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Looking Back on the Show: Meghan McCarthy Edition · 12:43am August 3rd

I've made it no secret that Meghan McCarthy is (and always will be for the foreseeable future) my favourite FIM writer. While some writers are funnier than her, some write better villains, and some are better at handling continuity—McCarthy has the most heart. She's the one who's able to breathe a soul into these characters like no other, truly making them stand out. She's especially dear to me for her fantastic understanding of Twilight and Spike, their relationship together, and what makes them such three-dimensional individual characters.

While it pained me to see McCarthy leave the show after season 4, having gone off to work on the 2017 movie, I'm nevertheless excited for G5, which is being lead by her. It also helps that she was the brains behind my favourite season, season 4, and she wrote my favourite episode, Twilight's Kingdom. So, as a meritorious kind of celebration, I've decided to write up reviews for each and every one of her episodes... in seasons 1–4. Yes, she was credited for episodes in seasons 5 and 6, but only as the idea-pitcher; she never actually wrote those episodes, so it hardly counts.

Praise be to our saviour of literary pony merit in the shrouding vale of corporate-meddling Haber darkness!

Anyway-anyhow, off to it!

Season 1: Dragonshy

This was the first adventure-centric episode in the series, right? Like, classical Tolkien-style adventure?

This episode was great, offering a much-needed change of pace from the slice of life episodes which had taken precedence. This is the episode that marked Fluttershy on her path of character growth, showing us she wasn't the massive pushover we were led to believe. The build-up to her assertiveness was obvious from the beginning, with how reluctant she was to find a sleeping dragon, to her fear of skipping across the gap in the cliffside. Also, that scene with the boulders hurtling their way was pretty intense, especially for season 1 standards.


Season 1: Call of the Cutie

The episode that gave us the CMC, as well as the longest-lasting subplot in the entire show. Memorable and distinct characterization, too. Other than that, the moral was handled very maturely, something I always appreciate. But man are their voices different. A lot more annoying.


Season 1: Green Isn't Your Color

This episode was pretty good. It gave us the Pinkie "foreveeeeerrrr" meme, and I liked how Rarity and Fluttershy reached the conclusion on their own, that is, it's important to be honest about your feelings. I didn't like the premise at all, so this is a good example of how there are no bad ideas, only bad executions.

The biggest problem in this episode was Twilight. In fact, the biggest problem in season 1 was Twilight. Because they had to have had a letter written to Celestia every episode, and Twilight was its only catalyst, they had to shoehorn her into everything. And damn, Twilight really didn't fit into this episode, like, at all. Her whole thing with keeping secret Spike's crush on Rarity was a little too silly, even for her.


Season 1: Party of One

The only problem with this episode is that it indirectly gave us an endless supply of Pinkamena fics. But that can't be placed on the writer's shoulders, now can it?

Otherwise, this episode was sheer, unfiltered fun from beginning to end. Loved every second of it.


Season 2: Lesson Zero

It's like Party of One, but for Twilight. And in this case, I preferred Twilight as a character. It was also a smart decision to have the friendship letters be shared among her friends, so as to allay season 1's biggest hurdle. This episode is a classic, and for good reason. It's absolutely hilarious and strangely touching.


Season 2: Sweet and Elite

This episode is one of my favourites (*cough* Rarity best pony *cough*). The conflict was real, the characters were on point, the song was fantastic, and it gave us my favourite side character, Fancy Pants. He was just so damn wise and likeable. Also, bonus points for that funny birthday scene.


Season 2: Hearts and Hooves Day

This episode was... okay, but not by much. The lovey-dubby talk was really freaking stupid. I was not amused at all. Then there's the plot hole: if they only need an hour without eye contact for the spell to break, why not just wait for them to fall asleep? However, the humour was very funny, and we got that memorable "Oh come on!" quote from Sweetie Belle.


Season 2: A Canterlot Wedding

Dang son, this finale was something else, wasn't it?

The characters were all really good, and Twilight's descent into resentment, climaxing at her tearful reprisal of the BBBFF song, was executed perfectly. Great action, great scale, balls-off-the-walls-amazing songs—this finale was everything we could have asked for, and more.

Chrysalis's plan made no sense, but I can forgive it since it's not exactly in your face about it.


Season 3: The Crystal Empire

Am I the only one who thinks this episode is criminally underrated? No? Just me?

Look, it's a great premiere, with the same sense of scale and significance and spectacle, if not more so, as A Canterlot Wedding. We got some of Twilight and Spike's best characterization to date, with their little moment shared in that nightmare illusion standing out. The conclusion, with how Twilight told Spike to grab the Crystal Heart, was a smart decision storytelling-wise. And I just loved the added lore of an entire empire. Songs were really good stuff.

As a character, was Sombra a bad villain? Yes, inarguably. But did he work? Yes, in the same way Sauron worked: he was not so much an antagonist as an abstract force constantly instilling terror in the heroes' hearts. It didn't bother me so much, and quite frankly, the good vastly outshines the bad. Still, I'll admit it wasn't as good as A Canterlot Wedding. And some of the scenes with the Main Six felt really out of place, like they were being forced into the conflict.


Season 4: Princess Twilight Sparkle

First impression: "Holy shit, the animation!"

Yeah, this was the show's biggest leap in its technical improvement. As for the story, I enjoyed it. It was much slower paced than previous two-parters, and things didn't feel as dire, per se, but the visuals were way too stunning, and the backstories we got, especially the one with Nightmare Moon's banishment, were fantastic. I loved it when Celestia shed a tear.

Oh, and Discord! He was great, too. The last act was a little hard to buy, with Twilight leaving her friends in the forest, but the dialogue was so well written and in-character that I didn't mind it all that much.


Season 4: Power Ponies

I was hyped for this episode when I first saw the animatic. And man was I let down. Spike was totally dumped down to make the girls look better, the scenes made no sense in conjunction with one another, and the villain was the definition of clichéd. Hated it.

To give McCarthy the benefit of the doubt, this episode was written by three people altogether, not just her. At least the action was pretty fun.


Season 4: Three's a Crowd

Definitely one of the most entertaining episodes in the series. Everything, from Discord's cheeky antics, to his wacky song, to Twilight and Cadence's relationship, to that awesome action scene with that weird worm-tentacle-thing, was all handled very well. I liked the ending, too.

Can't think of much wrong with this one.


Season 4: Inspiration Manifestation

Yup, that's my profile image. For a reason.

Rarity continues to shine as best pony and her relationship with Spike is very, very well written here.

What else can I say? It's a Rarity-Spike episode with great humour and heart written by the (former) best writer on the whole freaking show.

I especially liked the reference to dark magic at the end.


Season 4: Twilight's Kingdom

Doctor: "You only have ten minutes left to live."
Me: *puts on Twilight's Kingdom*
Doctor: "But that's more than ten minutes."
God: "I'll allow it."

Masterpiece. Epic Masterpiece. Flawless epic masterpiece.

Twilight's amazing character development, the intrigue and betrayals, the powerful yet cunning villain, the interesting backstory, the feeling of desperation as things only get worse and worse, that incredible first song, the heart-tugging emotions, the voice performances, that fucking-A fight scene, and the well-deserved conclusion with that key subplot—it all adds up to something that the show should have ended on. Literally the only bad thing were those new designs for their transformations. That was hideous. Also the last song, while not bad by any means, was pretty generic.

Never had I been so engrossed and invested in a group of talking cartoon horses as I was when I first watched Twilight's Kingdom. There's so much to discuss here. I loved how the show's negligence to Twilight's princesshood was intentional up until this point, which added weight to her every action because of how useless she felt. I loved Discord's betrayal, which gave us some very emotional moments, like when he told Fluttershy "I'm sorry." The song with all the princesses singing is in my top three favourite songs in the entire show. I loved how Tirek was not only brute strength, he was cunning, resourceful, and really flashy in the coolest way possible. His motivation—in his own words, how his brother had "betrayed" him—added a lot of character depth. And that fight scene is the greatest scene to ever grace us in a western cartoon show.


Fuck the grading limit.

This is going to sound controversial, but I'm glad McCarthy replaced Lauren Faust, if only for two seasons. The former added way more heart and soul and depth to the show in execution than what Lauren could only dream of. Don't @ me, fams; I still like Faust.

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Comments ( 2 )

Is it really confirmed that McCarthy is heading Gen5? If so, that gives me a ton more hope for it. Twilight's Kingdom is my favorite episode too, and I loved the movie.

They leaked their emails about G5 a while back, and I found them being discussed on 4chan. Yeah, it's pretty much confirmed that McCarthy is going to be the lead writer, just like she was in seasons 3–4.

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