More Blog Posts564

  • 6d, 9h
    Baking Powder

    9 comments · 228 views
  • 1w, 12h
    Season Five Episode Reviews: Make New Friends But Keep Discord

    Today, we look at a Discord episode. May God have mercy on us all.

    This is “Make New Friends But Keep Discord.”


    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 5

    Episode: 7

    Written By: Natasha Levinger

    First Aired: May 16, 2015


    SUMMARY:

    Discord is enjoying some afternoon tea with Fluttershy when he learns that, during her trip to see the Breezies last season, she had made a new friend named Tree Hugger. Even worse, Fluttershy had already invited Tree Hugger to be her plus-one to this year's Grand Galloping Gala, assuming that Discord would have gotten his own ticket...which he hasn't. Nevertheless, Discord is so not angry that he storms out and begins hitting up each of the Mane 6, seeking to become their plus-ones. Unfortunately, Twilight is helping to oversee the event (meaning she has no ticket), the CMC are the plus-ones for their adult counterparts, and Pinkie is taking Maud. That's when Discord actually meets Tree Hugger, a hippie that seems to have sampled her brownies a little too much. But he's still not angry that senpai Fluttershy didn't invite him, and to prove this, he goes to his home in a dimension of limbo to dirty it up a little. That's when a hapless mailpony, having been stranded there for who-knows-how-long, finally delivers his ticket. And he knows just the plus-one for the occasion...

    At the Gala itself, Twilight is excited to have taken over some of the duties, as it gives Celestia more time to actually enjoy the event she's supposed to hold every year. (Luna, meanwhile, continues to do actual work and be unappreciated.) That's when Discord shows up with his “friend,” the Smooze – a green blob-creature that's attracted to shiny things and grows larger as it absorbs more. Twilight makes it perfectly clear she will not stand for his shenanigans, but Discord promises that they're just going to have a good time...and proceeds to try and intrude on Fluttershy's night to reassert himself as the dominant friend in the relationship. The Smooze, meanwhile, is still terrorizing the other guests because of its love of shiny, which is exacerbated by just about everypony wearing necklaces, bracelets, and other bits of jewelry.

    After one such scare, Twilight tells Discord to keep the Smooze under control. Instead, Discord locks him out in the garden so he can keep harassing Fluttershy, breaking the poor blob's...um...heart? Unfortunately, Rarity was also out in the garden, and is promptly slimed for her jewels. Discord then locks the much-larger Smooze in a closet while he tries to engage in a stand-up routine to prove he's the “funniest” friend Fluttershy has. Not only does his routine fail so much that Maud gets the only laughs by heckling him, but the closet was full of treasures and trophies, so the Smooze is now an all-consuming mass that bursts forth and covers the entire ballroom. The day is saved, however, because Tree Hugger is able to use her mastery of “calming vibes” to soothe the Smooze into reassembling itself into a single pile.

    That's when Discord decides enough is enough. He rips a tear in reality and hovers Tree Hugger over it, threatening to cast her into a dimension full of cheap sock puppets. Fluttershy, having been somehow oblivious to Discord's feelings the whole time, snaps at him for thinking that she would abandon him just because she had a new friend. Realizing he's been a bit of a dick, Discord closes up the portal, removes all the shiny bits from the Smooze (shrinking it back to its base size), and apologizes to Tree Hugger for attempting to banish her out of jealousy. He also apologizes for using the Smooze's heart just to make his friend jealous. A laugh is had by all...including Celestia, who masterminded the whole thing, thereby ruining all of Twilight's work.

    Happy endings for all!


    It's that time again. After being absent for most of the season so far, Discord, the one-great villain turned running joke because all of you couldn't stop talking about how wonderful he was and wanted a story-breaker bad guy back so badly, has returned. And as I've mentioned many times, I find reformed Discord largely annoying, agitating, insulting, and other negative adjectives that I don't care to list at the moment. The only times I've enjoyed him is when they drop the “I'm a friend now!” act and just let him be a villain again.

    Thankfully, that's what this episode (mostly) does.

    Pretty much the whole episode is Discord becoming increasingly obsessed over Fluttershy daring to have a friend besides him. He starts with passive-aggressive snark and dismissive comments about how he's not upset, followed by him trying to use the rest of the Mane 6 to infiltrate the Gala and intrude on Fluttershy's night. When that doesn't work, he's content to go back home (which is in an incredibly fitting place for something like Discord) and sulk until the mailpony gives him the ticket. And from there, he grows increasingly desperate to interrupt Fluttershy and Tree Hugger's evening, counter anything Fluttershy compliments her new friend on, and finally threaten to straight-up dispose of the interloper in his relationship.

    About the one part of this that doesn't work is that Discord gets off pretty much without any punishment. He's still able to enjoy the rest of the Gala, nopony locks him in a dungeon or banishes him, and he isn't even made to help clean the place up. Granted, it's kind of hard to punish a reality-warping chaos god without the Elements of Harmony, but he tried to banish a pony into another dimension. Just something would have sufficed.

    Tree Hugger is an okay addition. She's pretty much a new-age retro hippie in every way, and like with “Owl's Well that Ends Well,” the episode goes a bit overboard in making her the awesome solution to the problem. Still, she manages to get in some amusing moments, and her reaction to Senior Huevos (his name was confirmed on Twitter shortly after the episode aired) was appropriate considering how much of an abomination sock puppets are. (Something I did find cute is that Senior Huevos also appears to be able to see through the rip in reality, so when he sees a world populated by two-dimensional cartoon horses, he is also freaked and starts to run.)

    The Smooze, on the other hand, is just a lot of fun. It's basically a big pile of snot that oozes over everything, and naturally becomes a Gala-destroying disaster. They still take time to give it some bits of personality, however, as it just seems to want to have a good time at the Gala. Unfortunately, Discord is a cold creature and repeatedly shuns and degrades it, and each time, you can catch a glimpse of the blob's heart breaking through the translucent sludge. It's only its monstrous appearance, growth spurts when absorbing stuff, and inability to resist the pull of shiny things that make it a threat.

    The comedy, much like “Three's a Crowd,” is based heavily in blatant references and fourth wall breakage. There's an obvious Metal Gear reference (so obvious, in fact, that Hideo Kojima retweeted it), Discord and the Smooze wear outfits from Dumb and Dumber, the stand-up scene is basically referencing one comedian after another, and the Smooze breaking out of the closet is an incredibly forced homage to The Shining. This stuff is hit-or-miss for the most part, but it doesn't feel anywhere near as relentless or forced as “Three's a Crowd” was with its infernal song. Helping things is that there are actual funny gags not based on references peppered throughout, such as Discord popping up in Spike's bed, him sucking Rarity's dress off and leaving her to sneak away naked, and pretty much everything to do with Maud.

    Where the episode hits a major bump, though, is the ending. As mentioned, Discord gets off with causing massive destruction and referencing Gallagher (an offense worthy of the death penalty) without so much as a slap on the wrist. The most punishment he gets is a lecture from Fluttershy, and while that might hurt a bit (seeing as she's his only friend), it still does nothing for all the ponies whose night he's ruined. Sort of like when the Mane 6 got away with destroying the Gala and ruining everypony's night because their selfish desires were not met.

    ...And like in that instance, Celestia is behind everything. She invited Discord knowing full well that he'd probably do something crazy, although considering how she's incapacitated by the Smooze, she probably wasn't planning on any blob monsters showing up. It's the return of Trollestia, forever ruining things for her subjects so that she can have a laugh. She even mocks her faithful student's flying ability, which seems even worse once you factor in her undermining Twilight's attempts to make sure the Gala goes off without a hitch. Heck, I'd bet she made sure Fluttershy met Tree Hugger during the Breezy expedition just to provoke this kind of reaction.

    Then again, I'd take a thousand episodes of Trollestia over one more instance of Uselesstia.

    CONCLUSION:

    This episode is a lot of fun humor-wise, and actually used Discord fairly well, but it feels very middle-of-the-road as far as episodes go. Outside of the comedy, there isn't anything to really hold up as interesting or memorable, save perhaps for the Smooze. Discord doesn't change, his relationships don't change, and there isn't much of substance that isn't just there to provide set-up for another gag. It's better than “Three's a Crowd” and “Keep Calm and Flutter On,” but it's still not one I see myself going back to over and over.


    Next time, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie betray Shiva.

    11 comments · 192 views
  • 1w, 2d
    Diamond Tiara is not a good pony

    Diamond Tiara has never been a good pony.

    Diamond Tiara will probably never be a good pony.

    Presenting a pony whose sole purpose in life is to childishly mock three other fillies because they aren't as popular or "grown up" as her as a manipulative jerk is not breaking character. Likewise, presenting her father as someone manipulated into supporting her schemes by her lies does not make him evil, nor does it break the character of the pony that has proudly admitted to using the same business tactics as the lowest scum of the retail world, Wal-Mart.

    Not every character needs mountains of back story, tragic histories, or hidden agendas. Diamond Tiara is a little brat, and that's the extent of her character. Maybe Silver Spoon can get brief moments of less horribleness, but said moments wouldn't work unless Diamond Tiara was irredeemable at the same time. We need to stop treating flatness like it's an inherently bad thing in our characters; sometimes, people are just jerks, and that's all they will ever be.

    (Now,  the Mane 6 all becoming greedy, self-serving jerks...)

    20 comments · 248 views
  • 1w, 6d
    Tree Hugging

    8 comments · 201 views
  • 2w, 6d
    A little announcement

    I will very likely be no longer reviewing the MLP comics. I will discuss them if I find something interesting or complaint-worthy, but I will not be doing any more scheduled reviews.

    If you want a reason, ask the brain trust over at Derpibooru.

    Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

    25 comments · 334 views
  • 3w, 3d
    Season Five Episode Reviews: Appleoosa's Most Wanted

    Welcome to the second CMC episode of the season. This time, the fillies are going after one of the most dangerous outlaws in Equestria: Trouble Shoes! Can they get their cutie marks this time so that we don't have these episodes anymore? Will Applejack ever calm down? Will the fans ever stop gushing over Braeburn?

    The answer to all those questions is, “No.” This is “Appleoosa's Most Wanted.”


    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 5

    Episode: 6

    Written By: Dave Polsky

    First Aired: May 2, 2015


    SUMMARY:

    It's rodeo season in Appleoosa (the second “l” was dropped around the same time [insert joke about America's brutality and racist policies towards the Native Americans here]), and Applejack is competing in Braeburn's stead due to the latter injuring his leg. The Cutie Mark Crusaders have also tagged along; Apple Bloom and Scootaloo are eager to compete and get cutie marks, but Sweetie Belle is more apprehensive about how dangerous things are. It gets worse when Sheriff Silverstar rounds up his deputies and tells them to be on high alert, as Trouble Shoes, an outlaw with a history of destroying rodeos, is on the loose.

    No sooner have the CMC (who were supposed to be under Braeburn's watch) approached Applejack about competing than the stack of hay bales AJ's team was using for practice collapses. The CMC escape, but Scootaloo's cool sombrero is now in a better place. A giant hoofprint confirms that this was indeed Trouble Shoes' doing, and Silverstar pledges to stop this varmint once and for all. Unfortunately, seeing her little sister nearly die has caused Applejack to backslide again, and she immediately orders the fillies be sent back to Ponyville on the next train...after being watched by Braeburn again. Sure enough, he falls asleep, allowing the three to escape and head into the forest (which a desert has now, apparently) to search for Trouble Shoes.

    The three, having no idea what they're doing, quickly get caught in a rainstorm, followed by a mud slide into the deepest parts of the forest. They spot a wagon in the distance and step inside to get dry, but are soon approached by said wagon's owner, who turns out to be none other than [strike]Jason Vorhees[/strike] [strike]Shia LaBeouf[/strike] Trouble Shoes. The fearsome outlaw...is actually a massive (and massively clumsy) stallion with a bad-luck sign (an upside-down horseshoe) for his cutie mark, as well as a depressed view of the world. As the stallion reluctantly guides the CMC back to Appleoosa, he tells them the truth about his anti-rodeo rampages.

    As a colt, he wanted to be in the rodeo, but he wasn't any good at anything no matter how hard he practiced. During a tryout for a rodeo school, he was pulling his routine off when his cutie mark appeared, distracting him and causing an accident that made the judges laugh. Humiliated, he quit halfway through and walked away from the tryouts, but still loved to watch the rodeos. Unfortunately, his cutie mark means that he's plagued with bad luck, and he keeps causing accidents that disrupt the rodeos. This causes the CMC to think that he's just looking at his mark the wrong way: he's just a klutz that could make a good rodeo clown. Unfortunately, they were so engrossed in the story that they forgot about Trouble Shoes being a wanted stallion. Even worse, Braeburn informed Applejack of the trio being gone, and she jumped to the conclusion that the vile monster had kidnapped the three. Seeing the three with him is all the proof Silverstar needs to arrest him for “sabotaging” the rodeos and kidnapping.

    The next day, the CMC try to get Applejack to help them break Trouble Shoes out of jail, but she wants no part of any felonies, especially when they involve kidnappers. So the CMC pull the job off themselves, disguising Trouble Shoes as a rodeo clown so that he can infiltrate the rodeo itself. Applejack wins her competition (but still has no blue ribbon, so it doesn't count), only to be outstaged when the CMC finally convince Trouble Shoes that he's ruined his life by looking at things the wrong way, and he finally crashes the clown routine with his klutziness. Despite his massive size and mishaps, everypony is laughing and having a good time...until a water barrel washes off his makeup and reveals his identity. Silverstar moves in to arrest him, but the CMC manage to convince him that the rodeo incidents were indeed just accidents, and Trouble Shoes agrees to both be a rodeo clown and accept his punishment for the damages he did cause. The fillies also finally admit the truth about their nighttime escapade, exonerating Trouble Shoes of the kidnapping charges...but leaving them cleaning up the rodeo grounds as a very peeved Applejack looks on.


    REVIEW:

    I have to be honest: when this episode was announced, I expected to really dislike it. The premise sounded like something out of the pages of the Cattle Rustler arc from the comics, and as I stated in those reviews, that arc was absolutely terrible. The CMC trying to bust an outlaw to get their cutie marks stank of a forced plotline, and it was made worse when it was revealed that Dave Polsky was the writer; as established previously, the guy has had some major lows and only mild highs. The episode also went back to Appleoosa, the same setting of one of my absolute least favorite episodes of all time (and another one of Polsky's), “Over a Barrel.” And it was not long after another standard CMC episode, “Bloom and Gloom.”

    So imagine my surprise when the episode turned out...okay. Not great, but certainly watchable and enjoyable for what it was.

    The episode opens with many of the standard clichés Cutie Mark Crusaders episodes are known to have. The trio want their marks really badly, so they plan to sign up for as many things as possible until they get them. Apple Bloom might say that they only want to sign up for one event, but the minute Applejack opens those flood gates...well, Appleoosa will be Buffalo territory again before nightfall. We have Apple Bloom as the leader, Scootaloo as the cool kid, and Sweetie Belle as the concerned one, with Applejack and Braeburn serving as the adults. And of course, the plot really kicks off with the fillies running off to get cutie marks for rounding up desperadoes.

    But then the plot, at the very least, starts shifting the pieces around. Apple Bloom realizes that they really should turn back, only it's now too late and she's gotten all three lost. Applejack actually acts sensible to the CMC's habit of causing mischief during dangerous times (such as when they inadvertently accelerated the release of an evil god) and sends them home, and while her overall fears edge into “Somepony to Watch Over Me” territory when she accuses Trouble Shoes of kidnapping immediately, they're far more justified here and she doesn't go completely insane. And the overall moral is not imparted to the Crusaders (even if they get a lesson at the end anyway), but is instead something they teach to Trouble Shoes, building on the lesson Luna had taught them two episodes prior. It's still a CMC episode, but it's one that's really trying, and I can respect it for that much.

    Trouble Shoes is one of the more entertaining characters to come out as of late. For one thing, the dude's the biggest pony in the show so far, to the point that he could probably be called a horse if it weren't for the cutie mark. He's also the most depressing character of all, both in terms of his backstory and his general characterization. It's kind of like if Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh had his brain implanted into a Clydesdale, hit the gym, and moved as far as he could from the Hundred-Acre Wood to get away from Tigger's constant harassment. And he has reason to be depressed, as he not only has terrible luck and is really clumsy, but he's gone through life thinking his cutie mark had destined him to fail.

    There have been a couple views expressed on how to frame Trouble Shoes' existential crisis, but in my opinion, it helps reinforce what Luna said back in “Bloom and Gloom:” a cutie mark is simply a representation of who a pony is. Trouble Shoes didn't suck at rodeos because of his mark; as shown by the training montage, he was bad before he started. When he's telling the story of when he got the mark at that tryout, he states that he realized he was doing what he had always been intended to do – namely, putting on a show. Throughout his whole story, he never seems interested in winning trophies or ribbons; he just loves the whole spectacle, and wants to be a part of it.

    So yes, I'm not upset about the cutie mark thing. I am, however, upset that there is a giant forest in what is supposed to be a wasteland desert! Anyone remember how the reason they couldn't move the trees in “Over a Barrel” was because all of the other ground was infertile? Remember how it's only been a year in-show? Are ponies just that freaking amazing at terraforming? Did the Buffalo have any say? Where the heck are they, and why are they in Trouble Shoes' flashback? AND WHY DID SWEETIE BELLE TAKE THE KEYS WHEN THEY JUST GET SILVERSTAR OUT OF THE JAIL WITHOUT ANY DIFFICULTY?!

    One other sore spot is Braeburn, who basically exists for the sake of explaining why Applejack's there, failing at everything, and getting clobbered during the clown act. I don't know why it bugs me, especially since his other appearance was mostly to deliver bad horse puns, but it still irks me somewhat. On the plus side, Silverstar is far more reasonable that he was in the first season. He doesn't have anything personal against Trouble Shoes, defends him when Applejack accuses him of kidnapping, and only goes along with her paranoia because Apple Bloom is either talked over or afraid to admit the truth. Then again, Trouble Shoes ultimately isn't a danger outside of his klutziness and size.

    And yes, I love the torch-and-pitchfork duo. Ponies are always so eager to form an angry mob. They're like Twitter, in a way.

    CONCLUSION:

    This episode was overall okay. It's a basic story told in an interesting way, and outside of some plot issues and reminding us that “Over a Barrel” is still canon, it's not a bad watch. With the season continuing to develop a theme around cutie marks, it will be interesting to see what else they have planned for the CMC.

    ...And maybe a Celestia episode? Hmm?


    Pony takes a break next week, but after that, it will be time to smooze with Discord's plus-one.

    ...Also, the Smooze is the worst villain in the entire MLP franchise.

    11 comments · 234 views
  • 3w, 6d
    Dear Discovery Family and/or Hasbro

    8 comments · 261 views
  • 4w, 2d
    Why is everyone so mean to Spike?

    Because the writers are awful people. Faust made Spike's first scene one where he's hit with a door, and Twilight cares nothing for his survival. McCarthy made him turn into a dog. Larson made him stay behind because they were already struggling with handling six characters and numerous new and background ones. All of them are nothing but a bunch of boy-haters that express their frustration by strangling, beating, and kicking Spike.

    And it's terrible how he still hasn't hooked up with Rarity. That lady has been leading him on for five seasons; it's time she made it official. It would be celebrated, like when Woody Allen married Soon-Yi Previn. And let's not forget that Spike's age and maturity are malleable by greed, just like how Billy Batson can turn from a ten-year-old boy into a twenty-something-year-old Captain Marvel. And in both cases, any relationship they have is perfectly acceptable because they're doing so while physically grown up, even if their minds haven't grown at the same time.

    And let's not forget those brave fans that talk to the staff on Twitter, accusing them of misandry and hating Spike because he was not included in an episode he didn't fit in, or was treated like comic relief, or has any flaws whatsoever. Spike is a perfect little dragon, and giving him problems like depression, greed, and jealousy only show the hatred everybody working on this franchise has for the little guy. They think he's so dumb that he super-evolved sea monkeys into a higher form of life than even ponies. They think he's so worthless that he has to play the role of the dopey sidekick while saving his friends. Every one of them is a monster, and Spike deserves to be treated like royalty.

    31 comments · 402 views
  • 4w, 3d
    Season Five Episode Reviews: Tanks for the Memories

    And all of the ponies in Ponyville loved Winter a lot,

    But the Rainbow Dash, who lived just above Ponyville, did not.

    For soon her turtle friend would fall asleep for the season,

    And the Dash raged at this natural treason.

    “We're far too attached to put up with that now.

    I must stop this Winter from coming...but how?”

    This is “Tanks for the Memories.” Be glad I didn't start quoting Fall Out Boy.


    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 5

    Episode: 5

    Written By: Cindy Morrow

    First Aired: April 25, 2015


    SUMMARY:

    It's time for the changing of the seasons, and as the Running of the Leaves proceeds beneath her, Rainbow Dash watches with pride as Cloudsdale pulls into position to deliver the snow clouds. She's bustling with excitement as she tells Tank about all the fun things they'll do...but all the turtle wants to do is sleep. Alarmed, Dash takes her to Doctor Fluttershy (who is totally licensed, she swears), who tells her that the turtles perfectly fine; he's just getting ready to hibernate. Rainbow Dash, who had no idea turtles had to hibernate, rebukes Fluttershy's expert opinion on the grounds that Spike is a reptile too, but when the dragon says that they're different species and Fluttershy's probably right, she dismissed him as well.

    Dash continues to try and force Tank along, but he just wants to burrow and sleep through the cold Winter months. Pinkie baby-talks the turtle about his upcoming hibernation, only for Rainbow Dash to explode at her and, in turn, the rest of her friends for daring to insinuate that Tank will not be there every waking moment for her. Still, she can't ignore the obvious...but she can stop Winter from happening to keep Tank from ever hibernating.

    Rainbow Dash quickly begins to stash away snow clouds, disrupt migration patterns, and pretend like it's the middle of Summer, but her actions are not enough to prevent the steadfast and industrial ponies from bringing on Winter. Rainbow steps up her game: she will destroy the weather factory and shut down production. She and Tank successfully infiltrate the weather lab, and she manages to disrupt the machinery, but Tank falls asleep and absentmindedly pulls a lamp into a fan. This causes a chain reaction that results in the entire factory exploding, sending a snowball that smashes into Ponyville with the force of a nuclear explosion and causes Winter to come all at once.

    Defeated, Rainbow Dash takes Tank and retreats to her room to sulk. The rest of the Mane 6 follow her and try to cheer her up, but Fluttershy, having had enough of her crap, tells her to just shut up and accept that Tank cannot be with her for the Winter. This causes Rainbow Dash to break into hacking tears and sobs, followed by the rest of the ponies save for Twilight (who just wants to be the voice of reason, and throws the other non-crying pony under the wagon) and Applejack (who cries on the inside.) Still, Fluttershy's talk has had positive results: Rainbow Dash has finally accepted that Tank needs to go away for a few months. Finally out of her funk, she and the others see Tank safely into a burrow, and she goes on to live the next few months with her friends...but not before reading her turtle friend a bedtime story.


    REVIEW:

    “Tanks for the Memories” is a bit of an odd outing because it feels like they were going for two opposing visions. On the one hand, this is an episode where Rainbow Dash plays the role of the villainous jerkass, progressively making things worse until reality finally confronts her and she learns her lesson, with plenty of goofy antics and actions along the way. On the other hand, it wants to use hibernation as an allegory for a pet's death, and whenever that's the point of discussion, things feel much heavier and more somber in tone.

    One aspect that has been touched on to death has been the episode's utilization of the Kübler-Ross five stages of grief, a common model often utilized as a tidy ordering of the various emotions people go through when confronted with something terrible, up to and including death. Rainbow initially goes into Denial when Fluttershy tells her about Tank's hibernation, dismissing both her and Spike when they don't conform to her bias. She then slips into Anger when Tank continues to exhibit signs of wanting to hibernate, yelling at her friends for daring to even use that word in her presence. For most of the episode, she's operating under the assumption that stopping Winter from coming will make everything better, aka Bargaining. When that ultimately fails, she falls into a Depression because she realizes there's nothing she can do. It's not until she's finally able to let out her sorrow that she finally has Acceptance for what Tank needs to do.

    This begs the question of why Dash is so broken up over Tank hibernating, but I believe this fits her character quite well. Rainbow Dash is proud, arrogant, aggressive, and competitive, but she also has deep-seated issues with rejection and abandonment. In “Sonic Rainboom,” her inability to perform the titular maneuver and fear of failing in front of an audience (and Rarity being a horrible pony) caused her to eventually curl into a fetal position, and in “The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well,” the entire town switching to worshiping the new hero caused her to sink into another depression and hang out on a black cloud. She's also deeply attached to Tank, despite her attempts to act cool and hide it, such as when she very quickly nuzzles him in “Just for Sidekicks” before acting like it never happened. Her beloved pet abandoning her for months because nature says so is basically a rejection in her eyes, and she can't stand being separated from someone she loves enough to give personalized slippers to.

    Now channeling her frustration and grief into industrial sabotage? That's a bit extreme.

    The factory scene is one of the more problematic, but not just because of how easy it is for a rainbow-haired pegasus and a flying, sleeping turtle to sneak inside. The bigger issue is that Rainbow Dash has gone from causing inconvenience to full-scale destruction, but even that is not inherently bad, and there are some amusing antics. No, the problem is that there are no repercussions for this. I didn't expect Dash to have to serve jail time, but there's not even anything about having to help fix the factory, or the impact her selfish actions would have on the rest of Equestria. Heck, they seem happy that she blew it up because it ends up getting the entire job done in one go. I get that they were going for the goofy comedy there, but there's only so far you can stretch stuff like that before it begins to undermine your story.

    The episode turns the spotlight back onto a long-neglected part of Equestria's lore: the ponies control all aspects of the weather. While we've seen clouds being bucked and moved, and Rarity apparently was hurling fiery balls of death back in “Magical Mystery Cure” (note: she wasn't, but that bit of fan-produced insanity is too much to forget), this episode brought up the sheer industrialization of the process, something that hasn't really been touched on in a while. The Weather Factory was established back in “Sonic Rainboom,” and we know they produce clouds because of “Hurricane Fluttershy,” so it makes sense that what is essentially a mobile city would be a weather delivery station for converting the land into its snowy form. We even have a return of the Running of the Leaves. I like touches such as this because they help to establish Equestria's uniqueness as a magical land. It's a world where the ponies literally manage everything, from the sun and moon to the individual clouds and rain.

    The episode also has a “Who's on First?” routine that's genuinely funny. Owlowiscious would hang his head in shame if he hadn't been torn to shreds and eaten by a Timber Wolf off-screen. Nature is so fascinating.

    The biggest problem with the episode is Dash's characterization. While the intent was for her to go through these stages and feel bad at the end, and there isn't anything that technically breaks her character, this is still an episode where she acts like an entitled, selfish child that seeks to ruin everyone's fun because she can't get what she wants. Again, Rainbow Dash is very immature, but the way the episode shoves it into the forefront is off-putting, especially after so many seasons. The only justification they can muster is that she didn't know Tank had to hibernate because it's their first Winter together, once again throwing the show's timeline into flux and making things all the more confusing.

    A character that was handled well? Fluttershy. She starts as her typical animal-loving self, but by the end of the episode, she's the one that lays down the tough love and gets Rainbow Dash to cry it all out. This ties in well with the Key lesson from last season (“sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind”), and given the foalhood relationship the two have had, she is in the best position to tell Dash to suck it up and get over it. The fact that Rainbow's actions are causing an animal pain (Tank just wants to sleep but his owner won't let him) probably contribute to that “I have no more time for this” attitude. And of course, she joins in the crying, too, as does everyone...save for the heartless Twilight. (And Applejack, but that's because she is Cimmerian.)

    The ending is typical, but still charming in its own way. Rainbow Dash says farewell to Tank, gets to read him a bedtime story, and all is well until they are reunited in the Spring. Good old Rabbit and Kessie – I mean, Rainbow Dash and Tank.

    CONCLUSION:

    This episode is a mixed bag. When it's focused on Rainbow Dash being a villain, it's annoying, and the factory nonsense really needed some kind of fallout. When it's focused on the emotions, I freaking loved it. I can't call it a bad episode, so I'll just settle on good-but-still-with-some-not-so-good-stuff.


    Next time, another CMC episode. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why.

    30 comments · 274 views
  • 4w, 4d
    Happy Birthday to Me

    Hurray for birthdays. Visited with parents. Was reminded that I am a failure as a person and can only survive because my folks are rich enough to loan me money. Went to the California State Railroad Museum. Saw many interesting things. Let everyone down because my weight kept forcing me to stop and catch my breath. My cat bit and sliced into my dad's hands when we tried to give my cat a flea bath.


    I need another video. Please, give me one.

    16 comments · 193 views
  • 4w, 6d
    The Justice System in Equestria

    Willfully sabotage the changing of the seasons and endangering countless lives by disrupting nature, followed by the complete destruction of Equestria's chief weather facility, no doubt resulting in no rain or other necessary weather implements being created for the time it takes to rebuild the factory and leading to mass starvation and suffering, all because you can't stand being separated from your tortoise for a few months?

    Yeah, they let you go with a slap on the pastern for that.

    Also, Applejack will not cry, so Pinkie cries for her.

    27 comments · 276 views
  • 5w, 1d
    Season Five Episode Reviews: Bloom and Gloom

    Hello, and welcome to...another CMC episode.

    ...I'm going to start crying. I don't know if I will ever stop.


    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 5

    Episode: 4

    Written By: Josh Haber

    First Aired: 4/18/2015


    SUMMARY:

    The Cutie Mark Crusaders have received glad tidings from their Manehatten counterpart, Babs Seed: she finally got her cutie mark! The filly's flank now sports a pair of scissors (with an apple motif in the handles), meaning she's going to be a hairstylist. The initial excitement wears off, though, when the three realize that Babs can't possibly be a Cutie Mark Crusader if she has her cutie mark, that they may end up getting saddled with a cutie mark they hate, and not only that, but everypony in Apple Bloom's family has apple-related marks, meaning her own cutie mark has to be apple-related.

    This sends Apple Bloom into an existential dilemma: what if getting her cutie mark really stinks? Applejack tries to counsel her with a lullaby, and when Apple Bloom wakes up, she feels much better. When she comes downstairs for breakfast, however, she's astonished when Applejack announces that she has her cutie mark! And it's...a pesticide can spraying an apple. Turns out her destiny is to catch twittermites, foul things that vaporize entire buildings and replace them with lame and self-important hashtags. With her cutie mark, she's a pro at catching them, but it's not something she wants to do for the rest of her life. And when Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon show up, they start mocking her for having a lame cutie mark.

    This upsets Apple Bloom so much that she runs into the forest, where a mysterious shadow offers to remove her cutie mark. She agrees, and is no longer capable of catching twittermites. Unfortunately, her earlier tussle with the bullies causes the tube containing the bugs to break, and they proceed to destroy all of Ponyville before turning their eyes on Sweet Apple Acres. Apple Bloom tries to use the capture device, but without her talent, she can't catch them, and they raze the barn with an Ion Cannon...

    And then Apple Bloom wakes up. Turns out that was all a dream, and when she comes downstairs, she has her real cutie mark: a potion flask with an apple, obviously connected to the potion making she practiced with Twilight. This is a talent she genuinely loves, and she runs off to show it to Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. Misfortune strikes again, however, as the two promptly kick Apple Bloom out of the clubhouse (that is on her family's property, mind) because they can't be friends with somepony that has a cutie mark. Suddenly, Apple Bloom finds herself back in the forest, and again she is approached by the shadowy creature, who offers the same bargain as before. Soon enough, Apple Bloom is a blank flank again...but her friends have now gotten their cutie marks, and have become such snobs about it that they refuse to have anything to do with her anymore. Apple Bloom screams in the abandoned clubhouse...

    And then Apple Bloom wakes up. Now very perturbed about what's going on, she goes downstairs, where Applejack again announces her cutie mark. This time, however, the tone is quite different, as Apple Bloom is now spouting a dolphin with no apple in sight. The rest of the family promptly disowns her, kicking her out of the house, cutting her out of family photos, and forcing her to remove the “Apple” from her name. Apple Bloom screams as the outside turns out to be a vortex of doom, and she is sucked into the darkness...

    And then Apple Bloom wakes up. After losing her shield to the Like Like she woke up in, she looks in the mirror, and is relieved to see no mark adorning her rear...until she turns around, and suddenly the cutie mark changes every time she looks. The ordeal has turned Apple Bloom against the idea of cutie marks entirely, and she angrily charges through her door, which leads to the forest and the shadowy creature. She accuses the being of casting a spell on her, but it states that it did nothing of the sort; it just offered to help. Apple Bloom tries to run, but is finally stopped by the arrival of Princess Luna, who reveals that this has all been a dream: the shadow creature is literally Apple Bloom's shadow tormenting her with her fear of what will happen when she gets her cutie mark.

    Luna calms Apple Bloom's terror by telling her that a cutie mark is just a representation of who a pony is, and that if she accepts herself, then others will too. Apple Bloom feels embarrassed by the mess, so Luna shows her that Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo are having the same fears about a singing career-turned-janitorial service and becoming a stuntspony-turned-baker respectively. The four then meet in a dream representation of the clubhouse, where they still kick Babs out of the group, but this time offer to send her a care package to show the shallowness of their friendship.

    You can tell I didn't care for this episode, can't you?


    REVIEW:

    You ever have one of those moments where you see something, and you know that it's technically pretty good, but you still can't stand it? Because that's my reaction to this episode.

    The episode is one giant dream sequence, unlike the previous two “Luna visits the Crusaders” entries, and doubles as a Groundhog Day-style loop. To the show's credit, it does a good job increasing the inherent wrongness of each loop, from the pancakes changing to actual cakes to a rooster laying an egg (and later turning into Pinkie Pie in her chicken costume). The story itself is played out very straight, but background details such as this help to give it a bit more flavor.

    The story follows a checklist set out from the beginning. Apple Bloom first confronts a cutie mark that she doesn't want, which in her nightmare forces her into a career she has no interest in. Second is a cutie mark when none of her friends have them (or no mark when both of her friends have theirs), which causes her to be ostracized for being different. And lastly, there's the fear of not living up to the family motif, meaning she'll have to change her name and get kicked out of the house. All three fears are representative of natural insecurities about failing the family, having to assume responsibilities you don't want, and the end of childhood. It's likely none of this was intentional, but it's still interesting to notice.

    The episode also continues the cutie mark theme from the premiere. Apple Bloom's fear of her best friends leaving her over cutie marks reflects Starlight Glimmer's belief that special talents will ruin friendships, and her frustration with the marks by the end of the dream feels like it was plucked out of a “Start of Darkness” routine for the villain. Of course, Starlight turns out to not be involved, but this does appear to be the theme they're sticking with. More interestingly, Luna provides a pretty clear refutation to the idea that cutie marks represent “destiny,” as in being assigned and controlled by a higher power, and instead promotes the original idea that they are simply representations of a pony's character and dreams. After so many episodes (especially “Magical Mystery Cure”) that pushed the idea of destiny and cutie marks, it's nice to see a return to that original, perfectly fine concept.

    The repeating dream plot does wear thin over the course of the episode's run time, mostly because the script adheres very strictly to the previously-mentioned checklist. And while having Luna show up is fine, the resolution still feels a bit weak. In particular, I'm bummed that Sweetie's singing audition is just a nightmare and won't be an actual event, as it would have, you know, probably led to her getting a cutie mark. And as always, the fillies make no progress towards getting their butt tattoos. I know I've complained about this a lot, but it has been five seasons. This plot has completely overstayed its welcome. So I shall give the creative team a choice: they can give the CMC their cutie marks, or they can have them get ran over by a train. Either option will save us from any more of these freaking episodes. Pick one before you realize I have no means of backing up any sort of threat or demand.

    All that said, the episode is a fairly enjoyable little romp...except it does the ONE THING I NEVER WANTED THE CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS TO DO. When Babs gets her cutie mark, the CMC immediately eject her from the Manehatten branch of the Cutie Mark Crusaders. It takes three nightmares and a princess entering their dreams to get them to even send her a care package, and as someone who's been fired via Fedex, that empty gesture pissed me right off. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo kicking Apple Bloom out was obviously just part of the nightmare, so it won't happen that coldly in-person, but it's still very shallow for fillies who banded together because they were different from everypony else to start kicking members (one who, I remind you, was bullied so hard she had to go from Manehatten to Ponyville and change schools when she got back to get away from it all) the minute they actually hit magic pony puberty.

    I'm sorry, but that one thing ruins this entire episode for me. And I know it's completely personal, but...seriously, why?

    CONCLUSION:

    If you can get past the consternation of the CMC kicking Babs out, this is an enjoyable, albeit typical, CMC episode. I do, however, stand firmly by my belief that they need to start giving them the freaking marks, because this plot thread cannot sustain itself any longer.


    Next time, Rainbow Dash tries to stop Winter from happening. Hey, ponies control the seasons. Another thing everyone just remembered.

    20 comments · 299 views
  • 5w, 2d
    Comic Review: Fiendship is Magic #4 (Nightmare Moon)

    It's week four of Fiendship is Magic, and we're returning to where it all began. Today we look at the show's first baddie, Nightmare Moon, and what she did when she was banished to the moon. Sadly, a mechanical dolphin was not involved.


    The issue opens with...Nightmare Moon plopping onto the moon. She doesn't seem angry or nonplussed about being banished, either; she just decides to start looking for something to rule. And sure enough, the moon is already inhabited by the Nyx (no, not that one), fuzzy creatures that are responsible for managing the dreams of everypony in Equestria. This peaks the interest of somepony named Nightmare Moon, who convinces one of the Nyx, Doran, to teach her how to influence pony dreams...and Celestia's.

    The issue is tied heavily into the Nightmare Rarity arc from Issues #5-8. The Nyx are eventually transformed into the nightmare creatures, Nightmare Moon is far more at home in her lunar prison, and it is implied that the Mare in the Moon is a separate being from Luna. If you haven't read that arc, then at least some of this might fly past you. And if you have read that arc, you may still have the same problem because the issue is very rushed. The nightmare creature conversion occurs off-screen and isn't even alluded to until the reveal. Doran is implied to be helping keep Nightmare Moon out of Celestia's mind, but it never says or shows how. The ending is basically just, “Well, that happened. Now to go plot my next evil scheme.” There are some good ideas in this issue, but the pace never allows them to develop.

    Nightmare Moon not knowing how to enter pony's dreams is both odd and interesting. On the one hand, we see that she is very good at it by the Nightmare Rarity arc, nearly breaking most of the Mane 6 and succeeding when it comes to Rarity, so having her unable to do so when merged with Luna doesn't sit quite right. On the other hand, Luna's ability to enter dreams came out of nowhere in Season Three, so perhaps this could serve as an explanation for how she learned to do so, and for why she's so insistent on making sure everypony gets a good night's rest.

    As for her scheme this issue, it's something that definitely fits the nightmare motif. When initial attempts to infiltrate Celestia's noggin (and, I dunno, make her dream of a world where cake was never invented) fail, Nightmare Moon has Doran help her go into other ponies' minds and terrorize them with visions of a monstrous and tyrannical Celestia, driving them to support Nightmare Moon and wish for her return. In other words, Nightmare Moon is responsible for such things as the New Luna Republic and Tyrantlestia. (But not Xenolestia; that stuff's too evil even for her.) Unfortunately, this is wrapped up far too quickly, with Celestia basically waving her horn and magically making everything better.

    The highlight of the issue is when Nightmare Moon, with the combined power of all of the nighmare creatures, manages to finally get into Celestia's mind...literally. (At the very least, this wasn't part of the original plan.) Her initial attempts to create nightmares fail because Celestia catches on to her presence immediately, and even after discovering her deepest fear (the whole “banished sister” deal), Celestia still defeats her with the power of love. Unfortunately, this part is let down again by the fast pacing and, to be frank, sophomoric writing. The issue in general feels like it was juggling between aiming strictly at a younger audience and trying to reach anyone, and never manages to settle on any particular target.

    There are some amusing bits, such as Doran braiding Nightmare Moon's tail, the moon tyrant using the Royal Canterlot Voice (and then apologizing when she realizes doing so kind of makes her plans more difficult), and one of the possible Celestia nightmares being her going bald. The art is okay, although not spectacular, and there are some really good ideas in this issue. Unfortunately, the fast pacing undermines the story and makes things feel incomplete, and tying the villain origin so tightly into another of the comic's arcs (even one that was generally good) doesn't feel quite right. This is by no means a bad issue (and certainly isn't anywhere near as terrible as the Sirens issue), but it's definitely flawed and a bit of a letdown.


    Next time, we close out Fiendship is Magic with Chrysalis.

    8 comments · 214 views
  • 5w, 6d
    Cutie Mark Crusaders Logic

    We are bullied and picked on because we have no cutie marks. We shall form a merry band dedicated to discovering our cutie marks based on the advice of the least wise member of the Mane 6, and become best friends! Nothing shall ever separate us...

    Oh, you got your cutie mark? Well, I guess we're not friends anymore, because anypony with a cutie mark is automatically a bully. Give us back your cape. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    And if you though that was just Apple Bloom's nightmare talking, ever see her hang out with Twist anymore? Didn't think so.

    11 comments · 238 views
  • 6w, 13h
    Season Five Episode Reviews: Castle Sweet Castle

    A year ago, Twilight Sparkle's home, the Golden Oaks Library, to the most vile monsters known to humanity: Hasbro executives. But she has a brand new castle, so that makes everything better, right?

    ...Apparently not, because this week's episode, “Castle Sweet Castle,” is all about that change.


    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 5

    Episode: 3

    Written By: Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco

    First Aired: April 11, 2015


    SUMMARY:

    Twilight has been busily helping her friends with everything, most recently cleaning animals with Fluttershy. The cleansing ritual goes without a hitch, but when Fluttershy comments that Twilight must want to head back to the castle for a bath, she kicks Angel into some mud so that she'll have more to clean. After that's done, she goes to Pinkie Pie to help her prepare pancakes for a group breakfast, having her make more and more until they run out of time. By the time everypony is enjoying their cakes and talking about how bizarre Twilight has been acting, her body can take no more and she becomes one with the breakfast.

    Thankfully, she manages to break free from the mind meld her pancakes were trying to foist on her and finally states the truth: she isn't comfortable in the castle. As nice as it is to have a gaudy, crystal fortress in the middle of Ponyville, it just doesn't feel like a home to her. The others, being the friendly sort they are, offer to help spruce the place up to be more homely and appealing for the purple bookworm, while she and Spike are off enjoying a day at the spa.

    Unfortunately, the Mane 6 quickly lose track and bring stuff that makes them feel comfortable. Worse, they throw it all into the same room, creating a cornucopia of clashing styles and tacky decorations. When Spike comes back to check, he throws out a G-rated swear at the sight, and heads back to Twilight to distract her even longer by having Bulk Biceps destroy his body and bothering Twilight for a bed. In the middle of all this, they stop by the burnt-out stump that is all that remains of the Golden Oaks Library, and the two share in their grief over its loss.

    Back at the castle, the Mane 6 have finally cleared out all the unnecessary items...which leaves them with absolutely nothing to show for the day. Realizing their mistake, they try to think about what Twilight would like, and start talking about all the books she had and loved. Following this perfectly logical train of thought, they dig up the Golden Oaks Library, fashion the roots into a chandelier, stick it on the roof of the meeting room, and hang crystals embedded with pictures of Twilight's misadventures in Ponyville. Twilight is overjoyed when she sees it, and finally accepts the castle as her home. Plus, the Mane 6 still did individualized decorating in the other rooms, which Twilight is fine with.

    Also, Pinkie turns the whole place into a confetti minefield. Because she's Pinkie.


    REVIEW:

    In case anyone has forgotten, last season ended on a big note. Twilight's library (officially canonized as the Golden Oaks Library in this episode) was one of the centerpieces of the entire series. Many of the show's best moments took place within its walls, it had a cool design, and it was the perfect habitat for a pony with Twilight's personality, both before and after getting wings. And then a one-shot baddie blows it up so that Twilight can be moved right into a new home, a crystal tree-shaped castle that clashes horribly with the rest of Ponyville's design and was obviously introduced just to sell playsets and toys. This was a major shake-up in the show's setting, and I applaud the writers for setting out to actually address the change rather than pretend that the library was never there.

    That being said, the episode is a very standard affair. The Mane 6 pull the classic mistake of thinking about what they want over Twilight's needs, which feels very awkward this many seasons. They realize their mistake, fight a little, and finally do something that will make Twilight feel better. It's actually something that's made writing this review difficult; the episode just so “okay” overall that it's a challenge to point out anything of note outside of Twilight being an adorable dork and the ending.

    The episode does have some good gags. “I'm pancake!” quickly became a hit, as did Bulk Biceps working in the spa (while moonlighting as the Kool-Aid Stallion) and giving Spike a bone-crushing massage. I just love Spike in general this episode; while he's mostly there to be the butt monkey, he's also supportive and shares in Twilight's grief over the loss of his home, and may or may not actually get a bed. (We don't see one when they get back to the castle, but it might just be set to be delivered later.)

    The ultimate solution is an interesting one. The root chandelier is a cool design, and the gems with pictures of past episodes (magical or normal, it's never made clear) fit well with the castle's motif while serving as a reminder of the good times they've had. You know, like that time Twilight brainwashed the entire town into fighting over a doll. Or the time Twilight blew her library into the stratosphere. Or the time Twilight made the parasprites eat everything. Or the time... You know what, Twilight's nearly destroyed Ponyville several times over. Let's leave it at that.

    And as for the library coming back...it's not happening. Twilight has a new castle, and she will adjust. Hasbro did not go through the trouble of blowing up the tree just to bring it back three episodes later.


    CONCLUSION:

    I really have nothing else to say. This is a very standard episode outside of its premise, and it's certainly not a bad one; it's just not a particularly outstanding or even great one, either. It's a very typical slice-of-life episode, serving as a nice cooldown from the events of the premier if nothing else. Still, kudos to the team for approaching the library issue as they did.


    Next time, we have a *sigh* CMC episode...

    8 comments · 212 views
  • 6w, 2d
    Comic Review: Fiendship is Magic #3 (Sirens)


    You don't get a full review, comic. At least the Sombra and Tirek comics actually made sense, kept the characters close to their show counterparts, and had some interesting things to offer. You have the Sirens deciding to become pop stars in Greco-Roman Canterlot, every genre of music ever being invented by them and Star Swirl the Bearded fighting each other, barely any mention of the fact that the Sirens sing to cause chaos and feed off of the disharmony in place of the Sirens wanting to be big pop stars, and end with them in the modern-day human world despite the fact that it's still ancient Equestria.

    You want to do a sillier story about a trio of villains? Fine. The Sirens have plenty of room for some goofy comedy, what with Sonata's cluelessness, Aria's sarcastic bitterness, and Adagio struggling to contain her loathing for the other two. But that's not here. We get three seahorse creatures that are fine with each other, work well as a team, and seem to take over Equestria with no ill effect. There's nothing about the ponies fighting or rioting. We don't see friendships and relationships crumble because of their influence. We don't see anything from Rainbow Rocks that made the Sirens interesting villains. The issue's not funny, the story's lame, the art is only serviceable, and the entire issue feels like it had no direction. This was just...bad.

    It's not the worst comic (Friends Forever #1 remains a travesty for which all of mankind must one day answer), but it's definitely really bad.

    Next time, something better than this.

    21 comments · 231 views
  • 6w, 6d
    Just out of curiosity...

    Why didn't the ponies just put some, you know, books in the castle? Seems like it's be a lot easier than ripping out the roots of Twilight's former home and stringing unnatural gems that show screenshots of previous episodes.

    Also, Bulk Biceps is best masseuse.

    15 comments · 232 views
  • 7w, 22h
    Season Five Episode Reviews: The Cutie Map (Parts 1 and 2)

    It's been eleven months. Eleven months since new pony (not pony-people) had last graced our television screens. But the drought is over, and we at long last have a new episode to watch and enjoy! So let's sit back and take in “Cutie Markless.”

    …I mean, “The Cutie Map.” Because clever titles are not for shows aimed at seven-year-olds.

    Urge to kill, rising...


    TECHNICAL SPECS:

    Season: 5

    Episode: 1 + 2

    Written By: Meghan McCarthy (story), Scott Sonneborn and M. A. Larson (writing)

    First Aired: 4/04/2015


    SUMMARY:

    Having vanquished the evil Tirek, gotten a castle, and made that trip to the world populated by mutant apes, the Mane 6 still have no idea what the deal with this castle is. That is, until they all sit on their thrones at the same time, which causes a map of Equestria to rise up before them and hover holographic projections of their Cutie Marks above a point at the far end of Equestria. With nothing else to do and a desire to learn more, they decide to go to that spot and find out what's there.

    The train takes them all the way to the very end of the track, where there sits a tiny village. All of the buildings are shaped and colored exactly the same, all of the ponies are smiling the exact same way, and most baffling of all, they all have the same Cutie Marks: an equals sign. This sets off everypony's suspicions immediately, save for Fluttershy, who just finds them all very nice. This is made worse when they encounter the village's leader, Starlight Glimmer, who is overjoyed that a princess has decided to come join their little community. One musical moment later, she leaves them to go check out the town with her number two, Double Diamond, while she plots evil things.

    It turns out that the Cutie Marks are not a coincidence. The ruling mantra of the town is that friendship is only found in conformity and sameness; striving to excel or be the best you can be means that you're hurting all of those that aren't as good at what you do, and that is what ruins friendship. So in other to be the best friends possible, nopony is allowed to excel at anything. The town's fashion designer creates cloaks made of burlap (something that, if the show had a slightly higher content rating, would end with Rarity breaking his legs) and the only baker, Sugar Belle, makes nothing but terrible muffins. The Mane 6 immediately start arguing in front of Sugar Belle over why they're in a town that seems so peaceful and perfect already, but to the mare's shock, it doesn't end their friendship; the idea that friends can disagree but still be friends is anathema to the philosophy her life has been based around. Still, Double Diamond is obviously spying on the Mane 6, so Sugar Belle invites them into her basement, where Party Favor and Night Glider join her in surrounding them...and basking in the glory of their Cutie Marks.

    Turns out the three miss theirs a little, although they wouldn't dare think about trying to get them back; after all, having different talents will ruin their friendship. They do, however, tell the Mane 6 about the vault in the mountains where their Cutie Marks are kept after being removed. (Yes, you can remove magical butt tattoos. Lasers are involved.) The Mane 6 convince Starlight to show them this vault, as well as the Staff of Sameness, an artifact from an ancient pony sorcerer that is how she removes the Cutie Marks. Unfortunately, not only does Pinkie immediately spill the reason they know the vault when Starlight darkly asks, but it's a trap. The rest of the village begins to circle in, and when Twilight breaks from the group and prepares to blast their way out, Starlight easily zaps her with the staff and takes away her Cutie Mark before doing the same to the others.

    The Mane 6 are imprisoned in one of the town houses, with nothing to do but read books about equals signs and listen to state propaganda. Even worse, removing their Cutie Marks also removes the talents and abilities that made them special: Rainbow Dash lost her speed and strength, Applejack her strength and folksiness, Pinkie Pie her gleeful personality, Rarity her fashion sense, Fluttershy her ability to understand animals, and Twilight her magic. Even in this situation, however, Twilight's mind keeps wandering back to the Staff of Sameness; most notably, that Starlight had said it was the night artifact said ancient pony had left, but she remembers reading that there were only eight.

    A plan is hatched: when Starlight takes the ponies out the next day to see if they have been sufficiently broken, they all resist the call of the cult...except for Fluttershy, who had spent the entire trip talking about how awesome this place was. Starlight welcomes her conversion with open hooves, but with one caveat: she has to reveal who told them about the vault. Fluttershy almost shuts down, but Party Favor steps forward and takes full responsibility, and is thus sentenced to the isolation house with the rest of the Mane 6. Fluttershy gets to spend the night with Starlight until her own home is built, and tries to escape at night to retrieve the Cutie Marks, but being Fluttershy lets her fear overcome her...which is fortunate, because she then gets to spy two major shocks. First, Starlight has had Double Diamond bottle up the Mane 6's Cutie Marks so she can store them in her house, with particular attention paid to Twilight's. The second is when Starlight accidentally spills water on herself, revealing that her own equals sign is just paint over her real Cutie Mark!

    The next day, the Mane 6 still refuse to break, although Party Favor is begging for forgiveness after endless lectures on friendship. Fluttershy offers to lock up the Mane 6, and returns soon after with Twilight, who is willing to join as long as Starlight confirms that everypony in the town has given up their Cutie Marks. The hypocrite does so, at which point Fluttershy tries to splash her...and fails. Fortunately, the universe remembers that water splashes, so enough got on her Cutie Mark to wash away a bit of the paint, and a quick wipe from Party Favor removes the rest. Exposed, Starlight states that she needed her Cutie Mark: the staff is a fake, and she's the only one that can use the Cutie Mark-removing spell. The rest of the town is righteously enraged that they lost what made them special for a liar, but before Twilight can make with the friendship speech, Starlight tells her to shut up and runs back into her house, escaping down a secret passage into the mountains with the Mane 6's marks.

    Meanwhile, the rest of the town gets their Cutie Marks out of the vault via an Apple ad, and Double Diamond, Party Favor, Sugar Belle, and Night Glider pursue Starlight, while the still-powerless Mane 6 struggle to keep up. Each uses their special talents to keep up with and wear down the racing Starlight, until Double Diamond discovers his old skis and creates an avalanche that buries the mare. The bottles shatter against the ground, and the Mane 6 are fully restored. Unfortunately, Starlight is still up, and as mad as ever, but even her magic is not enough to overcome a restored Twilight's shield. Another friendship speech is offered, but the vile mare refuses their sentimentalism and winks away.

    The restored townsfolk decide to stay in the village, which is still their home despite Starlight's actions, and begin to celebrate their talents for the first time in a long while. The Mane 6's Cutie Marks begin to beep, signaling new adventures, but they know that their duty is to spread friendship to the rest of Equestria, and they are ready to do their part.


    REVIEW:

    It's been a long time since we had new episodes. We had the Rainbow Rocks content to help fill the gap, and the comics as well (although last year was really bad for the main series), but it's been close to a year since Season Four burned down Twilight's library and gave her a new castle...which is why it's odd they're seemingly picking up immediately after “Twilight's Kingdom.” The exposition dump at the beginning feels quite forced, and each character is given an obviously mandatory line, but thankfully things begin to flow more smoothly once the map pops up.

    Starlight Glimmer and her followers are modeled after the typical trademarks of a cult, including the surrendering of one's individual identity for the sake of the community, moving into an isolated area removed from corrupting influences and giving the leader more control, reverent worship of said leader, and the use of guilt tripping, shaming, and brainwashing to keep anyone from even wanting to leave. The idea of locking the Mane 6 into a small house and blasting blatant propaganda about the evils of ambition and talent seems ridiculous, but said techniques can be very effective, especially when combined with the magical nature of Cutie Marks and how they've been removed.

    The first half of the two-parter is great. We open with some basic comedy and character bits to reintroduce us to the cast, followed by a quick herding to the town. Once they get to the Stepford Smilers, the pacing slows to a solid rate, allowing us to take in how wrong the whole situation is. This is exemplified in the episode's musical number, “In Our Town,” which starts out as a standard march but gradually shifts into something more disturbing and off-putting as it continues. The second episode isn't as solid, but it still makes good use of the time available, making this one of the few times a two-part episode didn't completely suffer because of pacing issues.

    Starlight Glimmer ranks as one of the best villains FiM has produced so far, despite how low-key she is in the grand scheme of things. In fact, the entire adventure is much more low-key than most of the two-parters. Starlight isn't some apocalyptic threat like Nightmare Moon, Discord, or Tirek; if the Mane 6 had not intervened, she would have just had that one village at the edge of Equestria. She's managed to keep this position by careful manipulation and brainwashing of the townsfolk, coupled with presenting herself as a friendly and neighborly pony to any outsiders that happen to stumble onto them. In short, she's basically a normal pony, and the episode shows that even a non-demonic unicorn can be a problem.

    Plus, she's the first villain to actually shut down Twilight's friendship speeches. Not just snidely comment on how sappy or stupid she sounds, but actually shut her up. That earns her a few points.

    The rest of the ponies are more mixed. Double Diamond's name doesn't make sense until you see the skis (hooray for deus ex machinas), and he mostly serves as Starlight's second-in-command. Party Favor is mostly notable in being the only community member punished for their actions, and as we see, the very idea of being separated from the rest of the cult because of what you're told is a moment of weakness is soul-destroying for someone indoctrinated into such an environment. We never learn if his “I DIDN'T LISTEN!” was an act, or if his brainwashing was so effective that he shut out the Mane 6's attempts to convince him otherwise, but it ultimately doesn't matter thanks to Fluttershy's own actions. Night Glider is mostly just there to serve as another body.

    By far the best of the bunch was Sugar Belle. When she is introduced, she takes a brief argument between the Mane 6 as a sign that their friendship is ending, and is likewise flabbergasted when they make up only seconds later. She's a baker, but she can only make terrible muffins because she gave up her Cutie Mark. (The cult appears to operate on the “Tall Poppy Syndrome,” reducing anyone with talent to the lowest possible level so that they don't outshine anyone else.) If anything, she's the best representation of the cult from the regular pony's level, and demonstrates the cracks in Starlight's supposed utopia when she realizes that maybe having special talents doesn't mean your relationships will turn sour. (Plus, she's adorable.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkLc8-8ZZtY

    The episode handles Cutie Marks in a bit of an odd way. In the past, they were supposed to be a representation of what a pony's special talent was. As ponies grow up and experience new things, they eventually discover something they're good at and enjoy, have an epiphany, and then a magical butt tattoo appears. Here, though, the Cutie Marks seem to give the ponies their talent, and once they're removed, they're incapable of doing those things as well as before. The removal even overrides their personality, as seen when Pinkie becomes more Maud-like during their captivity. This becomes even odder when it's extended to Applejack's country-isms; apparently her real special talent isn't apple farming or going home to be a family mare, but dispensing folksy wisdom with as thick an accent as possible.

    The reason for the change? So the episode can sideline the Mane 6 for the final act, making the newcomers into the actual heroes. I am of mixed opinions on this. On the one hand, the Mane 6 are essentially useless to the direct resolution of the episode until they get their marks back, and are shown to be so weak that they can't even muster past a sluggish trot. On the other hand, Starlight's real victims were the ponies she had brainwashed and betrayed, and they definitely deserved to be involved in taking her down. They sound genuinely hurt when they discover their leader had been lying to them the whole time. So in some ways, the episode tries to avert the “Mane 6 swoop in and save everyone” cliché...until Twilight swoops in and saves everyone right at the end.

    FINAL THOUGHTS:

    This was overall a solid start to the season, and the best opening two-parter since “Return of Harmony.” They manage to avoid many of the pitfalls of “The Crystal Empire” and “Princess Twilight Sparkle,” such as making the entire thing about Twilight's journey or constantly escalating the threats, and instead focus on telling a fairly dark (for this show, anyway) story about the dangers of cults and giving up your identity for the sake of friendship. If the rest of the season promises more such adventures, I'm all for it. And if Starlight Glimmer comes back for another round, I'll definitely be willing to give it a watch.

    Also, Celestia episode. Please?

    It's never gonna happen, is it?


    Next time, Twilight gets sad about her old house. The one that Hasbro killed so they could give her a castle.

    11 comments · 343 views
  • 7w, 1d
    Thoughts on Fiendship is Magic #2

    It's okay. It's not a complete story.

    ...

    I have nothing to add. I haven't even finished the episode review, much less the comic one. At this rate, I'll accept surviving until Monday. Or dying before then. Either option works.

    5 comments · 161 views
  • 7w, 2d
    Writing a review isn't easy...

    When your cat somehow managed to get fleas and they are busy devouring your freaking legs. :(

    Sorry for the delay.

    12 comments · 126 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.

InsertAuthorHere · 4,212 views · Report
#1 · 118w, 3d ago · · 2 ·

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

#2 · 118w, 3d ago · 2 · 15 ·

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

#3 · 118w, 3d ago · · ·

:c

#4 · 118w, 3d ago · · ·

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

#5 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d ago · · ·

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

#13 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d ago · · ·

>>846166

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

#18 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d ago · · 8 ·

>>845936

Sorry, Luna's already taken that spot.

#21 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d ago · 3 · ·

>>845955

> it could still happen.

"Only on the Hub"?

Sorry, I couldn't resist :facehoof:

#23 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d ago · · ·

Hey look a Faust Tweet

#26 · 118w, 3d ago · · ·

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

#27 · 118w, 3d ago · · ·

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

#28 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d ago · · ·

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

#34 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d 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 · 118w, 3d ago · · ·

Good to know, thanks!

#37 · 118w, 2d ago · · ·

>>845933

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

#38 · 118w, 2d 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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