• Member Since 2nd Sep, 2011
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PresentPerfect


Writer, RCL co-curator, EQD prereader, dramatic reader, VA, fic reviewer. Vote for my next fic to release!

More Blog Posts1961

  • Friday
    The site has gotten worse

    Because I just posted Dat's Our Ragamuffin, something of a spiritual successor to Things Rainbow Dash Doesn't Like, but infinitely worse. If you watched Spring Breakdown, you might want to read it. Or, you might want to read something actually funny, like A Nugget of Wisdom, which almost no one has read.

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    11 comments · 167 views
  • Thursday
    Fic recs, April 18th!

    In case you missed his post about it, Illya Leonov has blessed us with the rare face reveal, to say nothing of the outcome of his surgery! If you helped out, you made a difference in his life! :D

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    10 comments · 203 views
  • 1 week
    Fusion dances!

    Sometimes, I won't actually dream a story so much as wake up with it in my head. Of course, in the case of the new Past Conditional entry, it's more an idea. But it's an idea I've wanted to explore for a while, and I liked what I 'dreamed' up, so I wanted to write it down.

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    0 comments · 124 views
  • 1 week
    Everyone goes through rough times...

    This time, it's Steel Resolve's turn. :C

    He needs some help! Go give him a hand!

    0 comments · 58 views
  • 1 week
    Fic recs, April 11th!

    Illya Leonov has done a reading of RazgrizS57's I Alone!

    Here we are, with the last five stories in my "authors I haven't reviewed before" list! :D I hope everyone who's gotten one of these reviews, positive or otherwise, has enjoyed it.

    H: 0 R: 1 C: 1 V: 2 N: 1

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    6 comments · 161 views
Mar
15th
2019

In Hindsight: Season 4 · 2:39am March 15th

Going back and watching seasons four seasons later has kind of become my Thing since… oh, about four seasons now. :B So, this post covers season four, with reflections and observations I make about each episode when and where I can.

And let me just start by saying, spoilers, I have a lot more appreciation for S4 than ever before. I don't know what it is, if it's just the passage of time, nostalgia or seeing what a bad season really looks like, but though there are episodes like Bats and Filli Vanilli that I still can't stand, there were far more that I originally thought of as middling, like Power Ponies and Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3, that I enjoyed way more.

So you won't have to expect a ton of negativity here, is what I'm saying. :) Just a bit. Also a bit of observation about a couple of pre-S4 episodes, because this rewatch was tacked onto me gathering cover art and flavor text for my Rarity Sentinels deck. :B Still not done.


Over the years, people have made at least some hash about the existence of France in Equestria, from Rarity and Fluttershy mentioning French couture, among other things, in season one. But does anyone remember Hoity Toity mentioning Dutch apple pie in Suited for Success? The Netherlands exist, too!

I have to admit it bothers me that Lyra, Minuette and Twinkleshine show up in A Canterlot Wedding, in a scene with Twilight. Amending Fences isn't the kind of episode I point to when continuity breaks come up. Someone write about it.

Watching Princess Twilight, I can't help think about how much Celestia has changed. Like, I'd never noticed it before, but Applejack's voice especially is noticeably different in the first few episodes. But Celestia sounded a lot more… regal? Motherly? She's certainly a good bit different nowadays, given that she doesn't matter and all. :| I'm also slightly miffed Tabitha wasn't using her Nightmare Moon voice for the Nightmare Moon scene; she just sounds like Luna.

And I realize, when this episode came out, I praised Discord's behavior, convincing Twilight to go after her friends, as a good use for him, post-reform. But that's literally all he has ever done since. :/ Yet another character they couldn't come up with anything new for. On a lighter note, I'm surprised no one ever made a story about Sweetie Belle being attacked by curtains. Y'know, "dumb fabric" come full circle and all.

I still find it odd that Castle Mane-ia set up the legend of the Pony of Shadows, gave us that stinger at the end, and then neither of those things had anything to do with the actual Pony of Shadows. <.< Like, I guarantee they weren't planning on having him be a thing in S7 all the way back then, it's just a weird quirk of continuity and probably lack of leadership. (According to a comment left on a much older blog of mine, that's actually supposed to be Tirek at the end.)

I really miss small details about the amount of control ponies have over their world, like Fluttershy teaching baby birds to fly at the start of Daring Don't.

It's very weird to think that Rainbow Dash's self-centric enthusiasm makes her a better teacher than at least Ms. Harshwhinny. Like, her constant refrain in Flight to the Finish "get to the fun part!" means she's got the ability to connect with kids. Whether or not she can teach them is another question entirely — I'm inclined to think 'no' — and just kind of depressing in light of S8. <.<

I am pleased to say that I have gained a significant appreciation for Power Ponies that I never had in the past five years. Can't explain it; might have something to do with seeing Spike's turbonerd side before Ogres and Oubliettes. The actual Power Ponies comic will doubtless be the best version of them we ever get, but I'd watch another episode in Maretropolis.

So. Bats! Probably the biggest thing for me in this rewatch is settling the question: Is it the worst episode of MLPFiM? The short answer, surprisingly, is "no", Hard to Say Anything is worse. Now, there's probably no episode of this show that I've written more about over the years, and I hate to up that wordcount even more, but hear me out. The plot doesn't make sense, the characters' powers are used in illogical ways, they act out of character and the moral is muddled, but at least 80% of why I hate this episode is the song. The song is just execrable, absolutely inexcusable on a technical level. "Battle for Sugar Belle" may be made of pure cringeonium, but it's at least entertaining and its worst qualities are merely symptoms of the greater problem that is the episode it appears in. I would rather have a muddled message than one that's actively harmful, in other words, and Hard to Say Anything (to say nothing of Fluttershy Leans In) has one of the worst. If this show is meant to teach kids lessons, I would rather they see Fluttershy's friends bully her into doing something she doesn't want to than anything having to do with trying to win someone's affection. It's still pretty fuckin' bad, though, no lie.

Why do I suddenly love Suri Polomare? c.c I literally just found myself adoring her stupid snorty laugh and echolalia; I don't get it. I do wish we'd gotten to see more of the other competitors in Rarity Takes Manehattan, though. They're nowhere near as detailed as the designers in Honest Apple, but there are some neat ponies in the lineup.

Y'know, between Pinky Apple Pie and Apple Family Reunion, it seems Applejack has a certain lack of confidence when it comes to her family. Like, she wants it to be perfect, to appear perfect, and tends to freak out whenever someone suggests it isn't.

I can only imagine Soarin's accident in Rainbow Falls, where he busts his wing on the stunt ring, is probably a recreation of the incident that gave him the nickname "Clipper" in the first place. Oh fuck, and I forgot about the apple brown betties D:

...Oh yeah, Abyssinia was first mentioned in "A Little Glass of Water". Huh.

Oh heck, Hawaii is another place that exists in Equestria. :facehoof: Because Cheese Sandwich sings about Hawaiian shirts! Consarnit. And do you realize that, as of Pinkie Pride, they still hadn't finished the skyscraper started in Mysterious Mare-Do-Well? Can't really blame them, damn thing keeps getting knocked over…

At the start of Simple Ways, before the Mayor announces Rarity will be organizing Ponyville Days, there's a shot that pans over a small group of really weird ponies. I can't even explain it, or who or what they're supposed to be. Go rewatch it, see if you can figure it out. c.c

I sometimes think that, despite it being a fantastic episode and all, I really wish Crusaders of the Lost Mark hadn't reformed Diamond Tiara. Or… whatever it did. <.< Turned her and Silver Spoon into sparkles, for all that we've seen them since. Point is, watch them in Twilight Time; they're such posers! It's hilarious. We don't get that anymore. Mostly because they just don't exist anymore…

Maud Pie is another episode I should have been keeping track of. After four seasons spent getting to know her, how does her introduction hold up? ...Well, it's still really awkward and boring, if I'm being honest. :/ I guess I can say it's apparent she's just as uncomfortable with the mane six as they are with her? Good on all y'all who took to her from the get-go, I just can't.

(Guh, dammit, and the show's insidious plot to convince children that spiders are friendly started back in season four! The horror!)

It's kind of crazy there's two episodes in this season about Rarity's friends having to help her finish an order at the last moment. (The second one is For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils.) Just a very oddly specific thing to have happen twice. Also, I want to know where Sweetie's fifth birthday party took place. Is that their parents' house? Or did they move to Ponyville later?

Goddamn, why can't we see Silver Shill again? I love this guy!

Opening scene of Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3: Twilight suddenly realizes for the first time that she can stand on clouds. Just two seconds of screen time, but it is adorable. :D

I also want to commend this episode for having one of the most natural 'friends get into an argument' scenes, along with a fantastic resolution to said argument thanks to Fluttershy. No unnecessary drama or hysterics! I honestly have a ton more appreciation for this episode these days. Yes, the two long flight scenes are tedious, but this is reduced when you know what's going on simultaneously… though the explanations then become more tedious in turn. But it's probably the best look into Rainbow Dash's character, her insecurities and self-doubts, since Sonic Rainboom.

Inspiration Manifestation has much better small-town back alleys than any episode before it. :B

Man, Soarin in Equestrian Games looks like he hasn't slept in days. c.c What the heck happened to the poor guy?

I'm struck by how much Twilight's character arc in the movie is coming from the exact same place she's in during Twilight's Kingdom. Whoof. 'Swhat happens when it takes three years to make a movie, I guess. :B

My god, that final fight is just as epic as I remember, though. :D Nothing before or since has topped it.

So yeah. Season 3 feels in hindsight like an aborted test run for season 4, 4 is definitely better than 6, possibly even better than 7, and definitely better overall than I ever gave it credit for. Though I fully expect to be saying similar things about seasons 6 and 7 a few years from now...

Comments ( 31 )

I think a lot of it might have to do with being so far removed from the general fandom responses, both the positive and the negative. It just becomes easier to enjoy, or not enjoy, the episodes for what they are.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

5028024
There's certainly a lot less pressure to keep up when you're not watching them as they air. And as season 7 proved to me, pressure to keep up ruins a show.

By far my very favorite season of the whole show, just by the number of episodes I really like. Ironic, considering how sour I am about how Bats kinda threw up on its own feet by not letting Fluttershy have a decent counterargument for the Bats besides "bats have feelings too" and doesn't elaborate on why Applejack needs to yield her crop to them.
Four years later I still don't see why they can't just harmlessly relocate the darn things.

Did you say bats?

I’m pretty sure I saw the B word there.

derpicdn.net/img/view/2019/2/10/1958845.png

Eh, I always felt that final fight was a bit overrated. It was cool for sure, but not the most amazing thing ever.

... To be fair. Bats was less about bullying Fluttershy and more that, without the writers making it so Fluttershy is always right in the end, it comes off as if Fluttershy cares more about whether these pests are comfortable than Applejack's livelihood. From that perspective, the fact Fluttershy kept trying to push back and basically tell them that the bats were more important than Applejack and/or her family's well-being kind of lends some credence to the idea that Fluttershy needed a reality check, or at least stop betraying her friends.

But of course, all of that doesn't matter (despite being the likely intention for the perspective of the rest of the Mane 6), because as always Fluttershy is right in the end. They were completely right to let these things destroy Applejack's crop because somehow they're entirely responsible for there being an orchard of such expanse to begin with. Which is a load, but whatever. Fluttershy was 100% justified by the end of the episode.

That said, I also hate the song.

It's odd, but I hate Bats and Filli Vanilli as well, just from the opposite perspective. Bats for the reason above, and Filli Vanilli because the idea of 'leaving this person alone to advance at their own pace' is no different than just abandoning any number of people you might apply that thinking to. I've known a very decent number of folks that require more than just a gentle word and a subtle prod once every couple of years to try and get them to open up. And I'm not talking about the people with psychological conditions that make this almost impossible for them at their level of willpower. But rather the people who are just afraid of trying - not with any sort of reason, just that it's easier not to. The folks who have issues related to this should be treated more softly, but the ones that don't typically need a bit of calm guidance and a constant push ... or a confetti cannon or two, depending on how stubborn and committed to self-deprivation they are.

Fluttershy has always struck me as being easy to identify with the sort of people I've dealt with who actually NEEDED a swift boot and a hard shove to become healthy and stop missing out on life, who are much happier now with their lives. But that is entirely personal experience, so grain of salt. Seeing people hate the episodes for the same parts I felt were the only bits of them that made sense due to my own life experiences made me hate these episodes in general.

Opening scene of Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3: Twilight suddenly realizes for the first time that she can stand on clouds. Just two seconds of screen time, but it is adorable. :D

The show is full of that sort of wonderful background stuff! Remember when Fluttershy suddenly realizes she's standing on Pinkie's empty Fluttershy suit ? Or when Luna is annoyed that her sister has made the sun come up for a stupid play? Someone needs to make a compilation reel of choice silent bits from this series.

Oh yeah, and I think it was Bon Bon who takes a look at the price tag on one of Rarity's dresses in Canterlot Boutique and has a holy carp moment.

When I finish with the other 10,000 things I'm working on, maybe I'll go back through the series myself.

I also want to commend this episode for having one of the most natural 'friends get into an argument' scenes, along with a fantastic resolution to said argument thanks to Fluttershy. No unnecessary drama or hysterics!

I miss Amy Keating Rogers.

5028055
I think the price tag whistler is Sea Swirl.derpicdn.net/img/view/2015/9/13/978722.gif

>Abyssinia
Still can't believe this is actually canon.

And pastries from Abyssinia

Goddamn, why can't we see Silver Shill again? I love this guy!

Oh holy shit the one fic where an Abyssinian comes to Equestria she comes to be a baker. It almost warms my heart that the fandom and then staff in Capper (Capper! btw come on!) remember this. It reminds me of S1 and S2 where every character of the week would get a few earnest fics about them just for fun.

I'll have to do a rewatch once the show wraps. I looked up some seasons to do a season power ranking and found out that S3 actually had some good episodes in it. People just judge it harshly because the stupid finale only has half as many episodes to weigh against it.

And RD probably has the most 9+/10 character focused episodes, between Testing, Testing; Top Bolt, Sonic Rainboom, and Read it and Weep

5028079
Yep, that's the one! Hilarious! :rainbowlaugh:

I’ve long held “Testing Testing 1 2 3” to be one of the best episodes of the entire show.

Season 4 is still the season that killed MLP for me. :<

At the start of Simple Ways, before the Mayor announces Rarity will be organizing Ponyville Days, there's a shot that pans over a small group of really weird ponies. I can't even explain it, or who or what they're supposed to be. Go rewatch it, see if you can figure it out.

They're Rarity's competition, having submitted alternate possible themes for the festival.

Also, I want to know where Sweetie's fifth birthday party took place. Is that their parents' house? Or did they move to Ponyville later?

Comparing and contrasting with "One Bad Apple," it appears to be the same room.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

5028028
I mean, also there's the "seeds they spit will grow better trees" argument that completely misses how long it takes a tree to grow. <.< Better in the long run, but completely ass for literally everyone in town right now.

5028127
Right around 3 or 4 is where everything started going wrong, no lie. I've been reading back through my episode reviews and finding out I was supremely critical of S5 when it was airing. Not quite the gift to the fandom I remember it as!

5028140

They're Rarity's competition, having submitted alternate possible themes for the festival.

I know that. What I want to know is why every one of them is dressed in a supremely bizarre manner. Armor? A galaxy hat?

Comparing and contrasting with "One Bad Apple," it appears to be the same room.

Oh wow. Good sleuthing! I'd forgotten we'd ever seen the inside of that house. :D

5028035
And yet your profile pic comes directly from said fight.
Must've made more of an impact on you than you're willing to admit.
:raritywink:

5028150

What I want to know is why every one of them is dressed in a supremely bizarre manner. Armor? A galaxy hat?

To indicate what their proposed themes were. Just as Rarity had her scale model ready, they were also prepared for their own acceptance speeches/theme proposals. One guy's going for Medieval Times, the other for space. (Twilight might have been quietly rooting for that second one.)

We don't get that anymore. Mostly because they just don't exist anymore…

DO NOT

FUCKING

REMIND ME

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

5028194
I often accuse the writers of not knowing what to do with their characters, but that is what it really looks like. :B

5028168
Eh, just because I have a frame from there as my profile doesn't mean it's had a huge impact on me. It's just a cool picture of my favourite character. And why wouldn't I be willing to admit it? I wish I could admit it, considering I love DB.
Edit: Just watched it again, and it's again true what I said earlier. It was really cool, but not the most amazing thing ever.

5028221
I already just KNOW they’re not gonna show up in S9 and I’m already apoplectic about it.

Ooh, Season Four discussion! It's notable for me in being the only season where there's no episode I outright dislike, a feat not even Season One could manage. I wouldn't say it's the season with the greatest highs, but it's the most consistently comfortable and fun one for me. And that's a fine thing indeed. :twilightsmile:

As Devil's Advocate, I should say that I'm in the minority who still kind of like Bats!, though part of that is admittedly for "So Bad It's Good" reasons.

EDIT: Comment cut down to reduce self-indulgent length significantly.

5028140
And I've just noticed for the first time that the mill is both wind and water powered. I bet there's a story behind that.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

5028490
I just want resolution to that stupid episode's stupid stinger. ._.

5028499

The bit at the end that hints Fluttershy wasn't (fully) cured.

5028505
Oh, that! Huh, I didn't know what "stinger" meant.

Don't forget, "Inspiration Manifestation" is also, I believe, the first episode where it's at least strongly implied ponies eat meat!

More generally, I haven't ever rewatched 4, so who knows how I think it would hold up now. I'm pretty confident my issues with "Bats!" and "Rainbow Falls" (in large part, the show misidentifying who the bad guys are), though. I don't remember exactly what point in the season it was that it turned around, but several episodes in I was real close to just dropping the show.

I guess I never realized how much DT and SS have been missing from the series due to occasional post-reformation comics appearances, but more importantly Patchwork Poltergeist and Estee.

On the rewatch, did Twilight beginning to care about being a princess and having responsibilities and all that associated with it seem better set up? I remember thinking it seemed very suddenly introduced either at the start of the finale or right before (the one where RD sold Fluttershy, maybe?).

A positive thing I've got to give S4 is that I think it had some of the first Applejack (okay, maybe more "Apple Family") and Pinkie Pie episodes (excluding "Party of One" and I guess "Applebucking Season," which was enjoyable despite being IMO kinda dumb and in retrospect one of the last gasps -- though maybe that was zapapple jam in S3? -- of the idea that the Apples have limited financial resources) that I really liked.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

5028537

On the rewatch, did Twilight beginning to care about being a princess and having responsibilities and all that associated with it seem better set up? I remember thinking it seemed very suddenly introduced either at the start of the finale or right before (the one where RD sold Fluttershy, maybe?).

It occurred to me at some point that they way they handled "Twilight's a princess now, but it's not going to change who she is fundamentally" was handled extremely awkwardly, which fits Twilight just fine.

There's a shot of her landing somewhere, maybe in Testing, Testing, that looks fucking horrible, but it just confirms that she's awkward as fuck in more than one way, so I can't be mad.

I'm kind of in the same boat. I ended up liking season 4 a bit more in hindsight. I'd say that the show started going downhill after season 4, some time around season 5. I mean, some of the individual episodes in season 5 were great, but that finale was soul-destroyingly bad, and season 6 managed to be even worse.

The movie was great. McCarthy's my favourite writer.

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