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  • 38 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 · 494 views
  • 39 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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    6 comments · 303 views
  • 40 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 · 341 views
  • 41 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 · 267 views
  • 42 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!”

    Read More

    5 comments · 317 views
May
19th
2018

Season Eight Episode Reviews: Break Up Break Down · 4:43pm May 19th, 2018

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.

This is “The Break Up Break Down.”


TECHNICAL SPECS:

Season: 8
Episode: 10
Written By: Nick Confalone
First Aired: May 19, 2018


SUMMARY:

It's Hearts-and-Hooves Day, and Big Mac's celebrating with a pie for Sugar Belle. Spike then proceeds to ruin the day by bringing Discord into the mix, despite the God of Chaos' blanket admission to not believing love exists. Can Spike prove the power of love while the CMC hunt a non-existent secret admirer, Discord manipulates Big Mac, and Sugar Belle seemingly plots to break up with her boyfriend?

REVIEW:

Last season, Big Mac disappointed shippers everywhere by actually forming a canon relationship with Sugar Belle, former cult member and baker extraordinaire. So when this episode's synopsis came out, it was pretty obvious...that the whole thing was a fake-out and they weren't really going to break up. One of the oldest and most worn tropes in all of romantic fiction is the misheard conversation, where our protagonists overhear the exact wrong words in the exact wrong context and take them to believe something horrible, which they then use as an excuse to do something horrible before everything is hastily resolved. So sorry, FlutterMac diehards, but it's never going to happen.

This episode leaves me feeling conflicted. On the one hand, the main story is very by-the-numbers. If you cut out the parts with Discord going Fantasy Land on everything, you're left with the exact synopsis mentioned in the previous paragraph. Big Mac being the “quiet one” is used to give him almost no agency over his relationship – it's not until Discord emotionally manipulates him that he stands up for himself,and even that is just because Discord wanted to dump more gasoline on the fire. Sugar Belle isn't exempt, either – the plot could have been resolved in less than twenty seconds if she had just written Big Mac beforehand, or gone to him first instead of hanging with Mrs. Cake. I try not to criticize episodes for not thinking through every possibility, because the writers are only human and operating under time constraints. But this particular type of story has been run so many times, and always feels so forced, that it's just not entertaining enough to stand on its own. And this is coming from someone who likes both Big Mac and Sugar Belle, both as individual characters and as a couple.

The episode brings back “Ogres and Oubliettes” as well. I did like the gag with the skeleton, but the whole reference also feels like one of the problems with post-reform Discord. Back when he was explicitly evil, he was a wild force of nature with any number of possible paths to his character. After his reform, he has tea with Fluttershy. That's it. Every episode he's in is somehow connected with “tea with Fluttershy.” (Except for “Twilight's Kingdom,” but that was him lapsing back into the whole “explicitly evil” thing...and even then, their tea time was brought up.) It's like the character exists only to have wacky tea parties. And now that they've added something else to his character...it's the one thing he's allowed to do when around the other “guys.” I admit this is a petty complaint and probably isn't even accurate, but it just feels like that when watching the episode.

Going back to the conflicted feelings, as much as the episode's generic plot annoys me, I don't think it was necessarily bad. On the contrary, it's got some very enjoyable moments. Spike using Discord as basically a cheat code for finishing the pie was funny, and I adored the montage of happy couples unwittingly adding to Big Mac's misery. The ending is also surprisingly sweet for Discord, and fits his character perfectly well. So there are some good jokes and strong character moments to balance things out.

What I really wanted to see more of, though, was the subplot with the CMC. They get routed Big Mac's pie by mistake, Sweetie Belle thinks it's for her, and they're off to find whoever this “secret admirer” is. Again, it's a simple, tried-and-true storyline, but I find it a lot sweeter than the main plot. It helps reinforce that the CMC are growing up – they aren't just looking out for other ponies' love, but also wondering when it will be their turn for romance as well. An episode focusing on the three using their Cutie Mark-hunting skills to find a pony that doesn't exist would have been adorable.

CONCLUSION:

I though this episode was okay. The main plot is forced and runs on idiocy, but there's enough good in there to keep me interested all the way through. The CMC subplot, while only briefly touched on, was cute in its own way as well. Big Mac and Sugar Belle make a lovely couple, and here's hoping they manage to stay together through the series' end.

And let us never forget who the true villains are: the Equestria postal service. They're here to screw up your address labels, butt slam your fragile items, and get your packages delivered to someone who, in years past, would have earned you a visit from Chris Hansen.

Then again, why are you mailing a PIE through the postal service, you idiot?!


Next time, someone didn't press and hold B.

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Comments ( 6 )

Back when he was explicitly evil, he was a wild force of nature with any number of possible paths to his character. After his reform, he has tea with Fluttershy. That's it. Every episode he's in is somehow connected with “tea with Fluttershy.” (Except for “Twilight's Kingdom,” but that was him lapsing back into the whole “explicitly evil” thing...and even then, their tea time was brought up.) It's like the character exists only to have wacky tea parties.

Honestly I think Discord himself might sum It up best right at the start of this very episode... "You seem to be mixing up the Lord of Chaos, with a second-rate clown magician for hire. "

Anyway, yeah, the setup in the front half of this episode is about as generic and cliché as these things get... but I actually rather like the way it handled the back half, not just the final resolution, but even the way Big Mac went about preemptively breaking up with Sugar Belle felt like it was handled in a realistic if not entirely mature way. Love can be a very complicated and confusing emotion, and dealing with the turmoil of it seeming as if those feeling aren't reciprocated can only be all the harder to a thing to deal with.

As for the CMC, yeah it was kinda of a shame they couldn't have gotten more focus, especially since as it is their little sublpot doesn't really add much to the episode, and ends up as a distracting tangent that just doesn't really accomplish anything. I sorta wish maybe that this could have been maybe handled better as a split episode, like Just For Sidekicks / Games Ponies Play. Where each plot gets to have it's own episode running concurrently to the other with occasional overlaps from the disparate POVs.

Next time, someone didn't press and hold B.

Uhhhhhhhh WHAT
No more alicorns pls I mean for real

4864579

It's like the character exists only to have wacky tea parties.

Actually that seems like a pretty good summation for someone who's the physical incarnation of Wonderland. Even when he was a full villain (both times), his branding of evil was focused on harmless cartoon anarchy. Actually, his crazed reality had less decapitations than Lewis Carol. It was only slightly darker than the Toon Town sequence from Who Framed Roger Rabit?
vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/mlp/images/a/aa/Discord_with_the_princesses_in_clown_costumes_S5E26.png/revision/latest?cb=20151202054559

Discord in his current progression was at his peak. It was the perfect balance of cunning and antipathy Discord should be at now. He never seemed like a buffoon who never understood basic social interaction (like in "Make New Friends but Keep Discord)." But he didn't come off as a reigned-in sociopath constantly working to escape the confides of his parole. One of the biggest sources of laughs this episode was laughing at Big Mac's Rarity-esque meltdown, but I was also relating to (and laughing at) Discord's insistence on getting over it. I haven't consoled anyone after a break-up, but I've had to be the shoulder for friends to cry on; it's not a welcome experience, and can leave me drained and irritated.

I never felt like this was running on stupidity or contrivance. Most stories like this have the speaker using phrases more vaguely or sinisterly than any normal person does, or the eavesdropper is only getting every-other word and decides to play ad-libs in the most disastrous way possible. But her words really do paint a picture of incoming bad news. The writers knew exactly how their audience would feel about this kind of plot, and shored it up. So for us jaded adults (and probably some kids), they tuned up the writing, and managed to make a red herring out of a red herring. To a certain point, I was really wondering if these two were going to break up. It's not like this relationship has seemed important to the show staff up until now, with only one establishing episode dedicated to them.

4865719
I know I shouldn't bother, I know it's long since past a lost cause by now, but there are and always shall remain certain pet-peeves I just can't stand for.

Even when he was a full villain (both times), his branding of evil was focused on harmless cartoon anarchy.

Uh-huh... so we're all supposed to forget about how Celestia first described the time he previously ruled Equestria... "Before my sister and I stood up to him, he ruled Equestria in an eternal state of unrest and unhappiness. Luna and I saw how miserable life was for Earth ponies, Pegasi, and unicorns alike."

And we're also supposed to forget how he then went on to literally brain wash five of the Mane-Six, literally turning there personalities inside out just so they wouldn't be able to use the Elements of Harmony against him... as opposed to, I don't know, not being a colossal jerk that's only interested in using his nigh-unlimited god-like power to turn Equestria into his own personal playground, with absolutely ZERO concern for all the hardship it might cause the populous.

Oh... but most of all we're supposed to forget that this is the same guy who after brainwashing all of Twilight's friends to turn them against her, after seeing how she was left so broken hearted that he didn't even need to brainwash her as well because she'd already given up entirely, and yet did Discord show the slightest bit of sympathy, the slightest realization that maybe just maybe he'd done a horrible and awful thing... nope, he just pumps his fists while declaring a triumphant, "YES!"

Right... swell guy, totally just misunderstood and not the most vile despicable person to have ever appeared in the show up to that date... who unlike Nightmare Moon, was entirely responsible for his own wickedness such that not even the Elements of Harmony's purging magical rainbow could cleanse him, instead needing to lock him always again in stone.

The only reason Discord's actions might have never seemed all that bad is because this is a friggin' cartoon for kids, that not only had to maintain a TV-Y rating, but was also operating under the even more restrictive E/I standards at the time (a committee who were reluctant to so much as let Rainbow Dash call Twilight an "egghead"). Yet the context was clear all the same... he was supposed to be a VILLAIN of the worst kind, and every appearance of his since then has been pure flanderization.

4865772
When I said "harmless" I meant that purely in terms physical harm. I know that he took satisfaction from the misery of others, that he wasn't just some merry prankster, I'm not dense. A world where Discord rules is better than others we've seen just based on lack of body count.
pre07.deviantart.net/780e/th/pre/i/2015/347/0/f/the_cutie_remark__starlight_glimmer_by_hfinder-d9jvzov.png

That's why I brought compared it to Wonderland or Toon Town. Both are very enjoyable for us viewers to observe, but would SUCK to live in, even though they're not run by a supervillain. You would need to be certain kind of crazy or absurd to go with the flow there.

Although yes, if someone had made an enemy of Discord, or caught his interest, then their life would get harder.

4865979
I suppose that's fair enough... at the very least, you do seem like one of the more reasonable Discord apologists.

I could quibble that to me Discord took more than mere satisfaction from inflicting misery on others, more like sadistic glee, but that can be a very subjective take, so I won't begrudge you yours.

Although on the issue of body counts, I'm not sure how that can be a relevant measure of how evil a villain is in MLP, since all of them are pretty much tied at ZERO... this being a kids show that even as restrictions have been slowly loosened, still hasn't even been able to directly answer the question of weather or not AJ's parents are dead, even if it is HEAVILY implied to be the case. Aside from that though there is such a thing as fates worse than death.

To me, at least, I can agree that Discord would never intentionally kill someone, but only for the same reason he would never turn anyone to stone... statues aren't fun to play with and neither are corpses. No, Discord prefers his victims very much alive so that he can get the maximum possible glee from tormenting them to the brink of insanity and beyond.

Although on a closing note, I should at least add that none of my opinions mean I hate Discord, not as he originally was at least. Whether or not he was ever the most vile of the MLP villains, he was and might always be a personal favorite of mine. If I'm hard on the so called "reformed" Discord we've had ever since it's mostly because I preferred him as a bad guy, and so the way he's been portrayed ever since just sorta comes off as lack luster and pale imitation.

That's why the line I first quoted from this last episode resonates with me so much because in my eyes at least that's all Discord is any more... just that quirky guy, who does quirky things, for quirky reasons, and none of which ever amount to much consequence. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

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