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  1. https://www.fimfiction.net/story/218728/the-needs-of-the-many (C) 2014 I've always wanted to visit Equestria (what Brony hasn't), but I soon discover that things very rarely happen the way you intend for them to when I suddenly wind up there myself. The ponies all live in a constant state of fear as a dark gloom lingers over the land, many of them suffering from life-threatening afflictions. Not only that, but I find myself with strange new abilities. What has happened here? What's happening to me? I will soon discover that I play a major part in the survival of the pony race, but am I up for the challenge that faces me? Part I in the "Guardian Of Equestria" saga. Cover Art by ThePleonasticPotato http://thepleonasticpotato.deviantart.com/art/Ponyville-at-Night-360066446 Chapter I: The Adventure Begins My life has not been an easy one by any means. I’ve had to overcome many challenges that most people normally face and even a few that’re unique only to me. My Little Pony has served as an escape from life’s demands while at the same time bringing hope to me, giving me the means to face the uncertain future with a positive outlook. I’m relatively new to this whole fandom of Bronies and Pegasisters, but I’ve found much to enjoy within the show itself. The art style, the cheery songs, the well-developed characters, the clever and often funny writing, the engaging, relatable stories and the positive morals they teach. All of these and more have captured my attention ever since I first saw the 2-Part pilot back in February of 2014 on Netflix. It is during these viewings that I have often longed to be part of that world: The world of Equestria with its beautiful scenery, mythical creatures, and welcoming inhabitants. What I never realized is that this dream would become a reality, only nothing at all like I originally imagined. * * * * * * * * My average day typically follows the same routine. I work at a local amusement park during the summer anywhere from 5-6 days out of the week. On my days off, I’ll either lounge around at home, call up distant relatives for a chat, or even hang out with the few friends that have time to hang out with me. This includes my girlfriend of two years, who was actually the one to get me into My Little Pony. We discuss the show a lot in our free time, check out fan videos, listen to Brony artists, the whole nine yards. While I do like all of the Mane Six characters, mostly because I see different parts of me in each one of them, my personal favorite of them has to be Fluttershy. I’ve just always loved her soft-spoken caring nature that people are quick to point out that I share with her. Personality-wise though, my girlfriend says that I take more after Rainbow Dash; the whole Element of Loyalty thing playing very strongly into that. And she’s not the only one to say this. My mom has mentioned on numerous occasions how I have a very extreme sense of loyalty in regards to who and even what I associate myself with. Along with the Loyalty aspect, there are the occasions where I share the often brash nature Rainbow has. Me and my girlfriend had planned to take the weekend off from work and go up to Old Orchard Beach in Maine: our favorite vacation spot. We’ve been to plenty of other beaches before, but there’s something about Old Orchard Beach that always has us coming back again and again. I had just finished a long day at work and was making the final preparations before our trip tomorrow. Everything was packed up, my phone was charging overnight, and I had just gotten off a Skype call with my girl to make sure she was all set for us to leave tomorrow morning. With everything all set, I went to bed, looking forward to the coming trip the next day. What I would not expect is that I would be taking an entirely different trip that very night. * * * * * * * * Now before I had gone to bed, I knew that there was supposed to be a lightning storm that night, but this didn’t typically bother me as I’ve slept through many storms before. However, this storm was nothing like I had experienced at any time in my life. The loud booms of thunder were enough to make me toss and turn in my sleep, all the while just wanting them to stop. Suddenly, the loudest thunderclap I had ever heard startled me awake in a cold sweat. Nervously looking around, I discovered that something was wrong. My room was much too dark, as if there were no windows to let in light. Fumbling around in the dark, I reached for my clothes, my glasses, and my cell phone. After putting on my glasses and clothes, I used the flashlight on my phone to find my way to the door. Opening my bedroom door, I expected to step out into the upstairs hallway of my house. What I saw before me was something entirely different. Before me lay a small town with colorful buildings, cobblestone roads, and, off in the distance outside of town, a shining, crystalline castle, unique and impressive in design. As I was beholding this sight, something about it seemed strangely familiar to me, but what? After looking around I noticed a few places automatically. Town Hall. Sugarcube Corner. It all suddenly hit me: I was now in Ponyville and the castle I saw before me was the Friendship Castle from the Season 4 finale I just saw back in May. Looking around, though, something wasn’t right. The whole place was shrouded in a greyish-blue gloom, almost like something you’d see out of a Tim Burton movie like Sleepy Hollow or Sweeney Todd. It was also far too quiet. Where was everypony? Taking a few steps forward, I heard a creaking noise behind me. Turning, I saw the now camouflaged door I came through closing. Running towards it, I reached out my hand to catch it, but it closed before I could reach it, disappearing from my sight. It was at that moment when I made another discovery. Looking at my hand, I discovered that it wasn’t my normal hand. It was still a human hand, but the color of it was more pastel and the appearance of it was more like a drawing. I held both hands out in front of me and wiggled my fingers. Looking down at the rest of me, I discovered that everything about me was pastel and had the appearance of being drawn in the ever familiar flash animation style used in My Little Pony. “I’m a cartoon,” I thought out loud. Several other thoughts ran through my head in that moment. What is going on here? What the hell am I even doing here? I decided to head straight for the castle in the hopes of finding some answers. Maybe Princess Twilight would know what had happened. All I could do was go there and hope for the best. * * * * * * * * On my way to the castle, I discovered upon further inspection that some of the surrounding buildings had taken damage. Windows were shattered, doors were left hanging from hinges, and even some buildings had a charred smell from where a fire had been. What had happened here? I also heard the sounds of ponies closing their shutters as I walked through the empty streets; the only sign of life in this desolate location. The castle was a good walk away, but I finally reached it after a few minutes. Entering through the gleaming golden doors, I walked down a rather lengthy hallway. The interior was as quiet and ominous as a mausoleum. You could literally hear a pin drop. Suddenly, I heard a noise off to my right. Startled, I looked towards a nearby crystal pillar where I saw a small flash of light rose colored hair. I immediately relaxed when I realized who it was. “Wait,” I finally spoke. “I’m a friend.” There was a brief moment of silence and stillness before a face nervously poked out from behind the pillar. Sure enough, I found myself looking into the soft blue eyes of Fluttershy. In the yellow Pegasus’ eyes, I saw fear and uncertainty. This made sense to me; she hardly had any idea who I was. For all she knew, I was probably just some hairless ape with weird clothes. In order to try to gain her trust, I crouched down to her level to show her that I wasn’t a threat. “It’s O.K.,” I whispered, softly. “You can come on out. I’m not gonna hurt you.” After a few seconds of standing there, Fluttershy slowly but surely came out from behind the pillar towards me. “That’s it, Fluttershy. Nice and easy.” At the mention of her name, she froze in her tracks. Finally she spoke. “Wait. How do you know my name?” she asked, unsurely. “Uh… lucky guess? My name is David. Are you here alone?” “Oh no”-Fluttershy shook her head, softly-“Some of my pony friends are here also.” “Is Princess Twilight here? It’s really important that I-” My sentence died right there for at the mention of the princess, tears formed in Fluttershy’s eyes. “What is it?” I asked, concerned. “Was it somethin’ I said?” “Something… terrible… happened to her,” Fluttershy managed to utter through sobs. As of the past few months, I had learned one very important truth about life from the show: Few things are more heartbreaking than Fluttershy tears. It was in that moment that I leaned in to hug her, offering what little comfort I could. She accepted the hug willingly. As we were embracing, something strange happened. A bright colorful aura emanated from the two of us like the Aurora Borealis before vanishing. What was that? I thought to myself pulling away from Fluttershy. Aaaah!!!!-Fluttershy’s pupils dilated and she jumped backwards nervously-How did you talk just now? At that time, I was really startled to hear Fluttershy’s voice in my head especially seeing as she didn’t even open her mouth when she spoke. Wait a minute, I thought. Can you honestly hear my thoughts? Y-Yes, I heard her answer back mentally as she cautiously approached me again. Unbelievable. It’s almost like we’re linked together psychically. Um… I guess so. You said that something terrible had happened to Princess Twilight. She’s not dead is she? I thought, nervously. No. She’s just… The tears came to her eyes again. I reached out both hands to dry them for her. It’s O.K. You don’t have to tell me what happened to her, but do you think you could show me to her? Fluttershy nodded silently and led me towards a flight of stairs. As we climbed each step, I started to feel uneasy. What terrible fate had befallen Princess Twilight that it brought Fluttershy to tears like this? I would find out soon enough. * * * * * * * * Reaching the top of the stairs, we walked down a shorter hallway before coming to one of the doors. Entering, I saw Rainbow Dash and Spike over by a bed near the balcony windows. Upon our entrance, the two of them looked up in mine and Fluttershy’s direction. “Hey, Fluttershy,” Spike finally spoke before noticing me. “Who’s this with you?” “Um… this is David,” she answered back. “David, these are Spike and Rainbow Dash. Has her condition changed?” Rainbow Dash shook her head sadly. “I haven’t left her side since we first found her here like this in case she came to,” Rainbow Dash stated, “but as of this point she hasn’t even flinched.” Listening to this conversation, I could only assume that they were talking about Princess Twilight. I approached the bed and, sure enough, the Alicorn princess was lying there with her eyes closed and an unhappy look on her face. Seeing her like this was heartbreaking. I reached out to touch her. “What’re you doing?” Rainbow Dash snapped at me. “I’m sorry.”-I recoiled at the outburst- “I was… just checkin’ ta see if I could find a pulse or a heartbeat.” “Oh. O.K.,” Rainbow Dash answered a bit gentler. I pressed two fingers against the side of Princess Twilight’s neck just below the head and felt a slight pulse. I also heard a faint heartbeat when I placed my ear against her chest. “Was this where you originally found her? In bed I mean.” “No,” Spike answered. “We found her collapsed on the floor next to her mirror. After finding her there, we moved her to the bed.” “And she didn’t even stir as you were moving her?” “Not once.” What do you think is wrong with her? I heard Fluttershy ask in my mind. “I think she’s in some kind of a coma,” I replied. “What’s a coma?” Rainbow Dash asked, confused. I’ve never had to explain what a coma is to someone so I tried to think of the right words to say, but also make sure that they understood. “Well… a coma is… like sleep… but different.” I struggled to find the right words. “With sleep… the body rests for a brief period… and then wakes up either by itself or by someone waking it up. But a coma… lasts a much longer period of time and… isn’t the sort of thing that one can be woken up from. Only the body itself can decide when someone wakes up from a coma.” “So we have no idea when she’ll wake up or even if she’ll wake up?” Spike questioned, putting emphasis on if. I never meant for it to be taken that way, but since Spike had already brought it up, I found no need to sugarcoat it. “Sadly yes,” my expression dropped. Rainbow Dash stared at the comatose princess with a look of worry on her face. “She was the one who first brought the rest of us together as friends,” she stated, sadly. “To think that she might not…” As Rainbow’s voice slowly trailed off, I walked over to her and placed a hand on her shoulder as a way of reassuring her. “I understand how hard this must be for you… for all of you, but Princess Twilight needs y’all ta stay strong for her.” Rainbow Dash nodded as, just like with Fluttershy, the Aurora Borealis aura glowed from the two of us for a few seconds. Whoa. Déjà vu, I thought to myself as I removed my hand from Rainbow Dash’s shoulder. Sweet mother of Celestia! Rainbow Dash’s voice echoed in my head as she jumped back. How are you talking without moving your lips? Wait. You can read my thoughts now too? Umm... I guess so, Rainbow replied, a bit unsure of herself. Why are you asking? Because the same thing happened to me and Fluttershy just a few minutes ago. Who are you talking to? I heard Fluttershy think. Rainbow Dash, I answered back. What? Rainbow Dash asked. No I was talking to Fluttershy. She can talk to you this way too? Yes she can. I can what? Fluttershy thought. At that point, I’d had enough of these two’s voices inside my head. “O.K. just stop!” I finally shouted. “Enough with this… psychic talkin’ you guys.” “What psychic talking?” Spike asked, totally confused. “The psychic talkin’ that happens whenever I touch somebo- uh… some… pony. Like this.” I reached over and touched Spike. However, when I touched Spike, nothing happened. I tried touching him again and again, but still nothing, aside from him laughing. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Please stop,” he begged through a fit of cackling. “I’m very ticklish.” “That’s weird,” I remarked, looking down at my hand. “Why wouldn’t it work?” “I don’t know,” Fluttershy answered back. “Maybe it only works on ponies.” “Maybe. Is there another pony here that we can test it on?” “Well our friend Pinkie Pie is out on the balcony,” Rainbow Dash commented. “That could work.” “Fluttershy, you and Spike go with him while I stay with Twilight.” “If you don’t mind, I think I’ll stay here with Twilight also,” Spike replied. “K.” Me and Fluttershy then headed out onto the balcony where we saw Pinkie Pie sitting there all alone. Her mane and tail didn’t have their usual bouncy appearance, but instead were flat and straight. Whatever was going on, she was clearly feeling depressed. “Pinkie Pie?” I spoke. Whether she was suddenly startled by my mentioning her name or if she was just naturally high strung, Pinkie let out a “Yipe”, jumped several feet into the air, did a 180, then landed facing us. Once she saw Fluttershy, she relaxed a little more, but was still slightly tense at the sight of me. “Fluttershy, who is this and how does he know my name?” she asked, slightly suspiciously. “Um… this is David and he knows your name because Rainbow Dash told him,” she answered back. “Oh. O.K. then. Nice to meet you, Davey.” No one has called me “Davey” since about 15 years ago when I was just a kid. Strangely enough though, hearing Pinkie call me by that name was soothingly pleasant, even bringing a smile to my face. “Likewise,” I replied. “So whatcha doin’ out here?” “Keeping lookout for whenever our friends Applejack and Rarity return.” “Where are they now?” “They went into the Everfree Forest looking for their sisters, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, as well as their sisters’ friend, Scootaloo,” Fluttershy explained. “How long ago did they leave?” “It’s been almost four hours now,” Pinkie stated, nervously. “I’m really starting to worry about them. What if something terrible happened to them?” “Don’t worry. I’m sure they’re fine.” “But what if-” Pinkie’s sentence was cut off by her making a gagging noise as if choking. She collapsed to the floor as Fluttershy panicked. “Fluttershy, go get Rainbow Dash and Spike,” I told her, all the while trying to remain calm. “Tell ‘em it’s a matter of life 'n death.” Fluttershy nodded swiftly and headed back inside while I ran over to Pinkie. I panicked as she lost consciousness. Without thinking, I reached my hand out to touch her. Upon touching her, the Aurora Borealis aura appeared and then vanished. Pinkie then regained consciousness, gasping for breath. That was super scary, I heard her think, terrified. Are you O.K.? I asked mentally. I think so. Wait a minute. What’re you doing in my head? I don’t know. This has been happening with every pony I’ve come in contact with so far. First Fluttershy, then Rainbow Dash, and now you. That’s kinda freaky, but also kinda cool. Do you know what had happened to you? No. I was just talking and then I suddenly found it hard to breathe. Almost like when you laugh soo hard you stop breathing except this wasn’t funny at all. At that moment, Fluttershy, Spike, and Rainbow Dash came rushing out. “What happened?” Rainbow Dash questioned, nervously. “What’s wrong?” “Nothing now,” Pinkie answered. “Wait. Weren’t you choking when I went to get them?” Fluttershy asked, slightly confused. “I was, but then Davey here saved me.” “How?” “I’m not sure,” I spoke. “I was panickin’ and I reached out ta touch her when that strange aura appeared. When it vanished, not only could we hear each other’s thoughts, but she was also fully healed.” “Weird,” Spike commented. “Tell me about it,” I stated, frustratedly. “What’s goin’ on? Why is this happenin’ to me?” “I have no idea,” Rainbow Dash answered. “Maybe Princess Celestia will know. Spike, have you been able ta contact her at all since all this has happened?” “I sent her an urgent letter, but she hasn’t responded,” Spike replied. “It’s been almost a day now.” “Something’s happenin’.” “What do you think it is?” Pinkie asked. "I don’t know, but I don’t like it. Rainbow Dash, I need you ta fly ta Canterlot as fast as your wings can carry you. Find out why there hasn’t been any answer from her.” “You got it.” Rainbow Dash offered a salute before taking to the sky. “The three of you, stay here and keep an eye on Princess Twilight ‘til my return.” “Why?” Fluttershy questioned, nervously. “Where are you going?” “Ta the Everfree Forest. Someone needs ta make sure that the others are O.K. Besides, I think I know a pony who just might be able ta explain what’s goin’ on.” --- Author's Note: Chapter originally published September 24th, 2014 on fimfiction.net. If you enjoy this story and have a FIMFiction account, please consider supporting the original release on https://www.fimfiction.net/story/218728/the-needs-of-the-many. "Thumbs up" would help out a lot and, if you're without a FIMFiction account, don't worry. You can still look forward to chapters being released here every Friday. Same Pony Time. Same Pony Channel. Any support at all would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  2. I was curious to see what most people think the Twilight/Spike relationship is most like.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Bronies and Pegasisters gather round, and hear my news that shall astound… Get off the stage, Zecora. Okay, lets get down to business. I’m here to prove to you, without a doubt, that Spike is a main character, and only those too stubborn to ignore facts won’t agree with this. Now let me clarify what I mean by main character. No, Spike is not a part of the mane 6, otherwise it would be called the mane 7, wouldn’t it? I’m looking at the show as what it is: a TV show, not what the fandom has made it out to be, and who the lead role’s would be. Before we jump in, we need to ask ourselves, what makes a main character? A member of the main cast is measured by two things, importance and screentime. For example, you can have minimum importance to the series, but a large amount of screen time and be considered a main character. Now that that’s out of the ways, lets get things started. First off, let’s start with Spike’s importance to the series as a whole. Spike has multiple episodes that feature him as playing the main role. Let’s compare that to some other main characters of other shows. Here’s a good one: Doctor Who. When you look at the amount of episodes that feature Rose Tyler as THE main role, as in the episode surrounds her and is about her, it adds up to the astounding number of one. Rose Tyler plays an extremely important role to the series, and even when she leaves the Doctor, she is still referred to constantly, more so than any other main character. Spike, a supposed “supporting” character, has more episodes about him than she does. Now, let’s look at Spike’s actually importance in the show. Could the show exist without the number one assistant? The answer is a definite no. While he doesn’t have an Element of Harmony, thats just what the show needed. A main character without an Element. This provides the show to do more with the story, such as when Spike becomes the new Rainbow Dash in the Season 2 premiere. And although Spike doesn’t have as many episodes surrounding him as the other characters, he is constantly on screen during these episodes. Why is that? Well, it’s because Spike is very, VERY good at one thing. Being the character that the others personalities bounce off of. In this way, yes, he is a support, but not a supporting character. He supports the personalities of the other ponies, and is remarkably better at doing so than others. He can laugh or be creeped out by Pinkie Pie, he can give Twilight solid advice or be the comic relief for when its just him and her, he can swoon over Rarity, adding more to Rarity’s personality while doing so, he can tease others with Rainbow Dash, he can be adored by or act protective towards Fluttershy, and he can be told-off by Apple Jack. Unlike the other ponies, who all have more shaped personalities, Spike’s personality can mold to be that perfect fit for the people surrounding him. If the show didn’t have him, the script would have a lot less to go off of. The script would even lose a lot of dialogue with Twilight. Often times, Twilight is alone with Spike, with no cause for other ponies to come talk to her. To provide dialogue, Spike is there. Without Spike, who would Twilight talk to? Owlowiscious? That would get boring VERY fast. You could say they could just replace him with another character to provide dialogue, but if thats true, then I could say they can replace Applejack and give the Element of Honesty to somepony else (Just imagine if Applejack wasn’t a character… Ew). And let’s not forget, Spike was the one who told Twilight she needs to make some friends. He’s also saved Equestria before. Losing him would lead to some drastic changes to the series. Now for Spike’s screentime. Let’s begin with Season 1. While Spike’s screentime is less than the rest of the cast, he is actually a part of the gradual climb downward of screentime for each member of the mane 6. Excluding Twilight (who has godly amounts of screentime in Season 1), the order for most screentime to least goes as this- Rarity, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and then Spike. If you look at the amount of screentime they have compared to each other, you may notice something. Its a little hard to explain, but basically, the amount time Rarity has more of on screen than Applejack is nearly equal to the time Applejack has more than Pinkie Pie, which is equal to the time Pinkie Pie has more than Fluttershy, and so on. The distance of time between each of them is virtually equal. Its a slow, gradual descent. So, if one was to claim Spike wasn’t a main character, I could claim Rainbow Dash wasn’t. After all, she does have much less screentime than Rarity and everypony else. When we look at Season 2, it’s a bit different. This time, Spike’s screentime is still the least, but compare it to Fluttershy’s, who is the second least. Spike’s screentime is relatively close to hers, while when you compare Fluttershy’s screentime to Pinkie Pie, Pinkie Pie has much, MUCH more screentime than Fluttershy. This seems perfectly good reason to claim Fluttershy isn’t a main character, considering her screentime is closer to a “supporting” character than a main character. Both Rainbow Dash and Rarity have much more than her as well. In fact, even Applejack’s screentime is more comparable to Spike than Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, or Rarity. I know there are some right now that are saying just because they have less screentime than others for a season doesn’t make them not a main character. And get this: You’re right. You’re absolutely right. But if that’s true, if you honestly believe that Fluttershy and Applejack are still main characters DESPITE having much less screentime than the 4 other members of the mane 6, then you have to believe that Spike is a main character as well. Want to know why? Take a look at Season 3. In this season, Spike has more screentime than Rarity, Fluttershy, AND Pinkie Pie. Why would a supporting character have more screentime than THREE main characters? And if Applejack and Fluttershy are still main characters, why wouldn’t Spike be? They all have been interchanged for different spots on the screentime list, and in Season 3, Spike has the 4th most screentime. In fact, when comparing Spike and Fluttershy’s overall screentime, they has barely any time seperating them, Fluttershy just barely, by mere INCHES, being above Spike. So if Spike isn’t a main character, clearly you must also believe Fluttershy, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie aren’t main characters either. Oh, but I’m not done with screentime yet. Just think for a second about Celestia and Luna’s screentime, who to some people are in the same category as Spike. How can that be possible? Both of the princess’s screentime combined don’t even come near to Spike’s screentime. Even taking two of the members in the CMC and adding them doesn’t reach Spike’s. After looking at all these facts, can you honestly still claim Spike isn’t a main character? Only people refusing to accept that they were wrong could believe that. I’ve shown you the facts, I’ve given you solid evidence, I’ve downright PROVED Spike is a main character. Anyone that says otherwise is just a little to stubborn.
  6. 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.
  7. https://mlpforums.com/calendar/event/158-%7B%3F%7D/?module=events Title: Spike at your Service Air Date: December 29th, 2012 Synopsis: Just as Spike is about to be gobbled up by hungry Timberwolves, he is saved by Applejack; Spike feels the need to repay Applejack and is soon offering a little too much assistance on the farm in order to fulfill the 'Noble Dragon Code.' Aaaand more leaked episodes. Seeing as how Hasbro would have roasted Apple on a stick by now for leaking four or so episodes so early, I'm pretty certain it's on purpose as a marketing scheme to get attention :3 Anywho, look, more AJ. AND TIMBERWOLVES. YES.
  8. Title: Gauntlet of Fire Air Date: April 16, 2016 Written by: TBA Synopsis: In order to save his friends, Spike is forced to compete in a perilous Gauntlet for the title of Dragon Lord. Remember to watch with us live at the CMC Clubhouse on Equestria.tv 11:30 AM EST/8:30 AM PST "Please be a good me episode. Is that too much to ask?"
  9. During the pony scenes in Equestria, the shot of Twilight's castle, there's no School of Friendship and Spike doesn't have wings.
  10. Note: Credit to @CloudMistDragon, @Justin_Case001, Kaperon TSB, and Applegeek for this review. Today Sparkle's Seven is Season 9's greatest episode. Everything fell into place and was written so, so well. But writing just this much only really undercuts the mastery of its storytelling and humor. Rather than doing simply a breakdown of the episode in a strength/weakness structure or a long essay, I'll break down specific points, ala my Movie review and Zeppelin analysis. Setting the Tone. Within the first minute, Haber and Dubuc establish the episode's whimsical tone, beginning with this little whammy. Spike's so excited to receive Shining Armor's letter that he burst in Twilight's office, accidentally spooked Starlight enough to cause her to drop a stack of papers on the floor, and unroll his scroll with extreme glee. All punctuated by a very happy trumpet score in the background. Ten seconds in, the audience begins to have a quick impression of what its tone, atmosphere, and overall direction could be: casual, fun, and possibly exciting. The crown may be a toy, but Spike's face and Twilight's subsequently surprised reaction reveal how important it is to them: It establishes a friendly sibling rivalry between her and older bro Shining Armor, which the montage shows they had a huge amount of fun to earn it. That toy crown's nostalgic, a will to be impressive during the week, and improve if you miss it. Being a bro himself, Spike's excited to see SA revive it, even if for one more time. Before the open ends, Sparkle's Seven alerts us of the stakes: Whoever wins the crown this time officially wins Sibling Supreme. Forever. It effectively delivers on the episode's direction and tone without wasting one precious millisecond. Speaking of tone… Twilight: "For…ev…errrr…" What do Best Night Ever, Lesson Zero, Pinkie Pride, Slice of Life, Saddle Row Review, and Break Down each have in common? They're filled to the brim with comedy and among the best episodes in part of or because of it. Sparkle's Seven ups the ante hundredfold. Everywhere it goes, it's ripe with humor. To go over a few early examples: Starlight's last, quizzical line. Celestia's beat after Princess Luna takes a verbal shot at her (along with a small stare at her as SA gloated). This face… Suddenly, I'm hungry for pudding… Princess Luna whinnying like a horse. Recall his fans giving that poor robin having trouble flying near the Royal Sisters's castle? Here's the next scene! Eeyup! Same robin, dazed from crash-landing, walking near the castle instead! Going a little dark there, eh, story?! Pinkie cutting off Rarity and Dash's film noir scene (a very clever callback to Rarity Investigates!) and breaking the fourth wall during the cartoony space scene. Her small whine sells it quite well. Spike imagining himself as a spy teaming up with Fluttershy to steal his crown. From the start, Sparkle's Seven doesn't let up on any comedic opportunities. If they find a spot, they were going for it, be they succeed or fail. Varying the humor — rather than relying on one type — by equally including sound effects, the score, little Easter Eggs caught on repeated rewatches, different camera/animation techniques, and dialogue catches the audience by surprise, a crucial ingredient to good-quality comedy, and increases its replayability. The cartoony medium also helped accentuate their faces, going extreme without becoming uncanny. One will be covered in more detail right now. The Many Faces of Equestria! Despite the boatload of comedic variety, their faces drive most of it. Haber, Dubuc, and the animators successfully take advantage of the animation medium and exaggerate them without becoming gross, uncanny, or out of place. The only question: When's the right time? Thanks to its absurd tone, whenever they surprise us. Act 1's full of them, but some of my favorites occur during the second. Here are just a few. Earlier, AJ claimed to possess an alter ego named Apple Chord and would use it to distract the Canterlot guards while the others snooped inside. But after telling her story, Dash realized she wasn't telling the truth, leading to this awkward mouth. Does a face like THAT tell you she wants to be Apple Chord? Nope! Onstage, one uncomfy dudette forces herself to live a lie long enough for her friends to get inside. This one is sequential: Twilight and Shining Armor's exchange outside the castle. Suspected she was up to something, he questioned her. How did she respond? By sniffing a nearby flower with a cunning grin. Shining scooted away, peeking as she innocently waved to him. What makes this so interesting? Because it adds to the friendly yet passionate rivalry between them. Silly, yet serious in showing a tight, competitive relationship. Twilight realizing Rarity's scheme fell apart. If that doesn't accurately describe her sinking loss of hope… Poor Twilie. Yeah way! Uh huh! But my favorite moment, until the end, is the Dash and Rarity scene. Realizing in shock that the café was closed during the afternoon catalyzed their moment to spy on the episode's first truly suspicious event: Luna replacing two Canterlot guards with Zephyr Breeze. At first, one might wonder why she'd hire someone like him to take part, but then you become reminded of SA's words from earlier: ponies guard every door, so it makes sense for ponies to replace them while they're out to lunch. That said, it's Zephyr we're talking about here…! But we'll talk about that later. The true gift of this scene is how they react to him. Including, well, how shall I say it? Uh…eeyep? Oh, eeyup! When I first watched Sparkle's Seven, I laughed. The second time around, I nearly fell to the floor from laughing so hard. Sneaky sneaky, DHX! XD Ironically, they also made Zephyr, one of the worst characters of the series, actually pleasant to watch. Sure, he's still a diva, but he's much more self-confident now (clever subtlety). His ego's no longer patronizing; only Dash finds him annoying. Why does the way they present him matter here? Ashleigh Ball wanted Rainbow Dash to interact more with Ryan Beil (Zeph's VA). They showed great chemistry in FB, and Dash helped get his life back on track. SS's the first Pony ep we see him in since then, so the question is will his development stay or not? Sparkle's Seven answers that question with nuance. Oh, and do I need to post a couple of more faces? I'm the Youngest One(s) Like past episodes such as HW Club, Best Night Ever, Lost Mark, and TT123, the third act really elevates it. The first pivotal moment occurs just following the commercial break, when Spike tells Fluttershy he sometimes feels forgotten and uses their rivalry to back up his point. Immediately, two innocent moments from the cold open impact the story: baby Spike drawing gold stars below their chart and his wish to take part in it right after Twi's flashback. But there's more than that, as well. For most of the series, Spike's family presence with Twilight's more like an afterthought. In Season 1, Spike's primary occupation was assisting her in her studies. At one point, Twi wanted to wake Spike up from his sleep and request him to retrieve her quill, implicating he's a slave. Thanks to the ending, Princess Spike sent misandric messages in a pro-feminist show. Have we come a long way since then? Yes. But his arc felt incomplete, and episodes like Zeppelin (Iron Will believed Spike wasn't family enough to reward him a ticket!) and Father Knows Beast only created more Q's than A's. Long-time continuity backs up his doubts. FS, recalling her strained sibling relationship with Zephyr, understands his feelings. Twilight — so determined to win the Hard-Won Helm — accidentally ignores Spike's "little brothers" line minutes later. Thanks for proving his point, everypony. Fortunately, this scene was an extra cog to one of two big reveals in the climax: Under everyone's noses, Spike stole the crown, shocking everyone. But he wasn't alone. AIN'T THAT TWIST SO…GLOOO—RIOUS?! So how does this make any sense? Recall the first bit of foreshadowing mentioned a few paragraphs ago. Celestia and Luna share very strong differences of opinions of Shining Armor's security. Celly really liked it, but Luna was unsure and, as stated in Act 1, wanted to test it with her, but she chose to summon Twilight instead. Everyone was so caught up that they overlooked its fatal flaw: They're so focused on outside threats they overlook inside ones. Spike quickly realized it, and observing how Luna and Celly couldn't stop nonverbal arguments with each other, he concocted an inside plan with Luna to prove it to everyone. And boy, did they take serious advantage! Knowing his vanity would distract him from doing his job, Luna replaced two experienced guards with Zephyr for the afternoon shift. Spike tore Pinkie's hot-air balloon with his claws, not only further sabotaging Rarity's plan, but also providing enough of a distraction for AJ to steal a Royal Guard medal (which Rarity later used). Luna keeping Celestia and SA out of the Throne Room long enough for Spike and Fluttershy to explore the catacombs, escape, and invade. At one point, they got lost, and Dash pulled down every wall sconce to try to escape, so he mapped out the catacombs and noted all the traps and secret passageways. Spike's wits are essential to his character. Sparkle's Seven explores 'em in a completely new way: strong forethought. He not only rightfully predicted Rarity's plan will fail, but also Twilight's and SA's. All they needed to do was play it out, let SA catch Twi off-guard, and then *snaps fingers* capitalize. He won the Hard-Won Helm of the Sibling Supreme fair and square. Kudos to both SA and Twilight for acknowledging them as their little bro all along. But give credit to Luna, too. From a storytelling perspective, her little disagreement with Celestia fueled the spy parody that Tabitha St. Germain suggested. Her tiny shots and glares at her sister foreshadowed the climax and smoothly tied into both Twilight's rivalry and Spike's plight. Celestia's decision to ignore her justified her reasons to behave sourly made sense and gave her a solid alibi to help corrupt their flawed security system. By one-upping her older sister, she won well-earned bragging rights herself. The Miscellaneous Typically great episodes offer more than simply the story. Little details, smaller jokes, and intentional subtexts increase layers and replay value, giving viewers a reason to rewatch it either now or in the future. Beyond the dazed bird example… This whole episode is a parody of spy film, mostly inspired Ocean's 11, a classic film remade twice. According to Applegeek, Kaperon TSB, and @Justin_Case001, there are several references to not only Ocean's 11, but other spy and action films at large. Rarity's "unexpected" speech parodies George Clooney's "The house always wins" speech from the 2001 remake. Credit to Justin Case for finding this. DHX recreated this classic Ocean's 11 poster. After Shining tells his sis of all the security measure, Twilight uses mathematics to figure out how to break through, parodying a moment from the blackjack scene during The Hangover. Credit to Kaperon for discovering that. Luna stroking the goose satires the Bond-villain-strokes-the-cat cliché, and like Applegeek himself, I have a good hunch the goose (with his pink, skin-toned feathers) is supposed to resemble Dr. Evil's sphinx from Austin Powers (another Bond parody). This episode is also one subtle, yet gigantic, parody of itself, a great catch by @CloudMistDragon. FIM doesn't shy away from admitting how predictable their stories are sometimes. Whether your enjoyment of the product is determined by that is up to you. (Nowadays I rarely ding it for this, as the journey factors more.) Shining Armor accurately predicts her whole plan, is prepared for any other unpredictable folly by them, expects them to put their plan into action, and lures them into the Throne Room until the last minute. This self-deprecation is easily the smartest showcase of Shining's experience with security and wits. Simultaneously, it winks at those in the fandom who use the "predictability" card through Rarity's and Twilight's plans without being condescending. Was her plan unpredictable, yet in character of everyone? 100%. But Plan B had many major problems, notably inexperience and lack of cooperation. OTOH, Twilight's plan, while predictable, was well thought-out and highly tailored to their talents, cleverly commentating how a well-crafted, predictable story is more valuable than an unpredictable one. Ironically, this allegory subtly foreshadowed the unpredictable plot twist. Nice swerve, DHX. Very clever use of time is shown through the flashback. Back then, the family's Hard-Won Helm was shiny and new. Today, it's cracked, dented, and busted. Listen very carefully when Spike dons it; there's a small ruffling sound to further indicate its worn-out condition. Methinks SA enjoyed it a little too much, eh? During her heated argument with RD, Rarity stopped briefly to say "hi" to Spike and continued her diatribe, stopping after completely realizing who's there. (BTW, I haven't watched any of the Ocean's 11 films, Hangover series, or Mission: Impossible series. So I had to get the references from elsewhere. Nevertheless, ain't that tantamount to its high quality: not fully getting the references, yet finding it all funny, nonetheless?) Conclusion. So much describes this new classic. The characters are perfectly in character, including Zephyr (who's actually funny). Every joke lands perfectly, and is sometimes funnier on rewatches, with my favorite being Dash begrudgingly dressing in style. It got serious at times, rounding its story without becoming melodramatic and maintaining its lightheartedness. Several stories are simultaneously intertwined flawlessly, including its satire of spy films, itself, and allegory. On top of it all, its moral on listening to your loved ones and making sure they don't feel left out is executed so well. How awesome it really is to see Spike treated with so much dignity once again. Regardless of all of Season 6's well-earned criticism, Spike's writing was top-notch. Thank Haber for partially why. Whenever he's the editor or writer, this small dragon gets the respect he deserves. Thanks to Weseluck, Sparkle's Seven addresses a series-long concern related to his family and provides a solid alibi to craft a devious deed to win the game. If it doesn't prove how far he's come since Princess Spike, I don't know what will. He gets Spike, period. But don't leave Dubuc hanging, either. She co-wrote the ingenious Shadow Play with him. Sparkle's Seven continues to show how well they work as a team, and the former's inspirations clue us all. Its top-notch dialogue, successfully multi-layered stories, and brilliant executions from top on down are all found here. And finally, thank you to all the voice actors who stayed with this show for so long. You all dedicated so much of your time to building FIM's success, and your voices are iconic to the very same characters. It's so fitting to have the 200th episode dedicated to you, and watching it was a huge honor. Thank you, all, for contributing to this all-time great and show that commenced western animation's renaissance.
  11. After Suskel's pretty neat thread of "Which pony can live up to another element of harmony best?", I thought up an interesting question that I wanted to ask you all. Which Element of Harmony would Spike, Twilight Sparkle's number one assistant, most fit? I'm not going to answer juuuust yet, I wanna see what everyone else thinks first and give a fair-looking poll to start with. This is not about if Spike became one of the ponies, no no. This is purely about which Element specifically would fit him best.
  12. Fun speculation time! Back in the Season 4 opener, Zecora made a potion that required Alicorn Magic to make it work. That potion allowed Twilight to see past events first-hoof to help her understand why the Everfree was growing out of control. So, what would happen if Spike drank what was left of it? Would he be able to see how his egg ended up in Equestria? Who his biological parents were? It's not clear from the episode whether the potion only shows the past history of alicorns (since it seemed like it only focused on scenes involving the princesses) or for that matter whether only alicorns could use the potion. However, if the potion instead grants a vision to the user based on what they want (or need) to see, perhaps it would indeed work for Spike to finally answer that long-standing question as to why he was orphaned? FWIW, the only reason I'm thinking about this is from a dream I had this morning involving me watching the S9 premiere. As usual, my subconscious is more creative than my waking self:
  13. Or had a hankering for it? Or was he just brought up as a vegetarian dragon and is okay with that? Are dragons even carnivorous in MLP? I assumed they were, and that gems are just something they snack on.
  14. Hi there everypony! Spike here, and I'm gonna answer any questions you got for me! So ask me anything the #1 assisstant will answer truthfully
  15. Do you believe anyone else in the MLP universe could’ve broken Twilights heart the way Spike did?
  16. Note: Credit to @Truffles, @Sparklefan1234, @PathfinderCS, and Silver-Quill for this review, which I C&P'd from here with extra edits. This review has been revised to include a little more content. Sludge may be the most hateable non-villain of the series, if not one of them with Svengallop, Garble, Zephyr, and Spoiled Rich. Garble's someone to just hate, but Sludge you love to hate. This slob knows how to con others with no remorse. He wants to lives the luxury life and make you work for it, all the while tugging the right strings to make you fall for his tricks and divide you from who you love at your most vulnerable state. While he freeloads, he's not a stereotype, as he always cleans up after himself and trades his laziness for his brains. Smart, calculating, and very manipulative, he catches himself, remains convincing, and uses Spike's want for biological parentage to bypass all doubts. Several clues indicate his scheming ways before he became more brazen: He stopped jogging on the treadmill to chug the fresh cider…with hilarious results. XD The Wonderbolts held him above them, but he won't fly until Dash lectures him. He doesn't admit to being his father until after he fully recovers (just as he's about to depart) and walks with Spike back inside. Just by his stops and gestures, he's making up his backstory as he goes along, including not answering other questions the RM5 asked, but his tale's canonically logical, and his tears sound real, adding a layer on uncertainty. Silver-Quill brings up this point. Look at the image below: In this shot, she's nearly as tall as Torch, a monster-sized dragon. In the next, she's nearly as tall as Sludge, who's much smaller than him: After his song, he cackles, cutting into Act 3. ^ The synopsis gives away a very important clue: "dad" and "real" are in skeptical quotes. Dismisses Spike after being asked if he wanted to do anything with his son and then casually accuses him of not being a "real" dragon, cutting deeply into his psyche. His name has negative connotations related to muck and sewage. Despite being clean, his personality perfectly fits his name. Because he's so conniving, I'm really glad he's not his father; if he was, he'd be a deadbeat. However, as excellent he is at crafting a façade, this leads to a few big problems I have with it, echoing from @Truffles's review, @Sparklefan1234's comment, and Discord conversations with @PathfinderCS. Spike's hurtful comeback to Twilight absolutely crushes her, but doesn't have the weight. From the beginning of Act 3, the RM6 were already suspicious of him thanks to his sleazy manipulation of Spike and major holes in his backstory previously. Unfortunately, they can't prove anything, and Spike grew so close to him that telling him the truth without being delicate risks fracturing his relationships with the ponies. They must give him the benefit of the doubt and hope he doesn't brainwash him further. Emotionally, the delivery of disappointment feels stilted, further hurting its importance. Spike doesn't truly figure out he was being used until after his conversation with Smolder, and their plan takes place off-screen. Afterwards, everything starts falling into place. Because he figured it out late and needs Smolder's off-screen advice for some closure, the pacing feels a little off. No one can blame Spike for being so disappointed with Sludge revealing to be a phony. After getting so acquainted with him, his reveal's a major slap to his face. Yet, just before it concludes, he starts getting over it and feels mostly satisfied with the only family he has. But as this and DQ demonstrate, wanting to know his family roots matters to him, and he thought he was so close to actually figuring out who his biological father is. Heck, he revealed his scroll of things to do with them and was so happy to do them. As a result, Father Knows Beast's ending feels really hollow and forced. Sludge's backstory, even with the holes, is plausible, and you can fill in the cracks with them. His sobs after telling them his story also feel real. The script and Allspark even built interesting and complex lore behind it with a very unique art style of its own, suggesting a degree of reality into his tale. At the time, he looked very sympathetic and acted like he wanted to reunite with his "lost son." So for FKB to use the Liar Revealed trope feels like a gigantic letdown, and Sludge's reveal alone is anticlimactic. Previous clues indicate he set Spike up, but one big unmentioned red flag is stating he searched everywhere for him. Why does it hurt the story? Because he never recognized Spike nor said his name until after he fully healed. It was only a matter of time before Smolder and Spike craft a plan to out himself for being the fraud that he is. I don't like to harp on predictability in FIM nowadays, because the journey determines the episode's success above the destination, but that blatant piece of foreshadowing really risks sucking the audience out of the story. It's no surprise why many, myself including, feel dismayed. By revealing to NOT being his dad, the episode reverts to the status quo. After all this time, Spike's past remains a mystery. So despite a competent, nicely written story with a nicely song, great comedy (i.e., Sludge chucking SG out of the castle as she bathed ) and one of the best non-villain antagonists of the series, the resolve feels hollow. More could be done to tighten the plot or not feel so isolated from the rest of the series. At the end, I still feel uncertain whether I like it or not. Even after I submitted my initial review in the discussion thread. Nevertheless, it's got some big positives. Spike is very good here. He really wants to do the right thing and tries so hard to impress his "father." Here, we see his vulnerable side and one other flaw rarely exploited that well: his naiveté. He became so devoted with reuniting with what he thought was his biological father that he overlooks when he becomes a sleazy slob. Despite telling Twilight off, her worry clearly was on the back of his mind, evident by expressing his confusion towards Smolder. (This is also the first episode to refer to Spike as an orphan.) The audience sees his personality, how it was shaped, and (despite accusing her of being a fake parent) sympathize with them. His commitment for Sludge was genuine, which made his disappointment feel more crushing. Twilight has one of her more mature secondary outings of the series. Throughout FKB, Twilight is more than Spike's friend, but mom, too (and he sees the others as his family). From thinking he let her down after he was quiet and turned away for so long (punctuated by a really funny pillow reveal XD) to hugging him after he admits to being orphaned. Spike's health and well-being matter to him and will do anything to make sure he's safe, even if it means probably upsetting him. When he revealed Sludge ditched him and wasn't his real dad, she consoled him immediately, equally upset with the results. These shots really show their love for each other: Unlike Sludge, Smolder represented authentic dragondom despite their rough reputation, and she was great at it. When Twilight had trouble instructing Spike how to do tricks, she's there to help, explained that their parents teach them to fly when they're ready, and Spike offers a thank-you pillow to her, who doesn't sleep with pillows. Also, she knew Sludge phonied everything and worked with Spike to out him, because he treated her as his servant instead of his son. When he fled, she comforted him. Sludge is a fantastic, competent, and clever antagonist. No need to repeat. This is Dragon Quest (S2's worst episode by far) done right. How so? Recall the sexist implications and xenophobic stereotyping of dragons by the Mane Six. In DQ, while the RM5 watched dragons, they mocked Spike for looking "feminine" and proudly claimed that he's unlike the "other dragons" because of it. This sexism and xenophobia crossed over to teenage dragons, who are are written to represent dragondom, with Spike disowning his identity until Gauntlet of Fire. These implications are nonexistent here, and Haber wisely dignified dragon culture. Sludge claims he teaches Spike how to be a "real" dragon, but in reality, Sludge is a false representation of dragondom, while Smolder is. Guess who's in the right here. DQ's lesson actively uses racism in a positive light and treats the dragons other than Spike himself as savages in comparison to ponies, creating imperialistic implications that ponies are inherently superior. Thankfully, FKB handles a similar moral much better, this time focused on family over individuality, but Spike neither forgets nor abandons his dragon identity or sees dragon culture as a bad thing. Suspicions aside, they supported Spike's dad and worked with Spike to fulfill his wishes. They were all really charitable throughout the second montage: Pinkie and Fluttershy vs. Spike and Sludge in buckball (Granny Smith the ref): Rarity & Dash mimicking HW Day so they trade presents: Spike & Sludge bake and eat cupcakes together. Accusations of xenophobia from the ponies to dragons in DQ by bronies are justified, courtesy of their racist and sexist language. In FKB, no one acted like that at all, including Twilight. As mentioned previously, everyone's focused solely on Sludge being a terrible person, not because they believe dragons are primitive. When TS expressed concern, Spike retaliated with false accusations, which he apologized for. In DQ, Fluttershy agreed to watch the dragon migration after Dash agonizingly watched the butterfly migration, but punted her chest and cowered away. Here, Fluttershy actively helps him heal and no longer outwardly fears larger dragons. Disappointment aside, is Father Knows Beast a good episode? I believe it is. Compared to the rest of its post-Matter streak, it's the weakest of the bunch, especially so after its excellent run from Road to Friendship to Sounds, but it's still competently written. Hopefully, it'll continue to hold up on its own and age better in the future, but right now, don't expect me to watch it again anytime soon.
  17. At the end of "The Ticket Master" how were the Mane 6 using magic to carry the tickets home. Spike wasn't and Twilight and Rarity make sense being unicorns but the others shouldn't be able to use magic.
  18. Recent topic gave me this idea. We see Spike eating gems all the time. We know gems are pretty common in Equestria, just look how many can Rarity or Maud find in short time, so nobody probably thinks much about it, but in Just for sidekicks we saw Spike giving just a small fragment to CMC and they were able to buy huge industrial blower for that. So what do you think, how much does Spike aet, and are other dragons most wealthy beeings in Eguestria?
  19. Note: Credit to @gingerninja666, @Ganondox, @Theanimationfanatic, and Justin Galloway on YT for this review, which has been revised to expand my thoughts better and for better editing as a whole. Out of every legend from Season 7B, Rockhoof's was the worst. Combined with being a boring character, the story itself was very bland, and Applejack told the entire thing rather than letting the tale show. It's competent, but completely uninteresting. How ironic that in his first self-contained episode, ARaaHP is spectacular with some of the best characterization of a Pillar since they were first introduced. Hard Place is a "fish out of water" story, an idiom that puts the character in a setting or situation they're very foreign or uncomfortable with. DHX holds none of the comedy back, which had a lot of variety, but mostly came from the characters' reactions, starting off with Professor Fossil. Rockhoof doesn't understand preservation at all, because he lived in the era she continues to discover, emphasized by his destruction of an old sweat lodge (rightfully upsetting her) and triggering the conflict. Fossil's line, which sounded completely innocent on the surface, foreshadows future events while remaining wonderfully subtle: The scene in the auditorium to begin Act 1, while adding on to Rockhoof's inability to adapt to modern times, established connections, providing pivotal context as the episode progressed. Rockhoof's a Pillar, adding to the mystique and adoration from folks across generations. Most of this generation in the School of Friendship's very young, with five of the six unfamiliar with pony folklore. Smolder's sarcasm in response to Rockhoof's first accident is just one opinion (which changed as he told his story of his fight with an Ursa Major), but Yona adored him immediately, because his strength and bravery remind her of yakdom back home. As for the rest of Act 1, there was criticism of what Ocellus said about Discord's stone transformation (Celly and Luna casting a spell) as not being true to continuity. That's not true. From Princess Twilight Sparkle, Part 2: Sisters power up the Elements. Them casting a spell. The Elements couldn't turn him to stone alone. And I agree with YouTuber Justin Galloway regarding this point (his comment from this video link): Indeed! Personally, I can't blame the students for feeling excited (and Gallus lying about the class's direction). Learning can be fun, but sometimes boring, and Gallus is the perfect rebel to steer the class and Rockhoof in another direction. The story, despite in small doses and done to further emphasize his trouble to adapt, was really entertaining. To reiterate, the comedy in this episode as a whole is absolutely fantastic. This one in particular is probably the best one. (You know what I'm talkin' about. ) Several other funny moments include: Rockhoof incredulously swatting decorative set pieces out the school window, not knowing it belonged to Rarity for class (and was not created to fool him). Despite all of the carnage inside Twilight's classroom, the worst he can do to her wooden desk is squish it like a marshmallow. Cranky being heavily embarrassed after Cranky announced he had a rash somewhere in his privates. OTOH, in hindsight, this accidental embarrassment was well-earned for Cranky, who spent all day in the school treating the students like garbage on the buckball pitch. During Somnambula's speech, Rockhoof suddenly falls asleep and squashes a mare behind him. XD Despite doing so inside the school (even though Twilight told him to wait previously and didn't react at all to the fire), Spike and Smolder's bond continues to evolve through a fire-breathing competition. Small, but compared to their conversation in Molt Down, they're more comfortable around each other, and she's not so bristly towards him. That said, no matter the jokes or how much Rockhoof screws up, the episode never treats him as dumb at any point, which @Theanimationfanatic points out. Everywhere he works, he's always willing to impress, whether it's delivering the post to the right house, massaging, helping Zecora, or teaching. Wherever he went long ago, his warrior-first instincts aided him, and he applies them here. Today, harmony replaced war. He doesn't need to fight much anymore, especially now with Stygian redeemed. As a result, he screws up, sometimes badly, yet the episode does a great job not making him look worse each time he faults. To expand my reply, his struggle feels real, and he always works to at least try to succeed; at times, he does the right thing, but overlooks one crucial detail, whether it's teaching instead of preparing for battle, trying to relive life on his soil rather than retaining its history, and so forth. As a result, we sympathize for him and root for him to succeed. It's a major strength that the episode worked very hard in getting right. What's more interesting is how most of the Pillars still contact each other and know their whereabouts, but not Rockhoof. Despite their close connection as champions and friends, it also shows us an audience how distanced Rockhoof became since the Pillars split. He goes back home and virtually spends his days there, as if his life is complete. He can keep his shovel, but not need to use it. He remains a warrior, but as the episode progresses, he realizes he's less of a warrior, but now a veteran who can't settle after being gone so long. On the other hand, DHX/Top Draw puts forth a lot of effort to make the other Pillars's adaptations as seamless as possible. My favorite is Mistmane's just because of her work in The Crystal Empire. There are a lot of amazing set designs throughout the series. But Twilight's right. The imagery here's some of the most beautiful ever put forth for the show. The composition, colors, crystal designs, light, shadow, and perspective are so organic to the country. As the episode progressed, Rockhoof's struggles slowly took a toll. Sulking away from the School started it, and his doubts reappeared in the CE scene, especially after he tells her that shovel ponies aren't in current demand. It progresses further by accident after Meadowbrook was able to open her clinic back home and then after Twilight finds Stygian's new novel. Both of these sting him for two reasons: He can't go home. If STYGIAN can adapt, why can't him?! But the final trigger? Accidentally sinking the Aris navy. @gingerninja666 explains that point perfectly: And it's after this when Rockhoof requests to be turned to stone. Mpambara doesn't hide one bit how it's an allegory of suicide, and his (the writer's) logic narrows this down in several key areas: No matter how hard he tries, he's always one step behind, and he can't catch up. Everyone successfully adjusted, but all he does is, in his eyes, ruin his reputation, and it's not only self-embarrassing, but also self-deflating. If he can't rely on using the stars to navigate around the world, then what can he do now? Rockhoof believes his friends are better off without him. Because he can't transition, he believes he looks weak to them, even though he means so much to them and were willing to help him in any way they can. That's why he avoided communicating with them for so long. He understands how much the Realm idolizes him and the others, but he doesn't want them to think of him as the washed-up veteran he became, but the warrior they grew up remembering. Turning into stone means preserving his legacy. Older adults are at highest risk for suicide; for U.S. veterans, twenty died by suicide daily in 2014, 65% of them 50 years or older. @Ganondox even pointed out an even sadder implication of one reason why an elder may commit suicide, and one powerful Golden Girls episode long ago does the same. Rockhoof's generation is long gone; he's the lone relic left. He believes his time has passed him. Additionally, he fears of what's to come. What if he stays un-stoned, and everyone sees him as this old relic who relishes for the good old days? He doesn't want to look old, washed up, and useless. Twilight agreed to write a stone spell, thereby assisting his suicide. The fact that it's temporary doesn't change the implications. Everyone reacted to Rockhoof's wish in complete horror. Twilight didn't want to write it, because she knew he belonged somewhere. But the students, especially Yona, reacted the hardest for obvious reasons. The followup scene in the castle hallway is one of the best of the series. Yona developed a student-to-teacher crush on him, but when his life was in danger, she came right to him, and her idolization for him evolves, evident by the class report she recited. She's in school in Equestria, where no one looks like her or shares her interests; her constant running almost got her into big trouble immediately, and Neighsay spouting racism towards non-ponies doesn't help. Bonding with others eases her fears and makes her feel safe. His ability to be strong, brave, and persevere inspired countless individuals, including her, who's innocent and childlike. Their chemistry and her admiration are incredibly genuine, and the fact she stood up for him and convinced everyone in the school to gather around outside and listen to his stories at maybe the lowest moment of his life makes him realize at just that moment he means so much to them. It fixes a big problem from two previous episodes: Magic Sheep and No Second Prances. Magic Sheep: Luna's Tantabus creation is an allegory of either depression or addiction. Self-punishing with the Tantabus not only reminded her of her crimes long ago, but also gave her an escape from the torment she inwardly suffered. But it's marred by an awfully-executed moral, thanks to its rushed, absolute ending. Addiction and illness don't magically disappear. NSP: After Trixie and Starlight fell out, Trixie acted like she didn't want to live anymore, but it's an unfortunate implication, and Twilight and Starlight doing nothing as she treks into her cannon is just insulting. Here, A Rockhoof and a Hard Place tackled a really dark subject, but took a long time developing the allegory, provided key clues foreshadowing what was coming, and treated it with the delicateness and seriousness it so richly deserves. The moral it teaches — "No matter how hurt, lonely, or hopeless you feel, you matter." — is also magnificently executed. But it isn't just Yona and Rockhoof. AJ and Twilight were really good in their roles, too. Twi may lead the school, but she trusted AJ into conversing with each other and letting AJ help guide her and him wherever he went. Working with him and helping him was a team effort throughout. More importantly, Mpambara keeps Spike in character in Act 3 without looking insensitive. How? With this shot: Spike has a history of being snarky, but thanks to the suicide allegory, his sarcasm, sardonicism, and sometimes blasé behavior won't fit at all to the tone and messaging DHX is aiming. If not careful, viewers may end up hating his portrayal. By opening the act with him asleep and then woken up with a start, the episode instantly sets part of the tone, and his sleepy behavior parades into the classroom, allowing DHX to use his snark for comedy without unfortunate implications. This episode was an amazing surprise. Because Season 8 was so good up to this point, I had high expectations for this one. After watching it the first time, I knew it was great. But watching it again and again helped me pay closer attention to the effort put into creating this wonderful story. Ever since I first watched the S8 leaks last year, I had Break Down as its best. A Rockhoof and a Hard Place replaced it, and it's one of the ten best of the whole show. Bravo! P.S.: Those who read my statuses may have read and followed my episode order, but for those who don't, this is my current top-10 of the series (including Rockhoof): The Perfect Pear The Best Night Ever Crusaders of the Lost Mark Amending Fences Shadow Play Sisterhooves Social The Cutie Map A Rockhoof and a Hard Place Parental Glideance The Break Up Break Down An episode of such a quality deserves such a spot. More can't be said about how amazing Hard Place is.
  20. Is there anyone ships Spike with Winona? (horrible idea.) It's finally his chance to meet someone of his own species. I'm also curious what Winona would look like in Equestria. I'm also curious about Ember dog, Garble dog, Torch dog. See? That's why you don't make rash canon decisions.
  21. Hi, there everypony! Spike here, and I'm gonna answer any questions you got for me! So ask me anything the #1 assistant will answer truthfully(I am continuing the work that IsraelYabuki started)
  22. The King of Love Bugs - Slice of Life, Comedy 70,000+ words - On-Going This story is my magnum opus for this fandom, and has a lot of history to it. Spoiler for exposition. Summary: Following the dethroning of Queen Chrysalis, the princesses of Equestria seek to build a relationship with newly-crowned King Thorax, and forge a never before seen alliance between ponies and changelings. While the changelings continue to discover new things about their bold metamorphosis, Thorax works to embrace his role as the changeling's new patriarch - demonstrating to the swarm a benevolent means of ruling far different from his predecessor. With the help of Equestria's princesses, his brooding older brother, and even a few unexpected friends, Thorax must now introduce the idea of peaceful changelings in Equestria, one escapade at a time. Facts & Why You Should Read: Potent levels of fluff and cuteness - forum goers with weak hearts have been warned. Follows along the events of the show as closely as possible, giving an 'off screen occurrences' theme to the story and its events. Intriguing lore regarding the changelings, their powers, relationships and way of life. 'Flower of the Wastelands' by Huusii. An unintentional but surprisingly similar representation of the first chapter.
  23. Here I discuss the first couple of episodes of the 2nd Half of the current season, and how fans feel about them. Comments are Welcomed #MLPSEASON8 #MYLITTLEPONYFRIENDSHIPISMAGIC #MLPFIM #MYLITTLEPONY #HASBRO #DHXMEDIA
  24. I mean think of it, we have yet to get an answer as to where this darkeness came from. Well here I give my theory on how it came to be and who may be responible for it. Comments are Welcomed #MLPFIM #MYLITTLEPONYFRIENDSHIPISMAGIC #GROGAR #HASBRO #DHXMEDIA #MLPTHEORY #THEORY #THEORIES