So, it’s a new season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. As you may or may not know, I am a huge fan of the show, and for good reason. The characters are well developed, the episodes are well written, the music is well composed, and the show itself is well animated. It really has everything going for it.
So now a new season has begun, something I for one, have been waiting for, for months. Originally, the only word regarding the new season was that production would end in December. A lot of people (myself included) interpreted that as being the premiere. The actual premiere was on the 17th of September. Much earlier, and I certainly appreciated that. I hate waiting too long.
So the new season has begun, and the question is: Did it begin with a bang or a whimper? It’s difficult to say. The premiere, The Return of Harmony, was a two-parter and a direct follow-up to the very first episode. It featured the return of the Elements of Harmony, and a new bad guy, the former ruler of Equestria, Discord. Overall, there’s a lot to talk about.
For starters, let’s talk about Discord. When I first saw this character’s new design, I had only one thought.
What the fuck is this!?
You see, the Monday before the premiere, Hasbro, or The Hub…one of the copyright holders, released a clip from the premiere. It ended up all over the web, originally on Wired. When I first heard this, I decided to avoid the clip. I didn’t want any more spoilers. Unfortunately, it was posted on other sites too and I couldn’t avoid it. Not to mention the waves of early fan art posted on DeviantArt.
While I didn’t watch the clip specifically, I did see the images of Discord, and I was not impressed. In the past, My Little Pony had a manticore, a cockatrice, and two dragons on the show, and they all looked badass. Same with Nightmare Moon, the big bad of the season one premiere. Here, Discord looked like a cuddly little stuffed animal.
Of course after seeing the episode, I quickly changed my mind. Discord is a badass, the one scene I saw in previews, he was just giddy, which made him look cute. But, throughout the episode he spent most of it looking like a badass motherfucker, ready to slap a bitch. He was cocky, but not cute and cuddly.
Part of this can be credited to John de Lancie. Who had his last television appearance, the week before on the season finale of Torchwood. Nice transition dude. Anyway, de Lancie’s voice made Discord a serious threat while maintaining the right amount of goofy. This is probably because of de Lancie’s resume, which includes his role on Star Trek as Q, and he seems to have channeled that character when he portrayed Discord.
But there’s good reason for this, after all, Discord is Q. It’s quite obvious, they’re both very mischievous, they can both teleport with a burst of light, and they have control over time and space limited only by their imagination. The only difference between the two is Q is more mature, and his antics seem to have a hidden yet benevolent agenda…most of the time. Q was always my favourite Star Trek character, so to see him on My Little Pony, my favourite TV show, is pretty damn cool. Though as I said earlier, the Q in Star Trek isn’t purely malicious. He just likes messing with Picard. Which tells me Discord is a young Q, from his early days before he settled down and got serious.
Of course while we’re talking about Discord, I loved how the plot was directed. As Discord begins his plan to take over Equestria, the sextet of ponies realize they need to use the Elements of Harmony to vanquish Discord, much like the Princess sisters did eons ago. But Discord used his amazing super powers to crack Celestia’s vault and steal the Elements (which further supports my Discord=Q theory). After a quick riddle by Discord, Twilight determines that the Elements are hidden in the royal hedge maze. So they head through looking for the Elements, and end up getting separated. Discord uses this to his advantage and manipulates our heroes, causing their personalities to invert. Which also, for some reason, turns them grey.
With Applejack, he showed her that the truth is not always pleasant; he bribed Rarity with a giant diamond; he got a bunch of balloons to laugh at Pinkie Pie; and he told Rainbow Dash that her hometown might end up destroyed and gave her the opportunity to leave the maze, meaning her team forfeits “the game” and Discord wins. Basically he showed them the downside to their Elements: Honesty, Generosity, Laughter and Loyalty…respectively. Which, as I said, caused their personalities to invert. Clever, yet fair. I loved the inverted personalities. You got Angry (Pinkie) Pie, pissed off at everything and everyone. Greedity (Rarity) thinking a giant rock is actually a giant diamond named Tom, and paranoid that others will steal it/him. Lyingjack (Applejack), who lies about things that are obviously not true, saying she absolutely refuses to go into the library as she’s walking into the library. Rainbow Ditch (Dash) flying off, abandoning her friends and then refusing to help them save Ponyville. Finally, Flutterbitch (Fluttershy), who is basically a bitch to everyone for no real reason.
Oh, I forgot to mention how Discord inverted Fluttershy! Okay, basically Discord told Fluttershy how mean her friends were acting, Fluttershy said they actually weren’t being mean and Discord responded by touching her head, which inverted her personality. It turned her from a kind and gentle pony into a complete bitch. So basically the bastard cheated. Instead of using a clever scheme to invert her personality, like he did with the rest of them, he did it by force. Not impressed, Discord. Of course he did try, he just gave up way too quickly. It really bugs me.
Eventually the gang, or what’s left of them, ends up at Twilight’s library, where the Elements were really hidden. After a brief brawl with her friends who apparently decided to just fuck with her, she finds the Elements, and forces the others to wear them. Unfortunately without Rainbow Dash and the Element of Loyalty, the others are useless. So Twilight tells Spike he’s now Rainbow Dash. The group goes out to confront Discord and they activate their elements. All of the Elements activate except “Rainbow Dash’s.” This bugs me. Primarily because it was Spike who was wielding it.
If Spike embodies any of the Elements of Harmony, it’s loyalty. He is 100 per cent loyal to Twilight Sparkle. After all, he’s her number one assistant. So why didn’t his Element activate? Perhaps he’s not loyal enough. Except he is more loyal than Flutterbitch was kind, or Greedity was generous. So what could it be? Perhaps it’s because the element permanently bonded to Rainbow because she was the last to use it. Except the last to use it before her was Celestia, why didn’t it permanently bond to her? There is another possibility, only ponies can wield the Elements of Harmony, which I’m not too impressed by. Seems kinda racist. There’s one other possibility, the Elements can only be wielded by girls, which is just as disappointing.
The fact that Spike’s/Rainbow’s Element didn’t even glow slightly like the others is a big problem for me, because I don’t think Spike gets enough credit. He got his own episode last season, sure, and that’s more than most other characters. But the other ponies seem to take him for granted.
Spike’s a real character, but plot wise, he tends to be a walking mailbox, and I’m pretty sure the other characters think of him that way too. One of Spike’s duties is to send Twilight’s letters to Princess Celestia by setting them alight with his flame, and receiving messages from Princess Celestia by burping flame that materializes into a scroll. Apparently the receiving of letters causes him a bit of pain, especially when he receives several dozen letters, one after another, like he did this episode. As Twilight comes back home after wandering in a cloud of depression. She sees a pile of scrolls next to Spike as the little guy keeps burping up more, in obvious pain, yelling “MAKE IT STOOOOOP!!!”
Twilight reads all or most of the scrolls, comes out of her depression and realizes what her next step is. So she heads out to continue her mission to defeat Discord, leaving a very sick and in pain Spike to continue burping scrolls! He said “make it stop” you dumb bitch!!! Why didn’t you “make it stop”!? That’s right, I’m fucking pissed at Twilight right now! I thought she cared for Spike. I know there were other priorities at the time, but simply writing a quick letter saying:
Dear Princess Celestia:
Yeah, I got the message, and I read my old reports. You made me realize what friendship really means, and I know what to do next. You have nothing to worry about. Discord will soon be defeated. So please stop sending scrolls. Spike really doesn’t like it. I think it’s hurting him. So please stop! I beg of you.Your faithful student,
Assuming Celestia isn’t a complete sadist (which many of the fans could and probably would argue). She would stop and Spike wouldn’t look like he’s going to die. Quick and easy and you could be back to work in under a minute. It’s not that difficult! I’m really mad at Twilight for this. It’s like she didn’t even care about the little guy! I mean seriously! What’s wrong with her!?
There’s something else I need to mention, about Discord’s revamped Ponyville. That is this: Chaos, is not the same as completely fucked up. Chaos is things happening for no reason. Chaos happens all the time in our world, and we don’t have cotton candy clouds raining chocolate milk. It kinda bugged me that the writers were taking a really odd view of chaos. It’s not really chaotic so much as wacky. Remember Wackyland from Tiny Toon Adventures? Of course you do!
Discord basically turns Ponyville into that, except Wackyland is a little more conservative! That’s not chaos, that’s just weird. Chaos is people giving into their basic instincts, anarchy, a lack of order. Now, chaos isn’t necessarily evil, anyone who’s seen a Dungeons & Dragons Alignment Chart already knows that.
But chaos isn’t just random shit happening. Though if you think about it, it could be, if you ignore all laws, including the laws of physics. But there is still order in that Ponyville, it’s just that order is under the control of Discord, a practical joker, so it seems like there’s no order. However this whole thing is pretty minor though, really just a philosophical difference I would have been remiss to mention.
One real beef is Twilight’s plan to get her friends back together and defeat Discord. She puts their personalities back to normal by casting a memory spell on each of them. That is so cheap. It seems to me to be lazy writing. I would have preferred something along the lines of: a back and forth where Twilight reminds them of the good old days.
Fluttershy: What are you doing here!? Looooser!
Twilight: Fluttershy, what are you doing!? Take Hummingway out of that sandwich.
Fluttershy: Make me! [flies up to the ceiling, is about to take a bite]
Twilight: Fluttershy, do you remember Philomena!?
Twilight: Princess Celestia’s pet bird. It was sick, and you were worried about it. So you took it.
Fluttershy: I did!? HA! The Princess must have freaked!
Twilight: That’s not why you did it! You just wanted Philomena to get better, not caring that the Princess might punish you for it. You risked banishment nursing the poor girl back to health. You didn’t care about yourself, only Philomena. That’s who you are, someone who would give of yourself to help others. Don’t you remember!?
Fluttershy: I…I… [drops sandwich, Hummingway flies out, Fluttershy’s colours return] Oh, Twilight! What have I done!? I’m so sorry! [hugs Twilight]
Twilight: It’s okay Fluttershy, I forgive you.
It’s not even that much more complicated. It only added a few lines, and considering the scene they did use, featured most of the conversion off-screen, it wouldn’t have been much effort to do it this way. It certainly wouldn’t have felt like a shortcut in my mind.
Speaking of these magic solutions, one might bring up the Elements of Harmony themselves. I mean if you think about it, the Elements of Harmony are basically a one hit kill. Remember Power Rangers? A team of magic superheroes with a giant robot because it was originally from Japan? Ever wonder why they didn’t just get into their giant robot and use its magic sword that instantly kills any enemy, at the beginning? Well it’s because it would have ended every episode way too quickly. However, the in-universe reason was because Zordon prohibits them from “escalating a fight,” which basically means they can’t use their superweapon until the enemy brings out it’s superweapon. Which is irresponsible when you think about it, because by the time the battle has reached the point where they are allowed to use their giant robot, which it always and inevitably does, the enemy is already capable of causing millions of dollars in property damage, and ending a few thousand lives with very little effort, and it’s likely they already have.
Anyway to give them a one-hit-kill superweapon that can stop evil assholes instantly, it can break the show by making it criminally short and boring, unless you include some stupid arbitrary rule that makes absolutely no fucking sense. So I’m glad they’ve only used the Elements of Harmony in two episodes, because that’s what they are, that one-hit-kill superweapon. But the Elements don’t break the show because in the two episodes they appeared in, nearly half these episodes was spent finding the damn things, and the other half was spent figuring out how to activate them. Which is quite a challenge, and the moment they can use the Elements, they do. They don’t spend 15 minutes fighting the bad guy before suddenly deciding to kill him because it’s starting to get boring.
Of course the reason the Elements don’t appear in every episode is pretty obvious, because Celestia doesn’t want her little ponies to have that much power, or for said power to fall into the wrong hands, so she locks them up. If she didn’t, it would be really difficult for the writers to write stories that aren’t over in five seconds without some really stupid bullshit, that would bring down the quality of the show as a whole.
Possibly the coolest part of the premiere was the ending. Basically, a direct homage to the ending of the first Star Wars movie. That’s right! In the season 2 premiere of My Little Pony, they included a character who was a walking Star Trek reference, and ended it with a Star Wars reference! This is empirical proof that the show is awesome! But I have one complaint: Where’s Luna!?
Luna is Celestia’s sister who last appeared in the season one premiere as the big baddie, but (spoilers) she was sort of cleansed of her evil or something and went right back to her royal duties as co-ruler of Equestria. She was mentioned at the beginning of (part one of) this episode. She and Celestia defeated Discord for the first time, many millenia ago. That’s how they became rulers of Equestria, we assume. She’s given a cursory mention at the beginning, and then, at the end of the episode, everypony, including Celestia and virtually all the background ponies, applaud our heroes for defeating Discord. That is…everypony except Luna. They didn’t even need to give her a speaking role, just place her there to Celestia’s left, smiling, possibly acting a little coy. Her not being there feels so wrong to me, considering her rank and her supposed role in the politics of Equestria. This is bullshit! I was really hoping I’d see her because let’s be honest: Luna is the hot sister! There is word she will be appearing some time this season, but it better be an early episode, because this is getting pathetic.
Of course, who knows, she might be appearing in the next episode, which should be this Saturday. Except some prat in the Hub scheduling department had the brilliant idea to open season two with the two-part premiere, then go straight to hiatus. Fucking cocktease! Are you shitting me!? You follow the season premiere with a hiatus!? Now I get it, you gotta pace yourself. I gotta say, one of my favourite shows, 24 really went downhill when they introduced the non-stop seasons, with no hiatus at any point. One of the series’ best and most memorable moments was when one of the characters got a dose of deadly virus blown directly into his face! Mainly because they used that scene to end an episode, and it was followed by a five-week hiatus. We didn’t see what happened to him for over a month. That scene was certainly ingrained in my head for that month. I’ll never forget it. So I’m not against the occasional hiatus. But not right after the premiere! It just started!! Ugg!!!
Well, I guess we’ll see more ponies in two weeks. Until then, I just want to say, that while the latest episode wasn’t perfect, it was certainly an improvement over the season one premiere. Okay, that’s not exactly a high bar, but the episode was certainly entertaining, and we have another 24 episodes to look forward to. Here’s to them improving over last season, and giving Spike, Luna, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders more screen time. Good Luck!!