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I like pastel little horses. And Sunset Shimmer. Especially the human one. And I hack ponies into Final Fantasy - https://www.fimfiction.net/group/209828/filly-fantasy-vi

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  • Thursday
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Father Knows Beast Review/Rant · 2:49pm October 6th

I never did a proper review of the episode because THAT line left me fuming with rage. But after a few hours of therapy and hitting the punching bag, I wanna rant about how, even with THAT line aside... this is a shitty episode. And since the proper premiere is today, here's my full thoughts.

As I say in my original review, it is ridiculously obvious that Sludge is lying right out the gate - he only brings up being Spike's father when the group kicks him out after pampering him, and does a terrible job of improvising his made-up story of how Spike was lost (including several plot holes the characters even bring up and he ignores). Any potential moral dilemnas or character development are immediately thrown out the window with how blatant they make it that Sludge is lying.

We're then in for basically an exact repeat of "Dragon Quest" - Spike isn't acting like a "real" dragon so Sludge has to teach him how. Except its far worse than Dragon Quest, because Sludge is blatantly hypocritical in what he teaches Spike, how "real" dragons don't live in luxurious castles with pillows and nice food and all that stuff, so he has Spike get rid of all his stuff... and give it to Sludge himself, who then has Spike wait on him claw and foot for good measure. Sludge is taking advantage of Spike and Spike lets him because he's had the IdiotBall shoved down his throat.

Twilight finally tells Spike she's concerned with how Sludge is treating him. And then comes... THAT line.

This line still pisses me off greatly. I pissed me off so much I added it to the TV Tropes "Dethroning Moment of Suck" page for the show.

Discussion of what exactly Twilight and Spike are, and how the two of them see their relationship, has been a hot topic in the fandom ever since the show began. But one thing above all else is clear - they are family. They outright say so in "Once Upon a Zepplin", and say so in a throwaway line, because an affirmation that Twilight considers Spike part of her family is something so self-evident it doesn't need introspection from them to explain it. Then there's Dragon Quest which ended pretty explicitly.

Spike: Thanks, you guys.
Twilight Sparkle: Of course. What are friends for?
Spike: You're more than friends. You're my family.

Spike: Dear Princess Celestia, Seeing the great dragon migration made me wonder what it meant to be a dragon. But now I realize that who I am is not the same as what I am. I may have been born a dragon, but Equestria and my pony friends have taught me how to be kind, loyal, and true! I'm proud to call Ponyville my home, and to have my pony friends as my family.

Spike has rejected his dragon heritage in terms of the expectations placed on him for merely being a dragon, and accepted the pony lifestyle as his own. He sees the ponies as his family, particularly Twilight.

And what does this episode give us?

Sludge: You're pretty lucky to have friends like these, kid.
Spike: Actually, I was orphaned as an egg, and Twilight raised me. So these ponies are more than my friends. They're my family.
Twilight Sparkle: We try our best, but sometimes I worry that maybe Spike is...
Spike: Missing something deep down and dragonish.

Twilight Sparkle: I have to say, I'm not surprised. There's no way a dragon like that was related to you. But if you still want to search for your real family, I'd understand if you spent more time in the Dragon Lands.
Spike: I don't think so. I already know who my real family is.
Twilight Sparkle: Aww! It's me, right?
Spike: Mm-hmm! Besides, there's no way I'm living without pillows.

This episode is repeating the exact same beats as Dragon Quest, but with a flimsier villain and dumber behavior from Spike. It regresses Spike's character development just to repeat the development he got back in Season 2, continuing what is becoming a proud tradition of the series the last few seasons to recycle ideas from earlier seasons in a new wrapper. But then this episode goes in and adds THAT line just to spit on Dragon Quest and all that has happened with Spike and Twilight since. And then it decides to drain all the emotion out of the resolution with a bad joke, just to make sure it sucks as hard as it can.

Twilight is the only family Spike has ever known, she raised him from an egg, she has bathed him, taught him, looked after him, for his entire life. She is his mother. Now I admit I don't know what it is like to be adopted and of course know adopted kids would feel differently on the "adopted parent vs biological parent" bit, but this kind of "you're not my real daddy" behavior from Spike is just wrong, and goes against everything we've seen of him in episodes up to this point, not the least of which is Dragon Quest. And of course Sludge is revealed as a liar, Spike and Twilight apologize to each other and we go back to the status quo.

So, with no meaningful change to the status quo in this episode, THAT line is only here to punch you in the feels. It's not here to spur any meaningful change in Twilight and Spike's relationship or character, because, again, we already dealt with this stuff in Dragon Quest. We have no new insights on their relationship because the episode wasn't even about them, it was about Spike and Sludge. THAT line just serves to draw attention to Twilight and Spike's relationship only to spit on it for the purpose of creating drama and getting an emotional reaciton from viewers.

This episode could have non-sucked, if not been good, if it actually did care to explore Twilight and Spike's relationship more. Examining how their mother-son dynamic has evolved as both have grown up and Spike has become more independent. Discuss how, even if Spike is happy with the ponies, he just sometimes wonder where his dragon family is if only because he was that closure of knowing. Maybe Twilight still sees Spike as that baby dragon she hatched back in magic school and Spike is frustrated because he's growing up and wants to be treated like it (which has happened gradually over the series without attention being drawn to it, but the wings development would allow me to forgive them going for this story because it is physical maturity from Spike).

Most importantly, what if Sludge was his father, and Spike would have to choose which parent he wants to stay with? Even if the episode rips off Dragon Quest, just having Sludge be legit makes it much more impactful, because there's a different between rejecting your species and being rejected by them in return, and doing that with his biological father. Spike wants to appease Sludge and keep him around because he wants his biological family and his adopted one to get along, so he tries to reconcile Sludge and Twilight's radically different personalities (oh god Sludge x Twilight fanfiction is gonna happen someday isn't it?)

But we have none of that. We have a repeat of Dragon Quest where the villain is slimier, the heroes dumber, and the pathos recycled, except with an extra layer of Sludge dribbled over it to leave a bad taste in your mouth when it's over.

In conclusion - fuck this episode.

Twilight Sparkle: He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn't your mommy.
Spike: Actually he wasn't my father, he was just random jackass who wanted to mooch off of us for a while and lied about being my father to keep it going. Really, it was kinda stupid of me to let him do it as long as he did.
Twilight Sparkle: Either way, let us never speak of this episode again.
Spike: Agreed.

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Comments ( 27 )

As I say in my original review, it is ridiculously obvious that Sludge is lying right out the gate - he only brings up being Spike's father when the group kicks him out after pampering him, and does a terrible job of improvising his made-up story of how Spike was lost (including several plot holes the characters even bring up and he ignores).

I think it was obvious he was lying but I don't think it was obvious he was lying about being Spike's dad. As an adult fan, I certainly expected that it was a possibility but there was also a chance that Spike's dad could be a deadbeat, though given the shows target audience that would have been really surprising.

I don't see this as a repeat of Dragon Quest, that episode was all about Spike learning that he didn't need to act a certain way to be a real dragon. While this episode is similar to that episode Sludge's presences changes things up. Spike has found who he believes is his dad and all he wants to do is connect with the guy. It's not that he's holding the idiot ball it's just that Spike wants this to be real so bad that he is ignoring all the warning signs. This episode teaches Spike that he shouldn't get caught up in the idea of who his biological parents are because Twilight is the one who raised him not them.

Overall I enjoyed the episode.


I think it was obvious he was lying but I don't think it was obvious he was lying about being Spike's dad.


I mean just because his story was false it doesn't mean he wasn't Spike's dad. He could have had an entirely different reason for not being there for Spike until now.

Saying he had good reason for not being around is better than saying he never wanted to stick around.

Ah. Fair enough, but for me anyway, if he's making up the story it's not far off to presume he's lying as a whole. Either way, it's obvious he's lying and the characters notice this but don't press it.

4949107 His story made no sense and the episode acknowledged it. Smolder even admitted most dragons wouldn't do what Sludge did.

Author Interviewer

Twilight Sparkle: He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn't your mommy.

Forgive me for reveling in your pain, but it was worth it for this fantastic line. XD

I thought this one was okay at best. I mean, as a series of events which happen on-screen, it's pretty dumb, the worst thing about it being the Dragon Quest rehash. I guess it's got a good role for Smolder, which isn't worth a whole lot.

Also, it's the only episode of the show to have a dick joke. <.< I laughed, I won't deny, but I think this is pretty indicative of how low the show has sunk.

As a vehicle for existential angst for both Twilight and Spike, I thought it was good, however, though I'll agree they did go through that in Dragon Quest already, so see above. The moment he says "that" line, well, that got a rise out of me (along the lines of shouting, "Oh no you di'int!" at the screen), not to mention that heart-break image which... c.c;; Whoof, that was hard to watch. But, c'mon, it's a Spike episode, you can't get through those without him saying something boneheaded. There's precedence, in other words, no matter how hurtful what he said was.

Ultimately, I could have done without this episode, but I can say that about pretty much this entire season, so. :B

Really? I watched the subs, what dick joke was there?

4949098 This was pretty much how I saw it (though my enjoyment was severely lessened by that manipulative piece of shit.) In Dragon's Quest Spike was getting "guidance" in being a "real dragon" by teenagers, which he soon realized the universal fact about them (at least a big amount), they're assholes, and not the ones to go to for this kind of thing.

An adult dragon shows up and claims to be his father, who he's never been able to meet before, and offers him the same guidance. Of course he'll say yes. Combine that with young impressionability, of course he won't question what he's learning and seeing (until my girl Smolder comes in and gives him the real knowledge).

And that line. Oof. That even got me mad. I don't think I've ever gotten mad at Spike. But that made me go "Whoa whoa whoa! You need pull the fuck back, man!" Considering he might be a pre-teen after getting his wings, that's kind of understandable. He's getting close to that age range where being an asshole comes naturally. We've all been there. :applejackconfused: Doesn't excuse it of course. Thankfully, he corrected that.

And pretty much the stuff you already said, wanting this to be real, teaches him not to get caught up with biological family, and so on.

So, didn't enjoy a good amount because of Sludge, but I don't think it was bad. Loved Smolder giving Spike flying lessons (with pointing out the differences in wings which I actually had in an old, now removed, fic I wrote years ago, so that surprised me), Smolder helping Spike expose Sludge, Sludge getting kicked the fuck out, and Spike learning an important lesson and making up with Twilight.

Author Interviewer

The whole part when Sludge is wearing the bathrobe and Twilight comes in. All the poses and camera angles are what you usually see when someone's naked and they're playing up the awkwardness for comedy. Ergo, dick jokes.

Ah. I wouldn't say it's a sick joke, they had a similar joke in Season 1


Twilight Sparkle: He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn't your mommy.

Twilight: I'm Mary Poppins, y'all!

*Marey Poppins


Is he a badass?


Not the line, you fail!

Yeah, I think this is one episode I'm gonna skip.

I don't think I hated it quite as much as you, but it was pretty lazy.

Had I been watching the show since the early days, rather then getting into it after seeing the movie just under a year ago (good lord, almost a year already, oh my), I could see myself being just as pissed of about Spike’s line to Twilight as you were. As it is, is still aggravated me greatly, Spike being my second favourite of the Mane 7 after Applejack. Had it been the only actively wrong thing though, it would have been a Washouts-type episode, - makes a major stumble, but not nearly enough to invalidate it. Alas, it isn’t. It’s one of the weakest episode in what is the show’s weakest or second-weakest season.

Everyone’s made the Dragon Quest comparison by now; I’ve even read a few where people don’t consider them that similar. I’m gonna have to agree with you. Other then the more direct acknowledgement of Twilight being family, it’s a rehash that regresses back several season for a familiar lesson. A valuable one, but that doesn’t save it. The lack of change to the status quo in even the most marginal ways makes it feel like a waste, what with Sludge being lying, and while I don’t blame Soike for believing him (I can buy him getting captivated by a biological parent enough to not register plot holes), it makes large chunks of the episode a grind. The six minutes before Sludge pretends to be his Dad hold up better, but that’s not enough. Other then a small handful of decent gags, this episode is basically a total write-off.

I do want to talk about Smolder briefly; she’s one of the Student 6 who has supposedly received the most development and screentime, but it’s never consistent with itself, with her attitude towards Spike and how Dragons should treat their own kind seeming to have changed. You could argue enough time has passed for her attitude to have changed in light of having spent time around ponies, but that just makes Seaosn 8 feel all the flimsier in its construction. Basically, more so then even the rest of the Student 6, she’s a prop character who has a basic set of traits but otherwise exists purely to be “the dragon”, and while this episode did give her some positive moments, they only serve to make even even more inconsistent and more of a blank slate.

Also, whoa, having a song as overall meh as that in a season as overall “meh” as this and with as few songs as this does the episode no favours. This episode is really not one that needs or even benefits from a song; all it does it stretch a segment of the plot out and take away about a minute that could have been used to make it’s weak points less weak.

Author Interviewer

That was tiddies. :B

This episode was on point with fine details. There were cosmetic things like the sunbeam coming in when RD was making it snow. There were also the cracks and pops from Sludge's legitimately injured body (or at least, it had ME convinced he was injured). But they're also used to prop up the characters, and what would otherwise would go unsaid. During his recovery montage, Sludge was genuinely surprised that there are people like the ponies who exist that would help him out with no payback expected.

But at the end, as Sludge is flying away, did anyone else notice what Spike said? "I can't believe I thought somepony like that... could show me how to be anything." The pony vernacular is just THAT ingrained in him, even though this season the main characters have been purposefully using the more inclusive "creature."

I feel rather confused when people call this episode just a rehash of Dragon Quest. The morale is actually way more up in the air, and can't as easily be taken as a condemnation of a specific race or gender. This episode really poses the question of what does it even means to be a dragon. When Smolder was first introduced, she was the most civil dragon in the entire setting besides Ember. We're at the point now where she probably interacts with ponies (and others) even more than Ember does, thanks to an extended civilian lifestyle with them. What Smolder seems to be mentally associating with dragon culture is a strength-based warrior society, where violence and callousness can still represent the virtue that she might yearn for. Smoulder has a sense of ethics, and it's debatable how much of that comes from before and after the School of Friendship. But she wouldn't want to admit that; the Dragon world view has been that Right and Wrong are irrelevant in the face of what can actually be accomplished or gained.

But Sludge was pretty on point when he says dragons take advantage of the naive and gullible, or spend all day laying around on wealth they didn't really earn. The only difference between Sludge and classical dragons like Smaug is his small size, meaning he has to rely on beguilement by necessity. This is where he diverges from what Smoulder's self-made justification. Most of the specimens we've encountered would probably count as "real" dragons, but most of them really aren't good people. Comparing the dueling morale codes of these two is like comparing the Orcs of Warcraft, and the Orcs of Tolkien. One is a noble savage made harsh by circumstance, and one is a sniveling spiteful dog whose species is a personified virus upon the world.

By the episode's end, the concept of a dragon is still up in the air. Dragonhood isn't rejected like back in Dragon Quest. The dueling heritage also isn't treated like two separate rooms with a revolving door in Surf and/or Turf. Terramar gets to be a hippogiff or seapony whenever he feels like it. But no character can definitively say if Spike acts like a pony or a dragon. The issue becomes so up in the air, the audience gets to have an interesting internal debate, but also conclude that both of those terms are too shallow to describe a person.

Also, this ISN'T the first nude joke the show's pulled. It happened in the Faust-era as well.

I don't think the fandom saw it as low brow because I think I know which character they'd rather be in bed with.

Author Interviewer

It's a rehash because it's another episode about dragons naturally being assholes, and Spike rejecting the rest of his kind for exactly this reason.

Not nude joke, dick joke, it's worse.

Why is it that the show referencing an Anthro character’s nonexistent boons or vagina is funny, but referencing a nonexistent penis is is worse and proves “how low the show has sunk?”

Author Interviewer

Which would you rather a young girl see?

I assume either way they'll get the joke about nudity, and I'm not concerned because they don't "see" anything.

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