Ah, Royalty. In this day and age, it’s vestigial. A remnant of ancient society that we just haven’t bothered to get rid of. The only cases where a society has rid themselves of their monarch and established a republic are cases where their monarch was an asshole. Even going back to possibly the earliest republic: Rome.
Before the Roman Republic was established, their last king, King Superbus (yes, that’s his real name), was an arrogant and tyrannical prat. Of course they overthrew him!
The United States ousted the British Government because of taxes and other things, France overthrew their king mainly because of the wealth gap, Germany got rid of the Kaiser because he was a twat who caused World War I, and India dropped King George VI because… well because Ghandi didn’t like him, apparently.
But as long as one doesn’t make too many waves, or piss off the people, they should be able to maintain their rule indefinitely, even if the vast majority of people don’t really care for them. Why? Because it’s just not worth getting rid of them. There really is no point, because even if only a small minority of people support them, their non-supporters just wouldn’t care enough to change things. Everything’s fine! Why fix what isn’t broken?
In Canada, our monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, the same as it is in the UK. And her only job, really, is making sure every nation under her rule has a government… that’s it. She doesn’t have to make any decisions, do any real work; just greet dignitaries, make the occasional speech, and sign every document the parliament puts on her desk. She doesn’t even have to read, she just has to sign!
It must get boring. I know if I had a boring job where I did the exact same thing day after day, no choices, no judgement, no challenges before me, I’d slowly lose my damn mind! Which I guess would explain Prince Philip, wouldn’t it? If only he had a hobby, maybe he’d stop putting his foot in it. I assume that’s how Her Majesty stays sane, some secret hobby no one knows about, like writing erotic fiction under a pseudonym. Maybe she’s the real author of Fifty Shades of Grey! Wouldn’t that be great!?
If life is boring, it’s not worth living. You gotta keep busy, you gotta stay sane. Royalty that does nothing but sit around and wave has no real purpose, and that’s all we have in modern times, unless you count Saudi Arabia. Which I wouldn’t, because I did say ‘modern’ there.
However, in Equestria, Royalty has power. None of them are mere figureheads, overlooking their society while perpetually disconnected from it. They all have a role to play. Well, all except the newest member of the royals: Twilight Sparkle.
And this leads us into the fourth season finale of My Little Pony. Where Twilight finally gets a job. What took her so long?
Well turns out she’s just as impatient as the rest of us, and the show opens with Twilight explaining exactly how useless she is, and how irritating it is. Because on this day Celestia, Luna, and Cadance are having a summit with the Duke and Duchess of Maretonia (seriously!?), and Twilight’s there to stand on a balcony and unfurl a banner.
Basically, she’s the royal runner. They could’ve had any old unicorn do that, so why is she even there!? She’s not even taking part in the discussions!
Of course Celestia explains that she’s there to show the delegates that the visit is ‘an important one.’ Of course if she was never coronated, it wouldn’t have been an issue, would it!?
What is her role? What is her purpose?
Well it’s explained in one of the series many terrible musical numbers.
And it is terrible. Horrible even! It’s tacky, contrived, and could easily be summed up by saying, like every princess, Twilight will have a role to play of her own. What is that role? Oh, no one knows, they just know it’ll happen.
Okay, are we supposed to assume Celestia’s incompetent? Because if so, the writers are doing a great job.
Let’s be honest, none of this makes any sense. Just because she’s a princess doesn’t mean a role will magically appear for her to fill! I mean, one could, this is Equestria! But you’d think they’d only appoint her as princess once there was a position to fill.
Imagine if any other job worked that way. Imagine if you got hired to work in an office, and on your first day they said: “Alright, you’re hired. Now, we don’t have anything for you to do right now… but I’m sure something will come up. Just sit in the corner and wear this hat!”
Why was she even coronated to begin with!? We still haven’t gotten a good answer. I always assumed Celestia had some sort of secret master plan. Some reason she gave Twilight the position. But here, it’s revealed she’s just hoping something will come up!
She is incompetent. I’m sure of it.
But let’s put her incompetence aside for a moment. It’s time to go to some random city where we meet one of the creepiest characters the series has ever had.
Meet Tirek, who proceeds to suck some random stallion’s horn in a dark alley
Oh, please, don’t look at me like that. The writers were practically begging for someone to make some kind of double entendre. I mean, he’s absorbing magic through his mouth… HIS MOUTH!!! Why his mouth!? He has hands, you couldn’t use his hands!? No, his mouth! And his first victim is a male unicorn, whose source of power is his horn, which is long, and nearly cylindrical. Also, Tirek’s obviously destitute at this stage, and we later learn that this is his way out! There’s no way they did not see the innuendo coming!
Okay, that last one was not intentional. I actually do apologize.
Meanwhile, back at Canterlot Castle, Celestia wakes with a start!
Turns out it was all just a dream! Or was it!?
Actually, it wasn’t, as Luna explains once she rushes in and says it was actually a vision!
Way to ruin the suspense, Dom Cobb.
And without another word, or explanation, or confirmation that it was the same vision we’re assuming Luna had as well, they decide they have no time to lose. So the next morning they quickly brief the other princesses, and the audience, on the situation. Seems Tirek and his brother came to Equestria long ago to try to steal everypony’s magic. But eventually, his brother defected, and Tirek was sent to Tartarus. He apparently escaped back in season 2 but it took him this long to regain enough power to start sucking horns again.
So, of course, Celestia plans to send Twilight and her plucky friends to take down a fucking deamon because they have the magic of friendship or bollocks.
Oh actually, no! Instead she grows a bit of sense and sends Discord to take him down. After all, I’m pretty sure Discord’s the only one who could. It’s pretty much been established that he’s one of the most powerful beings in existence, and we’ve seen him doing fuck-all since he was rehabilitated.
He’s also possibly omnipotent, but coy about his omnipotence. As just before he leaves to catch the fugitive, he mentions he was reading through the ponies’ journal, and flagged a few entries. Also, why didn’t Twilight open the Harmony Chest yet?
Oh, so many mysteries that still need to be resolved, and I’m guessing he knows the answer. So why doesn’t he just tell them!? Well, he’s still Discord.
So suddenly, Twilight is spurred to do some work on opening the damn thing! Because you’re fucked if you expect Discord to help you. And how is she going to do this? By reading random library books, because that’ll totally help you open this mysterious object that didn’t exist until last year!
By the way, has she avoided this thing for the past year? What makes her think she’ll finally, now, after a year of doing nothing more than read books, find something on the chest? Maybe, try something different!
But then, she decides to look at the passages Discord flagged in the journal. And which entries did he flag? Well, there’s the time Applejack debunked Flim and Flam’s snake-oil tonic, the time Fluttershy had to send the Breezies packing, the time Rarity had her designs stolen, the time Rainbow Dash told the Wonderbolts where to shove it, and the time Pinkie co-hosted a party with a random guest star.
Yes, it’s all the episodes where rainbows suddenly appeared in their eyes and they got random gifts àpropos of nothing, and Twilight theorizes that the random gifts might help them open the chest, prefacing her explanation with, “I know it sounds crazy…”
Oh, it doesn’t just sound crazy. It is crazy. What about those gifts would make them so special? What happened to them that would’ve given them this ability? It also doesn’t explain why exactly they were all given gifts to begin with.
But they gather all the objects, hoping they’ll reveal some clue.
Yeah, nothing. Until Pinkie throws her rubber chicken at the chest, and it suddenly does this:
Yep, turns out they don’t just lead them to the keys, they are the keys.
Again, how does this make sense!? I doubt they were always hidden keys, so what happened to these objects that made them turn into keys? I didn’t see an AllSpark kicking around, so something’s missing.
Of course, there is my “Avatars of Harmony” theory. That all of those four ponies and one breezy: Suri, Shill, Spitfire, Sandwich, and Seabreeze; were all creations of the Tree of Harmony. The tree created them to test the former element bearers, and once they passed give them their special key in a hidden form so they wouldn’t realize what they had until the time was right.
Sadly, during the course of this episode, that theory is kicked in the head. So, so much for logic!
Of course, it was probably kicked in the head when you consider Spitfire, however it would’ve explained her personality shift. But I digress.
Now, I know what you’re going to say: “What exactly did you expect!?” Well, I’ll tell you exactly what I expected: Something more active!
I expected them to actually hunt down the keys. Something more akin to a treasure hunt; National Treasure-style! Having five disparate episodes that each involve finding a piece of the puzzle is all well and good, but they should’ve built off each other. Each episode could’ve started with them finding a clue for one of the keys, either from the chest or another key, then travelling across Equestria to find it. During the hunt the pony in question would be tested in some way, and once they passed the test, while teaching another pony about friendship (if that’s what you really want), they would’ve gotten their key. Heck, the Daring Do episode could’ve been a perfect arc-related episode under this scheme. They could’ve been looking for the key on their own, only to cross paths with Daring Do, who is also tracking it down. They would’ve even bumped heads because Daring Do would want to keep it all to herself, while they want it to unlock the chest. In the end Daring would give up the key, as Rarity teaches her how to be generous. Yeah, it’d be a Rarity episode. What of it? And that plot would’ve actually given the episode a reason to take place in the prime universe.
This formula would’ve improved the arc in two primary ways: Number one, they would’ve actually gotten a key, and known they were making progress. And number two, it would’ve shown them being proactive, and actually trying to find the damn keys! Instead, they more or less just ignore the chest for the bulk of the season, as if they expect the solution to fall into their laps! And yeah, sure, it does; But that’s beside the point! It reminds me of the way Twilight handles romance. I always thought this was supposed to be the progressive show. Now it’s slowly becoming apparent that it’s just as misogynistic as it’s forebears.
Anyway, each of the gifts are placed on the chest, one at a time; and then suddenly, and simultaneously, transform. And now, there’s only one key left to find. Of course, they’ll probably wait till next season, rather than during the series finale. Otherwise that’ll be really contrived.
Meanwhile, it’s time for Discord to go after the crazy megalomaniacal deamon, Tirek, and damn does he work quickly. It takes him less than half a minute between finding and capturing the nutter. And so, with that comes the end of the episode, and all is well.
Or at least it would be if Discord didn’t end up getting all chummy with Tirek, revealing that he’s not capturing the prat for personal reasons, but for Fluttershy and the gang.
Then we find out that Tirek is a total cunt, as he starts to shame Discord and call him a pussy.
“You like ponies!? Ha, ha! Faggot!”
So basically, Tirek is an amalgam of all the “brony haters” in the world.
And the shocking thing is, it actually works! For some reason he decides to join Tirek on his campaign, betraying Fluttershy and all the other ponies.
I guess the main reason Discord defects is due to Tirek’s bulletproof logic. He explains that Discord stopped being who he truly was, all for friendship. Except that’s bullshit, since we’ve seen him continue his jokester ways even after he’s been ‘reformed.’ The only thing that’s changed is that he hasn’t done anything truly malicious. Selfishly and deceptively, sure, but not malicious. I don’t think he’s changed at all, he’s just discovered that it sucks being alone. But apparently Discord either forgot about that, or thinks that Tirek can be his friend instead, because it’s not like he’s a complete sociopath or something-OH WAIT!
So with Discord helping him, Tirek manages to steal every unicorn’s magic, every pegasus’ flying powers (I guess they need more than wings to fly), and every earth pony’s strength. And now he’s going to go after the royal alicorns.
And once he has the powers of all three alicorns, it’s game over man, game over!
So Celestia comes up with a solution: Every alicorn has to be stripped of their magic, to prevent Tirek from taking it. And because their magic can’t just evaporate, they want Twilight to host it.
Interesting solution, I like it! It’ll also give us the opportunity to see what these princesses were before they were given their royal titles! I mean, that was the implication, right? From last season? That each of them were born as one of the three standard races, but were transformed into alicorns? Hell, that’s what a lot of people suggested to counter my argument that the alicorn transformation had tinges of Mormon racism.
I’ll summarize my argument thusly: It’s an old belief of the Mormon religion that if a black man works hard and honours god, god will reward him by turning him white. Sounds pretty racist doesn’t it? Well the idea that any pony can work hard and become an alicorn if they’re worthy has the same vibe running through it. But many argued that ‘alicorn’ is not a separate race, but merely the result of some type of magic spell. Each of them are still earth pony, or unicorn, or pegasus, but their magic gives them the powers and appearance of a combination of all three.
So this’ll be interesting. Right? Though, there’s one problem with it: It’s not much of a plan. I mean, sure, it’s better than nothing, but all it does is buy time. Tirek will still take over, he just won’t have the alicorn powers. Not much change from what I can see. It’s as if Celestia expects a better solution to just fall from the sky.
Well, at least we know where Twilight learned that approach.
But why Twilight? Well, because they don’t think Tirek knows about her.
… He’s been around for about two years and Twilight’s princess-dom wasn’t exactly a state secret. You don’t think he read the papers? Alright, let’s assume he didn’t. In that case, how would he know about Cadance? I doubt she was around when he was imprisoned, since that appears to have happened during the early days, likely before Cadance was born. I say that since we saw that Starswirl was around, along with Luna and Celestia.
Wait… what? They were alive at the same time? Alright, one of the writers needs to explain the timeline here, because I thought Starswirl was around during the founding, which was ‘long before’ Luna and Celestia’s reign. Unless ‘long before’ means two weeks, there’s a few discrepancies here.
Anyway, this odd plot hole aside; and the other, more recent, plot hole aside; Twilight accepts the duty of hosting the magic of four alicorns at once.
Now, that’s a lot of magic. She takes it all in like a… oh my god! Why do I keep spotting sexual innuendo in this episode!? I don’t think it’s me!
And what about the princesses?
So no change whatsoever. I mean, the stars are out of Luna’s mane, but that’s about it. She didn’t even revert to her season one version!
Oh, and they lost their cutie marks, but they’re all still alicorns… So that’s disappointing. I guess someone needs to explain to me what an alicorn actually is at this stage.
So after taking that in, Twilight returns home later that night, with Spike commenting, “you weren’t gone long.” She wasn’t? But it was daytime when she absorbed the magic, and then Twilight comments that the sun should already be up so…
You’d think the animators would’ve caught that little time jump. They could’ve just set the transfer scene at night, would’ve patched that right up.
So, with the power of four alicorns in her system, Twilight’s magic is bursting to get out, and highly unstable. As we quickly learn when she tries to raise the sun.
Well, congratulations Twilight, you just warped tides across Equestria, causing untold flooding, and incinerated three neighbouring planets. Keep it up!
So she needs to get a handle on her new magic, hopefully where she can cause less damage
So off to the castle in the Everfree Forest. That place is already in ruins.
Of course, her friends are eager to join her, but they have to be left behind because… actually I’m not sure why.
Twilight claims it’s because Tirek’s still at-large and they need to tell everyone to remain indoors, but I have a feeling it has more to do with the fact that Celestia told her to keep her new powers a secret, which I also don’t understand. She claimed that knowledge of Twilight’s powers could ‘put them at great risk,’ but I just don’t see how! How could having knowledge about something put you in danger? I mean, assuming no one knows you know, there should be no way knowing would put you in any more danger! You know? If anything, it could enable you to anticipate any dangers, and react accordingly.
I remember the same point being made about Spider-Man! Peter Parker keeps all his friends and relatives in the dark about his identity! So whenever a bad guy does find out who Spider-Man is, and decides to attack those close to him, all those people see is a giant alien robot trying to kill them for no discernible reason!
I think it’s safe to say Celestia is suffering from dementia at this stage. The argument that Twilight is meant to be Celestia’s successor has suddenly become quite valid!
But hey, what about our bad guys, I’m sure they’re more interesting and less stupid.
They arrive in Canterlot, and take everyone’s magic. And of course, Tirek eventually confronts the princesses in the Canterlot throne room.
Well, he’s been drinking his milk.
Now, obviously he expected to absorb their magic, but since they have no magic to give, he gets nothing. But he also has absolutely no opposition, and just takes over.
Yes Celestia, it was a shit plan. Now he’s just going to rule Equestria forever! Oh, but they have an ace up their sleeves! Twilight! Who has the power of four alicorns within her and doesn’t know how to control it! But perhaps that was her plan. Twilight is supposed to provide the necessary opposition to Tirek. A single pony with the power of four alicorns within her probably has more strategic value than four alicorns separately. So, why isn’t she facing off against him now? And on that note, why not have Celestia host the power, or Luna, or someone who knows what they’re doing!
Perhaps there’s something to them buying the time that Twilight’s anonymity would give them, and they’re expecting a time when Discord’s alliance with Tirek would fall, making him vulnerable. So why didn’t they tell her that?
Anyway, after he sends the three alicorns to Tartarus, because he can do that now, he decides to show his appreciation to Discord for all his help. A simple little pendant he originally got from someone close to him.
Oh, how nice.
And as Tirek wanders around the throne room, something catches his eye.
Okay, it’s confirmed! Celestia’s an idiot!
Yeah, we’ll have Twilight absorb all our powers because Tirek shouldn’t know about her existence, and there’s nothing that would reveal her existence except for this giant stained-glass window I had put in for reasons!
Smash the window! Or did she just forget?
At any rate, now that Tirek knows about Twilight, it’s time for him to target her. But first, her friends!
Oh, if only they had some way of knowing they could be targeted… or that Discord had already betrayed them. Fuckin’ Celestia! That’s right! I’m blaming everything on her! I don’t care!
Then, by absorbing the magic of these five ponies, he instantly gains enough energy to turn into a kaiju.
Finding this a bit improbable, if I’m honest. Maybe it’s because Spike has a lot more power than he lets on, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t absorb Spike’s magic.
Of course, once he absorbs Discord’s magic, it makes much more sense.
Oh, yeah, he also absorbs Discord’s magic.
Alright, I honestly did not see this coming, but I probably should’ve.
But what about that pendant? Did it mean nothing to him?
So it turns out nutter here was given the pendant by his brother, and since his brother betrayed him, he decided to carry on that tradition. Oh, how poetic.
And now, with Discord and the others down for the count, all that’s left is Twilight, who’s still shit at controlling her magic. Specifically, teleportation.
I’m surprised she didn’t phase into the rock there.
And so, Tirek goes on the hunt for our favourite princess. And the moment she realizes this, she immediately goes on the run, trying to get as far from Ponyville as possible, to protect the alicorn magic she was entrusted with.
… Oh, no wait, she actually goes and confronts him. And thus begins the most brutal and aggressive fight sequence to ever appear on My Little Pony. It basically consists of two over-powered behemoths, both invulnerable, blasting each other with nova-grade energy beams when they’re not throwing each other into mountains.
It quickly turns into a bit of a scorched earth scenario, as the entire landscape is decimated and somehow the sky turns orange. But we don’t see any buildings get destroyed, so I assume they kept the battle well outside Ponyville town limits.
… that is, except for the local library.
Ah dammit! Do you have any idea how many chocolate bars they’re going to need to sell now!? That is, unless their insurance covers attacks from fire daemons… actually, it probably does.
So after about two minutes, both Tirek and Twilight realize that they’re both evenly matched, and invulnerable, which has resulted in a stalemate. So he offers her a deal. She gives up her powers, and he gives up her friends.
So of course, being the smart super-genius that she is, Twilight acts fast, teleporting behind him, before quickly using her alicorn powers to teleport her friends to safety.
Oh, wait, no, she gives up her powers, despite her friends’ pleadings not to, which means he gets all the power in the universe, and all hope is lost! Nice going Princess Fuck-up Sparkle!!!
So with that, it’s the end of the world! Series over! Fuck me!
Oh, wait, but first, we got Discord! Who now, inspired by Twilight’s sacrifice, finally learns what friendship really means.
Look, here’s the thing, she didn’t just sacrifice her powers. She sacrificed the powers of three other alicorns, and by consequence, the fate of all of Equestria. She sacrificed something that wasn’t hers to sacrifice. This isn’t just a dick-move, it’s completely irresponsible!
But that aside, there’s something to Discord’s character development here.
We see our man not only betray his friends, but get subsequently betrayed in-turn. I said before that we couldn’t trust Discord anymore, but I’m officially backtracking on that. I think we can trust him once again. He finally learned about trust, and loyalty. Not merely by breaking his loyalty to the ponies, but by putting his trust in someone whom he had no reason to trust. Tirek was an egotistical megalomaniac from the very start, and didn’t show any sign of deviating from that, and yet Discord put his full trust in him. Why!? This is the moment he learned you can’t trust assholes. It’s the old ‘crime does not pay’ message. And then, at the end, he learns what it’s like to be betrayed. And if he has a tinge of empathy within him, which I’m almost certain he does, I don’t think he’s ever going to do this again. I think he finally figured it out.
And as a token of his second redemption, he gifts Twilight with the betrayal pendant. Which isn’t really a good sign, if I’m honest.
And then, they realize that something really contrived just happened.
So they head to the Harmony Chest, and use the pendant, which transforms into the final key, and they finally open the box! And what’s inside!?
I have no fucking idea! A rainbow, apparently!
The rainbow goes into the Tree of Harmony, which spreads to the branches and the elements, and back down to the ponies, then they turn into energy and go into the chest and each gets their own weird makeover.
Whomever designed these is a dick! There’s no way you can accidentally design something that hideous! It had to have been intentional! And I’m looking at these things, and am suddenly reminded of something: This was already foreshadowed in the toy line. They already manufactured a series of ‘Rainbow Power’ pony toys several months before the episode aired! So I assume the toy designers are the ones initially responsible. They’re still dicks. And the animators are dicks for adopting the exact same designs! I don’t see why they couldn’t just modify them, or tone them down a bit! That’s what they’ve done in the past! Celestia isn’t pink! The Equestria Girls don’t have cutie marks on their faces!
Regardless, I guess the idea they’re going for is the same idea that most superhero stories go with. A gaudy over-done costume to contrast with their day-to-day wear. But even then, I think they went a bit overboard here! I mean, look at the wings! And some of the colours clash terribly! They really should’ve rolled it back a bit. And why the fuck does Applejack have a bow in her hair!? That’s not her style!
But anyway, with their new super-makeup, the ponies now have a whole new power set, fresh from the Tree of Harmony! So of course, they quickly strip Tirek of his powers and blast him straight into next week, and then Tartarus!
And now, with all the magic recovered. The team quickly fly all over Equestria, which they now have the power to do–don’t question it, and restore the magic of everypony in the land.
So, victory! But it’s not over yet, as much as I wish it was. The team return to the Tree of Harmony, and the bulk of the magical energy (which I thought they absorbed–but apparently not) goes back into the Harmony Chest, which then flies up into the air, and buries itself on the outskirts of Ponyville, before suddenly growing into a giant tree-like castle…
Well, I give up.
Yes, Twilight has a new castle to replace her old library. So I hope she plans on keeping it open to the public since THEY NEED A NEW LIBRARY!!! And I’m actually blaming her for breaking it.
But it’s not just Twilight’s castle, it belongs to all six of them!
Even Spike gets a throne. A tiny throne, befitting the royal hanger-on.
Why is he relegated to the role of an accessory? Not getting a proper throne.
Anyway, we then get a terrible musical number as the episode, and with it the season, ends. So what did I think?
I was really critical of this episode, but that’s mainly due to Celestia’s incompetence, and a few minor plot holes.
Overall, it was quite enjoyable. A fun ride with some decent character development from Discord. And really, I don’t think Discord gets enough character development. I hope we see more of him next season… much more. I mean, it’s not like John de Lancie’s got a lot going on. Not since he was killed off of Torchwood.
The biggest problem I find is actually a problem with the season’s arc. This idea that one should just wait for life to happen to them, instead of going after it on their own. And I don’t think that’s the best message to send children. I mean if I operated that way, I wouldn’t be back at college, on my way to becoming a monumentally successful computer programmer, would I?
And really, I find this very misogynistic. I did mention this earlier, and I think it’s time I explained. You see, it’s very stereotypically female to be the one waiting for things to happen. To put this in context, traditionally it’s the man who approaches the girl, and asks the girl out, and asks her to marry him. You rarely see the reverse happen. I remember it happening to me once, by a 40-year-old math teacher. We were at a bar, I was drinking alone, she approached me and started chatting. And yeah, I found it very flattering regardless, but she really wasn’t my type. Plus, it was a dark room, and she was shocked to find out I was in my twenties. I was wearing a suit at the time, so I guess it’s an easy mistake to make. I think it was the only time in my life when someone thought I was older than I actually was.
But my point is, the reverse very rarely happens. You rarely see a girl ask a boy out. In fact, in most places, it’s considered quite uncouth. In the UK, for instance, there is a tradition that a woman can only propose marriage on one day out of the year, February 29th. That’s right, the day that only happens once every four years! Only one day, out of 1,461 days, is the woman allowed the privilege of making the first move. I’d like to think we’ve moved past this, but it appears My Little Pony has not.
And sure, in this case, we’re not talking about romance. We’re talking about the safety of all of Equestria! I’m sure we all presumed that the chest contained some type of superweapon to replace the elements, which would come in handy during the next big two-episode crisis. You’d think they’d feel some level of urgency. But they just forget about the chest for the entirety of the season. We get Twilight searching her books for some sign of the chest in the very first episode after the première, but then she just forgets about it! A diagram of the chest appears in the background of another episode, but there’s no indication that Twilight’s actually doing anything with it!
It appeared as if they expected the keys to fall from the sky. And that’s extremely problematic. I’d like to think Rainbow Dash, at least, would be a bit more proactive. I’d like to think she’d be pestering Twilight on a regular basis: “Anything new on the chest? Huh? Huh? Any clues, any finds, any leads? Anything? Anything? Huh? Huh? Huh?”
But we don’t get that. None of them even seem to care! I’m sure if they were stallions, the writers would have no problem filling the season with episode after episode of adventure after adventure, all in their search for the keys.
I’ve yammered on enough about this issue, I think my point is made. Besides, it would’ve made the arc more interesting, as it follows a continual narrative and shows our heroes taking some level of initiative. We could also see them take very different approaches in the search. Rainbow Dash would decide to just go in and manually search every nook and cranny. Twilight and Applejack would each follow the clues before them, but Twilight would analyse the clues as an academic, and Applejack would read them in a more literal sense. (If you want to know what I mean by this, think of the “Speak ‘Friend’ and Enter” puzzle from Lord of the Rings. Twilight is Gandalf, and Applejack would get it right.) Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie would each take a more passive role, Fluttershy because she’s apprehensive and afraid, and Pinkie because she just doesn’t care. And Rarity would end up distracted by pretty gems.
I would’ve loved to have seen this. But that didn’t happen. And that is why I think the arc was the worst thing that could’ve happened to the season. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they took the chance. I’m just upset that they squandered one of the best opportunities at character development they’ve ever had!
But the good news is that this terrible arc was only a small part of the overall season, and the rest of it was fan-bloody-tastic!
After the disaster of season three, this season felt like a return to form. Sure, there were a few missteps throughout. But overall, it’s been well above par. We had some great moments, great jokes, great character development, and great fun. And to prove it, I can think of no better way than to go through them. So without further adieu, here are my top ten episodes from season four:
- Bats! – We had Fluttershy caught between her own morality and her friends, when Twilight’s magical solution to a fruit bat problem requires her assistance. The result was a very interesting approach to character development. Oh, and the magical solution appeared to be a mind-control spell. What could possibly go right?
- Inspiration Manifestation – I honestly didn’t expect an entire episode devoted to the fact that you shouldn’t blow smoke up someone’s ass. That alone makes me love this episode.
- Somepony to Watch Over Me – Apple Bloom’s precociousness takes centre stage as she proves that she’s the smartest one in her family, no matter what Applejack tries to condescend.
- Castle Mane-ia – My Little Pony meets a haunted house with classic animated slapstick. Not much in the way of characterization, but just a really funny episode.
- Equestria Games – A great episode dealing with Spike’s feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. It’s only fault being the fact that there was no scene with the Cutie Mark Crusaders attempting to cheer Spike up. I still think that was a horribly missed opportunity.
- Leap of Faith – The very fact that we have an episode where Applejack debunks two snake-oil salesmen is enough to make this one of my favourite episodes ever. I can only hope it managed to convince at least a few people that skepticism isn’t such a bad thing.
- Princess Twilight Sparkle – The best way to open the new season, I feel. We have Twilight getting used to her new role, and her friends realizing she’s still the same Twilight she’s always been, and she shouldn’t be treated any differently because of it. It was the best possible way to follow-up her transformation, if you ask me.
- Simple Ways – A rare romance episode with Rarity losing her mind. All because her crush has a crush on Applejack, who’s not interested. Very confusing, but very fun.
- Power Ponies – The ponies turn into superheroes, and we learn exactly how easily Spike gets discouraged. Which certainly pays off in a future episode. The episode’s only fault, I find, was that they learned to control their powers too quickly. But given time constraints, and the fact that it probably wouldn’t have added much, I can forgive it.
- For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils – The last time we got a glimpse of Luna’s dream sharing powers, they weren’t utilized very well, and ended up overshadowing the main plot, which it should’ve merely enhanced. This time, Luna’s appearance complemented Sweetie Belle’s story very well, and their dream went in many weird directions, all coming together with the two of them working together to save Rarity’s future. And of course, we also got some substantial development from Sweetie Belle, as she gained a bit of perspective regarding her relationship with Rarity. All thanks to Princess Dom Cobb!
But of course, let’s keep a bit of perspective. The season wasn’t perfect, and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t remind you of that. Here are my bottom six episodes for season four:
- Maud Pie – Hey, we got this brand new character who might be halfway interesting! Let’s instead make her really boring! And while we’re at it, let’s claim she’s really smart, without proving it in any way! In fact, let’s make it look like her intelligence is on the same level as a seven-year-old! Pricks…
- Testing Testing 1, 2, 3 – Contrived and confusing, our main characters continually try to teach Rainbow Dash Wonderbolts history, using varied methods, but give up way too easily. Perhaps they could’ve done a bit of tweaking here or there. But no, give up after the first attempt and make some crap up about Rainbow subconsciously learning everything while flying!
- Pinkie Apple Pie – A family road trip keeps going wrong, all while Pinkie continues to have a smile on her face, oblivious to the world around her. This is the episode where I finally learned to hate her. Thanks a lot, writers!
- Twilight Time – Twilight being an idiot, and the entire background cast being manipulative and shallow, as a mob finds themselves desperate to meet the local librarian, just because she’s a Princess. And it ended with Twilight showing herself to be a horrible friend, and the Crusaders learning something when they were the ones least in need of a lesson.
- Rarity Takes Manehattan – Rarity gives someone an entire roll of one-of-a-kind fabric, and is shocked when they actually use it. Why were we supposed to feel sympathy for her again?
Now, last and most certainly least…
- Daring Don’t – It didn’t make sense in-universe, or out-of-universe. Why would a world-class adventurer publish her exploits for the entire world to see? Especially if, as she puts it, “[her] work always involves secrets”? Why would anyone be excited for the next book if the books are always about how the world nearly ended? And why even write her as a real character when they could’ve easily maintained the idea that the books were just works of fiction? So basically, it was shit.
But these episodes were in the minority, as you can tell by the fact that there are only six of them. Most of the episodes were great, and I can only assume this level of quality will be maintained for next season. With the new castle, and the ponies’ new Mighty Morphin’ Ranger powers, we’re probably looking at another shake-up, much like what was provided by Twilight’s transformation. I hope they take full advantage of this, without making our heroes arrogant, much like what happened to Twilight. I also hope they explore the minor characters more frequently, because let’s be honest, they don’t seem to be taking full advantage of what Discord, Spike, the Crusaders, and the Princesses have to offer.
But I can’t really demand anything can I? Only time will tell. And all that’s left is to wait for the next season. Unless something else pops up in the meantime.
Oh, yeah. Like that.
I’ll probably be back in a week.