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.
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.
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.
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.
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 😉