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 🙂

MLP Season 5, Episode 14 – Canterlot Boutique Editorial and Commentary

Welcome back fellow pony folk, and welcome to the second half of Season 5 of MLP:FIM! As we countdown to the Equestria Girl’s 3rd movie, lets distract ourselves with a Rarity episode!

Rarity-Contract
“To Rarity … contract…buzz buzz….your very own episode this week!”

We start out at Rarity’s boutique of course, she’s obviously very anxious to get something, as focus isn’t her strong point at the moment. Much like a kid waiting for Santa to arrive, our fashion savvy pony is eager to get something in the mail, but soon receives not the item she wants, but a visit from our very own fourth wall breaking pink pony of potent persuasion and pickled…nevermind, there’s enough of those tongue twisters in the episode, trust me. Pinkie Pie shows up with a gift of both the letter Rarity seeks and an odd new flavor of cupcake: Strawberry-Cinnamon-Cilantro, If you haven’t tried it..don’t as ..I think Pinkie’s the only one in the town that seems to stomach them.

Quickly and with little pace, we force our way to the plot point of the episode, not only is it just a Rarity episode, it’s also taking place in Canterlot! It appears that Rarity has purchased a plot (heh) there and is going to open a sister shop, Canterlot Boutique! It’s at that point we enter the theme song and we all know how that goes. That moment where some of you are looking around making sure no one is seeing what your watching, while some of you are turning it up and proud as punch! Either way, neither one is wrong per say, and we stroll forward into the meat of Act I!

Twilight and the rest of the gang travel to Canterlot, no doubt happy that they have ANY part in this episode, as we are bombarded with information from Twilight on the source of Rarity’s ability to purchase this place. Now, that brings me to a point that’s still in contention as far as I know: WHAT is the basis of currency in this world? We hear the term “Bits” and while it’s a play on several horse themes, we never go into the basics of it. For instance, WHAT is the standard? Is every bit represented by gold or jewels in some way? Hardly possible as Spike and other dragons openly and with little complaint from anyone, eat jewels at regular intervals. Perhaps the currency is based on a more 14th century idea and it’s worth is the same as it represents (I.E. gold coins, silver coins, ect). But, no one really explores that, and I hope someone whose reading this will eventually find out for me 😛

As the crew walks into one of their few group scenes, Rarity is elated at the shop, which does in fact look quick fancy. She goes on to toot her own horn a moment, well deserved, but then she mentions she couldn’t do it without the help of this week’s Monster of the Week her new business partner, Sassy Saddles..who looks like she eats about twice a year. Coupled with her attitude and tone, she’s a walking troupe, which I find sad based on previous installments of the show, we seemed to be moving forward in a direction that made complex ideas and stories possible.

Thats right kids I'm the villain this week
You suppose the horns on unicorns are the same as breasts? Each person’s is different in size? 🙂 Sassy Saddles has this huuuuge horn!

Here, we’re just phoning it in. We’re not even TRYING to hide our antagonist this episode it seems, almost like they really didn’t have a writer do a second read on it.

A quick run-down of Sassy lets us know that she will eventually be what Rarity becomes if she loses sight of what she loved about her craft and worried only about success. Though most of us know this, it takes our heroine most of the episode and a structured song to figure that out. For the most part, despite being told and praised for being a savvy business pony, Rarity has AWFUL judgment for the most part. Back when she “took Manehatten” her generosity nearly cost her the key she was meant to use to open the Plot Device in the final episode that season (You remember, when Lex Luthor..er..Clancy Brown..appeared on My Little Pony? Of for you older fans, the Kurgan 😉 )) and now it seems she’s got the same problem here, though her special talent, and her element, seem to work against her. Honestly, if anyone would be trustworthy, it would have been Coco from that same episode, you’d think she would have jumped at a chance to work in Canterlot? Still..I guess we need new villains?

Rarity quickly starts to fall into the shadow of her new partner, much to the distress of her friends. Pushed out of the way at the grand opening and even during her unveiling of her main line for Canterlot, Rarity shows us that generosity…can sometimes screw you over. BUT…something interesting occurs at the unveiling.

The first three dresses are obvious in their inspiration, and the final one is said to be about Twilight. Casual observation yields similarities of course. The name of the outfit makes me think deeper though. She calls it…The Reign in Stain. The stain referring to the Stain Glass windows that appear randomly after we have a season ending event in the Royal Palace, this one inspired by Twilight turning into a Alicorn (and making us buy a new version of her) and “The Reign” of course is in reference to her current occupation. But…and stay with me on this…

The Rain in Spain is part of a verbal exercise in “My Fair Lady”, when Rex Harrison’s character tries to tell Elisa how to speak proper and lose her horrid accent. The entire point is that Rex’s character has bet he could take anyone and turn them into something they were not, in that case a “Proper” lady from a commoner. So we take from that the basic lesson, and apply it here two fold: The story of how Twilight, a pony who had no place really in Ponyville or making friends at the start of the show, turns into the most unlikely heroine, a princess, an Alicorn, and in some cases, a sorta goofy protagonist. The second application of it could be used to reinforce the overall lesson in this episode, which is don’t try to force a round peg into a square hole, you end up ruining the peg and the hole and then what do you have? Nothing. Course..I could be looking far too deeply into this, though..that IS what I pride myself on doing, finding the deeper meanings. Your thoughts in the comments below are welcome!

Say what
Rarity comes to the horrific realization that Sassy may not be a complicated antagonist at all. She’s just a lesson episode after all!

After her friends leave, since they no doubt have to film re-takes of The Friendship Games, Rarity finds herself swamped with orders, far more then she considered she’d be making. By herself, she starts making hundreds of the same dress, as Sassy Saddles has all but done away with ever other dresses, making the Princess dress (What a catchy name..) the only thing the store seems to sell. Of course, the …shall we call them upper crust..ponies all want it since it’s the latest thing being raved about in..(wait for it..) CosMare magazine.

WTF
Here’s another one of those faces that would be SCARY AS HELL for cookies on Halloween…

After she works her hooves to the bone and fills all the orders, she starts to sing, because, why not? Though this time I’m rather taken by the song structure. Three parts with breaks in it as she realizes the problem and solution to the episode’s rather transparent issues. It’s nice to see progression in terms of characters, even in small doses like that.

On a side note, small doses reminds me, Pinkie’s participation feels completely forced in this episode, I’m not entirely sure how else to put it. Like they needed to fill a minute of time or something?

As Rarity fixes up the dresses all the same, she finds them bland, and counter-Rarity entirely. Sprucing them up with gems and her special form of inspiration, she presents it to the next customer. To her dismay, well both of them really, this pony doesn’t really want alterations, she wants the dress exactly like she ordered it, like the one in ..CosMare. I don’t blame her though, for one thing she, for whatever reason, has a cutie mark that appears to be a pair of Hot Peppers on her ass, and the other is that the customer is of course, always right.

Peppers
See? It looks like peppers! WHAT possible special talent could that be? Mexican cooking?!

The harsh reality of the situation finally settles in on Rarity and hopefully the last of our slower viewers as everyone er everypony in Canterlot is seen in the same dress. Every. Single. Pony, and of course, just like the old saying goes “If everyone’s unique…no one is.”

this sucks
This was a simple episode about being true to one’s own self after all. I’ll never get “Rarity and the City” produced ;_;

So, despite all that, Rarity becomes successful, on the cover of magazines, and every dress in eyesight is her design..and she is absolutely miserable. Be careful what you wish for, kids. Thankfully our lovely marshmallow of a fashion designer knows trouble when she see’s it, and quickly shuts down Sassy Saddles apparent over-zealous attitude, and we quickly notice Sassy is clearly in this for herself, quickly turning a 180 on Rarity when she mentions closing. Pleading with her not to close, the only reason she can come up with is that she can’t be part of another failed store….which of course we don’t get to go into because we seem to be running long in the episode (Maybe if we’d have cut Pinkie? 😉 )

As the going out of business sale begins, we’re greeted with Rarity cleaning out the closets of the store and putting all the other dresses she had made on sale. Unsurprisingly the customers (which includes a pony who suspiciously sounds like Raven from the Teen Titans, who is voiced by Tara Strong by the way, hut in this case is voiced by Pinkie’s actress 🙂 )) horde the store and love what they find in terms of variety, while Rarity is rejuvenated by making everypony unique in their appearance instead of the same hum-drum like they had previous.

raven
The only thing that was missing was Starfire and or Beast Boy annoying this pony! 🙂

As we wind down for the credits, Rarity decides not to shut down the shop, but confesses she never intended to move to Canterlot and meant for Ponyville to be her Headquarters. She leaves Sassy Saddles in charge (despite the fact she tried to basically tried to railroad her at every turn) showing us that Generosity really does pay off, and Rarity can have an exciting…episode.

Overall, I give this a 3. It’s cute and it’s nice to hear Rarity for more then a few background lines, though it feels again like an afterthought from the writing staff. I don’t see where the epic nature of our last episodes went, nor why after a hiatus mid season we’d lead off with this. Hopefully we’ll pick up steam next time!

With that, I leave you with well wishes and best regards,

-Watchfire

P.S.  FAT PONY IS FAT!

fat pony!
Seriously did she eat another pony? This has to be Bicep’s mother?