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  • 60 weeks
    Season Eight Episode Reviews: Molt Down

    This week is a Spike episode? What a re-”molt”-ing development this is!

    Let's look at “Molt Down,” the episode that will surely be perfectly normal and have no long-lasting repercussions on a character's appearance.

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    2 comments · 841 views
  • 61 weeks
    Season Eight Episode Reviews: Break Up Break Down

    I dread going into this week's episode. For today, we discuss matters of the heart. Romance, love, heartbreak, and all that rot. Which means we run right into the most loathsome of all fandom constructs, the kind of thing that destroys friendships and leaves the most brilliant of minds curled up helplessly in a corner, foaming from the mouth:

    SHIPPING.

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  • 62 weeks
    Season Eight Episode Reviews: Non-Compete Clause

    We've had a string of good episodes the last few weeks. Whether it be shapeshifting seaponies, an actual Celestia episode, or discovering Starlight's dark phase, we've had lots of fun and plenty of laughs.

    Today's episode is about Applejack and Rainbow Dash competing.

    The good times are over.

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    7 comments · 585 views
  • 63 weeks
    Season Eight Episode Reviews: The Parent Map

    Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone who cares about that! What better way to spend the day than watching a cartoon about horses dealing with their mommy/daddy issues? Well, tough, because that's what we're doing. This is “The Parent Map.”

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    4 comments · 402 views
  • 64 weeks
    Season Eight Episode Reviews: Horse Play

    So hey, it's a new episode. Surely nothing to be excited about. Just another standard episode of a cartoon pony show.

    Only it's a CELESTIA EPISODE!

    Prepare for extra spicy biased scoring as we look at Best Princess' newest episode, “Horse Play!”

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    5 comments · 473 views
Jun
26th
2014

Comic Review: Issues 18-20 (Reflections, Parts 2-4) · 8:44pm Jun 26th, 2014

Well, it's been a long ride, but the “Reflections” arc is finally over. Did Celestia change and grow as a character? What is the true nature of this evil universe? Will our heroes find a way to stop an evil Celestia and Luna from ravaging two worlds?


Firstly, I already covered the first part of this arc by itself. You can read it here.

Issue 17 ends on a massive cliffhanger. Celestia has stumbled out of the mirror and collapsed, seemingly wounded, and the dark gaze of King Sombra peers out from the other side of the portal. It's dark and foreboding...and is immediately followed by Celestia getting patched up about a half-hour later so that she can deliver exposition. Turns out that this is a good Sombra (which doesn't explain why he was looking all smokey and evil just one issue ago) who rules over an alternate Equestria, and he is besieged by the evil versions of Celestia and Luna. His land now lies in ruins, and even worse, the world-spanning shenanigans Celestia and Star Swirl went on are causing the two worlds to grow closer together. The only hope is for the Mane 6 to grab the Elements of Harmony (placing this story between Seasons 3 and 4) and head on over to restore balance and harmony and joy and all that.

Unfortunately, there are a few complications. First is the fact that the merging is also linking both sets of princesses; when one is hurt, their counterpart feels it as well. This means they can't just kick the evil princesses' flanks and move on. Second is that there is no cake, which means that Pinkie must survive on all the sugar she's stored up as body fat over the years. And most importantly: Celestia and Good!Sombra (I'll just call him “Sombro,” as some fans have) were lovers.

Yes, I said lovers.

Celestia got it on with a non-evil King Sombra.

Oh, and all of this is actually Celestia's fault. See, recklessly jumping back and forth between the two worlds is what is causing the two to grow closer in the first place. Star Swirl figured it out and warned her not to go back, but she kept doing so behind his back, driving a wedge between the two and destroying their friendship. Even after he sealed the world off from the mirror entirely, she found a way to keep going. At the same time, her home life was deteriorating; in addition to Star Swirl not being on speaking terms with her, this was around the time Luna became Nightmare Moon and everything went really south. Meanwhile, the evil universe's Luna was actually good at that time (she turned evil the same time Nightmare Moon was defeated), so Celestia had both a lover and a copy of her sister that she could confide in.

For all of the arc's faults (and I will get to many of them), it did do one thing very well: it made Celestia less perfect. And that's, honestly, a good thing. Yes, we'll always have fans who inflate her flaws or make up crap like Molestia, but here we see her as a young, unwise princess who makes a very, very bad decision based on her current circumstances. She's presented with a world that can give her everything she wants, and despite the risks, she can't let herself give it up. And years later, when the totality of existence is in danger because of that choice, her only solution is to take charge of the situation herself, hurl herself at an opponent she cannot defeat without hurting herself, and finally tell her student to let her die so that the world can be saved.

And what is everypony's response? Luna throws fits about some of her actions (especially the part about “replacing” her with another Luna), but still loves and respects her. Twilight actually feels better about being a princess now that she knows she doesn't have to be perfect, and sees Celestia as more of a real pony now. And indeed, that's kind of the effect of the arc. Celestia is less of a god and more of a real person, much like she seemed to want to be every time others came fussing over her.

Something else that the arc did well was the comedy. The backup stories featuring multiple origins for Star Swirl's hideous fashion sense were hilarious. Twilight fretting about making sense of this disturbing universe (and Pinkie's reply) were also funny. I am in love with the Price/Cooke Luna; she's the perfect mixture of serious leader and goofy time-displaced tyrant, and her background actions during the final fight are hilarious. I even like the evil princesses. Evil!Celestia is a vain, taunting, passive-aggressive flankhole, and her scenes with the sister she's obviously using are perfect. They even have evil pets: Philomena is a phoenix/vulture, and Tiberius has a vampire cape.

So we had an arc that gave depth to a character solely lacking it and which featured some good humor and characterization. What's the issue?

To start, there's Sombro. While he's obviously good-looking by pony standards (even Fluttershy cannot escape his charms), he's flat as a board personality-wise. He's a good ruler who's awesome and studly and wise and all that, but that's about it. It is a huge improvement over having no character like the normal Sombra did, but the difference is that in “The Crystal Empire,” Sombra was a straightforward bad guy we only saw a couple of times. Here, Sombro carries much of the middle and end portions of the plot, provides the exposition not given by Celestia, and just looks good for the shippers. When people talk about how sad they were that he had to make himself into a villain like Sombra, all I feel is a coldness born from a lack of interest.

And to that point, there's the story's languid pacing. The first issue is perfect; everything is set up quickly, we get a lot of worldbuilding, and things end on a cliffhanger that leaves you just begging to come back the next month. Parts two is much slower, but also introduces the alternate world and villains while confirming the hints of romance alluded to in the first. Part three, however, is where the wheels fall off the cart, as the entire issue is devoted to the characters talking about the past, the state of the alternate universe, and what they can do to stop the villains. You could have cut out a third of it and things would have moved just fine.

This brings us to the fourth issue, and where the story lost me.

It starts off just fine. Luna is an adorable spoiled brat, Twilight is obsessing over going over the plans yet again, and evil!Celestia is obviously plotting to betray her sister...which she does, as part of a plot to draw good!Celestia into the battle. This ends up almost backfiring when said attack causes good!Luna to smash into and destroy the mirror, but the universe also happens to be unraveling and the throne room (which is supposed to be in Canterlot but is now in the same spot as evil!Ponyville because why not) is halfway merged into the battlefield. We get some awesomeness with Celestia going Super Saiyan (as the Journal established, she can essentially set herself on fire when she really wants you dead), but then the Mane 6 use the Elements, which cause both (due to the connection between worlds) to become encased in crystal. And yes, I did get some feels when Twilight and Celestia are seemingly saying goodbye.

But then Sombro manages to use all six of the Elements to suck all of the evil out of his princesses and this completely restores the world!

Do you see a couple problems there? How can Sombro use all six of the Elements when even Celestia and Luna wielded three each? Why are they rupees again when they were just necklaces and a tiara? If they're not the Elements, then what the heck are they? How can you suck the evil out of someone? Why does this even work? Wouldn't two Sombras being the same make things worse? Just...WHAT?!

I'm sorry, but this...this ending is just freaking awful. Maybe if they hadn't wasted their time an issue prior, we would have had time and space for something that could explain this, but nope.

But the biggest disappointment is how final the ending is. The mirror is destroyed, and Celestia will not have it rebuilt. The alternate universe is blocked off forever. And that's disappointing, because there was so much set up that would have made for an interesting story. The final backup even mocks this fact by showing the evil!Mane 6 watching the fight from afar, glad they aren't part of it. And if that was the only time they showed up, I would have been okay with it. But instead, we've had them in the backup just prior to this, as well as on the cover for Issue 19. When the solicits were first revealed, that's what got me excited about this arc...but in the end, it was just a romance story.

I don't mind the romantic plot. I don't care for Sombro, but I enjoyed what it added to Celestia and can admire the principle of it all. But at the same time, I would have loved to have the place open again for a more adventure-oriented story later on. Instead, it's been pretty effectively closed off short of an ass pull or retcon. And even if they did go back through, the focus would most likely be on Sombro being evil and Celestia trying to save him. As a result, the backup (which is funny in concept) leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Overall, “Reflections” was just okay. It started strong, but the middle half sagged and the last part was shoved through at mach speed. If you don't mind a romantic plot and a lot of missed potential, I think it'll be a good read, but for me it's something I'd much rather move on from.


Next month, the SUMMER OF TRIXIE continues! Did Trixie steal an overpriced rock from a museum, and if not, can our heroes discover who did?

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Comments ( 15 )

Wow, that sounds like a pretty wasted potential there.

2236527 I know right. I much as I kinda enjoyed the Reflection Arc despite being an awkward fanfiction, I hated how the main story is mostly about the soap romance drama of Mirror!Sombra and Celestia that was executed sloppy in my personal opinion. Not disliking the story because of the pairing, but mainly due to the story being poorly handled and not reaching to the fullest potential.

2236527
2236547

Yep, a lot of wasted potential, I would have prefered the romantic plot to be ignored in favor of an epic showdown.

And they are starting to piss me off with the lying covers.:twilightangry2:

That said, I liked how Celestia was ready to go all out against her mirror counterpart even knowing that would kill her.

Celestia got it on with a non-evil King Sombra.

Yeah, I'm going to need a citation on that, unless I'm taking you more literally than you intend. I can't say I noticed any implication go by that the two of them actually had sex.

2236734

You're taking it too literally.

2236775 I thought I might be, but both the "lovers" bit and the "got it on" bit made me wonder if I wasn't.

The third issues Starswirl mini bit at the end also featured the Evil!Mane 6, actually. Not that that is much of an appearance...

I would be okay with a handwave letting us see this place again. Though they could also just have an arc SET in this universe with no use of the prime characters as well.

IAH... you seem to have misunderstood the bit with Luna. At the time that Tia started going to the mirror verse... NMM had already happened, or possibly that event is what drove her to go back. In the other verse, evil luna had turned from her sister, and was preventing her from taking over the world (of course!) So Luna's comment about "you could have brought me back from the moon" made sense in that context, otherwise it would have been "you could have talked to me, then I wouldn't have gone evil" Later, presumably about the time Luna was restored, Evilestia got her evil sister back, thus shifting the balance back to the dark side once again.

aside from not having all the flashback in one issue , i found the arc enjoyable. there is potential of the now evil sombra to effect the main worlds sombra.

2236801
Celestia makes it pretty clear that she and Sombro were more than just friends, so yes "lovers" would probably be an accurate description. As for "getting it on"... well, I think it's up to each individual reader to decide just how intimately personal their relationship got.

It's that if a good world meets a bad world, an expected "likely" ending is something relatively bad. The Reflected world, as suggested by it being opposite, is supposed to be "relatively bad with outbursts of good", and if analyzing it further, Starswirl probably wasn't a particularly "bringer of harmony into it" but Celestia and Luna visits brought some, yet, evil Celestia and Luna "worried about why world became less evil" so evil Luna decided to become more evil because she was used to the state of the world... that income of harmony might not have changed things much.
What happened in the end might be another "short outburst of good" that fades later.

biz Markie made a more interesting love story in 4 minutes.

I'll be honest: I hate that kind of alternate universe, so I'm glad it's completely closed off. Sorry to those who liked it.

make up crap like Molestia

DON'T GET ME FUCKING STARTED.

Anyway, this ending was disappointing. Out of everything they could've done, they went with 'curing' the evil from the Alternate World?? I get they didn't want to kill of Celestia, but could they seriously not come up with anything else?


All I can hope for is either future comics' attempts to fix this, or for someone to write a good Fix Fic. I like Celestia and Sombro as a couple, I just think it, like a lot of things in this arc, could've been elaborated more.

I only read this arc two weeks ago, and I loved it.
I made my own brief review here.

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