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SuperPinkBrony12


I'm a brony and a Pinkie Pie fan but I like all of the mane six, as well as Spike. I hope to provide some entertaining and interesting fanfics for the Brony community.

More Blog Posts834

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  • 10 weeks
    Happy Birthday, Andrew Francis

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Feb
10th
2013

Season 2 Review · 3:54am Feb 10th, 2013

Here it is my review for the second season of MLP FiM. Like with the Season 1 review I'll be spliting this into two parts with part one providing an overview of the season in general and part two ranking the episodes.

Part 1: The New Season

Shortly after the end of the first season it was announced that Lauren Faust would step down as Executive Producer but would stay through the upcoming second season as a consulting producer. Many fans were shocked by the news and became worried about what would become of the show now that Lauren Faust was no longer in control. Season 2 premiered on September 17, 2011 with "The Return of Harmony Part 1". This episode introduced a new villan in the form of Discord who as it turned out was based off of Q from "Star Trek" as Lauren Faust had been on a "Star Trek" binge at the time of writing. For bonus points Hasbro went the extra mile and brough the actual voice of Q John De Lancie onboard when they had originally planned on getting a sound alike to do it. Unlike Nightmare Moon Discord was a lot more serious and proved to be a lot more meancing but much like Q he was also a prankster and used the stolen Elements of Harmony as the setting grounds for a game that he forced the mane six to play. The plot for the first part revolved around Discord using his mind games to brainwash the mane six into turning against their respective elements. The episode ended on a cliff hanger with Discord claiming that since Rainbow Dash had left the labyrinth the game was over and Equestria was his. A week later "The Return of Harmony Part 2" aired which largely revolved around Twilight trying to hold the team together until they could get to the Elements of Harmony. When that failed Twilight herself admitted defeat and suffered a breakdown moment that moved many bronies to tears. Just when it seemed like Discord had won Twilight discovered her friendship reports and was filled with new hope. She then set out to undo Discord's brainwashing and with the help of her friends managed to seal Discord away again. The ending scene quickly became noted for being similar to the ceremony at the end of "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope". Then the show went on a three week break before returning on October 15, 2011 with "Lesson Zero". The episode featured the debut of a new intro which included the Friendship Express from the toy line although it was incorrectly colored blue for the first two episodes it appeared in. Lesson Zero featured a pyschotic breakdown that put Pinkie Pie's to shame and at the end it changed the status quo a little by having it so that each member of the mane six could write to Celestia although it did not come into play right away. The next episode "Luna Eclipsed" aired on the 1 year anniversary of Luna's debut and featured a new and improved Luna design. The episode was highly acclaimed by many fans and before long the new Luna made her way into fanfiction and other fan works. The next episode "Sisterhooves Social" not only featured an opening with the fixed Friendship Express but also marked the first episode where Twilight did not appear at all. This episode was the first one to make use of the new status quo. The first song of the season came on November 19, 2011 with "May The Best Pet Win". The song which came to be known as "Find a Pet Song" featured a duet between Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. This was also the first of three episodes to put Rainbow Dash in the spotlight. The next episode "The Mysterious Mare Do Well" marked the introduction of Merriwheter Williams but quickly turned into an episode that to this day is still widely regarded by fans as the worst episode of all time and left a huge stain on Merriwheter Williams that even today it seems she can't shake off. After another Rarity episode came "Secret of My Excess" which became famous not only because of Spike's growth spurt but also the scene towards the end where Spike finally confessed his crush to Rarity only for her to put a hoof to his mouth and imply that she already knew. Once that was done the season ended it's 2011 run with a holiday episode called "Hearth's Warming Eve" which originally was suppose to be the 13th episode of the season before being bumped up to being the 11th episode so it could air in time for the holidays. The show returned on January 07, 2012 with "Family Appreciation Day". The following week came "Baby Cakes" which marked the first Pinkie Pie episode of the season. The next episode "The Last Roundup" quickly became famous for the scene where Derpy Hooves had a speaking cameo just after the opening sequence. That cameo alone made the episode for so many fans and when it was announced that due to claims that Derpy was an offensive sterotype of the mentally disabled that the cameo was edited so that Derpy was not called by name and her eyes were underped many fans were outraged. Cries of "Save Derpy" continued to be heard throughout the rest of the season even when Derpy went back to her usual background cameos. Two weeks later "Reed it and Weep" became the episode that in a way gave bronies a shot out. The next episode "Hearts and Hooves Day" became the first episode to be leaked onto iTunes before it offically aired. Intrestingly enough the episode itself was leaked on Valentine's Day. After that came "A Friend in Deed" which featured what is considered to date the best song in the entire show "The Smile Song" otherwise known as "Smile, Smile, Smile". After that came the first Fluttershy episode "Putting Your Hoof Down" and then after a few more episodes including "MMMystery on the Friendship Express" which as you can guess becmae the first episode to feature the Friendship Express came the season finale in the form of "A Canterlot Wedding". The two parter featured new songs, new characters Shining Armor Twilight's older brother and Princess Cadence Twilight's old foalsitter who was originally suppose to be just a unicorn, new villans in the form of Queen Chrysalis and the Changelings. The two parter was originally aired as a special with Guest Star Torry Spelling for the commerical bumpers. After that the fandom waited for the the third season, little did many of us know that Season 3 would mark a major turning point in the series.

Part 2: The Good, The Bad. and The So-So

The Good:

Lesson Zero
Reason: This episode not only marks a change in the status quo but it also marks to date the darkest mental breakdown of all time. Twilight's slow descent into madness is played well and features many memorable scenes including Rarity's "The Worst Possible Thing" line, Rainbow Dash's Sonic Rainnuke, and Fluttershy wrestling a bear. We also get the first scene where Rainbow Dash wears sunglasses and the famous "Clock is ticking Twilight. Clock is ticking!" This episode has two lessons, the first is that you shouldn't make a big deal out of a small problem, and the second is that you should take your friends feelings seriously. This also marks the only episode to date where all of the mane six send a letter to Princess Celestia. This episode was the first episode I saw of the entire show. Originally I had planned on it being "Baby Cakes" but due to not knowing when it was on I missed that episode and had to catch it again so "Lesson Zero" became the first episode of the show that I saw and the one that led to me joining the fandom.

May The Best Pet Win
Reason: Despite Rainbow Dash being a bit hotheaded this episode is really good. The first song of the season is a wonderful Flutterdash duet and although the plot largely boils down to a MLP FIM verision of The Tortoise and The Hare it is still highly enjoyable. This also marks the second time that Rainbow Dash is seen wearing shades. She wears them once more in "The Msyterious Mare Do Well". And it also marks the second time the writers have made a "Full Metal Jacket" reference.

Secret of My Excess
Reason: This episode has become famous for the scene where Spike confesses his crush to Rarity and she implies that she already knew but also for the scene where Rarity give Spike a kiss. We get some more memorable quotes such as "How dare you take the cake?!" and "Oh my little Spikey Wikey!" and we get to see how dangerous a dragon living in Ponyville could be. Plus we get to see what happens when you cross The Incredible Hulk with Godzilla and King Kong.

Baby Cakes
Reason: This episode was the first new episode I saw after joining the fandom and it is easily one of my favorites simply because of how heartwarming it is. This episode starts off very light hearted with Pinkie Pie playing with the Cake Twins Pound and Pumpkin Cake. We get to see that yes indeed foals do poop and need to be changed. And then the Cakes realize that they forgot about an important catering order and need somone to look after the twins. When they can't find anyone else they decide to turn to Pinkie Pie who quickly gets in over her head trying to keep the foals happy. Then just when it looks like Pinkie Pie has everything under control the twins disappear and Pinkie Pie starts to panic. This is where the episode becomes a bit darker, admit it that "Pinkie" line scared you a little. Before long the twins natural powers as a pegasus and a unicorn prove to be too much for Pinkie Pie to handle and she starts sobbing. This is where the Cake Twins realize they've gone too far and they decide to cheer up Pinkie Pie the same way she cheered them up, by dumping a sack of flour on their heads. That part right there will easily melt your heart and if doesn't then the ending where the twins call out Pinkie Pie's name most certainly will. This is not the last we see of Pound and Pumpkin Cake however. If heartwarming isn't enough to make you like the episode then there's the funny scene where Pinkie Pie gets a diaper stuck to her head and another to her rear while trying to change the Cake Twins and to add to the humor when Twilight drops by to see if Pinkie Pie needs help she isn't at all surprised to see Pinkie Pie wearing a diaper. The only negative for this episode is the songs, "Happy Monthaversary" is too short to really enjoy it and "Pig Dance" is just pathetic, anyone could come up with a song like that.

The Last Roundup
Reason: The Derpy cameo is really great and hopefully Derpy will return. If you haven't already check out my blogs and find the one that leads to a petention that you can sign to bring back Derpy. Now then let's focus on what the episode was ACTUALLY about. Don't get me wrong I really loved the Derpy Cameo but I feel like her appearance in this episode made fans forget who was suppose to have the lead role. This is an Applejack episode and is still one of her best. We get to see how good she really is and that Apple Bloom surprisingly looks really good wearing Applejack's stenson hat. We get the famous outhouse scene and the return of blabber mouth Pinkie Pie. We also get the memorable quotes "Nopony breaks a Pinkie Promise!", "APPLEJACK! YOU PINKIE PROMISED!", "Rarity catch me!", and "When I get back you're gonna get it Rainbow Dash!". Also unless they did so off screen Pinkie Pie and Applejack never washed their hooves after using that outhouse, now I'm not trying to imply anything but would you really want to touch those cherries after where Pinkie Pie's and Applejack's hooves have been?

Read It and Weep
Reason: This episode is pretty much a tribute to us bronies. Think about it, Rainbow Dash expresses no intrest in something that everyone else likes, she ultimately gives in and decides to try it, she enjoys it, she's ashamed to admit she likes it, and she finally confesses she likes it and learns that what she likes is something everyone can enjoy. We also get a very memorable opening sequence and perhaps the greatest fictional Indiana Jones of all time. Plus Ahuizotl is voiced by the same guy who plays Kronk in "Disney's The Emperors' New Groove", man that guy really gets around lately (I mean he does a lot of voice acting duh) Also this marks the introduction of the black latex ninja jump suits. I guess this means ninjas exist in Equestria.

Hearts and Hooves Day
Reason: This episode is basically a launching pad for Cheerimac ship fics. This also marks the first CMC episode where they are not trying to earn their cutie marks. Sweetie Belle gets to show off her singing skills again in "The Perfect Stallion". We see that funnerals do exist in Equestria and that ponies can indeed fact die. We then learn why Big Macintosh almost never speaks, he's shy. "Oh Come On!" is one of Sweetie Belle's best lines and I just have one question, who's idea was it to put the recipe for a love posion in a book and not put any sort of disclaimer like "Don't try this at home!"? Seriously why is that somepony else didn't try to wip up that potion before? The scene with Twilight is rather disturbing when you see that Sweetie Bell doesn't mind being underneath Twilight and that the angle they go for when Twilight gives the CMC the book looks so wrong. Mrs. Cake's cameo is rather intresting, considering she's able to handle stress better than her husband from what we've seen it's odd to see that Cheerilee and Big Macintosh when they are under the effects of the love poison is enough to creep her out. We find out that if Big Macintosh ever lost control of his strength Ponyville would be screwed and at the end you can make the arguement that Cheerilee and Big Macintosh were only talking that way to mess with the CMC's heads but all the same it's nice to see that they have pet names for each other, "Sugar Bear" is the perfect nickname for Big Macintosh.

Putting Your Hoof Down
Reason: Despite Angel Bunny being an ungrateful little brat this episode is really good. Fluttershy finally stands up for herself and Pinkie Pie pulls a perfect "Rabbit Season, Duck Season" joke. Also Fluttershy demonstrates what happens when you don't obey the first rule of bargaining which is to act like you don't need whatever you're bargaining for even if you really do need it. Iron Will makes for a great ponyfied Mr. T and it's really a shame that he was turned into a villan at the end. At least unlike the others he knew when he was beat. Fluttershy's assertiveness provides some funny scenes and we get a breakdown that will really melt your heart. For bonus points the music that plays right after 'I'm the monster." is lifted directly from The Incredible Hulk films. Plus we get to see Rarity and Pinkie Pie hang out for a change, seriously why don't we see more of them together?

Hurricane Fluttershy
Reason: This episode explains why Fluttershy isn't such a good flyer and almost makes up for how poorly Rainbow Dash was written in "The Mysterious Mare Do Well". Key work "almost". Wing Power is the pony verision of power levels and we're introduced to two new pegasus ponies, Thunderlane and Snow Flake a.k.a Roid Rage the steroid pony. Fluttershy's flashback is very heartbreaking and shows that the land of Equestria is far from perfect. This episode also show just how much words can hurt. The narrator of the film sounds like the narrator from "The Powerpuff Girls" and we get to see Fluttershy overcome her fears as well as see Rainbow Dash is willing to give up certain goals if she really has to. Also let's not forget the famous "I'm game." quote which so many fans like to thing is "I'm gay." To quote Saberspark "Get your mind out of the gutter!".

Ponyville Confidential
Reason: This episode provides a very important lesson about repsecting other people's privacy. For a time Diamond Tiara was actually likeable although that all flew out the window the instant she said "I don't care about other ponies feelings!". In real life no repsectable edtior could possibly get away with saying such a thing. This episode also marks the first full CMC episode where Diamond Tiara appears but not Silver Spoon, too bad Hasbro brought her back in "One Bad Apple", I seriously hope Silver Spoon doesn't show up anymore because otherwise it'll just be killing her character. It does seem a little odd how the ponies actually like the gossip column until it's about them. Plus half the stuff doesn't really count as news "Pound and Pumpkin Cake, Trip to The Store Ends in Tears" well they're babies so of course they're going to cry. "Twilight Sparkle I was a Canterlot Snob" well you know that's not too far from what Twilight was like when she first came to Ponyville. "Pinkie Pie is An Out of Control Party Animal" even I say her parties were out of control before and that's saying someting because she's favorite member of the mane six. "The Cakes are Breaking Up" as if. The scene with Big Macintosh and Applejack swapping roles is really cool and Rarity gets a chance to show that even she can be a little perverted at times. Not to mention the fact that many of us likely thought of "SnooPINGAS usual I see." when Sweetie Belle asked "Were you snooping through my saddle bag?".

Canterlot Wedding Part 1
Reason: Despite the out of character reactions of Celestia and Twilight's friends this episode is really good. "B.B.B.F.F" is a very beautiful song and it does a great job of introducing us to Shining Armor. It's as if he were there all along. The episode also does a good job of introducing us to Princess Cadence even if we later learn that the one here is an imposter. It was nice to see Luna again but I really don't think she sleeps during the day and is awake at night. Really there's not much else I can say that will do this episode justice.

Canterlot Wedding Part 2
Reason: This episode introduces us to the real Princess Cadence and we get a villan song in the form of "This Day Aria" which seems very familar to "Vennesa's Song" in "Disney's The Little Mermaid". Queen Chrysalis makes for a very intresting villan even if her name was not revealed in the actual episode. The Celestia/Chrysalis showdown as well the battle between the mane six and the changelings are awesome and Chrysalis gets a very ironic defeat since she is driven out of Canterlot by the power of love which is something she feeds off of. Not to mention she gets the "Looks like Team Rocket's blasting off again! *Twinkle*" exit. "Love's in Bloom" was a great way to close out the season. Like with Part 1 word's just can't do this episode justice. Hasbro promoted the heck out of this but I doubt any of us were expecting it to be so awesome.

Number of good Episodes: 12

The Bad:

Cutie Pox
Reason: Why the heck did Apple Bloom get so depressed when she didn't get a bowling cutie mark, this isn't her first failure. Apple Bloom showed off her new cutie mark/marks way too much and the ending was just stupid, Hasbro should've thought of another way to keep the status quo without making it so obvious. Oh well at least the CMC stopped obessing over getting their cutie marks after this episode.

The Mysterious Mare Do Well
Reason: This episode is THE worst episode of the season but it comes pretty close. Rainbow Dash isn't the only one who's out of character. Heck the whole reason behind Mare Do Well makes the Mane Six hypocrites. Twilight could've served as the sole Mare Do Well and that would've been just fine. Also at the end why do the mane six think Rainbow Dash has learned her lesson, she wouldn't even admit to showing off nonstop. Heck Mare Do Well was a bad idea from the start. Also Scootaloo may not be blindly loyal to Rainbow Dash but I seriously doubt she'd just turn on her idol when some new superhero showed up. Not to mention that this episode aired directly after "May The Best Pet Win". You don't give the spotlight to the same character two episode in a row if they aren't connected.

Hearth's Warming Eve
Reason: This largely boils down to the mane six take part in a play about the founding of Equestria. The only thing is we don't know how accurate it is. Were the leaders really like that or was that just the mane six's personalities sliping in? Plus we don't know where the heck Celestia and Luna were if they weren't rising the sun and the moon. This episode leaves us with more questions then answers.

The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000
Reason: Even more so than The Mysterious Mare Do Well Rainbow Dash is horribly out of character. Seriously why doesn't she just talk to Pinkie Pie? The Apple Family doesn't seem to change their policy despite all the complaints they recieve, it's a miracle your customers keep coming back when you do nothing to correct the problem. The Apples also are too quick to bash the cider made by the Flim Flam brothers just because it was made by a machine, seriously you can't always assume your way is the best way. The Apples don't tell Flim and Flam why they need the money from Cider Season and they don't try to strike a better deal. The only reason the Flim Flam brothers become villans is because we know why the Apples need the extra money but they don't. The plot quickly becomes a ponyfied verision of man versus machine and I don't see why Rainbow Dash was willing to help out when earlier she was one of the ponies who wanted Flim and Flam's cider. And Flim and Flam could've won if they would've just dispposed of the bad barrels after the contest was over. Then of course at the end why is Applejack writing the letter if she hasn't learned anything? Not to mention that they run out of cider even when they said earlier that they have enough for the whole town. This episode in my book is the worst episode of Season 2 and the writers should be ashamed of themselves.

It's About Time
Reason: Twilight didn't even try to change her mane when she realized that it was exactly the same as Future Twilight's. I don't get why she though Pinkie Pie could predict the future, Pinkie Pie was only humoring her. And the whole time travel thing was pointless when she went back in time to tell her past self not to worry. Now if Spike had gotten the tummyache first then that would've been a reason for Twilight to go back in time. Plus as Spike points out "It's not illegal to sneek around Canterlot". Also why the heck did Pinkie Pie tag along?

Number of bad episode: 5

The So-So:

The Return of Harmony Part 1
Reason: Discord was a great villan but this episode and the next one seemed rushed. The brainwashing is pretty cool but in the case of Rarity it didn't make any sense since she seemed to shrug it off before suddenly turning back and becoming washed out. Fluttershy's counter trolling was cool but she shouldn't have said she is weak and helpless because she's not. Overall Discord is what keeps this episode from being bad.

The Return of Harmony Part 2
Reason: Pretty much the same as before expect it's even more rushed. They forgot to add a Pinkie Pie healing scene and animate her activating her element. Also why the heck did Twilight think her discorded friends would be able to use the Elements of Harmony. The discorded Fluttershy and Discord himself are the saving grace for this episode.

Luna Eclipsed
Reason: This episode is overhyped. Luna made this episode good. Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash were poorly written and the ponies got off the hook way too easily for dissing one of their rulers. If Luna weren't in this episode it would've been a flop. That three episodes so far where the character is the only reason why the episode is good.

Sisterhooves Social
Reason: Rarity was a bit too harsh on Sweetie Belle and the whole "organized chaos" thing was stupid. It's not Sweetie Belle's fault you don't clean your room. Rarity's parents are decent but we need more background on them because we don't know how often they leave Sweetie Belle in Rarity's care and why Rarity obviously doesn't want to be like them. The biggest nitpick though is where was Twilight? I'm not saying we always need an explanation as to where every character is but considering Twilight is the main character of the show at the very least if she isn't going to appear we need to know why.

Sweet and Elite
Reason: Rarity's friends never found out she was lying and Rarity should've known better than to dump her friends. But why is it that aside from Fancy Pants every Canterlot resident we've seen so far is the sterotypical rich snob? Twilight's dancing was a nice shout out to Sienfeld though and we got to see Pinkie Pie's party cannon.

Family Appreciation Day
Reason: Why would Apple Bloom let Diamond Tiara convice her that her Granny Smith was embarassing? Heck for that matter why does Diamond Tiara keep picking on Apple Bloom and the CMC all the time, doesn't she have something better to do? It was nice to see that Granny Smith is indeed wise and it was nice to see Silver Spoon actually go against Diamond Tiara for once. Also it was nice to see that Diamond Tiara's father Filthy Rich made sure that his daughter learned a lesson about insulting other ponies.

A Friend in Deed
Reason: The songs in this episode were better than the ones in "Baby Cakes" but otherwise this episode just isn't as good as "Baby Cakes" even though Pinkie Pie learns another valueable lesson. Still a pretty solid episode though.

Dragon Quest
Reason: At first this episode seemed like it was going to be great since Spike set off to discover more about dragons and what it means to be one but once he started hanging out with the teenage dragons the plot suddenly shifted to a remake of a G1 episode where that Spike also tried to fit in with other dragons only to find he didn't want to be like them. Rarity stole the scene when she said "Fighting's not really my style. I'm more into fashion. But I'll rip you to pieces if you touch one scale on his cute little head!".

MMMystery on the Friendship Express
Reason: This episode is neither good nor bad. It's pretty much just filler material and I'm o.k. with it. The references were pretty cool and it was surprising to see that Pinkie Pie wasn't the culprit but otherwsie there is nothing that really sticks out about this episode.

Number of so-so Episodes: 9

This season had a few more good and so-so episodes but the ones that were bad where bad for a reason.

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Comments ( 11 )

Ah, the season in which the light of Faust slowly faded. Also the season in which I learned that there could be such things as FIM episodes that weren't good. But is there a connection?

The Return of Harmony
(I'm going to handle two-parters as one from here on out - the pilot was an exception due to it's SOL/adventure split.)

What could have been the end - the possible grand finale of a short run, used here instead as the beginning of a new season. And it mostly works well as both (although perhaps the awards ceremony should have been nixed/modified once it was clear the show was continuing.)

The first thing to talk about is obviously Discord himself - and one can't really talk about him without talking about Q, can we? (Although I wonder how many young fans will come at it the other way?) In any case, he manages to top Nightmare Moon quite easily (I think he's still the peak in straight power tier) while having a completely different flavour to her, and generally serves as the foremost source of entertainment here. People may disagree about his later path, but few will say he didn't do villainy well.

Not that he's the only thing going on here - from the squabbling Crusaders to the uncharacteristically serious Celestia to of course our leads themselves, both in the teamwork they show at the beginning and end and the entertainment value of their discorded selves in between. And given that this might have been the end and is actually a new beginning, it's nice to see some continuity - the friendship letters are obviously the key point, but also revealing where the Elements had got too after the pilot and expanding on their and Equestria's history. Even Luna gets a mention (though no appearance yet).

Rating: Excellent. The last two-parter I can give this to for quite a while, mind you... It's a pity that SPB12 found it a bit rushed.

Lesson Zero
The true launch of the second season, and like Ticket Master before it it's a Twilight-focused slice-of-life. The framing's a bit diffent though - there (and in the last few episodes as well) she was the only one with her head on straight, but here we get an inversion, as she slowly goes mad in brand-new TV-Y goodness over something that doesn't seem to matter nearly as much as Gala tickets... to other ponies.

We also get to see the power of both her and Celestia's magic some more, and set up a broader use of the "friendship letters" concept which will remove the necessity of her appearing in every episode. Perhaps a less demanding schedule will be good for her mental health?

Rating: Excellent. This is the first episode not TV-Y7 and puts it to good use while knowing where to draw the line better than some later episodes. And of course, it brought our esteemed host into the fandom, which earns it bonus points.

Luna Eclipsed
It speaks to the hurried implementation of the adventure-based parts of the pilot that Princess Luna, despite much fan desire, was as absent as the Elements for the rest of Season 1. The season opener tantalised folks with a mention, but this episode actually delivered her, and she was both as and not as predicted - as much of a fish out of water as fans had guessed, but much louder and bombastic than one could tell by looking at her pilot design, superseded here permanently by a bolder, more impressive one to suit her personality.

This was also the first episode to be based around an Equestrian Expy of an Earth holiday (all events up until now were seasonal or original). Public knowledge of Nightmare does seem to be up compared to the pilot, but I suppose that that serves as foreshadowing of sorts, given that Star Swirl the Bearded is introduced here as an obscure unicorn wizard. (Likewise, Zecora's role in the festival reminds us that Ponyville can come to accept those it once feared.)

Rating: Good, perhaps rising to Excellent if Rarity's scene hadn't been cut - this season is off to what would be a strong start if I didn't expect this much from the show.

SIsterhooves Social
Our first episode without Twilight, and thankfully does not suffer for it. No lack of unicorn representation though, as Sweetie Belle steps out of the shared Crusader spotlight for the first time to stand alongside her sister (while also revealing their parents on the side). Of course one of her fellow Crusaders and her sister do end up playing big roles as contrasts (and decoys).

Rating: Good. A proof that the show could work without it's lead (unlike SPB12, I don't feel her uninvolvement in a plot requires any more justification than anypony else's.) And just in time too, because this is the last of a 31-episode good streak that the show will never come close to again...

The Cutie Pox
Remember how I said I didn't see why people though that CMC episods were less interesting? Well unfortunately, this season taught me - I find all four of it's episodes focused on the trio kind of lackluster. This first one was perhaps the least interesting episode of FIM I'd ever seen - which is to say, still pretty OK. And it's the closest we'll ever get to seeing how the Crusaders react to one of them getting their mark before the rest - turns out they take it pretty well.

Rating: Fine. It still had high points, just fewer than I was used to. And the next episode wasn't a CMC one, so the quality should return to normal, right?

May The Best Pet Win
Unfortunately, not quite. Oh we did get quite a few gifts (like Dash's dream and our first song of the season, not to mention Tank himself) but it didn't really inspire me any more than the previous one. I'm not actually sure why, but the timing was poor.

Rating: Fine. Still holding above water here- I mean, every show has to have some weaker episodes, and these ones aren't too bad as those go.

The Mysterious Mare Do Well
The show's first real faltering - a poorly thought through moral propped up by unbelievable situations. At least Mare Do Well looks cool (well, what else can one expect from a Rarity design)? And there are still some nice bits here - what's wrong isn't what the episode lacks, but what it has in.

Rating: Bad. Yep, jumping straight down - mediocrity will arrive later.

Sweet and Elite
After all of the above, I was losing faith in pony a little - so what better than a dose of pure Rarity to perk me up? The fashion pony is on fine form here, getting her most obvious plot out of the way with panache before she drops out of the spotlight for over a year. We also get a more broader glimpse of Canterlot high society than offed by the Gala alone - and Rarity begins to find acceptance there. The only real flaw is that this is where it became obvious that the Mane 6 remained unknowns - redacting the victory ceremony would have helped a bit.

Rating: Good. A fine return to form by the show after a few disappointing outings, and a decent last Rarity episode for a while.

Secret of My Excess
The first of the season's two Spike episodes, both of which explore his draconic identity. This one looks at it from an internal perspective, showing how even among ponies he is unavoidably different. The plot structure is interesting, developing from Spike as the protagonist facing temptation, to Twilight trying to help him, then to handle him, and eventually going full monster movie before bending back to a character moment which people will read both for and against Sparity.

Rating: Excellent. Like the previous tenth episode, we have a crisis which shows off the character's skills, but this time there are plenty of other parts too.

Hearth's Warming Eve
The first of two episodes which give backstory to the show's setting, this one on the grander scale (Equestria) and therefore taking up the whole episode. Like much early history in the show, it's nicely presented in an ambiguous format (in this case a historical play akin to the Nativity or the Thanksgiving story) so that we fans can adopt it whole or piecemeal as we choose.

Also bundled with the play is an actual holiday, and our first sight of winter not on the way out. These two things will pretty much always and only appear together in future, to the point where one wonders if snow is just another Hearth's Warming decoration like the tree...

Rating: Good. The part with the Mane 6 is kind of shallow, but it's not really the point. (The play is kind of shallow too, but it gets away with it by being that kind of play - this episode invites generous judgement.)

Family Appreciation Day
Our second setting history episode, but since it's the local setting (Ponyville), it's just the last part of the episode, the rest being fairly standard CMC fare. At least we got to hear it clearly from the mouth of a still-living founder herself though, and the reveal of Diamond Tiara's family (well, the paternal line) deepens the story of her rivalry with Apple Bloom.

Rating: Fine. The history bit brings it up from what might otherwise have been a Mediocre.

Baby Cakes
A babysitting episode seems mandatory for these earlier seasons, but each has it's own twist - in this case, using actual babies, and revealing more details about pony infancy and breeding along the way. Besides that, it's pretty average, just like last time's thirteenth.

Rating: Good. So I guess it might be above average after all...

5032039 "The Cutie Pox" is nothing but filler.

5032139
Well we can say that now, but for a long time potion-making seemed like a likely cutie mark for AB, in which case this episode would have been quite important.

The Last Roundup
Applejack had the bad luck of blowing through most of her basic material - her main character flaw and two big rivalries - early in Season 1. So it's taken a while for her to get another episode - and when she does, all anyone can talk about is Derpy!

The Grey One aside however, there's still quite a lot to like this episode - all the things SPB12 talks about plus a new town, a new character, and a climatic chase. Even the ending was funny (if a bit mean).

Rating: Good. Which I suppose is my own "second-place rosette" - fitting, no?

The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000
On the one hoof, we get some fun new antagonists this episode, and fodder for plenty of alcohol jokes (so much that I believe it was initially? banned in my country, where cider is not for kids)! On the other, the writing of the conflict was forced and confusing (to even more of a degree than one would expect from trying to discuss economic matters on a kid's show), to the point where a lot of folk weren't even sure if Flim and Flam were con artists or honest businessponies. The lesson pretty much sums things up - I wonder if the writer and director enjoyed some "research cider" before putting this one together?

Rating: Mediocre. Technically our first, except it's really more of a Bad saved by the FlimFlam Bros.

Read It and Weep
Ah, the humble roots of Daring Do. (And given what she gets up to, Dash was going to end up in the hospital sooner or later - she should just be glad it's her wing and not her head!)

Honestly, I liked the real-world scenes more than the fiction, but the fact that we saw pony fiction at all was inspiring. That they had made-up stories too gave the world a certain depth - and I won't hold later stripping of that depth against this episode.

Rating: Fine. A bit slow (it is in essence a story about a character sitting in hospital reading a book), but the chase at the end perked things up. And i heartily approve the moral.

Hearts and Hooves Day
Our third and final holiday ripoff this season (what? No April Fools?) and the first episode in the show wholly devoted to romance. And it doesn't really go any better here than in the Rarity/Blueblood subplot, in this case due to the misguided antics of the CMC. (I disagree with SPB12 - this is the season's meta lesson, aimed straight at shippers! Oh, and I don't think they were after their marks in Family Appreciation Day, either.) Fortunately, we'll see some more successful love stories as the season goes on - and even CheeriMac is left surprisingly open, with regards to both history and the future.

Rating: Fine. A decent outing for the CMC and a pair of supporting characters that neatly sidesteps showing us what the Manes are up to on this "couple's day".

A Friend In Deed
The Smile Song which opens this episode is the embodiment of all the wonderful sides of PInkie Pie's character. This is to build up character credit, because the rest of the episode shows her at her worst - really, it took a total Deus Ex Machina (in the form of some of that successful love I was talking about last time) for her and Cranky to not end up as enemies. It was also nice to be reminded that despite the name, Equestria and Ponyville are not places for just ponies.

Rating:Mediocre. A tricky one here, because the episode combines very good and very bad parts - but there's more of the latter than the former, and the happy ending feels forced.

Putting Your Hoof Down
AKA "that Fluttershy episode where nearly everyone in Ponyville (including her) is a jerk". Besides that and our intro to minotaurs, this episode is most memorable to me as being one of the only ones which might kind of plausibly take place before Twilight came to Ponyville.

Rating: Fine. Though I admit that this is partly down to that unintentional idea - the thought of a "stealth prequel" kind of thrills me. Not that the episode itself is bad, either.

It's About Time
Time travel is often a big can of worms, and I was cautious when I heard that it would be used as a one-episode plot device. But in the end it was done fine, with a strictly limited form which was used to deliver a lesson applicable to even we who follow the linear path of time (while Spike delivered it's balancing counterpoint).

And in retrospect, it's neat that an episode about an omen from the future is also the one where we first learn of Tartarus (and Tirek presumably escapes offscreen). I think our first mention of Las Pegasus was here too - I wonder if there were any more seeds of things to come lurking?

Rating: Good. I liked seeing Twilight and Pinkie work together, too - they make a good team.

Dragon Quest
Our second Spike episode this season has him looking outward, at his draconic cultural identity. Which makes it probably the closest parallel to a G1 episode - Spike's Search - and therefore invites comparison. Some changes are down to the Spikes different personalities - G1's human friend Danny accompanies him openly whereas G4's pony friends follow in secret to protect his pride. Other things are the same - in both cases, the dragons he finds are actually thugs and bullies. But the two end on very different notes - I think I'll post them both and you can decide.

G1!Spike: I guess I'll never learn how to be a grown-up dragon now. But if being a dragon means being a bully...
Danny: Nah! Look how many different kinds of ponies there are! Earth ponies, pegasi, flutter ponies... So there are probably all different kinds of dragons too. When the time is right, you'll find the ones like you.
G1!Spike: You really think so? Well then maybe for now being here is the right place to be! Anyway, I did learn one thing from the dragons...
Danny: Yeah? What was that?
G1!Spike: (roasts marshmallows)
Everyone Laughs Ending.

Okay, a bit bioessentialist, but compare to this:

Spike: Dear Princess Celestia,
Seeing the great dragon migration made me wonder what it meant to be a dragon. But now I realize that whoI am is not the same as what I am. I may have been born a dragon, but Equestria and my pony friends have taught me how to be kind, loyal, and true! I'm proud to call Ponyville my home, and to have my pony friends as my family.

Yours truly,
Spike

[egg cracking]
[phoenix chick chirping]
Spike: Aww. [chuckles] Hey, welcome to the family, Peewee! Stick with me. I've got plenty to teach you about being a pony.

Well, I suppose different folks will like each one better. But to me, this feels like the origin story for a Boomerang Bigot ... and while that's bad enough when looked at as an interracial adoption thing, the fact that dragons and ponies are very strongly associated with masculinity and femininity here adds another uncomfortable layer. (And I'm saying this as a guy who was mostly raised among girls and has very little machismo.)

Rating: Fine. As an episode it warrants a Good, but the moral really weighs it down.

5032261 It's sad that G1 of all things could do Spike more justice than G4, especially when you consider G1 Spike started out as an antagonist.

5032282
I think G4 Spike's come off a lot better over all - even with dragon stuff, in recent seasons - but here in particular, yes, the contrast drives home the flaws in the moral.

(And he was more of a hostage than an antagonist.)

Hurricane Fluttershy
An excellent tale which spotlights Ponyville's pegasus community, with strong role from both our winged Manes and also plenty of new cameos, some of whom will go on to bigger roles. It also shows the value of each of our best efforts, however small individually, has when we work together.

Rating: Excellent. Well, I kind of gave that one away in the summary, didn't I?

Ponyville Confidential
Our fourth and final Crusader ep this season, and like all the others it didn't inspire me much. I suppose the moral was solid enough. (And in direct response to SPB12 for once - people are like that with gossip, and why on earth would you not want to see Silver Spoon again?)

Rating: Fine. This season's brand of blandness is still peppered with decent stuff.

MMMystery on the Friendship Express
Another well-written episode spoiled by it's ending. The problem with a mystery is that you need a reasonable culprit, or as here, set of culprits, and these ones don't work very well. (It might have been a bit better if the ruined cake was Pinkie's own work, which would give her the right to offer forgiveness.) Still, the solving was fun even if the solution wasn't.

Rating: Fine. Since the problem is in the ending, it does better on a first watch than subsequent ones IMO.

A Canterlot Wedding
Ah, the grand finale - like last seasons built around a big social event, but unlike last time it's a two-parter and Twilight will be taking center stage as sister of the groom, one of two three big new characters making their debut here. Apparently this episode (the last Faust had any hand in) went through many revisions and changes during production, but unfortunately the result is still an imperfect product.

For starters, the separation of Twilight's friends from her is a bit of a problem, especially given the moral of Lesson Zero - it would have been better to see them take her side, even though I'm not quite sure how that would have worked with the story. Also, the new characters are kind of flat - simplistically nice and nasty according to their role. But all of them will have the chance to grow into more complex figures later, at least.

Rating: On the border line of Fine and Mediocre - it's two episodes, so let's give it both. It completed my lesson for the season by showing me that even two-parters could be flawed - although looking at SPB12's reaction, not everyone would agree.

Season 2 Overall

5 Excellent + 7 Good + 10 Fine + 3 Mediocre + 1 Bad = an overall score of Fine.

Certainly a sharp downswing from the first season, but the top-quality stuff can still be found - it's just rarer than it used to be. Not as rare as it will get, though,nor is the alternative that bad - Mare-Do-Well stands out for a reason.

Thematically, this season lacks a strong center - instead, having got the basics out of the way, the writers have started making whatever kind of episodes strike their fancy. This probably adds to the seasons somewhat disjointed nature - almost like an expansion pack for Season 1 than a clear progression.

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