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Imaginary Valued


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Jun
21st
2015

Princess Spike episode review · 1:59am Jun 21st, 2015

The question of the lovely MLP day: was it a good Spike episode?

My verdict: Yes. But not really.

I have some rather discombobulating feelings about the episode. There were a quite a few things I rather liked about it, such as Spike's characterization, in particular his dedication to his mission towards Twilight's well-being. But the writing felt rather forced in places and when the tentative third act rolled out the story plummeted into a downward spiral of cartoony hijinks and poor story composition and a confusing resolution. And since because I'm a dweeb blessed with free time rather than a respectable ability to convey thoughts and feelings via succinct writing, I'm going to tackle this sporadic review in a more comprehensive manner.

WARNING: SPOILERZ.

What's the premise? Twilight hasn't slept for three days and desperately needs to take a nap before she dies from pure exhaustion. As usual, Spike is left in charge of keeping our favorite Purple Smart alive and in good health, being tasked by Cadance to ensure that "she isn't disturbed" and allowed to properly recuperate. Sounds simple enough, which of course means that every single thing that could possibly undermine Spike's success is out to spite him, and none of the characters possess any form of basic problem solving skills.

We witness the first bit of problems when Spike spots a bird chirping on the tip of what I guess is a castle spire. Suffering from the aforementioned lack of problem solving skills, Spike decides not to close the window and instead, as usual, uses his absentmindedly amazing physical abilities to climb the entire structure so he could kindly ask the bird not to sing too loudly and disturb Twilight's sleep. Unfortunately, the bird happened to be a giant avian prick, and not only ignores Spike's request but also flies directly into Twilight's room to perch on the princess' horn in order to express how much it loves being an asshole.

A bit of contrived writing occurs here, in my opinion, with Spike pleading with the bird to "just please stop singing before you wake the princess!" Normally, Spike would probably address Twilight by name instead of her title, but since the story needs him to start recognizing the convenience of utilizing a royal title, he deviates from his usual behavior.

The bird, although a prick of its kind, somehow respects pony royalty and departs. Obviously, the noise problems don't end there, and Spike ends up having to break up a rousing game of polo (once again, using some rather impressive physical feats) as well as halt the construction work of removing some dragonsneeze trees (wuh? Which idiots planted those in the first place?) and repairing a faulty water main, the later of which was foreshadowed to be a consequence so heavily I didn't even need the obligatory dun-dun-duuuuun.

And here's where the main problem of the episode manifests. Everything that happens between now and the third act where butt excretions hit the proverbial fan (somewhere around the 15:00 mark), is inconsequential to the overall episode. This normally would be fine, since not everything needs to be crucial to the story, but the writing deceitfully uses twisted reasoning in order to lay the blame on Spike, when in actuality from what we've seen most of his decisions were sound or largely harmless.

To put it plainly, the entire culminating mess was caused by a freak accident that only pertains to Spike's attempts at ridding the noise pollution instead of his many later decisions. First, a polo ball was launched by the previous group of ponies (who have no business playing polo if they're going to hit the ball so hard that sails it over the castle walls), creating a domino effect that knocks over all the necessary dragonsneeze trees (ugh) to impact the damaged water main with enough force to crack it open, which then with an incredible amount of precision spurts so much water through the conspicuously opened second story window that it floods the entire summit ballroom. The whole scene then ends with Spike sneezing due to a wayward dragonsneeze branch and breaking apart the gem-composed horse statue prepared for the summit.

The writers basically wrote a literary version of

But for Spike, so it was more like a 'dragonsbane snare.' Shuddup, it's not any dumber than dragonsneeze trees.

So everyone affected by the disastrous situation was understandably upset. They then do the sensible thing by forming an angry mob to lay a verbal and whiny siege on their beloved princess. Because they don't like things that "give Canterlot a bad name in the eyes of Equestria." To be fair, though, having Fancy Pants as the instigator and spokesman of an unruly crowd was pretty fun.

So the resolution part of the episode comes around and Twilight wakes up in better spirits, ready to take on the world, only to quickly find the world consisted of a bunch of angry nutters. Soon Spike fesses up that he made a bunch of executive decisions on her behalf that led to the whole mess and that everything was his fault. Except, y'know, it really was a series of unfortunate events that stemmed from his desire to ensure Twilight has a pleasant rest and not a product of his little foray into pony management.

In fact, from we've seen it's reasonable to assume Spike has adequately resolved most if not all the issues he was presented with, barring his slight abuse of royal power to get a few goodies, which while dishonest and should be reprimanded for was ultimately harmless. Spike's declaration of "I'm a decision making master!" was actually well earned.

But of course a lesson needs to be learned by the end of the episode, so Spike's accomplishments were ignored and his alleged faults highlighted and he makes a speech about unity or some other rubbish and a feel-good moment happens as the ponies help Spike to put the statue back together. All's well that ends well and shit.

So back to my verdict: Yes, this was a good Spike episode. The characterization of Spike was rather spot-on. He was able to handle what seemed like tough situations remarkably well and aside from the initial three decisions that led to his downfall in a contrived sequence of events, was able to make good judgments while still retaining the endearing flaws that make him Spike.

Buuuuuut not really. The writers clearly didn't know how to wrap up the episode with Spike learning a lesson, since the whole situation was mainly caused by forces outside his control rather than poor decision making. So on top of just lumping all the blame onto Spike they even twisted his accomplishments into something negative and introduced the theme of unity and selflessness that barely had anything to do with Spike, considering he was more or less entirely focused on keep Twilight happily rested, and did not, as they put it, "used my friend's position to make myself feel good."

Now that I've written all of that, I think I know how better to sum up my thoughts: I liked the episode for Spike, but I despised it for the story. Thanks for reading. :twilightsmile:

And hey, at the very least we know what Rarity's getting for her birthday.

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Comments ( 4 )

Haven't seen it yet, but based on all that I've been reading, it seems that you've hit the nail on the head. The writers have begun having to bend over backwards to make Spike seem like the culprit, and the fandom has started to notice that it just doesn't work without a long string of Idiot Plot to make it "work."

I agree, but must go a little deeper.

1. When Spike first confronted the the construction pony about the watermain he asked why it wasn't done earlier. This was treated as a throwaway gag, despite actually being a very good point. That applies even more so to the trees.

2. Everypony knew that Twilight had been up for three days straight and thus was in serious need of some rest. Puting aside the issue of the delegates ignoring her needs for thier own petty problems; the trees and watermain really couldn't have been taken care of via quieter means? For example, oh I don't know, UNICORN MAGIC.:flutterrage:

3. During the opening part of the episode, Spike announced his desire to be helpful to everyone there. The whole decision making thing allowed him to do just that AND help Twilight at the same time. It has long been established that assisting Twilight is even more important to Spike than chasing after Rarity. Taking those things into account, he should have felt content, not drunk on power. So the sudden heel-turn did nothing to serve his characterisation.

4. The power-drunkenness that was shoehorned in just to make Spike guilty of something was ultimately unrelated to the actual conflict. In other words, it did nothing to serve the plot either.

5. Spike was forced to apologise for the conflict he wasn't even responsible for to a mob of delegates who are clearly too incompetent for there jobs.

6. As the final straw, the mob was lead by the pony who was ACTUALLY responsible for the conflict.

In the end, the episode could have been saved by two changes. First, drop the whole power-drunkenness thing. Second, be a little unique by having the delegates learn a lesson instead. (or just Fancy Pants)

I've long since given upon on deep analyzing plots of MLP episodes because I had forgotten who the target demographic of this show was. Spike is the oft abused and neglected buttmonkey in the canon because I guess someone has to be.

Overall very well said. You summed up the underlying feelings of bleh I had throughout the whole episode, but couldn't quite put into works even to myself.

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