More Blog Posts631

  • 4w, 1d
    I got robbed again

    Now they stole my fucking TV.

    Fuck this, I'm out.

    25 comments · 386 views
  • 5w, 20h
    Chapter's almost done

    Chapter Six is almost done. Wish I could be more joyful, but after someone ran off with my game consoles, I'm not in a cheerful mood.

    Chapter should be up some time tomorrow.

    12 comments · 125 views
  • 6w, 1d
    Season Six Episode Review: Spice Up Your Life

    Well folks, it's time for another hiatus. But before the ponies go lie down for a short while, let's look at the midseason finale. The map is back in “Spice Up Your Life.” Bring plenty of oregano.


    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 6

    Episode: 12

    Written By: Mike Vogel

    First Aired: June 11, 2016


    REVIEW:

    We open with a surprise: Starlight Glimmer showing up in an episode she isn't starring in. Sadly, she has no lines and is mostly there to, once again, reference her horrible life decisions, but I can chalk that up to Spike being a tactless little brat and leave it at that. At least she seems genuinely pissed to have it brought up this time. Still nice to see that she actually exists when the spotlight isn't on her, rather than spontaneously forming into being whenever we need to see Twilight be a terrible teacher.

    Anyway, remember the map episodes last season? Well, the reason we haven't gotten any this season is because of Starlight. When she went rip-roaring through space and time to destroy Equestria because her only foalhood friend got sent to school and was too much of a jerk to just write her a letter every now and then, she ended up breaking the map. So Twilight and Starlight use a combined spell to bring it back...as a staticy, fidgety hologram. (Kind of interested to see how that Twilight/Twilight mission would have gone.) And sure enough, Rarity and Pinkie are teaming up once again.

    The focus this time is a struggling restaurant, one of the most standard of sitcom plot devices. It's an Indian-flavored place sitting in a back alley of Canterlot's food district, Restaurant Row. I admit that I really haven't tried Indian food that much, but I would gladly take whatever they offer over the vile, disgusting garbage everyone else offers, which is all just really tiny portions of basically inedible mush. I know it's a cartoon and I can't taste the food, but I've still been to these places, I know what that food tastes like, and I know it's just slop they massively marked up in order to fool gullible people with too much money into thinking they're eating something “cultured” and “trendy” because it's expensive and presented on a rectangular plate.

    (And for those who like this kind of food, know that I am at least partially joking here. I just hate things that are expensive for the sake of seeming higher-class than they are. But most of all, I hate those rectangular plates restaurants started using. I don't care what business sense they make. When I go to a damn Chilis and shorten my lifespan with Honey-Chipotle Chicken Crispers, I want the little bundles of cholesterol served on a round dish that actually leaves enough room for everything stacked on it!)

    The good restaurant is operated by Saffron Masala and her father, Coriander Cumin. They are your basic father-daughter restauranteer combo, with Saffron believing in the restaurant despite its abysmal popularity (Rarity and Pinkie may very well have been the only customers they ever had) and Coriander just wanting to give up because there's no way they can succeed with the snooty ponies of Canterlot. And standing in their way is yet another trademark of standard plot design: the evil food critic. Zesty Gourmand is her name, and her ratings will make-or-break a restaurant in Canterlot. Because as we established back in “Sweet and Elite” and “Canterlot Boutique,” the ponies of Canterlot are fashion-conscious sheep that will blindly follow whoever they have arbitrarily granted importance over their lives. Even Rarity was cheering the high-end restaurants on, despite wincing noticeably when she tried to actually eat what they were offering.

    The episode ultimately plays with the standard strengths of our two Mane 6 members, putting them in a position where their assets become liabilities. Rarity is normally one of the most aesthetic members of the Mane 6, so making something that's pleasing to the eye should be easy. But she's also tapped into the same wellspring that made all the places on Restaurant Row look and operate exactly the same, so she decides that the best way to save the restaurant is to make it conform to Zesty's personal tastes. Pinkie, meanwhile, is normally able to charm anypony that isn't a toupee-wearing donkey, but she's completely lost on getting through to a culture that worships ratings over new tastes. The only ponies she can get to go with her are a pair of tourists who find the fancy restaurants bland. (Ponies after my own heart.)

    So in the end, the heroines blow it, although Rarity is sadly the one who screws up the most. Not that it matters, because Zesty is, in fact, a total bitch and doesn't even give the restaurant a try. This, of course, leads to the standard resolution where the father and daughter finally bond over their happy memories of cooking together, and Rarity and Pinkie Pie salvage the situation by switching roles, with Pinkie fixing up the restaurant to look like it did before and Rarity using her Canterlot-style charms to lure in ponies.

    The episode's lesson is a standard “Be Yourself” moral, framed in the device of not letting one person's opinion control you and to try things out for yourself. Zesty, though, is still a total bitch and continues to badmouth the place even AFTER everypony is enjoying the food, despite refusing to touch it. Heck, the map's purpose may have not just been to solve this particular friendship problem (albeit more of a family nature than anything), but to inspire the rest of the Restaurant Row restaurateurs to follow their own cooking passions rather than try to fit the narrow mold Zesty likes. I also like that Zesty refuses to change even after this revelation – it's nice to actually have a villain that stays a villain, even if they're just a food critic.

    So we have our two ponies saving a restaurant and freeing Canterlot from a food critic's reign of terror. What's not to like? Well, there's the song. The second act is dominated by a musical number that's ultimately rather basic and uninspired. It's got a good beat, but the lyrics are wonky and feel a bit too forced in the message. The instrumental reprise near the end was a lot better, in my opinion. The episode's also rather light on laughs; about the only moments I really laughed at were Pinkie apparently absorbing food through her face. (The fact that I do not question this is a testament to Pinkie's randomness.) The characters were in good form, and I liked most of the newcomers, but it does feel like a bit too much of the mid-episode failure was piled onto Rarity's actions, as Pinkie at least had a minimal amount of success at her task.

    Also, apparently elephants exist in the FiM universe. We don't see them, but the restaurant uses them as part of its logo. So, are elephants sapient? Do they have their own society? Or are they just basic elephants, albeit in a universe where woodland critters can take part in book clubs? As long as the comics don't turn them into something like the Eldeer, this is something that will hopefully be one day explored.


    CONCLUSION:

    Much like the map episodes of last season, this was a fairly typical episode. It didn't have any big laughs or surprises – it was just another thirty minutes of ponies. Still, it accomplishes what it set out to do, and I can't complain about that. The weakest point was definitely the song, but it was still a fun, nice little episode. But that's just my opinion. What's yours?


    10 comments · 310 views
  • 7w, 1d
    Season Six Episode Review: Flutter Brutter

    Let's get on with the millennial bashing and look at “Flutter Brutter.” Not “Flutter Butter,” which I imagine is a dairy-based spread so loaded with cholesterol that it is fit only to serve to someone you want to die from a heart attack at the first bite. The box probably also shows Fluttershy making an adorable face, just in case you wanted something visual to help speed the process along.

    (PS: I tried to prune out as much of my baggage as possible when approaching this episode. I included it as an addendum after the Conclusion. Just a warning.)



    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 6

    Episode: 11

    Written By: Dave Rapp

    First Aired: June 4, 2016


    REVIEW:

    It's time to another Mane 6 family member to drive the fandom crazy and pull a  Death Star drive-by on many a headcanon. And this time, it's Fluttershy, the pony whose familial connections have been a mystery since the series began. Her parents are obviously gentle, smooth-talking, passive ponies, which both explains how Fluttershy turned out like she did and, in an ironic twist, makes her far more outgoing than them after her development sets in. Mr. Shy in particular seems quite fond of his "happy little clouds."

    And then there's Zephyr Star.

    I hate him so much.

    Zephyr is a colossal ass from the minute he appears, and it's obvious from everyone's reactions that this is not a new development. He barges into his parents' home, having given up on his latest dream (in a long line of abandoned dreams, it seems), and treats everyone like they were lowly serfs who should be happy to bask in the glory of their young overlord. And his parents totally allow this because they're too soft-spoken to stand up to him. That's not even getting into his flirting with Rainbow Dash, which she very clearly shows she does not reciprocate, invite, or enjoy – he's just so full of himself that he takes her very obvious “I will electrocute you if you screw this up” as “Take me in your forelegs, stud muffin.” And to top it off, he refuses to put in any effort into anything, preferring instead to leech off his relatives and pin his failings on others.

    In other words, it's every millennial stereotype rolled into one.

    To her credit, Fluttershy does not put up with his manure for a moment. She's far enough past her old timidness that she will not take his lousy excuses about ponies not appreciating his “artistic” manestyling, and is even able to help her parents tell him to move his ass out. And when he barges into her house to pull the same stunt, she immediately lays out legitimately acceptable ground rules: you can stay, but you have to get a job. In previous seasons, this would have taken almost an entire episode, as Fluttershy struggled and fought to spit the needed words out. She even starts lining him up with work immediately, sacrificing her reputation with her friends for him...which he then spits on because he's a lazy ass.

    The problem is that, because Fluttershy's already at the point where any conflict she would have over kicking her useless brother to the curb is gone, we're stuck focusing on Zephyr. So keeping a pony's character development and remembering that past episodes happened actually made an episode worse.

    Zephyr's problem ultimately turns out to be a fear of failure. And to be fair, that's a very legitimate and terrible fear to overcome. Failing sucks, and a lot of people don't know how to cope with that feeling. It really does seem easier to simply not try than it is to try and fail sometimes. The episode doesn't handle the resolution perfectly (the actual failing part isn't addressed), but giving Zephyr a confidence boost and showing that he really can succeed if he follows the steps, works at it, and doesn't give up the moment something gets hard is a big step in the right direction.

    The problem is that Zephyr's actions did not come about from a fear of failing, especially in the middle act. His sweating and obvious terror at having to move out of his parents' house could have served as some foreshadowing, but I never got that vibe from any of his other actions. He just came across as a lazy asshole who couldn't do the simplest job because he didn't want to expend the energy. About the only other real hint I could find was asking Spike for advice on how to best clean the windows, which does fit into someone wanting to know exactly how to do something so they don't make a mistake, but that still leads to him manipulating Spike into doing all the work while he lounges around.

    I did find the episode rather funny, and as much of an asshole as he is, Zephyr is great to laugh at before he finally gets a clue. Rainbow Dash actually following through and zapping him was perfection, and Zephyr still being a conceited ass even after getting better worked.


    CONCLUSION:

    How much you'll like this episode depends a lot on how much you can stand Zephyr. It's yet another episode where the guest star takes over the show, although the Mane 6 do all appear in at least one mandatory scene. If you find his hijinks and punishment amusing, then this is wonderful. If you find him grating, you will not make it through this episode. As for me, I'm kind of leaning towards the “grating” side of the equation. While it has some good moments, and showcases Fluttershy's development since that time she could barely say her name to Twilight, it's not an episode I see myself rejoining anytime soon.


    ADDENDUM:

    Speaking as someone who failed at his dream and lived with his parents for seven years after finishing college, I am not a fan of the millennial stereotype. I tried not to simply lie down and leech off my parents. I did housework, yardwork, and looked for actual work. I spent four years working at Wal-Mart, and still kept putting out applications in hopes that I would find a better job elsewhere. I spent two years unemployed after I fucked up the Wal-Mart job, with only three temporary jobs within that short period, and I loved every moment I was working. And yes, I spent all that time being asked why I hadn't found a job yet, as if I could magically make one appear in a shit economy and with a degree that was useless for anything outside of teaching. I finally got the job I'm at now, in no small part due to my parents forcing me to apply for something I was not suited for and I knew I was not going to be able to handle. And sure enough, it's still something I'm not suited for and I'm not able to handle. The only reason I haven't quit is because I can't find work anywhere else, and the only reason I haven't come through and killed myself is because I'm a cowardly idiot that's afraid to die and doesn't want to make the people I care about sad either. (My plan to eat myself to death is working perfectly, however.)

    Point is, the millennial stereotype is, like all stereotypes, a kernel of truth stretched out to absolute bullshit. So it was with dread that I went into this episode, which was apparently about a pony that hadn't moved away from his parents being an awful person because of that. Nevermind that there are economic advantages to living at home, the concept of children moving out when they reached adulthood is an extremely recent invention, and many of those that do live with their parents still contribute to running and maintaining the household. Just because I'm a horrible person doesn't mean most everyone else in the same situation is.

    Zephyr, as mentioned above, is every negative stereotype about millennials rolled into one hipster package. And while the episode tries to make his problems out to be a lack of confidence, that's actually just another one of the stereotypes. The episode is correct in that ponies need to not be afraid to fail and live their lives, and I didn't hate the episode itself because it still had lots of amusing moments and good showings from the rest of the cast. But much like the hazing from “Newbie Dash,” I can see how people can be very offended by this guy. As for me...

    Well, I just watched a show yesterday where eating lamb caused a dog's entire digestive system to burst out if its chest and mouth. Just saying that if the same thing happened to Zephyr, I wouldn't mind.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I need to sit quietly in a corner and cry.

    23 comments · 425 views
  • 7w, 5d
    On the next chapter of Little Sunny

    Yes, it's been a long time. Once again, I've fallen short in keeping a consistent schedule. I used to be so good at this, too...you know, back in 2011/2012. Man, I'm old.

    So yeah, sorry it's taken so long. The chapter has been a bit of an ordeal, plus I haven't exactly been in the best place the last couple months. Work, finances, the usual. I'm also still working on some other stuff, including the last chapter of Eye of the Hurricane and a couple new stories - one with the Pies and another with Applejack and Apple Bloom. I've also, for lack of a better phrase, gotten some grim reminders of potential friendships I've squandered or ruined because of my idiocy over the last couple years. So for everyone still putting up with me, thank you.

    Also, never write a chapter where two characters share the same name. Or worse, where three characters share the same name.

    3 comments · 93 views
  • 8w, 1d
    Season Six Episode Review: Applejack's "Day" Off

    Hello, boys and girls! It's time for another Applejack episode! Can our hard-working farm pony survive...relaxing?!

    Actually, I don't care. This episode doesn't deserve to be cared about.



    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 6

    Episode: 10

    Written By: I don't care

    First Aired: May 28, 2016


    REVIEW:

    The episode's synopsis was something a good-sized segment of fans have been wanting: an episode that forces the eternally hard-working Applejack away from the farm and family in order to relax. The teaser also generated some interest, featuring Applejack apparently going insane and making faces at/pretending to be farm animals. So how can an episode like this go wrong?

    It's just so DUMB and BORING.

    As immature as that sounds, that's the only way I can say it. The episode is just dull as dishwater.

    So basically, Applejack has been missing spa days with Rarity because of her chores. After one missed day too many, Rarity forces her to go with her for an hour while Twilight and Spike take over. When they get to the spa, they discover that the steam room isn't working because some of the pipes are faulty and constant hot towel deliveries are sapping the hot water. So she fixes everything and makes the spa the model of efficiency, while also ruining her spa day. Then she goes back to the farm and, irony of ironies, the reason her chores are taking so long is because Applejack is adding time-wasting, unnecessary steps to the process of something as simple as “dump foods in front of pigs and back away.”

    The lesson is, admittedly, a good one and applies to the adult world as much as the child one. Anyone that's worked pretty much anywhere can tell you there are often steps you have to take that make no sense, but you do them anyway because that's how it's always been done and we'll fire you if you try to change us. Sometimes they made perfect sense back in the day, but things have changed and they are no longer necessary. And sometimes you need an outside eye to point this out.

    The issue is that...Applejack isn't this stubborn and stupid. She wouldn't have multiple gate openings and closings once she fixed the gate. She wouldn't go around acting like a chicken just to fool the pigs. She's never done ANY of this before, and she's had plenty of time to go to the spa or do other activities in previous episodes, and yet this is treated like it's been a long-standing and recurring problem. The episode just feels so forced in getting AJ to that step that it undercuts the moral and makes the whole thing into a farce.

    This might have worked if there had been more time built around Twilight and Spike following her list. (And to the episode's credit, Twilight is not the kind of pony to deviate from a list.) Instead, the entire second act is occupied by Applejack and Rarity at the spa. The whole sequence is dragged out, including long segments of them just following the towel pony and repeating the problem over and over. The two plotlines don't intertwine, leaving the episode feeling like it was two ideas shoved together.

    It's not even a particularly amusing one, either. Most of the jokes fall flat, and that's when they're actually trying to be funny. Spike eats a lot of pie. That's a joke, I guess? (Now, Starlight eating all those pies would be...maybe a tiny bit actually funny.) Applejack's “insanity” lost nearly all of its comedic value when given context, as it just makes her look like an idiot. About the only moment that made me laugh was Rarity's prune face, which was also quite horrifying. Not even Rainbow Dash's multiple attempts to hide her love of pampering got a rise out of me.

    CONCLUSION:

    The Applejack Curse strikes again – her episode is just plain boring. There's nothing interesting to talk about here outside of perhaps the moral. I won't call the episode garbage or the worst ever, but it's just so painfully dull that I can't say I enjoyed watching it. So...yeah, bad episode.


    Next time, hopefully a better episode than this.

    9 comments · 323 views
  • 9w, 1d
    Season Six Episode Review: The Saddle Row Review

    And now it's Rarity's time to shine, for she has a new episode this blessed morn! And she's already got another store opening! Let's see how her friends brought her to ruin with “The Saddle Row Review.” (Yes, that is the name of the episode. That's what appeared on the title card. Lousy writers changing the name of episodes on us...)


    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 6

    Episode: 9

    Written By: Nick Confalone

    First Aired: May 21, 2016


    REVIEW:

    The episode opens in media res, with five of our plucky equine heroes racing to prevent Rarity from learning the horrible truth. This is mostly to set up a bait-and-switch gag with Rarity appearing to already have read the article, only to reveal she's just grumpy without her coffee, as well as to set up the actual framing device of Rarity reading said tell-all article. It's rather heavy-handed with the exposition, but it works okay. It's also nice to see the staff trying a different narrative approach, which definitely helps the episode stand out from the pack.

    The meat of the episode is the Mane 6 (plus the occasional other pony) telling a reporter about the opening of said store, and the near-disaster that resulted. Which leads into my first kind-of issue: did Rarity actually scout the store out before picking it? I know that episode largely focused on Pinkie getting her sister a bag to put her big, smooth rocks in, but there's a bit more that comes with picking a location for your business than just where it is on the street. If you didn't want a dance club above you, you should have considered that before moving in.

    Of course, if Rarity had spent a second day in Manehatten to keep shopping around, we wouldn't have an episode.

    The first act is spent introducing the various catastrophes that befall Rarity's new shop. Her landlord bullies her into hiring his daughter, who has very...eccentric ideas. And by “eccentric,” I mean “stupid.” There are a family of raccoons living in the back, and while the episode's start and end tries to paint them as cute, the middle act thankfully remembers that raccoons are evil, hateful, parasitic monsters that will tear your face off if you cross them. She hired Coco Pommel as her sales representative, but she's come down with the uncommon cold and has to call in sick on her first day. The store is dirty and dusty, and her supplies and product have been unceremoniously shoved into random boxes and dumped, leaving her completely unorganized.

    Strange that none of this happened when she opened the Canterlot branch...or perhaps it did. Back when she opened that store, Rarity had Sassy Saddles setting everything up, making her an effective bumper between the glamorous dream of opening a store and the total chaos that comes with it. We don't know the whole backstory behind Carousel Boutique, but the expanded universe material has established that the building has at least been around for a long time, and being from Ponyville, Rarity probably would have had help from her family and the other residents in getting that shop off the ground. This is probably her first time actually managing a store opening by herself. And thus she received a harsh lesson when it comes to Murphy's Law: it will always strike when you least expect it.

    The rest of the episode works like an inverted “Castle, Sweet Castle.” Rarity goes off to do her own thing while the rest of the Mane 6 try to solve the individual problems. In the previously-mentioned episode, the cast's problem was that they tried to think about what they wanted and not what Twilight would like in a home. Here, they make the problems worse by trying to do what Rarity wants, and not what they actually want to do to solve the problem. Which makes sense, considering this is Rarity's store. The only real issue I have is that the solution is spat out by Twilight at the start of the third act...right after she made the same mistaken everypony else did. And yet, the episode treats it as if the other Mane 6 all needed to learn this, not her. Maybe a quick second of her pondering before realizing the truth would have helped.

    Where the episode shines is with the character bits. Being a largely comedic episode, there's a lot of fun gags about the ponies' various quirks and contributions to the near-disaster. My particular favorites are Twilight's pathological need to organize things, Rainbow Dash trying to conduct interviews for a fashion store despite having no idea how clothes work, and just about everything involving Pinkie. The episode's also heavy on callbacks, which work to varying degrees. Shoving DJ-PON3 in again feels forced and kind of dumb at this point, but the extended callback to “Too Many Pinkie Pies,” including the reveal that one of the Pinkie clones apparently survived the purge, was hilarious. (Although it could also mean that Pinkie spit out copies of herself via asexual reproduction, or perhaps the EqG Pinkie was visiting at the same time they were conducting interviews. I want fanfics about this on my desk by the end of today, people!)

    Also, the reporter is obviously a parody of J. Jonah Jameson. I imagine the original draft had him blaming all of the store's mishaps on the machinations of Spider-Mare.

    Of course, things end happily ever after. Rarity's new store was a success, everyone got at least something of what they wanted, and everything worked out. At least, until Rarity realizes she now has three times the staff she budgeted for, the store goes bankrupt, and the resulting bad press and financial woes cause her entire chain to collapse and her losing everything. And then she kills herself by letting a train run her over.

    ...Sorry, just...still messed up after reading a certain fic yesterday.


    CONCLUSION:

    This episode is low-key and simple, but it's still charming and a lot of fun. Not every episode has to be earth-moving or set the world on fire; sometimes, you just need to have a good laugh. Rarity, you've done it again.


    Next time, Applejack takes a day off. May God have mercy on us all.




    ♫ sweep sweep sweep... ♫

    9 comments · 268 views
  • 10w, 1d
    Season Six Episode Review: A Hearth's Warming Tail

    Hello? Can anyone hear me?

    It's bloody carnage out here. Christmas...it came out of nowhere. We knew its thirst for conquest was insatiable. We stood idly by as it devoured Thanksgiving. Halloween fell next, and we did nothing. It was not until Labor Day was taken over that we realized its horrible intentions. We thought we were safe. It's May, after all. There was no way Christmas could reach us!

    We were fools. Christmas launched a surprise attack in the form of an episode of Friendship is Magic. Those thirty minutes was the window it needed to launch a surprise attack, bypassing Memorial Day entirely. Sleighs have filled the sky, and are bombarding the streets with coal and candy canes and shoes for some reason. People's banks accounts have been drained, leaving them so in debt that retailers have pressed them into eternal servitude. And worst of all, the music...the music is everywhere! When you hear it, your will is drained, and you are brainwashed into thinking the holidays are something wonderful and magical!

    I can hear the carolers coming! I'll be next! SAVE YOURSELVES!




    Let's celebrate the wonderful, magical holiday season with a look at “A Hearth's Warming Tail.” All glory to the Eternal Yuletide!


    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 6

    Episode: 8

    Written By: Mike Vogel

    First Aired: May 14, 2016


    REVIEW:

    It was inevitable. Any show that goes long enough will, at some point, do a Christmas Carol parody. Some curmudgeon hates Christmas because they're actively opposed to happiness, gets a visit from supernatural beings that show them how much they suck for being so grumpy, and they wake up embracing the holiday. While Hearth's Warming Eve has a different history than the real-world holiday, it's very blatantly trying to be Christmas, which is perfect for making certain miniature plastic equines are gift-wrapped under the trees for the little ones.

    Even worse, it's a Starlight episode...kind of. Starlight is the catalyst for the plot, as her cynical whining about the commercialism of the holiday is treated like an affront to all things Equestrian. The actual episode, much like the original holiday episode, is a reenactment of a story Twilight reads to Starlight, including some aside gags to comment on the absurd plot, Twilight's gushing over Star Swirl the Bearded (who, if you remember, was an idiot that stole all his ideas), and even referencing a commercial break. So characters could technically be forgiven for acting a bit unusual this time.

    But most of all, it's a musical episode...and it's not bad. The opening song runs a bit long for me, but overall they were pretty decent. Pinkie's song is definitely the standout of the bunch. And I will say no more because I am not qualified to talk about music...which also means I'm not qualified to talk about this episode.

    Most of the connections between the ponies and the characters they play are straightforward. Snowfall hates the holidays not because she's a greedy jerk, but because she sees such frivolity as a waste of time. Her plan to erase the holiday was ostensibly so ponies would give up such stupid things like fun and lollygagging in order to work and “better Equestria.” Kind of like how Starlight was making ponies give up their cutie marks in the hopes of “bettering” Equestria by making everypony equal. Also like Starlight, Snowfall's plan ends up destroying the world...which makes the lesson less, “Be good to one another because it's right,” and more, “Be good to one another, or the evil horse spirits will cover your land in eternal winter.”

    The spirits are also very simple. Applejack is about honesty, tradition, and family, so she's the perfect pick for showing Snowfall her past. Pinkie Pie is all about celebrations, gifts, and the here-and-now, so she's naturally the spirit of the present. (Which also means she has two starving foals under her coat...well, had, but she felt sorry for them, gave them a bunch of cupcakes, and set them up with a good home.) And of course, Luna is the Ghost of Hearth's Warming Eve Future, which doesn't exist because of the previously-mentioned apocalypse.

    Also, Twilight does Pinkie's voice. We will eventually have all the ponies doing each other's voices. And it will be glorious.


    CONCLUSION:

    I'm sorry, but I really have nothing to say about this episode. It's definitely less packed than the previous musical episodes, as nothing series-changing happens here. This allows the episode to stand as a fun little bit of fluff. There are some good jokes, some good songs, and the story, while cliché, does its job. And it's an enjoyable Starlight Glimmer episode without a suicide attempt, so that counts for something.


    I'm sorry I wasted your time.

    15 comments · 265 views
  • 11w, 1d
    Season Six Episode Review: Newbie Dash

    Another week, another episode. Time to review “Newbie Dash.”


    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 6

    Episode: 7

    Written By: Dave Rapp (writing), Dave Polsky & Dave Rapp (story)

    First Aired: May 7, 2016


    REVIEW:

    First, Dave and Dave wrote this. I have no idea why this is relevant, but it amuses me.

    I actually missed the episode's premiere this time around, partly because I had other things to do and partly because the synopsis did not grab me. It sounded far too much like another round of the Wonderbolts being jerks to Rainbow Dash, ending with her chewing out and teaching them not to be so rude. As a result, I got to hear all the wonderful chatter immediately afterwards, and...well, when an episode is widely compared to “Spike at Your Service,” the go-to example of the show at its worst, it doesn't inspire one with confidence.

    Perhaps it's because the initial chatter was so overwhelmingly negative, but...I didn't hate this episode. I don't think it's great or anything, but it's far from the character assassination piece SaYS was.

    Much like last season's “Canterlot Boutique,” this episode essentially wraps up one of the Mane 6's life-long dreams. (I know it's supposed to be Mane 7 now, but Starlight Glimmer is not in this episode and I will be damned if I'm going to count her as a main character yet.) Rainbow Dash has wanted to be a Wonderbolt almost her entire life, and has dedicated her every waking hour that isn't spent saving the world to making that dream come true. Unlike Rarity's boutique, however, we actually get to see Rainbow Dash slowly crawling up the ranks. She finally meets her heroes at the end of Season One. She attended the Wonderbolt Academy in Season Three, join the reserves in Season Four, take part in a show during Season Five, and finally she's promoted to a full member of the team. The result is that this at least gives an air of triumph and hard work paying off, whereas Rarity more or less just saved a lot of money and bought a building. (Not that she didn't work hard, too. Please don't kill me, Rarity fans.) It's just a shame that the episode really doesn't live up to that promise, instead playing out a very standard storyline for this show.

    The episode's comedy is heavily built on cringe, which is likely one of the reasons for its initial reception. FiM and cringe comedy have a tumultuous relationship, and while it sometimes works (as in “Equestria Games”), here it leads to a lot of moments where I was very, very tempted to fast forward. The biggest offender is the looong scene in the middle, where Rainbow Dash misinterprets Twilight's advice and starts acting like each of the Mane 6. The point of the scene is to show her freaking out the other Wonderbolts and digging herself deeper, and probably to show off Ashleigh Ball's range. And yes, the impressions are funny. But what worked as a quick gag in “Lost Treasure of Griffonstone” is drawn out for far too long, making the episode stop dead before finally getting to the finale. It just makes Dash look like an idiot.

    Here's the key difference between “Newbie Dash” and “Spike at Your Service,” however. The latter was also built around a character acting like an idiot, but the problem was that his idiocy was in opposition to his usual behavior. It leaves you asking questions like, “If Spike's the one that does Twilight's housework, why can't he use a mop without destroying the kitchen?” Rainbow Dash behaves stupidly this episode, but there's an actual reason:

    She's an egotistical moron.

    Rainbow has no problems until the “Rainbow Crash” nickname comes into play. She's flying in formation just fine until someone says it, and then she messes up because it throws her off. She goes to insane lengths to try and be known for something different, and she just makes the Wonderbolts think she's nuts. And when she tries to be a spotlight-stealing showoff just to get rid of that name, she ruins a performance, endangers lives, and destroys a confectionery wonder. And this is all behavior we've seen before. We know that Rainbow Dash has a traumatic history with that nickname. We know that she gets stupidly defensive when something threatens her ego. And we know that she has a tendency to overestimate her own abilities, especially when glory is on the line. Almost everything that goes wrong this episode can be rationalized and justified based on her previous behavior.

    As for the Wonderbolts being bullies? They really weren't. They're very much a prestigious organization – they can only have so many members, and even someone as skilled as Dash had to wait until a slot opened – and things like forcing the newbie or weakest member to do clean-up are just a part of things. This is doubly true when we consider that the Wonderbolts are based on the Blue Angels, and are treated like a military force by previous episodes. As shown by the ending, the point of the nickname isn't to denigrate the recipient, but instead to joke about how they messed up in the past, remind themselves of that mistake, and hopefully show how far they've come since. It's actually a pretty well-done moral, and helps to reinforce to Dash that she's a part of a team, and doesn't have to be the flashiest and greatest pony ever.

    Of course, I would have also had her busted back down to the reserves, if not kicked out entirely. She endangered ponies to make herself look good, and her punishment is to be on cleaning duty for a month. Then again, Starlight Glimmer committed multiple temporal genocides because her best friend left her, and she got to live in a crystal castle and be trained by the Princess of Friendship herself. The criminal justice system in Equestria is all kinds of messed up.

    So why did they keep calling Rainbow Dash a name she hated? Because she never said so. Yet again, this is an episode where the plot could have been resolved in fifteen seconds if Rainbow Dash had just mentioned that “Rainbow Crash” was her trigger. Considering how the Wonderbolts behaved at the end, they would have come up with something else to work with, or possibly just explained the whole nickname tradition then and there. Conflict resolved, episode over.


    CONCLUSION:

    I would hesitate to call this a good episode. The comedy is very cringe-inducing, and the overall story is rather average for something that we've been building to since Season One. On the other hand, I would definitely not call it a bad one, either. The characters are largely true to themselves, there are some funny moments, and the moral is a good one. So it falls squarely in the middle, which is unfortunate for something this momentous.

    Maybe next week...


    Next time, it's a Hearth's Warming Eve episode! Kind of weird to have it in the middle of May, but...

    Wait, it's a Starlight Glimmer episode. That's it, we're all getting coal for Christmas.

    9 comments · 307 views
  • 12w, 1d
    Season Six Episode Review: No Second Prances

    So...Trixie's back. And Starlight's here, too. In fact, the episode is pretty much a vehicle for the former villains, one of whom I enjoy in small doses and the other I still feel nothing but cold hatred towards.

    ...SO WHY DID I LIKE THIS SO MUCH?

    This is “No Second Prances.”


    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 6

    Episode: 6

    Written By: Nick Confalone

    First Aired: April 30, 2016


    REVIEW:

    To appreciate the hype of this episode, one must look back to the very beginnings of the show. Back when the fandom first emerged from the primordial cesspool that is 4Chan, there was only one season of FiM to overanalyze and overhype until people wished us dead. While the Mane 6 were celebrated for being well-realized characters in a toyetic cartoon, many fans clutched onto the background and guest ponies, crafting entire backstories and headcanons that one had to abide by, lest they be excommunicated from the herd. And one of the ponies latched onto the most was the Great and Powerful Trixie, a sort-of antagonist from a low-tier episode.

    While Trixie didn't really do much other than serve as part of the conflict, she had a lot of qualities that could really get fans excited. She was the only unicorn besides Twilight to have some kind of magic as her special talent, her personality contrasted perfectly with Twilight's, and there were quite a few that thought she was disproportionately punished by the episode in order to facilitate the moral. The creators liked her as well, and plans were immediately drawn up for her return...as an actual villain. “Magic Duel” was a Season Two script that wasn't used until the more-or-less slapped-together Season Three, and had Trixie go full tyrant and take over Ponyville, albeit while under the influence of a sanity-draining magic amulet. The episode ended with her seemingly forgiven and running away, returning a couple of times in the comics.

    Fast forward to Season Six. Starlight Glimmer, yet another counterpart to Twilight (making her the third one if you count Sunset Shimmer, which you should), is now the princess' student. And then an episode with no synopsis, simply called “No Second Prances,” is announced. We don't know what the episode's actually about until two weeks before it's scheduled to air, and yet everyone's thoughts are immediately drawn to Trixie. Then someone derped and released the preview clip a week early, spoiling that Trixie had indeed returned. Cue the fans celebrating...and also dreading that Twilight apparently didn't like Trixie, even after forgiving her for the Alicorn Amulet debacle. Nevermind that there's a difference between forgiving someone and actually liking them, but it still seemed rather odd.

    The episode itself starts with Twilight's newest passion: proper table setting. And I will open my review by stating, for the record, that table setting, silverware etiquette, and anything related to those two fields is worthless crap from a time when everyone had to have a rod surgically stuck up their ass from birth and must be abolished for the sake of our species. You don't need three different forks to eat dinner, people. Anyone who says otherwise is also an ally of serving tiny cakes with tea, another evil that must be destroyed. Slobs of the world, RISE UP!

    Anyway, Twilight's making a big deal out of this because Princess Celestia is coming for a dinner, and Twilight wants to show how great a teacher she is by having her student make a new friend in one day and bring her to dinner. (Needless to say, I am not going to like Twilight this episode.) Starlight's attempts fail, partially because she can't stop using magic for everything (even horrible things), and partially because of sheer bad luck/her past as a brainwashing tyrant. It's not until she goes to the spa to relieve her stress that she encounters Trixie, who has experience when it comes to conquering villages and being treated like crap because of your past sins. Cue Twilight trying to break the two apart because she doesn't trust Trixie, and doesn't trust Starlight to make good friends.

    To be fair, while Twilight is absolutely awful, she does bring up a good point. Starlight is still trying to get over her own dark past, so having someone who still struts around in public like she's the best thing since sliced bread isn't the best role model to have. On the other hand, Trixie's crimes are nothing compared to what Starlight did. Trixie enslaved a village, but only after she had been broken by society rejecting her due to two fanboys exposing her boasts, and arguably she only went completely wall-to-wall crazy after the amulet began corrupting her. Starlight destroyed Equestria multiple times over because her best friend left her. Just saying, I think Twilight's pinning the “bad influence” marker on the wrong side of the equation.

    Of course, Twilight turns out to be correct in the end. Trixie really was just using Starlight to one-up the pony that humiliated her – if she can't outclass Twilight when it comes to magic, friendship will do just nicely. The episode is vague, however, on whether this was her plan the entire time, or if it was something she came up with after learning who Starlight was. There's no indication that she was hunting Starlight down and faking a first meeting; the two simply run into each other while at the spa, and their conversation is nondescript grumbling about not being given a real second chance. It seems far more likely that Trixie was sincere in the beginning, and only shifted her priorities towards “beating” Twilight once she saw an opening. And then she shot herself in the hoof because Trixie is second only to Rarity when it comes to pork by-product.

    Trixie isn't behaving out-of-character, even accounting for the ending of “Magic Duel.” Even when she was begging Twilight's forgiveness, she switched right back to boasting about how humble she was. Even in the comics that followed, Trixie is still shown exaggerating her accomplishments, going so far as to take over a kingdom of very stupid dogs. She's still a creature of ego, she was still shown up by Twilight getting rid of the Ursa Minor, and even under the influence of a power-boosting artifact, she was defeated by a wooden gun Twilight using Trixie's own skillset.

    Now, the whole “killing yourself by performing the trick you know you can't do without Starlight's help” thing? That's a pretty...extreme reaction, more or less.

    Starlight is much better here, unwittingly stumbling into the Twilight-Trixie war when all she wants is a new friend. Okay, she didn't want a friend at the beginning, but she's overjoyed to find somepony who also has a dark past and is trying to make up for their past mistakes. (Trixie is likely doing so for the sake of her career, but still, the thought counts.) Her failed attempts to make friends elsewhere, besides making Mrs. Cake look like a bit of a jerk, help highlight how out-of-place she is amongst the Mane 6, so Trixie really is someone she can reasonably relate with. This is part of why it had to be Trixie here, even if it meant Twilight coming off more poorly than was likely intended. About the only other villain we have that is in Ponyville and actively “reformed” is Discord, and do note that I am being sarcastic when I imply that he's turned over a new leaf. Even when he's trying to bond with the Mane 6, he can't resist being a dick, especially to Twilight.

    All of this is wonderful character stuff, and the ending was obviously lovely and nice. Helping the episode along, though, is the very good comedy this week. Twilight's exhilaration over silverware setting is beautifully dorky, as is her obvious and overt attempts to pair Starlight up with ANYPONY besides Trixie. The rest of the Mane 6 mostly get a mandatory line, but are still amusing. Angel obviously loving the attention Starlight gives him, Trixie twisting the silverware into a little statue of herself, Cranky's stinger at the end...there is a lot to love here. I'm not really overly pleased with shoving in DJ-Pon3, Derpy and Cranky, as it brings back not-quite-wonderful memories of “Slice of Life,” but it accomplishes what the staff was going for.

    ...But seriously, how does Celestia keep her mane like that?


    CONCLUSION:

    Outside of Trixie's suicide attempt (which is more than likely just overthinking things), the episode was great. It made good use of a returning character, featured some good comedy, and has a wonderful charm of its own. I won't call it the best of the season so far, seeing as we're not even a third of the way through, but it's definitely up there.


    Next time, the Wonderbolts return. And they will likely still be horrible ponies. Joy.

    20 comments · 385 views
  • 12w, 4d
    Happy Birthday to Me

    I was hoping to surprise everyone with a chapter...but hopefully it will be ready this weekend, or soon after that.

    Normally, this is where I would play that Simpsons clip where Moe puts his depression to the tune of "Happy Birthday," but I just ate a one-pound burger and finally watched The Force Awakens, so no, not this year. Besides, that's pretty much how I feel every day, so why should today be special?

    See you soon with actual content.

    25 comments · 154 views
  • 14w, 1d
    Season Six Episode Review: Gauntlet of Fire

    Last week we had a CMC episode, which was okay. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, we can finally turn our full attention back to our six beloved pon-

    Wait, this is a Spike episode.

    ...

    COME BACK, CMC!


    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 6

    Episode: 5

    Written By: Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco

    First Aired: April 16, 2016


    REVIEW:

    For the second week in a row, we have a sequel episode. This time, the setup stretches all the way back to Season Two, where we were “treated” to Spike's first attempt to discover more about his species. It ended with him declaring that dragons are all dicks and he was much better off as a pony. Looking back, this is a pretty damn horrifying moral that could be taken a lot of wrong ways, but more importantly, the episode itself came off as wasted potential. So now we have a second stab at the idea, only with more dragons and the emphasis placed on a specific event rather than Spike's existential dilemma.

    We finally get a bigger view of dragon culture, and while it's pretty much in line with what we've seen before, the episode helps to expand it a bit so that it feels a bit more like an actual society. They're still focused almost entirely on strength, ruthlessness, and toughness, but it's also implied that at least part of this is filtered in from the top-down. If the current Dragon Lord had to go through the same trial to claim his position, then it's likely the dragons have been putting up similar gauntlets for generations. The dragons we've seen in Equestria have apparently been content to huddle in caves with their mountains of gold and jewels, caring little for anyone that might be affected by their presence and attacking anyone they perceive as an intruder, so it's probably natural for them to consider someone that could kick their butts to be their leader. Also, all of the dragons we see besides Torch and Spike are about Garble's height, implying they may all be dragon teenagers. Perhaps the Dragon Lord is recruited young so they can rule for a long period of time.

    So many questions remain...

    The other thing we see about dragons is that they really, really don't like ponies. Even excusing the plan to steal all of Equestria's pillows (which would then be destroyed after one night, considering all those spikes and scales they have), not a single dragon seems alarmed by Garble's plan to essentially declare open warfare on ponykind and reduce Equestria to ruin. And yes, Garble is back from “Dragon Quest,” again serving as the main antagonist, and he's even worse than before. Back then, his behavior could have potentially been excused as just being a dumb teenager, albeit a psychotic one. Here, he's very open about his hatred for ponies. Thankfully, the episode actually remembers to punish him for his asshole ways, as he spends most of the story being tossed around by the various traps, is soundly beaten in a fight, and finally has to humiliate himself every step of the way out because Spike is apparently into ironic punishments.

    Besides Torch (who is mostly around to set up the plot and emphasize dragon culture's emphasis on power), we have a newcomer in the form of Princess Ember. Character-wise, she's very straightforward. She's not allowed to compete because her father thinks she's too weak and small (the “because you're a girl” is slightly implied, but we also see what appears to be other female dragons competing, so it's not like Dragon Lord has to be a guy), so she goes in disguise to prove she isn't just another princess. She doesn't understand friendship and breaks her deal with Spike so she can go after the prize herself, but then immediately changes her mind because she suddenly likes it. I'm not completely “meh” on her like I am with Starlight, as she's at least novel as a different kind of dragon (plus she didn't destroy the timeline multiple times and get away with it), but I also wasn't feeling much for her this episode.

    Not that it will matter. The shippers will tear her apart before she ever appears again. RariSpike is a resilient monster.

    If I had to pick out a problem this episode, it was how basic the plot is. The show has done this story multiple times. We saw Rainbow Dash and Pinkie do it with Gilda. We saw Twilight do it with Sunset and Starlight. We even saw Discord go through something similar in “Twilight's Kingdom.” A character doesn't understand friendship, thinks it makes them weak, or is otherwise hostile to our friendly heroes, only to discover the error of their ways and embrace the awesomeness of friendship. That doesn't make the episode bad – it actually pulls most of these steps off very well – but it still feels rather formulaic for this series.

    On the plus side, there's Spike. Unlike so many of his other appearances, he doesn't suddenly drop fifty points in competency or intelligence simply because he's the main character. He knows from the beginning that he's in over his head, and still joins the competition because he wants to protect his friend. While he's still useless in the final struggle against Garble, it's because he's a baby going up against someone much bigger, stronger, and more bloodthirsty than him. The episode is obviously not going to end with him as Dragon Lord, but it does show him as the brave little guy that will do anything for the sake of his friends.

    As for Twilight and Rarity...I dunno. On the one hand, the two are hilarious. Rarity acknowledging the luminescence of unicorn magic made for an amusing opening, and her numerous disguises were funny in their own way. Twilight is in top form here, positively squeeing over all the stuff she's learning. They are a very superfluous part of the episode, with their only contribution past the opening being to serve as a tiny part of Princess Ember's development, but they also serve as some nice comic relief. Except for that last joke. That was not funny at all, Rarity. Not in an “I'm offended” sense, but literally unfunny in every conceivable way. The upcoming episode where your store is ruined shall be your punishment.


    CONCLUSION:

    As far as Spike episodes go, this one was better than the usual fare. Spike was competent throughout, and there were some good laughs. Compared to the rest of the show, though, it's rather middle-of-the-road. Outside of some new insight into dragons (which is, again, mostly just the old insight expanded a bit) and a new character, it's a typical episode of pony.

    5 comments · 323 views
  • 15w, 1d
    Season Six Episode Reviews: On Your Marks

    Hey, it's a new episode! And it's about the CMC! And it's written by Dave Polsky! Why am I excited about this?!

    This is “On Your Marks.”


    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 6

    Episode: 4

    Written By: Dave Polsky (story), Dave Polsky & Josh Haber (writing)

    First Aired: April 9, 2016


    SYNOPSIS:

    The Cutie Mark Crusaders are faced with an existential dilemma: now that they have their cutie marks, what are they supposed to do with their lives? They can't pursue cutie marks anymore, nopony in town really needs their help with a serious issue, and the three don't share a lot of the same hobbies. Finally, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle decide they should try having fun on their own.

    Apple Bloom takes it well...


    REVIEW:

    Remember when I totally spoiled “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” for everyone and pissed you all off? Yeah, that excitement faded really fast. It was amazing to actually see the CMC finally reach a conclusion to their arc...but then I started actually thinking about the episode. Or rather, the three episodes they crammed into one and held together with musical numbers, leaving an episode that looked like one of those glue-covered pine cones with the googly eyes six-year-olds make. That was the payoff? After so many hints about where their talents lie, their talent ends up just being telling people they're living their lives wrong? And that's not even getting into the “Diamond Tiara is instantly forgivable because her mommy is horrible.” I wrote a freaking novel-length fanfiction about another snot-nosed unicorn getting redeemed in order to avoid pulling that crap.

    I'll get to “Crusaders” one of these days, but suffice to say, the CMC were in a bit of a limbo state after that. Would they remain the Cutie Mark Crusaders? Would they have to disband, like how they kicked Babs out the minute she got her mark? What would be their new role in the show? That's where this episode comes in and tries to provide some answers.

    The first act feels...off. It feels like it's reaching too far into the CMC's past, back when they really were one-dimensional ponies obsessed only with getting cutie marks. Subsequent seasons still kept their pursuit of the marks, but also spent more time building up the fillies as individuals, had them just hanging out and having fun, and showed that their lives didn't completely revolve around a puberty metaphor. But here, all of the flashbacks are to Season One episodes. Everything they do is specifically related to getting marks, and now that they have them, finding out what they're supposed to do with them. Bulk Biceps' appearance hints at the episode possibly going the way it did with Trouble Shoes last season – exploring how a pony's cutie mark can mean different things depending on how you look at it – but Bold BigFlank's Bulk's so simple a character that his problem is solved instantly.

    So we're left with a first act that's not all that impressive. The rest of the episode, however, is much better, as the focus shifts back to the CMC as individual ponies and how they work together – that is, not at all. It's no secret that the three have different interests and ideas of what's fun, but in the past they were able to ignore all that because they were all interested in getting magic butt tattoos. Now that the common ground they had is lost, the three are confronted with how different they are as ponies. This leads into one of the episode's actual morals: you don't have to like the same things as your friends to be friends.

    This leads into the second moral, which is exemplified by Apple Bloom's descent into pure angst. (Appropriate, considering the puberty metaphor and all.) Remember that one of Apple Bloom's biggest fears from “Bloom and Gloom” was of the Crusaders falling apart, leaving her friendless once again. Well, she did have Twist back in Season One, who also left Apple Bloom feeling alienated once she got those peppermint sticks on her butt. Considering how close the Apples are, there are a lot of hints to indicate that Apple Bloom has a fear of rejection or abandonment, which is why Scootaloo's perfectly valid and logical suggestion is treated like a kick to the rear. She also may have a fear of change, as she wants to keep things the way they were when they were blank flanks and just trying things to see if they could stumble across their special talent. A shame that it's resolved so quickly:

    Apple Bloom: I'm emo and hang out in the dark because you said we can't be friends anymore.

    Scootaloo: I never said that.

    Apple Bloom: I'm happy again!

    Well, she is still a kid, after all.

    Apple Bloom's failure montage is amusing, but mostly highlights just how much finding her purpose in life consumed her. Being a part of the Cutie Mark Crusaders formed a huge part of her identity, and she has trouble breaking out of that comfort zone. The montage, her dismissal of an obvious opportunity to use her special talent, and the CMC reconvening leads into the second moral: you don't have to be good at something to have fun doing it. Scootaloo tries sky diving, and is good at it. Sweetie Belle tries crocheting, and admits that she's terrible at it, but she still had fun and wants to try again. Apple Bloom herself eventually realizes this, now that she's had time to reflect and isn't (insert joke about Linkin Park, black clothing, or writing crappy poetry on tumblr here). Again, this is a good lesson.

    The third moral is centered around yet another new character, Tender Taps. It's very obvious and a little forced considering how the episode was going, but he's the first foal the CMC help get marked. His only problem is that he's got stage fright, which is easily fixed. This leads into the third moral: it's good to try new things and expand your horizons. Yet another good lesson. They are on a roll this week.

    Oh, and Apple Bloom has a song. It's okay.


    CONCLUSION:

    I started out not really caring for the episode, but I found myself enjoying it a lot more as it went along. There's a lot of good stuff here, and it helps lay the groundwork for keeping the CMC around now that their previous goal has been resolved. It's a bit predictable and simple, but I had fun this time around with those precocious fillies.

    3 comments · 253 views
  • 15w, 1d
    Season Six Episode Reviews: The Crystalling

    Well, I didn't finish Season Four, and I barely got less than halfway through Season Five...but hey, let's do episode reviews again. Sixth time's the charm.

    So in the interest of playing catch-up, let's look at the season premiere, “The Crystalling.”


    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 6

    Episodes: 1+2

    Written By: Josh Haber

    First Aired: March 26, 2016


    REVIEW:

    So here we are. Friendship is Magic has ran for six seasons and almost six years by this point. That's a tremendous run for any series, but for a children's show – particularly one aimed at shilling toys – it's astonishing. And yet, when a show has ran for so long, there are certain...temptations that plague creative types. The staff gets bored or runs out of material with who they have, so they strive to add something new to the mix. New characters, new areas, new anything just to shake up the formula. FiM also has to deal with the pressure from Hasbro, who will sell those crystal palaces no matter how many tree libraries they have to blow up.

    So imagine my everlasting joy when I saw that the premiere would confirm that Starlight Glimmer is here to stay, there was going to finally be that baby Alicorn they've been teasing for years in the toyline, and the premiere would be about them and not the main characters.

    In case you couldn't tell, that was sarcasm.

    Let me be as clear as possible: I HATED HOW THE SEASON FIVE FINALE ENDED. I thought I had hated before, but nothing could match my rage at those last ten minutes. Starlight Glimmer destroys space and time over and over again...because her best friend got shipped off to private school and left her alone. And everyone instantly forgives her. I'm totally for redemption and forgiveness, but Discord got more of a redemption arc than she did. Those last few minutes almost killed the whole show for me for a while, but I decided to wait and see how things were handled in the next season premiere.

    As for Flurry Heart, I'm largely okay with her presence now. Adding a baby or otherwise “cute” child is a marketing gimmick as old as television itself, so I was expecting something on the level of when the Fairly Oddparents spawned. Instead, Flurry Heart is legitimately cute and largely harmless. She's incredibly overpowered and responsible for most of the episode's problems, but it's a fairly logical progression of baby powers from what we saw in “Baby Cakes.” Remember that Pound was able to carry Pinkie around while flying and Pumpkin could phase through walls and levitate herself, so a foal with the power of an Alicorn would be a major catastrophe until the surges stopped. Also helping matters is that we're likely not to see her for a good amount of time, so she's not being constantly flashed around for the studio audience to gush over.

    The Flurry Heart plot manages to find a way to work in just about everyone. The Mane 6 alternate between caring for the baby and warning the idiot tourists to run for cover. Shining Armor is adorable as the sleep-deprived new father. Pinkie makes sense as the one who connects with Flurry Heart the most. Even Celestia and Luna actually stand up and help protect the Crystal Empire. Even better is that the episode largely manages to tie all these disparate parts together, even if Shining's role is largely cut off by the end of the first half.

    The real plot of the episode revolves around Starlight, Spike, and the friend that left, Sunburst. For all the grief I give Starlight for her horrible redemption arc, I did like her alternating between frustration and terror at the prospect of meeting Sunburst after so long. As for the “wizard” himself, I guessed the twist almost immediately upon seeing him, but otherwise found him largely inoffensive. I genuinely like the idea behind his character, reminding us that just because someone seems fated to excel doesn't mean they will, and that someone can study something for years and still not be able to actually do it. I just wish it wasn't quite tangled up with a character I'm already inclined to cringe at.

    Something that I thought was interesting was how Spike interacted with Starlight. The little dragon is always a helpful fellow to the Mane 6, but it typically has an air of a child wanting to be useful to the grown-ups. This is particularly true with how he works with Twilight. His very identity is centered around being her Number One Assistant, and while he'll snark and snap some sense into her during her mental spirals, he's still typically treated as someone below or subservient. And now we have Starlight, who is in largely the same position as him thanks to being Twilight's student. The two seem to work almost as equals in the scheme of things, and Starlight slipping into her scheming and conniving side could be taken as her allowing herself to be a bit more open around someone she doesn't perceive as being “above” her in some way.

    This could also be me being totally wrong, but that's just how the two came off to me. Plus, Starlight using Spike's ego to buy herself some time was solid gold. We need more ponies eating popcorn, dang it!

    Also, Twilight's parents finally talked. And they were fine.

    Twilight also had a bit of a subplot regarding her role as a teacher. It flashed by so quickly that it's barely worth mentioning, but it also provided some of the biggest laughs in the episode. Twilight is still a list-obsessed nerd, after all, and her lessons are structured accordingly. Of course, she learns not to be so controlling and let her student think for herself, which is what Celestia's done whenever she's thrown her to the lions. Just a reminder: Twilight is now the Princess of Friendship. I think the lesson plan's pretty effective.


    CONCLUSION:

    Overall, this wasn't the greatest pair of opening episodes, but it was still an enjoyable start. Most of my hangups are of a personal nature, save perhaps for the episode being a bit too low-key for my tastes. I'm still not a fan of Starlight, and I'm not particularly looking forward to seeing more Sunburst. Flurry Heart is cute, but again, she's tolerable as long as they don't try to shove her into the focus like so many kid characters. It's not a pair of episodes I would especially seek out, but it kept my faith alive for a little while longer, and that's good enough for me.


    Next time...I dunno. Maybe whenever I feel like it.

    7 comments · 208 views
  • 15w, 5d
    Sunset Shimmer and Horses

    21 comments · 365 views
  • 16w, 1d
    What we learned today

    1. Maud Pie is a seething volcano of rage. Never give her a reason to erupt.

    2. Pinkie Pie is still a good sister, but needs a lesson in proportionate use of explosive party ordinance.

    3. Rarity will continue to expand her business rapidly, until she suddenly realizes she has overexpanded and is unable to support her vast fashion empire. By the time that happens, her entire business will collapse, she will be laughed out of the industry, and she will spend the rest of her days living on the streets, eating out of dumpsters, and finally dying alone and forgotten...

    Or she'll continue to expand at a steady rate, become the biggest fashionista in Equestria, and live a wonderful and fulfilling life.

    5 comments · 209 views
  • 17w, 1d
    And now we have a baby

    That's it, show's over. Everyone kindly move along, nothing to see here. Some other horrible cartoon did the same plot point long ago, so now FiM is doomed to the same fate.

    (Episode was actually fine, btw. Not great, but enjoyable. Still don't like Starlight being there, but it worked for this plot.)

    Also, more background characters are getting voices. Nice.

    8 comments · 267 views
  • 17w, 1d
    Our wait shall soon be over...

    It's only a little while longer. Soon, we will be basking in the everlasting glory that is that most wonderful of programs. It's been a long wait, and we've doubted this day would ever come, but we shall finally come out of the night and into the glory of the dawn.

    Yes, my friends...

    Part 4 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure starts next week!

    ...

    Oh, and Season 6 of FiM begins tomorrow.

    ...Why must all the good stuff come at once?

    3 comments · 105 views
  • 18w, 4d
    Little Sunny Chapter 5 Follow-Up

    Yes, I know it's been over a week since the chapter came out. I've been busy getting constant reminders that I am ruining people's lives because they're too damn lazy to pick up a phone and report they moved to Kansas or whatever, so things have been a tad chaotic.

    Anyway, this chapter was originally planned entirely around Sunset getting drafted into doing modelling for Rarity - because regardless of her current species, Rarity is Rarity. The original intent was that it was actually a paying gig, and Sunset took the job not because Rarity guilt-tripped her into doing so, but because she thought she could help raise funds to get the parts they needed to build the new magic storage device. This was primarily changed because something where children actually get paid would require a lot more buildup and management than what could be allowed, plus there would be questions about the legality of it all, and it was just funnier to have Rarity beg and plead in her dramatic way.

    (And in case you were wondering if the original made Rarity any better...no. She had neglected to tell Sunset that the "payment" was a gift certificate for the boutique, making it useless for what she actually wants. Sunset would then have settled for sizing up what bones to break first.)

    If the scene with the kids seems rushed and hackneyed, that's because it is. I really don't have much more to say other than that it will lead to something.

    The stuff with the bike is also something I can't get into just yet, but it will be important. And I know Sunset having a motorcyle and being cool and all that is cliche, but...she did motocross, so I guess it kind of fits. The scene at the not-Walmart was also going to include Sunset getting separated from Twilight and lost, but it felt out of place given her current age, so I cut that part out.

    You also may have been noticing that the story has focused a lot on Sunset and Twilight, and not so much on the others. Part of it is just the ease, since it makes it easier to repeat the last three fics I wrote because I'm a damn hack. (Well, two...we know what happened to the third.) The other part...well, what will be going down starting next chapter. Remember when I posted that pic where the two Twilights were yanking on Sunset's arms? Imagine that, but with an eight-year-old Sunset, and instead of implied shipping, it's over friendship and Sunset's future. Yep...things will be getting a little dark later.

    (Not "I skinned my best friend" dark, but still dimly-lit.)

    Also, just in case anyone had any questions about Twilight's little flashback, I imagined she and the Humane 5 sounding normal, but her family sounding like they came out of a Godfrey Ho movie. I don't know why, but it amused me, so that's how the scene played in my head.

    Next time, it's Twilight in stereo! And...Sunset will be there, too. (The next chapter will likely end up focusing mostly on the Twilights, if out of necessity. Just a head's up.)

    1 comments · 172 views
  • 20w, 2d
    New chapter this weekend (hopefully)

    I'm hoping to have the next chapter done by the end of Sunday. (Pacific Standard Time) I've pretty much given up on it ever being good, so hopefully it will be presentable enough to keep hope alive.

    On the plus side, after this is finally over, the real story begins. Kinda. Sorta. It's complicated.

    3 comments · 158 views
Feb
19th
2013

Today the Brony Documentary group released a trailer for the extended interviews bonus, with extra footage of Tara, De Lancie and Faust. Most of it's pretty much your basic stuff, but...watch what Faust says...

In case you're lazy, she says that she had planned out destinies for the different characters, and mentions Rarity, Rainbow Dash and Twilight specifically. The first two are self-explanatory: Rarity gets a dress shop in Canterlot and Rainbow Dash joins the Wonderbolts. Those are pretty blindingly obvious, and have been built up to over the course of the show. But then she gets to Twilight...who was going to be Celestia's successor. Yes, successor. As in, princess. She also tweeted after the hype machine kicked into gear that this wasn't in her plan, so that seems to imply that this would have happened at some point in time, but not in the middle of the series' run.

This actually adds credence to the idea that MMC was going to be the series finale. After all the staff turnover and with DHX picking up so many projects, Hasbro cuts their losses and orders thirteen episodes to fill out the sixty-five needed for syndication. That way, they can just sell the airing rights after the fact and make a fortune. But when the show remained popular (and possibly because shows like Care Bears didn't take off like they had wanted), they decided to renew it for another full season. The only problem is that this meant MMC was already in production, and it would most likely be too late and too expensive to pull the episode and totally redo the ending.

So what does this actually mean? Not much, really, but it does give some more insight into the show's conception. And perhaps it can show that Hasbro isn't wrecking Faust's vision like so many claim they are.

Report InsertAuthorHere · 4,359 views ·
#1 · 178w, 5d ago · · 2 ·

Uhm... okai... not sure what to say...

#2 · 178w, 5d ago · 2 · 15 ·

Twilight replace Celestia.....this just in: Twilight Sparkle new worst pony.

#3 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

:c

#4 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

This new info and the current state of affairs... it could still happen. o_o

#5 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

Now I think about it, it explains the wierd ending off Wonderbolts Academy. If season 3 would be the last season and everypony off the mane 6 would get their dreams, then Wonderbolts Academy could be one off the episodes about Dash getting her dream. At the end Dash would be accepted as Wonderbolt.

This maybe also explains the remors before season 3 about Flutters changing in a dragon and Rarity getting a duet with Octavia. Flutters changing in a dragon would help her overcome her fear of dragons and help her learn to stand for herself. Rarity meeting Octaia would almost certainly happen in Canterlot. It would help Rarity to get a shop opened in Canterlot.

#6 · 178w, 5d ago · 3 · ·

None of this really surprise me.  Twilight taking up a role as Celestia's successor has always to me seemed a very likely destination for her character arc -- either that or becoming the royal arch-mage/vizier, but now that she's an alicorn the former seems to be the only viable path, and it's not a bad path.

Now exactly how well this will play out over the course of next season (and however many more season might potentially come after that), well, only time will tell.

#7 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

So wait, this implies its our fault. We the fans got this so popular that it warranted MORE episodes and seasons! While Faust's original vision for the work was good, it wasn't multiseasonal enough for US.

This is very interesting. You know what? I would love to see her "fanfic" on the endings for our characters the way she had intended.

#8 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

It's been heavily speculated that the reason this season was thirteen episodes, or one half, was so the other half would go to funding Equestria Girls, and that it never had anything to do with the syndication limit at all. Hasbro knows that ponies is pretty much the life blood right now, so they are broadening their horizons and syndicating FIM for the future.

As for the video itself, a bit surprising given Lauren's reaction on Twitter. Sure, she was never expecting Twilight to actually become royalty herself, but replacing the ruler of the entire kingdom is pretty much becoming royalty, anyway.

So yeah, "ruining Faust's vision?" No, not really.

More like broadening it out while keeping both corporate parties (Toy branch vs Show branch) happy.

#9 · 178w, 5d ago · 1 · 1 ·

It means that we really are in a Babylon 5 - style scenario, looking forward to a season of fillers, hastily-conceived plots and episodes from the scrap pile.

FWIW, I'm hoping that Rainbow and Rarity both reject their automatically-assumed 'destinies'.  It would fit well into the message of the show if they decide that their relationships with their friends and their places in the community in Ponyville was more important to them than celebrity, recognition and even wealth.  "I'm happy here, with my friends.  Money and fame couldn't replace that!" would be a nice message with which to round out the show.

#10 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

Yeah, that is interesting.  Perhaps if we had known this two weeks ago, a lot less people would've freaked out..  (By the way, did you know that kludge is a word?  Because autocorrect seems to want to replace every other word I type with that today.)

#11 · 178w, 5d ago · 7 · ·

So everyone saying Lauren Faust didn't want Twilight to be a princess can shut it? (Sorry, I get more than a little tired of people using her to justify their own arguments.) Huzzah!

#12 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

As long as this burns hundreds of fanfics, then I'm okay with it. :twilightsheepish:

#13 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

What I want to know is how they're going to pull themselves out of this hole they accidentally dug. If they did, like you said, intend for the show to end there, but renewed the show for another season due to unexpected popularity, they've got to find some way to keep it going, right? If they're creative, I'm sure they can find a decent way to prevent hitting a dead end.

#14 · 178w, 5d ago · 4 · ·

...

...

...

...

HAH! Sorry, that was mean wasnt it to all of the people who say "messing with Lauren's vision" and "Hasbro is teh dvil," and "Princesses are just pwetty and historically dont do anything (princess Grace, Diania, and Catherine just got DISSED! Though I thank them for giving me the chance to research the real princesses in the real world and see what they did for real and their real lives)? So basically, what we have on our hands is another "DBZ, Kim Possible" scenario where something that was only meant for a particular length (Dragonball was only meant to go for the first arc, and KP was meant for only the 65) and then it got so popular that they decided to keep things going. I wonder if that is another reason for the 13, so Megan and the group could set up an arc  and plot things out slowly to get everything set up. Meanwhile Hasbro goes for the spin off that they want.

My question is this then...Die hard fans, where were you when Danny Phantom was canceled? Why was I stuck with only 3 seasons, 53 eps, and two awesome made for tv movies? Why didnt you save this show? Heck, Hey Armold fans...where were you guys when Nick decided to be the biggest A-holes on the planet and left us the world's second biggest cliffhanger (first place belongs to the always awesome and rewatchable...Berserk). Some of these shows need closure

#15 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

she wants the CMC to get their cutie marks, and they didnt, a thing that will happen in season 4? :trixieshiftright::trixieshiftleft::rainbowdetermined2::duck:

#16 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

On the subject of destinies, I've made a blog post of my own.

I notice someone down-thumbed my previous post.  I'd be grateful if whoever that was could tell me (by private message if you prefer) what you didn't like; I'm genuinely interested in your opinion, okay?

#17 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

>>846166

I'd be okay with that, more Scootaloo is never a bad thing :twilightsmile:

#18 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

>>846235

they just annoy me now because we have seen them do their talents in many episodes and sweetie belle straight out says that even if she is a good singer she refuses to think its her special talent and tries to be like her big sister, you wont get the same cutie mark as your sister, the show shows that nopony can have the same talent, and all of the older ponies know their talents as well, but they arent allowed to tell them because they have to find it on their own, but they wont ever find it on their own if they keep listening to scootaloo trying to get a cutie mark like rainbowdash. I like them, and find them funny, but i dont like how they refuse to acknolodge that their special talent is what they refused to do for the talent show.

#19 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

i will still regard this the s3 season finale as the actual finale when this show finally ends. the fact that twilight suddenly gets wings when i skip this episode before s4 we will solve when we get there.

#20 · 178w, 5d ago · · 8 ·

>>845936

Sorry, Luna's already taken that spot.

#21 · 178w, 5d ago · 2 · ·

>>846007

Possibly, or possibly not. The problem with Babylon 5 was that everything was resolved before the sudden renewal, while here, there's still a lot of ground to possibly cover. And in any case, it's kind of hard to have filler when your show is more of less slice of life, the very definition of filler.

Also, the idea you had for Rarity was kind of what happened in "Sweet and Elite." She goes to Canterlot, makes some huge waves thanks to a high-profile pony falling in love with her work, and feels she has to lie about her friends and origin to avoid being cast out. In the end, she learns that you should always be proud of where you're from. If the show had ended, that could have been a decent ending for her.

>>845988

More like broadening it out while keeping both corporate parties (Toy branch vs Show branch) happy.

It also ties into the claim made back in Season 2 that the show's creators had input on the toys. Although given how rushed the finale was, it's also possible that the change was still mandated, but since they still had Lauren's idea lying around, they decided to work that interpretation into the finale as best they could. It's honestly a shame they couldn't devote the entire episode to it, but at least they'll be addressing what happens now in the next opener.

#22 · 178w, 5d ago · 3 · ·

>>845955

> it could still happen.

"Only on the Hub"?

Sorry, I couldn't resist :facehoof:

#23 · 178w, 5d ago · 2 · ·

I never understood the argument that "this isnt what Faust wanted!". Honestly I dont really care what Faust wants since she isnt apart of production anymore and even if she was I would still judge each episode as I do now. Would be like saying Disney didnt follow George Lucas's vision in their new Star Wars movie. Regardless of if its a flop of success, I don't care what Lucas's vision was since he isnt a part of it.

This info does give us some insight into Hasbro's thinking and I guess that does make me a little less angry. Though I am still way more disappointed than angry. I've been back to watch the songs of that episode several times and the greatest crime is wasting such perfect material and plot with such a convoluted episode. I would have rather them shot for an average episode and just it ending up below average than to have all these amazing scenes and touching moments wasted because of time constraints. Now every time I watch Twilights "I've got to find a way", the groups "A true true friends" or "Celestias  ballad", I can't completely enjoy them because all I can think about is what might have been.

#24 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

>>846543

That isn't an exact analogy as Mr Lucas is supposedly going to be a story consultant on Episode VII (hopefully he'll convince J J Abrams not to turn the entire cast into hormonal teens).

Still, I do get your point; Lauren hasn't really be involved with MLP: FiM since the end of Season 2 and has only ever been credited with writing episodes 1x01 and 1x02, the pilot two-parter.  Although it still owes a lot to her vision, it's a lot bigger show now with a lot more different creative visions involved.

#25 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

Hey look a Faust Tweet

#26 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

>>846625 uh the heck is that a comment to?.....

#27 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

>>846663 in reference to it 'Not being so far from Fausts vision'

#28 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

>>846675 no i mean what is faust commenting about? all that link shows is a blank da page with her post on it.....

#29 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

>>846692 ... What could the "Almighty Faust" be talking about when she says that? :facehoof: Especially so soon after we get a 4'th alicorn. Especially knowing she doesn't approve of Cadence being an Alicorn

#30 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

>>846725 but that post was dated a year ago , and i didn't know anything on what faust had to say about cadence.....

#31 · 178w, 5d ago · 1 · ·

Personally i never was a fan of "Destiny". but i do believe that people can only go so far with their free will.

Meaning that because ones cutie mark is one thing, why does that mean they are tied to doing it?

It understandable if, per say a pony is a singer, or a baseball player, that they would be best doing what they do best, but what about if it isnt, like why can't ponies have free choice?

The thing im hitting at is mainly the royal guard. Does it mean that all of the royal guards are practically aryans, born and raised to guard the princess like roman storm troopers? or could they be stallions who had tallent, and careers, but they decided to join the military?

I remember one of my favorite stories of all time is a cup of joe by the Descendant, in it, Pony Joe was a soldier in the equestrian aremy and became a royal guard and then dcided to open his doughnut shop with the money he earned.

still though, cutiemarks related to fighting and killing by fanfiction writers are immediately poor characters in my opinnion. THink outside the box, there are ways to rationalize it.

#32 · 178w, 5d ago · 1 · ·

>>847030 I kind of view destiny in stories a lot like I do love; I don't believe in either of them, but in order for the story to make sense you have to pretend that they exist...well, most of the time, at least :pinkiesick:

#33 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

You continue to post interesting things, I'm glad I follow you.  :twilightsmile:

#34 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

You know I'm still confused at this prospect of hating on princesses and calling them weak, and yet the show has Luna and Celestia around! That makes little sense!

#35 · 178w, 5d ago · · ·

Well, I hope they realize how stupid it would be to cancel the show at this point. With the fans it has produced and the money they make off of it, why would they stop it and pray that care bears is going to somehow replace it?

#36 · 178w, 4d ago · · ·

Good to know, thanks!

#37 · 178w, 4d ago · · ·

>>845933

I'm not sure either really, I'm still absorbing this... wow...

#38 · 178w, 4d ago · · ·

>>846007

>>846536

interesting that 2 other people would bring up Babylon 5, but that's exactly what I'm reminded of too.

Babylon 5 was a sci-fi TV series about a space station called Babylon 5.

Near the end of the show, they blew up the space station.

So there was no more Babylon 5, and everybody's plots were pretty much resolved, it was supposed to be the end of the story.

......and then the show was picked up for another season - and it was terrible.

I'm not saying that's where MLP will go, Babylon 5 was a serial TV drama and MLP is a kids show about candy colored ponies.

MLP can be different, this doesn't have to be an "endgame" story for it.

This show isn't even the kind of thing that even has an "ending", it's more like any episodic cartoon show and it just runs until there is no longer any interest in it. Like Family Guy or The Simpsons, they just get into something new next week .

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