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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:
Note: Credit to @Zestanor and @Truffles for this review. Since School Daze, the Young Six have been some of the best characters. Eccentric and childlike, yet diverse in personality, gender, and race, their friendship is linked by caring for each other. After Cozy thrust doubts subconsciously, the Tree's spirit reminds them of their powerful friendship. Uprooted is their second (unplanned) test: The Tree's detroyed to their massive shock, and they concluded to memorialize it. So how well was is written? Not all that bad. In only a couple of minutes, the opener effectively establishes what their personalities, goals, and weaknesses are (often intertwining them through jokes, whether they’re brand new or called back from previous episodes, e.g., Smolder’s closeted femininity). Then when Twilight tells them the news of the Tree’s destruction, it’s easy to see why they’re devastated. The Tree not only solidified the harmony between them, but Equestria’s as a whole. Additionally, Dubuc addresses to continuity from What Lies Beneath and School Raze while keeping it self-contained so newcomers mustn’t watch earlier episodes to understand. At the same time, it gets clumsy at points. Their commemoration for the Tree sometimes gets repetitive, referring to it by name quite often. Altogether, dialogue's serviceable. Sometimes it can get quite preachy, treating the Tree, the Elements, and their messages of friendship as religious relics. Granted, that’s the point. No one can agree on how to honor it without desecrating its legacy, and their solutions range from complacent (the statue) to one-dimensionalizing (the friendship forum) to selling out (Gallus lying about the Tree to make the cave a tourist attraction). But personally, they can make the subtext a little bit more subtle. Gallus’s money-making scheme is cringeworthy. I laughed at Yona’s reaction, but not his embellished plan. Dude, you ain't no Flim and Flam! Sandbar revealing to stashing the Tree's broken parts in a wagon out in the open is the episode's worst moment. The whole dilemma throughout Act 2 is bound by Sandbar's decision to clean up the cave in favor of his little plant, and there's no second exit. For Yona to find it really easily (especially after Gallus asked him where it is beforehand) and nearby one of Silverstream's murals makes the remaining five look incompetent throughout their argument. However, Uprooted has several bright spots. The whole montage is fantastically set up and executed. Early, the students departed for the School earlier than what their families and tribe leaders permitted. Unlike the others, Thorax balances out severity with worry and understanding the most naturally. The Changeling Kingdom altogether's one big family and successfully adapted to his fight-less vision, and the last thing his kingdom wants to do is get into another war, which almost happened last season. However, he'll agree to a suggestion beneficial for everyone. Thorax and Twilight agree to the Y6's plan, leading to one of their best montages (and to echo @Zestanor, "one of the more significant parts"). In addition to establishing a very strong reason why everycreature returned to school so soon, their cultures are presented authentically. Some of it, like Smolder winning an arm wrestling match, is silly (and Gallus's was dark humor), but none are shown to shoot them or their homelands down. They all back up their personalities, subtly expand their lore, and affirms their care for each other and their homes. My favorite's Yona: If you didn't awe from clearing the snow for her dad and this, then y'have no soul. Speaking of Yona, she's fantastic, as usual. This time in a voice-of-reason role. When everyone's superficial tributes didn't capture the Tree's heart, Yona stayed on the sidelines, waiting for everyone to listen to each other, only to finally speak up and remind them what the Magic of Friendship. Sure, the Tree may be gone, but not its memory. BTW, her explanation for the yak's love for smashing cleverly develops more into her culture and really shows there's more into their lives than just aggression. Not a bad evolution after Party Popped wrote them as savage and primitive. Spike and Twilight are written well, retaining their complementary relationship while helping the Y6. This episode climaxes with The Place Where We Belong, S9's and the Y6's first song. Sentimental yet hopeful, its tone and message are wonderful. While things and lives come and go, their memories don't as long as we remember them and use them to self-improve. It feels a lot like an allegory about death, but rather than replace it for hibernation, there's a true sense of finality with Sombra destroying the Tree and Elements and the unknown of how to properly tribute it. Their decision to build a small treehouse solves that problem wonderfully. Yes, it's not the best built, using broken trunks, branches, and spare parts, but it centralizes who the Young 6 are: a diverse cast who represents the best of each kingdom and each other. The following lines punctuate it: But then, a miracle. By representing the Magic of Friendship at its purest, they rebuilt harmony within each other and applied their close friendship to rebuild it in its memory. Consquently, the Tree of Harmony turned to this: The Treehouse of Harmony's beautiful! Its crystalline pastel colors of blue, pink, and yellow invite the eyes, and it's breathtakingly composed. Compared to the Castle of Friendship, you'd want to actually go there. The Tree's spirit says they'll be safe within the house's walls, and optically, you believe her. Also, the ruins of Castle of the Two Sisters is collapsing (credit to @Truffles for pointing this out), so the Treehouse now takes its rightful place, replacing it for something more useful. As far as the elephant of the room's concerned, sure, the inspirations to Castle Sweet Castle are obvious, thanks to its similar structure and ideas, but the plots aren't the same. In fact, there's one gigantic difference between them: In CSC, the RM5 want to make Twilight's castle feel more like home. Twilight stayed away from it because she found it to not feel as homey as the Golden Oak Library, and no one found a cohesive solution for vral hours. So what do thy do to? Use the Golden Oak Library's roots as a tribute to her old home to connect her old home with her new one. Here, the episode's about memorializing the Tree only, but none of the Y6 could come up with a proper solution without desecrating its legacy. Until Yona reminded them of how they became friends and became closer as a result of the Tree's test. So they used the Tree's old branches, trunk, and Elements to build a treehouse, and the Tree used its powers to create a temple. Coming into Uprooted, I predicted the Y6 will become the new Bearers of Harmony, for the Tree tested them, saved them, each on sharing similar qualities with the ReMane Six (while still being themselves), and the Tree encasing them with the Elements' glows encased them in Raze. But with the auras being trading interchangeably (compare this to this), the Elements and Tree evolve into the Treehouse, and the spirit wants the Magic of Friendship wanting a safe space for friendship, it's becoming more and more possible that the Tree's spirit and magic used when the Pillars planted the seed want to pass down the MoF, perhaps to everyone, not just six masters. The fact that we also see no cutie marks may foreshadow more of what's to come. Altogether, a really good episode.
Season 8 has thus far been an exciting, if not controversial season for a variety of reasons, including the introduction of the antagonist Chancellor Neighsay. But we also have some other surprises including, Equally important however, is the introduction of the Young 6, a ragtag group of nonpony characters (along with Sandbar the Earth pony), who grow on each other and play a central role in Twilight's School of Friendship and are juxtaposed against Chancellor Neighsay, who doesn't trust them at all. In the past, through the film and episodes, we have heard and seen nonpony characters and their interactions, but they have rarely been the focus of the plot. Only recently since Season 6 have we begun seeing Changelings through Thorax, and dragons, through Ember start playing bigger roles. All this just scratches at the bigger picture however. We know what the Young 6 are (somewhat). But WHO are the Young 6? Well if we go by the hints we have been given, its not hard to see the picture the writers are presenting us: There's 6 friends and as we have seen, 6 is the Magic number in FiM. The Mane 6 and the Pillars of Old Equestria. And now we have the Young 6: At this point I am going off my own headcanon comparing the Young 6 to the past Elements of Harmony With Gallus, his personality strongly resembling Rainbow Dash's and his overall color scheme, I'm inclined to say he's an element of loyalty or courage. Beyond that he may be relative or close friend of Gilda based on what he's told RD. Silverstream is very bubbly, hyperactive and seems to maintain a positive attitude always. To me she's pretty much a hippogriff version of Pinkie and an element of laughter and joy, though as we have seen with Somnambula, this isn't always the case. Being the niece of the queen makes Silverstream's story even more potentially interesting. Ocellus very much seems to be a protege of Thorax. Both are very soft-spoken, conflict averse, and kind people, again like Fluttershy. This may just be something commonly found with the new Changelings though, as we've seen recently. I still say though that Ocellus is a strong candidate as the next element of kindness. Sandbar is the straight man, er pony, the odd guy out in the group. It's hard to say what role he will play, but I'd wager he will play a key role standing up against Chancellor Neighsay in the season finale. I won't say Sandbar is the leader of the Young 6, but based on his trust in his friends and the Mane 6, I'd say he's an element of friendship and trust (ironic since despite friendship being magic, Sandbar is an Earth pony ) Things get a bit hairier once we get to Yona. Her role is hard to define for me personally. She is very outspoken about Yakyakistan though, much like Applejack is about apples and her family, so I may imagine her being an element of honesty. Smolder is where things don't quite fit in. From all the Young 6 characters, I don't know much about her, except she behaves like a "typical dragon" and gets along with Gallus. She might be an element of loyalty or honesty, although a trait of dragons that stands out in the show is their "inherent greed and selfishness." We have of course, seen how Spike, and later Ember, contradict these stereotypes. Smolder will be having some interaction with Spike this season, so it may very well be that Smolder is an element of generosity in disguise, even if she shares little in common with Rarity, save a liking for gems . But again all of this is just my speculative headcanon on the Young 6. What do you folks think the Young 6, either as a group or individually will have as roles in the show, and perhaps influencing the future generation? Do you have any headcanons about the Young 6 yet?