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Hello everyone. I was trying to come up with a reason for the map to call Spike on 'Triple Threat', since I found it completely unnecessary the first time I saw the episode. First of all, it seemed that the friendship problem was caused by Spike, and Spike didn't even came up with the solution of the problem. So, why call him? After another watch I saw that Spike was actually being somewhat successful in keeping Thorax and Ember apart and he delegated that task only when the map called him, distracting him from his original objective to start looking for a "friendship problem" in town. So I wondered, what if the map called Spike to remove him from the situation long enough to cause the meeting of Thorax and Ember? - Thorax initial goal was to ask Spike (and only Spike) for leadership advice. - Ember initial goal was to ask Spike for advice on spreading friendship between dragons (and maybe being shown how ponies do it in Ponyville). The episode shows how Thorax and Ember were actually a better help to each other than Spike could have been, mainly because Spike has no leadership role in equestria. At the end, Thorax and Ember got good advice but their original problems are still not solved at this point and I came up with the following: the map objective was not to solve any friendship issue at all, but rather to form a new friendship between the Changeling Leader and the Dragon Lord. My question to all of you is, what do you think was the reason why the map called Spike? I'll be eager to read your thoughts and comments on this subject, specially if you have come up with a different reasoning than mine. Greetings!
Good evening everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! Wooh, goodness gracious me was this episode a breath of fresh air! Now, do not get me wrong, this whole season has been incredibly exceptional, but sometimes you need a break from the incredible. What exactly do I mean? Well... to be blunt, the last five episodes have ranged from very exceptional (in "Not Asking for Trouble" and "Discordant Harmony") to divisive for very good reason (in "Fame and Misfortune") to among the most amazing showings that MLP has ever had to offer (in "A Royal Problem" and "The Perfect Pear", my new personal favorite in the entire show). I don't think we've had stretches of awesome this consistent in a season since Season 2, and I kind of forgot how exhausting that can be sometimes. Make no mistake, I have adored every minute of Season 7 (with the exception of the unfathomable awful that was "Hard to Say Anything"), but the show can't be amazing every week, and sometimes we just need a break with a really solid, flat out good episode that is very Slice of Life in nature. Although it features two very unusual main characters we've rarely seen on the show, I fully believe that "Triple Threat" is exactly that, a solid Slice of Life offering that was just, all around, good. That's it, just good, and it's fine being just that. This shouldn't be a terribly long review at all, so without further ado, let's dive right in. This is "Triple Threat"! WOOOOOOOOOOOO, SUPERHERO LANDING!!! So, curiously enough, this was our first Spike-centric episode of the season. How does it hold up as far as Spike episodes go? Eh, alright. I've seen Spike written far worse in the past, but some of his character here did feel a touch OOC, even if the reasons for his behavior were understandable. Spike had a ton of responsibilities to juggle here, starting with (1) welcoming Ember to Ponyville, (2) welcoming Thorax to Ponyville after he realized he'd invited him there on the same day, and (3) solving a friendship problem that arose in the middle of their visits. Between playing ambassador to two visiting leaders of their respective people as well as solving a friendship problem which was unknown to him, Spike certainly had plenty to juggle. My beef with how he was written, though, was that about halfway through the episode, when he learned he had a friendship problem to solve, he seemed to (1) not consider at all that it might have something to do with Ember and Thorax and (2) forget altogether that the visiting monarchs should probably take precedence over the friendship problem. Granted, I get what he was doing: from the start of the episode he was trying to keep everything organized in a manner he'd learned from Twilight, by keeping plenty of lists, but that all went to shit when Thorax showed up and sent Spike into a panic. He probably figured he'd have all the time in the world to GIVE to Ember and Thorax once he solved the friendship problem. The problem is that he kept going out of his way to avoid Ember and Thorax in the course of trying to solve really simple "friendship" problems that were really just little disputes or spats, which seemed a bit off for Spike, even a really panicky one. Dude's been around long enough to know how to properly prioritize what is and isn't most important to address. The episode redeemed how it treated Spike a tad in my eyes at the end when it turned out that not only was he the one who created the friendship problem in the first place (which I thought was really clever), but the one who needed to learn a lesson as well (though I have no idea why that means he was the one who was glowing, and not Ember or Thorax considering they were the ones who solved the problem), but still, he was a bit frustrating at times. That said, the state of panic he was in the whole time was pretty hilarious (especially his "you've gotta be shitting me!" face when the friendship map summoned him), and Starlight's own schadenfreude-like amusement directed toward Spike at one point very much summed up the amusement I myself got from how everything was working out for him. Hardly the worst Spike episode ever, but not exactly a great or even good one, at least not for Spike. The best part of the episode has got to be, hands down, Ember and Thorax (arguably the true main characters of the episode as well). This was Thorax's first truly regular appearance, if we're being honest, since his debut episode; he was a largely supporting player in the Season 6 finale (mostly there because the plot demanded it, even if he was perfectly fine), and he barely had anything to do at all in the Season 7 opener. Here, he had an actual problem that needed resolving (which may even come up again later in the season if the episode title of Episode 17, "To Change a Changeling," is anything to go by), and even better it was tied to his role as leader of the new, reformed changeling pack (as an aside, I do find it a bit odd that they're not calling it a changeling hive anymore, but rather a pack, but whatever, doesn't bug me too much). Awwwwww yeah, cute deer bug pony loves da fire, he loves it so, so much! Ember too, in her first appearance since her debut, was just as pleasing to see. Like Thorax, she had a leadership problem that needed resolving as well, tied into her own people, the dragons. There were two things that worked especially well with these two. One was that they brought back the most endearing qualities the two characters had last time: Thorax was the same old adorable softie/deer bug pony he's always been, happy to share in as much love as he possibly can, and Ember was once again the most tsundere character the show's ever had, and on top of that she also had a ton of hilarious and adorable cultural misunderstandings going on with the ponies (the best being her eating Twilight's dining room - literally - and destroying Derpy's poor muffin in a misguided attempt to display friendship, both of which were just the best of a ton of hilarious cultural missteps in her interactions with the ponies). OK seriously, they could not make this deer bug pony more adorable if they tried! Though I do have to ask... how long, exactly, is his bucking neck??? The other was that these two worked out their own issues themselves, or rather, with each other! Yeah, in a bucking awesome turn from the show's usual formula of having either (1) the Mane 6, (2) Spike, (3) the CMC, or (4) Starlight Glimmer solve some kind of friendship problem, two supporting characters solved their own problems simply by talking and interacting with each other. In fact, they were both quite well suited for helping the other; Ember knew that Thorax needed simply to be taught how to be a more assertive leader and what he needed to learn to do so, while Thorax knew how to teach Ember to be more open about her feelings with others. Hell, they probably bonded quite easily since they were both leaders; they wanted Spike's help first and foremost, but frankly, it makes sense that that might be a bit much for the little guy. As much as he's gone through, he's still a baby dragon, and while his heart may be in the right place, I wouldn't say he's a leader, at least not yet. Frankly, Ember and Thorax were just better suited for teaching the other what they needed to learn, and when they finally did, they had a great dynamic together. I loved that once they realized what misunderstandings had just happened that they both started acting like the adults in the room, like everypony else was acting ridiculous (frankly, their being kept apart can't just be put on Spike considering Twilight and Starlight thought it was the best move too). Overall, loved these two here, and would honestly love to see more of them going forward. D'awwwwww, deer bug pony just can't get comfortable! Ember literally eating Twilight's castle is far cuter than it has any right to be... Besides these two main elements, the rest of Ponyville (as should be the case in any good slice of life episode in this show) was pretty much a character in and of itself, including in Twilight and Starlight (although they were supporting characters, they barely contributed to the resolution at all, so really most of what they did was initiate plot direction and gags throughout the episode). For their parts, Twilight and Starlight were pretty hilarious as they haplessly tried to keep Ember and Thorax apart (though while I understood why Ember was more interested in seeing Spike than those two since they're both dragons, I was a bit confused why Thorax wanted to see Spike more - he may be closer friends with Spike than the others, but friendship isn't an issue with him and I would think he'd know he should take his issue to another leader, not Spike of all ponies or dragons). Their funniest bit was easily when Ember bluntly pointed out how similar they look and even behave, a joke which both felt like it was poking fun at the "all you (blanks) look the same" line applied in a number of racial jokes as well as a tad meta even, considering many fans have drawn parallels between Twilight and Starlight, and they are quite undeniable considering they are teacher and student after all. The background ponies had a ton of bits in the episode, possibly their most this season; Lyra and Bon Bon got into an argument that Spike helped resolve, there were cute and funny bits with Ponyville residents all over the place as part of the celebrations for Ember's arrival (I loved that they were all very receptive of both Ember and Thorax, though they were understandably terrified of some of Ember's more aggressive displays, intentional or accidental), some background ponies argued over a chair for some reason (WAY more aggressively than they needed to), and of course, poor Derpy's muffin meeting its untimely demise against a wall on account of Ember... rather than of course meeting its demise, as it should have, in Derpy's belly. And overall it was just a lot of fun seeing two characters like Ember and Thorax just a bit out of their element in a town like Ponyville, but the rest of the town still going about its business as usual; frankly, a dragon lord and a changeling pack leader are probably hardly the strangest things these ponies have seen by this point. "You ponies all look the same." DAT'S RACIST, EMBER!!! All in all, like I said, this was just a good episode. It wasn't great, it wasn't bad, it was good. The lesson that Spike should have just told Ember and Thorax about each other right away, rather than simply assumed they wouldn't get along, is a VERY standard lesson (made only clever in the sense that Spike was the one who had to learn the lesson, rather than teach anything), though it did set up a delightful joke about how ponies are always just telling each other what friendship lessons they've learned (once again, another fun bit of meta humor). But as I said before, I'm perfectly OK with this episode just being good. I don't need every episode to blow my socks off, otherwise they wouldn't be special to begin with. And hell, I don't even need most episodes to be very exceptional, or at least so bad or divisive that everybody is talking about them. GOOD episodes, just solidly good, are the bread and butter of this show, and we need bread and butter for sustenance as much as we need the delightful decadence that are treats like "The Perfect Pear." The fact that this show's "good" is far more delightful than the average of most other animated shows of a similar nature is a credit to the high level of quality we've come to expect from MLP by this point. So yeah, overall, I very much enjoyed this episode for what it was, and that it didn't pretend in the slightest to be anything that it wasn't, and rather embraced being exactly what it was: a GOOD episode of MLP. That's all I've got for ya this week, everypony, until next time this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit* That "I just watched a good episode of MLP" feeling...
One of my weak spots as a fan of this show is pony politics. Good or bad, if a My Little Pony episode revolves around the main characters struggling to adjust to new responsibilities - especially if said responsibilities are related to diplomacy - then I'm bound to get some enjoyment out of it. "Triple Threat" is a little too predictable to be on par with "Party Pooped," my favourite episode of this type, but it delivers the sympathetic internal conflict which always drives these episodes, and has a lot of charming and funny moments to boot, as well as a great moral. If anything brings "Triple Threat" down, it's the story itself, which is very predictable and is often expected to drive scenes with few jokes to liven things up. "Triple Threat" admirably gives its story more time to breathe than many episodes this season, but it still refuses to add any twists or even unexpected quirks, and while there's enough fun moments to carry the rote narrative, it's simply too familiar to sustain attention through the entire 22 minutes. Still, this is a major improvement over the likes of "Forever Filly." When Spike accidentally invites both Ember and Thorax to Ponyville on the same day, he fears that if they meet, their contrasting personalities might lead to a breakdown in relations between the two species. In order to prevent this, he enlists Twilight and Starlight to keep the two leaders apart, and in the meantime, the map calls on him to solve a friendship problem, adding even more stress to his plate. "Triple Threat" is not very polished story-wise. Spike appears to have invited Ember and Thorax on the same day entirely due to disorganization and absent-mindedness, which is rather unlike him, and nobody ever suggests that they allow the two to meet and see what happens. Spike knows both personalities enough that his belief that they could start a war is about as founded as Starlight's fear of Nightmare Moon returning in "A Royal Problem," and there's never even the slightest doubt that Ember and Thorax will get along just fine once they actually meet. Even the introduction of the Cutie Map is superfluous and predictable: it's immediately apparent that the greatest friendship problem is the one Spike has created, and his attempts to find a friendship problem amount to a couple mildly amusing sight gags at most. But that's unsurprising at this point in season 7. Thankfully, this episode has stronger comedic chops than others like it, and every time it sinks into tedium, another solid joke pops in to make the episode entertaining again. Be it Twilight's bizarre fixation on chairs, Ember munching on the palace walls, or Thorax getting distracted by pretty objects, the episode is filled with fun moments, and even the return of the Cutie Map provides a distraction from the weak story. "Triple Threat" is hardly the show's most fun episode, and it doesn't have the rapid-fire jokes or joyous mood of something like "A Flurry of Emotions," but it's still frequently entertaining, and much of this comes down to its main characters. On one hand, Thorax is somehow even more charming than in his previous appearances. His gentle demeanour leads to a lot of solid moments, and although none are quite as good as his arrival in Ponyville, simply getting to see him be gentle and sweet is a delight. He's just so earnest and chipper that even the moments where he's dryly reacting to the plot have a little charm to them, and his dynamic with Spike continues to be organic and pleasant. He's here to tell Spike about some Changelings who don't want to share love, and this marks the second episode in a row which set up a future episode. It's nice to see My Little Pony experimenting with serialization, but the rest of the episode treats Thorax's issue as not being respected enough by his people at large, so this moment of setup only bogs the episode down. On the other hand, Ember is massively improved over her debut, largely because the show has placed more emphasis on her aggressive mannerisms. She does what she wants, and isn't happy when anyone gets in the way of it, and although it's not always fun to watch her be inadvertently rude due to not understanding pony customs, gags like seeing her munch on the pillars of Twilight's castle are irresistible, and it's just nice to see her made slightly more distinctive than she was in "Gauntlet of Fire." The episode even tries a little harder to separate "pony customs" from "friendship," as Ember briefly mentions at least one trick scares ponies was very popular among dragons, although it still sometimes falls into the trap of conflating the two. The episode's best moment comes at the end, when Ember and Thorax finally meet. They misinterpret each other as attempting to threaten Spike, but as soon as they realize they're both Spike's friends, they also discover that Spike had been trying to keep them apart, which upsets them. Later, they get an adorable scene of talking to each other about their problems, and agreeing to help each other with them. Ember doesn't understand friendship, so Thorax helps her react to problems by talking instead of with displays of aggression, and Thorax is struggling with being respected. so Ember teaches him how to assert himself. In the end, they showcase these lessons by expressing their anger with Spike, and while both serve as good lessons on their own, that additional lesson of giving contrasting personalities a chance to get along is very solid as well. And then there's Spike, who one would think is way too young to be in any sort of diplomatic role, but who is sympathetic in part because of that. As with "Party Pooped," half of the fun here is just watching Spike freaking out, although without "Party Pooped's" frantic pacing it does get old after a while. Since season 4, Spike has been fairly reliable for starring in episodes about overcoming some sort of insecurity, and while his episodes are rarely the most polished of the show, I still think that the show is at its best when it revolves around insecurity. Here, we see that Twilight's tendency to freak out over insignificant things has begun to rub off on him, and while the episode proceeds to belabour that point unecessarily, it remains sympathetic nonetheless. Spike gets some funny moments, but they're not as common as those of his guests, and at times his constant worry goes from sympathetic to just tedious. Finally, both Twilight and Starlight are present here. Twilight's winning streak continues with a quick gag about how Spike learned his panicking from her, and the weird introduction of an obsession with chairs is a blast, but she's not given nearly as much to do in the second half of the episode. Starlight, meanwhile, is finally coming into her own as a character, but I must admit that I'm still not particularly interested in her. Her mild snarkiness feels kinda hypocritical given the absurd things she does, and since the mane six and Spike often have lines just like that, it doesn't set her apart very much either. Furthermore, because she's very similar to Twilight, the two have a somewhat uninteresting dynamic, and "Triple Threat" chooses to joke about their similarity rather than actually emphasize what differences exist in an amusing way. She does appear to have an easier time manipulating Ember and Thorax than Twilight does Thorax, and that amusingly reflects her past, but while that further sets her apart from Twilight, it doesn't really match the big gags which everyone else has, and she's not given very much to do in the back half either. Still, "Triple Threat" has plenty of moments, and while these mostly come from Twilight, Ember, and Thorax, Spike is also sympathetic and relatively charming, and it's just interesting to see another pony episode which deals with diplomacy, even if the novelty is starting to wear off. Despite the rote plot, the episode is frequently entertaining, and the combination of a delightful climax and not one but three great morals does at least a little bit to make up for the predictability. Thorax and Ember are two of the best characters she show has introduced in recent years, and their charms would have been enough to elevate the episode, but as always, it's Spike and his relatable insecurities which give his episodes their heart. Not the best episode, but solid. Score: Entertainment: 7/10 Characters: 8/10 Themes: 9/10 Story: 4/10 Overall: 70/100 You can find more episode reviews at my offsite blog.