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Found 10 results

  1. So basically: One picture is the student six in their sleepwear. The other picture is Gallus not being a part of Sandbar's birthday party. I don't normally ask for this, but I'd like to hear your guys's interpretations as to what's happening. (I already have some established ideas, but I'd like to hear from different perspectives.)
  2. Since the start of Season 2, Rainbow Dash traditionally has the worst episodes of the season and show at large. After a swarm of some great and excellent outings, Season 9 releases its first clunker. Smolder had one of her best outings of the season. Representing the student body who wanted the cheerleading to work, she put up with all of Dash's crap and gave her the calling-out she so rightfully deserved. After Dash gives an apology that didn't sound so contrite, she actually proved she meant it by helping her students practice. And if you look at the montage, you'll see how much effort Dash put into coaching them to be the best they can be and the students placing their trust back into her. Snips continues his capitalist streak, trying to sell as much as possible to buckball fans and goers. And he inadvertently made Dash see the errors of her ways. Celestia going all fanatical remains the episode's funniest moment. And the buckball scene as a whole (minus one moment, which I'll get to) holds up well enough. That's all the positives. The rest of this episode was just a colossal train wreck. There's one piece of dialogue, where after it all ends, that really spoils the mood. And attached with a snarky, conceited face and tone. So why is Twilight going all Trollight the worst moment of the season so far? It calls back memories of what the RM5 did in Mare Do Well and 28PL, the former one of the most infamous of the entire series. Rather than tell Dash upfront, they go behind their backs just to make her get it, and the tone attached to them is cruel and unbecoming of not only anyone who truly cares for a friend, but also the show. For those two, it took until being confronted by them at the very end with them actually telling her to her face. 28 Pranks Later has the worst atmosphere of the two, because rather than fix the problem, they exacerbated MDW's worst problems and made a worse version of that episode. Here, Dash learns her lesson well before the climax, and Twilight doesn't see the transformation taking place, but imagine if she didn’t. What if Twi told her at the end? Can you imagine just how dirtier that would feel to the audience? Just to teach Dash a contrived lesson, Twilight intentionally put the whole tournament at risk. Had Twilight decided not to make Dash the cheerleader coach beforehand, none of what happened would've existed. Dash would be at home teaching buckball and not feel demoted and deflated. She started a conflict that should never have existed in the first place. But what does making that snide, passive-aggressive line admission also mean? Twilight knew well in advance that Dash would not take this “demotion” very well, do less than minimum effort to help the students prepare for the halftime show, try to sneak away and get involved with it, potentially ruin all hope they have for it, and make them quit cheerleading practice. Like the Ponyvillagers in MDW, she used both Dash and her students as guinea pigs just to make Dash learn a lesson. This is one of her most out-of-character moments of the whole series, as it shows no trust with Dash and the student body. That final exchange is an admission of no confidence, yet the episode paints her in the right for pulling such a disgraceful stunt. Trollestia was the worst part of both Ticket Master and Bird in a Hoof, as she treated the Mane 6 (and for the latter, her sick phoenix) as a means to an end. Trollight adopting that same "quality" doesn't make it any better or more humorous. Because this episode's Mare Do Well 2.5, it's easy to see why many don't take it very well. Mare Do Well is factually terrible, and its infamy means it should've been put in the background and not to be reminded of again. This episode and the ending feel a lot like a multi-down and an admission by DHX of having continuous difficulties writing/editing her well. Those reactions also remind me of my own following Princess Spike's ending. After a mess of an episode and conflict, Spike was given a bouquet of Dragon Sneeze trees, restarting his allergies and forcing him to sneeze at the rebuilt statue. What made that moment so atrocious is how it solidifies a very sexist position within the show. Spike had been the show’s buttmonkey from the beginning, and several episodes either neglected him despite being an important part of Twi’s life (like not being at Twi’s birthday) or made him the butt of very unfunny slapstick (Owl’s Well, the Spikeabuse from Fall Weather Friends and Castle Mane-ia). Additionally to being the only non-pony of the Mane cast, he was the only male. Beating down the only male lead in a pro-feminist show is as misandrist and anti-feminist as it comes. Now, is Twilight’s line as bad as that atrocious, sorry excuse for a "joke"? Not even close. PS's "joke" made me wonder whether FIM jumped the shark, a dose of irony after Slice of Life subtly satirized it. Twilight's admission, as awful as it is, isn't nearly that low. To this day, I still don't regret my tirade over it. Thankfully, Spike had more than half a season, several more from that point forward to recover. From that day forward, he hasn’t had an episode close to this level of quality since. Unfortunately for Dash, we’re now in the last season, and if you look at the synopses of what’s to come, Also, Kaita Mpambara is one of the best new writers, so for him to write such a stinker is massively disappointing. However, just because Twilight intentionally placed Dash in an unfavorable position doesn't mean Dash is entitled to take her disappointment out on the students. With RD being the focus, we see how she feels and reacts to her surrounding. What we got here is Rainbow Dash's Honest Apple. In Honest Apple, Applejack wasn't initially sure she would be the right pony to judge on practicality, but after Apple Bloom (inexplicably) had trouble with her hat. So even though Applejack became Applejackass, it didn't start out that way. She went into this process without ill intentions. However, Rainbow Dash never got on the right foot with Ocellus, Smolder, Yona, or the two cheerleading valley mares (Shimmy Shake & Lighthoof). What was her reaction to Twi over its importance? …Nice support for your students, Ms. Cools-a-little. From the get-go, Rainbow Dash not only showed absolutely zero interest in teaching the students how to cheerlead, but made less-than-minimal effort. Let's go over her sins one by one, shall we? Shimmy Shake and Lighthoof were apparently students at the school. But Dash apparently doesn't recognize them very well and passively dissed their cheerleading routine by rolling her eyes at them. However, even if Shimmy and LH may not interest her, she could've been inspired by Ocellus's desire for respect, Smolder's subtle feminine curiosity, and Yona's eagerness to fuel her in helping all five practice. Instead, what does she do? Remain completely apathetic towards cheerleading as a whole, ignore Snips's (bit-centric) reminder that Twilight put her faith in her, and put her focus completely on the constructing buckball field over her own classroom. Their first practice in front of her was loaded with problems, including Yona's inability to not cause a classroom earthquake, Ocellus's timidity, and Smolder's poor smoke direction. But Dash pays no attention, her focus out at the window. She doesn't see one second of it. As far as she's concerned, as long as they just perform in front of her, it's all she and the buckball audience would give a shit about. As long as someone else with more passion than her can teach them, then she can watch ponies practice and build the field. Even though Snips's focus is bit-centric, he showed to be no fool these days. However, his vague wording of needing a coach so he can "make any bits" led her to her scheme, which was a disaster. … … Seriously, Dash? You really think everything will be A-OK? You think that they will rather have Snips, who's completely unqualified to teach or tutor in any form of athletics, over you? Yet, she uses that "come-up-with-something" idea to blindfold her students and try to sneak out, and would've succeeded had Yona not peaked. "Come up with something" isn't an excuse to be damn LAZY and do NOTHING under a cheap guise. After being suggested to "turn to her friends for help," she did just that and spent the rest of the first day of practice asking her friends. But she gets only the equipment. She literally is doing "what she needs" just to get stuff. No tips on how to work with them safely, arrange them properly so the practice and the dance routine improve, etc. In layman's terms: Lo and behold, they practice for the rest of the day and fuck everything up in the worst "comedy" routine of the season! What does Dash do? Completely ignore it and act like it never existed. When she turned around to see them all glum and upset, her only reaction was a disinterested "What?" Hmmmmmmmmmm… …now what does that remind me of? Oh, yeah, this little shit!! AJ's act of shaking all those feathers off Lily Lace's hat after uniquely stitching them one by one overnight is by far the cruelest act between the two episodes, but Dash's words were much worse. In HA, AJ stereotyped fashion at a boiling point (though her following words while much more composed doesn't help her at all) and at least gave it a chance. Here, Dash maintained a negative, narrow, stereotypical viewpoint of cheerleading before Twilight assigned her, maintained it throughout, and then remorselessly showed her disgust for it and those willing to perform and make it good in spite of her laziness! Even worse, despite being visibly upset, she still didn't see the big deal in how hurtful her actions were! *facehoof* Sweet Celestia! Look, I get it. Being assigned to a job you don't like sucks. No one likes it. But this isn't about you. It's them. THEY agreed to take part in the School of Friendship's cheer squad, because THEY were interested and knew Dash was the most athletic and best one to properly rally! Dash, you're a TEACHER. It's your job as a TEACHER to HELP THEM! It's one thing to be so oblivious towards their screwups. It's another to severely flanderize her ignorance, pretend they don't exist, act so disinterested when they badly mess up, directly insult them, and STILL don't care! I read one comment somewhere, and I can't find it, but that brony's right. Dash, why are you a teacher? This is the second time you were a selfish piece of shit. What you did with AJ on that boat is way, way worse than this, but that doesn't make your despicable, out-of-character actions here any better. If you truly needed help like you claimed, you coulda, I don't know, look in the library yourself and work with the students to hone their craft! Neighsay bashed the school in part because the teachers are professionally unqualified. Congratu-pony-lations for proving him right again! *AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!* Ain't it odd that Dash suddenly bashed the idea of cheering? IIRC, she had no problem teaching someone how to cheer eight seasons ago! Sure, teaching someone how to cheer from in the stands is much more different than cheerleading, which is pre-planned and organized. That doesn't mean she can't use those lessons here, but that would've been a leeeeeeeetle too helpful for her students, wouldn't it? Needless to say, this episode sucks. Today, it's the worst of the season and yet another Dash-centric flop. However, despite bashing Dash's characterization and discontinuity, it's not close to the worst of the show or her worst appearance ever. Several episodes prior handled her way worse than this. May the Best Pet Win, Tanks for the Memories: Abusive to animals. The former by being cruel to those who want to be her pet and dismissive toward Tank. The latter for treating her company with Tank to be more important than keeping her alive. Sorry not sorry, Dash DOESN'T deserve pity over having to wait three months during the winter! Rainbow Falls: Gaining an ego and then actually thinking about abandoning the relay team representing her town in favor of the “cooler” Wonderbolts squad. Mare Do Well: No explanation required. 28 Pranks Later: Jumpstarted the MDW ripoff by scaring the daylights out of FS while knowing she hates being pranked, and then the whole town, including SCOOTALOO, decided to get her back. Newbie Dash: What supposed to be her milestone episode turned out to be the biggest torture porn of the entire show. Three years later, it remains FIM’s biggest black mark. Compete Crap Clause: Lusting to win Teacher of the Month, she and AJ focus more on winning than the Young Six’s safety, causing a Yona to nearly drown! Rather than learn their lesson, they act passive-aggressive toward each other and nearly became bite-a-cuda dinner!  When Rainbow Dash wised up, she was remorseful, apologized, and worked hard to help the students make the cheerleading become the go-to moment of the tournament. Despite her terrible behavior, she put in the effort to make up for it, a commendable act by her. Yeah, it’s the worst episode this season, but compared to almost the rest I listed, it’s not terrible. Lastly, it's understandable that some may feel DHX, particularly the crew from S6 onward, hates Rainbow Dash. But if they do, then we wouldn't have the following: Stranger Than Fan Fiction: OK, this episode isn't as good as what many say, but only due to Quibble suddenly acting like an idiot while in the jungle (thinking it's all a game). OTOH, Dash was fantastic as a fantastic foil. Top Bolt: A better climax could've really helped this episode. But Twi and Dash worked hard to help out Sky Stinger and Vapor Trail and were able to fix their friendships. Their portrayals were among the best of S6. Glideance: Dash’s Putting Your Hoof Down, and done right. Grannies Gone Wild: An episode that has no business being great, but it is. Initially wanting no part in it and trying to skip out, she immediately sees the error of her ways and works tirelessly to keep the Golden Mares safe. Despite all of the comedy at its expense, Berrow's episode reminds us to sympathize with her, not think she had it coming. She rightfully earned her way to the roller coaster. The End In Friend: NCC and Mare Do Well done right. Their argument was very believable and had every right to defend their own interests when the other didn't take theirs seriously. But they used their interests and strengths to realize how much they still mean to each other. The Washouts: An excellent sequel to Wonderbolts Academy, and Dash’s best episode. Like its predecessor, it balances her strengths and flaws very well, transitions between Dash's insecurity and worries for Scoot's safety flawlessly, and doesn't demonize her for any of it. Common Ground: An amazing followup of STFF with a personal touch, and Dash's best outing of the season. Tries her best to help Quibble learn buckball to bond with his stepdaughter, accidentally messes up, and steps back up to continue helping him until she found the right resolution. Most importantly, as disappointing as 246G is, this is Season 9's only folly. Many more episodes remain. If you wish, you can open the spoiler box beneath for brief commentary on the early-aired episodes: So, yeah, it's a bad episode, but not the worst, and whenever the show ends, she still has many good episodes.
  3. Sometimes you just not look forward to an episode. Whether it’s the synopsis, unimpressive preview, or whatever, something didn’t click. Personally, I looked forward to it, although I understand why some didn’t. It had the makings to being the worst episode of the season at this point. Fortunately, it’s not. In fact, it’s a sneaky great one. For one, there’s a whole lot of really good comedy. Like every other episode this season, there’s a huge array of facial expressions, and they sell the jokes really well. My favorites are: Rarity looking very cross after Yona burped munched Brussel sprout on her muzzle. Gallus and Smolder teasing each other, the latter including a wink. Rarity’s smiles, such as asking Yona what she wanted at the Boutique and pronouncing sophisticatedly. Silverstream’s sass as she gobbled potato chips first and a really nervous grin the next. Yona romantically blinking at Sandbar, triggering giggles from her friends. And there’s also all of Yona’s antics as she tried to “fit right in.” When she tried the first time, she caused either a little commotion or chaos, ala damaging Rainbow’s classroom by accident. Then after she succeeded, she pretended to be Rarity in hilarious fashion, all the way down to her accent, dress choice, and mannerisms. Observe the title. It references the 90’s cult hit, She’s All That, which in turn was inspired by Oscar-winning musical My Fair Lady. I'm not familiar with the former (never watched it), but I am with the latter, and you can find similar tropes used for My Fair Lady in at least three other Disney films: Aladdin, Pocahontas 2 (the one best compared to All Yak), and Mulan. As such, there’s no denying how cliché this type of story is, and this episode’s formula (despite a wide variety of emotion carrying it, and I put not much focus on total clichés nowadays) may be a little too on the nose with it and could do more by straying away. But there’s no denying the emotion that drives this episode. Yona, being the least ladylike of the Young 6, is justified to be uncertain of Twilight's Amity Ball. The Amity Ball trophy's taken from Ponyville's annual Fetlock Fête, a dancing competition with an award going to the winner, and the poster features two ponies, no other creature. Additionally, pay attention to the language: To be fair to the teachers, it's not wrong for them to teach non-ponies Ponyville traditions. Twilight also changed the name so non-ponies can feel more invited. But there are problems. Today, Ponyville remains a homogeneous society, and the School's next door to Twilight's castle. She's supposed to teach a more inclusive Magic of Friendship, yet so far hasn't taught traditions from other cultures. Despite their efforts, it shouldn't surprise anyone why the unfortunate implication pressured Yona to assume she'd have to be a pony to qualify for the Pony Pal trophy. The event also showed how those same implications impacted the rest of the Young Six. Observe their faces. Ocellus's is blank. Smolder rolled her eyes. Gallus looked cross, implying he felt tokenized by ponykind. While everypony and Spike danced, they sat out and played cards. Outside of expression, Gallus expressed his concern, too. Prior, when ponies went to a faraway land to teach the Magic of Friendship, they risk very imperialistic implications, suggesting that those creatures are inferior. Two episodes that fell into this trap were Dragon Quest (stereotyping dragondom thanks to misogynistic teens) and Lost Treasure (treating friendship as the go-to method to fix a desolate, corrupt country). Thankfully, they've been more cautious lately, but this type of episode opened itself up to it. So how did they bypass those implications? Instead of coming to her and telling her she had to change, Yona came to them. She understandably assumed that she had to change into a completely different character. Therefore, by seeing all those dresses, she also assumed that she had to dress like a pony in order to "fit right in" with the rest. That little, innocent accident produced further doubt and fear into Best Yak's childlike psyche. But at no point does the episode look down on her or see her as stupid. Throughout, it listened to those fears and let airing her doubts whenever without interruption. When she tried to persuade Rarity to design the right dress for her, Rarity reluctantly agreed. When she struggled, everyone — and by extension, the episode — encouraged her to improve. On the other end, when her friends saw how she was speaking and behaving, their first impressions were worry. They wondered what was going on with her, and all giggling aside, they were concerned the entire time. Sandbar, who asked her out, was also getting increasingly worried after she nearly spilled punch all over her dress. Rarity's reluctance plays another key. Why does Yona's visit take her aback? Because she doesn't expect anyone to dress. Yes, the Fetlock Fête's a more formal tradition, but the Amity Ball isn't, and Twilight didn't announce dresses as a requirement. Thanks to peer pressure, Yona thought she had to. Rather than say no, Rarity agreed to her demand. After all, she's her client, and objecting may only worsen things. One little line subtly adds to this doubt: Rarity suggested she stand out for Sandbar. Yona corrected her. Instead of thrusting her beliefs onto her, she listened and, despite being opposite her morale, obliged. Everyone else actively wanted to help her improve. At first, Yona struggled mightily. The Pony Catillion chart really confused her, 'cause all of the colors and hooves overlapped each other, and Yona (hilariously) smashed up Dash's classroom when trying to learn the Pony Prance. Meanwhile, Pinkie's quick organization of the ingredients comes second nature to her, but Yona was overwhelmed. Seeing how she needed help, they started from scratch, modified their instructions, and slowly worked upward as Yona improved. Another big improvement here in comparison to other episodes is how they remained in character the whole time. Nopony looked down upon her the entire time. Instead of forcing her to agree, Yona came to them for help, and they worked the best they could to her demand. Did they get flustered, insult her, or treat her or her culture as inferior? Nope. They genuinely believed they were helping her accomplish what she wanted. Come the end of the montage, everything was according to plan. Unfortunately, they had no idea that, despite the best of intentions, they unknowingly perpetuated the same imperialistic "out-of-pony" stereotypes. What they intended was to help Yona impress Sandbar, have fun, and win Best Pony Pal. But their coaching accidentally suppressed Yona, who was beginning to treat her own identity as a yak as a weakness and took their lessons as means to become more self-conscious. This line further implicates this: Pay attention to the last two words. "Well spoken" is a microaggression. It may "sound" nice on the surface (and sometimes not intended to be offensive at all), but when a Caucasian calls an African-American "well-spoken," they say he's better not talking like "other" blacks, a.k.a., anyone who speaks Ebonics. Regardless of intent, it's racist and not a compliment whatsoever. In FS's POV, she's complimenting her, and Yona accepts it without a second thought. Albeit very on the nose, Fluttershy's supposedly innocuous line further backs up the episode's anti-assimilation theme and, along with the rest of the coaching, made her really vulnerable to shame and distressed if she messes up. And boy, did she mess up. Surprise surprise, Yona became very ashamed and depressed, hiding in the Palace of Solace. Recall what the Tree told them four episodes ago: Within the Everfree Forest's castle ruins, this treehouse provides a safe space for anyone who needed it. After the biggest humiliation of her life, Yona needed to air her despair, and this was the best place. Her song to begin Act 3 ranks up there with The Pony I Wanna Be, Moondancer's rant, Sunset losing her memories, and Grand Pear's apology as one of the most heartbreaking moments of the entire series. However, what happened during the lowest moment of her entire life resulted in one of Pony's most heartwarming moments. Sandbar's a fine addition to the Young Six, but he's the most mellow, so he doesn't have plenty of oomph. Thankfully, he more than makes up for that by listening to her, treating her as an equal, and showing that he won't trade anything away that made her the way she was. His unconditional support for her and empathy cheered her up and reignited her self-confidence, demonstrating what helped make this show so successful: not only teaching us the Magic of Friendship, but proving it. Just to balance the perspectives more, I would've liked to see Sandbar sit inside the Palace just after the intro. That way, we get to see his insecurities a little more. But this is a nitpick, so carry on! Let's go back to Fluttershy's "well-spoken" line. Again, it's supposed to mean well, but has unintended consequences, staying true to the episode's critique of assimilation. The RM6 had absolutely no intention of leaving any non-pony out, but someday, someone was going to take these unfortunate implications to heart. Being the most emotional and vulnerable of the Y6, Yona was the perfect vessel. Even though they believed they did the right thing by trying to teach her the Fetlock Fête's traditions, they inadvertently cleansed her psychologically and culturally. They wanted nothing more than to make her happy, but not by taking away what made her so special. Apologizing to her and reassuring they love her for who she is is the right call. As for the sporadic critique of Yona and Sandbar winning the Pony Pal trophy, think about this. Once more, as Yona suffered the deepest humiliation of her life, Sandbar offered his ears, patience, and a proverbial shoulder for comfort. His actions embody the School of Friendship's values; they more than deserved that award. In addition, cleaning up meant they had plenty of time to rethink the Amity Ball's purpose. Why did they change the award's name and dress one of the pony statues up as a yak? To symbolize how friendship crosses boundaries and cultures. Thanks to their own mistakes, they can improve the Amity Ball to include everyone much better. Look at how everyone joined in her Yakyakistan Stomp. They show how much she means to them. For the ponies, this will be a lesson in working with non-ponies to make the School of Friendship and its activities feel more welcoming. Given the show's flaw of ponies sometimes acting as the savior to non-ponies, it's a long-time coming for the show to not only address this problem, but flip it to make the ponies learn this lesson. Also, if you believe this episode's moral is "be yourself" and a near-copycat of past episodes, such as Common Ground, you're overlooking the nuances. Common Ground's are to not use bitterness to isolate someone from being part of a family and to not pretend you have to follow a passion to bond with someone. The primary lesson from She's All Yak is not to feel like you have to erase your own identity to belong. They're not the same. Pony's on a hot streak. Since Matter of Principals, they haven't released one mediocre or bad episode, and aside from a rare fine one, they're all good to really good. So far, every season 9 episode is really good at least, and this is the fourth great one in a row. I'm unsure how well it'll age over time, but today, all I need to say is that She's All Yak is sneakily great and could (hopefully) land near the top of S9's best episodes
  4. Since the show introduced the Student Six and treated them as the main role for a whole season and some, I'm curious what you all think of them. If you like/dislike them, what do you like/dislike the most about them and why? What distinct qualities and roles do you think they have apart from the Mane Six? How the aspects above are depicted through the show? What do you think of the future of Student Six? No need to answer according to all of that, but those are just what I'm most curious about.
  5. Dabmanz

    Yona Fan Club

    Yona is best Yak Here is Pony fanclub for Best Yak who is Yona who is best. When I searched in the fan clubs thread I was surprised there was no Fanclub of the best Yak.
  6. Title: What Lies Beneath Release Dates: September 22, 2018 (official US Discovery Family airdate) Writer: Mike Vogel Synopsis: "The students at Twilight's School are cramming for a History of Magic in Equestria exam in the school library when they discover a part of the school that no pony else knows about. When they decide to do some exploring, they end up learning much more than they bargained for." I got the feeling we'll be getting some intense stuff here! Maybe some backstory for the Student 6 that even they don't know about! We shall see! Weeeeeeee shalllllllllllll seeeeeeeeee! Episode link:
  7. When the Tree of Harmony saved the Student 6 a student said "their glowing like the elements" that is incorrect they were glowing like the Mane 6 like the rainbow vision from season 4 were not the colors of a rainbow but the Mane 6's colors. Twilight is purple, Pinkie is pink, Rainbow dash is blue, Applejack is orange, Fluttershy is yellow, and Rarity is white. They weren't glowing the colors of the elements but the element bearers. Gallus was purple=Magic Silverstream was pink=Laughter Smolder was blue=Loyalty Yona was orange=Honesty Sandbar was yellow=Kindness Ocellus was white=Generosity
  8. Note: Credit to @Ganondox and Loganberry for this review. Like using Chrysalis to explain past events to the Everfree trees, much of what Vogel uses to start What Lies Beneath is exposition to describe the Tree of Harmony, its history, and purposes. But rather than using a character babble it out, it's told in the context of a classroom lecture followed by studying for a surprise test, and it wasn't all explained immediately or through one mouth. When Twilight lectured, students either asked questions, didn't believe her, or became frustrated over not knowing pony history, organically informing the audience of its lore. Now, whereas HW Club gave the Young Six the boost they truly deserve, WLB expands them further. Each of the Young Six start having doubts over whether becoming friends with others is natural to their consciences, culture, and themselves. Cozy Glow nicely sets up the conflict by going deep into parts of the Young Six's psyche, exploiting areas of their culture and livelihoods that are really sensitive to them. Is it racist? Absolutely; she's stereotyping the creatures as inferior to ponykind, and given how dubious she's been this season, it's intentional. Unlike Neighsay (whose racism is mixed with bitterness), her manipulation is masked with sweet innocence and then changes the subject, as if she meant no harm. Yet, pay attention to the moment afterwards and their little argument that night in the library, started by Gallus after getting annoyed at Silverstream for tapping her claws on the table. Her superiority complex cut deeply in them. And it's at this moment where the episode turns into an improvement of two past episodes: the pilot and The Crystal Empire. To get this out of the way, I agree with both Loganberry and @Ganondox regarding the Tree of Harmony's tests for the Young Six. Not only were they really harsh, but also morally questionable. What if Gallus failed his test? Would he be trapped in the enclosing cavern forever? Would the Tree create another test? Or what about Yona's arachnophobia; will she become so scared of spiders that she'd rather kill them over acquainting them? Fear is reactionary and not always based on logic. (And the dialogue was also a little rough with plenty of repetitive dialogue.) So, why does the Tree get a pass when Celestia and Luna don't? The Tree is omnipotent and understands the characters' strengths, weaknesses, and virtues. After seeing a friendship-related problem, she ties it to being(s) who can successfully heal it. Sometimes it's one, two, or more, depending on who and what they all have in common. Of course, this is a little different, because she tests them to determine whether they can become friends with each other or not. Additionally, despite its strong powers and subsequent growth, it can't fix it alone. Faith is placed upon them, and it's up to them to use their knowledge and friendship capabilities to solve it. OTOH, Celestia and Luna already defeated King Sombra, who cursed the Crystal Empire into disappearance. But after one of their guards alert of their resurgence, what does Celly do? Write to Twilight and place thousands of lives on her shoulders! Conversely, the stakes here are nowhere nearly as severe. In addition to needlessly putting countless lives on the line, they assigned her and her friends to take part in Twilight's challenge, but Celestia warned her that she and only she can save the Empire, contradicting the assignment Celestia placed on her since the beginning of the series. If she goes against the test in any way, she risks failing. So once she's trapped and requests Spike to return the Crystal Heart to its altar, she's rightfully worried, hence her dismay after Sombra's defeat. And the episode also has the gall to emphasize passing the test as the most important plot point over protecting the empire from Sombra, which makes the sacrifice lesson she spewed really hypocritical and phony. WLB counteracts this. Firstly, the Tree can't mandate them to take her test; they choose to explore what was under the drain grate she popped open. When Gallus crossly questioned her tactics, she was precise in her reply. Secondly, from the start, she explicitly tested their meddle to make them prove whether friendship's in their nature or not. She has the wherewithal to know that, yes, they'll break free, but will also not leave until they found each other. Tightening their friendship was the purpose for her tests, and the moral excellently backs her up. And how does WLB improve the pilot, specifically Part 2? Vogel spends a great deal of time equally pacing and exploring each of their fears along with sensible ways to face and beat them. Gallus and Smolder beat theirs first, but WLB doesn't forget about them. Instead, when one of their friends is very vulnerable and doubts if they'll ever conquer their fears, they bond with them more and use their own experiences as an example of overcoming them. The bonding between Ocellus and Smolder has added weight, because changelings and dragons retain an awful reputation (dragons for their brutish nature and history of terrorizing pony villages, changelings for nearly overthrowing Equestrian royalty twice), and the same can be said with Silverstream's horrific belief that the Storm King will reconquer Mount Aris. One little thing that gets overlooked is what Smolder and Gallus say after they arrive at the cave entrance… …AND after reuniting with all but Sandbar: With every opportunity to leave the cave, they willingly risked being trapped to find the others. Twice. No matter the consequences, they were NOT leaving ANYONE behind! Their friends matter, period! When the Mane Six were tested in the Everfree Forest, each one was segmented. When one trial ended, another began, and they were all written in to prove they properly represented the Bearers of Harmony. Sure, individualizing them isn't a bad thing, but by splitting them all up into only a few minutes, none of them had time to develop or breathe. Each segment was crammed, and be being bound to the E/I rating, the stakes weren't heightened as much as they should or paced more evenly. By contrast, Vogel intertwined each and every one of them simultaneously. None of their tasks ended at once, but he neither rushed them through nor ended them abruptly. He gradually built up their fears, exploited them, and ended them properly. What do I mean? They conquered their fears at the right time of the story, used the right characters to help pass their tests, and only after Vogel exhausted development of those fears. No matter the tone, each of their fears are treated with equal validity: Smolder's fear of femininity overtaking her persona was by far the most lighthearted, but the episode didn't treat it as a joke and utilized it as an example of being able to change from who she once was to Ocellus, who recalled how they used to treat others back then. The Storm King was already destroyed, but Silverstream's fear of his return resulted in her cheerful, optimistic personality being replaced to debilitating fright to the point of crying. Gallus realized his "return" was a mirage, but that wasn't enough for her. So he used his fear of small spaces, helped her overcome her fear of his return, and she let it all out to him. How Yona faced her fear was the most different. Gallus's trick foreshadowed what was to come, but when spiders faced her, her strongman personality gave way to intense arachnophobia. When spiders got too close, she was justifiably upset. With no friend she knew around, she wished they were there so she could get out. But in a twist, the lead spider Spindle talked to her. What the spiders were doing was that they weren't trying to scare her. They wanted to help, Spindle leading by example. Language barrier aside, they shared something in common: befriending each other and reuniting her with the others. Recall the second quote box above. Sandbar's fear's more subdued, but nonetheless validated. From the beginning, he focused on returning to his friends so they, "Dash," and "Rarity" can go on this adventure. Every time he questions his teachers' logic, they manipulate him into removing doubt and forcing him to run in a massive loop. Soon, he has enough, questions them outright, and when they express disappointment in him for caring about his friends than them, he turns the tables on them. As he lectures them, his friends arrive and watch from behind, adding more weight into how much they mean to him. He may be the quietest and most straight-man-ish of the Young Six, but he also needs to grow; confronting his fear of disappointment head-on was a fantastic solution. Without the constrictive E/I rating and by rearranging the plot, Vogel legitimized the stakes without phoning them in, which makes us invested in their obstacles, friendships, and outcomes. This next paragraph deals with spoilers for the S8 finale and S9 leaks/speculation, so it's under the tag. Overall, What Lies Beneath is another really excellent episode within S8B's fantastic lineup.
  9. 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.
  10. I apologize for the length of this audiovideo at 27:40mins, please take your time to listen, and I also apologize if I seem to have rambled and repeated myself at times. God Bless! Here I talk about how fans have felt after the S8 premeire, and why with these new 6 characters being introduced, that fans have nothing to worry about this season or into season 9, and why the season will be the only true season based on the school of friendship and the only season to soley feature these new 6 characters. Comments are Welcomed