MLP Season 6 Premiere “The Crystalling” – Analysis

Well it seems season 6 isn’t as bad as I’d anticipated,  and thank Celestia for that! Welcome to episode 1 and 2 analysis!

Another shout out and thank you to Kestrel for a once over and some input on my article! 🙂

As we proceed into our teaser opening, we are greeting with a bewildered Starlight Glimmer, who as many of us guessed, has become this world’s Sunset Shimmer (aka the reformed villain trope) and now appears to be part of the show.

Normally I’d be against this, but in this case I approve. Why, you may ask? At this juncture we have been at this for 6 odd years and need to have an “everyman”, a Winston to our show. Someone to help new and returning viewers understand what’s going on without having to just spoon feed you by telling characters about something. Honestly they should know just so you can know. (Like why Spike has that statue for instance) it’s also nice that she’s not just suddenly forced on us like something one new recruit of some sort JUST to be that hat device. She was a lovely villain previous season and we do hate to waste good material. 😉

Lost in a giant castle that no doubt stands for her lost wandering in this new world of friendship, Starlight is of course Twilight’s pupil who she will now pass on her knowledge of friendship to and then become one with the force. Or something like that.

Twilight_Sparkle_and_Spike_in_Star_War_by_artist-johnjoseco

This is of course much better than the alternative which is banishment or getting locked in the dungeon at the mercy of those guard ponies. Those of you from rule 34 know what picture I refer to..those of you who don’t let’s move on 😉d147ec6d9f814526cf8b3dfe03dcfbb4

Last season I made a bullet point concerning how well designed Starlight was in terms of motivation as a villain and how they carry on with this in a subtle way. We find out the friend she lost is for whatever reason is now in the Crystal Empire. By now we all know where this is heading as most of us (not I) watched that teaser trailer about 6000 times so we know the B story is going to be about the new baby (they had sex!) in the same setting.

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As the a and b stories collide, we end up finding out that there’s a special ceremony that needs to be performed for the new baby, who we haven’t named yet. As the entire main cast rides via train to the Crystal Empire, we see Starlight is unsurprisingly apprehensive at meeting Sunburst. She has of course built him up in her mind to be a great and powerful wizard ever without any real rational or logical data to base this on. That should be fun when we meet him.

Before we reach that epic moment that will make you want to call it MLP90210, we are greeted with Shining Armor no doubt happy to be back to work after a long break. He is exhausted as expected as any new parent will tell you happens with a new baby!

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(Lovely gem brought to you by MarsMiner! Click for more!)

Sadly, we missed the birth but there’s always next time. A few more parenting jokes later, we find out the two story elements are splitting off. Spike, who has apparently been promoted from Humdrum to semi-important-sidekick takes Starlight to go find Sunburst. Given a precise list by Twilight that’s as long and detailed in only a way our OCD princess could make and sent on their way.

As thought Starlight is in shock as Spike has a statue and is quite frankly the Davy Crockett of the kingdom. Starlight uses this to delay the meeting as well as give us another small pipe laying moment for new viewers. Might also be a way for the writing to to say “no we don’t pick on Spike that bad… just look what we had him do” and to a degree…I’d agree. 🙂

 

Crystal_statue_of_Spike_S4E24
Those eyes…they just seem to follow you..

Back to the main cast, we meet the baby and it’s just cute…and… an alicorn! Apparently that’s an anomaly since alicorns are made not born (which seems to promote the idea that you’re not special until you make yourself special? ) after a pony does something of high caliber princess-like achievers  (say… completing an old spell). This does beg to ask what did Cadence do? She’s already an alicorn in the season 2 flashback when she’s twilight’s babysitter. Did they tighten up guidelines after Cadance?

Sunshineblahblah
Sunshine sunshine ladybugs…well you know the rest.

Pinkie also seems to have a clause in her contract that lets her off with light work this premiere as we see her only with the baby and then only for comedic brief effect. 🙂

Flopping back to Starlight we see the inevitable meeting between two lost friends. Its as awkward as telling your co-workers you’re writing a mlp review. He seems to be socially awkward and a shut-in much like Twilight was. This began to send my gears spinning with this:

Let’s stop a moment and take a considerably chilling moment to think about things.

Are all the new characters a precursor for a new line of toys? Will Celestia die and pass on the Alicorn matrix of leadership to Twilight Alicorn and let Starlight and the new generation of toys take the show over? Those of you transformer fans know what I mean.

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The few lines we get with the two also seem to make me think that her rejection she felt was possibly misplaced love the way things start to go and Starlight turns into Ally McPony.

We dance around the two of them for a minute more and then just as quickly, we end up back with the main cast for the next issue at hand. The Crystalling (Which sounds remarkably like a Stephen King novel or a M.Night Movie) needs to get underway, and sleep deprived Shining Armor is having all sorts of issues with rational decisions. The help of the girls makes it easier as he’s about to have a nervous breakdown and he picks his honor guard and the crystal for the ceremony.

Pinkie and Twilight are in a losing battle with the baby, who is flying and firing random magic bolts with no real sense of responsibility. Even Pinkie can’t hold onto the little critter and she’s practically a Q. Joining Shining Armor, all the cast brings the child to begin the ceremony at the Crystal Heart, when suddenly the overcharged infant unleashes a random magic sound wave that shatters the Heart into thousands of pieces, bringing the shield down that’s holding the never ending storm outside at bay.

OH NO
Now I thought it would have been nice to see Sombra return somehow 🙂

A brief credit sequence later with what sounds like music from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and we’re back with a quick recap.

As Rainbow Dash offers to fix the weather, which most of us immediately thought of, Celestia, in a remarkable show of participation in the episode, stops her. It turns out the weather in that area has a will of it’s own, in other words it’s normal, and you can’t fight nature. As Twilight and the rest go to find a spell to fix what the baby broke, we finally get to see Celestia and Luna hold off the snow storm as long as they can. I for one loved to finally hear more than one statement from them for an entire episode, and we even get to see them using their magic other than in terms of an alarm clock. (Though that does make me wonder, who’s raising the moon and sun while they are up here? )

The rapid onset of snow and freezing winds ramps up the urgency to find something in the library in the Crystal Empire. The baby again becomes the main issue as Shining and Pinkie chase it around as Cadance and Twilight with Rarity search frantically for a quick fix.

After all, we only have about ten minutes left.

Suddenly, the Princesses find the PLOT device, or rather, the book that will help them rebuild the Heart. No doubt it involves hugging and saying something about friendship, right? Before we can really consider that, a deflected baby blast burrows a big ol’ hole into the book! Having only a quick moment to read it previously, Twilight isn’t entirely sure she can cast it from memory. Though when Sunburst is mentioned, we get another clue about him when Cadance remarks she doesn’t know the name, but decides it’s best to bring him as well as Starlight has been talking him up to everyone there.

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Yes this is our unlikely hero! Really? Yup. Really 😛

Off Starlight goes as the timer ticks down to fix this before that darn Petshop show with Rainbow Dash starts! She confronts and discusses with Sunburst the situation at hoof, practically begging him to return with her, and still, he’s hesitant. In fact, he seems to WANT to help, but doesn’t seem to be ABLE to, going so far as to say so.

Finally, there’s a revelation after she presses him again: he declares he’s not even a wizard. We’re treated with few answers, but it seems he didn’t quite make it in Magic Camp, and 1became more of a researcher and achiever than a full fledged wizard. Sunburst practically resents STARLIGHT and that hits her in the emotional breadbasket, and she snaps! She blurts out what happened to HER because of HIM. A brief pause and comedic beat occurs and she finds out as do we, that he’s far more interested that she traveled in time then made a small socialist state in the middle of nowhere.

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Regardless, he suddenly has his moment and realizes that he DOES know what to do, and grabs a hoofful of books to verify it before running to tell the princesses. Meanwhile, Luna and Celestia are overcome by the forces of nature and retreat, as does Rainbow Dash who, in a nice twist, loses the ability to fly for a time when ice covers her wings. As they all turn tail and run to the train, Starlight, Spike and Sunburst meet them and tells them he has the solution!

A quick assessment of the situation at the shattered heart reveals that since the relic is so old it needs more than a run of the mill spell, it needs a combination of spells all combined at once. Much like one does to summon Captain Planet I assume. The entire procedure works, the heart is restored and the shield restored! The most epic thing I can think at the moment was we didn’t have to hug, sing a song and then say Friendship is Magic in order to fix the main issue! Hurrah!

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After a celebratory scene, we finally see Mom and Dad Sparkle! (Tara does her mother’s voice too 😉 ) and we finally find out what we’re going to call the baby: Flurry Heart! (You know, to remember the occasion?)

As the episode winds down, Starlight and Sunburst say goodbye and lay the pipe for all the shipping and erotica you can shake a stick at! No doubt we’ll see more of them! Twilight and Spike have a heart to heart about her teaching ability, Spike has the insight that she’s doing exactly what Celestia did for her, not holding her hoof through it all, but trusting in her to make the decisions proper. (Or else you become Sunset Shimmer).

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What needs to happen now, is that she IS rejected. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Though it probably will.

 

Finally, we leave the Crystal Empire via train, and for whatever reason, foreshadowing or just a silly moment, we see a Changeling flying towards the Empire in the background. Can’t wait to see where that’s going. 😉

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The Truth is Out There! Or..turns out this whole time we have had the wrong Cadance! There’s a good twist!

 

All in all I give this episode a 7 out of 10. It proudly presents itself in a way that’s not overly cliché but still reminds you why you fell in love with every character in the first place. It loses points for how jammed the storyline feels as we have at least 2 more ponies to try and give a problem to and have them fix it. It gains a bit more back by having the more organic and real feel then most previous episodes as well, so we’ll have to see. I just hope I’m wrong about the phasing out of the last generation to make way for the new one….you know a kid actually locked himself in his room and refused to eat or come out once they killed Optimus Prime? Be mindful, Hasbro.

 

Until Next time, my friends!

-Malcontent (one day I’ll pick a name :P)

 

 

MLP Season 5 Analysis

Hello my followers, all four of you! 😛

I’ve been silent for a bit as I work on Equestrian City and The Clopping Dead, but I’m not dead, nor am I going anywhere.

I’ve decided to change format a bit after a rather insightful fan told me I’m less of a reviewer and more of… an analyst. So that’s where we’ll be going from now on in terms of titles. Pony Analyst! 🙂 No name changes or anything, just the article headers will change slightly.

In the meantime, as the clock ticks down to the season premiere of our 6th round of pony goodness and we eagerly (well I do) wait for EqG 4, I’ve decided to give a small update and a few passing notes about our last season.

A HUGE thank you to my newest pony friend, Kestrel, for their thoughts and editing expertise! I hope to continue to work with them as I move forward!

The last season gave us some wonderful things, it had a proper villain for once (Starlight Glimmer) and for the most part our episodes were not cringe-worthy in terms of spoon fed lessons and too many musical numbers. The one thing that set it apart is unfortunately the one thing that broke the pace a bit for me as a viewer and I’ll go into that briefly.

Those of you who read me know that I’ve done a rundown of the villains of the series and have noted the growth writing wise each antagonist we get goes through. Discord is not equal to Nightmare Moon nor is Sunset Shimmer equal to Starlight Glimmer. Each was a step, or version, of improvement.

So first and foremost let’s get Starlight out of the way. I said at the beginning I was rather impressed with her as a character. For once we had a villain, a true card carrying villain that was NOT above trying to kill our protagonists. She tries several times but fails, and in true fashion, runs to fight another day.

Sunset was a prototype it seems, with The Dazzlings being the basic character improvement before the final mold that gave us Starlight Glimmer. She was near perfect in her construction as an antagonist it was making me delightfully giddy that we would have a real showdown at the end of the season.

BEST VILLAIN
See? Completely in the zone and very determined she is in the right. AWESOME villain.

Reasons? Here’s a few:

  • She’s got motivation, real 3 dimensional motivation that unlike previous baddies she doesn’t spill immediately so we can just fix her. A real villain doesn’t sit and tell you why they are they way they are because…THEY DON’T THINK THEY ARE WRONG! They shouldn’t have to explain themselves… and she doesn’t.
  • Secondly, she’s the one offended in the exchange, at least from her point of view. She’s the one, from her perspective who’s been wronged and is merely trying to make things even again and punish those responsible.

These things made her a wonderful arch nemesis for Twilight, whose increasingly passive aggressive assault during the seasons as grating on my nerves personally, and let’s be honest, it was becoming far too formulaic.

Then came the final episode, and immediately before the end of the first part I literally felt like Marty McFly when I sat up and said “She stole my idea!” and laughed out loud.

Starlight’s final point is that she actually had a long term plan as opposed to one that could be destroyed in 22 minutes like some unnamed villains. The most effective idea to destroy someone as powerfully connected magically, politically and friendship-ily… as Twilight would not be a frontal assault like Discord or Clancy Brown tried. It would be to go back in the past and stop her from even becoming friends with her Power Ranger-like cadre of ponies in the first place!

As simple as this is, I’m surprised it took them this long to pop this idea into the storylines.

As the episode plays on, we find out that no matter what Twilight tries, she ends up in a endless circle of a time loop (at which point those of us who watched Friendship Games go “Ohhhh! “ and slap our heads) and she and Starlight seem to be destined to dance the tango of eternity.

However, after a lot of fanservice via the possible futures we see, one or two I personally like, we come to the meat of a villain: WHY? Why are you so grumpy?

It’s at this point I became entirely entranced at the story Starlight told us, like Mr. Freeze telling us his reasons, I felt entirely taken in by her short, but effective, flashback. Those of you who haven’t seen it… first, why are you reading this and two, long story short: the only friend she had as a child got his cutie mark but she didn’t, and it drove a wedge between the two of them. Naturally, logic suggested to her in her state of emotional distress that isolation was the immediate solution, so never to be hurt again.

Cutie Mark Reason
A super villain is born!

After a while, she came to the conclusion it wasn’t entire possible to stay alone, so she formed a brilliant plan: a world where everyone is equal. No bad feelings. No one has to leave, no one ever hurts you again, or anyone else, due to cutie marks.

Ever.

Let’s stop for a moment. I want to make a point about what this episode says on a deeper level. The point we don’t entirely see because of the happy ending we’re forced with at the conclusion is one I’ve made several times. Cutie marks can be just as much of a blight as a blessing. They skimmed and dodged with that cheat in The Cutie Mark Crusaders’ episode so none of the girls would have to turn on each other, but this is the clear cut issue that happens a lot more than we’re observing in the world I’m willing to bet.

The cutie mark is shown to us to be what every pony yearns for, what everyone wants and what makes them special. We are never, until this moment, subjected to the darker and more grim reality of the mark: who it leaves behind. The parents that take Starlight’s friend from her took into no consideration how it would affect others (if you can trust the narrator) and just shipped him off to Canterlot.

I for one applaud this rather blunt and breakthrough episode that shows us not everything is happy-happy-joy-joy in this land.

Remember, the brighter the picture, the darker the negative.

Now, as we close to the end of the season’s last episode, we have the epic showdown between Starlight and Twilight (and her companion HumDrum… er… Spike). There’s a long winded lesson in reality BOTH parties present to each other.  Both, honestly, make sense and make for great back and forth… great conflict is sure to come for years between these two!

Then, the writing team takes out a lighter and sets the entire concept on fire, turning it to ash in front of our very eyes. Starlight has a sudden change of heart, one that makes this analyst turn his head up and literally plant their head on their desk in frustration. A perfectly good, possible LONG TERM villain, and we go and destroy it ALL. ALL of it.

and we puss out
After an entire season of build-up, they end up holding hands and hugging! *Facedesk*

That is why I say that overall, Starlight Glimmer was both a success… and a failure. She succeeded in being the latest version of a villain that our characters fight and provides a REAL genuine threat. She, however, fails not as much to her fault more than likely a need to pull a punch by the writing team or Hasbro, as she stumbles and falls into the hole that is “All Villains Can Be Reformed” cliché Purgatory.

 

As a series, we HAVE been growing, but the show honestly needs to grow up a bit faster. I can hear all sorts of reasons, and in fact have on Twitter, why we can’t.

Oh, it’s a kids show”

Well partially it is, but Hasbro has shown and acknowledged the more mature of us as being part of their income. Lets not forget the Y Rating has been removed as well, another step towards progress.

Oh, they can’t do that, what would the children think?”

Honestly, I think our latest generation of children COULD do with a nice dose of reality in the early years. Not ALL the time, but to shield them from negativity altogether? The idea that everyone’s nice on the inside, you just have to try? That’s dangerous to preach. Why? BECAUSE THEY AREN’T! History is full of examples to back that up.

All in all, the last episode I give a 8 out of 10.

Points lost for the cop-out at the end and the fact there’s very little of the other girls in it, save bit parts.All in all, the overall product is an improvement on previous. Just watch Season 2 and compare it to five and you’ll see evolution in maturity and the way the characters are written. I for one do hope the writers keep going forward with complexity and depth with their newest season! We’ll just have to see 😉

 

MLP – Crusaders of the Lost Mark – Editorial & Food for Thought

So here we are with another episode and this time its a heck of a ride. As I’ve watched the series “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”through the years I’ve been witness to its evolution from edutainment to the massive power house that its turned into.

Episodes went from having a lesson to being far far deeper in their addressing issues. From the episode that addresses death (Tanks for the Memories) to hidden gems that address deep psychological issues our mane characters may have (Party of One, Lesson Zero) to the episodes that let us observe elements of the lore we would never see evolve in a normal show (Luna Eclipsed, Slice of Life).

This weeks review is about an episode that is the latter. Its called “Crusaders of the Lost Mark”!

(Those of you reading my previous posts all five of you…will notice I’ve skipped “Brotherhooves Social” This is intentional as I address somewhat touchy subjects and want a read through from a few trusted folks first to ensure I don’t seem offensive. Better safe then sorry! )

We start out with what appears to be a rather deceptive story line involving Pip (you know Pip he’s from Trottingham…and no one else is) wanting the Cutie Mark Crusaders help as his campaign manager. Turns out Pip is running for class president against the only bad apple we know of…Diamond Tiara. At this point we’ve already had a song so the long time viewer will know we’re in for many many more since singing randomly is what we all did just before high school.

Twist-of-Death
“THIS is my episode, shove off!”

This of course also makes one wonder the usefulness of having any democratic process if Equestria already has a monarchy system in place. I don’t recall the peasants voting on anything in what little history I remember of the 1700s.

Quickly we find ourselves moving along at a fast pace…why you ask? Because this 22 minute episode seems to be rushed. It may have been better to make it two parts and ill explain why:

We jump from the class president aspect to how Diamond Tiara is the monster of the week..then we have a curve ball thrown at us when Silver Spoon, Tiaras only “friend” finally has enough of being her Procter and ditches her in front of everyone. Personally I saw this coming a while back…that’s why I’ve got her and rarity in charge of conglomerates in Equestrian City. Its always seemed to me this was destined to start with if you look at Silver Spoons characterization. Though keep in mind the original character sheets were made when Hasbro had no clue how big this show would get or how many cerebral viewers they’d get.

tilf
YOU…are a first class $@#^%!, Diamond Tiara. I say that as an impartial teacher of course..”

Of course Tiara loses by one vote..and all doubt is cast aside on who it was when Silver Spoon admits it was her.

After that little gem we watch as what a great number of us already had figured out unravels in front of us. Diamond Tiara is chastised by her mother in front of others (much like she had been doing to Silver Spoon..see? See how that works? :p) and of course breaks into song to tell us about it. It turns out that Tiara is in fact like so many villains..a product of circumstance. The home environment she was raised in shaped her into hurting others the way she was. I dig that personally.

bitch pony
So..in a world of friendship and understanding conquers all…there’s some sort of upper and lower class system?

After what feels like one song too many finishes the CMC invite Diamond Tiara to their clubhouse. Most of us internally went “whaaaaat?” Me included. The girls show her how many different ways of finding a cutie mark have failed…and for a moment..we see tiara become a person…a decent person…but then..as ANY good villain would she reverts quickly and denies reality for fear of change.

pip
“Why am *I* the only one with a proper British Accent of note…also…isn’t Rarity typically the one with a cow pattern?”

Pip interrupts the flow and reveals there’s no money in the budget for what he platformed on: playground equipment! Now lets stop for a moment:

I’ve touched a couple times on inconsistencies in how the economy seems to work in Equestria. For a society based on sharing, caring, and friendship…we seem to hit this blockade of “payment please” too often. Most Utopian societies have overcome this issue, best example being Star Trek. I believe it was best summed up in Star Trek: First Contact.

The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. They work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity…

Now you’d think this would some how translate in this ideal world where friendship and the lot prevail every 22 minutes wouldn’t you?

Now…back to the episode.

As soon as Tiara hears this of course she goes stone cold again and rushes back to basically tattle tale on Pip in hopes of ejecting him from office and taking his place.

The girls chase her of course and we break into an inevitable song about how what shes doing is wrong and Tiara responds with her own twisted reasoning until they finally make it to the school!

Cliche like a boss
I believe I speak for most when I say “OH COME ON!” this is a little spoon fed isn’t it?

There we watch as..and oddly enough its a surprise even to me…that Tiara does the right thing! She volunteers to have her father donate money (again where is this money? ) to get the playground up and help Pip instead of being adversarial to him.

This of course drops everyone’s jaw and we watch Tiara transform from antagonist to supporting our protagonists after..you guessed it…another song.

After a rather quick but meaningful moment where she stands up to her mother, tiara takes a back seat in the spotlight when she uses the CMC and their purpose as example of the superior decision shes made.

Just as everything clicks into place for Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, and most of our viewers he the most substantial moment so far this season occurs.

As the CMC decide that it was far more enjoyable to help others figure out their purpose a sudden and startling transformation occurs: a brilliant flash of light and several dramatic camera angles reveals to us…wait for it…..

GOD LIGHT
CAN IT BE? No..it … it can’t be!

…all three of the CMC bow have their cutie marks!

marks
Five Seasons it took us. Not bad though, not bad at all. Though the colors confuse me.

Yes after five seasons of stagnation the inevitable occurred finally! Having found purpose in life now all three of them embrace and of course break into song with a montage of just how many misadventures they had to get to this point plays.

So everything turns out fine for everyone and we end on a high note! (And possibly a new intro card)

SMILE

I myself find this to be wonderful and maybe not for the reasons most do. From a deeper point I find this near landmark for the series in a whole. Why you may ask?

When these characters were invented by Princess Faust so long ago, they were for..well lets call them a different..demographic and style of show. Now as time went on and Hasbro noticed the more mature fans they seemed to go from laughing behind our backs, to utter confusion to final acceptance with a long term plan of revenue return.

At the beginning these characters,much like all cartoon characters of the genre, had no intention of being changed. Why? Because if you change characters too much you lose your audience in this particular demographic. Children do not like change..hell most adults don’t. The very fact we had a major set of characters basic personal journey advance in a show like this is incredible. It shows great advancement in terms of how we as viewers are being treated. You’d never see this with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the 90s. Never. Why? IT was for kids.

This show has evolved closer to being an adult show that kids watch with this step and one more I’ll note in a moment. I find that very hopeful as we reach the six season mark of death that typically hits shows. I’ll be honest the fact that they are slowly closing up story points left open for so long makes me nervous. Most shows do that in the last stretch before cancellation when they KNOW they are being canceled.

The one other element occurs during the wrap up scene with Applebloom and Applejack talking. Applejack finally makes mention of her dead parents and how they would be so proud if they were here. Why is that significant?

Many of you will recall the creator of this generation when she disclosed that Applejack’s parents are dead and furthermore she mentioned that Hasbro would NEVER allow that to be mentioned. No doubt fearing parents having to explain death to the kids (though…you will have to eventually you know? )

The mention of the parents though fate unknown is another step in the right direction. We can hopefully look forward to more progress in terms of maturity in the show. We already had subtle commentary on transgender-ism…but that’s another review.

All in all I’ll give this episode an 8. Losing points only for too many micro songs and wimping out on just coming out and saying the parents are dead. On a personal note destroying an antagonist like Tiara is dangerous..one can only hope that means they have new ones to introduce.

Now onto my next Editorial,

-Think Tank

I would LOVE TO HEAR ANY and ALL comments regarding my thoughts and conclusions, please, by all means sign in or comment 🙂