Christmas Hearth’s Warming Eve this week on My Little Pony, when our heroes tell the story of the founding of Equestria. It’s a crucial moment in their history, and I for one am glad we heard it. It’s good to know that the writers thought of these things, I mean, imagine if they didn’t. To establish a universe and not have any clue regarding its history or mythology!? You’d have to be a complete hack to even try something like that…Abrams!
First thing I’d like to talk about is the holiday itself. Celebrated in winter, decorations include gingerbread houses, candy canes, and doled up pine trees. Yes, it’s a politically-correct religiously-neutral form of Christmas. Can some show do me a favour and make up a winter holiday that lasts eight days and consists of eating fatty foods, spinning tops and lighting candles? I wanna see that!!
But its origins don’t really match up with the origins of Christmas, which actually makes sense because the origins of Christmas don’t really match up with the origins of Christmas. I could go into details, but I don’t care to, except to mention that the religious aspects never really match up with the rest of the holiday, do they.
Anyway, the origins of Hearth’s Warming Eve remind me more of Canada Day. They both celebrate the founding of a nation. Both of which certainly deserve celebrating.
The episode itself is a great one. A natural disaster (friggen blizzard) hits ancient ponykind driving their society into chaos, and the already-present mutual distrust between the three tribes (Pegasi, Unicorns and Earth/Normal Ponies) becomes amplified under the harsh conditions. Lack of food and lack of someone to blame, has caused them all to turn on each other.
A summit is held between the leaders of the three nations: Princess Platnium, Commander Hurricane and Chancellor Puddinghead, each of which is played by one of our six heroes. No points for guessing which one played which.
Anyway, the summit does not go well and each go back home to bitch.
We meet Private Pansy; Clover the Clever; and Smart Cookie, played by Applejack. Again, no points for guessing who played the other two.
That’s the thing: the group isn’t really playing any characters other than themselves with different names. Not that I’m complaining per say, but I find it highly unlikely that there actually is an Equestrian historical figure who acted anything like Pinkie Pie, much less the leader of the Earth Ponies. Honestly, who would take Chancellor Puddinghead seriously!? Though it is hilarious.
So anyway all three leaders end up deciding to split off from the others. Which isn’t really a good idea when you think about it, because all three need the other two to live. The Earth Ponies provide the food, the Pegasi manage the weather, and the Unicorns control the day-night cycle. Without one of those groups the others would probably die off. Okay the Earth Ponies could probably make it, but it wouldn’t be easy.
You know, that’s another thing. It bugs me that the unicorns are needed to control planetary rotation. Is the planet otherwise tidally locked!? Oh well, it’s magic, they ain’t gotta explain shit.
I kinda like to imagine Equestria as an atheist state, but I’m probably projecting. They don’t have much in the way of conflict because there’s very little to fight about. They all find it very easy to work together. Of course this episode introduces some major conflict, but it seems to be racial in origin, the type of conflict we had well before religion made it worse, and it’s buried deep in the past, not a part of contemporary society. They’ve moved past it.
I mention this because it begs the question: how did a race of…anything…evolve on a tidally locked planet!?
Moving on, eventually the three leaders and their assistants end up settling in a faraway land, and discover very quickly that all three settled within a two block radius. It’s hilarious as hell, if unlikely.
As they begin fighting again, they discover the blizzard somehow followed them. So all six take shelter in a cave, (incidentally, the same cave from Dragonshy) and the three leaders end up losing their minds, fighting over a rock. Their assistants playing the straight-mares, which matches up to their regular roles in the series.
Of course it’s at this point that the blizzard follows them inside the cave and traps them inside with a wall of ice. This is the first…okay, actually third clue that this is not just a simple blizzard. It turns out the blizzard is caused by three malevolent spirits that feed off of conflict. This revelation is foreshadowed up the ass.
As the three leaders are frozen by the spirits, the assistants are next. However, they quickly set aside their differences and inadvertently vanquish the spirits with the Magic of Friendship. The show’s called Friendship is Magic, don’t look at me like that!
The leaders end up thawing out, and agree to share the land, which they dub “Equestria,” and raise a new flag. Here’s the problem: it’s the modern Equestrian flag, featuring the sun, moon, and the royal sisters. However it’s established that this story takes place before Luna and Celestia’s reign, and likely before they were even born. This is a huge problem for me. Of course it’s possible that this story isn’t accurate and ponies have mistold the story several times. But you’d think they would have known enough to make something up. It’s not like a retelling of the founding of the United States would use a flag with 50 stars. At least not until I write the script for it.
Here’s the uncomfortable implication of this episode: the ponies of Equestria are not nice to each other for its own sake. They’re nice to each other for fear that evil spirits will cover the land in snow. Can’t they just be friends because they like each other? Did they really need the threat of frozen death to be nice. It kinda disturbs me. As Richard Dawkins once said: “If the only reason you do good is because you’re afraid of being watched by the great surveillance camera in the sky, you’re afraid of going to hell if you do bad and you want to go to heaven, that’s a pretty ignoble reason for doing good.” Different issue, but the idea’s the same.
My point is: Equestria isn’t really a land founded in friendship, it’s a land founded in conflict and death threats. Friendship came about as a consequence.
My favourite revelation in this episode though, is this: Celestia didn’t always raise the sun. Before her, it appears the unicorn collective did the job. I figure this kicks the whole “Celestia and Luna are gods” thing right in the head. So, how did Celestia alone get the job!? That sounds like a story I’d like to hear. I have an idea: the population was slowly being wiped out by a plague, so Celestia and Luna took over, absorbing the powers of the ponies who were dying, so the world wouldn’t become unbalanced. It’s possible they were bred for this job.
I might use that.