Tales from the Panda

Writing is hard. Writing prose is even harder. Anyone who says otherwise has never written a goddamn word in their fucking life.

Coalescing ideas into words to put on paper is not easy. First you have to find the right words, then you have to structure them so they make sense, then you have to double-check to make sure it sounds right, then you have to ensure the whole thing doesn’t contradict itself. It requires a special skill that takes years to develop. And it’s one I still haven’t mastered.

And writing fiction gets harder. Does the scene make sense? Does the tone match the events? Is it well paced? Is it well phrased? Are the characters consistent? Are the events consistent? And the whole thing can get quite overwhelming.

This is why most writers have editors.

So what does this have to do with the latest episode of Littlest Pet Shop? Absolutely nothing! What are you talking about? Penny really is from the land of faeries and goblins.

Yes, that’s what the episode’s about. The completely true story Penny tells about faeries, goblins, wise mystics, fire spirits, and witches. But one of the best parts was the build up.

Most of the gang is at the park and they find themselves bored out of their minds. So Blythe makes a suggestion she likely read from a book filled with conversation starters. Like one might use to avoid talking about anything worthwhile.

What is the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to you?

I honestly can’t think of anything off the top of my head. Thankfully, she didn’t ask me.

Pepper goes first, and tells the story about how an elderly woman on a bus accidentally mistook the little skunk for her handbag, and walked off with her. I know, boring… What happens next? Well she ends up skimming over the rest of the story, which is far more interesting. And this tells me that Pepper does not know how to engage an audience, which is ironic when you think about it.

Actually, this scene made me think of an old Seinfeld episode. Which is interesting.

Zoe tells a tale about how a very famous canine celebrity fell in love with her. But she had to break his heart when she stayed behind to remain a model as he returned to the west coast. Poor little guy.

Vinnie tells the story about how he travelled cross-country by train… well, attached to a train.

…Wow! But why was he attached by the tongue? He’s got sticky hands!

Minka tells us about the time she painted the king. What king? You know, the king…

Burger King? I can’t think of any current nation that has a king, a proper king. I’ll have to look this up…

Okay, there are a five, in Europe at least. We got Belgium, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, and Sweden. All those nations have kings. And he’s obviously not intended to be from Africa or Asia, or the middle east, so I’ll ignore that possibility. But here’s the thing: No modern king dresses like that!!!

Philippe of BelgiumJuan Carlos I of SpainHarald V of NorwayWillem-Alexander of the NetherlandsCarl XVI Gustaf of Sweden

They wear suits and ties, so if she did meet this king, it must have involved time travel!

Anyway, I digress. Now it’s Penny’s turn aaaaaaaaaaaand… she bursts into tears and runs away since she has no interesting stories. Bit of an overreaction there.

Back at the pet shop, Blythe tries to give her a bit of a pep-talk. Which causes her to mention that one time she met the Green Bean Faerie Queen.

… Okay! Go on! That’s not complete batshit! Let’s hear this!

She explains that she was born in a land called Gallifrey-I mean Galloway. It’s a mystical land populated by green bean faeries.

A beautiful land populated by faeries that look exactly like Zoe and Minka. Yeah, that makes perfect sense!

One day, all the water in the valley dried up, leaving the land as a barren wasteland. It was all due to the mystical source of all water in the valley, a water spawn block, getting stolen. Actually, they call it the watering stone, but it’s a water spawn block, basically. It just infinitely generates flowing water. If only they had more than one, they could’ve used them to generate more.

Okay, enough Minecraft jokes. The faeries are so angry they decide to declare war against the goblins, whom they naturally assume took the damn thing. But Penny decides to avert war by going to the goblins alone.

So, she scales the side of a mountain like a badass.

Once she reaches the top of the mesa, the goblins confront her.

Goblins that look exactly like Vinnie. What an amazing coincidence!

The goblins demand she pass a dancing test, and she amazes them with her majestic beauty.

But it’s fruitless, since they don’t actually have the stone.

At this moment, a mystic mongoose appears and offers to direct her to the one who stole it. And he looks a little familiar.

Huh… what are the odds?

They trek through the desert, and eventually he leads her to a single point of quicksand, which he somehow knew the location of. So, she falls through, into a deep pit, where everything goes dark.

But the day is over, and every pet has to head home. Leaving them on a cliffhanger. Which is why this happens the next day:

Reminds me of most bronies.

Anyway, when Penny finally arrives, her loyal fans are ready to hear the continuing tale.

She ends up in a dark dungeon and in her attempts to escape, encounters a mystic fire spirit.

Well, his story checks out!

He jumps on a torch and accompanies her to the lair of the Crab Witch.

Is this because Pepper told such a shitty story? I mean, look at that character who’s not Pepper!

Anyway, after the witch’s speech, Penny acts fast, throwing the fire spirit directly at the water spawn block.

Hey! Be careful with that! It might turn into stone or something! You’d lose the liquid if that happened!

Anyway, she grabs the stone and makes a break for it. When she finally returns the stone to its rightful location, the valley is restored instantly. Which blows my fucking mind. I guess it’s a magic healing water spawn block.

Victory! And as such, she’s soon congratulated by the Green Bean Faerie Queen.

Seems legit. She rewards Penny with a hug, and the ability to summon her at any time. Yes, because after all, the queen seemed so useful during that crisis.

And with that, the story ends. With all the pets in awe… except for the Crab Witch- I mean Pepper.

She’s extremely skeptical, but I don’t understand how, I mean the story was completely plausible! Faeries, goblins, witches, all that makes sense! But when Penny is asked to summon the Green Bean Faerie Queen, she breaks down and confesses that she made up the whole thing.

GASP! I’m shocked! Penny, you broke my heart!

But yeah, she made up the whole thing. Which amazes the others. Such a complex and original narrative, all flowing out of her brain on the fly. It’s incredible! And I have to agree. She has a skill for fiction.

I go back to what I explained earlier. There is a lot of skill to writing, and Penny seems to have that ability almost intuitively. The story wasn’t exactly plausible, sure. That’s because it was a fantasy. But it was coherent, and believable. And it certainly was an interesting tale.

I really enjoyed this episode. It was primarily just a fun fantasy story that had a decent framework. Which is one of the things that got me into franchises such as My Little Pony and Star Wars. They’re mostly just fun fantasy stories with really good characters. What more do you want!? Okay, there’s a lot you could want, but that’s beside the point!

If I had to make one criticism, it would be this: If they intended to make Penny’s confession that it was all made-up a big surprise, they failed. I made a lot of jokes, but in all seriousness, that really didn’t come as a surprise to me. So if that was their intention, they failed. But I doubt that’s the case, given the reactions we saw from Pepper and Russell, particularly at the beginning of the story.

Nonetheless, the lesson here is simple: storytelling is an amazing skill, and one should be proud of it. I think that’s a great lesson to take away.

The episode ends with Penny beginning her next story, which takes place in a galaxy far far away. Aw! Don’t roll the credits! I wanted to hear that one!

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