• Member Since 22nd Feb, 2012
  • offline last seen 5 hours ago

PoisonClaw


Who am I? Why, I'm just a passing through Kamen Rider... Got it memorized?

E

During "The Times They Are a Changeling", Spike was able to use the magic of song to prove that Thorax wasn't evil, convincing everyone in earshot, especially Shining Armor and Cadance to trust him and let him stay in the Crystal Empire.

... Except what if it hadn't been that easy? What would it take then to prove something like that, especially to a pony who had so bitterly said, "There's no such thing as a nice changeling" ?


Yep, an alternate take on the ending of The Times They Are a Changeling, the only part of the episode I felt was rushed.

Proofread by Doctor Candor and Malefactory

Chapters (1)
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Comments ( 62 )

Shining: There's no such thing as a good changeling.

Me: You say it to an honest to goodness dragon.

Maybe Thorax would have a bit more credence at the start if he had formally surrendered to the Equestrian Crowns, after all, the two nations are technically still at war.


Still, a good story here. :twilightsmile:

Definitely a contender for "How should it have ended", and an ending like this definitely would've been better than what we got. :twilightsmile:

Also, I think Shining Armor's gonna be sleeping on the couch for a while to think about how thickheaded he was. :rainbowlaugh:

Most irrational hatred seems to stem from the self. Shining is no different, it seems.

During "The Times They Are a Changeling", Spike was able to use the magic of song to prove that Thorax wasn't evil, convincing everyone in earshot, especially Shining Armor and Cadance to trust him and let him stay in the Crystal Empire.
... Except what if it hadn't been that easy? What would it take then to prove something like that, especially to a pony who had so bitterly said, "There's no such thing as a nice changeling" ?

Well instead of singing, Spike could probably try explaining Thorax's intention like we human beings would normally do.

As much as I loved that episode, that song was just not needed. Never really liked Spike's singing either, so it was doubly cringy for me. But at least we got Thorax and now King Thorax, right? WORTH IT.

7720096 It's not really irrational when the things that controlled your mind and nearly took over the world suddenly show up again.

Would you be cheering if a Cyberman showed up? Or a Borg?

It's one thing to foster irrational hatred toward something that has never done you any harm, and another entirely to distrust and hold animosity toward a declared enemy who's never shown any trace of good will up to that point.

7719176 Shining has known Spike since he was a hatchling. And the dragons haven't tried to take over the world in spite of their size and power.

Apples and wrenches here. (it's that severe a contrast in situation)

7719454 That depends how you define war, there's nothing formal about the invasion or its aftermath. So, to say that the two kingdoms are in an active conflict is questionable. Besides, do you really think Thorax surrendering would have changed anything?

Shinning Armor went on a which hunt and was ready to kill him without either checking on Spike's mind with a spell or finding legal reasons (Does Equestria or the Chrystal Empire even have the death penalty on the books?). The changeling committed no provable crime as far as they knew, not even a confrontational gesture to suggest hostility. Yet, the captain of the guard was ready to execute him on the spot without interrogating him first or placing him on trial. No, the only thing that would have done would be to allow Shinning a chance at conducting an act of self-gratification through cold blooded killing. Thorax was right to evade the authorities if their policy was to shoot first and ask no questions.

7720219 Uhm, an open invasion IS WARFARE.

It's the most despicable kind. A surprise attack on a peaceful nation.

Not all wars are nice and neat and tied up with a bow.

Also, Shining was a victim of mind-rape, life-force sucking, etc... did anyone think he miiiiiiiight have a lil bit a PTSD after that? And maayyyyybe won't be so thrilled to see that enemy again out of the blue?

You see, you must away the fan favoritism and THINK ABOUT THE DETAILS a bit more.

7720218 Um...one of them has actually tried to do that; Garble.

He just hasn't done it yet because he's busy hugging every dragon he meets on his way home.

7720212

It's one thing to foster irrational hatred toward something that has never done you any harm, and another entirely to distrust and hold animosity toward a declared enemy who's never shown any trace of good will up to that point.

Unless that something is a clopfic. Then you are in the right to hate on it.

Over saturated bait trap crap.

7720219

The changeling committed no provable crime as far as they knew, not even a confrontational gesture to suggest hostility.

He hissed nastily at their baby if I recall. It wasn't his fault, granted, but do you think they knew that at the time?

7719176 Shining: There's no such thing as a good changeling.

UniqueSKD: Well, if you take a look here at this script for the last couple of episodes for season 6, you might be surprised, Shining...

7720230 Shining wasn't there. So he wouldn't know. Invalid argument!

7720254 Twilight was there when Garble was talking crap about burning a few buildings because he wanted to be a dick. You're telling me she couldn't send her brother a letter about how her Wednesday evening went for her? "Dear Big Brother, today I nearly got my rump roasted by fire-breathing dragons. Also another brony wrote a clopfic about us again so I'm off to turn him into a pig. Love, Twilight Sparkle."

7720229 I'm not denying that an invasion is an open act of war and that Shinning Armour has post traumatic stress from the events. What I am questioning is the continued hostility since Equestria has not made any plans to retaliate as Chrysalis conducted no other offensives. Besides, can you really justify hunting and exterminating all changelings just because their leader did something stupid and despotic? At the very least, he could have questioned Thorax rather than play judge, jury and executioner.

Besides, Twilight and Cadence arguably suffered MORE than Shinning, yet they were better open-minded and did not allow their anger (and ego in his case) to get the better of them. So, he was in the wrong, even more so if he allowed his PTSD to cloud his leadership capabilities as an officer by needlessly endangering lives in the crossfire (one of them a civilian and the other his superior, I might add). He failed to act professionally and was ready to supersede legal procedures while doing so.

Thus, I can't agree that Shinning should be let off the hook just because he was not in his best state of mind due to his victimhood. If anything, he should have taken leave or stepped back from this affair to let one of his lieutenants run the manhunt while he deals with his issues. Like I said, Thorax was right to not have surrendered when confronted.

Thanks for writing this. Even though I liked how Thorax was accepted in the end, it still bothered me to no end how quickly it happened, especially with Shining Armor. And with a song that felt unnecessary. Although, I did like how Spike convinced Starlight to give Thorax a chance, but still.

This is much better. If it wasn't for the episode's time length, this definetily should have in it.

Nice and touching fanfic.
I just would have preferred if Cadance also had been hard to convince in giving Thorax a chance.

Twilight also had it hard at the weddings indeed, but she forgave Starlight ; and she sure trusts Spike, with sho she shares a very close bond.

Also, nice idea to have these guards choose to stick with Spike rather than blindly follow their maddened captain.

This was a refreshing glass of water. A much-needed drink of story-writing to wash the taste of bad-writing and dialogue substitution that was the song of the episode.

I tip my non-existent hat to you, good sir. 10/10

7719176 Spike: They say the same thing about dragons, don't they? No day goes by where I am not tempted to give in to my greed. Am I evil, Shining Armor? What is better- to be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?

Shining: *speechless*

If I'm honest, I think that this was the ending the writers WANTED to make... but 20 minute run time is a major limiter.

Still, I did enjoy it and I'm glad you made it, excellent work dude.

Also, Thorax needs his own Character Tag by now. Seriously.

so much this, or just pre/post thorax changelings.

Oh goodness gracious. This makes me wish you were a writer on the show staff.

7720218 And yet the dragons raid the ponies.

A good story you've got here. I would have much preferred it if there was more of a verbal confrontation in the episode instead of a song, and it's surprising that so few stories have tried this scenario since the episode aired, so props to you. :twilightsmile:

That being said... *sigh* I don't know, I personally much prefer the episode's version of the Shining than your story's.

In the episode, what I liked was that neither Shining, nor the Royal Guards, nor the other pony characters were the antagonists. Shining's primary motivation throughout was to protect his home and loved ones (especially his newborn daughter) from a perceived tangible threat. It's just that his prejudice, however justified from past experience, prevents his and the guards' ability to see Thorax as anything other than a threat. He wasn't being harsh for the sake of the plot, it feels entirely justified. He was still wrong, sure, but his distrust was understandable and even sympathetic to a knowing audience. When he came around at the end of the episode, it felt a bit rush for sure, but I could see buy it.

You could say he and the other guards definitely filled the trope of 'Noble Bigot With A Badge' well in that episode.

That's not to say your depiction of him doesn't hold any water, because from a realistic standpoint, it does. I don't know, I just think he comes off as far too venomous and spiteful and, I have to say, even tyrannical at points for me. Even when we're presented with the obligatory explanation at the end about his own self-loathing about his inability to protect the ones he cares about, I find it incredibly difficult to feel any real sympathy towards him even though I know I'm supposed to (I don't say PTSD here, because it's something I think gets thrown around a bit too loosely in these stories).

Maybe it's because our bird's-eye view of the situation means we understand full-well Spike is right and that Thorax isn't a threat, so it's really difficult for us to understand things from his perspective. Or that because the issue of Shining's failures is never really hinted at in the episode or at any other point in the show, so its inclusion in this story comes off as kinda jarring (and perhaps partially why Shining's acceptance at the end of the episode felt believable). And there the issue that at the end of this story, sans his conversation with Cadence, he does not reconcile with Thorax, Spike, his fellow guards (whom he works side-by-side with and has labelled as 'traitors' of all things) or Twilight for his deplorable behavior here (at least in the episode, he at least does actually apologize to Thorax). So in the end, it leaves a really bitter taste in my mouth.

There's one last issue and it relates more to personal taste: I'm just so weary how Shining Armor, a character who I really do want to like, is repeatedly played the 'murderously racist bigot' card in four years' worth of changeling stories. It's why I was so nervous when I read the synopsis of 'The Times Are A Changeling', and when did air, like I said, I was relieved in its relatively even-handed portrayal of him as being prejudiced but not beyond reasoning.

The Shining Armor in your story sadly feels far too much like the fandom stereotype than the actual character from the show.

Please understand this isn't me saying your story is bad, because it really isn't. Maybe a lot of it has to do with me. I think most people agree with me that a lot of it is subjective: as much as I don't want to, I unfortunately can't walk away from this story without seeing Shining as a thoroughly unsympathetic/unlikable and weak person.

However I feel though, hats off to you for writing this engaging story, which I'm sure will encourage others to write fanfics tackling this scene where Spike must convince his friends through his words instead of a song (and hey, credit where credit is due, the part where Spike convinced the guards was especially well-written).

Well done! :raritywink:

I think thorax earned to be his own character, too

I liked how you managed to keep everyone in character, and specific reasons for why when they were not too.

This works excellently as a prequel to your other story A Chat Between a King and a Prince. Now if only their was an inter quality showing Thorax acclimating to life in the Crystal Empire,(as well pony culture in general), Shining's lingering doubts, and the populace reactions. Clinch it with Thorax reaching a personal epiphany of some kind, that results in him earning his "Crystalized" wings that were shown in the finale.

Great job!

Welp... That happened- Not in the real episode. Why couldn't it happen in the real episode?:raritydespair:

This was an interesting look on what could have happened.

7722179
I'm with you, Magic Man. Moreover, Shining Armor has been shown to be calm but focussed in any battle situation he's been in, so why is he screaming and throwing a tantrum here like a little child? He faced down Tirek, for Heaven's sake.

I'm rather happy the episode did not take this route. It's not one of my favourite, not by any stretch, but it was refreshing that they didn't put poor Shining Armor in the position of violent racist who needs to be berated.

7722179 Yeah, that's the one thing I wasn't thrilled with in this fanfic. Shining Armor was willing to hurt a child for crying out loud, and without scanning Spike's mind to see if he was under a spell. That sort of hair trigger reaction was not justified, Thorax at worst deserved to maybe be arrested and thrown in a dungeon, but not killed. Shining wouldn't even give him a chance to plead his case in a trial, something that I'm pretty sure The Captain of The Royal Guard is not supposed to do.

7722450
It could have if they didn't put that dumb song in instead.

I'm not saying it was a bad song, far from it. But it just had so. Much. Cheese. And was so. Badly. Timed. To the episode's timing and pacing. You don't put in a song right at the climax of the conflict, it's just a horrible way to kill the mood.

Great story :D Sorta wished there was more with Shining and Spike, maybe like him apologizing to Spike in private for being so hostile towards him, since the poor kid's practically family.

Hm, Shining Armor's attitude here reminds me a bit of how I portrayed him in A Daughter Not His Own---specifically the part where he felt like he failed to protect the ones he loved the most and it ate at him constantly.

7722485 Yeah, I think you describe Shining Armor's actions here in a way I didn't really articulate well.

I understand what the author was going for here, I really do, but the execution felt like Shining throwing a temper tantrum. As I said, it didn't feel like I was reading Shining Armor the character from the episode/tv show, but the Shining Armor stereotype created by this fandom. The vast majority of his lines were just screaming and ravings copied from every racist authority-type villain in media and the lack of any reconciliation between him and all those he just declared his enemies leaves a really bitter taste in my mouth. The story feels somewhat incomplete because of this, you know?

7722504 Exactly, plus one song does not magically change everyone's minds, especially since Thorax himself wasn't singing it and there was indeed the possibility that Spike was being forced to sing it (we know he wasn't, but imagine we were one of the characters hearing it without knowing the context).

Yep, they all were ready to trust way too easily. Lazines or time constraints? I'd say the latter, episodes are quite short to fully explore some themes. Also they can't truly delve into these areas either, because if the rating.

Still, this was a great read :twilightsmile:

7720182

Never really liked Spike's singing either,

That's too bad. I think Jolly Ol' St. Nick is the best song on the Christmas album.

7723841 I find something cringey about his singing. But if you like his singing that is fine. It's just a matter of taste and preference with me, that's all. I suppose his voice on the Christmas album is kind of okay. Every other time he sings is just annoying. But again, that's just because I prefer the other characters when they sing.

Are you okay this cold day?

Surprised Spike didn't try pulling a "Well if all changelings are the same then I guess that shows what you must really think of me then. Since if all Changelings are the same then so must dragons. I guess you see me as nothing but a greedy, self serving overgrown lizard who breaks Phoenix Eggs for fun-" ect. Maybe even throwing in a small rant about all griffons being the same by Shining Armors STands just by what is shown by the majority..

7722485

I'm rather happy the episode did not take this route. It's not one of my favourite, not by any stretch, but it was refreshing that they didn't put poor Shining Armor in the position of violent racist who needs to be berated.

Now that I've had time to go away and think about it a bit more, I think I can articulate my criticisms more pointedly. I agree, Shining is being wedged here into the position of the 'violent racist who needs to be berated' and it's really disappointing because it drags so much of this story down.

In a story that is otherwise really well-written and characterized, he is really the only character who just feels so jarringly out of place. When some of the folks on this comment section are asking why this couldn't have been the actual ending to the episode (and I assure 7722450 7722504 7722320 I mean no disrespect here), but I think it's because this kind of angle pretty much throws so much of Shining's character under the bus.

Again, I understand the direction the author was trying to go with, and in a lot of respects it does work, and believe me when I say it's not the fact that Shining doesn't immediately trust Thorax at Spike's word alone. It's that his behavior is taken just so ridiculously extreme, borderline deranged is this murderous racism it feels like he's been downright villainized when there's no real need to other than for the sake of creating conflict. Throughout the episode, there really was no bad guy. Shining’s prejudice was played straight, but he still came across as justified and sympathetic to a knowing audience. The show writers understood where the line was and so we came away from the episode not feeling too much animosity towards Shining. I wanted to see that Shining overcome his prejudice, this one I want to his teeth smashed down his throat, even when we get his excuse.

In fact, let’s talk about that. The whole explanation that he's 'torn up about his past failures' isn't satisfying because, not only has it been trotted out so many times in various ways in fanfiction that it's lost a lot of its bite, it was it never even hinted at any point in the respective episode or the rest of the show, which makes its inclusion here feel really out of place. It just feels disingenuous, like it's a hand wave excuse for his behavior, when it should in all honestly make sense. I just don't feel any sympathy for him, even though I know I should. It doesn’t feel earned.

In fact, even in the end, his appalling behavior is never really challenged beyond a stern talking to by Twilight and Cadence. He's made the 'violent racist who needs to berated', except the berating part never comes, because all the characters who he has alienated from himself (and in real life would have likely permanently alienated) seem to just forget about him so they can focus on Thorax and have their 'everbody laughs' ending. There's no reconciliation, no consequences, no satisfying conclusion between the serious conflict and rift he's created between himself and everypony else in the room. Heck, they barely even react to his repulsive behavior and actions (Twilight should have a MUCH stronger reaction to him threatening to hurt Spike!) beyond bare-bones defiance. This ending just feels so... incomplete. Maybe if it had Spike and Thorax actually addressing Shining Armor directly, I dunno.

I think then the core of this story's problem draws from how its drawn directly from a canon episode of the show. The Shining Armor from the episode and this story simply don't come across as being the same character. It's all the more odd because pretty much every other character does.

7723961
Agreed.

I think what would have worked better is to have Shining Armor emotionally and physically withdraw. While everypony cheers and embraces Thorax after the (cringeworthy) song, Shining is left on the sidelines, watching, feeling increasingly isolated but unwilling to make a scene. With the princesses already throwing their support behind Thorax, his word carries no weight anymore anyhow.

There could still be the emotional baggage, in fact I'd say it would be even more powerful this way. Like, choosing the Changeling feels like a rejection to Shining Armor, who nonetheless bears stoically because that's what a protector does—until one of the other characters take note and asks him why he's not cheering and happy. Then he could've said all those things about how he feels worthless and a failure. How he doesn't trust the Changeling but nopony cares about his opinion. How he refuses to throw caution to the wind but knows if he spoke up now, he would've had everypony against him.

Kinda like Spike's own scene. Could've been a nice parallel.

It's just frustrating to see Shining Armor thrown under the bus like this.

Also, call me crazy, but... the story description asks what it would take to prove a Changeling can change to the doubting. So... what does it take? Because the whole setup is pretty much like in the episode, except for pouring all antagonist potential into one character who then makes an ass of himself so the rest has a reason to rally behind Thorax.

Well, that's not totally accurate. The parts with Starlight and the ones with Cadance asking Thorax to be watched are a concession. And they work, they work well.

If Shining had been written more like he's in the show and his (legit!) concerns addressed without his temper trantrum, maybe he wouldn't feel so much like a Strawman, you know? It overshadows the parts that are actually really good, and it makes it seem like they're not really dealing with the problem. It didn't prove a Changeling can change so much as violent racists are bad.

I'm still giving it an upvote because the rest is so well-done.

7720327

Besides, can you really justify hunting and exterminating all changelings just because their leader did something stupid and despotic?

Yes and no. "Hesitation" on Shining's part is a deeply emotional reaction based on extreme trauma. It's perfectly normal to be gun-shy at the possibility of repeating that trauma, and it's extremely insensitive to expect the victim to just give up their fears at the drop of a hat. I'm honestly surprised that Cadance - the other person to suffer as much as Shining - so readily took Thorax' side. It should be hard to win back such broken trust.

Honestly, the episode was disappointing because the ones who realistically would need convincing asked for proof of Thorax' good intentions, and got a song and dance from Spike. Their concerns were never addressed. (See also, my point about expecting victims to give up their fears.)

For similar examples, look at the United States' reactions to German- and Japanese Americans during World War Two. Or, how about current fears concerning Syrian/Iraqi refugees. The reactions might not be strictly "right," but they're grounded in legitimate concerns, and dismissing those concerns in favor of those they are directed against is simply not helpful to anyone.

7724385

Yes and no. "Hesitation" on Shining's part is a deeply emotional reaction based on extreme trauma. It's perfectly normal to be gun-shy at the possibility of repeating that trauma, and it's extremely insensitive to expect the victim to just give up their fears at the drop of a hat. I'm honestly surprised that Cadance - the other person to suffer as much as Shining - so readily took Thorax' side. It should be hard to win back such broken trust.

Honestly, the episode was disappointing because the ones who realistically would need convincing asked for proof of Thorax' good intentions, and got a song and dance from Spike. Their concerns were never addressed. (See also, my point about expecting victims to give up their fears.)

And you know what? I think you're absolutely right. By all rights, it should take much more than a song to convince ponies like Shining and Cadence, who have suffered great injustice at Chrysalis' hooves, that this changeling who's trespassed on their Empire is no threat. It would have been far more satisfying seeing Spike give an impassioned (if not one-sided) speech to the ponies and have both sides give arguments and counter-points before they reached their conclusion about Thorax, but you know what? I could get passed the song, if they'd retooled Shining's closing lines to Thorax more, I dunno... compelling. Try this on for size:

Shining Armor: [to Thorax] "We owe both you and Spike an apology, Thorax. We were wrong to judge you before trying to get to know you..." [He and the guards remove their helmets for the first time in the episode] "I was wrong."

It's not a major change, but it would've felt far more compelling and genuine than what we originally got, at least substantially more so.

But this story botches Shining Armor by going the opposite extreme from the episode. I won't be into too much a rant, as I've gone through the issues thoroughly in my previous comments, it doesn't sufficiently do the job of addressing his legitimate concerns and fears like the episode should have. While the rest of the characters are written perfectly in character, this story sadly makes the mistake of needlessly demonizing him so to serve as its antagonist. And it really hurts the story because it not only robs him of any of the sympathy the readers should be able to feel towards him (which it successfully did in the episode), but also makes the original intent of the story faulty. The Great Derpsby explains it better:

...the story description asks what it would take to prove a Changeling can change to the doubting. So... what does it take? Because the whole setup is pretty much like in the episode, except for pouring all antagonist potential into one character who then makes an ass of himself so the rest has a reason to rally behind Thorax... It didn't prove a Changeling can change so much as violent racists are bad.

7720280 Ah, but how often in the show is it quite clear that the ponies seem to avoid discussing relevant topics... apparently because they know if they solve the problems beforehand the writers can't use it in later episodes? :trollestia:

Yes, you can chalk it up to weak/absent continuity in those cases, but it still exists.

Even then, Twilight's the sort of pony who might just leave out that little part so as not to worry BBBFF that she was attacked by a dragon who might have sort of crunched her into bloody bits had he won, thus resulting in her impulsive sibling rushing off to start a war by himself which he'd most certainly lose in almost a comically grotesque fashion.

7720327 Uhm, neither one of them was brain-washed and had their emotions sucked out.

That sort of thing probably messes you up in the head the same way as torture-plus-drugs.

Also, you really need to brush up on history if you think people conveniently forget about invasions in a year or two.

7721638 Eh? Where in the show were dragons raiding ponies?

1. Dragonshy: Red dragon minding its own business, save for smoke. Didn't even eat the ponies who kept pestering him.
2. Green Isn't Your Color: Green dragon went after Spike for eating from his hoard. Didn't go to Ponyville for revenge.
3. Dragon Quest: The whole friggin population flew over Ponyville without incident, some seemingly showing off for the ponies watching. The only thing that got raided was a nest of phoenix eggs.
4. Gauntlet of Fire: Garble's plan was to attack if he won. He lost. So, no raids.

The ONLY time a dragon went hoarding in a pony town was from Spike himself losing control of his greed. But that was hardly something pre-planned!

7724808 Ah, but how often in life do you have to be so literal-minded? XD

I personally loved this like a lot. I loved the episode but i was disappointed with how it ended and i really liked this ending i wish the show did something a little similar with how shining wasn't so trusting and that Spike defended him instead of sang

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