• Member Since 4th Aug, 2011
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redsquirrel456


He who overcomes shall inherit all things.

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May
26th
2019

A Spoilerific and Vitriolic review of Season 9, Episode 12: The Last Crusade · 7:04pm May 26th, 2019

This is a vicious review of a terrible episode that has not aired in the US yet, but is so insulting to the intelligence of the audience I had to write about it. It is absolutely one of the worst episodes I have ever seen, going straight from "bad" to "offensive." Read at your own risk. Or when it airs my darlings, think of me, and come back and see if you agree with my assessment.



Recently, I started watching the new version of Moomin Valley. It’s the latest adaptation of a beloved series of children’s books from Finland, about the adventures of Moomintroll and his friends. It is an incredibly well-produced and lovingly crafted show, with great voice talent, engaging stories, and a very comfy atmosphere. It has moral lessons in them, but they aren’t spelled out with cloyingly obvious dialogue (most of the time), and they tackle things from standing up for yourself to literal child abuse. Look it up if you have the time. Even the 90s anime version is worth watching.

One recent Moomin episode, I think, had a moral that is extremely, almost painfully applicable to the recent seasons of Friendship is Magic, and this episode I’m blogging about in particular.

Secret of the Hattifatteners sees Moomintroll, Snorkmaiden, and Little My traveling to the island of the titular Hattifatteners, little wandering mushroom creatures who are mysterious and silent. Their only goal seems to be to wander mysteriously, apparently trying to find something they never actually catch up to, but every so often they go to an island for some unknown reason. We never find out the actual reason they go to the island either, though that’s the point of the Hattifatteners: they are mysterious, and nobody knows what they are constantly looking for. Moomin’s papa says that “Perhaps we’ll never know. And perhaps, that’s the way it should be.”

The writers of MLP should have kept to this philosophy before they gave us this episode.

Scootaloo is an orphan, or at best her parents are maliciously neglectful. Those were literally the only options we had before this episode. Scootaloo has constantly, zealously sought the attention and approval of Rainbow Dash for nine years. Nine years of doing everything short of forging adoption papers to be taken under her wing. We have never seen her parents, and she never once talked about them. Even her nightmares were about losing Rainbow Dash’s approval. Her entire life revolved around trying to move from whatever situation she was in currently, and into one where she would have a big sister/motherly figure. We didn’t know what exactly she was trying to run away from, but it was bad enough most of her self-image could fit inside Rainbow Dash’s wingspan.

Then this one episode turns all of that on its head… by showing Scootaloo’s parents. And that’s just the first mistake this episode makes.

I’m going to start small. First of all, why are we even getting this information in the final season of the entire series? Whoever Scootaloo’s parents are, they walk into nine years of show canon and headcanon, butting up against the imaginations of literally thousands of people. There is no possible way they could fit whatever template bronies or even prior show writers have imagined for them—it is pointless, and even downright insulting, for the current show to even try.

Secondly, the way the show presents Scootaloo’s current family situation is absolutely, positively, incompetently wrong.

Apart from her parents, you know, EXISTING, the show had to wrap itself into a pretzel to explain why they were absent for the last nine years—so they tell us only in a random letter that her parents are “coming home” from being “gone.” Gone where? Oh, well, work, obviously. You know, the work that keeps away two parents at once for years and years and won’t let them take care of their pre-teen daughter, who has only been seen alone and unloved right up until this particular episode. In the magical realm of Equestria where friendship and love reign supreme.

Somehow I’m not buying it. Clearly, Scootaloo has hired ponies to act like her parents in a convoluted attempt to throw Child Services off her trail until she can move her cardboard box into Rainbow’s cloud house without the Ponyville Zoning Commission noticing.

Oh, but actually, she wasn’t alone at all, you see. She has two maybe-sorta-lesbian aunts who have been taking care of her all this time.

But only on weekdays. At all other times, Scootaloo is passed around between the Cakes, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and presumably anyone else with a guest room and a mechanized canning machine that only foals can fit into when it breaks down. So you see, dear viewer, we’re supposed to believe that on top of running businesses, being teachers, and performing national hero duties, the mane six babysit the only orphan in all of Equestria (who isn’t actually an orphan her parents totally love and respect her SERIOUSLY DON’T YOU BELIEVE ME?)

Except, uh, this never came up once before? And Rainbow Dash has never once implied that she was even aware that she was literally living with Scootaloo on a semi-regular basis, and Scootaloo was never aware vise-versa? And she has longed for even a hint of a supportive parental relationship in her life, such as in Parental Glideance where she actually says she dreams of such things? I’m going to come back to Parental Glideance quite a bit actually, as it absolutely blows this episode’s logic out of the water.

It does not make any kind of logical sense that Scootaloo has desperately, achingly longed for someone to just be there for her, when she literally has eight guardian figures all constantly looking out for her. The “aunts” (yeah they’re just best friends wink wink nudge nudge) are a fabrication that ignores and quite frankly destroys Scootaloo’s development as a character. Up until now, she’s been learning how to be both self-reliant, standing up to Rainbow Dash’s mistakes on more than one occasion, and how to fit into a family dynamic, again by gradually becoming Rainbow’s little second-in-command.

And frankly, the mere fact that the aunts live “a few train stops away from Ponyville” is, putting it mildly, complete bullshit. Why are they not living in Ponyville? Why can’t they take care of her full time? What’s stopping them? What stopped them before? Is this really some kind of awkward explanation for why Scootaloo was only seen alone before? Because it’s a bad one. A really really really really really bad one. If the mane six can be full-time teachers and also do whatever else without it interfering with their lives in any measurable way whatsoever, then these two “aunts” can pull themselves away from… knitting blankets or something? Long enough to live full-time with Scootaloo, who again, has literally only ever dreamed of having a supportive family. Or maybe Ponyville was just a restricted neighborhood all this time and they’re incredibly intolerant of alternate lifestyles. Well, it was founded in a different time. Granny Smith usually keeps the tirades to her house now at least.

Also, this is the only contribution the aunts have to anything. They are completely irrelevant to the overall story, and probably only exist for the subtle brownie points of having a same-sex relationship on the show.

Geez, we’re only five minutes into the episode. It gets worse, trust me.

So at school, Scootaloo reveals that her parents have been on a world-spanning trip discovering new animals and fighting them for the cause of Equestrian science and medicine. They show up by unleashing a real life aggressive cragodile on the foals, some of whom nearly actually die.

Yeah… yeah, they took a Steve Irwin expy and made them the neglectful parents who willfully put children in danger. You know, the guy who’s known for being a really great family man on top of a renowned wildlife expert, died tragically? That guy. Yeah. Add that to the “insult” bar, and it almost equals the “injury” my brain has gotten so far trying to process all of this. Also, how many kids are even going to get that this is Steve Irwin/Crocodile Dundee? Are guys like that even a thing on TV anymore? It’s about as dated as making Bill Nye her dad, just a dumb reference purely for the benefit of the writers.

“Still think she’s making it all up?” Apple Bloom asks the camera.

Yes, Apple Bloom. Yes, I do. In fact, this entire episode works better as a dream of Scootaloo’s. I mean think about it. Scootaloo out of nowhere has the perfect explanation for why she is alone: “My parents aren’t absent, they really do love me, it’s just that they have a really important, really selfless job that helps the entire world be a better place so they know I am safe by virtue of what they do.” And then the show… just lets her have it? Does that sound real? Does that sound like something the vast majority of orphans in this world face? Does that sound like something that could ever, in any possible level of reality, explain Scootaloo’s character development so far?

No, it doesn’t, but the show expects us to believe it. That is literally her family situation right now. It is exactly as simple as all that. Scootaloo presents an idealized version of her parents… and then the show makes the idols REAL. What the fuck? What is an actual orphan supposed to take away from that? Just get better parents LOL?!

This is really what the level of writing in MLP has sunk to. This is what we are dealing with… in the final season. Good. Good. Let the hate flow through you.

So anyway, her parents swoop in and Scootaloo loves them and they love her, and then they say they’re moving away, oh no, they just arrived and now they’re leaving again? How dare they! How could they do this to their own daughter? They’ve dumped her off on everyone else, left for years and years to the point they are more absent than Applejack’s dead parents, and now the day they come back they think they can just make her leave?! What kind of horrible parenting is this?!

Well, Scootaloo actually isn’t too bothered by it. The entire potential conflict of abusive, distant ponies who don’t know what their own daughter wants is completely and cleanly excised from the script. Instead, we get “BUT MOOOOOOM, I DON’T WANNA MOVE, IT’S WHERE MY FRIENDS ARE, GEEEEZ.”

Yeah… yeah. No one even brings up the fact that her parents were gone, or that everyone thought she was an orphan, or that they shouldn’t be uprooting her so suddenly from the place they trusted to take care of her… in fact, no conflict whatsoever actually comes from the parents themselves, only from Scootaloo’s desire to remain in Ponyville. The writing of this episode deftly swerves around the mere implication that Scootaloo’s parents are anything but perfect, wonderful people whose only flaw is telling Scootaloo she has to move.

These are two completely divergent and incoherent plotlines that grind against each other. Scootaloo’s parents didn’t even need to be absent for all this to be a problem. They would be moving away whether or not they had left Scootaloo behind. Why did we even go through the rigamarole of pretending Scootaloo was alone? Her parents are clearly amazing and love their daughter, so why not just go the extra mile and retcon every episode that implied Scootaloo was by herself? What was the point of having them “come home” if they’re just going to leave again, and nobody’s even going to mention that their leaving is made worse by them being gone before?

WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS ENTIRE EPISODE?

It’s to give the CMC a trophy. That’s it. That’s all that happens. That’s all that changes. There is no other reason. There is no other idea present. There is nothing that will change Scootaloo herself, or her relationship with her parents. The story of this episode morphs from “I wonder what Scootaloo’s relationship with her parents is like” to “I wonder if Scootaloo will move” to “Why did we get an entire episode devoted to patting the CMC on the back?”

Because in the end, that is in fact all that happens. To convince Scoot’s parents that she is literally too important to Ponyville to be moved, they collect all the ponies who they helped along the way, and they all, one by one, explain in excruciating detail why the CMC are so damn important to the existence of Ponyville and the happiness of its ponies. As if by removing even one of them, there will never be another opportunity for any of them to help ponies. And that their entire lives do in fact revolve around being in Ponyville and doing CMC things. Essentially boiling down all three of their characters to living plot devices with no other purpose in life except to be the Cutie Mark Crusaders.

That’s it. That’s what nine years of development for these characters boils down to. This is their last hurrah together. This is what everything has been building up for. All three of the CMC are explicitly doomed to spend the rest of their lives in Ponyville, helping random ponies get their cutie marks. Because apparently ponies who need help getting cutie marks only live in Ponyville, and only the CMC are uniquely equipped by destiny itself to help them.

And then they get a trophy from the Mayor. And a standing ovation. And then Scootaloo’s parents say Scootaloo is just like them! Because she has a SUPER IMPORTANT JOB that is SO ABSOLUTELY AWESOME that she cannot ever be taken away from it for any reason ever.

And then Scootaloo’s mom in fact unleashes the most horrifying, cruel, and utterly thoughtless line in the entire episode.

“Sometimes that means missing out on other things you love, like watching our daughter grow into a pony we’re very proud of.”

What the actual fuck. Who wrote this line? Who approved it? Who let it even come anywhere near the show? Because all three of those people need to be fired immediately. The sheer immensity of incompetence required to even think a line like that in any way justifies any of the horrific abominations that preceded it is so mind-numbingly staggering that I am convinced someone on the writing team died and was replaced by a fucking gremlin.

No parent, anywhere, should ever say such a thing to their child. No one, under any circumstances, should even allow an inkling of a thought to enter their minds that THEIR JOB is MORE IMPORTANT THAN WATCHING THEIR CHILD GROW.

I literally do not give a shit if this was not what the writers intended, I am fully invoking Death of the Author here. It is an awful line, they should be ashamed of it. Go home, take it out back, kill it, and bury it in an unmarked grave so that the worms can eat it and leave no trace of its existence.

But not only does the show possess this line, it celebrates it. It portrays this as something that is good, that should be said by any parent wishing to leave their pre-teen daughter alone for the rest of her life. And Scootaloo takes it at face value, all smiles and giggles. Her parents leave forever, and the entire town celebrates that the status quo is completely undisturbed. Yes. It actually ends with a Disney-esque super happy ending where nothing is wrong, no conflict has occurred, and everything is implied to be perfect forever and ever.

To quote Scootaloo from Parental Glideance, “Growing up, I never thought I’d be the best at anything, because nobody ever told me.”

Do we get the significance of that line? Scootaloo went her entire life without anyone showing a shred of support that stuck with her. She has been a flightless orphan for the better part of a decade, constantly seeking the tiniest hint of validation from ponies around her, and Rainbow Dash in particular. The implications for a child’s psychological development due to trauma like this is immense.

And in one episode, the show just frittered that bit of her character away forever and ever. It didn’t matter that Scootaloo grew up alone. It didn’t matter she couldn’t fly and worried she’d never make anything of herself. It didn’t matter that she looked up to Rainbow Dash as the one pony who might be able to save her from a life of pointless mediocrity. It didn’t even matter that her parents came back, because they leave in the exact same episode. Isn’t that dandy? The existence of Scootaloo’s parents was rendered totally irrelevant IN THE EPISODE THEY APPEARED IN.

This episode was insulting to both the fandom and the show itself. It’s so shockingly bad and ignorant of the rest of the show’s development I cannot fathom how or why it was made. It is one of the rare few episodes that deserves to be completely ignored.

But guess what, children? We’re only halfway through the final season. The ride, as they say, never ends. At least, not yet.

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Comments ( 4 )

Many episodes feel phoned in this season. But this one felt messed up. Like the writers just made something due to fan demand (wanting to see Scootaloo's parents) without considering for a second the land slide of unfortunate implications.

The two auntie ponies. Who the heck thought they were a good idea?

Oh.

Just......

Oh.

I might just pretend this episode doesn't exist.

Unfortunate, especially because S9 has batted pretty high so far.

The next episode isn't much better. I can't make it about 30 seconds without needing a cringe break.

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