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Dec
16th
2015

Cutie Re-Mark reactions · 10:33pm Dec 16th, 2015

I let slip a while ago that I had yet to see the season finale, and StrangeReasoning requested I give my first impression when I actually got around to it.

I have now done so.

That, and massive spoilers below the cut.

(All time-stamps are for the Netflix version, if there is any difference.)


1:00 - Wow, Twilight holding a speach. Never seen that before.

Seriously, starting to get a bit old. There are other royal duties, after all.


2:40 - Anybody notice that earth ponies seem in general to have three types of jobs? Farming, food… or the fashion industry.

Seriously, it might have been me binging one and a half season to catch up, but it's a bit disturbing.

Just once it would be nice seeing an earth pony aristocrat, you know? Prove that you don’t need a horn to reach the cream of the cream in Equestrian society, I mean.


2: 56 - Speaking of disturbing…

KNow I’ve commented on this a few times already in my stories, but…

Rainbow Dash did a legendary pegasi deed. Right in this moment, even pointed out as the catalyst for five other fillies/mares becoming legendary heros by Twilight herself. A deed she later went on to be the only pony to have ever mastered, something that not even the princesses themselves have been shown capable of performing.

Twilight had a magical breakdown. What basically amounted to a magic overdose. Nearly destroying a whole school in the process.

If you knew nothing about the show, which one of those two characters would you have actually pegged as becoming the royal student?

I’m just saying: It ain’t easy not getting a ‘unicorn master race’ vibe when the above happens, and every single one of Celestia’s students shown has so far been unicorns.


3:00 - Gha!

Just look at that crowd scene! Not one none-unicorn!

For a lecture about cutie mark magic! The one type of magic we’ve seen so far is canonically universal among all ponies!

Seriously, that’s kinda fucked up. There was literally not one non-unicorn intellectual in all of the country's capital?

Wonder if that’s why Cadance seemed to be a hidden away mystery in-universe before her wedding slash the Empire? Can’t have the cloud kickers getting upity and think they can actually amount to something one day! Better bury Cadance’s origin deep, and wait for her to seem like she was born with that horn on her head!

Come to think about it, I do genuinely wonder if that’s why ‘Love’ keeps flipping between somepony that actually deserves that title and the most spiteful bitch in all of the show…

Probably not, too dark, but makes you wonder, doesn’t it?


4: 30 - Wow, the security standards in Equestria are utterly rotten.

One of the four royal castles, and not even a lock on the darn front-door? Or the throne-room of ultimate friendship power?

At least Sunset Shimmer had the excuse that Celestia was genuinely hopeful she’d see the errors of her ways and come back, and snuck in during the night anyway.

Interesting that of all the seats, What’s-Her-Face picked Kindness, thought, and that it seemed to respond at least a little bit to her. I’ll grant the scene that much.


6:43 - Like that they actually acknowledged that What’s-Her-Face actually did something that stumped the expert in the field of time-travel.


7:13 - Spike having to stop Twilight from saving Fluttershy? Also a nice touch.


~8:00 - Aww… Poor little filly Mane Six.

Does show just how fickle and non-set in stone ‘destiny’ seems to be in Equestria, though. Free will definitely seem to be a thing in the setting.


9:00 - “And thus, with the giant eye-sore of a castle never having been, the entire real estate market in Ponyville soared!”

Seriously, thought, the design of the Castle of Friendship is growing on me, but I have to admit I see why some people hate it.


10:53 - The farm! It’s… slightly industrialized, instead of the serfs doing everything by hoof!

The horror! The horror!

Seriously, wow, talk about not giving your friend’s family any credit.


11;22 - Remind me again, isn’t Twilight supposed to be the neurotic genius?

Because so far, her brains seems to be on a vacation this episode, and I hate the idiot ball trope.

Seriously, what was she expecting? A deep, passionate hug from the mare that clearly in this timeline is one of the few ponies with a purpose in the bleak alternative universe Twilight's horrible security standards have caused?

Seriously seriously, one damn padlock on the door to the throne room, and this entire two-parter would never have happened.

I mean, it didn’t work because Spike is both an idiot and a dragon, but even the magical book in Inspiration Manifesto had that much security!


12:07 - Well, at least Twilight tried being honest.

She could have been smart and honest, and spread those wings of hers to at least tangentially prove that an Alicorn had just seemingly popped out of nowhere, but still.


12: 54 - Best pony is best pony!

Not a big fan of time travel plots, but at least this one actually acknowledged the ‘time machine’ as being a strange magical doohickey. Props for that, at least.


13:40 - Whoa!

A battle version of the wonderbolt suit? Didn’t see that coming. Neat.


14.00 - So…

It took the world ending for Rainbow Dash to actually become a Wonderbolt, huh?

Does that mean… that they are genuinely saying that Fluttershy’s been holding her back? That’s… a bit dark.

Love the prosthetic wing, though. Wonder if that’s alternate universe tech/magic only, or not?


14: 48 - Augh…

That freeze-frame bonus with Rarity. Talk about a pony that’s missreble, but still doing her best.

The difference a mane style change can do to tell you what a character is going though. Impressive stuff.


15: 42 - This is one of the things I find most disturbing with time-travel stories. The ones that don’t use stable time loops, at any rate.

Just what happened to that ‘War Vrs Sombra’ timeline? Does it ‘tick on’ as missreble but still fighting on, or did Twilight just unmake it and all the sacrifices those ponies had made?

Dark stuff, and almost no stories ever address it.


17:11 - Really wish Starlight wasn’t such a stinking hypocrite.

The story, and whatever the intro two-parter would have been far stronger (from what I’ve seen so far) if she genuinely believed the clap-trap she’s selling down to actually walking the walk herself.

That way, she’d been a deluded but brilliant mare, doing what she thinks is the right thing. A far more sympathetic motivation.

Now she’s… well, just a hypocrite that likes to rule over other ponies.


17:30 - WOW!

Sure, now remember that you’ve got a horn, Twilight! And that Spike doesn’t have wings!

Not impressed at all with Twilight’s inteligence levels in this episode.


18:15 - …

OK, I know I’ve given this first episode a lot of flack…

But the villain winning by stopping bullying before it can even happen? Did not see that one coming, and I’m big enough man to admit that.

It does raise some ugly philosophical points, though. If the bullying was meant ot happen, doesn’t that mean that those three colts had in their own way just as important a destiny as the Mane Six?

And that predestined destiny… well, rather sucks for all involved?

Oh, and young Fluttershy was adorable.


18: 53 - I’m sorry, show, but I’m siding far more with your villain here.

The good guys keep saying ‘unique’ and ‘special,’ but I actually keep hearing ‘cog in a destiny machine’ and ‘don’t reach beyond your station.’

You know, because Twilight is literally nobility since birth, and part of the favored caste atop of that!

Of course she wants things as they’ve always been!


19:38 - Stranger danger! Stranger danger!

Seriously, Twilight! Stop being criminally stupid!


20:03 - Holy fuck on toast.

Somepony actually noticed the alicorn thing, and it was Rainbow Dash.

In this time-period there is apparently officially one! One! One living, breathing sun goddess that has lead the country through almost a thousand years of peace and prosperity!

THAT SHOULD NOT BE TREATED LIKE A MAN WITH A NASTY MOLE WALKING THROUGH TOWN! YOU REALLY SHOULD BE NOTICING THE DEMI-GOD FLAPPING HER DAMN WINGS WHILE LEVITATING A DAMN DRAGON!

And stop being the Alicorn of STUPID, TWILIGHT! I know you’re smarter than this!

Seriously, Twilight was not the right pony as main character for this two parter. This feels like a Rainbow Dash plot marketing desided needed more purple, if you know what I mean.

And that would have instantly made it awesome instead of insufferable.

Think about it. Dash and Spike, having to plan and convince ponies they aren’t crazy. Instead of Twilight suddenly being an idiot, it would have been the group's two biggest idiots suddenly needing to measure up or have all they’ve ever fought for turn to nothing.

If it must be an unicorn saving the day, let it be Rarity wrestling with big, scary magic on her lone-some for the first time since Inspiration Manifesto but with way higher stakes.

But nope. Twilight is always the main character. Marketing says so.


21:34 - Amazon... Fluttershy?

Well…. Huh.

And again, the wings and horn only being noticed when the plot demands it. Great.


Summation:

I’m sorry, but I’m not impressed by this part one.

Neat idea, but horrible execution.

Pro tip? When the plot forces the characters to drop 90 points from their IQ to work? That’s forcing it.

So far, this is the worst two-parter in the series so far. And since I’m personally just coming off a binge to get this far that involved the Tirek two-parter? It feels downright painful to watch at times.



Part two:


2:45 - …

WHAT.

There is more intelligence and actual thought in these first two minutes, then the last twenty-two!

Does rhyming sap so much mental energy that the idiot part of your brain dies, or something?


3:22 - Zecora shouldn’t need to tell this to the one pony in the main caste with prior time-travel experience, let alone experience with theoretical magic, that choices have consequences.

Again, I’m betting that the original script for this didn’t feature Twilight. She’s been acting like a fumbling idiot way outside her expertise when that expertise is supposed to be Magic.


5:20 - Wow, what a dramatic chase.

If only Twilight could teleport. Or fly.

Maybe even both at the same time!

Like, you know, SHE DID IN THE LAST PART! SEVERAL TIMES!

Again, I’m convinced this was meant to be one of the other main character’s getting a chance to shine. Sure feels like it, at least.


6:00 - Speak of the teleporting devil…


7:00 - Again, rings rather hollow when the demi-goddess is exhausted after a slapfight with a mortal.

Again, again, I’d almost bet actual money Twilight was meant to barely be in this finale back at script level, but executive meddling changed the focus character.


8:22 - Why, hello Nightmare Moon doing a face that will haunt my nightmares!

Bit ruined by the standard evil cackling a few seconds later, but Nightmare’s always done that so I guess I can’t complain this time.

Again, why doesn’t Twilight just extend her wings, say: ‘I’m from the future, please help me?’

I mean, fine, Sombra and Chrysalis both have rather anti-friendship agendas, but Nightmare Moon’s beef was always respect and getting her due.

She’s deluded, yeah, but her subjects meant enough that even after a thousend years her first words back on the surface were: ‘Ah, my beloved subjects.’ Only getting angry when she got to the ‘sun loving’ part!

Couldn't Twilight at least have tried reasoning with her? That would have been far neater.


9:31 - Did they do something to Nightmare Moon’s fangs?

She looks way, way goofier, somehow. Lke she’s wearing false fangs instead of having the real deal.


10: 21 - …

Why is Twilight being this mean and arrogant towards Nightmare Moon? She knows that that is Luna under there deep down, right?

Or is the morale of the story, that you are only ‘truly’ good if magical artifacts makes you that way?

Because she’s being a bit bombastic here, but Nightmare Moon isn’t actually doing anything wrong here. There’s a threat to her legitimate reign, and she’s trying to either cease that power for herself or disable it. The only threat being that, gasp, Twilight and her friend will be restrained and kept away from one another.

Celestia, the settings goody-good, would have done the same thing!

And it's not like the verdant forest, the spiffy castle, or the hale and hearty minions seem to be suffering under her night, so not even that’s an excuse.

And that big no? That didn’t sound like a villain being thwarted to me, but a mare genuinely getting that all that she’s worked, fought and strived for is about to fade away like morning mist.
A moment of terror before only oblivion awaits!

For kids!

11:05 - Pfff…

OK, that golf clap after Twilight crystallized Rainbow Dash? That was actually genuinely funny.


12:35 - Well, Twilight remembered that she’s the smart one.

Took her long enough, but some progress, at least.


15:15 - Again, I’m seeing the villain's point here.

Cutie marks are freaking disturbing little mind-control thingies like we saw in ‘What My Cutie Mark Is Telling Me,’, and I’m not seeing why wanting to say ‘no’ to that makes you a bad pony.

Trying to force it on everypony else is really bad, yeah, but not as an individual choice.

Again, What’s-Her-Face would have been far more interesting if her village was a happy place, that just happened to be disrupting Harmony across the nation due to the lack of every little cog that didn’t want to be part of that grand tapestry of fate being ‘missing’ from that interaction


17:55 - ‘I mean, I knew my Rainboom was awesome, but I never expected all of Equestria depended on it!’

There! The show itself said it!

Seriously, why is this not seen as more important?! Why does Rainbow Dash need to keep slamming her head against the gate of the Wonderbolts again and again, when Twilight got her life’s dream handed to her on a silver platter?!

Twice! Three times, if you count being given her castle for something the whole group did!


18:35 - At least What’s-Her-Face whopping Twilight's sorry ass in what she’s supposed to be the alicorn of got acknowledged.

Wasn’t expecting that, truth be told.


20:00 - I guess it’s fitting for the worst song so far to finish up the worst special FiM has had so far…?


Final thoughts:

I will give the special this much: The solution being talking with the poor girl was a nice touch. It actually made the solution be, in a way, to offer What’s-Her-Face friendship, and that’s a nice message.

What isn’t nice was how the whole world, pun unintended, had to bend to get that plot going.

Again, Twilight was a horrible choice for leading mare this time around. She kept acting like an idiot, and I simply can’t root for idiots I know are capable of so much more.

And Spike? Didn’t do jack in the end. He was a ballast to slow Twilight down.

Again, again, this story would have been much improved by being about near any of the other members of the Mane Six. Hell, I’d go so far that it would have been good enough to be worthy of letting them earn their wings and/or horns.

Applejack, trying desperately to deal with world after world where nobody believes her for speaking the truth, as well as the problems with an earth pony trying to move around Cloudsdale.

Pinkie, having to use her Pinkie-ness and previously demonstrated flying skills, while each world makes her feel like laughing less and less.

Rainbow Dash, seeing her moment of greatness unmade and her friends harmed horribly, again and again.

Rarity, needing to use her tailor skills to fight what’s clearly a freaking archmage, while she herself can barely fight and stay airborne at the same time..

Fluttershy, seeing horror after horror, knowing that if she gives up she’ll never see her friends again. Actually having to rally more and more on that iron core we’ve seen glimpses off, only to need to remember to be kind again in the end.

Instead we got Twilight forgetting her intelligence and her skills again and again, because the script demanded it.

Ugh, this was a frustrating watch. Not outright bad, but man, did this have a ton of unused potential.

I’m not sure if it’s damning with faint praise or not, but I’ve seen FiM do better than this. A strangely average and middling note to end the season on, and I’m glad that we’ve got at least one more season and a movie coming, because if the show itself had ended on this weak a note it would have broken my heart.

And there you have it.

I think the above is going to be a bit controversial since I've heard many, many of you loved the finale, but please be gentle. I'm just trying to be, well, honest about what I thought watching it.

Still... Thoughts? Counter arguments? Death threats? Feel free to weight in with what you think.

I will admit, a lot of interesting things happened in this special, I just didn't think they fit into a cohesive whole, and the story suffered for it almost as much as the poor choice in focus character.

Comments ( 25 )

...I don't think anyone expected you to give an annotated and timestamped protocol, that much I can tell you.

Me, I don't really watch the show, so I don't have strong feelings on it. Personally though, from what I've seen of the character so far, I don't really like Starlight Glimmer a whole lot, not as a villain and not as a character. Everything about her is just so petty. Previous villains had their quirks, but on the whole? They still had this somewhat epic quality to them. Nightmare Moon's insanity, Discord's being-himself, Chrysalis on a path of conquest to feed her people... you know, that kind of thing is what makes for a good villain. Starlight, though? She's petty all the way through. Her entire villain backstory is one big childish temper tantrum, even worse than Nightmare Moon was, but without the benefit of a legendary and imposing backstory and setting role to make up for it. She just feels small.

All in all, I think she's quickly going to be taking last place in villain ranking terms, even behind Sombra and Tirek, and those were previously absolutely the worst of the bunch.

Interesting that of all the seats, What’s-Her-Face picked Kindness, thought, and that it seemed to respond at least a little bit to her. I’ll grant the scene that much.

You're viewing the wrong image here. It's not kindness she's sitting in front of, it's butterflies.
The Butterfly Effect.

3622732

...I don't think anyone expected you to give an annotated and timestamped protocol, that much I can tell you.

Tis' a silly little title, but I try to live up to it. :derpytongue2:

But yeah, I think 'petty' sums it up regerding Star-Something.

I'm really sopposed to take a mortal with a chip on her shoulder more seriusly than Pony-Souron and three physical gods? Four if you see Chrysalis as in that weight-class?

Even with a 'evil mirror of Twilight' angle I don't quite buy it since Sunset Shimmer already filled that role quite well and managed to be more sympaphetic while doing so.

3622752

Ehh...

I guess that could be it? But persoally, I think the Tree sensing that Star-Something is doing her scheme for the sake of missguided kindness and letting things happen to let her learn her lesson is far more interesting then just a stealth-pun.

3622792

I'm really sopposed to take a mortal with a chip on her shoulder more seriusly than Pony-Souron and three physical gods? Four if you see Chrysalis as in that weight-class?

"God" is a word that gets thrown around way too much in regards to the characters in this show, if you ask me. The only one who really reasonably could lay claim to that title is, in my opinion, Discord. As to Chrysalis... well, she did beat up Celestia that one time. I'd say that makes them potential equals, at least.

The thing that bothers me isn't her power level, though. "Merely" normal people can do grand and terrible things, if you write them right, and breaking history would, in any other situation, be a legitimately epic feat. What bothers me about her is the pettiness of her motivations. In a way she's like Luna, but writ much, much smaller. Luna wanted the worship and adoration of hundreds of thousands, spread over hundreds of years, all for the entire half of every single day she creates and didn't get her (self-assessed) deserved honor for. It's a motivation that's larger than life, something I can, in a way, respect.

Starlight Glimmer has the emos because that one guy snubbed her that one time. It's just kind of pathetic and laughable in comparison.

3622806 Physical gods come in large scale differences as well. Those of DnD, or Warhammer 40k, or otherwise, are at the higher end of the scale. In both cases, their avatars tend to be far lower down.

Marvel's Asgards on the other hand, those are close to the level of god we are talking about here. Something like a high level archmage with significant magic, physical enhancement, frequently capable of flight, and generally more than a match for large numbers of mundane combatants. The majority of superheros in DC and Marvel with actual superpowers qualify as that lower tier of god, or are somewhere close to it.

Discord is certainly on the high end of the god scale.

----

This is why I end up reading fanfiction more than watch the show, aside from season finales, and occasional episodes to understand various references. Its not actually as good a show as a lot of people seem to think, and does seem to have dropped in quality. I agree that it would make more sense if it was supposed to be another character.

I did however, from the first time I saw the rainboom flashback, KNOW that it was an ideal setup for a time-travel based disruption. I wish this episode had been better however.

3622806

"God" is a word that gets thrown around way too much in regards to the characters in this show, if you ask me. The only one who really reasonably could lay claim to that title is, in my opinion, Discord. As to Chrysalis... well, she did beat up Celestia that one time. I'd say that makes them potential equals, at least.

If it makes any diffrence when I say 'god,' I mean in the classical sense. A being with such power over one or a few areas of expertice, that argubly its an extension of their will.

Personally, I think the alicorns and Discord fit that definition.

I know it can get controversial and confusing quickly when other people read that as capital G God, but again, I don't mean that power-level.

Starlight Glimmer has the emos because that one guy snubbed her that one time. It's just kind of pathetic and laughable in comparison.

Do agree 100% with this, though. Given the near forces of nature Twilight faced back when she was mortal, Starlight and her struggles feels really small and unimportant in comparison.

3622836
3622837
Just to bring everyone onto the same page there, this is what I think when I hear the word "god":

“Call themselves?" asked Yama. "You are wrong, Sam, Godhood is more than a name. It is a condition of being. One does not achieve it merely by being immortal, for even the lowliest laborer in the fields may achieve continuity of existence. Is it then the conditioning of an Aspect? No. Any competent hypnotist can play games with the self-image. Is it the raising up of an Attribute? Of course not. I can design machines more powerful and more accurate than any faculty a man may cultivate.

Being a god is the quality of being able to be yourself to such an extent that your passions correspond with the forces of the universe, so that those who look upon you know this without hearing your name spoken. Some ancient poet said that the world is full of echoes and correspondences. Another wrote a long poem of an inferno, wherein each man suffered a torture which coincided in nature with those forces which had ruled his life.

Being a god is being able to recognize within one's self these things that are important, and then to strike the single note that brings them into alignment with everything else that exists.

Then, beyond morals or logic or esthetics, one is wind or fire, the sea, the mountains, rain, the sun or the stars, the flight of an arrow, the end of a day, the clasp of love. One rules through one's ruling passions. Those who look upon gods then say, without even knowing their names, 'He is Fire. She is Dance. He is Destruction. She is Love.' So, to reply to your statement, they do not call themselves gods. Everyone else does, though, everyone who beholds them."

It's not about power, it's about an undefinable quality of divinity that would set them apart from other creatures that are equally powerful but not gods - like, say, the demons that most religions have. And, let's be honest, none of the show's higher-powered characters particularly match that in any real sense. Their domains, insofar as they have them, can be handed around like town council appointments, if necessary. A sun god who can push around the moon is not a sun god to begin with. They're not really a fundamental part of them in any meaningful way. Never even mind the part where that kind of thing used to be done through a group effort by the regular pointy-heads.

This is why I end up reading fanfiction more than watch the show, aside from season finales, and occasional episodes to understand various references. Its not actually as good a show as a lot of people seem to think, and does seem to have dropped in quality.

I do agree with this. It looks cute-ish, but I don't think I'd actually enjoy it all that much, especially now that it has been becoming less and less thematically consistent. I mostly read the fanfics because I've found that something about them comes together for me in an entertaining way. I've never really been into the source material.

Do agree 100% with this, though. Given the near forces of nature Twilight faced back when she was mortal, Starlight and her struggles feels really small and unimportant in comparison.

Well, word of god is that "Twilight will not outlive her friends," so I suppose we can at least say that she's still mortal, whatever else she is. One way or another, "petty" and "unimpressive" are not things a villain should ever be. That ruins their entire point - if the viewer can't be impressed by the villain, then what makes watching the struggle against them interesting to watch? They're barely appear to be worth the effort, after all.

Seriously. Fate/destiny has always been a shitty cop out to actual plot development/backstory/character motivation.

You know Canterlot isn't really that important, except for its where the Princesses live, right? It's like Washington DC. There's government there, but if you want to see the beating heart of the country, you go to New York City, or in this case Manehatten, which is much bigger, filled with much more advanced technology, and apparently run by wealthy earth ponies. Look at who the really wealthy business-ponies are, not just who the nobility (who are basically beauracrats at this point are). Notice the lack of horns on their heads, unless they are those two mad scientists/con men who can never seem to get a business going. I'm willing to bet you that 40 of the 50 richest ponies in Equestria are earth ponies. (Plus 9 unicorns and AK Yearling).

A big slice of the ponies making up the Equestrian elite are earth ponies, as we are shown in Equestrian Games. And when we finally see the Equestrian Parliament in Princess Spike, majority earth ponies, but fairly balanced out between the 3 tribes. It's hard to spot the discrimination there.

You make a lot of fair points; though I personally found the finale more or less okay, there was a constant wrongness about the whole thing that just sat there in the back of my mind and stopped it being much fun to watch. Definitely the worst of the big 2-part episodes, despite the huge amount of potential it had from its premise - I think this is probably the best example I've seen in FiM of a good idea with bad execution.

I didn't think of it before you brought it up here, but it does seem like the episode was for another character originally. The lengths they go to in this one to make Twilight a match for Starlight are absurd; an alicorn should not have this much trouble fighting a unicorn, even if they are powerful, but an earth pony? a pegasus? Rarity? Any one of them would have been a better choice as protagonist, especially since none of their talents align very well with fighting a time traveling warlock.

Dash is fast and strong enough to take the fight to Starlight on a physical front, but she knows basically nothing about magic, whereas Starlight seems nearly as well versed in it as Twilight. There would have been great opportunity to use the fact that neither one shares the other's expertise, not just in fights but in Dash trying to work out how to put things right, since having the responsibility for making all the plans would be a long way outside of her comfort zone, especially given the stakes. Heck, they could even have used the insecurity she's sometimes been hinted at having to deepen her character - actually seeing Dash get to the point where she just gives up could have been a really powerful moment, handled right, and Spike might actually have been useful as moral support for her.

AJ, like Dash, really doesn't have much background in magic. She's a farmer, it's just not in her realm of expertise. There are definite underdog and everymare themes they could have played to with her, since she'd be even more outmatched than Dash against Starlight in a straight fight. Being flightless and without unicorn magic would also present its problems, but on the other hand, it would also let the show put earth pony strengths and magic in the limelight for once. Constantly being doubted would have been a good plot point for her, since she's the Element of Honesty, yet being consistently treated as a liar or a madmare for speaking the truth.

Pinkie's powers make her more of a match for Starlight than AJ or Dash, but even then they're mostly useful for being forewarned (Pinkie Sense) or getting about in ways that don't make sense. Not much short of the Party Cannon would be useful for fighting, although her antics might have driven Starlight as furious as it did Twilight, which not only would have been a nice callback, but also would have built on the episode's final theme of solving conflict through non-combative means (eventually). Pinkie, also, makes for a great fit as the pony to talk Starlight down, since not only is she a good-natured and talkative pony in general, she wants to be everyone's friend no matter how nasty and, most crucially, has serious abandonment issues (Party of One) which give her some solid common ground with Starlight.

Rarity might have been one of the best alternatives to Twilight, simply by virtue of being a unicorn. She has magic, and some skill at using it (the gem finding spell seems quite advanced to me) but it's specialised to one area, which still puts her at the level of disadvantage against Starlight that Twilight inexplicably was. It would have been interesting to see her think outside the box (she's a creative pony, after all) and use the spells she knows in new ways to deal with the challenges she'd have faced. As Generosity, she'd also be a logical choice of pony to talk Starlight down. She'd also be the best character to have Spike go along with, since they have some serious issues of their own to work through (namely, Spike's crush) which have thus far been abandoned for the most part by the writers.

Fluttershy, I think, would have been the worst option of the others as protagonist, but even she'd be more believable than Twilight, especially in how unmatched they'd be. She was scared of Princess Luna, who she'd personally helped save from being Nightmare Moon, so how much worse would it have been for her to face up against Starlight alone? This is a mare who has already stolen her cutie mark and trapped her, however temporarily, in her little dictatorship, and one who's coming for her to get revenge. Being forced to rely on her assertive side would have made for an interesting character arc, especially if, as you seem to be suggesting, she might have had to break free of that alter ego again, in order to claim victory at last through an act of Kindness.

I didn't mean to go on so long about that one point of yours, but you gave me a lot of food for thought.

On the topic of Rainbow Dash and the general sense of inequality between the unicorns and other ponies, it's bothered me for a while now that Dash, despite being the only one known to have performed the Rainboom, has so much trouble getting into the Wonderbolts, whilst Twilight got into the most prestigious school in the country on account of having a breakdown and nearly blowing up the building with her magic. Both of them are clearly exceptional examples of their races' abilities, and arguably their races' magic, but whereas one of them kept their exceptional ability under control and unintentionally set in motion the events which led to the Mane 6 becoming who their were, the other had a spectacular loss of control, both mentally and magically, and didn't really achieve much by it besides hatching Spike and causing a ton of collateral damage.

Looking at it objectively, and as if I hadn't seen the show, Dash would seem the more likely candidate for Celestia's student: she's gifted, performed an incredible feat and, as we've seen in the show, very dedicated to her training. Twilight, on the other hand, would seem more likely to be the one striving to prove herself and join the elite ranks of her idols: she's just as gifted as Rainbow is, but given that she lost control of her magic, especially in such a spectacular manner, it would make sense that she would have to work to get where she wants rather than getting a free pass - certainly, you might expect that she'd be turned away until she's learned proper control (although you could argue that Celestia's the best one to teach her that). It's really kinda weird that their roles are reversed in the show, given their origins. Heck, their personalities would still make sense if they switched roles: Dash, as not only a talented mare with the Rainboom to brag about, but also the princess's personal student, would make perfect sense as her overly-confident, headstrong self, whilst Twilight's downright neurotic behaviour at times and desperation to please those she looks up to would match up well with somepony whose hopes and dreams rely on proving herself to an elite few with high expectations.

Anyway, I've rambled on too long already, but I have to say I really agree with your views on the episode and found your ideas fascinating. It's part of why I've gone off on so many tangents in this comment - your points are well-made and quite often insightful; I've gotten a ton of ideas just reading this. Thanks for sharing what you thought of the episode; I, for one, found it a good read.

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I wouldn't go that far. The notion that there exist an path or force most of us can't even hope to strive against has some really distrubing and interesting implications.

I agree that it is very overused in the fantasy genera, though, but I like how subtly FiM does it most of the time. You can write it all of as in-universe culture mixed with magic making such things more self-fullfiling if you want to, I mean.

3622954
I'm frankly not fond of fate or destiny as an explanation for anything. For one, in spite of the fact that it's a major point of a few episodes, I think it is thematically inappropriate. If the relationship between a group of people is destined, then it is not their choice. The friendship is not really theirs, because they never actually had the option to say "no." Relationships are given meaning by choice, by the participants' active and willful decision to care and get invested in each other. Removing that makes them hollow and meaningless. The main cast aren't the elements because of destiny, they are because that is who they decided to be during the first episode. That's why they're special, not because some cosmic author said so.

For the other, it's artistic laziness. Referring to destiny means that you couldn't or didn't care to come up with an organic, natural reason that grows out of the characters and the setting itself for the events to happen. It's an admission of creative failure and I think any author who uses it ought to be ashamed of themselves for that. It's the ultimate authorial contrivance.

3622954 So honestly, I am a fan of the old greek prophecy stories because I love the whole fighting against fate thing, oh and they fail. Sometimes that's entertaining.

That said, these days I'm mostly pissed at the word of god style fate. ME3 was a big one, actually a lot of recent sci-fi stories in general recently have gone the really stupid route of 'OMG AI's are bad, it was fate that did you in you foolish fools for creating life (y'know, like sex)' route, that just plain annoys me.

FiM on the other hand, does have it in the background, and that's nice, until any episode dealing with cutie marks. At that point its break out the idiot balls and pass them all around, 'cuz we're gonna have a grand ol' time now.

You know what? I might be transferring my hatred of all the anti-AI sci-fi stories that have been common recently onto any predestination story in existence. Both are pants-shittingly retarded in the vast majority of cases. There are good ones, they're just so frustratingly rare.

Note: pant-mishitting is a word that is accepted by my dictionary, the above is not.

When I think god, It heavily depends on the context.

In real life, Its used as an explitive, and thats about it. I don't believe in God, or any of the other mythos gods. If they want to come out and show themselves as existing, I would happily believe in them, on account of my wanting to believe in things that exist, but since this isn't the case, I don't.

In most works on fiction, be them books, fanfictions, TV/Movie, or videogame, I use whatever classification system the work uses. Gods in DnD are Physical but pretty much invulnerable and incredibly powerful. Warhammer gods are not physical. Marvel (Asgard) gods are 'merely' superhuman. I am not certain the status of all the DC gods, but there are some which are mostly physical, and some which are entirely etherial/transcent.

Warcraft 3 had Divine as an armor type which made demigod characters nigh-invulnerable. Those charcters were Demigods, which I think mythologically means the offspring of a God and a mortal.

God means a lot of different things depending on what work of fiction you are looking at.

Divine would be a better term to encompass such entities.

Dresden files: Mab, and all of the greater Fae would be considered Divine, as would the Red king, Demonreach.
MLP: Alicorns might be divine, but going by the show, it doesn't seem that way. As stated, unicorns, which partly define the powerlevel baseline could cooperate to move celestial objects. If you assume the unicorns doing that were all rather elite themselves, then Celestia and Luna would either need to be more powerful still by an order of magnitude, which at least puts them into divine status. Probably.
That said, In canon, neither show any meaningful combat aptitude.

In DC, plenty of superheroes have combat capabilities similar to what Tirek and Twilight were throwing around. However, in that continuity, they are still pretty low on the power curve. DC has a lot of far superior entities.

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That's specifically the kind of thing I wasn't talking about there. In in-story terms, the author gets to decide what a god is. They say it's so and then it's so. I was trying to give it a definition in terms outside of that - something that the word can actually descriptively mean all by itself.

I have gotten into conversations with people over this before, but I always have this problem that people keep using the word "god" and all seem to be having a very clear idea of what it means to them, given that they can seemingly identify them on sight - but none of that means anything to me. I literally have no idea what a god actually is in real terms, what makes them deserving of worship or even special and it kind of bothers me that people keep using it everywhere as if it actually really had a meaning. It doesn't seem to.

3622792 Next you'll tell me that you liked the last season finale.

I’m sorry, show, but I’m siding far more with your villain here.

The good guys keep saying ‘unique’ and ‘special,’ but I actually keep hearing ‘cog in a destiny machine’ and ‘don’t reach beyond your station.’

You know, because Twilight is literally nobility since birth, and part of the favored caste atop of that!

Of course she wants things as they’ve always been!

IT'S COMMUNISM TIME!
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Or is the morale of the story, that you are only ‘truly’ good if magical artifacts makes you that way?

I like to blame this sort of thing on Hasbro execs, but the show really has a severe problem with just letting "the magic of friendship" dictate whether characters are good or not as the writing agenda and executives demand, as well as a severe "keep to your station" problem.
3622944
THEY'VE GOT A PARLIAMENT NOW!?

Again, I’m seeing the villain's point here.

Cutie marks are freaking disturbing little mind-control thingies like we saw in ‘What My Cutie Mark Is Telling Me,’, and I’m not seeing why wanting to say ‘no’ to that makes you a bad pony.

CO-MUN-NISM TIIIIIIME.

Seriously, why is this not seen as more important?! Why does Rainbow Dash need to keep slamming her head against the gate of the Wonderbolts again and again, when Twilight got her life’s dream handed to her on a silver platter?!

Because they've got a Games-Workshop-level case of "DO NOT ADVANCE THE PLOT UNLESS AND UNTIL THE EXECS SAY TO ADVANCE THE PLOT."

Fluttershy, seeing horror after horror, knowing that if she gives up she’ll never see her friends again. Actually having to rally more and more on that iron core we’ve seen glimpses off, only to need to remember to be kind again in the end.

I don't even like Fluttershy that much, but it sounds like this story should very much have been "how Fluttershy became the Alicorn of Kindness". That would have fucking ruled. In fact, it would have been way more thematically in-touch with what I thought were the show's core themes, eg "be friends with others; it helps".

Instead, we are clearly observing that the real villain of MLP, against whom every last alicorn princess is powerless, is Destiny, with a possible side-dish of Harmony.

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Any criteria you can use outside of story terms would be subjective and noone would be able to agree with it. Only in fiction can you really narrow it down enough for a proper conversation.

God has no meaning in real life to me at least, beyond being used as an expletive. I don't think any entity is worthy of worship at all, at least not in the way that people seem to mean the word.

I suppose you could worship the sun, because that is the only entity that really seems properly godlike. It kinda created life on the world, in a sense, and keeps us all alive. Protects us to an extent as well.

3624170 They have the Grand Pony Summit, which is amazingly similar to what Parliament was in Great Britain before the Magna Carta, an advisory council from all the different parts of the country that meet with the ruler once or twice a year to inform the ruler of any ongoing concerns or problems.

3626000 STILL no democracy? Wow, they really are deliberately going for Medieval flavor, aren't they?

3626206 Democracy doesn't just naturally occur to people, it comes about when people are really sick of their abusive overlord, and usually they just stick another overlord in place. Only when people have replaced their king/whatever a bunch of times and seen the new one become as corrupt as the old one do they come up with the idea of everybody just voting for someone to run things for a while.

Ponies never got sick enough of Celestia to try and get rid of her (at least that we know of, successfully) so there's no reason they'd suddenly, spontaneously invent a conceptually difficult idea like democracy when ponies are happy with the way things are (mostly).

3626315 It's just unrealistic that one to two mares can run every single bit of public policy successfully all on their lonesome.

On the other hand, the first unrealistic thing on this show was that day-night cycles and seasons are brought about solely by ponies for ponies' benefit. Sooooooo... whatever, then.

3628550 You're absolutely right. I'm sure they have bureaucrats, seneschals and chamberlains. I would guess a lot of the modern nobility falls into that role. Raven, Fancy Pants, Blueblood, (Kibitz if you want to count the comics) all assist in running the government and probably have some level of delegated authority. But I would say all those others derive their authority from the Crown, and serve at the pleasure of the Princesses, so to speak. Like a modern governments heads of agencies, or even the permanent cabinet of the President.

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