Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
Hello! Welcome to this hopefully successful excuse for me to justify my shiny new green username.
*Riku absentmindedly worships green username Blush Ahem... moving on.
Here I'll be doing my best to present something resembling episode commentary for season six and onwards. And for those who follow my only other major contribution to this site, An Optimist's Opinion, that'll still be going though mostly put on the backburner for now. Plus, more excitingly, here I'm allowed to be cynical! Happy Anyone whose read my reactions in episode discussion threads will have a fair idea of how my reviews will work, though expect a little bit more analysis, criticism and possible humour.

So with that out of the way, Let's get started with the Season 6 Premiere; The Crystalling.
[Image: x240-7kG.jpg]
I normally won't spoiler these reivews, but I thought it would save the time taken to scroll through a wall of text.

The Crystalling: Part 1
Spoiler :
So we open with Starlight being lost in the castle...What Was she not waiting in the throne room for Twilight in the last finale? You're telling me she can find her way back then, yet be lost as can be here? I smell the foul stench of... Retcon!

Starlight Glimmer wrote:This castle looked a lot smaller from the outside.
I would make a TARDIS joke here, but she does have a point.

Eventually she's directed to the library where we learn Twilight's not only letting her stay at the castle but also be her student. Well, that now makes two former rivals turned into students/correspondents for Twilight, with Sunset Shimmer in the human world and now Starlight. Though, in true Twilight fashion she's over prepared for friendship lessons.

After the intro (in which the only difference is the cut/paste of Starlight into the picture) we learn that the mane six will soon be off to visit the Crystal Empire, for the first time since Season 4, to see the new baby when it's born and its "Crystalling". I hope I'm not the only one who picked up on this being a semi-subtle reference to christening, which could actually be a small, unintentional insight into Crystal Empire religion. After all, Applejack and Rarity did confess the traditions of the Crystal Empire were obscure and mysterious. Pinkie Pie Shrug Open head-canon on the table for those who want it.
After Spike gives an explanation of how the ceremony works and how it actually increases the power of the Crystal Heart (interesting titbit there) and a small but hilarious collection of faces, Starlight learns that one of her possible first friendship lessons would be reconnecting with Sunburst. It's very relatable the fear Starlight has of seeing him again, as she explains to Spike. After all, how do you go about telling your oldest friend that you started a neo-Marxist cult and then nearly ruined all of time and space in a mad quest for vengeance?
To his credit, Spike is a good shoulder for Starlight to lean on before the news of the birth arrives. Gee, I wonder if the message got there due to Shining Armour throwing it from the balcony? Badumtish

With this news we're off to the Crystal Empire, with Twilight recapping Pinkie on the Crystal Heart and its power. If I were CinemaSins (or one of his parody impersonators), I'd put a sin right here for explaining something Pinkie was there to experience, but then I remembered it's for the viewers. And no, I don't mean us bronies (though if newbies started with season 6 without seeing the previous seasons, then this would help them get up to speed), but for the little girls and their parents that Hasbro originally intended to be the target audience. I'm not a fan of this part, but I understand why they did it.
Anywho, Starlight voices her concerns with Twilight, but the alicorn brushes it off. Not in a mean way, more in a confident-in-her-teaching-methods-and-Starlight kind of way...Think If that makes sense. But those concerns are quickly replaced by the arrival of a ragged-looking Shining Armour. Well, looks like someone's realised the joys of parenthood. Trixie Very glad to finally see some cracks in the Disney couple image that Cadence and Shining Armour have been stuck with since their debut. I'm not saying I dislike how the two are portrayed entirely (as I was essentially raised on Disney), but they seemed too generic and perfect. Now with the added pressure of parenthood on top of running a nation state, it'll be interesting to see how they handle the stress.
And in Shining's case, he's not. (I wanted a picture here but apparently the internet's been a little slack in posting stressed-out Shining Armour pics. Angry ).
Back on track, Twilight's about to give up on the friendship lesson seeing her brothers plight (much to Starlight's relief) when Spike steps up to help Starlight out while the mane six head to the palace to see the baby.
+2 Positive Spike points
Starlight manages to distract Spike for a while, getting him to boost his ego in retelling his season 3 heroics to the gathered crystal ponies. While a little disappointed he caved, I'm glad he was quite humble about the fact and willing to do the more important work of helping Starlight at first.

Cutting away to the palace, we get to see the ruined surprise that is the newest member of the royal family. If you wanted to see my pre-episode thoughts on the spoilers, you can check out my AOO of it here. But watching the episode, something seemed off to me. The baby is VERY active for a newborn. I mean, it's only a few days old at most, yet it's blasting holes in the palace and flying and teleporting around like crazy. It might be due to the alicorn genes inherited from Cadence, but compared to the Cake twins, this is a very active and magically powerful baby.

Princess Celestia wrote:The birth of an alicorn is something Equestria has never seen.
Celestia, as much as I adore you as best princess (even defending you in AOO), I'm afraid I must call bullshit. The book The Journal of the Two Sisters, to the best of my knowledge, states that Celestia and Luna were born alicorns. However, this was never officially made canon by the show and there is the counter-argument that the two could've earned/be born with their wings BEFORE the founding of Equestria. And in case anyone says "But they were on the flag in the Hearth's Warming Eve play", you'd be right. They were on the flag IN THE PLAY. There's no confirmed design of what the first Equestrian flag looked like, meaning it's trapped in the minefield that is head-canon territory.
Eventually everyone gets ready, including the mane six working around Shining Armour's exhaustion (again, sleepless nights show relatable parental fatigue, making both Shining and Cadence more relatable).

Meanwhile, Spike finishes his story and actually denies telling another to get back on track helping Starlight with the friendship lesson.
+3 Positive Spike points
I like to think he could see what Starlight was trying to do by getting him to continue, yet was patient enough not to get disappointed in her. Eventually the two track down the house and meet Sunburst. From the early interactions it becomes very obvious where the story's going from here involving these old friends. Spike ensures Starlight doesn't immediately call it quits and we'll check back with them later.
+4 Positive Spike points

The final scene of the first episode has everyone ready for the ceremony, and when the baby's separated from favourite playmate Pinkie, shit hits the fan.
[Image: Shattered-Heart-520x325.jpg]
Once again, the internet fails me
[Image: 859543__safe_solo_princess+celestia_meme...lestia.png]
I can confirm that, at the WA meet, most gathered either gasped or went "Shit", as the infant destroyer of worlds smiled at episodes end.

Part 2
Spoiler :
So with one of the most powerful relics in Equestria shattered, it seems dark snowstorm clouds are rolling in.
...Don't careHuh What? You're expecting me to do the whole "Winter is Coming" joke? Please. As surprising as it may seem, even I have standards. I'm not that predictable... am I?Ohno

Princess Luna wrote:This far north, the weather has a will of its own.
Glare You mean like the Everfree Forest before it got nerfed from being terrifying to easily traversable, much like how you and your sister are again nerfed in this episode where now even rogue clouds pose a challenging threat? Geez, next thing you know, @Clouds in Clouds will be leading an invasion of Equestria... Huh Uh, guys, we may need to keep an eye on our floating friend.

So Twilight, Pinkie, Rarity, Cadence and Shining go looking for a spell to fix the problem and find the baby while AJ, Fluttershy and RD try to convince the crowd of crystal ponies to go home. Those three ponies at the front of the crowd, while a little one-dimensional in character, are a clear and clever reference to Royal Baby Watchers in England.
Meanwhile, Starlight and Sunburst's reunion is going about a well as a conversation at a mime convention. After the awkward scene, Starlight and Spike leave, with the reformed villain feeling low and doubting herself as Twilight's student. Again, Spike comes in as a reassuring shoulder to lean on.
+5 Positive Spike points
Realising something was wrong with the weather, the two head to the palace library? Okay, nitpicky as it is, this is actually my biggest gripe with the episode. Back in season 3, it was shown the Empire has a separate library building, So why is there another one in the palace? Maybe it's the private royal library but then why have a separate one at all? Just smells of a writer forgetting something from previous seasons.
Hmm, I seem to be enjoying being cynical. Plan
Anyways, Shining Armour, Pinkie and Rarity are trying to catch rampant baby alicorn while Twilight and Cadence find the spell that could solve the problem. That is, until Baby Laser of Doom literally blasts a hole through the book. While Shining Armour leads an evacuation, the group turns to Twilight, hoping she remembers enough of the spell to write it down and cast it. I can understand why Twilight would be doubtful she could do it, but this coming from a mare that mastered alicorn magic BEFORE ascending and rewrote a spell written by Starswirl the Bearded.

Wanting to help, Starlight and Spike rush off to get Sunburst, thinking he could help. Then comes the obvious reveal that Starlight's not the only pony ashamed of their past, with Sunburst apparently a drop-out of Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns despite his knowledge of spells. Starlight then confesses her past sins, which actually impresses Sunburst a little. This scene actually adds credibility and more facts to my argument in my AOO on Starlight in the finale. Starlight was only a child when Sunburst left, and I think most people underestimate how damaging it can be for a friend as close as Sunburst was leaving all of a sudden. But it's not all on Starlight. Sunburst was too busy with either studying or failing his studies in Canterlot to even check in on his close friend, and not one, not ONE adult came over to Starlight asking if she was okay and talk to her about it. It makes her backstory more believable in my opinion and deepens her character.
There's also the argument that this is just repeating previous lessons from episodes like Green Isn't Your Colour or Amending Fences. Now yes, Starlight is learning lessons already covered, but thinking on it this is actually a clever way for the writers to get away with covering morals already done in previous episodes.

Back on track, Sunburst realises how he can help, bringing his idea of combining multiple spells to fix the Heart to Twilight and Cadence, whose own spell fails. So using the power of the crystal ponies, the crystalling ceremony and a few other spells, the Heart is restored and the winter is cleared once more. During this, one could make either a Lion King or "I AM YOUR GOD NOW!" joke but... Glare no online images yet.
This also shows new crystal forms for a few characters, yet Celestia and Luna look exactly the same. You think characters as regal as the two sisters would get a new shimmering look. Pinkie Pie Shrug

After all that, a train arrives with the newly renamed grandparents (they're now Mr and Mrs Sparkle Fine ), interestingly voiced by their children's voice actors. And we get the spoiled name Flurry Heart, named after the events of her crystalling. This might explain the strange naming conventions of MLP. Perhaps each pony is named a fair while after birth, with certain aspects or events shortly after birth possibly determining the name. The Cakes are a clear contradiction to this, as are the Pies, but perhaps families can choose whether to follow either this theory or follow family tradition.

So with Starlight and Sunburst promising to stay in touch, Twilight is actually a little sad she wasn't able to help her pupil. And once again it's Spike who helps Twilight realise that giving Starlight that space is what helped save the day, and that that was the same way Celestia let Twilight learn friendship.
+6 Positive Spike points

So, that was The Crystalling. My thoughts?
Well, it's a solid start to season 6. It's more of a slice of life premiere like that of season 5, but I feel it's written a bit better this time around. All the characters seemed to stay within character, Starlight's plight was relatable, reasonable and added to her character and, surprisingly, there were no songs. It's a pattern I've just recently noticed; each odd numbered season has a song in the premiere and even numbered ones don't.
Also of note was Flurry Heart. While she did cause a fair majority of the conflict in this episode, she as a character wasn't too bad. Once you can accept her being able to shoot super-powerful lasers and fly and teleport like an ace despite being days old, she wasn't the world/show-breaking monster we feared. We should also be thanking her, as Flurry Heart's mere existence has killed Princess Skylar. Party
But the biggest thing, if the bold yellow text was any indication, the stand-out character of this two-parter was Spike. Arguably the best character, this premiere showcased all his best qualities; his willingness to help both Twilight and Starlight, his being there to listen to Starlight's concerns, his humility when getting back on with the task over bragging about his exploits, and his reassurance of Twilight at the end showed that he is still taking care of her concerns as well.
I liked this premiere. It's not as amazing as the season 4 premiere, but it's a solid start and helps set up season 6 as one where Starlight learns what it means to be a good friend, and Twilight learns what it means to be a good teacher.

So, hopefully you guys enjoyed this review and perhaps this is the start of something great. Or just a snowball effect of suck. Pinkie Pie Shrug Whichever one it is, I intend to enjoy it. Smile
adamgreen, Clouds in Clouds, DJ MusicWar, Explonova, frequencywavelength, Midnight Lights, SushiPony like this post
28/03/2016, 09:49 AM (Last edited: 28/03/2016 05:17 PM by Riku006)
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
Well, with another new episode (SOOOO glad ponies are back) I might try doing things a little differently. Differently as in not "Explain everything that happens in absolute detail." Blush let's see how well I do.

So, The Gift of Maud Pie. We all know what that means...
[Image: 576165__safe_solo_parody_futurama_spoile...ssador.png]
Incoming fangasm/humble brag. Not necessary for the review
Spoiler :
Nah, just kidding. Maud is Best 2nd Tier Character. Yes, she's cool because of her personality, the constant comparisons to Raven of Teen Titans (and not that shitstain excuse for children's entertainment that is Teen Titans Go! Angry ) or her awesome moments, but for me, I appreciate her because of the voice behind the character. At Seaponies Paradise, I had the lucky privilege of spending the day with the con guests, though the one I spoke and hung with the most was Ingrid Nilson, VA of Maud, Limestone and Marble Pie. She came off as a very kind and considerate person and a good listener. The fact that I got to know the voice behind the pony makes me like the character even more. Yeah

Starting the episode on the train immediately tells us that Ponyville's getting the Spike treatment; Rarely is the home of our heroines the main location of exciting episodes nowadays. I could be wrong but Pinkie Pie Shrug

After a brief reappearance of the Planes, Trains and Automobiles reference, we learn that not only this will be a Pinkie/Rarity episode, but that they're heading to Manehatten so Rarity can scope out a place for her third boutique!

If I ever start up a Youtube channel analysing ponies, Ima steal that clip. Evil
It's good to see that opening Canterlot Carousel wasn't the endgame for our favourite business pony. Like any small business owner, she wants to expand on her success, and this would silence those who complained that Canterlot Boutique should've been about Rarity earning the building rather than opening the store.

Getting back to the episode, ask yourself this; when was the last time Pinkie and Rarity were the two main characters focused on in an episode? To the best of my recollection, this is the first time in six seasons that these two have had the chance to work off of each other.
Can we also take a moment to realise how close the Pie Sisters are? I mean they- No! Bad Shippers, No... No. Angry So they-No! Cockatrice
Ahem, after all, not only do they trade rock candy necklaces, but spend a holiday every now and then sightseeing before exchanging secret gifts. And what's even better is that Limestone and Marble get in on this. Very glad to know they aren't one-hit-wonders.
And Rarity showed that even though Pinkie was, at times, embarrassing her, she still went out of her way to devise the plan to get the pouch. Rarity brings the down-to-earth maturity that Applejack usually provides, while Pinkie brings the goofy facial expressions. Throw in Maud and the hilarious reactions both Pinkie and Rarity have to her and it becomes brilliant. It amazes me this pairing, or grouping if you want to include Maud, wasn't done sooner.

Part of me is sad we cut away to Pinkie's lament about the closed store (where for a second I thought the policepony was going to arrest her), as we miss out on the story of how Maud and Boulder met. Fanfic writers, to your keyboards! But it does reveal something else.
One thing I noticed a lot throughout this episode is the facial expressions. While crazy faces aren't anything new to FiM, to me it seemed that the more I watched, the more I could see faces fan-animation would produce in the actual show. And I'm talking the better animators. Pause the episode at 6:34 and you get a Pinkie face that wouldn't feel out of place in a .MOV video, and when Pinkie's explaining everything to Rarity after that, her face looked like AnimatedJames got a job opening at DHX.

As much as it's proven doing it too much is a bad thing, Rarity really lives up to her title as Element of Generosity in this episode. Offering to help Pinkie time after time, as well as being the level head for Pinkie's wackiness to bounce off of shows a great amount of maturity and paitence. That, and all the failed attempts of getting Maud a gift lead to more hyper-stressed Rarity, hilarious Maud jokes and fun references (such as the Necronomicon from Inspiration Manifestation, the shark from Slice of Life, Cameron:D's favourite of the smilies Scepter and even the Smarty Pants doll). We then see Pinkie's done something I can definitely relate to; sacrificing your own happiness/something you care deeply about for someone you love. I won't go into personal backstories here, but suffice to say I can appreciate and understand the reasons why Pinkie did this.
And as for this shifty pony she sold it to, well... I'm not going to say he's a professional conman like the Flim Flams, but I already have a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to these kind of individuals. So he should consider himself lucky I have yet to find that elusive portal to Equestria, lest he find a keyblade embedded in his skull.

Raise your hand if Rarity's Pinkie impression was oh so accurate it scared you a little? Wait
And that PSSSD song.
[Image: tumblr_mtzmeqC16Z1qcga5ro1_500.gif]

After dropping off Boulder with his moderately larger playmate, Maud catches wind of what happened and goes to reclaim the party cannon. What did I tell you? Best 2nd Tier Character, and we can throw in best sister while we're at it. I love how committed Maud is to ensuring Pinkie isn't harmed or short-changed by anything or one, which shows just how much Pinkie means to her. And then there's that stare. I now like to imagine that, back in the Sombra War timeline, Maud was not only a front-lines soldier but also an interrogator.
[Image: full.gif]
Ohno ALRIGHT! I used to wet my pants a lot!Shh She's that good.
We also get confirmation of Maud Sense. I cannot wait to see what the fandom does with that. Plan

So after one of the most hilarious intimidation scenes I've ever witnessed, we travel to the site of Rarity's new boutique. You know? The reason Rarity actually came to Manehatten? Also, Rarity For You? What I understand she gets to name it (as established in Canterlot Boutique; her store, her rules), but it would make a little more sense if she named it similar to the others. Pinkie Pie Shrug But that's getting nitpicky.
And then we get the moral, one I find surprising that it hasn't been covered yet; Gift giving is done not out of competition, but out of love, and that you shouldn't have to give up something that defines you in order to make someone else happy. I might be interpreting the message wrong, but that's what it felt like to me.

So how did it rack up?
Well, I really liked this episode. I'm surprised DHX haven't done more Pinkie/Rarity episodes, as these two worked off each other very well, and both worked off of Maud even better. Also good to see more development for Maud, such as her Maud Sense and intimidating stare.
However, the cynical part of me (which surprised me by staying quiet for this long), feels that the message of the episode could be misinterpreted (hey, I didn't get it 100%), but I can at least see what they're trying for.
There's also the fact that, while it fits Rarity's character to do so, she was willing to halt the very reason she came to Manehatten (finding a store location) for Pinkie's sake. Admirable, but it diminishes the importance of what should be a big moment for Rarity.
Unless we'll see this store again later in the season, though the only way they could repeat the lesson of Canterlot Boutique is by shoehorning Starlight into the story, which I'm very glad they didn't do here.

Well, I guess that's it from me for now. Stay tuned for more-
[Image: full.gif]
Ohno Maud, please. Stop it.
*Maud stare intensifies
ALRIGHT! Alright! I believed wrestling was real up until I was in high school. Argh
*Riku collapses into blubbering mess. Stay tuned for next week's episode review
Explonova, frequencywavelength, Mero, Midnight Lights, SushiPony like this post
Old Noarlunga, SA
Posts: 3,090
Joined: Sep 2013
[Image: 1122549__safe_solo_screencap_animated_wi...ud+pie.gif]

My favourite gif to come out of this episode!Happy3
frequencywavelength, Midnight Lights, Riku006, SushiPony like this post
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
Okay, having survived Maud's interrogation stare with my pride semi-intact (*Riku shudders at memory), It time to get on with the next review. And what an episode to review. The first post-cutiemark CMC episode, On Your Marks. Very interested to see how this pans out, considering the wide-ranging reactions from the last CMC episode. I've already gone over Crusaders of the Lost Mark in AOO (Fourth article), so if you wish to see my thoughts on that particular moment, the link is there. I just hope this episode answers or at least attempts to answer the concerns and questions raised over the CMC.

*Riku stretches Let's do this! Smile

We start with the three fillies at the clubhouse, with Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle too busy admiring their cutiemarks. I was so worried this was going to be an episode where it would be Applebloom trying to get the other two to focus on their task of helping others over admiring that plot, as it would seem like the show would've been retconning their character for the sake of the episode. Thankfully that didn't eventuate.

Instead they prepare to go out and keep trying new stuff (during which Scoots shows off her amazing yodelling game), when they're reminded they already have their cutiemarks. This brings up a philosophical problem for the CMC; almost everything we've seen them attempt to do in the show has been to get their cutiemarks. Now that they have them, what's left to do?
The answer is the obvious one, though they soon find it's slim pickings for ponies that struggle to obtain/don't understand their cutiemarks. Why, even Mayor Mare, a pony whose authority might as well not exist anymore with a princess calling Ponyville home, still seems content in doing her job.
With the three feeling down at the school (where I fail to spy the super amazing playground they installed the last time we saw the school Glare ), they start asking the really serious question of whether their special talent is really that special.

Enter Bulk Biceps.

Apparently, he's having a problem understanding his cutiemark... which he earned for lifting dumbbells Daring Do And thankfully, the CMC solve his problem swiftly and he isn't seen again. I'm not saying it wasn't fun seeing Bulk Biceps get a little more characterization, and I can bare him being the "all brawn, no brains" stereotype, but my gripe is that the show staff could've chosen literally any other 2nd tier character to fill this spot. I know the problem is due to his own obliviousness, but it felt like not much other than a chance to get a few quick laughs would've been sacrificed had he not been in the episode.

After solving the muscle-bound problem, the three fret over what point is there to have the Cutiemark Crusaders if it's primary reason for existence is sparsely needed. Applebloom suggests national expansion of their cutiemark problem search (on a superbly drawn map no less) but the logistical problems of the distance and guardian approval shoot that one down faster than React World. Trixie
So the CMC decide to do stuff for fun while waiting for a cutiemark problem to appear. (Also, for simplicity's sake and that of typing it out over and over, I'll be referring to cutiemark problems as CM problems from now on. Acronyms FTW! Dance )

The problem is each filly wants to do something different, and it's here that the episode not only answers one of the biggest rages raised by Crusaders of the Lost Mark, but also justifies my thoughts about it in my AOO on the issue.
Spoiler :
(12/01/2016 01:07 AM)Riku006 wrote:  On being vague, the CMC marks aren’t the only ones whose cutiemark isn’t directly related to their talent. People could, on the surface, assume that the diamonds on Rarity’s butt mean she’s good at making fancy dresses, yet it’s more for locating the gems she uses in said dresses. What’s more, they’re still young. Much like Diamond Tiara, they still have all the time in the world to fully figure out what their marks truly mean (and given the outcry over the cutiemarks, I’m certain season 6 will feature an episode covering exactly that). Concerning how the marks aren’t individual, that’s already explained in the previous paragraph, but the multiple shapes in each mark show that, just because their talent is finding/bringing out the talent in others, they are still skilled in the things they were doing before. I find this adds a level of believability to them, and they’re not the only ponies who, despite knowing what their talent is can do other things. After all, while Fluttershy’s talent lets her go all Dr Dolittle, don’t forget she does know the ins and outs of dressmaking, as displayed in Suited for Success. As for the aesthetic design, that’s a matter of personal preference, though I like how they’re shields and in the colours of their manes. I'll just steal a quote from Milky to sum it up;
(11/10/2015 04:47 PM)Milky wrote:  When you think of it their talents are doubled, they have what most people expected which was singing, apples and speed, flying or stunts what ever Scoots was, and added their CMC colours and shield behind it to show that their other talent is also helping others get theirs.

This completely nullifies that argument against the cutiemarks on that front, as it shows what they liked doing back in seasons 1 and 2 can still be done now they have cutiemarks for something, but as hobbies instead of their destiny. Scootaloo still enjoys extreme sports, Sweetie Belle still enjoys singing (yeah, simple harmony my flank!) and Applebloom has really taken to potions (at Zecora's newly redesigned house. Me like Zecora ). Professor Snape would be proud!
So after finding out they don't all like doing the same things, Scootaloo makes the bold suggestion that maybe they could try stuff separately, a suggestion that puts Applebloom off. She had it in her head that the three would always be doing stuff together, which is understandable. As kids, you'd always want to do stuff with your best friends, yet they might grow up liking something you don't. It's worse for Applebloom as she's only ever focussed on the CMC and their search for cutiemarks, not really developing many other interests.

Which leads us into the first song for season 6, and this leads me to compare it to season 4, as the first song in both seasons happened in a CMC episode. But while Hearts as Strong as Horses was upbeat and motivational, On My Own is a bit more sombre, and focusses on Applebloom coming to grips that sometimes growing up means having to face things on her own. She feels stranded and without purpose on her own, as well as a little overwhelmed in trying to find something she can enjoy outside her social circle. Despite my computer's power failing mid-song, this number got me, probably the first time that's happened since Brotherhoof Social. I can overwhelmingly relate to Applebloom here, as, outside of the brony fandom, I have little to no social life and most of my skills I once thrived at (drawing and writing) aren't as fun or fulfilling as they used to be. Add my season 1 Fluttershy levels of timidness and it makes it all the more easy for me to relate to this song. Putting aside that connection, this song is done really well, reminding me also of I Have to Find A Way from the season 3 finale. That and it shows off the always lovely singing skills of Michelle Creber.

So after screwing up in a dancing class, Applebloom goes into mope mode and overlooks the obvious CM problem in Tender Taps (and yes, we're all thinking the same thing; his design is basically a male Scootaloo Wink ). Back at the clubhouse Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle return from bungie diving and knitting ( Sweetie Belle Stare the horror...) when it looks like Applebloom's about to unload all her frustration out on her friends. I'm so glad Scootaloo's simple response all but killed that heat off, as I really can't watch those sorts of scenes as it's usually over simple, easily solvable problems, like this one would've been. So with the misconception that the CMC wasn't hanging out together gone, they brush over the first moral of the episode; just because you aren't the best at something, doesn't mean you can't have fun doing it. While simple, I feel it's a very important lesson for kids to learn, and one I'll admit I probably need to take to heart when it comes to my writing and my now inactive drawing. Blush

So the CMC go to help Tender Taps get over his stage fright, with the hobbies they focussed on in this episode helping the cause. I'm just going to ask; did anyone else listen closely to the music when Applebloom and Tender Taps were on stage and think TF2? Cause I know that's where my reference detector was pointing. I'm pretty impressed and a little proud that AB was willing to embarrass herself just to help this colt she barely knew get his cutiemark. Shippers, to your keyboards!
[Image: tumblr_mr2kv1m4fM1rfwfq9o1_400.jpg]
And Applebloom decides she might keep learning how to dance, and the CMC decide that going off and doing their own things might be a more effective way of finding CM problems, as well as help them fix said problems. This brings up the other moral; just because your friends are off enjoying something they like doing, doesn't mean that they don't want to hang out with you. Like last week I might be interpreting that wrong but Pinkie Pie Shrug
Last little thing to add is that the ending credits didn't have the opening theme playing. I wouldn't have brought that up if it weren't for the fact that it's been this way for all of season 6 thus far. Maybe this will help keep suspense during two-parters? Pinkie Pie Shrug

So, how did it rack up?
Well, I think it was a great episode, probably one of the best CMC episodes I've seen. I will admit it felt strange just shoehorning Bulk Biceps in there and that is starting to turn me away from him, but other than that I really liked the dilemmas the CMC faced in this episode, the song was nice and (for me) very relatable, and it helped progress Applebloom's character. It also helped ease tension over a few complaints about the CMC post cutiemarks and shows that they can still have great episodes despite achieving their goal.
Well, I guess that's it for now. *Riku looks left and right for anyone that might interrupt outro Stay tuned for next weeks-

Oh Bulk. Come here please? I've got a keyblade here with your name on it!
*Riku proceeds to chase off Bulk Biceps. Stay tuned for next week's review
Explonova, frequencywavelength, SushiPony like this post
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
Another week, another episode. This time around it's the Gauntlet of Fire (Honestly, for a second I thought the title was ripping off Harry Potter before realising it was a reference Teehee )
Well, no time for dilly-dallying. Let's do this! Magic

We start underground as we join Spike and Rarity actually doing what she got her cutiemark for; finding gems. Only difference this time is it's a stealth mission due to the bats, (*Riku gets strong urge to start singing Stop the Bats) one ruined by Spike suddenly glowing... Oh Am I the only one who thought that Spike might have been M.A Larsoned there and grow wings?

So after the intro, we see Twilight entertaining the royal sisters, who are actually relieved not to have someone wanting them to fix their problem. While small, any and all characterization for these two is welcomed. It turns out Spike's illuminating conundrum is a summons from the Dragon Lord in the Dragonlands.
[Image: full.gif]
Discord I couldn't resist.
After a typical Twilight nerdgasm that has even Luna and Celestia giving her the "Really?" look, Spike along with Twilight and Rarity (in practical disguises and not Crackle ) travel to where the dragons gather. This means we run into an old antagonist; Garble, the bully dragon from Dragon Quest. I noticed three things about Garble this time around;
  1. 1. He seems to have a new voice actor
  2. 2. His build seems a bit bulkier, and
  3. 3. He's grown oblivious, more so than Bulk Biceps Glare
And considering how he acted last time, I am ready and willing to demonstrate to Garble how to stab someone with a blunt object. *Riku uses Twilight's breathing exercise

We are then introduced to Dragon Lord Torch and his daughter Princess Ember. I have to say, I'm liking the variety of dragon designs seen in this episode. Anyways, Torch (who seems a bossy but fair ruler) explains that the law states his time as Dragon Lord is coming to an end, and that a competition of sorts is being held to determine the new lord. Simply retrieve the Scepter from the impractical "firecano" Daring Do to be declared the new lord. While Spike manages to convince Torch to let him skip it (along with some help from Ember), he then decides to take part anyway after overhearing the terrible plans Garble has for Equestria.

There are two things I have to say about this. Firstly, I am incredibly proud of Spike right now. Here he is, willing to compete in a death course of a challenge when he didn't initially want to and knowing it's probably out of his league, all to protect his friends and Equestria. Way to step up for the nation little guy! Hand
The other thing is Garble's plans to invade and pillage Equestria. Now, I know they're dragons so there'd definitely be a decent battle, but I feel this is a very non-thought out plan the like of Sunset Shimmer in EQG1. Yes, Garble would have an army of flying, fire breathing dragons. Equestria, on the other hoof, has Celestia and Luna (who have enough magical might to move celestial bodies), the mane six (they could always mega evolve and use that Rainbow Power), Starlight (a mare who nearly bucked everyone over via the butterfly effect), Shining Armour and the Royal Guard (shield spell and an actual military) and lastly Discord, who could sick a horde of cotton candy on those dragons.
[Image: 250px-684Swirlix.png]

So the challenge begins, with Spike saving an armoured dragon from a watery grave. And it turns out this dragon was none other than Ember.

So Ember seems to be going through her rebellious phase, disobeying her father to compete for the sceptre. She also sees through Rarity's disguises. Garble drops in via boulder and Spike then frees him. I didn't want him to because Garble deserves to be crushed for multiple reasons, but this is yet another excellent example of Spike's best qualities; he helped Garble out even though he knew the nature of the act wouldn't be reciprocated.

Ember then covers for Twilight and Rarity and Spike covers for Ember's identity. And here we see the main focus of the episode; Spike slowly earning Ember's trust and convincing her to be a friend. I have to say, despite the twenty two minute runtime, I think they paced it pretty well, and I'm glad that Ember not only wasn't fully on board with being a friend immediately, but was actually surprised Spike would risk his own life to protect his friends, which he considers Ember to be one of them. The one problem I had during this segment was that, when flying through the cave challenges, not one of the background dragons noticed or seemed to care that Ember was competing. I just thought they would've been shocked they were flying alongside royalty
So Spike, Twilight and Rarity find the sceptre, only to be confronted by Garble, who was about to throw Spike down onto sharp rocks?! *Riku quickly grabs sniper rifle, readies shot.
Thankfully Ember comes to his rescue, and a tussle breaks out between the dragons. During this, Twilight and Rarity's cover is blown and Garble advances on them. Now I understand that he's a dragon, and dragons can be intimidating. But Twilight... You. Fought. Tirek, who is infinitely more intimidating than this teenage dragon jerk. Blast a hole in his face or teleport yourself and Rarity out of harms way! It's not that hard. Glare

Well, the issue is solved when Spike grabs the sceptre and becomes the new dragon lord. Finally the little guy can shake the princess tag he gave himself. Fluttershy Yay And it gets better when he orders Garble into humiliation before giving the sceptre to Ember. If Spike ever received an Element of Harmony, his element would be Humility. I mean, he essentially just became a head of state, and he doesn't let it go to his head, instead giving it to someone who deserves the title. It shows how far Spike's come throughout the series.
So, Ember becomes the new dragon lord, Spike gets a new friend and Twilight is now buddies with an international leader. I always figured that if Equestria were to switch from a diarchy to a democratic monarchy system, Twilight would be the foreign affairs minister. One complaint that could come out of this is that the ending might seem a bit rushed, and Torch accepts Ember's rule a little too quickly. But the pacing seemed fine to me, and in regards to Torch perhaps he's wise enough to admit a mistake when it's proven. Besides, he had to be a little proud his daughter won.
Huh, I went into AOO mode there. Almost feels weird doing that now I'm allowed to be critical. Pinkie Pie Shrug

So, how did this episode do?
I'm calling it now; Best Spike Episode of the series. Yes, in my opinion, this is that tiny bit better than Inspiration Manifestation. That episode was great, but in it he technically introduced the problem of the episode before solving it. Here, he's stepping up to a monumental challenge to protect his friends and home, and made a powerful friend in the process. The episode really displays Spikes humble and chivalrous nature in all its brilliance, and this shows how much he's matured as a character since season 1. Garble was a bit generic as dumb bully stereotypes go, but he served his purpose. Ember was interesting and I hope we get to see more of her and Torch (I would love to see a diplomatic meeting between Torch and Celestia). Throw in world building about dragon culture and you get a great episode and definitely Spike's most memorable moment.
Well, I know a certain dragon's going to interrupt my outro. So you know what? Bring it Garble! I'm ready! Come at me
[Image: 20140607230912]
Ohno Oh crap.
*Stay tuned for next week's review, assuming Riku survives to do it.
frequencywavelength, Midnight Lights like this post
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
Well, despite having a busy weekend of housewarmings, plans to move out and the odd bout of dragon slaying, I've finally found the time to review the latest episode; No Second Prances.
Let's not waste any time and dive right in.

We start with Twilight and Starlight in the dining room, with Starlight magical eagerness to achieve the goal undermining Twilight's planned lesson. I kind of like how Starlight's trying so hard here to impress, as we will see later in the episode. The table's being set because Celestia's coming for a visit to see how Starlight's lessons are coming along, and she has to bring a friend of her own. Anyone else getting flashbacks to Finding Nemo?
In serious though, it's good to see this is worrying for both mares; Starlight worried about going out there and making friends, while Twilight's worried about how Celestia will look upon her as a teacher. Plus the scene also shows Starlight now feels comfortable joking about her cult-running days. A little self-deprecating humour never hurt anyone's chances.

So after the intro, Starlight goes to the other members of the mane six to help find a friend. But with each one it's either her eagerness to make friends or other circumstances that deny her each time. This segment is quite hilarious though, mainly for the spell forcing Big Mac to speak with such exquisite enunciation. Why The horror...

Anyways, a quick trip to the spa to relax (and to calm my fears she would try to befriend Bulk Biceps) leads: to Starlight finally making a friend and introducing her to Twilight. And the friend is none other than Magic

Yeah, a few things to note here. First one is that Trixie isn't one of my favourite characters. Heck, being 50-50 is being optimistic in regards to me liking her. It's just that I dislike characters who are abrasive and boastful. Now you'd think I'd hate Rainbow Dash based on that, but her sense of loyalty and the lessons she's learned to curb that aggressive tone have counteracted the displeasure.
Trixie, on the other hand, isn't so lucky in that regard. We've only seen her twice before in the show and in both she wasn't fleshed out well. That, and in Magic Duel her "reformation" felt even more flaky than Discord's. The other thing of note is this marks the first time ever that a Trixie episode hasn't been written by M.A Larson.

So with Trixie back in town as part of her tour with a huge name I won't repeat in this post, Twilight starts getting insecure about Starlight's choice. Granted, the last time Trixie was in town she enslaved everypony her attitude is understandable.
After Trixie and Starlight leave the castle (as they leave the dining room, Starlight has no horn for a few frames), the two former villains actually bond nicely, which will inevitably lead to shipping. Like I said a few weeks ago; Shippers! To your keyboards! But with Twilight following in disguise and offering replacement friends (such as Vinyl, Derpy and Cranky), this creates the perception that Twilight hasn't truly forgiven her either, and allows Starlight to grow closer to Trixie, close enough to learn her motivations (a pony version of Houdini and simple teleportation trick involving getting eaten by a manticore).
Seeing as how the trick requires a high level of skill with actual magic (something which Boast Busters proved Trixie doesn't have), Starlight offers to help before realising she'd have to skip the dinner with Celestia. Then Trixie brings up another reason for me to dislike her; emotional manipulation! Angry

Cutting to the castle, we intrude on an incredibly awkward scene where the princesses and the three 2nd tier characters are waiting on Starlight. Twilight rushes off to find her with Trixie, yet the magician boasts how Twilight hadn't really forgiven her and that Starlight chose her. Two things;
  1. 1. Trixie does have a point about Twilight not completely forgiving her, but given she mocked and embarassed her friends, then came back and enslaved Ponyville, I think that mistrust is justified.
  2. 2. This causes Trixie to open mouth and insert horse foot.
Despite it being unintentional, Starlight sees this and thinks she was befriended so Trixie could one up Twilight. Her tearful departure actual achieves something that weakens my resolve; Trixie feeling genuine guilt and sadness. But the show must go on and she now sullenly attempts the trick without Starlight's aid. And just quickly before I move on, why was Fluttershy scared of the manticore? Did we not see back in the season 1 premiere her walking up to a manticore that had been rough-housing her friends and roaring at everyone and reduce it to a cuddly kitten? Please don't let this mark a regression of her character. She made so much progress last season. Shy

Anywho, Starlight's watching on from afar when Twilight comes to talk, realising that she should've given Starlight enough space to make her own decisions and friends, just as Celestia did for her. When it comes to Starlight Glimmer this season, I look for two things;
  1. 1. If she's shoe-horned into the episode like Twilight was in season1, and
  2. 2. If they rehash a lesson from a previous episode.
While there's been no cases of the former, the latter seems to loom as the bigger issue over Starlight for me. That said, I like how she serves as a vessel to relearn these lessons, though I know not everyone will share that view. As for if any lesson was repeated in this episode, the closest I can relate it to would be Somepony To Watch Over Me, though I must admit it's done better here.
So with Twilight revealing Trixie's guilt and letting Starlight choose, the student of friendship helps the magician pull off the trick, the two reconcile and become real friends, and Twilight apologizes to Trixie for not truly forgiving her.

Quote:I'll admit; I never could've pulled off a spell like that.
Bullshit. Twilight, you're an alicorn and the former bearer of the Element of Magic. You can now out-magic Trixie any day of the week, especially considering this is a incredibly simple trick that only requires teleportation. I know you're probably being humble to avoid offending Trixie, but we both know you could've done that spell in your sleep.

And with the fireworks I guess that wraps up this episode. My thoughts?
Well, it's a passable episode, probably the first "meh" episode for me. Perhaps it's because Trixie isn't up there with my other favourite characters, though I will admit she got a little bit of good characterization and that her "reformation" seemed a bit better this time. Apart from that, there wasn't anything that stood out other than the relationship of trust between Twilight and Starlight, which feels like a carried-over thought from the last lines of the season premiere. Not a bad thing to focus the episode on, don't get me wrong, and Trixie was the perfect foil to test the bond between teacher and student, but this episode just didn't have that same spark that made me really like it like all the other episodes so far this season. That, or perhaps every time I've worked on this article, it's been late at night and I probably have more pressing IRL problems to worry about.

Well I guess that's it, though I feel I've left something out-
[Image: 1143810__safe_princess+celestia_animated...niator.gif]
Ah... right... *Riku sighs Well, better clean up the table then.
*Riku begins cleaning up, complaining where the hell is Spike all the while.
Please stay tuned for the next episode review, to be posted earlier this this article
frequencywavelength, Midnight Lights, Stealthymac like this post
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
At last... After a VERY busy weekend of birthday parties, limited internet access and packing, I've finally found time to watch Newbie Dash. Let's see what I missed.

*22 Minutes Later

Daring Do Well, this one will be interesting.

So we start with Rainbow and Scootaloo revealing the Wonderbolts will soon be taking their new tour through Ponyville. Rainbow's just fine doing crowd control until the Bolts pass overhead and Spitfire pulls off a superhero landing to reveal RD's dream has finally been realised; Rainbow Dash is now officially a fully fledged Wonderbolt.

While awesome to see Rainbow stunned silent, I have a major concern about this. From day one of the series, Rainbow Dash's goal has been to join the Wonderbolts. She's met them, saved them, attended their training camp, passed the test to enter the reserves and has already filled in for them once before in an unofficial capacity. But my biggest concern is that, with this great achievement, Rainbow Dash loses her main aspiration, her overarching goal. Now that she's an official member, what's left for her to achieve? What will drive her forward from here and how will she mature in any future episodes this season? This would be a perfect time to mention that, as much as I wish it doesn't, this should be the last season of Friendship is Magic if they wish to avoid making it stale, and this might be a subtle sign of that. Or I've watched a little too much Doomsday Preppers (which is interesting since I've barely glanced at the show in passing. Pinkie Pie Shrug ).

Anyways, back to the episode! RD returns to the Wonderbolts facility and is shown around by Spitfire whilst fan-girling. One thing I should also mention is, ever since Wonderbolt Academy, I have liked Spitfire's voice less and less. I don't mean any offence to the VA, but she sounds like she's trying too hard. So the next day, she's ready to train, nearly gets flattened by two landing ponies after failing something every pre-school kid knows and crashes into a conveniently placed trash can. I'm amazed how flip-flop the Wonderbolts can be. With the exception of Soarin, all of them are looking at Dash like "really?" but then Soarin joins in when they laugh at her. I know they're within their rights to think that given she did disobey rule number one, but then it just turns mean as we hear a familiar nickname; Rainbow Crash.

This triggers a mental problem for Dash. Getting teased in Flight School left psychological scars that still haunt her, even though it didn't seem to phase her too much back in Sonic Rainboom. What So after that, she's given a hazing tradition of cleaning the barracks before returning home to a party from her friends, though only now do I realise they didn't invite Starlight. Wow Twilight, way to make your student on the Magic of Friendship feel included. Angry
So the rest of the mane six give Rainbow a peptalk, but this inspires Dash to perform to get herself a new nickname.
...By copying the personality traits of her friends. GlareCoffee Really?
Let it stand for the record that I paused at least half a dozen times during the entire scene, as I can't stand these kinds of scenes, which served to only irritate the Wonderbolts more. I was glad Spitfire was getting a little annoyed because I was too. And thankfully the Crash nickname stays, so much so that it's now on RD's jacket.

So it's the day of the show, and Rainbow "borrows" Scootaloo to help her perform a stunt after the air show in an attempt to impress the team. The show goes well, but through the magic of Dave Polsky's slapstick writing skill, Rainbow crashes in a spectacular way, killing Pinkie's massive cotton candy cone in the process. Noo
Afterwards the rest of the team is obviously and understandably miffed. After all; Dash not only made alterations to the flight plan WITHOUT Spitfire's permission, but also endangered herself, the team and the audience, the very same charge that got Lightning Dust kicked out of the academy. But after an apology, it's revealed that RD was fussing over nothing, as the whole team have nicknames derived from botches made early in their careers. Even though the misunderstanding was cleared up, I'm glad that Spitfire's a responsibly-enough leader (unlike in Rainbow Falls) to still punish Dash for her actions. But despite the punishment, Dash is still happy to be a Wonderbolt, and has learned the lesson of adapting from being the absolute best when alone to a member of a great team.

And so the episode comes to a close. The scene with RD's mane six impressions nearly killed all the enjoyment I had for this episode, though that last slapstick scene and the ending do earn back brownie points. However, I'm still not a fan of the scratchy tenseness of Spitfire's voice, and it felt like the morals were rehashing the lessons at times from Hurricane Fluttershy and Simple Ways, only without the use of Starlight Glimmer. Overall, this episode tried and did have a few moments, but fell short for me and is now my current least favourite episode of the season.
Well, if I can escape all this packing, I'll-
*Riku glances over at huge stack of boxes
*Riku sighs

[Image: 84793783.gif]
*Join Riku from his new location for next week's review.
frequencywavelength, Midnight Lights like this post
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
Well, now that I've dealt with the hassle of moving and all the red tape that goes with it, I can now focus on A Hearthswarming Tail. This will be interesting, as the third Christmas episode will need to step up in order to wipe away the disappointment many fans felt from Hearthbreakers. I'm not one of those people and expect An Optimist's Opinion on the episode at some point in the future. But for now, the episode!

Before I dig in though, I have to bring up the consistent irk of mine when it comes to Hearthwarming Eve episodes as of late; how they mess up the canon-established calendar. While not necessarily Hearthbreakers' fault, the fact that the Christmas episode was shown before the Halloween episode despite being introduced the other way around triggers me for some reason. And now we have our third episode, which means that either another year has passed in the show's canon (unlikely since the first three seasons and EQG1 happened within the space of one year) or that the holiday is bi-annual. That might sound strange and even I admit it seems unlikely as well, but maybe the ponies need to be reminded of the importance of caring for one another/unite in the spirit of harmony more than once a year, lest the Windegoes return. Pinkie Pie Shrug

Anyway, the episode starts off with a song, meaning Quiksilver nopes while putting on headphones as it's time for another musical episode. I know that, thanks to Magical Mystery Cure, the majority of the fandom isn't overly fond of musicals. But I have stated twice already how difficult it is for an episode writer to fit a coherent story in-between five to six songs WITHIN twenty two minutes. Besides, not every musical episode is bad, as Pinkie Pride hit the right pace and had Weird Al to back it up, while Crusaders of the Lost Mark had a major moment of character development and songs that progressed the story.
As for this opening song, establishing Ponyville getting ready for the holiday, it's harmless enough and does a good job gearing us up for a Christmas episode... In May... What I know us Aussies have our winter in the middle of the year but the release date still boggles my mind.

But as the song wraps up, we learn that Starlight isn't so into the Heartswarming spirit and wants to skip out on the festivities. This isn't her being a dick to everyone else and the holiday, but more that she's grown disillusioned with all the gift giving and pomp given to the holiday, and doesn't really see the point in joining in singing songs and celebrating an event she thinks is a old wives tale. I can see where she's coming from on this (one look at America's Black Friday shopping would be more than enough to put me off being festive), but I side with Twilight, who decides to tell Starlight the right Heartswarming story.

That story, sharing its title with the episode, is the pony equivalent of A Christmas Carol. Anyone who knows that story (and if you don't then what story were you growing up on around Christmas?) will know how the rest of this episode plays out. While it follows the old story, the plot of this episode does so loosely, and is entertaining enough to stand apart from its inspiration in my opinion.

So the story begins way, way back in Canterlot, which looks to have the ye olde English town vibe with its architecture. Makes me wonder when they changed it to look all white, pristine and curvy? Probably after Nightmare Moon's fall when Canterlot probably became the capital (Sorry, entered head-canon territory there. Blush ). Anywho, the Ebenezer Scrooge of this story is one Snowfall Frost (played by Starlight), who hates the holiday and thinks it a waste of everypony's time and potential. I made the mistake of thinking she was Starswirl's apprentice, but upon re-watching realised she's as learned as Starswirl. Re-watching the episode also made me realise Snowfall, despite being in the wrong on the holiday, does have a point. She's viewing the legend of Hearthswarming from a realist's perspective, that singing songs and being nice won't solve the world's problems. A realistic and interesting viewpoint from a fictional character within this show.

After sending away her assistant Snowdash (Played by Rainbow), we get into the second song Say Goodbye to the Holiday as Snowfall decides to go all Grinch on us and remove the holiday from existence... Oh Probably another reason why Starlight's playing her in this story. On the song, I really like it, much as I do for all the songs in this episode. But while Starlight's singing VA is very good, it's William Anderson's background music and the lyrics of that musical genius Daniel Ingram that caught my attention.

After that we get our first ghost-sorry, Spirit of Hearthswarming; the Spirit of Hearthswarming Past, played by Applejack. Despite being amused when Snowfall got chills as SOHPa walked through her, I'm more interested in the implication that spirit-summoning spells exist in Equestria. But we can't dawdle on that thought too long as SOHPa takes us into the third song, Applejack's Past. The song really plays to the strength in Ashleigh Ball's singing voice, and does strike a tiny chord with me. After all, the song is, out of context, about looking back at who you were and the choices you've made to become who you are, and I will admit I've done a tiny bit of that whilst moving out. Regarding the story, we see it's the opinion of Professor Flintheart (who, let's face it; we're all imagining him as pony Professor Snape) that turns Snowfall from a young filly in love with the holiday into one focussed on furthering their potential above all else.

Then we're swiftly introduced to the Spirit of Hearthswamring Present(s), played beautifully by Pinkie. Some may question it when Pinkie goes overboard, but I think she struck the right balance between being silly but understandable and silly for the sake of audience laughs in this episode. She's there to show Snowfall there's meaning behind all the seemingly pointless presents, yet the silly comes in with the Pinkie Sense finding its way into the story. Happy3 And her song, Pinkie's Present, is tons of fun. Putting aside the Whoovian-gasm of seeing the Baker scarf again and seeing Vinyl and Octavia in period attire, the beat is catchy and definitely has that good old swing feel to it, meaning Anderson is again bringing his A-game this episode.

After seeing the lively celebrations and merriment she's missing out on, and Spike refilling his coco Coffee , Snowfall is confronted by the final spirit; the Spirit of Hearthswarming Yet To Come, played outstandingly by Luna. I was wondering how they'd handle the last ghost, who is essentially Death himself. But by Celestia did Luna pull it off well. How she towered over Snowfall, how they incorporated the Royal Canterlot Voice a little bit, and how bloody intimidating she was all added to the experience. And then we get the song Luna's Future. Hands down, the best song of the episode. Again Anderson outdoes himself as this haunting melody tied with Luna's NEW singing voice actress Aloma Steele make this song a gem, and rams home the epiphany for Snowfall. She sees the error of her ways, joins in the party and all live happily ever after as the tried and true Christmas moral of spending time with loved ones is rehashed.
Cutting back to the real world, Twilight and Spike go down to join the partying, with Starlight eventually joining them and joining in the final song to close out the episode.

So, how'd this one stack up?
Well, in my opinion, not only is this the best of the three Hearthswarming episodes, but it's also the best musical episode of the show. Like Crusaders of the Lost Mark, the songs advanced the plot in a satisfying way and the lyrics and backing music were superb, but the real reason why it's the best is that the pacing felt spot on. Yes, you could argue the ending was a tiny bit rushed, but I didn't pick up anything like that from the episode, and all the songs from the story were brilliant. I'm also always interested in different interpretations of A Christmas Carol, so it was fun to see my favourite characters fill the roles.

Well, that's all for this week. Man, this episode gave me such a positive feeling that nothing can-
*Riku learns of on-coming hiatus in three weeks.
And now a glimpse of me in three weeks time;
[Image: bed7f9d31f36a75a6e01818a4539b06a.jpg]
*Stay tuned for next weeks review.
frequencywavelength, Midnight Lights like this post
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
Glare *Riku sighs
I'm a little peeved right now due to the fact that, during the course of writing this review, my computer decided it'd be fun to up and lose power BEFORE I was able to save any of it. Cockatrice
*Riku uses Cadence's breathing technique
What this means is that, due to an hour of time being lost, I might skip on a few of the jokes I'd normally throw in.
So, with that out of the way, let's start the episode.

So we start with the mane six rushing to Rarity's place to stop her reading a review about the opening of her Manehatten boutique. The way they sounded guilty and nervous about it coupled with how pissed Rarity looked when she opened the door led me to think the episode was about the mane six losing Rarity's trust and their attempts to get it back. Instead we get a multi-perspective flashback on how the opening went, with an interview process giving us the viewpoint from each pony.
That, and we received my reaction to spoilers;

Yeah Glorious!

So after the intro we see the reporter (who I can only assume is pony J. Jonah Jamison from Spiderman) gaining the scoop. The mane six enter the new store to find it looking like a cobweb-riddled dump. Coming from a guy who has recently delved into the property market, I'm surprised Rarity didn't do one final inspection of the place to make sure it's up to scratch.
Rarity's confident demeanour slowly evaporates as more and more problems emerge. Problems like a stereotypically foreign landlord and his... off-kilter daughter with unsellable ideas, a family of racoons living out the back, Vinyl dropping a new dance mix upstairs, the merchandise arriving unorganised and Rarity's sole employee (a cameoing Coco Pommel) is sick and unable to work.

This leads to Rarity's best impression of Chuckie Finster before the mane six decide to divide and conquer;
  • Rarity works on the window display,
  • Pinkie, after a Emperor's New Groove-inspired chat with her Rarity shoulder angel/devil, coerces Vinyl to play extremely generic store music,
  • RD is in charge of hiring the new ponies, without a clue about what they need to know,
  • AJ uses blunt honesty to reject the daughter's ideas, much to the anger of the landlord,
  • Twilight gets a little too absorbed in her organising the merch Crazy Twilight, and
  • Fluttershy tries to get the racoons to leave, with surprisingly unsuccessful results. Fluttershy Woah It appears even Fluttershy's talent has a limit.
With Rarity's exception, the rest have the situation blow up in their faces. The consistent self-question of the mane six - asking what Rarity would want - made me draw strong comparisons to Castle Sweet Castle, making this episode seem like Rarity's version of it. The difference this time is that, unlike in season 4, doing it in their own personal way IS the correct answer.

So, after releasing Rarity from the front window, we see everything was organised beautifully, RD hired all three of the sales ponies, the racoons acted as waiters (expect Equestria's PETA to be all over that), the spoon gloves of the landlord's daughter being used to help serve drinks and Vinyl playing appropriate techno music for the opening.
So the opening was a success, the review was very positive and Rarity is glad to have friends that can be relied upon as we close the episode off with the opening theme for just the second time this season.

If this review seems small, it's because I've left out a large majority of the episode; the interview segments. These offered a fair amount of insight into each characters' opinions as the plot progressed, as well as moments of humour. Some of these were really good (like the Planes, Trains & Automobiles reference appearing during Rarity's segments and the reveal of the surviving Pinkie clone Omg ), but there were a fair few which seemed like the joke was in the over-the-top facial expressions of the characters, which seem to exist exclusively to be turned into memes. I think that it's been one-offs during episodes this season thus far, but this episode had plenty of wacky-looking faces. So many that I'll name them HHD Faces (Hot Diggity Demon) for short. The usual suspects for this (Rainbow and Pinkie) were there, though there is room for argument that Twilight, Fluttershy and Rarity are guilty of this during the episode as well. And as for when Rainbow was figuring out which representative to hire, that wasn't funny. It didn't make me laugh, rather it made me appreciate RD less. That isn't exactly helpful when she's my least favourite mane six character.

So how did this episode fair?
It was acceptable. Apart from the Pinkie Clone, nothing really wowed me about the episode. By the same token, RD's stupidity and a lack of Starlight to help out (again Glare ) were the only real things I could fault the episode for, and even then the second one's a personal gripe of mine with Twilight this season.
As stated earlier, I view this episode as Rarity's version of Castle Sweet Castle, minus the emotional aspect of the library and more HHD Faces.

And now, I have to delicately yet severely teach my computer the cost of dying on me- Oh
Computer... where'd that taser come from?
*Join Riku for next week's review, assuming the AI Apocalypse doesn't start when I introduce him to 7,000 volts Evil
frequencywavelength, Midnight Lights like this post
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
So, after distracting myself from both house work and this review with a newly published fanfic (hint hint), it's time to review Applejack's "Day" Off. Let the procrastinating cease!

So we open with Rarity in the sauna at the day spa, meaning it's time for the season's obligatory RariJack (or whatever the heck the ApplejackxRarity ship is called) episode! It actually surprises me AJ would be the one Rarity's waiting for. Has she replaced Fluttershy? Not impressed. Angry
Anywho, AJ finally gets there, but just as the place closes down as we learn ponies plus overabundance of steam doesn't end too well.

After the intro, we see Rarity meeting up with Twilight and Spike on route to Sweet Apple Acres... with a comical amount of pie trays. Where the hell is Spike putting those? What, does Twilight have a weight-loss spell?
Regardless, I got a little distracted by the fact three people worked on the story with two writers - Michael P. and Wil Fox. I always get nervous with two writers, and worry for the quality of the episode. Sure you could argue that means the episode will be better for it, and there have been episodes with multiple writers that have been great (like the season 5 premiere), but I fear it'll lead the plot in a strange direction or characters will be retconned/perform out of character.

Back to the episode, Rarity is determined this time to have AJ relax at the spa with her.
Quote:Wow, I didn't realise Applejack had so much to do.
Glare Twilight, really? You've seen Applejack at work doing countless different tasks before. Hell, the second lesson you ever learned in this show involved seeing AJ do too much work and get exhausted from it. I'm starting to think being a princess is slightly affecting Twilight's memory.

So with the convenient excuse that sees Granny Smith, Big Mac and Applebloom not appearing in the episode, Twilight offers for her and Spike to fill in while Rarity takes AJ to the spa. So she semi-reluctantly agrees to let Twilight and Spike feed the pigs so she and Rarity can have an hour of pampering, as well as an appearance of Rarity's latest meme face. Glare I'm starting to detest these meme faces.
Glad to see Twilight's sure about the job, especially since it involves a list.
Quote:It's just feeding the pigs. How hard could it be?
Famous last words if I've ever heard them. And they find AJ's list isn't too straight-forward. We'll come back to that.

So the two arrive at the spa that I'm now starting to believe was built by Time Lords. After all, it does definitely seem bigger on the inside. Whooves And they bump into the least girly character the show can ironically throw in; Rainbow Dash. This did bring a smile to my face, though a worrying sign this was the first joke in the episode to make me smile. Ohno Regardless, Rainbow's embarrassment brings up three things;
  1. That something about Ashleigh Ball's RD seemed off this episode. Maybe it's because she was scripted to sound like a macho in that first scene, but it sounded a like her voice was a bit strained... almost like Spitfire's. Oh
  2. That it's very, very busy for an average day spa. Too busy. Daring Do and,
  3. That Tabitha St. Germaine is using the same over-the-top foreign voice for every single female spa employee, not just Aloe and Lotus.

So it seems the steam room is incredibly popular, popular enough to get a line. Well, that is what happens when there's a sale.
[Image: cotd_email_1409248465_1381527314_00062.jpg]
Yet AJ's stubborn and only wants a steam rather than something else. Pinkie Pie Shrug It does fit her character to be stubborn, though it feels to me as though she only wants the steam so there can be a conflict.
Wow Tabitha. Did they tell you to sound as stereotypically foreign or is that... I can't finish that condescending question. I like you Tabitha, but that voice just sounds so weird.

So after a brief cameo to remind us that Spoilt Rich exists (so glad everyone eye-rolled at her), AJ gets a look at the steam pressure gauge and the hot towel service.
Quote:So if you're not gettin' enough steam, that must mean there's not enough hot water.
Replace water with gas and you get the last major problem with my apartment. Cold showers suck. Wet
AJ investigates (during which we see Mr. Cake opted for the extra strength deep tissue massage. Just because you're voice by Brian Drummond, doesn't mean you can get as ripped/powerful as Vegeta Mr. Cakes!), finding an even larger basement and the laundry room. And with all the washing machines running full bore AJ points out the obvious problem and gets to work sorting out the steam issue (there was a leak) while Rarity is fed up and goes to get pampered.
I must admit looking back on the problem, it does make the spa ponies look like idiots when it comes to running a business, and I sympathise with Rarity's frustration, but it will be rectified later. I also thought we'd get a song when AJ fixed the pipes, but thankfully it was just a montage instead. Not that songs are bad (unless you're Quiksilver :trixe: ), but it would make no sense for a song to be there.

So AJ spent so much time fixing the problem there's no time to actually enjoy the steam room. Rarity proposes they go back to SAA to explain to Twilight what to do next so there's more time for their pampering, but they return to see (via Mission Impossible reference) the instructions haven't been too helpful. Knew AJ shouldn't have outsourced the instructions to IKEA.

So Rarity's understandably miffed AJ spent no time relaxing and AJ counters saying she didn't want the spa ponies stuck with a problem they didn't know they had. And the reason why the conflict was portrayed the way it was this episode pays off here as it turns out AJ has the exact same problem as the spa ponies; overcomplicating her chores to the point where they become a habit and take up more time than necessary. It took a while for the moment of realisation to arrive, but I'm glad AJ's mature enough of a character to listen to Twilight and Rarity's logic.
So via another montage, Twilight and Rarity help her uncomplicated things and we get the moral of not getting stuck in an overcomplicated routine and that and that a good friend, or at least a fresh set of eyes, can help you find the solution. I can relate to both morals; the first one at work and around the house (as I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Rarity Happy ), and the second when it comes to my fanfics or even these articles. Wink

So with the chores streamlined, AJ and Rarity return to the spa, and once again bump into RD... who now sounds like she's trying too hard to pull off her Rarity impression from a few episodes ago. Again, what's with Rainbow's voice this episode? So with RD coping a little light-hearted ribbing, the episode ends... Ending Theme appearance III: Attack of the Intro Theme!

So how'd it do?
Well... it was... underwhelming. It's not a bad episode but it just felt flat to me. That and we didn't really know what the episode was trying to teach until about halfway through, where the episode forgets about subtlety and starts hammering the moral in a la Aquarion. There was also the spa pony voices (entertaining in short bursts like in Slice of Life, but not so over the course of nearly a whole episode), and Rainbow's voice sounding off. Like I said, it's not a bad episode, but t's not one I'll be rewatching anytime soon.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have other Sleep2
*Tune in for next week's episode review.
frequencywavelength, Midnight Lights like this post
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
Once again my computer dies on me mid review. Glare

So we start the episode with Fluttershy and Rainbow having lunch with... Fluttershy's parents? OhJaw DropOmg
*Insert YES chant here
I have been waiting so long to see these two. Up until this point, Fluttershy was the only mane six member to not have any family in the show. And given their personalities and soft-spoken nature, I can easily see why Fluttershy is both kind and shy.

[Image: 1170110__safe_screencap_animated_loop_sp...breeze.gif]
And then the moment's ruined by this douchenozzle. Glare
*Riku grabs keyblade
*Riku hits Zephyr Breeze for six

Ah, so cathartic.

Yes, Fluttershy apparently has a free-loading little brother. I'm not fazed by him being tall (after all, I've got a cousin two years younger who's also a foot taller), but apart from his coat being similar to his dad, I have a hard time seeing him as part of the family. Maybe he was adopted? Pinkie Pie Shrug One can only hope. I also noticed they gave him the same VA as Svengallop. Maybe some of the hate for him's rubbed off? Maybe.
And he also thinks Dash has a crush on him. I would normally make a shippers joke here, but even Dashie doesn't deserve to be shipped with this dick.

But this does lead to a very interesting talking point about this episode; Fluttershy's assertiveness. One has to wonder whether it's because of all the character development she received over the past few seasons, or if this was always the case in the Shy household.
Regardless, Zephyr moves back in, intending to mooch off of his folks. As Fluttershy and RD return to Ponyville Fluttershy reveals something rare; she's peeved.
[Image: think-of-the-children.jpg]
You know you done goofed if Flutters is peeved at you.

So after a brief chat with AJ and Pinkie, Fluttershy goes back to find Zephyr "redecorating" the backhouse into his own place, with no regard for his parents stuff. Fluttershy does what's right and lays down the tough love for her family; telling her parents they need to stand up for themselves more and telling Zephyr to move out. You can tell in this scene how thoroughly she took on the lesson of It Ain't Easy Being Breezie in this episode.
While Fluttershy feels a little guilty about it, Dash is right that she did the right thing.
Too bad Zephyr decides to move in with Fluttershy instead.

Quote:You know, I totally forgot that I promised to help Pinkie Pie sprinkle something.
Element of Loyalty everybody!
So Fluttershy lets him stay on the condition he gets a job. Can Fluttershy stay like this forever? Because I am definitely liking this Fluttershy. Smile And she keeps this going by anticipating his evasive stalling and getting him a job at Rarity's. And he stuffs up the easiest job by outsourcing to animals. Glare It's times like these I wish BAU had a facehoof emoji.
Next it's off to the castle, with Zephyr tasked with cleaning the castle's windows. Finally, Spike has someone else to do the janitorial stuff! Dance Too bad Spike then gets conned into doing it for Zephyr.
Finally he's drafted by Dash to work at Wonderbolts HQ, and thankfully we're spared his failure this time (though I am slightly disappointed we don't see the following lightning strike from Dash Evil )

So, realising he's not going to try, Fluttershy kicks Zephyr out. Party
And again Dash is correct about Fluttershy being in the right. Zephyr exhausted her patience and Fluttershy has better things to do than pander to his free-loading nature.
But a little birdy informs the two Zephyr's losing it a little in the wild. It's only now looking at this scene that Zephyr reminds me of Kusco from Emperor's New Groove, though nowhere near as memorable as Kusco. So they take pity on him and bring him back on the condition he actually try that mane care thing again.
This leads us into the song of the episode, Can I Do It On My Own. It feels like it's been ages since there was only one song in an episode, even though it's only been about six/seven weeks. It came as a surprise when it popped up and that was one of the good things about the songs from the first two seasons; there weren't that many and you cherished each one. The song itself is good and uplifting, as Fluttershy and Rainbow encourage Zephyr to actually try and ignore the fear of failure.

After his success, we cut back to the Shy family home and the aftermath of another meal. And despite how loath I am about it, there's a bit of an evil grin that adorns my face when Mr and Mrs Shy think RD actually likes Zephyr. Evil And we learn Zephyr graduated from that mane care course to close out the episode. And the theme's still there. Pinkie Pie Shrug

So, thoughts?
This episode has a love/hate quality to it for me. On the one hand, I feel no real sympathy for Zephyr Breeze, however hypocritical it may sound coming from me as I was something similar to that years ago. I also share another level of relatability to him as I can see my little brother from years ago in Zephyr as well. But the big difference is, like Zephyr by episodes end, we grew past being freeloaders and actually tried stuff, and have both moved out into the world. But his personality is another reason I dislike him. Like I said; he's pony Kusco, yet minus the charm.
On the other hand, Fluttershy was brilliant in this episode. The character development she's gone through over the past few years really shone here, as did her repeating the lesson she learned in her key episode throughout. There's also the moral of not being so afraid of failure that you never try. A very important lesson to learn and one I'll admit I should take to heart more when it comes to my writing.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some excess rage from my computer dying again to vent.
*Riku grabs keyblade, runs off into the distance
*Tune in for next week's review. Pray Zephyr Breez lives to see it.
frequencywavelength, Midnight Lights like this post
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
Well, here we are. The last episode before the hiatus. Here's hoping it's good enough to last however long the absence is.

We begin with the mane seven ( Uh it's just not the same) and Spike back at the map, Twilight mentioning it hasn't worked for ages. If I didn't know better, I'd swear the writers were like;
"Oh shit! We haven't used the map in ages. How do we explain that?"
"Uh, it wasn't working and Twilight and Starlight spell-ex-machina it?"
"Brilliant!" Glare
So they fix the map and it sends Rarity and Pinkie to Canterlot. I'm torn on that. On the one hand, it almost seems like we never get episodes involving all main characters unless it's a premiere or finale, or Discord's involved. Having all seven in a regular episode can work, you just need the right story and moral for it. On the other hand, two Rarity/Pinkie episodes in one season? Jaw Drop Guess season 6's making up for lost time. Pinkie Pie Shrug

So arriving in Canterlot the two go out for lunch and we get Rarity delivering an exposition dump about the food reviewer Zesty Gourmand and her three hoof system. Only problem is Pinkie realising how conforming (aka shit) the restaurants are. Pinkie then leads the two to an out-of-the-way establishment called the Tasty Treat, with an... elephant motif? What I thought for a second we'd see elephants manning this place, but instead we get a father/daughter combo, Coriander Cumin and Saffron Masala. Again, I'm torn about this. The daughter seems like a determined character wanting to make a positive impact, while Coriander is very pessimistic about their chances. Coriander's accent (and the curry-heavy menu) also made me realise these two are meant to represent Indian culture. While I'm always interested/enjoy seeing different cultures displayed in the show, Coriander's accent did seem a teensy bit stereotypical. I don't want to say the R word here because that's too heavy a can of poisonous worms to open given the times we live in.

So, with the pair of ponies arguing about their chances in Canterlot, our heroines realise what they must do, and aim to get the restaurant the coveted three hoof rating. So while Pinkie and Saffron try to muster some customers, Rarity and Coriander stay behind to "fix up" the place. I've noticed both here on BAU and elsewhere this has led to criticism about Rarity being hypocritical. After all, being unique with your ambition was the entire moral of Carousel Canterlot, and now Rarity wants to make the restaurant the same as the others.
This leads us into the song It's Gonna Work. I felt the lead-in for this song was done better than last week, and Daniel Ingram is at his best with the intriguing instrumentals. Oh Yeah, I was surprised Ingram did it too. Guess Anderson felt like giving him a try. It was also cool to hear Pinkie and Rarity singing a duet, as well as hearing them sing to a tune you wouldn't really associate with either pony. My only concern with the song was it felt like it overstayed its welcome a tad. I was surprised when the third chorus came around. After all, most MLP musical numbers don't last more than two, if they get even that. That, and the re-use of the initial chorus animation. I expect re-use of animation in anime, not in my MLP. Fine
However, this song does very well at displaying the driving conflict in the episode; Is it better to follow everyone else's lead and jump on the bandwagon, or stand out regardless of the criticism? It's a very interesting question that analysts in the fandom will be talking about for a while, and I know this is something every content creator has wondered at some point.

After the song, Saffron's down that they haven't convinced anyone to try their food, which is surprising given Minuette was one of the ponies that turned them down. Why Colgate? What happened to your optimistic personality? Thankfully Pinkie manages to get a couple from Whinnyapolis to try, though they come back to a Tasty Treat that mirrors every other place. And the situation gets worse when Zesty shows up, immediately bringing comparisons to the food critic from Ratatouille. Also, that face. I can't help but feel she and Harshwhinny are related. Fanfic writers, TO YOUR KEYBOARDS!
So the arguing over conformity/originality reaches boiling point Badumtish and Zesty pans the restaurant, also warning Rarity's social standing would be at stake backing a place like this and that she's adequate when it comes to fashion. Cockatrice Oh, Zephyr Breeze's reign as least favourite pony did not last long.

So, feeling sorry after the fiasco, the four enjoy some soup Saffron cooked up using Coriander's recipe. This helps rekindle their connection, and helps Rarity pull a 180 on the whole three hoofs idea. So Pinkie and Rarity switch jobs and the Indian ponies cook together, with Rarity herself saying the map sent the right two ponies for the job. Also, good use of Rarity's reputation.

And now... Oh
I just noticed something quite rare... An animation error! For those who watch the episode on Youtube, pause the video at 19:00 exactly and you'll notice Coriander grew a fifth leg for that hug...
Hurg Bad shippers, bad! No clop for you!
So the crowd of ponies come in and within their ranks are new models that are clearly parodying famous chefs, such as Julia Child and Gordon Ramsey. It warms my heart there's already a fanfic of him wrecking Zesty.

Speaking of the clichéd critic, she marches in noticing the good time everyone's having despite the restaurant not being rated. So Rarity and Pinkie lay down the law, revealing that just because Zesty has an opinion about food, that doesn't mean everypony else has to follow that trend to be successful, nor that she can tell them what to think. Both are very important morals, and I like to view this as a passive calling out of the brony analytical community, in much the same way that Hearts & Hooves Day was calling out the shipping community on their antics. And when Rarity turns the social standing comment back on Zesty, the critic beats a huffy retreat. A refreshing respite from the critic reforming, as was the case in Ratatouille. And with a cheer and glowing cutie marks, the episode draws to a close.

This was another "good but not great" episode. I'm glad we got another Rarity Pie episode, and seeing these ponies from a different culture was a cool thing. The song was nice as well, but the biggest plus for me was the introduction of Saffron Masala, who I kept getting Esmarelda vibes from. I expect Saffron to become a fan favourite in much the same manner that Coco and Maud captured our hearts. The morals of being proud of being unique (rehashed from Carousel Canterlot) and not being afraid to stray from conformity are also great lessons to learn, even if they're lessons that seem geared more towards older viewers.
There were downsides though. I worry how the easily offended will take Corianders accent, Zesty was, amazingly, less interesting than even Principal Cinch, and Rarity is copping flak for being hypocritical getting the Tasty Treat to conform.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I now have my mission. Here's hoping this will entertain me throughout the hiatus.
*Riku kidnaps Zesty Gourmand
*Riku throws her into Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nom
*Join us when we return after the hiatus. Hopefully Riku will survive the wait.
Midnight Lights likes this post
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
Well, I had intended to do a funny "five more minutes" gag to pull this review series out of hibernation, but the webpage just happened to freeze when I went to save it. Glare Typical.

So, the season resumes with Stranger than Fan-fiction. I'll be honest; before it was spoiled for me that this was a Rainbow Dash episode (thanks @Sebbie J Cockatrice ), I thought his was going to be the next Discord episode, or one that calls out the fan-fiction community. Oh well. Pinkie Pie Shrug

So we start in the middle of a Daring Do adventure only to discover Twilight's reading the story to Rainbow, who's off to a Daring Do convention. Oh Well, that's cool. Too bad Twilight can't go. Wtf But hey; given this apparent "friendship meeting" is being held in Griffonstone, I'm not sure how effective negotiations would be without the foreign minister-whoops, Princess of Friendship.

I have to say, the background artists did a great job with making the convention look vibrant and interesting, and all the ponies in cosplay were great to see as well. There, RD meets Quibble Pants; voiced by actor/comedian Patton Oswalt and Rainbow's newest shipping partner. The two enjoy the con until they disagree about the later Daring Do books in the series, where Quibble hates them while RD is a die-hard for them. So Rainbow does the sensible thing and goes to the concierge, asking A.K Yearling to sort Quibble out. Think ...I think you missed a few steps there Dash.

Well, Daring does meet Rainbow and takes her to her room to discuss-
NO! Bad shippers! No clop for you. Angry
...To discuss that her rival Dr Caballeron is after her for the relic she got in the opening segment. Rainbow returns to the con floor where she bumps into Quibble, who has maxed out his smarkiness level. That's one of the joys of this episode; Quibble being the critic that points out the flaws in what he believes to be fiction when it's happening all around him. These include him sassily pointing out there are tons of Caballerons when RD points out the real one, him being critical of Caballeron's character and the intelligence of his goons when the two are kidnapped, and going on a full-on rant whilst setting off all the traps in the temple, thinking it's all some simulated Daring Do experience gimmick of the con. Thinking on it now, he reminded me a little of brony critic Voice of Reason. It's made even better given the meaning of his name and the fact his cutie mark's a speech bubble.
BTW, one of the traps released one massive lizard I affectionately call Feraligator. Happy

So, in the midst of sand/mud/super dirty water filling the temple and a next-gen Pokémon swimming around, the two are saved by Daring Do. Queue Quibble fangasming for a moment before his deadpan critical observation actually helps the group get the item Daring's hunting. The three get out while rehashing a scene RD and Quibble did earlier and manage to give Caballeron the slip by giving him the old Captain Hook treatment; being chased off-screen by an alligator.

And after Daring Do thanks them and flies off, Quibble and Dash stop bickering and agree to disagree, leading into the moral of the episode that just because you might be part of the same group, doesn't mean you have to like the same things, or like one thing for the same reason. A pretty mature moral, though I feel as though the show's already covered a similar moral already. And the episode closes with the two fans trudging back to civilization as Quibble rambles about what he'd do if he was writing the Daring Do series, including getting rid of a side character that bares a striking resemblance to the mare he's walking next to. ShhYeah

So, another good episode to get us back into the swing of things. The backgrounds were interesting, the moral (though possibly repeated) was well represented, and the pacing felt okay. The episode also managed to debunk an idea I raised in my AOO on the Breezies episode, about how having only one member of the mane six in an episode wouldn't really work. Well, guess I can eat crow on that one, though it does help when the protagonist is paired with an already established character and a brilliant new one.
And that brings me to Quibble Pants, no doubt the best thing about the episode. I could definitely imagine various brony analysts that could be swapped in for Quibble and you'd be pressed to find a difference. It's yet another calling out of the analytical brony community by the show, and also possibly a way for the writers to vent some frustration over comments people could make about their episodes, much like Inspiration Manifestation was.

And now that the show's back up and running, I should be too. Assuming PCAU is held early next year, I need to get on with my cosplay (assuming I can go).
*Riku rushes to buy a horse mask and a business suit.
*Stay tuned for next week's review.
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
Alrighty, The Cart Before the Ponies. Don't know what it's about but let's jump straight into it.

So we start at the school which means one thing; CMC episode! Party Maybe it's because of the hiatus but it's hard to believe this is only the second CMC episode this season. This is one of the main complaints bronies had about Crusaders of the Lost Mark rearing its head; that, now that they have their cutie marks, the CMC don't have much reason to be in the show. I won't waste time defending that here as I've already done so in An Optimist's Opinion.

We also learn (after a bait n' switch from Cheerilee almost teaching them high school engineering or something similar) that the kids will be competing in a soapbox derby competition with three distinct awards; first place, most traditional and most creative. After the first lines for Snips and Snails since early season 4, we learn that the students get to choose a pony to help them and from there you could pretty much guess where the plot's heading next.

In short; the CMC ask their older sisters to help with the cart, yet AJ, Rarity and RD get nostalgic about their time in the derby and essentially take over the design, construction and handling of the cart. I will give the episode props for throwing in some twists (like the CMC wanting to make a design that's at odds with their sister's intentions, and not inserting a song in the building montage) and funny moments (like Scootaloo constantly trying to make her car look like a chicken, and young Rarity losing most creative to Derpy. Happy Derpy ), but I'm not that sure it saves the episode. And the song wasn't exactly that great. Don't get me wrong, the lyrics were well written and fit the tone of the song, but it probably won't be one remixed to death.

So, the older siblings antics inevitably stuff up the race for everyone and the CMC release their justifiable anger on the three. We get the "Never be too afraid to speak up to your elders" moral which, despite not being the same moral, makes this episode feel very similar to Sisterhoof Social. We then see AJ, Rarity and Dash gives the CMC the carts they want and the race is restarted with only the students going round while the big sisters relax.

Yeah, pretty short review this time huh? But then again, this is a very simplistic episode with, for a surprising change, a moral more aimed at MLP's target audience than us bronies. As stated above, it feels a lot like Sisterhoof Social 2.0, though not as deep, entertaining or well executed. I wouldn't say it's a bad episode, more that it felt like filler, especially after last week's episode.

Man, this feels too short to finish here. Maybe if I add some memes-
*Internet near limit, cannot afford to another top up at this time.
Luna Sad
*Stay tuned for next week's review.
Midnight Lights likes this post
07/08/2016, 06:31 PM (Last edited: 08/08/2016 12:04 AM by Riku006)
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
Alrighty, let's get started on the review-
*Computer dies while charging
HuhOh come on Oh no you bloody don't!
*Riku tries everything he can think of, feels sad.
*Riku tries again, feels sadder.
*Riku finally takes computer to repairman, shells out $150

*Computer online.

So yes, thanks to that whole annoying/terrifying saga, I missed the stream of the episode. But now we can finally start reviewing 28 Pranks Later. Yay
So we start with Fluttershy and friends trotting through the Evernerfed *cough* sorry, Everfree Forest after getting caught up with their picnic. Flutters, I know your character has developed by leaps and bounds over the last few seasons, but if even your bear friend is impersonating Scooby Doo, maybe this was a bad idea. Then we get a shadow creature scaring Fluttershy and co before the reveal of Rainbow Dash pranking them.
*Riku sighs, reaches for keyblade
Glare Yeeaaaaaaaah. You know all that character development I just mentioned? For this scene, it gets retconed. Angry Episode's not off to the best of starts as far as my spaghetti-fuelled inner fanboy is concerned.
Also, being completely honest here; looking at the horns of the shadow, I thought for sure this would've been Discord. And don't worry, I'll be mentioning him again later on.

After the opening credits, it appears Fluttershy has called a friendship meeting to discuss this. Pinkie can see the funny side of the pranks (as well as a whoopee cushion on Twilight that I refuse to laugh at), but I (and hopefully the audience) clearly side with Twilight, Rarity and Applejack.
Quote:Yeah, a whoopee cushion is like a joke shortcut.
[Image: 4004058.jpg]

This leads to segments (which also reveal the CMC are now girl scouts selling cookies)
[Image: ly94w.jpg]
and eventually a montage of RD going prank-crazy. Now, in my youth, when pranks seemed fun, I would've thought these were cool. Now, with the supposed wisdom that age brings, these are not only unfunny, but cruel and potentially dangerous (Hell, Celestia could have drowned underneath all those scrolls). It gets to the point where the town pleads with Pinkie to convince RD to stop. She goes to, learning RD's new plan is to sabotage the cookies, and tries talking her out of it, but to no avail.

So after RD visits a weaker, visibly greyer Pinkie, she helps Rarity, AJ and the CMC deliver the cookies. So glad the bear gave RD the "I'm watching you" sign. They keep selling until night rolls around. This would normally seem weird, but we all know where the plot's going by this stage. Might as well not nitpick too much and see how this unfolds. When Rainbow notices no one emerging to rage about her prank, she goes looking, coming across Mrs Cake. And may I say I called what is probably the funniest line (at least for me anyway) so far in the season.
[Image: latest?cb=20130719121914]
Seriously, I said it in Cookie Monster fashion barely three seconds before she did. Yeah

With Pinkie (displaying one of the weirdest voices I've ever heard Andrea Libman do) and surprisingly the twins also playing the role of zombies, Dash bolts and finds everyone else zombiefied too. I hope you all appreciate that this is as close to the Trotting Dead as the show will ever get. Finding Rarity, AJ and the CMC at the barn, Rainbow gets them to board it up Nazi Zombies style and comes clean, though they already eat the cookies and let everyone else in. This leads to the confession and the reveal of the town's prank on her, followed by the moral of making sure a prank doesn't go too far. RD learns her lesson, makes a small joke and the town laughs while the credits play to the creepy music.

So how did this one fair? Not great. It's okay, but unless we get something akin to What About Discord further down the line, this will be my least favourite episode of season 6. Aside from the zombie aspect, it felt like it was borrowing a fair bit of ideas from past episodes. Starting off the episode by retconning Fluttershy back to being scared of everything definitely did not help. I like the continuity nod that Pinkie's the only one that appreciates the jokes (Griffon the Brush Off), but the episode became about Dash getting her comeuppance (a la Mysterious Mare Do Well), and terrifying her into submission (Scare Master). Now, this episode was set up better than MMDW, but still didn't endear me to RD. This made RD almost as annoying as pre-trying Zephyr Breeze. Not a thing you want to be if you're already my least favourite main character. I like that the town got their revenge, but by the time they did the only thing keeping the episode interesting for me was the zombie gimmick. I guess my biggest problem is that Rainbow Dash feels like she's matured so much throughout the show that she shouldn't be the one pulling the pranks.

And that's where Discord comes in. Discord

Looking over the episode, I feel this would've made a great Discord episode, one that would've washed away how annoyed I am at What About Discord. Discord feels like a character this moral should be aimed at, a character who needs to learn this lesson. Now, being as old as he is, there is the argument that he already knows this lesson, or that his reformation by Fluttershy has nipped this in the bud, but that's my opinion on what would've made this episode much better than what we got.

Now, if you'll excuse me...
*Riku casts gravity spell on Rainbow Dash
*Riku walks toward Rainbow Dash, menacingly holding keyblade

Rainbow and I need to have a chat about scaring Fluttershy.
*Stay tuned for next week's review.
Which will then be followed by a chat with my computer about continually dying on me.
*Will Rainbow Dash live to see the rest of the season? Will Riku's computer quit dying? Will Riku ever get caught for his numerous attempted murder charges against the citizens of Equestria? Find out next time on Riku Reviews
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
Okay, here's hoping after a few meh episodes we get something good.
*Riku watches episode

So we begin on the train pulling into the Crystal Empire, with Twilight excited to see Flurry Heart, Starlight excited to see Sunburst -
Spoiler :
[Image: 3bb.jpg]
- and Spike trying on disguises to avoid his hordes of adoring fans.

Yet after the intro - and uneasily learning there were three people working on the story/two writers for this episode - our trio of protagonists arrive to find the Empire's a ghost town. That is, until Spike sheds his disguise and is instantly mobbed. But then, assuming Spike and co aren't who they say they are, the crowd runs off again. Ah, don't you just love the old "stupid and easily scared crowd" gimmick? I know the Republican party sure does.
So it turns out there's been a Changeling sighted around the Empire, proving that's what was flying at the end of the season premiere. Two things to focus on before moving on with the review;
  1. The Crystal Guard actually being competent. In a show where the military has time and again been proven to be ineffective at protecting Equestria and also lousy at their jobs, it's both refreshing and great to see equine soldiers do their jobs properly, demanding identification from Twilight, Starlight and Spike. Even when Spike tried getting some leverage with his status as a national hero, these two stood firm and maintained their post. I know of at least one brony analyst who will delight at seeing this.
  2. The way that Cadence gets Twilight to prove it's her?

    IT LIVES!!! Fluttershy YayYayParty

So with that cleared up, Twilight and Starlight promise to help protect Flurry Heart while Spike talks his way into helping the soldiers with the search. It was only once Spike was out in the wilderness with them that I realised this was a Spike-centric episode, rather than a Twilight/Starlight one. Nice bait 'n switch there, show staff. Smile It's here I also noticed something else about the Crystal Guard: it's made up entirely of regular pegasi. Now you could argue that these are just crystal pegasi, but you'd be wrong for one tiny detail; these guards don't have a hexagonal shine in their eyes like most crystal ponies.

So, whilst searching alone, Spike falls down a hole and nearly plummets to his death down a underground fissure. And it's here underground that Spike encounters the Changeling, who surprisingly saves him from falling back down the fissure again.
It's through this we're introduced to Thorax (which has now made coming up with Changeling names for fanfics that much simpler), who explains he's one of the few, if only, Changelings hatched nice, and that while he was a part of the invasion, he doesn't want to siphon love forcefully like the rest of his kin. It actually provides a little world building for Changelings, something I'd like to see more of.
So, hearing Thorax is practically starving and in desperate need of a friend, Spike tries to convince the crystal ponies to give him a chance, hoping his reputation will help them believe him.
+1 Proud of Spike Points
Unfortunately, the soldiers think he's joking. Also, this shows quite the level of species-ist mentality ponies now have towards Changelings thanks to Chrysalis' actions. Man, MLP's getting as real on it's message here as Zootopia.
One pony who doesn't see this as a joke is Shining Armour and it doesn't take a genius to know why. It's obvious that an event like the season 2 finale would leave some kind of mental scar, and easily manifest into a hatred and instant dismissal of changelings from the Captain.

So, feeling bad that he somewhat failed Thorax, Spike's new plan is to have him shapeshift into a crystal pony and slowly acclimatise him into the Empire. So, managing to fool Twilight (a little surprised she didn't pick up on Spike acting weird, and we get a Thorax derp face), he and "Crystal Hoof" enjoy the Empire via a montage. I mentioned this back in my Gauntlet of Fire review, but it bears repeating; I am so proud of Spike right now. Here he is, helping an outsider many ponies would scream and run from to make friends and have a good time, and once again without expecting anything in return.
+2 Proud of Spikes Points
After this, Spike and Thorax are invited to an audience with Cadence, during which Thorax gets a close look at Flurry Heart. But this is enough to trigger his primal instincts (which he can barely control) and break his cover. Spike has the opportunity to stand up for Thorax, but is too afraid to, and the changeling bolts while Spike feels terrible. But, as Shining Armour initiates a mad search by the Guard, Spike goes back to the cave to find an understandably miffed Thorax. Yet Spike apologises for not sticking up for him and Thorax saves him from falling to his death... again (seriously, I know that would appeal to those that dislike Spike, but he should be a little more aware of his footing, shouldn't he?).
So, with Thorax knowing Spike only stayed quiet due to losing his reputation, Spike dragons up and goes off to tell the truth.
+5 Proud of Spike Points

So Spike and Thorax return to the throne room, with the dragon defending his newest friend and... getting a musical number? Smile It took us five and a half seasons but we finally got a Spike song! I really liked the melody, and the lyrics fit in pretty well. I'm also really impressed in Cathy Wesluck's singing voice, and this makes me wonder why the hell haven't we gotten a Spike song up until now? One criticism I do have with the song though is the length and repeated animation, problems I had with It's Gonna Work. While I'm not overly for MLP songs having three choruses, I'm willing to let it slide if the song is beautifully written or is genuinely fun to listen too, and this song definitely fits the latter category. I also liked the one bit where the song made Starlight have a moment of introspection, no doubt her bad deeds and struggles with reformation buzzing through her head.
This might lead some fans to think she'd be the one to defend Spike after the song and disappointed when she doesn't, but I'm glad it's Twilight instead. Sure, some could see this as a Twilight-Ex-Machina all too familiar from season 1 episodes where she wasn't in the plot, but it makes sense Twilight's the one to come forward. First off, she's the Princess of Friendship. If she can't recognise and appreciate a friendship like that, then she shouldn't have the title. Secondly, she's looked after Spike all his life. Imagine how proud she must feel seeing him risk his hero status to defend someone everyone despises simply due to a lack of understanding.
+10 Proud of Spike Points

So, with Twilight giving the moral that a friend can come from anywhere, and that even experts in a certain field can still find things to learn, both she and Cadence offer their hooves in friendship. Hell, you know you're in the clear when even Shining Armour's wanting to start again, especially given his history and distrust of changelings. And we see Thorax wanting to learn all he can from the crystal ponies, hoping to one day take that back to the Changeling Kingdom. Now, I know it fits the whole mystical setting, but why couldn't the changeling nation be called the Changeling Empire, or simply the Hive? Also, I highly doubt Chrysalis would entertain such lessons, even if those lessons did mean they could generate love for themselves. I've always been under the impression changelings were incapable of generating love to feed off of, and this statement pretty much proved it for me. Happy

So, how'd this episode do? Amazingly, that's how. The story, despite the amount of people working on it, was great, the song was nice and soothing, if a little long, and the morals are definitely something everyone in the world right now regardless of age, nationality or race needs to display more of. Thorax was an interesting character and a great vessel for the reforming changeling story idea. I know some people want Chrysalis reformed (and I'm in the somewhat stalled process of writing a fanfic to that effect), but we can't have every villain reform. Besides, Thorax offered us the insights of a drone in the Changeling kingdom, as well as a little bit of world building for our insectoid equines.
But if there's one thing we'll be able to say about season 6 once it's finished, it's that this was the season Spike got the episodes he deserved. Hell, I might be exaggerating a tiny bit in saying this, but this episode makes Inspiration Manifestation look average in comparison. Spike using his reputation to help a changeling of all creatures, especially without any hint of fear or demand for compensation, is admirable and makes me so proud of the little guy.

Hands down, Best Spike episode and current best episode for season 6.

Well, here's hoping next week's episode is just as good. Now back to reality and-
*Riku notices all the unpaid bills in apartment
Sigh The struggle is real.
*Tune in for next weeks review
Midnight Lights likes this post
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
*Riku tops up internet credit
Between this and my computer, something needs changing. Glare
So, Dragons and Discord. This was always going to be an interesting episode for me to review. Most around here should know by now that What About Discord is my least favourite episode of season 5, as it committed the fatal mistake of making a Discord episode uninteresting. Omg Here's hoping this one can redeem the wily spirit of chaos.

So we start with Fluttershy packing for a trip when Discord pops in for tea. The scene borrows a few themes from Make Friends and Keep Discord, where Flutters reveals the trip is Celestia inviting the mane six to a overnight good faith visit to Yakyakistan. She tries to placate Discord by suggesting he hang out with Spike and Big Mac (who apparently hang when the mane six are out of town? Pinkie Pie Shrug Well, it does add to their character and explain why Spike couldn't be in the season 5 premiere). And as Discord reacts, we see him return to his snarky best. I don't know why it's taken me this long to realise that's what was missing from What About Discord: his loveably narcissistic attitude. Discord In this short opening scene we see more interesting antics than in the entirety of Discord's last outing, such as inverting the colours for "opposite land" which leads to the partial return of Flutterbitch. Fluttershy Woah

After the intro the three see off the mane six (who are all wearing the exact same winter outfits from Tanks for the Memories), they have a fitting moment of awkwardness. It's really interesting and cool of the show to focus on these three characters. Discord's been in need of a good episode, Spike's already had two great ones this season and Big Mac hasn't been the focus since Brotherhoof Social. It offers an interesting dynamic and potential for the three to bounce off of each other.
So Spike invites Discord to the get-together, but he refuses in typical snarky fashion.
That is, until Spike refers to it as a guys night.
[Image: ff3.gif]
Admit it, you said it. Trixie

With that, Discord's in and at sundown the three gather at the castle. But, to Discord's horror, the main attraction for the night is Equestrian D&D!

I can just imagine that's every normal person's stereotypical reaction to D&D. So Spike tries convincing an unenthused Discord to play, with our dragon being a wizard who's greatly respected (I'm looking at you Spike haters. Angry ), and Big Mac's a unicorn dark knight. With Discord reluctantly an archer, they begin the game, and Discord keeps getting frustrated until he tries steering the night in a different direction. Man, don't you just hate godmodders?
That different direction is a club straight out of the 90s. In fact, I swear the club's a reference to the one in the Jim Carey Mask movie.

When Spike and Big Mac refuse the fun he's offering, Discord transports them into a IRL dimension for their D&D game and becoming the new GM, ripping off the premise of the actual Dungeons and Dragons cartoon in the process (yes, D&D did have a cartoon back in the day. Look it up, it was weird). This is pretty much how I envisioned the episode being from reading the title, as the experience is a little too intense and they ask Discord to stop. As Discord continues to rile them up, they reveal he was only invited because they felt sorry for him. Ah, how does it feel to be pitied Discord?
*Meanwhile, Discord reading the transcript of this review
[Image: b7la-1432568469-193042-full]
*Riku shivers
Why do I feel that's going to bite me in the flank later on?

Discord leaves, trying to milk as much sympathy as he can, but Spike and Big Mac give him another chance. I mean, sure, he did terrify them half to death, but they did get to experience every gamers dream of being in the game. That, and it shows the message from the last episode of giving others another chance is still carrying over for Spike. Man, you are pushing on best character for the season little guy! Hungry
So, the three make up and the next day the mane six return to see the three having fun with their RPing. and while Twilight's a little weirded out, Fluttershy's glad Discord's expanding his circle of friends and Rainbow and Pinkie want in, being a rogue and bard respectively (at least I think Pinkie's a bard Pinkie Pie Shrug ).

So, how'd the episode do? Pretty good, at least enough that Discord's out of the dog house with in my books. This feels like a continuation of the lessons Discord learned in Make Friends and Keep Discord; Before he needed to accept Fluttershy could expand her circle of friends, and in this one he goes about doing that himself. Discord perfectly captured the stereotypical response of society to D&D players, yet I'm glad even someone as snarkily sceptical as him could find enjoyment out of it, and it actually makes me slightly interested in joining IRL D&D sessions. Think Maybe I should hook up @Evil_Spike or @Midnight Lights and see if there's any chance?
Also, always glad to see more characterisation for Spike and Big Mac.

So yeah, simplistic episode but still a good one. Now, hopefully nothing else goes wrong-
You want to know what it's like being pitied?
[Image: maxresdefault.jpg]
*Riku gulps, literally shitting a brick
Oh, you might want to see a Whooves about that. Tune in next week everyone, assuming Riku lives through what I've got in store. Discord
CrispyKr3me, Midnight Lights like this post
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
*Riku staggers to desk, shaking
[Image: What_Has_Been_Seen435.jpg]
*Riku slaps himself back into sanity

Right, after that Discord-inflicted week of torture, we come to the newest episode, Buckball Season. Before we even get underway, I'll go all Captain America and warn this episode title on it's language. Angry

So we begin with Applejack doing target practice on the farm before being interrupted by Rainbow Dash. We learn that AJ's practicing for an upcoming game of Buckball against Braeburn's Appleloosa team. Rainbow volunteers before asking what the game's about. It's times like these I really wish BAU had a eyeroll or facepalm emoji.

So after the intro AJ and RD are telling Pinkie and Fluttershy about the game: each team consists of a unicorn, pegasus and earth pony. The earth ponies are on offence, competing in the ball up in a similar fashion to Aussie Rules Football and trying to shoot the ball into the bucket. The pegasi are on defence, as well as responsible for passing the ball back to the earth pony. And finally the unicorn is the one holding the bucket. Now, in the episode, the unicorns just stand still, but I imagine a more entertaining variant of the game would allow the unicorns to move around in their ring of the circle. Also, having the unicorns as goalies nullifies any potential OP-ness of the unicorn's magic. The more I think about it, the more I want to see a real-life version of this game. It'd be so cool! WubHappy

So, AJ and RD hold try-outs for the team, and though Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy take to the game surprisingly well, none of the unicorns are brave/skilled/care enough to make the cut. It's at this point that I found myself nearly shouting "Starlight". I mean, Twilight's now an alicorn, so even though the unicorn doesn't do much in the pony version of the game, it'd be kind of unfair to have her on the team (kind of like Korra in Pro Bending). Then there's Rarity, and her cultured nature would have her deny any part of the game. But the mane six now have Starlight, and it infuriates me to no end when they straight up forget she's part of the group now when a situation that could use her skill arises, or if they just have a group adventure without her. Way to show her the magic of friendship there girls! Cockatrice Sorry, but that's been a constant thorn in my side this season.
Then a few errant balls go flying (I know you're snickering right now, but get your mind out of the gutter. You know what I mean. Glare ) on a apparent collision course with a random Snails carrying water buckets.

And then Snails effortlessly catches each ball without effort. OhWhat

Let me say, seeing the thumbnails on Youtube, I thought Snails would be the worst part of this episode. But, much like Flurry Heart in the season premiere, Snails isn't the focus of the episode. Also, as much as I never thought I'd say it, seeing Snails get character development feels strangely good. Ever since the beginning of the show til now he's been the dumber sidekick to the already low-IQ of Snips, kind of like MLP's version of Ed from Ed, Edd and Eddy. But seeing him actually be useful is... just strange. But in a good way. Pinkie Pie Shrug

So the team is set, but AJ and Dash decide to get Fluttershy and Pinkie trained, their way. Their way being very intense training on top of piling on the pressure. This immediately made me flash back to three episodes which should make AJ and Dash realise this is a bad idea; Testing, Testing 1 2 3, The Cart Before the Ponies and Sonic Rainboom, all episodes where either Applejack or Rainbow Dash haven't lived up to or struggled with the pressure piled on them. And now they're doing the same thing to two ponies who can't handle that kind of pressure. Actually, thinking on the idea of pressure, might as well add Applebuck Season and Hurricane Fluttershy to the mix. And since it seems they're rehashing episode themes, it adds more fuel to my "Why No Starlight" fire. Seriously, one of the main reasons I saw for her being added to the group was so the show could have a vessel to repeat friendship lessons already learned in a believable way, and yet that isn't happening. Bored

So, the training seems to have had the opposite intended effect and Pinkie and Fluttershy buckle. No such problems for Snails, who is apparently a master. A line from the Lego Movie comes to mind;
Quote:And yet, your mind is already so prodigiously empty, there is nothing to clear away in the first place
After the training session, they find some relief in the knowledge that not many ponies in town know anything about Buckball, yet at the train station they get a big send off as AJ and RD have told the town all about the game.
[Image: captain-picard-facepalm-375x195.jpg]

So on the train, Pinkie and Fluttershy confront their friends and reveal they don't want to play with that kind of pressure hanging over their heads. Interesting about this is that Pinkie's the one afraid to say anything negative and Fluttershy's the one with a crazy explosion. While Pinkie's timidness on the subject is a little surprising, I'm less enthused about Flutters' latest freak out. While funny at first back in season 1, it doesn't really suit Fluttershy to explode like that anymore. Some critics have pointed out this is a flaw when writing Fluttershy, or other timid characters; that they're either portrayed as a doormat or a psychopath. It's with this freak out that I see more and more of that argument than I have in previous ones and have to agree that these scenes don't really help Fluttershy.

So AJ and Dash realise their mistake, find Pinkie and Fluttershy and offer to take their place in the team after a practice session. After a scared start, Pinkie and Fluttershy regain their groove once told to just have fun, and proceed to mop the floor with the two more athletic ponies. Once done, they reveal the game was played to help the two regain their lost confidence and deliver the episode's moral; don't let stress get in the way of enjoying sport/games with friends, or as Snails put it, "Don't think about it." Dumb I never thought I'd see the day Snails was the smarter one of the ponies, given he was already an example of the moral.

So we fade to the game where it's tied up five goals each with the next shot winning. I'm just going to take a moment to point out Braeburn's teammates; a unicorn who looks super into the game with face paint and somewhat wildish hair, and a pegasus mare who I can only assume is related to Bulk Biceps. So, in a close finish, Fluttershy and Pinkie don't think about the stress and, with AJ and Dash cheering them on, they win the game. Braeburn surprises us with the fact he actually gets lines in this episode, as the two teams go all GG, and we have our protagonists laughing to close out the episode.

So, how'd it do?
Well... It was okay. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't as annoying to me as 28 Pranks Later, but by the same token there were a few things that irked me. I liked the game of Buckball itself, and would very much like to try and get a IRL game going sometime as well as hashing out some more rules to make it a realistic game. Surprised to see Snails not be used as the episode's generic idiot and actually get some character development, and it's pretty cool to see ponies as competitive as Applejack and Rainbow Dash willing to give up their spots for the benefit of the team.
Unfortunately, their piling on the pressure harkons back to too many previous episodes to make the story feel original and, while Snails was decent in this episode, I definitely would have preferred Starlight in that role. Let Starlight in on non-Twilight episodes damn it! Glare
So, that's the review. Stay tuned for next - Sleep2
*Stay tuned for next weeks review
Midnight Lights likes this post
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
*Riku walks in grumbling about West Coast and West Perth
Stupid football teams I love failing me. Glare
*Riku uses Cadence's breathing technique
Well, let's wipe those thoughts away with some ponies. Let's get on with The Fault in our Cutie Marks.

We open the episode with Scootaloo playing in a sandpit with a filly while Applebloom and Sweetie Belle are talking with her parents. For an instant I thought we were finally getting to see Scott's family, but nope; instead we see the CMC performing their role in helping the parents understand the filly's skull and bones cutie mark. While it's revealed the mark meant she's skilled as an archaeologist, please tell me I wasn't the only one thinking the parents thought it was for a much darker purpose than being a pirate? Pinkie Pie Shrug
Also, quick nit-pick on the dad as he's concerned about the daughter having bones for her cutie mark, yet he's got crossed swords. Lie

After the intro the three are strolling through Ponyville, proud of their latest achievement and also recapping their "Cutie Intervention" exploits for the audience (including a blue pony playing the sax that I believe is related to a similarly-named pony from season 1)
Spoiler :
[Image: latest?cb=20130207005239]
Closer to the clubhouse, Sweetie Belle brings up the good yet foreshadowing point that they might one day face a problem even they can't solve. Like a gryphon perched on your clubhouse for example.
They opt with a cautious approach before she practically glomps them and fangirls everywhere.
[Image: fangirls-anime-anime-fangirls-25203556-750-600.jpg]
So we learn the gryphon's name is Gabriella, or Gabby for short, and after revealing she's heard of the CMC's work she asks them to give her a cutie mark. OhOhno This can't end well. The CMC decide to ask why and Gabby explains herself, revealing she's a gryphon mail courier, who tries to spread happiness while delivering the mail. Happy DerpyThinkJaw Drop
Hasbro... you evil bastards! You turned Derpy into a gryphon! Give me back best background character!
*Riku acquires and menacingly holds two keyblades
Anywho, she bore witness to the events of Lost Treasure of Griffonstone and thought that cutie marks had something to do with spreading friendship (and given all the map episodes, that's not that bad an assumption to make). So she zealously accepts a mail order from Gilda to Rainbow, and following the towns praise, fantasised over getting her cutie mark.

So, the CMC somewhat explain that no one can just give out cutie marks (showing they thankfully remember what Twilight told Applebloom all the way back in season 1) and try to gently lower her expectations by telling her they've never heard of a cutie mark for a gryphon. Gabby enthusiasm doesn't waver however, and so while Gabby delivers the mail, the CMC go to Twilight for answers, though we learn that only ponies (and by extension zebras apparently Zecora ) can obtain cutie marks.
Quote:I don't know if any of you remember, but using magic to get a cutie mark never works out that well.
And here I'd just praised them for remembering that. Thanks girls. Glare

So the CMC feel real bad that they seemingly can't do anything for Gabby. That is, until Scootaloo reminds them the CMC isn't just about helping ponies getting their marks, but also finding their purpose (like with Trouble Shoes). So, after a halo-drop glomp, the girls try to explain but Gabby didn't fully understand and fangirls all over the sky. Eventually they get her to stop and clear things up, though Gabby's still optimistic and implores them to try. That's when Scootaloo promises to help get her mark. This is because Scootaloo knows how it feels wanting something that might not happen; flight. That immediately made this episode from meh to good, as it shows Scootaloo empathises with Gabby and soon the other two are on board.
So the CMC whip out a good old chart and plan to help Gabby discover what she's good at, via a song! Find the Purpose in Your Life is a pretty good song, and Gabby's VA (Ellen Matthews) isn't that bad a singer either. But as the song goes on, the CMC realise Gabby's too good at everything. Gee, I bet they wish that happened for them the first five seasons. I mean, building a boat (a full-sized sailboat at that) and then sailing it solo? Damn Gabby, you talented!
The reality starts hitting home for the CMC in that they won't be able to help Gabby, and the confession to Gabby goes about as well as you'd think; she flies off in denial and the three are left feeling pretty awful about it.

So the CMC still feel awful about the whole thing when Gabby busts in showing off a cauldron on her haunches. May I say, while I'm experienced enough a writer to know where this was heading, I did smile at Sweetie Belle's reaction to it. The CMC want to take her for Twilight to see, but Gabby bolts quoting work as an excuse and promising to meet up later. Nope, absolutely nothing suss there.
They go to Twilight, but Twilight hands them a letter from Gabby saying she had gone back to Griffonstone. This confuses the CMC and, after causing Twilight to geek out over a possible gryphon cutie mark, go off to find Gabby helping Whooves pull a wagon out of the mud, said mud washing off the obviously fake cutie mark. It's here we learn Gabby painted on the mark not to make her feel better, but to make the CMC feel better. During this speech, I noticed Gabby's wings kept her flank hidden, and I honestly thought for a second they were going to give her a cutie mark for making others happy. But A. That'd defeat the significance of what comes after, B. Her cutie mark would probably be pretty similar to Pinkie's, and C. Gaby would have to endure a Twilight research paper. Crazy Twilight
They all apologise before Scoots gets an idea.

Back at the clubhouse, the CMC make Gabby realise that it's helping other and making them feel happy in doing so that's her purpose, and that having a special purpose isn't about being skilled at something, but feeling good abut it. That's a pretty good moral from a CMC standpoint; your purpose shouldn't just be something you're good at, but something you feel good doing. I feel it might be a rehashed lesson from an episode already aired this season, but it doesn't feel too obvious a rehashing if it is, and it also feels written in a way that it doesn't matter if it is.
So with their purposes very similar, the CMC decide to make Gabby an honorary Crusader, complete with wooden CMC-esque cutie marks that will no doubt trigger those who disapproved of the CMC cutie marks in the first place. So they have a cutesineara (or however the bloody hell you spell that), and Sweetie Belle praises Scootaloo for not giving up. Gabby promises to bring CMC values to Griffonstone (so... basically doing the same thing Gilda's already doing?) as well as visiting again.

So that's the episode. Thoughts?
It was a solid episode. This was an interesting for the CMC and despite their doubts I'm both glad and proud they pushed on as far as they could. Yet even though they realised they couldn't get exactly what Gabby wanted, they did something just as important in helping her understand what a cutie mark represents as well as helping her find her purpose. Gabby was an okay character, effectively a griffon Derpy, though I can imagine there will be those that could find her voice annoying. The song was nice to listen to and did advance the story as well, and the morals present, despite possibly being rehashed, still felt original and pretty cool for the show to be tackling. So yeah, a solid episode.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a problem to correct.
*Hasbro attempts to C&D Riku
Ha! That won't work. You don't own the rights to keyblades.
*Hasbro makes phone call
*Square Enix issues C&D

*Tune in for next weeks review, and see if Riku will be able to retain his keyblades
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
*Riku finishes caving in Square Enix executive skull
That's what you get for trying to take my keyblades.Angry
So, onto the next episode, Viva Las Pegasus!
*Riku randomly gets flashback of second Flintstones movie
*Riku shudders

So the episode starts at the castle and it seems Fluttershy and Applejack are the ones being sent to the floating casino city. It's an interesting pairing for a few reasons. For one thing, this is the first episode focussing on these two specifically since Bats! back in season 4. Another thing is that these two aren't big fans of a super-bustling city full of casinos and tourists (given Fluttershy's timidness and AJ's retconned aversion to big cities from her last map mission).
And the city is just as lively as they thought. With the opening shot the show gives us of the city, we see not only Applejack, but also tons of other earth ponies and unicorns standing on a cloud city. The only way this is possible outside a mandatory cloud-walking spell upon entry to the city would be that the floor of the city wasn't built out entirely out of clouds, allowing tourism to thrive.

So the two enter the biggest casino and see everyone having a grand old time, bringing up the question of why they were even sent there. While looking, they run into the owner of the casino, Gladmane (or as I like to think of him; Elvis if he was re-incarnated as a business pony). And apparently he's well aware of who AJ and Fluttershy are and that they're friends with the Princess of Friendship. At least someone finally recognises them, albeit not for, you know, saving Equestria more times than I care to count. Anywho, Gladmane takes them on a backstage tour of the main stage acts for the casino; a trapeze artist and her manager, and also the pony re-incarnations of Siegfried and Roy, only they use ferret creatures rather than tigers. Also, not sure how many noticed, but there was also a poster for a show of what I think is pony Britney Spears. Just my assumption, but please tell me I'm not the only one who saw it.

Just when our heroines are considering going home after finding no friendship problem to solve, they come across two very familiar voices.
[Image: Flim-Flam-Brothers-the-flim-flam-brother...00-281.jpg]

This immediately made the episode better for me, as well as gave Applejack reason for being there. The Flim Flam Bros. are my favourite tertiary antagonists, and it's great to see them again. However, when they notice the two are in heated competition with one another selling tickets, Fluttershy makes the somewhat shocking suggestion that perhaps the brothers are the reason for the mission. AJ understandably disagrees to help them in her typical stubborn fashion. After all, these two did try to run her whole family out of their livelihood and home, then nearly got Granny Smith killed via false hope while simultaneously turning Applejack's virtues of family and honesty against her.

So, while Fluttershy unsuccessfully tries to get the brothers to talk it out, AJ goes hunting for a different friendship problem backstage. And man she's good, as she finds both the trapeze artist and manager and the Siegfried/Roy ponies arguing, citing that they were only having these arguments whilst performing at Gladmane's casino. Meeting back up with Fluttershy at the cafeteria (where Gladmane seems to have hired Gordon Ramsey pony), the two realise something's fishy and talk to the arguing ponies separately, before Fluttershy reveals afterwards that the animals saw Gladmane instigate the arguments with deception and manipulation.

I have to the stop the review here for a moment to give the writing staff a round of applause, as they actually caught me with the old bait n' switch. Normally, thanks to years of writing original stories/fanfics, I have enough of a writing sense to get a fair idea of where the plot will progress or how a scene will unfold (Han Solo's death scene in Star Wars Ep VII was a prime example of this). But in this episode, my early suspicions of Gladmane went out the window when Flim and Flam got onscreen. Kudos to you writing staff, kudos.

Getting back on track, Fluttershy brilliantly leads AJ into agreeing to let the brothers help them prove Gladmane's a jerk. I see those times she stood up to Discord are keeping Flutters in good stead. Fluttershy So the two tell the brothers what's going on and, realising if AJ's saying this it must be true, swiftly agree to help bring Gladmane down. I would've liked to see a tiny bit of hesitation about the two reuniting, but perhaps they're smart enough to realise they've been conned. So after the two run through the fun-sounding names of cons, they decide on one and convince Applejack and Fluttershy to help.
So Flim alerts Gladmane to the fact that Flam's aiding Impossibly Rich (played by Fluttershy) is "thinking" of opening up her own casino and scoping out the competition. Gladmane agrees to take her on a backstage tour in an hour, but just before that runs through his grand plan to buy out all the casinos on the strip to Flam in private and deliver a thinly-veiled threat over his job. The tour progresses and they try to coax out of him admittance to causing the arguments to keep the acts there, but he sees through the con and plays them.

Later on as Gladmane rips off Scrooge McDuck (or Donald Trump) by counting his money, AJ and Fluttershy come in to his office and confront him directly. This leads Gladmane to commit one of the biggest mistakes a bad guy can make;
So much so that Gladmane fails to realise Fluttershy's had the mic on the whole monologue and his scheming's out in the open, all according to the brothers plan. Damn, with cunning like that, suddenly their industrial takeover timeline doesn't seem that farfetched.
So the stars leave in a huff, Gladmane's name is ruined and the mission was a success. They meet back up with the Flim Flams, who have not only assumed ownership of the casino, but stress this good deed was a one time offer, promptly returning to fooling gullible ponies into wasting money as we get an annoyed AJ shouting their names to close out the episode.

So, how'd this one fair?
Pretty well. It's a shame we don't see Applejack and Fluttershy pair up more often, as they worked well off of each other in this episode. Flim and Flam were as fun to watch as ever and I'm glad they didn't reform like Trixie by episodes end. I'm not against reforming villains, but these two definitely work better as rival characters rather than reformed good guys. Las Pegasus was an interesting venue for the episode, though I kind of wish we got to see more of it than just the hotel. I can't really pick out the moral of this one, though that might be due to my invested enjoyment in this episode. Easily in my top three for the season.

Well, here's hoping next week's episode is as good as this-
*roar of wind bellows outside
HuhCry Please don't damage my car.
*Stay tuned for next week's review

Forum Jump: