animals there, and does so in two ways.  No animal here behaves like those in real life. They may not talk and act animalistic at times, but they can communicate with those who can talk very well, think, and act sapient. This is especially the case when she talks to Antoine the Snake (as he's very recipient to Fluttershy's words and requests), Scout the Flamingo, and Zecora's "gecko." During the predator/prey support group, Fluttershy proposes an important rule in the sanctuary that everyone (including Antoine) agreed to: no eating other animals inside. From this support group, this isn't the first time carnivores or omnivores tried to eat other animals, and FS's gathering is to get everyone to cooperate and get along. The sanctuary is a safe space for ALL animals big or small. The surrounding ecosystem doesn't have this rule. Another controversy is regarding Zecora's use in the episode. After reading posts by The Dragon Warlock and TwilightIsMagic on EQD, I posted this in the episode discussion and then a followup after doubting some of the criticism from both them and I. From the following, these criticisms still hold up. Even though Zecora had no idea at the time that both Angel and Fluttershy swapped bodies or Angel caused massive problems at the sanctuary, it still doesn't excuse her leaving Angel out to run in the dangerous Everfree Forest alone. Understanding how Zecora once caught Swamp Fever and then got nearly eaten by a roc, she should've known better than to just leave "Angel" be. At least carry him back into the heart of Ponyville before letting "him" go. Zecora should've warned them what the potion would do. Yes, she can talk in riddles at times, and when you listen to them more and more carefully, you understand them, and she warned them to take it alone and at home. But by not telling them what would happen to them if they drank them, they get caught in a massive surprise. Alerting them of the consequences would lessen that surprise, make her less of a troll, and give them some input on how to fix it. Until the middle of the second act, Flutterbunny assumed Z erred, only to realize it wasn't the case after their meeting. If her wink says anything, her potion intended to swap their bodies until they figure out they each contributed to the conflict. The rest of the criticisms I had of her plan, both of its construction and implications? Hogwash. There is another here, too. Bunny!Fluttershy's inability to alert both Twilight and Spike that her body got swapped was supposed to indicate how hopeless it is for her to solve it with help. No one knows about the swap, and without a voice, she can't tell others. However, that helplessness could've been clearer to the audience and not relied on not wondering if using The Stare (which she used successfully on Angel earlier) would get others to notice. The rest of the episode, however, is character-driven gold, and their interactions with each other and their environments as both themselves and swapped bodies contributed to the plot, particularly in the humor and drama. Back in Putting Your Hoof Down, Angel had not only his worst appearance of the show by far, but also arguably the worst appearance of any character in the whole show. Yes, Angel isn't exactly the nicest and most patient, but it really took him to the next level, making him a massive, abusive, out-of-character brat in order to get what he wants. While this episode doesn't directly connect to that episode at all, his brattiness returns. Unlike the former (and his desire for a salad made exactly the way he wanted), the episode gets the audience to understand his position in a few ways. Fluttershy focused all her time on the animal sanctuary and classes that she spends no more quality time with him at all, and it shows in the open. As she stays focused on the task at hand, he wants her to give him some level of attention, but keeps getting ignored. During this exchange, Fluttershy utters a crucial line, which I'll further get to later. After Fluttershy gives Angel a little "carrot-based" idea, he decides to get her attention by disrupting the support group and starting a massive fight, disheveling both Fluttershy and himself. During the brawl, Dr. Fauna explains to Zecora that FS is able to keep the "chaos" under control despite Angel's shenanigans. Of course, Zecora believes things are worse than they look, observes how tension's boiling over, and believes the problem must be solved quickly before it becomes worse. After spotting Fluttershy messaging the "gecko's" sore back, he asks her to message his own in an attempting to get attention, only to be rejected in favor of her responsibilities, and this rejection happens at least twice (the latter one equipped with Fluttershy snapping back and Angel hopping away, upset). Why does Angel mock her in front of Zecora? Because he's frustrated with her spending all of her time with everything else. This culminates to his hasty decision to disobey Zecora and take the potion out in the open. Just prior, Fluttershy wanted to be with him and then immediately felt self-pressured to complete her task. Notice the change in Angel's face from celebratory to concerned to fed up as she showed more and more worry. This doesn't make Fluttershy innocent, though. Recall the "crucial line": …and said with a sly smirk. Thanks to that line, Fluttershy suggests she sees his actions as spoiled only. When he tries to get her attention, she yells at him, catching the attention of Dr. Fauna. Yes, she immediately regrets it, but it only restarts inside the storage closet. When he wants to taste the carrot concentrate, she's at her wit's end, accusing him of not taking her occupation seriously and wasting her time, culminating with equal growls towards each other. Right after they switch bodies, the first thing Flutterbunny instructs Angelshy is to "do her chores" while she hops to Zecora's hut, thinking this body swap was unintentional. Yes, Angelshy acted like a brat and used his newfound physique to poke fun at the Ponyvillagers, but Fluttershy getting her under her control only added to the tension between them. Grabbing his tail, stomping the ground, and applying The Stare only fueled his belief of her being "bossy" and animosity toward the other animals at sanctuary. Why does FS's small gesture matter? Because it symbolizes her core judgment to the conflict. Up to this point, she accused Angel of not taking her responsibilities seriously; by literally handwaving, she's suggesting Angel is being spoiled and lazy because he lived with her all her life, and by asking for attention, he's only caring for himself. And, yes, that's true. He doesn't take her job seriously. However, that literal handwave also admits hypocrisy by implicating that she doesn't take him seriously. Unlike PYHD, neither side is in the right from the very beginning. Both of them have streaks of not being nice to one another. Yes, they want to get along and be family, but neither believe they're being listened to, yet only worsen matters by not listening to each other. They oversimplify the opposite's conflict and treat their own as more important. This equal unpleasantness also helped fuel the comedy, especially Angelshy's reaction to the environment and FS's other relationships. Some examples include: Getting very giddy after smelling carrots from Berry Punch's basket. Having initial trouble running to the water fountain. And eventually giving up. Angel bossing Sandra around. Never piss off Angel! The best one, of course, is this: Angel's observant around his environments, FS's extended friendships (namely with the draconequus), and is mocking her for it. And for anyone barfing at the shipteasing, it's not like Confalone hasn't done it before. So why did Zecora come up with this body-swapping potion? Because she forethought the very source of the conflict and concluded that the only way everything will truly return to normal is to make them understand their own positions and see it themselves. Given how they treated each other throughout the first half, the lesson they were going to learn was gonna be tough, and Confalone really showed it. Thanks to not having a voice in Angel's body, FS can't properly communicate with anyone beside Angel himself. Her sign language to Twilight, Spike, and later Zecora becomes untranslatable. On her way into the Everfree, her breath begins to shorten, she starts losing her bounce, and barely escaped from a hungry bald eagle. Seeing as she doesn't take him seriously, Angel takes FS's sanctuary job less seriously, too. Rather than focus on the assigned job, he uses his newfound status to gain revenge on Sandra and become as lazy as Rainbow Dash from 246G, such as letting the storage keys stay lodged in Murial's sore trunk, not reminding Scout the Flamingo to shift his legs, and giving Zecora's "gecko" Antoine's cookies. Again, the fact that Angel's jerkish behavior is to be expected along with a grain of sympathy allows us to stomach his actions. Angel's neglect over taking care of her sanctuary led to massive chaos inside, made Dr. Fauna extremely upset over "Fluttershy" for being so ignorant of the animals' wellbeing (great voice-acting, BTW), and made all the animals distrust Angel after he found out he needed to get the keys out from Murial (who was now dissolving inside Antoine's stomach). (And on an unrelated note, Sloppy Steve from EQD made a great point about the "nuanced" storytelling here. The episode could've just let the biology of the predators go after Fluttershy satisfied Antoine's hunger. Instead, his predatory instincts kicked in after Angel took his treat away for the hungry "gecko" — or shall I say, fire lizard — and swallowed his prey whole, just like a real snake.) If Fluttershy was still a pegasus, she would've been able to fly back to the sanctuary without breaking a sweat. But because she's 1/10 the size, she spends a lot of energy hopping and becomes extremely exhausted and dehydrated once she returns. At this point, Angel realizes what he had done, regretted mistreating Fluttershy, and understood how hard it was for FS to work helping the animals in the sanctuary. It took getting the prey and predators to trust him, work together, and dislodge the keys just to take the carrot concentrate out, but carrying that heavy jar without spilling it zapped a lot of strength out from him. Once Flutterbunny wakes up and feels energetic, they share a magnificent heart to heart. No matter how tough the times may be toward each other, they care for each other, and we see it through their contrition, appreciation for what they do for each other, and around them. From now on, they won't take each other for granted. Beyond the lessons Angel and Fluttershy learned, there are a lot of really interesting bits. The episode further establishes not only the responsibilities Fluttershy has in the school, but also in the sanctuary. Between teaching, taking care of Angel, and running the sanctuary, it takes a lot of willpower to get through all of it. This is the very first episode since the School opened to deal with anyone juggling through very stressful jobs and how neglecting one causes a chain reaction. Often, bodyswap episodes will have the voices change along with the bodies, like Carpet Diem from Gravity Falls. That doesn't happen here; their bodies change, but not the mind or voices. By doing this, STtA must rely on the animation and voice acting to convince the audience Angel and Fluttershy swapped. Libman, DHX, and Top Draw did an outstanding job here, and you can tell they all had a world of fun. With Angel in Fluttershy's body, she doesn't talk all that mellowly. When Angel's in her body, Libman's tone's sharper, hoarse, rude, and louder to make it sound more youthful and "masculine." Thanks to his obsession for carrots, smelling them makes him sound excited and rebellious. From the animation point of view, Fluttershy as Angel might've been a little tougher to sell, since she can't speak. But she knew him ever since he was born, so she can utilize the very same language as Angel when he's a bunny. That communication works with Angel, but not anyone else. Plus, as mentioned before, she quickly fatigued from all the jumping, a limit Angel's more aware of than her. As always, Fluttershy has a way with animals, understanding the need to nurture them and remain patient. Grown out of her timid shell, she exudes authority while simultaneously earning respect and trust from the animals and Dr. Fauna. The episode establishes how impactful the animal sanctuary has been to Fauna since opening: Thanks to all the room for them to roam and heal, her job's not so stressful anymore. Of course, she lends lots of credit to Fluttershy, saying the sanctuary would be a "zoo" without her, foreshadowing the Freaky Friday-like swap to end Act 1. Since the second season, DHX toyed with pegasi/alicorn wings becoming secondary hands. She Talks to Angel doesn't go mad about it like Parental Glideance (and the winged hands were one of the best parts of the episode), but it did one key moment: Taking care of those animals was a big deal that Angel took for granted. Her matted hair and wrinkle under her eyes proved how much Angel's attitude pushed her close to breaking. Holding her right wing out and pointing at her list — which she held with the other — reminds him she is the authority figure and desperately wants him to listen to her. There's some to dislike, but a lot to like. She Talks to Angel resolves Angel's jerkiness from PYHD, intertwines the animal sanctuary quite well, and is the second-best Fluttershy episode of the show.
  18. Note: Expanded my thoughts from here and here. Being Starlight's first episode of Season 9 and from a prior synopsis, one could guess a low-stakes episode, magic-oriented, or possible repeat of a Every Little Thing She Does. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. Magic's involved, but it wasn't central to the story. With her friends off for Spring Break, she's running the school now until they return, and she needs something to organize her time in school while also not being in office. Casting an alert curse on a bracelet was convenient and made sense: Once they need her help, she'll be right there. Unfortunately, she didn't foresee what was to come. Her schedule just before Spring Break became so hectic that she not only got many ponies lined up, but Silverstream came over several times for very small problems related to an unnamed project. And to make matters worse, Starlight was unable to help Trixie gather the right objects for Maud and Mud’s spring solstice party the next morning (with Sunburst invited, too) and Trixie had to prepare it all by herself. The episode spends a good amount of time gradually building tension, starting with the innocent(ly funny expressions by Trixie) and ending with the stressful. Some examples include: Trixie casually drinking tea and eating sandwiches as Starlight juggles between her office and the picnic. Starlight helping her students while trying (and failing ) to hide her nerves. As Trixie reminds her of the errands, Starlight stays conspicuously silent as she looks around and taps her hooves. As Ocellus deals with her identity crisis, Starlight tries to solve it while rushing through. Starlight leaving the store once her bracelet buzzes, accidentally dropping the streamers she plans to buy. After Starlight realizes she missed out on everything and failed to keep her promises, she crouched and smacked her muzzle on the ground. Suddenly, her bracelet rang again. During this first third of the story, a lot of great faces were animated to accentuate the stress building up amongst themselves and each other, like their eyes increasing size, Trixie's sneers, Smolder's smirk, and Starlight's anguish. The dialogue was also top-notch, adding to both the humor and drama. Additionally, despite being Starlight-centric, Haber doesn't write Trixie in the wrong for expecting her to keep her promise, too. Yes, Starlight was justified to not keep 'em, even though she tried her hardest to keep up. Being in charge of the school for now, she's responsible for their safety and guidance if need be. To her, rejecting any help could mean missing out on something truly important to solve and letting Twilight et al down. Nevertheless, Haber doesn't let Trxie's feelings go or feel marginalized, spending good time airing her frustrations and then confronting her after taking care of the party arrangements. So when Silverstream asked for help one more time, the moment when Starlight turned her away and took off her bracelet until the Break ends made sense and didn't feel rushed through. So when Terramar alerted her that Silverstream vanished and then called her out for turning her away (Thanks, Trixie ), could you blame her feeling terrible for the whole thing? By closing the school early, she believed she could've solved an actual problem rather than any nerve-wracking nitpick from earlier. After realizing that she was in the Everfree Forest to likely research cockatrices, the tension climbed hundredfold and added further uncertainty for Starlight. Early in the open, Starlight explained how becoming a counselor allowed her to use her "checkered past" to get to others' shoes and aid them below the surface. The guilt she felt from seasons ago disappeared. But that guilt returned and only increased as the episode and danger progressed. Even after they all realized SS was safe and sound, that guilt never went away. The communication between the rest of her friends also felt very complete with plenty of humor. Some of the best moments were as follows: The anime-like blood vessels ready to burst and SG's shock really sell the joke and immediately show how even he gets on her nerves. Trixie standing up for Starlight to Terramar and eventually accepting partial blame for her disappearance. After Terramar criticized Starlight's party for not being "perfect," everyone, including Maud, glared crossly at him, shutting him up. In acts of desperation, Starlight looked in even the most unconventional places, such as inside Pinkie's party cannon and on a crowded bookshelf. Moments like these show both the panic creeping from within and the guilt that she already possesses. This little exchange: In the final two acts alone, there was plenty of flirting between them in comparison to Maud Couple from last year. Mud's little smile after Maud's reply feels genuine and shows appreciation for each other. The lesson has some similarities with Zeppelin, but they’re not the same. In Zeppelin, it’s about how it’s not selfish to have time with yourself. Here, it’s about not getting bogged down with a very stressful job to spend quality time with others. It’s a really good lesson. There are two problems. When Starlight and the others made it inside the open ruins of the sisters’ castle, they assumed the cockatrices won’t fly in and only surround. One big problem. Cockatrices can fly high, and they got too close to a flock of migrating ones by watching them from a cliff above. What if the provoked cockatrices decide to fly over the walls or through the old windows? They were just as vulnerable inside the ruins as out, yet the episode lowers the stakes a bit here and assumes they’re safe until they walk out. It was really dumb of everyone to gather and breathe there. At the very end, Silverstream admits to Starlight that her advice didn't amount to anything in the long run. First off, the joke wasn't funny. Secondly, it all but made Starlight's stress over "not doing her job" pointless and marginalizes the moral, as SS's visits didn't factor at all into the conclusion of her Spring Break project. Had Trixie not interrupt, Starlight would've completely lost her temper and given her the riot act. That said, it’s really good, and given the fact that Starlight’s takeover of the school may be inevitable, she really needed this episode. Good work, Haber!
  19. Since the start of Season 2, Rainbow Dash traditionally has the worst episodes of the season and show at large. After a swarm of some great and excellent outings, Season 9 releases its first clunker. Smolder had one of her best outings of the season. Representing the student body who wanted the cheerleading to work, she put up with all of Dash's crap and gave her the calling-out she so rightfully deserved. After Dash gives an apology that didn't sound so contrite, she actually proved she meant it by helping her students practice. And if you look at the montage, you'll see how much effort Dash put into coaching them to be the best they can be and the students placing their trust back into her. Snips continues his capitalist streak, trying to sell as much as possible to buckball fans and goers. And he inadvertently made Dash see the errors of her ways. Celestia going all fanatical remains the episode's funniest moment. And the buckball scene as a whole (minus one moment, which I'll get to) holds up well enough. That's all the positives. The rest of this episode was just a colossal train wreck. There's one piece of dialogue, where after it all ends, that really spoils the mood. And attached with a snarky, conceited face and tone. So why is Twilight going all Trollight the worst moment of the season so far? It calls back memories of what the RM5 did in Mare Do Well and 28PL, the former one of the most infamous of the entire series. Rather than tell Dash upfront, they go behind their backs just to make her get it, and the tone attached to them is cruel and unbecoming of not only anyone who truly cares for a friend, but also the show. For those two, it took until being confronted by them at the very end with them actually telling her to her face. 28 Pranks Later has the worst atmosphere of the two, because rather than fix the problem, they exacerbated MDW's worst problems and made a worse version of that episode. Here, Dash learns her lesson well before the climax, and Twilight doesn't see the transformation taking place, but imagine if she didn’t. What if Twi told her at the end? Can you imagine just how dirtier that would feel to the audience? Just to teach Dash a contrived lesson, Twilight intentionally put the whole tournament at risk. Had Twilight decided not to make Dash the cheerleader coach beforehand, none of what happened would've existed. Dash would be at home teaching buckball and not feel demoted and deflated. She started a conflict that should never have existed in the first place. But what does making that snide, passive-aggressive line admission also mean? Twilight knew well in advance that Dash would not take this “demotion” very well, do less than minimum effort to help the students prepare for the halftime show, try to sneak away and get involved with it, potentially ruin all hope they have for it, and make them quit cheerleading practice. Like the Ponyvillagers in MDW, she used both Dash and her students as guinea pigs just to make Dash learn a lesson. This is one of her most out-of-character moments of the whole series, as it shows no trust with Dash and the student body. That final exchange is an admission of no confidence, yet the episode paints her in the right for pulling such a disgraceful stunt. Trollestia was the worst part of both Ticket Master and Bird in a Hoof, as she treated the Mane 6 (and for the latter, her sick phoenix) as a means to an end. Trollight adopting that same "quality" doesn't make it any better or more humorous. Because this episode's Mare Do Well 2.5, it's easy to see why many don't take it very well. Mare Do Well is factually terrible, and its infamy means it should've been put in the background and not to be reminded of again. This episode and the ending feel a lot like a multi-down and an admission by DHX of having continuous difficulties writing/editing her well. Those reactions also remind me of my own following Princess Spike's ending. After a mess of an episode and conflict, Spike was given a bouquet of Dragon Sneeze trees, restarting his allergies and forcing him to sneeze at the rebuilt statue. What made that moment so atrocious is how it solidifies a very sexist position within the show. Spike had been the show’s buttmonkey from the beginning, and several episodes either neglected him despite being an important part of Twi’s life (like not being at Twi’s birthday) or made him the butt of very unfunny slapstick (Owl’s Well, the Spikeabuse from Fall Weather Friends and Castle Mane-ia). Additionally to being the only non-pony of the Mane cast, he was the only male. Beating down the only male lead in a pro-feminist show is as misandrist and anti-feminist as it comes. Now, is Twilight’s line as bad as that atrocious, sorry excuse for a "joke"? Not even close. PS's "joke" made me wonder whether FIM jumped the shark, a dose of irony after Slice of Life subtly satirized it. Twilight's admission, as awful as it is, isn't nearly that low. To this day, I still don't regret my tirade over it. Thankfully, Spike had more than half a season, several more from that point forward to recover. From that day forward, he hasn’t had an episode close to this level of quality since. Unfortunately for Dash, we’re now in the last season, and if you look at the synopses of what’s to come, Also, Kaita Mpambara is one of the best new writers, so for him to write such a stinker is massively disappointing. However, just because Twilight intentionally placed Dash in an unfavorable position doesn't mean Dash is entitled to take her disappointment out on the students. With RD being the focus, we see how she feels and reacts to her surrounding. What we got here is Rainbow Dash's Honest Apple. In Honest Apple, Applejack wasn't initially sure she would be the right pony to judge on practicality, but after Apple Bloom (inexplicably) had trouble with her hat. So even though Applejack became Applejackass, it didn't start out that way. She went into this process without ill intentions. However, Rainbow Dash never got on the right foot with Ocellus, Smolder, Yona, or the two cheerleading valley mares (Shimmy Shake & Lighthoof). What was her reaction to Twi over its importance? …Nice support for your students, Ms. Cools-a-little. From the get-go, Rainbow Dash not only showed absolutely zero interest in teaching the students how to cheerlead, but made less-than-minimal effort. Let's go over her sins one by one, shall we? Shimmy Shake and Lighthoof were apparently students at the school. But Dash apparently doesn't recognize them very well and passively dissed their cheerleading routine by rolling her eyes at them. However, even if Shimmy and LH may not interest her, she could've been inspired by Ocellus's desire for respect, Smolder's subtle feminine curiosity, and Yona's eagerness to fuel her in helping all five practice. Instead, what does she do? Remain completely apathetic towards cheerleading as a whole, ignore Snips's (bit-centric) reminder that Twilight put her faith in her, and put her focus completely on the constructing buckball field over her own classroom. Their first practice in front of her was loaded with problems, including Yona's inability to not cause a classroom earthquake, Ocellus's timidity, and Smolder's poor smoke direction. But Dash pays no attention, her focus out at the window. She doesn't see one second of it. As far as she's concerned, as long as they just perform in front of her, it's all she and the buckball audience would give a shit about. As long as someone else with more passion than her can teach them, then she can watch ponies practice and build the field. Even though Snips's focus is bit-centric, he showed to be no fool these days. However, his vague wording of needing a coach so he can "make any bits" led her to her scheme, which was a disaster. … … Seriously, Dash? You really think everything will be A-OK? You think that they will rather have Snips, who's completely unqualified to teach or tutor in any form of athletics, over you? Yet, she uses that "come-up-with-something" idea to blindfold her students and try to sneak out, and would've succeeded had Yona not peaked. "Come up with something" isn't an excuse to be damn LAZY and do NOTHING under a cheap guise. After being suggested to "turn to her friends for help," she did just that and spent the rest of the first day of practice asking her friends. But she gets only the equipment. She literally is doing "what she needs" just to get stuff. No tips on how to work with them safely, arrange them properly so the practice and the dance routine improve, etc. In layman's terms: Lo and behold, they practice for the rest of the day and fuck everything up in the worst "comedy" routine of the season! What does Dash do? Completely ignore it and act like it never existed. When she turned around to see them all glum and upset, her only reaction was a disinterested "What?" Hmmmmmmmmmm… …now what does that remind me of? Oh, yeah, this little shit!! AJ's act of shaking all those feathers off Lily Lace's hat after uniquely stitching them one by one overnight is by far the cruelest act between the two episodes, but Dash's words were much worse. In HA, AJ stereotyped fashion at a boiling point (though her following words while much more composed doesn't help her at all) and at least gave it a chance. Here, Dash maintained a negative, narrow, stereotypical viewpoint of cheerleading before Twilight assigned her, maintained it throughout, and then remorselessly showed her disgust for it and those willing to perform and make it good in spite of her laziness! Even worse, despite being visibly upset, she still didn't see the big deal in how hurtful her actions were! *facehoof* Sweet Celestia! Look, I get it. Being assigned to a job you don't like sucks. No one likes it. But this isn't about you. It's them. THEY agreed to take part in the School of Friendship's cheer squad, because THEY were interested and knew Dash was the most athletic and best one to properly rally! Dash, you're a TEACHER. It's your job as a TEACHER to HELP THEM! It's one thing to be so oblivious towards their screwups. It's another to severely flanderize her ignorance, pretend they don't exist, act so disinterested when they badly mess up, directly insult them, and STILL don't care! I read one comment somewhere, and I can't find it, but that brony's right. Dash, why are you a teacher? This is the second time you were a selfish piece of shit. What you did with AJ on that boat is way, way worse than this, but that doesn't make your despicable, out-of-character actions here any better. If you truly needed help like you claimed, you coulda, I don't know, look in the library yourself and work with the students to hone their craft! Neighsay bashed the school in part because the teachers are professionally unqualified. Congratu-pony-lations for proving him right again! *AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!* Ain't it odd that Dash suddenly bashed the idea of cheering? IIRC, she had no problem teaching someone how to cheer eight seasons ago! Sure, teaching someone how to cheer from in the stands is much more different than cheerleading, which is pre-planned and organized. That doesn't mean she can't use those lessons here, but that would've been a leeeeeeeetle too helpful for her students, wouldn't it? Needless to say, this episode sucks. Today, it's the worst of the season and yet another Dash-centric flop. However, despite bashing Dash's characterization and discontinuity, it's not close to the worst of the show or her worst appearance ever. Several episodes prior handled her way worse than this. May the Best Pet Win, Tanks for the Memories: Abusive to animals. The former by being cruel to those who want to be her pet and dismissive toward Tank. The latter for treating her company with Tank to be more important than keeping her alive. Sorry not sorry, Dash DOESN'T deserve pity over having to wait three months during the winter! Rainbow Falls: Gaining an ego and then actually thinking about abandoning the relay team representing her town in favor of the “cooler” Wonderbolts squad. Mare Do Well: No explanation required. 28 Pranks Later: Jumpstarted the MDW ripoff by scaring the daylights out of FS while knowing she hates being pranked, and then the whole town, including SCOOTALOO, decided to get her back. Newbie Dash: What supposed to be her milestone episode turned out to be the biggest torture porn of the entire show. Three years later, it remains FIM’s biggest black mark. Compete Crap Clause: Lusting to win Teacher of the Month, she and AJ focus more on winning than the Young Six’s safety, causing a Yona to nearly drown! Rather than learn their lesson, they act passive-aggressive toward each other and nearly became bite-a-cuda dinner!  When Rainbow Dash wised up, she was remorseful, apologized, and worked hard to help the students make the cheerleading become the go-to moment of the tournament. Despite her terrible behavior, she put in the effort to make up for it, a commendable act by her. Yeah, it’s the worst episode this season, but compared to almost the rest I listed, it’s not terrible. Lastly, it's understandable that some may feel DHX, particularly the crew from S6 onward, hates Rainbow Dash. But if they do, then we wouldn't have the following: Stranger Than Fan Fiction: OK, this episode isn't as good as what many say, but only due to Quibble suddenly acting like an idiot while in the jungle (thinking it's all a game). OTOH, Dash was fantastic as a fantastic foil. Top Bolt: A better climax could've really helped this episode. But Twi and Dash worked hard to help out Sky Stinger and Vapor Trail and were able to fix their friendships. Their portrayals were among the best of S6. Glideance: Dash’s Putting Your Hoof Down, and done right. Grannies Gone Wild: An episode that has no business being great, but it is. Initially wanting no part in it and trying to skip out, she immediately sees the error of her ways and works tirelessly to keep the Golden Mares safe. Despite all of the comedy at its expense, Berrow's episode reminds us to sympathize with her, not think she had it coming. She rightfully earned her way to the roller coaster. The End In Friend: NCC and Mare Do Well done right. Their argument was very believable and had every right to defend their own interests when the other didn't take theirs seriously. But they used their interests and strengths to realize how much they still mean to each other. The Washouts: An excellent sequel to Wonderbolts Academy, and Dash’s best episode. Like its predecessor, it balances her strengths and flaws very well, transitions between Dash's insecurity and worries for Scoot's safety flawlessly, and doesn't demonize her for any of it. Common Ground: An amazing followup of STFF with a personal touch, and Dash's best outing of the season. Tries her best to help Quibble learn buckball to bond with his stepdaughter, accidentally messes up, and steps back up to continue helping him until she found the right resolution. Most importantly, as disappointing as 246G is, this is Season 9's only folly. Many more episodes remain. If you wish, you can open the spoiler box beneath for brief commentary on the early-aired episodes: So, yeah, it's a bad episode, but not the worst, and whenever the show ends, she still has many good episodes.
  20. 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!
  21. For this being another Equestria Girls special, and a lot of the same things over and over again, it was pretty good. Lot of emotions, even through the dialogue and writing were annoying at times. There was also a major swerve in the middle of the special too, but I'll let you guys find out what it was. Overall, it was a pretty good special to keep the fans hungry for the mid-season premiere next Saturday. Grade: B
  22. This won't be like my typical reviews to be honest. Rainbow Roadtrip was a pretty good special for the show. Loved that they used the artstyle of the movie (Supposedly, this was supposed to be the sequel of the MLP movie from 2 years ago). I really enjoyed the build up, and the romance storyline. It was overall a good way to send us fans off into the US summer haitus (unless you watch the chinese airing of the next episode).
  23. Note: Credits to We Are Borg, MarikAzemus, and @Truffles for this review. After Sweet and Smoky, I won't be surprised if Season 8 was planned as equally as the 9th. The way she teased her off-screen bro after his horrid molt shows her edge, yet still cares for him. Combine this with Spike's feud with Garble still hanging in the air, what perfect time to address it than an episode about dragon-breeding. This episode mingles three plots: figure out how to hatch the eggs, get Garble to show his more sensitive side, and end his feud with Spike. While Sweet & Smoky started by using the first two, it expanded once Spike discovered who Smolder's brother is. Sure, no in-show word said he's her older brother, but given the context of past episodes and how Smolder's younger, higher pitched, and originally a little less mature than him, yeah, she's younger. Throughout, Smolder's more "feminine" side becomes more and more open. While at the School of Friendship, she's more introverted in her likening for tea parties, but while around Garble, she's more self-secure in openly having tea parties with Garble and Spike, expressing her feelings, showing emotion beyond archetypal "masculinity," and not being afraid to go against the grain of dragon culture she grew up learning from. Even more, her friendship with Spike grew closer to more of a surrogate sister, as she's more open around Spike, defends his passions, and stands up for him. Unlike Spike from Dragon Quest, Smolder rejects the long-time "culture" of bullying others to show "toughness," because she learned ways to be strong beyond the shallow "being-with-older-groupies" type, but not her identity. Thanks to Ember and Twilight, she learned how there's more than one right way to be a dragon, and as Garble tries to hide his insecurities, she tries to open them up so he and Spike bond. Speaking of Spike, he's the main lead, and he shows off his growth as a character in subtle ways. Even though he and Garble have a rough history, he trusted Smolder's words. Early on, she referred to his bro as being like a squishy marshmallow on the inside. Taking her words into account, he works with her to get him to reveal his more sensitive side with a promise of not making fun of him. His trust with Smolder goes back to Molt Down (their first real onscreen conversation), Rockhoof (their fire-breathing competition), and Father Knows Beast (working with her to out Sludge). Despite being the subject of constant abuse by Garble, Spike sucks it up. Why? Firstly, to promise himself to being a dragon without going out of character. Secondly, because that's what Smolder wants. If he (understandably) decides to cook Garble's snout, who can blame him? One can take so much punishment before going over their limit. He openly embraces "Spikey-Wikey." Back in Dragon Quest's beginning, he rejected Rarity's nickname, thinking it made him look too cute in front of ponies. (And from my perspective, her nickname for him then was sooooo patronizing. ) From that point forward, whenever Rarity calls him that, it's endearing. Calling himself that to Garble calls back to that background evolution of acceptance for it. This episode had plenty of Spike abuse, specifically Act 2 when he and Smolder try to get Garble to crawl out of his shell. However, I don't have much of an issue with this for a key reason. His mistreatment of Spike, both past and present, was integral to the conflict. How did he react once finding out she and GarGar were siblings? Not so well. Notice Smolder's raise of the eyebrow in the first link, implying suspicions towards her brother. Soon after, she warned Garble after he tried to be a passive-aggressive douchebag in front of her. From the get-go, she establishes she won't tolerate anyone bullying her good friend. Thanks to chickening Clump (one of the three stereotypical bullies) out after accusing her of being "soft," Beyer-Johnson shows she means business. But that doesn't mean Garble can't give him the short end of the stick by accident or abuse him behind her back. Unlike examples from other episodes, the Spikeabuse isn't a joke (something @Truffles points out in his review; link to it near the bottom). We as an audience are supposed to sympathize for him and root for him to overcome it all and prove to be better than him. But no matter how much he tried, Garble’s mistreatment of him understandably discouraged him. Additionally, his disappointment led him to accidentally discovering that the ground underneath the nests was too cold, immediately leading S&S into a darker turn. The eggs shook not from fright, but from dragons freezing inside. Thanks to his discovery, Ember unleashes Clump, Fume, and "Billy" some deserved karma. Back to the A-plot, with Spike being bullied, Fluttershy (representing the motherly support, while Smolder's the "sister") delivered two of the episode's most rewarding moments. After showing control over Spike since returning to the Dragon Lands, it was only a matter of time before someone called them out for their bad behavior. Fluttershy's anger was raw and real; when she ordered them to quit throwing lava at him, she meant it. Like a good mother, she keeps him accountable. At no point does she scold him and then pretend it's all okay. When she found out he played bongo drums and wrote poetry with Smolder, she embraced his hobby, but was quick to point out his hypocrisy in multiple ways: scapegoating her for being "sneaky" when he was the one doing the sneaking and using his status as a bully to hypocritically pick on Spike. After Garble's flimsy excuse, she gave him this: Her riot act to him was some well-needed tough love. He treated Spike like crap for not being a "real dragon" in order to hide his insecurities, and Fluttershy gave him some pointers of what makes him a "real dragon," narrowed to this: not being afraid to be himself and being with those who'll really appreciate his creativity. Granted, S&S's reveal could've been handled better. Nowhere the episode foreshadows his love for poetry. Now, the atmosphere early in Act 1 (thanks, We Are Borg, for catching this) foreshadows the upcoming stakes and differences between pony and dragon cultures, and Smolder refers to him as a lovable guy who likes to be with those who appreciate talents like Spike's, but what would do better is a hint or two that isn't so vague so his reveal of being a beatnik poet can be connected more with the rest of the plot, such as being with someone who can exchange points in creativity. Additionally, the episode told a lot about Garble's sadness, which he hid through a bad temper and embarrassment. Showing sadness, scaling back a little bit of the abuse (i.e., second-guessing before doing it anyway), and collecting lava to cool it down and turn it into the cylinder would help round it more. Conversely, the episode does a really good job showing us what he does to make us understand him without telling us to forgive him, which MarikAzemus points out. If you want to forgive him, that's up to you. Yes, Garble being sensitive is a cliché in storytelling, but it's one for ringing true. However, while One Bad Apple explains Babs's history of being bullied to make us forgive her for bullying others, Fluttershy and Smolder call him out every time he gets caught. Neither the story nor them downplay the bad things Garble did, emphasized earlier by how Spike would rather help hatch the eggs than be around him. The fact that Garble himself fears being picked on is not an excuse for picking on Spike in return. The fact that he defied Smolder's warning from earlier more than justified her to angrily call him out for picking on him. Small for her, sure, but important on the whole. Why? Because she keeps her promise to both him and Spike and shows she's taking both her professors' classes to heart and Spike's wellbeing seriously. However, rather than get defensive, everyone had to go to the nesting grounds, as the eggs were shaking from the baby dragons from inside feeling too cold. They've been inside for days, but they're newborns, and they're dependent on warmth from the underneath lava to keep them warm as they hatch. Ember called upon "every dragon" (or if the episode was more specific, every dragon she could find) to hatch them, but the fire was too cool. There, as Garble's "friends" laugh at him so hard that their fire becomes hotter, Garble notices a break. See the fumes? The eggshells were heating up. But how to do it better? At that point, Garble takes advantage. Earlier, he worried about others making fun of him for his creativity. Here, if he can get them to laugh at him, they can shoot fire onto the eggs. Will they make fun of him for it? Of course, and he knows it! But he soon stopped caring about what they think and agreed to trade embarrassment for the baby dragons' health. After briefly wallowing, he takes her lessons to heart, starting with this. Like Rarity years ago, he calls him "Spikey-Wikey" sincerely. As he beats the drums and recites the poems, Spike supports him all the way, snapping his own claws to stay into the tune. The more he recited and banged the drums, the more confident he became. When he recited his first poem, he exchanged eye contact with Spike, knowing that he'll embrace his creativity and back him when needed. Afterwards, he said nothing for a good few seconds. As he banged his drums, he became one with the music and his writings. The lack of confidence from before dissipated. Ironically, the more they laughed at his poetry, the more confident he became. By laughing at him, they're falling into his trick, which helps the babies hatch. Pay attention to the last three poems: All of them have a double meaning. In addition to telling the eggs to break free from the eggs, he was also telling himself and everyone else he wasn't hiding his talents anymore. He was proud to write poems, be a poet, and show it off. If they mock him, so what? That's their problem, not his. His self-confidence rose exponentially, and he singlehandedly saved a generation of dragons from freezing to death. The fact that Dragon Lord Ember defended him instantly after they hatched proves to everyone that their talents matter and should be celebrated. She loves the Dragon Lands and her culture, but she has a history of being looked down for being smaller in stature (and thus "weaker" than other candidates three seasons ago), so them mocking him was personal. If they continued to bully others for not being "real" dragons, then those eggs don't hatch. Thanks to Garble and Ember's and Smolder's fervent defenses of him, the dragons learn an important lesson of how they can improve relations with each other. If there's one thing here to comment, though, the fact that Garble's three friends had a change of heart seconds after Ember announced a massive change in its culture makes their change of heart feel less like an organic want to learn and more of "follow the leader." That said, the others agreed after realizing what he accomplished, implicating they're sincere. And @Truffles points out a really interesting, subtle secondary message. By unknowingly "hogging" the lava from the lake, they accidentally changed the landscape and put the lives of baby dragons (that she promised to take care of) in serious jeopardy. They count on her to protect their children at all costs; Ember's rightfully upset at them and treated the situation with the urgency it deserves. They were lucky to prevent the problem from getting worse, but if they're not careful next time, they might not be. This episode has rough edges. There were areas that could've definitely been improved on, one of them making Billy, Fume, and Clump less half-dimensional. Yes, seeing them angrily called out was satisfying, but it's like eating a Mickie D's burger with fries: It's filling for now, but it won't fill you for long. The dialogue's serviceable. And Garble's reformation could've been more natural. However, compared to Complete Crap Clause, this was much better in comparison. Characters remained in character. Beyer-Johnson expands dragon lore more. Garble's bullying and excuses weren't tolerated. And by taking his lessons to heart, he saves hundreds of vulnerable baby dragons and evolves one crucial component of dragon culture. Spike's the lead, but he, Fluttershy, and Smolder share great moments, and Garble reforms, ending their series-long rivalry. Sweet and Smoky overcomes its flaws and is executed effectively, resulting in a good episode.
  24. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRQwCOYsogQ Your favorite frenemy, back to review your favorite Frenemies!