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    Triple Threat - what could have been

    My basic opinion of 'Triple Threat' is that it was a pretty good Ember episode shoved inside of a crummy Spike episode.

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Triple Threat - what could have been · 7:02pm Aug 20th, 2017

My basic opinion of 'Triple Threat' is that it was a pretty good Ember episode shoved inside of a crummy Spike episode.

"Ember finds the castle delicious" was my favorite bit of the whole thing - plenty of fics on here with Spike liking to nibble on the walls just got some extra justification. Her taking that to mean 'cover the walls in food for a friend' was a silly outgrowth of that for a fish-out-of-water take that was novel and amusing. Showing off her firebreath and being aware that frequent use of firebreath was probably why the dragons had nothing around but rocks were both fun elements too. And Ember genuinely not being able to tell Starlight and Twilight apart was both an entertaining take on 'they all look alike to me', and also a pretty good wink to the fans who think Starlight is taking over the 'Twilight' role. I've got a deleted scene idea for that bit - Ember complains that they're both purple ponies with purple hair, Twilight says they're not the same shade and anyway they have different cutie marks, Ember frustratedly points out that for dragons, "I need to look at your butt to recognize you" would be a very socially awkward thing to say. She could also have lampshaded "It's easy to tell dragons apart, dragons all have different head and body shapes. You ponies have like three!" All in all, the Ember bits were very solid.

But then the Spike elements... "Oh no, two dates at once" is an incredibly overused, unfunny plot device - all the more so in this case where Spike could have just told Thorax "Oh, I didn't think you'd get here so fast. There's a diplomatic thing going on today, is it okay if we talk this evening?" Or just said "Hey, everyone, diplomatic introductions, I'd like to take you both around Ponyville today and I'll have one-on-ones with both of you, promise." Basically, he didn't have enough reason to keep them separate, and Twilight and Starlight both just went along with it without even bothering to try to point it out to him. If they'd at least said something and he'd done a puppy-eyes-and-pweeeze moment, then it would've been them letting him be in charge instead of them agreeing with him.

We did get to see Twilight's influence on Spike at the beginning - he obviously learned a lot from her, with the series of lists he made to prepare for an important event. He also learned her method of stress management - get far too worked up over it, stress himself into cross-eyed insanity, and come to some really stupid conclusions. The fact that he was behaving in a very Twilight-y manner there is the only reason I won't say he had a full on Idiot Ball the whole episode; he behaved stupidly, but there was a semi-plausible rationale for it. He's much more calm and collected when it's not *his* event, and he doesn't have many opportunities to be the Head Honcho in his own right.

I think it could've been a much stronger episode if they'd subverted the 'two dates at once' trope. Let Spike start by trying that - and then have Ember and Thorax meet each other before he can really get it all going. THEN have the Cutie Map call him - and let Ember and Thorax accompany him, both increasingly frustrated, as he tries to find and solve the friendship problem. There could be plenty of conflict between Ember and Thorax at that point, each disliking the other, basically including all of the Ember moments, and then let Spike be the one to actually figure out that the two of them need to learn from each other, or something like that.

The 'two dates at once' plot device didn't have any creative elements added to it to give it a show-relevant twist. The 'fish out of water' storyline had the creative elements that made it work. That was the difference.

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