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S05:E13 - Do Princesses Dream of Magical Sheep?

S05:E13 - Do Princesses Dream of Magical Sheep?  

293 members have voted

  1. 1. Did you like it?

    • No, I hated it! >:(
      4
    • I didn't like it.
      12
    • Meh. It was okay.
      16
    • I liked it!
      75
    • I LOVED IT! <3
      186


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Even though I don't support LyraBon shipping (unless you just mean that in the platonic BFF sense), this is my favorite scene in the whole episode.

 

Edited by ChB

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How people like this thing is beyond me. As if the uniformly awful humour wasn't enough, as if the vapid action focus wasn't enough, as if the absurd number of call-backs wasn't enough, it also deals with Luna's blatant psychological issues in a deeply insensitive manner. Oh yeah, I'm sure she can just... get over them. What a great message to send to people who might relate to her issues and already feel alienated from people around them! Just get over it! Because that's how that works!

 

Anyway, I otherwise feel like this is straight-up fan pandering. "Feels-y" story? Luna focus? Lots of action? Rapid-fire callbacks and fandom references? They don't do anything clever with that, like "Slice of Life" did, and instead just let the episode bomb repeatedly. Part of this must be just that I don't want MLP to focus on action, but it just feels so empty, and something about the way it's animated makes this particular action especially unsatisfying and weightless as well. They're in a dream, so it's not like there's especially high stakes to anyone personally. Anything can happen, but this isn't used for anything creative. Instead, we see Flutterbat and Applejack's Power Pony identity again. Because people liked those things, I guess. Ugh. 

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How people like this thing is beyond me. As if the uniformly awful humour wasn't enough, as if the vapid action focus wasn't enough, as if the absurd number of call-backs wasn't enough, it also deals with Luna's blatant psychological issues in a deeply insensitive manner. Oh yeah, I'm sure she can just... get over them. What a great message to send to people who might relate to her issues and already feel alienated from people around them! Just get over it! Because that's how that works!

 

Not knocking you for your opinion, but I do want to respond on this point.  Luna's issue here was clearly very strong and long-term guilt over her actions as Nightmare Moon.  She felt (for some reason) that she had to punish herself continuously because of that, whether simply because she was guilty or because she thought it was the only way to prevent herself from doing it again.

 

For the most part, MLP has been pretty good about keeping the psychological issues pretty simple in nature, so I'd be surprised if the writers wanted to depict something more complex than massive guilt (e.g. schizophrenia, masochism, self-abuse, etc.).  And I can tell you from experience that people who suffer from long-term guilt often do feel the way Luna was depicted here: They kick themselves mentally (and often physically too), they heap blame upon themselves for not only what they did, but all sorts of other things as well, and they tend to feel responsible for everything negative that happens to anyone else, whether it had anything to do with them or not.

 

While I agree that simply telling someone to "get over it" is both insensitive and ineffective, there's a difference between that and helping someone realize that it's okay to forgive yourself.  The Mane 6 didn't tell Luna to get over herself - they told her to forgive herself, and showed her that THEY had forgiven her.  That's an incredibly powerful thing to do to someone you care about, and in this case where her self-punishment took a physical form, it was enough to defeat the threat that it posed.  When Luna realized that she was feeding her own fear and that letting go of the past was the way to defeat the Tantabus, everyone got to see quite literally how much of a relief that was to her.

 

Now, on its technical merits, I agree with you that the episode came across as pretty contrived, and that there were some nuances we likely missed because there's only so much they could do in 22 minutes.  And this season as a whole went REALLY HEAVY on the fan pandering, so the dream sequences were another excuse to put a bunch of that in.  I found it a little distracting too, but on the other hand it made more sense there than in some other episodes.

 

But the reason I liked it was that it touched on a rather deep topic that I think society encourages us to ignore more often than not.  Learning how to forgive yourself when you've hurt someone is a very important lesson - one that can save lives, even.  (As I mentioned, I speak from experience.  I might not be here typing this if I hadn't learned this lesson myself.)

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Not knocking you for your opinion, but I do want to respond on this point. Luna's issue here was clearly very strong and long-term guilt over her actions as Nightmare Moon. She felt (for some reason) that she had to punish herself continuously because of that, whether simply because she was guilty or because she thought it was the only way to prevent herself from doing it again.

 

For the most part, MLP has been pretty good about keeping the psychological issues pretty simple in nature, so I'd be surprised if the writers wanted to depict something more complex than massive guilt (e.g. schizophrenia, masochism, self-abuse, etc.). And I can tell you from experience that people who suffer from long-term guilt often do feel the way Luna was depicted here: They kick themselves mentally (and often physically too), they heap blame upon themselves for not only what they did, but all sorts of other things as well, and they tend to feel responsible for everything negative that happens to anyone else, whether it had anything to do with them or not.

 

While I agree that simply telling someone to "get over it" is both insensitive and ineffective, there's a difference between that and helping someone realize that it's okay to forgive yourself. The Mane 6 didn't tell Luna to get over herself - they told her to forgive herself, and showed her that THEY had forgiven her. That's an incredibly powerful thing to do to someone you care about, and in this case where her self-punishment took a physical form, it was enough to defeat the threat that it posed. When Luna realized that she was feeding her own fear and that letting go of the past was the way to defeat the Tantabus, everyone got to see quite literally how much of a relief that was to her.

I think the issue was that this seemed all too abrupt, and that combined with the way it defeated some giant threat made it come across to me like Luna is "better" now, which is where I get the idea that this episode is kinda insensitive. You'd have more first-hand experience than I, and I haven't seen this since its premiere, but it seems too... quick, and I don't feel like it would be so easy for most people committing acts of self-harm.

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I've always wanted to learn more about the alicorns in this show, especially Princess Celestia since she is (supposedly) a major figure in-universe, but Princess Luna is fine too as she doesn't have much of a presence in the show. And now we have this episode. Luna feels guilty about her stint as Nightmare Moon? She's been punishing herself because of that? Well, that sounds interesting. The episode can show her personal life, present and past. Since she has some mental and emotional problems, the episode can also talk about how she thinks and acts. Sounds great!

So Luna is dreaming and is surprised it ended happily. OK. The creature in her dreams, or the Tantabus, has infected the Mane 6's dreams, and Luna must do something about it. OK. She runs around for about 4 minutes in 6 different dreams while being unsuccessful with her capture of the Tantabus, and now it's halfway through the episode. Uh, is the episode going to talk about Luna? She creates a dream for all of the Ponyville citizens, and the ponies except Luna (who's maintaining the dream) fight the Tantabus. Luna finally says something around the 19 MINUTE MARK and admits that she created the Tantabus to punish herself. Twilight gives a speech one minute later, and Luna accepts it less than half a minute later. That's it? I haven't learned anything about Luna.

All Luna does is say that she feels guilty about whatever small things she did when she was Nightmare Moon. She did so little that I don't even know what she's feeling guilty about. The flashback in "Princess Twilight Sparkle" didn't even last 5 minutes, and no other witnesses were shown during the flashback. That makes sense with the series premiere, but it also conflicts with "Luna Eclipsed". And Nightmare Moon was only around for a few hours at most in the series premiere, only interacting with the Mane 6 (no, not including Spike as he was asleep). So, what damage did Luna think she caused? I don't know, and neither does the episode. I doubt the writers themselves even know the lore and histories of these ponies.

Was Luna concerned about the potential of Nightmare Moon? Bullshit. She keeps speaking in past tense. Maybe she misconceived her actions as Nightmare Moon. But what did she misconceive exactly? And why did she choose to punish herself when considering what little she did? I still don't know, and neither does the episode.

This leads to my biggest problem with the episode, which is that it says nothing about Princess Luna because her feelings and experiences were never dramatized. So she has guilt and self-punishment issues, but the episode doesn't say how they affected her. She created a personal nightmare to punish herself, but what did that do? She could've lived a positive and serene life, meaning that this feeling of guilt only comes up at one point in the day while not affecting anything else. That doesn't make a lot of sense, but the episode can't even disprove this idea.

I'm especially curious as to how this guilt affected Luna's relationship with Princess Celestia. She claims that her sister has no power in the dream world, but that's definitely bullshit as we see a bunch of other ponies fighting the Tantabus. Was Luna too embarrassed to admit this problem to her sister? OK, so they have trust issues. What does that mean for their relationship? The show and writers will never know. Yeah, there's "A Royal Problem", but the conflict in that episode is not connected to whatever the conflict was supposed to be in this episode.

No really, what was this episode supposed to be about? Luna's guilt and self-punishment? The episode says little to nothing about those ideas that it also ends up saying nothing about Luna because her personal life and experiences were never shown.

There's the rushed resolution, too. Everything was brought up and solved in less than 2 minutes. How was any of that stuff a problem, again? That's far from the episode's biggest problem, though.

So yeah, this episode is fucking shit. Luna had major development, but it wasn't earned. Worse, I don't know what this development means because I don't know what problems she overcame. Sure the episode tried to mention her guilt and self-punishment, but I still don't know what effects those had on the princess. Actually, I'm not even convinced that she had problems as a result of the episode saying nothing.

Heavy themes and character development? This episode proves that they don't make automatically make a good story. What a waste.

Edited by Number62
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On 11/27/2016 at 9:20 AM, AlexanderThrond said:

I think the issue was that this seemed all too abrupt, and that combined with the way it defeated some giant threat made it come across to me like Luna is "better" now, which is where I get the idea that this episode is kinda insensitive. You'd have more first-hand experience than I, and I haven't seen this since its premiere, but it seems too... quick, and I don't feel like it would be so easy for most people committing acts of self-harm.

I agree with you on the resolution being too quick, but this is really more of a general problem with the show's format - we've seen lots of episodes that have simply had too much story to tell and not enough time.  I think the writers would have loved to have even just one or two more minutes to show Luna facing her issues and actually defeating the Tantabus, instead of it just going "poof!" and everything's happy again.  But the reality is, the 22 minutes or so they have to actually tell their story is just not quite enough to do a topic like this justice.

15 hours ago, Number62 said:

All Luna does is say that she feels guilty about whatever small things she did when she was Nightmare Moon. She did so little that I don't even know what she's feeling guilty about.

I'm afraid this statement here sets up a big misunderstanding of Luna's character (at least, in my view).  Nightmare Moon didn't just do small things.  She tried to plunge all of Equestria into eternal darkness, she banished Princess Celestia, and she took over as a totalitarian ruler.  Given how other villains (particularly King Sombra) have been depicted as enslaving ponies, I think it was at least implied that Nightmare Moon would have done the same had she had enough time.  It was also meant to establish that the day/night cycle was extremely important to ponies, and thus taking that away could in fact destroy them - not just make them unhappy, but cause serious permanent harm.

I wouldn't characterize that as "little", and it's pretty clear to me that nobody thinks it's a little thing.  In Nightmare Moon's callouts throughout the show, she's seen as a pony to be feared.  And I think they did a good job of establishing early in this episode just how seriously Luna takes this.  She knows she was Nightmare Moon - it's still not clear if her transformation was her own deliberate decision or was the result of some illness, or even possession by an external entity.  But whatever caused it, she bears the guilt for it, and she's apparently been kicking herself for it for her entire life since it happened.

This episode is all about the impact of her letting that guilt grow out of control - it takes a literal form in the Tantabus and its ability to merge into the real world.  And while I agree that the presentation may have been a bit ham-fisted, I believe it does a good job of showing just what kinds of effects this sort of rampant guilt can have on a person if they allow themselves to wallow in it for too long.

I identify with how Luna felt in this episode, though again, her means of dealing with it was a bit over-the-top.  And I agree with AlexanderThrond above in that the resolution was awfully fast, though as I mentioned, that can be explained by the fact that they had to cram this whole story in 22 minutes.  I just wanted to point out that I believe your reasoning for your opinion may be a bit off given the show's treatment of Luna/Nightmare Moon.

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4 minutes ago, Pixel Stick said:

I agree with you on the resolution being too quick, but this is really more of a general problem with the show's format - we've seen lots of episodes that have simply had too much story to tell and not enough time.  I think the writers would have loved to have even just one or two more minutes to show Luna facing her issues and actually defeating the Tantabus, instead of it just going "poof!" and everything's happy again.  But the reality is, the 22 minutes or so they have to actually tell their story is just not quite enough to do a topic like this justice.

See, for me the problem is that 1. this topic seems a bit more sensitive than others the show has covered, and 2. I don't think the episode used its 22 minutes effectively. My memory of this episode is starting to fade, because I really dislike this episode and thus haven't watched it again recently, but I remember thinking that the fight scene could have been cut down to give Luna's struggle more depth, perhaps making her issues appear less like mental illness. While I don't remember how it was phrased in the episode, I remember being troubled by Luna just suddenly "getting over it," and even with guilt, that feels a little dismissive of something fairly serious. 

 

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2 minutes ago, AlexanderThrond said:

See, for me the problem is that 1. this topic seems a bit more sensitive than others the show has covered, and 2. I don't think the episode used its 22 minutes effectively. My memory of this episode is starting to fade, because I really dislike this episode and thus haven't watched it again recently, but I remember thinking that the fight scene could have been cut down to give Luna's struggle more depth, perhaps making her issues appear less like mental illness. While I don't remember how it was phrased in the episode, I remember being troubled by Luna just suddenly "getting over it," and even with guilt, that feels a little dismissive of something fairly serious. 

That's completely fair.  Like I said, the show's format does cut down on their ability to tackle in-depth stories like this.  And yes, I also agree that the plot could have been paced differently so as to give the situation the time it deserved.

But at the same time, there is something to be said for their simplistic approach.  The issues around holding onto guilt for past wrongs are more complex than little children can really be expected to take on.  What you and I as adults would consider a good, fair treatment of that issue would likely completely baffle Hasbro's main target audience, especially given the contrast with simpler topics (like Tank's hibernation and Rainbow Dash treating it like death).  Of course, treating an issue this complex like it was as simple a thing as "Tank's just going away for a while" doesn't appeal to our more sophisticated mindset, and we're right to fear that the simplistic treatment could give young kids the impression that dealing with this really is as simple as that.

But I believe their core message is sound: Many people who have made mistakes, even big ones, punish themselves far more than the people around them do.  Even if they've done their time, paid their penance, etc., they still look back on their actions and kick themselves for it long after others have forgiven and even forgotten.  Heck, I do it to myself over even tiny things I said years ago that were of no real consequence to anyone, yet I felt stupid for having said.  And the message here is that you don't HAVE to do that - you CAN forgive yourself and move on, and in most cases all you really have to do is allow yourself to do so.

It's the allowing yourself to move on that is the hardest part.  I should know - I've been in counseling for years (as a patient).  The goal is to forgive myself, and to get to a point where I am comfortable enough to move on and to stop living in the past.  The hard part is getting there - I see the goal, but I don't know how to get there.  But I know that once I find a way to do that, I will essentially have "gotten over it", similar to how Luna is depicted doing so in this episode.

Another thing to keep in mind: I interpreted the ending of this episode as not a permanent solution to Luna's problems, but rather to simply depicting her immense relief in understanding that her friends and subjects had forgiven her for her past wrongs.  She was punishing herself, and I think it was at least implied that she did that because she believed her subjects were still afraid of or upset at her.  She had to be shown that she was only bringing this pain upon herself, and when she realized that nopony else was holding it over her as well, she finally took an important step to accept that she no longer needed to punish herself.

I relate to this ending in a way: That journey and goal I just mentioned for myself.  At one point during my counseling, I had what I considered a breakthrough - I've always had difficulty expressing my emotions, and in fact have kept them bottled up so much that I often appear robotic and unemotional toward others.  I've been called "Spock" and "Data" multiple times.  During one counseling session, I had a very sudden and unexpected emotional breakdown where I cried almost nonstop for half the session, and I felt INCREDIBLY much better for a while afterward.  I could equate that feeling of relief and even elation over that outburst with Luna's peaceful slumber at the end of the episode.  And if she's anything like me, that'll last for a few days before she begins to doubt herself again and the problems start creeping back into her life.  But now that she's more aware of it, she may be able to start working on better ways to deal with these problems, just as I am with mine.

*shrug* Just some rambly thoughts on this.

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29 minutes ago, Pixel Stick said:

That's completely fair.  Like I said, the show's format does cut down on their ability to tackle in-depth stories like this.  And yes, I also agree that the plot could have been paced differently so as to give the situation the time it deserved.

But at the same time, there is something to be said for their simplistic approach.  The issues around holding onto guilt for past wrongs are more complex than little children can really be expected to take on.  What you and I as adults would consider a good, fair treatment of that issue would likely completely baffle Hasbro's main target audience, especially given the contrast with simpler topics (like Tank's hibernation and Rainbow Dash treating it like death).  Of course, treating an issue this complex like it was as simple a thing as "Tank's just going away for a while" doesn't appeal to our more sophisticated mindset, and we're right to fear that the simplistic treatment could give young kids the impression that dealing with this really is as simple as that.

But I believe their core message is sound: Many people who have made mistakes, even big ones, punish themselves far more than the people around them do.  Even if they've done their time, paid their penance, etc., they still look back on their actions and kick themselves for it long after others have forgiven and even forgotten.  Heck, I do it to myself over even tiny things I said years ago that were of no real consequence to anyone, yet I felt stupid for having said.  And the message here is that you don't HAVE to do that - you CAN forgive yourself and move on, and in most cases all you really have to do is allow yourself to do so.

It's the allowing yourself to move on that is the hardest part.  I should know - I've been in counseling for years (as a patient).  The goal is to forgive myself, and to get to a point where I am comfortable enough to move on and to stop living in the past.  The hard part is getting there - I see the goal, but I don't know how to get there.  But I know that once I find a way to do that, I will essentially have "gotten over it", similar to how Luna is depicted doing so in this episode.

Another thing to keep in mind: I interpreted the ending of this episode as not a permanent solution to Luna's problems, but rather to simply depicting her immense relief in understanding that her friends and subjects had forgiven her for her past wrongs.  She was punishing herself, and I think it was at least implied that she did that because she believed her subjects were still afraid of or upset at her.  She had to be shown that she was only bringing this pain upon herself, and when she realized that nopony else was holding it over her as well, she finally took an important step to accept that she no longer needed to punish herself.

I relate to this ending in a way: That journey and goal I just mentioned for myself.  At one point during my counseling, I had what I considered a breakthrough - I've always had difficulty expressing my emotions, and in fact have kept them bottled up so much that I often appear robotic and unemotional toward others.  I've been called "Spock" and "Data" multiple times.  During one counseling session, I had a very sudden and unexpected emotional breakdown where I cried almost nonstop for half the session, and I felt INCREDIBLY much better for a while afterward.  I could equate that feeling of relief and even elation over that outburst with Luna's peaceful slumber at the end of the episode.  And if she's anything like me, that'll last for a few days before she begins to doubt herself again and the problems start creeping back into her life.  But now that she's more aware of it, she may be able to start working on better ways to deal with these problems, just as I am with mine.

*shrug* Just some rambly thoughts on this.

I don't really have personal experience to compare this episode to, so it's interesting for me to hear from someone who does; I kinda figured that people who could relate would be upset by the way the episode ended. Apparently not. Although I didn't care for how "Tanks for the Memories" was handled either, if mostly for different reasons, and I'm conflicted about whether the show should confront topics it can't do justice. 

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2 minutes ago, AlexanderThrond said:

I don't really have personal experience to compare this episode to, so it's interesting for me to hear from someone who does; I kinda figured that people who could relate would be upset by the way the episode ended. Apparently not. Although I didn't care for how "Tanks for the Memories" was handled either, if mostly for different reasons, and I'm conflicted about whether the show should confront topics it can't do justice. 

"Tanks for the Memories" was perhaps not my best choice for comparison.  It was a pretty weak premise if you ask me, and that's one case where 22 minutes was actually way too MUCH time for the plot.  But you get my drift, at least. :)

I'm not going to say that this episode was truly excellent or that it did resolve Luna's issues completely (either for herself or as we fans see them).  It does have its flaws.  I just feel that the criticisms of it are going a little far in terms of whether they did justice to the topic.  The show similarly has a history of polarizing the community with other topics that, IMO, we generally find uncomfortable to deal with - the other most relevant example I can think of is "Putting Your Hoof Down".  I found that one to be particularly polarizing because Fluttershy's depiction there was so counter to her normal character.  That's personally one of my favorite episodes, since I believe she actually demonstrated what it's like to let power go to your head, and to mistake assertiveness with abuse.  But I know many people didn't like it for various reasons, and hey, that's okay.

I'm just pointing out that this episode seems to be in the same general category - namely, that when it deals with a topic that actually ISN'T easy to explain to a child, people tend to be more strongly polarized in their opinions about it.

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4 hours ago, Pixel Stick said:

I'm afraid this statement here sets up a big misunderstanding of Luna's character (at least, in my view).  Nightmare Moon didn't just do small things.  She tried to plunge all of Equestria into eternal darkness, she banished Princess Celestia, and she took over as a totalitarian ruler.  Given how other villains (particularly King Sombra) have been depicted as enslaving ponies, I think it was at least implied that Nightmare Moon would have done the same had she had enough time.  It was also meant to establish that the day/night cycle was extremely important to ponies, and thus taking that away could in fact destroy them - not just make them unhappy, but cause serious permanent harm.

She did nothing in the flashback of "Princess Twilight Sparkle" outside of blasting her sister. As for the season 1 premiere, "tried" is the key word, and she utterly failed. The night only lasted for a few hours at most with unknown immediate negative effects, and she did nothing outside of throwing small obstacles at the Mane 6 as a "totalitarian ruler". Yeah, Nightmare Moon did more in "The Cutie Re-Mark", but that's an alternate universe that I doubt Luna herself is aware of, and everything Luna says in this episode relates to either the premiere or the flashback. This sounds like the possibilities of NMM, but I already noted that Luna in the episode kept moaning about what she already (supposedly) did. As in, she fussed over stuff she didn't do.

But that's not my real complaint. My real complaint is that none of this guilt says anything about Luna except that she feels guilty, and I've already given my thoughts on this. Since NMM did so little, Luna's guilt looked silly and arbitrary without a reason from Luna herself.

Since the only real damage seems to be to Celestia in the flashback and premiere of the show, that was just more reason to include her in the episode. But nope, that would make too much sense to the creative staff.

4 hours ago, Pixel Stick said:

This episode is all about the impact of her letting that guilt grow out of control - it takes a literal form in the Tantabus and its ability to merge into the real world.  And while I agree that the presentation may have been a bit ham-fisted, I believe it does a good job of showing just what kinds of effects this sort of rampant guilt can have on a person if they allow themselves to wallow in it for too long.

So we're told that the Tantabus (and Luna's guilt by extension) can be a threat to Equestria. Except I still have no idea what the guilt meant to Luna, which is the character this episode supposedly tried to focus on. In fact, this episode doesn't even show the "damage" her guilt caused to her own life.

Put another way: Luna feels guilty about what she did as NMM and has been punishing herself? So what? Why should I care at all?

4 hours ago, Pixel Stick said:

And I agree with AlexanderThrond above in that the resolution was awfully fast, though as I mentioned, that can be explained by the fact that they had to cram this whole story in 22 minutes.  I just wanted to point out that I believe your reasoning for your opinion may be a bit off given the show's treatment of Luna/Nightmare Moon.

If they couldn't do the whole story properly, then they shouldn't have done it at all.

And to repeat, the reason I hate this episode is because it doesn't tell me anything about Luna and is thus also pointless in addition to being terrible. The rushed resolution is hardly my biggest problem with the episode, though that still doesn't help matters.

You may have described your own thoughts and experiences as well as experiences from other people, but that still doesn't answer my problem. None of those things are describing Princess Luna herself. If anything, it's describing "characters" not named Luna.

4 hours ago, AlexanderThrond said:

See, for me the problem is that 1. this topic seems a bit more sensitive than others the show has covered, and 2. I don't think the episode used its 22 minutes effectively. My memory of this episode is starting to fade, because I really dislike this episode and thus haven't watched it again recently, but I remember thinking that the fight scene could have been cut down to give Luna's struggle more depth, perhaps making her issues appear less like mental illness. While I don't remember how it was phrased in the episode, I remember being troubled by Luna just suddenly "getting over it," and even with guilt, that feels a little dismissive of something fairly serious. 

I think the chase and fight against the Tantabus should instead have shown parts of Luna's life and experiences. The creature can already affect dreams and is connected to Luna, so that would still make sense.

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1 hour ago, Number62 said:

She did nothing in the flashback of "Princess Twilight Sparkle" outside of blasting her sister. As for the season 1 premiere, "tried" is the key word, and she utterly failed. The night only lasted for a few hours at most with unknown immediate negative effects, and she did nothing outside of throwing small obstacles at the Mane 6 as a "totalitarian ruler". Yeah, Nightmare Moon did more in "The Cutie Re-Mark", but that's an alternate universe that I doubt Luna herself is aware of, and everything Luna says in this episode relates to either the premiere or the flashback. This sounds like the possibilities of NMM, but I already noted that Luna in the episode kept moaning about what she already (supposedly) did. As in, she fussed over stuff she didn't do.

I'm honestly not sure how you can say she didn't do those things.  Perhaps it was night for only a few hours, and perhaps her rule wasn't in fact all that bad for those few hours.  But that doesn't make what she did any less of a crime against Equestria.  Had the Mane 6 not stopped her, she WOULD have done far more.  And Luna knows this.

In other words, the point is not what she got away with.  It's what was in her heart.  What she intended to do.  What she would have done had she not been stopped.

1 hour ago, Number62 said:

Put another way: Luna feels guilty about what she did as NMM and has been punishing herself? So what? Why should I care at all?

Well, honestly, I can only say that if you don't identify with or understand Luna and her history (and particular what has been said about her outside of her direct appearances), and you don't feel you should care, then this episode really wouldn't speak to you.  As someone who does like Luna and does feel there was a message here, I really disagree with what you're saying.

But as I said, that's okay.  They're not going to please everyone.  I have my issues with their execution on the story, but I liked the story and the message themselves and frankly would like to see them take on more stuff like this.  Perhaps just not in quite the same ham-fisted way.  I mentioned before that this season went really heavy on the fan service, and that served more to the show's detriment in some cases.  But I don't necessarily let that get in the way of enjoying a good story.

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22 hours ago, Pixel Stick said:

I'm honestly not sure how you can say she didn't do those things.  Perhaps it was night for only a few hours, and perhaps her rule wasn't in fact all that bad for those few hours.  But that doesn't make what she did any less of a crime against Equestria.  Had the Mane 6 not stopped her, she WOULD have done far more.  And Luna knows this.

In other words, the point is not what she got away with.  It's what was in her heart.  What she intended to do.  What she would have done had she not been stopped.

Because NMM was chasing the Mane 6 for almost all of part 2 while doing nothing with everybody else.

If it's about what NMM could have done, then the episode needed to give better wording because Luna kept talking about how Equestria actually suffered (and not what NMM could have done) when I don't even know how exactly Equestria suffered. The only damage I can think of that was caused was to Princess Celestia.

And even then, my biggest complaint is still not answered, which is that I have still learned nothing about Luna outside of her feeling guilty.

22 hours ago, Pixel Stick said:

Well, honestly, I can only say that if you don't identify with or understand Luna and her history (and particular what has been said about her outside of her direct appearances), and you don't feel you should care, then this episode really wouldn't speak to you.  As someone who does like Luna and does feel there was a message here, I really disagree with what you're saying.

But as I said, that's okay.  They're not going to please everyone.  I have my issues with their execution on the story, but I liked the story and the message themselves and frankly would like to see them take on more stuff like this.  Perhaps just not in quite the same ham-fisted way.  I mentioned before that this season went really heavy on the fan service, and that served more to the show's detriment in some cases.  But I don't necessarily let that get in the way of enjoying a good story.

The reason I don't care about her problem(s) is because I'm not given a reason to care. I don't even know what kind of problems Luna suffered during all this time, and thus I question whether she encountered any problems with her "overwhelming guilt". How has this problem affected her interactions with other ponies? How has it affected the choices she made? Since the episode may or may not have implied a trust issue with her sister, how has their relationship been affected? I can't answer any of those questions.

On 8/17/2017 at 10:30 PM, Number62 said:

She could've lived a positive and serene life, meaning that this feeling of guilt only comes up at one point in the day while not affecting anything else. That doesn't make a lot of sense, but the episode can't even disprove this idea.

Even if I've never experienced extreme lingering guilt, the episode should still mean something to a viewer like me by showing what Princess Luna experienced, which is what good storytelling does. Otherwise, the episode can only appeal to a specific group of people.

And if I have to refer to other episodes that Luna was very marginally involved with, "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils" has a throwaway saying that she felt overshadowed by her sister, but at no point in the show has a pony explicitly preferred Princess Celestia over Princess Luna. Maybe you want to refer to the season 1 premiere, but the opening narration said that the pony citizens disliked the night without saying how Luna felt other than being bitter. I don't even know what Luna did 1000 years earlier, so for all I know, she could've been an attention whore instead of feeling neglected. This isn't taking into account that the ponies (or at least its citizens) are obviously and clearly diurnal, and I have to wonder if Luna was aware of this when she started her duty of moving the moon.

 

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1 minute ago, Number62 said:

If it's about what NMM could have done, then the episode needed to give better wording because Luna kept talking about how Equestria actually suffered (and not what NMM could have done) when I don't even know how exactly Equestria suffered. The only damage I can think of that was caused was to Princess Celestia.

I think I understand some of your confusion.  The chronology of NMM extends far further back than just the pilot episodes - if you recall, Luna became NMM, what, a thousand years before that and was banished to the moon?  It's obvious from how the show has progressed that Luna/NMM festered in resentment that entire time (I mean, they pretty much beat us over the head with that), so the idea that she bore open hatred toward her own sister and to her subjects was pretty plain to see.  Again, she apparently didn't get very far in her takeover of Equestria, at least by what we've been shown, but much has been said, and what's more important (at least to me) is that there's a lot more that hasn't been said.

I feel like your entire argument is that we can only take what we've been directly shown and should not read anything more into it - you're basically saying (if I understand you correctly) that good storytelling can only be good if it shows you everything.  I disagree with you on that - that, to me, is shallow storytelling, which discourages imagination and interpretation.

Many of us see Luna as a deep and complex character, even though that seems to be a contradiction given her screen appearances.  It's precisely because the writers aren't spelling everything out to us with her that we can read more into her character than we can with Celestia and Cadance.  And as such, there are many different theories and beliefs as to what makes her tick.  My experience has been that many of her fans identify with her guilt, her isolation and her persecution complexes (all of which have been shown directly) because they've experienced those kinds of things themselves.  And by not spelling out the exact cause of her guilt, not showing us every minute of her time as Nightmare Moon, and not making us privy to her every thought, the writers are allowing us to fill in the blanks, and even encouraging us to do so.  As you've seen, some of the ideas that the fan community has generated have even become canon, and it's happened enough times and with such precision in some cases that it's clearly not coincidence.  So believe me, the show's writers are watching for our reactions, while still making a show that little kids will enjoy.

I guess my point is that, rather than looking to the writers to answer all your questions, what is stopping you from answering them yourself?

I'd like to add one other thought to this: It's clear in the episode that Luna blames herself for far more than she's actually guilty of.  Yes, she attacked her sister, and she later banished Celestia and threatened to create eternal night.  Even if that nighttime only lasted a few hours, the fact is that she did disrupt that cycle.  But it's easy for us, as outside observers, to say "Oh, it really wasn't all that bad, you should just forget it happened and feel better."

But IMO, that's kinda like having a kid steal a pack of Skittles from a store, making him go back and pay for it, and then saying "Oh, it was just a little candy.  It's not like you burned down the store."  Most kids who've been caught doing something they knew was wrong feel absolutely terrible for it, and some can turn it into far greater self-punishment than is deserved, to the point that they believe they actually seriously harmed someone in the process.

My point here (again, this is me reading into her character because the writers didn't tell me what to think) is that Luna evidently let her guilt get so far out of control that she might as well have dropped a nuclear bomb on Manehattan and killed everypony there.  And she evidently believes, wholeheartedly, that she actually DID do many terrible things of greater magnitude to Equestria than she actually did.  Again, people who suffer from this and who are prone to anxiety and depression tend to make mountains out of molehills when it comes to things we perceive as wrongs to others.  So I think it's entirely reasonable that Luna punished herself unnecessarily and didn't even realize that it was unnecessary to do so to the extent she was.  Without others knowing or understanding what was going on with her, she had no outside influence to redirect her away from that cycle.

This is what I mean by being able to read between the lines with a character like this.  I personally would have been more disappointed in this episode if they actually did spell out exactly what Luna felt guilty for and how her guilt was out of proportion with her actions.  Because they didn't beat us over the head with that, they allowed me to interpret all this in my own way, and to share it with others.  For the record, my wife has her own separate ideas about what happened as well.

I want to encourage people to exercise their imaginations - after all, that's what shows like this are about, isn't it?

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17 hours ago, Pixel Stick said:

I feel like your entire argument is that we can only take what we've been directly shown and should not read anything more into it - you're basically saying (if I understand you correctly) that good storytelling can only be good if it shows you everything.  I disagree with you on that - that, to me, is shallow storytelling, which discourages imagination and interpretation.

 

18 hours ago, Pixel Stick said:

I guess my point is that, rather than looking to the writers to answer all your questions, what is stopping you from answering them yourself?

 

17 hours ago, Pixel Stick said:

I want to encourage people to exercise their imaginations - after all, that's what shows like this are about, isn't it?

I've been trying to interpret what the episode (i.e. the writers) has said, which is what I did in my initial review. And I had my own conclusions.

I'm fine with using my imagination, and the good kind of wanting more stems from that. As in the writers have given something so interesting and compelling that I want to know and see more.

But there is a limit to how much of my imagination I should use before I ask myself why I should even bother with the show because the human imagination is unlimited. If the viewer is to just use their imagination entirely, then the writer(s) don't need to do anything. And I don't see the point in looking at the show just to find out if my "headcanon" is confirmed because I don't know why I would need this piece of disposable entertainment to agree with my imagination.

Therefore, I watch to see what the creators of the show have to say, and sufficient amount of details need to be included. I'm not saying that I needed the episode to be completely littered with details, but what's given is insufficient.

To try and clarify why I think the given details are insufficient, I'll mention some other episodes.

"Party of One" - Would Pinkie's anger have made as much sense if the episode never showed and Pinkie only saying her friends actively avoiding her?

"Sisterhooves Social" - If the episode was cut down to starting with Sweetie Belle leaving Rarity, would you have been convinced that their relationship was strained? Sure you can try to mention "Stare Master" as showing a seemingly imperfect relationship, but that is a single, standalone event that could have just as easily been an off-day for the two.

"Sleepless in Ponyville" - If this episode was cut down to starting with Scootaloo meeting Luna, would Scootaloo tearfully admitting her fears to Rainbow Dash have been as meaningful? We've already seen in other episodes that Scootaloo admires RD, but this episode gives a much better idea with the filly sabotaging herself for the sake of her idol.

That's this episode. It's the equivalent to the above three episodes cutting out the crucial details about experiences and actions of the main characters from their respective episodes.

"The Cutie Re-Mark" - This episode is accused of giving Starlight a pretty weak reason for starting her little village, which is Sunburst getting his cutie mark and being carried away. After that, the two somehow never talk again. I don't know what stopped Starlight from trying sending him a letter or just going to Canterlot to personally visit him. Also, the next episode confirmed that Sunburst never tried to contact Starlight himself. When considering those minimal and flimsy details, I find it hard to believe that the two were close childhood friends like the episodes and Starlight tried to say.

And here's a negative review of Amending Fences. I personally liked that episode, but the general reason AlexanderThrond didn't like it was because of the stuff shown onscreen.

The reason a person might not like some work of fiction is because they didn't like what was shown, which is the reason I don't like this episode.

In short, sure I can go with my own ideas. But if I'm going to fill in all the important blanks and gaps for the show, I don't know why I should watch the show at all. Good storytelling gives a balance between providing enough of its own details and leaving the consumer to draw their own conclusions.

17 hours ago, Pixel Stick said:

The chronology of NMM extends far further back than just the pilot episodes - if you recall, Luna became NMM, what, a thousand years before that and was banished to the moon?  It's obvious from how the show has progressed that Luna/NMM festered in resentment that entire time (I mean, they pretty much beat us over the head with that), so the idea that she bore open hatred toward her own sister and to her subjects was pretty plain to see.  Again, she apparently didn't get very far in her takeover of Equestria, at least by what we've been shown, but much has been said, and what's more important (at least to me) is that there's a lot more that hasn't been said.

 

18 hours ago, Pixel Stick said:

Many of us see Luna as a deep and complex character, even though that seems to be a contradiction given her screen appearances.  It's precisely because the writers aren't spelling everything out to us with her that we can read more into her character than we can with Celestia and Cadance.  And as such, there are many different theories and beliefs as to what makes her tick.  My experience has been that many of her fans identify with her guilt, her isolation and her persecution complexes (all of which have been shown directly) because they've experienced those kinds of things themselves.  And by not spelling out the exact cause of her guilt, not showing us every minute of her time as Nightmare Moon, and not making us privy to her every thought, the writers are allowing us to fill in the blanks, and even encouraging us to do so.  As you've seen, some of the ideas that the fan community has generated have even become canon, and it's happened enough times and with such precision in some cases that it's clearly not coincidence.  So believe me, the show's writers are watching for our reactions, while still making a show that little kids will enjoy.

And I disagree with that idea. Now, I do think that Luna has a lot of potential, but it's not something the writers have really played with. That's more from the fans, and I don't look at their stuff due to lack of interest. And I don't know how much, if any, fan content the writers look at because they can get into legal trouble if it looked like (doesn't matter if they didn't) they stole a fan's idea without crediting them.

In fact, I'd like to learn more about her history and experiences, but from what I've seen from the show so far, they're too vague and hardly have any helpful details. To use Luna's "resentment" as an example, has this been a feeling that was present since childhood? If so, that would have a different meaning on her character  than if that feeling wasn't a lingering one. And since all I know is that she felt resentful, she could either have been nice but feeling neglected, or she could've been a spoiled brat who demanded more attention. Two different and separate positions (and there's definitely more such as a combination of the two) that can both lead to resentment and their own outcomes. And there are even different ways Luna can handle that resentful feeling. You mention that it could be open for other ponies to see, but holding it inside instead can mean something else such as a trust problem, not wanting to trouble Celestia with the problem, or something else.

Any character can be deep and complex if the person making up the character puts in enough time, effort, and details.

So I must ask, do the writers even know what they think of Luna?

As for fans filling in the gaps and going with their own ideas, I've given my say on that.

18 hours ago, Pixel Stick said:

This is what I mean by being able to read between the lines with a character like this.  I personally would have been more disappointed in this episode if they actually did spell out exactly what Luna felt guilty for and how her guilt was out of proportion with her actions.  Because they didn't beat us over the head with that, they allowed me to interpret all this in my own way, and to share it with others.  For the record, my wife has her own separate ideas about what happened as well.

In that case, I can go with my own interpretation, which is that her guilt had no actual effect on her life and well-being. It doesn't make much sense, but the episode hardly talked about her actual life anyways and can't prove me wrong. I could create my own ideas or go with others, but that's just guessing instead of interpreting what the writers tried to say. Why should I be so charitable to those people when one of their jobs is to provide enough details in their story to show they're aware of what they're trying to say?

If the writers refuse to give something useful away, it's either because they're lazy, dumb, afraid, or all of the above.

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