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I am having a sense of deja vu going on here. One year ago I was an Engineering student sitting down about to watch the opening to season 3 and to then having to write my rather disappointed review. Today I am a graduate sitting in my own place with my gf (and cat) by my side about to watch the opening to season 4 and then having to write my rather begrudging review. Actually come to think of it,  some things have changed quite a lot.

Well enough dilly dallying. Let's break down my reaction and explanations for my reactions to these two episodes. (Oh spoiler warnings by the way)


My gut feeling about this episode is that the story has a very stilted feel to it. The way the story was handled felt distant and impersonal (I do go into episodes blind, so I have no prior bias or expectation on what the story will be).

First off this episode feels like a clumsy hybrid. It is both a history episode *and* an action story. A large-ish portion of its time is spent in flashbacks recounting the history of the alicorn sisters and the elements of harmony. Whereas the rest of the plot revolves around dark plants and clouds invading ponyville and the disappearance of the alicorn sisters. The two types of story being told come together with an audible clunk. The encroaching disaster is depicted as something that everyone wants to solve but, only a small part of the flashbacks play a role in identifying the issue. Whilst the history segments reflect none of that prior agency, with Twilight merely watching and commenting on what is going on whilst everyone just watches her trance without any risk.

The episode also felt so distant because of how it handled the variables of the story. This story, like Canterlot Wedding (with Chrysalis) has a great important mystery to be revealed, which in this case was the “Tree of harmony”.

To start with, before this mystery is resolved, the plants start attacking and the plot just spends all its time reuniting the M6 after just splitting them apart. There are very few rules of engagement being established and no end in sight once they all get back together. This ,along with the mundane and mostly unrelated opening, constitute the whole first episode.

After Zecora -happens- to have the right potion that -happens- to be usable by only Twilight in a scenario where she can be in a trance for ages with no risk. The flashbacks are then eventually used to reveal the trees existence to the audience and that it will (probably) save the day. The reenactment on priorly established lore is mostly superfluous to the main story and only serves to distract from the main story.

With the mystery explained (such as it is) the rest does finally click more into place. We finally have an objective and aim, though I still don’t really know any of the rules, other than how we can win. It means there’s nothing much complex at stake other than our characters well being and actually finally reaching the final drop off point correctly. It reduced our final resolution to be rather binary, they either will win or lose with no middle or ambivalent ground in between.

I also felt very estranged from the characters. The M5 all come across as a single entity with 5 faces. But the M5 often act with one mind, and when the story does separate them, their stories often don’t matter for the greater plot, like when Rarity couldn’t use magic or AppleJack was complaining about the weeds. It brushes over their input and involvement by making them all take the same roles in the plot, such as when they all wish for Twilight to leave (more on that later). They felt less like characters and more like hangers on. Twilight takes the spotlight this episode, but her actions and emotions feel like those of the everyman. Her competence with spells and ability to think on her feet are rather absent, making her a bit of a simple minded pushover who can’t fly very well yet. As with the plot, Twilight’s role as a princess isn’t explained in much detail, we still don’t understand what she rules or has authority over and because of this we can’t really identify with her problems on any level. This all comes to a head in the 2nd part where the main 6 all tell Twilight to go back because she’s a princess. Here Twilight is a walkover to the herd mentality for a reason we cannot judge given our lack of understanding. It feels contrived and hollow, creating drama to pad out the plot.

On the topic of Twilight having to leave; this episode repeats the same mistakes as EG did.

That of creating short term issues and instantly resolving them. Twilight leaves the group and next scene turns around. The group split up and then have to reunite. There is a dangerous Rockodile (as I named it) and then they caught it. Twilight got her friends and now need to find a solution, a bottle with the means to solve it appears. But the bottle can only be used by an alicorn, but she is one! The issue with this again, is the lack of impact to many of the stories plot points. Most issues are raised and dropped on a dime, excluding the main storyline. There’s little sense of permanence to this story.


All in all. The above is why this story feels so empty and contrived for me. The fun of the story trickled away with the awkward structure, distant variables, bland characters and quick resolutions.


I do have a few more minor nitpicks that confused me:

  • Twilight is missing her wings in the start of the intro sequence (though they might be showing her change).

  • Snips & Snails are used in the pic of ponyvillans.... why give them prominent position?

  • Luna is clunkily added into the intro sequence.

  • The lighting in the stained glass room is very bright for some reason.

  • The M6 are away from Canterlot after MMC established the town as very dysfunctional.

  • If the princesses are captured. Why did the Sun rise? Since the Celebration requires Celestia to raise it. Why is the moon at the same height?

  • Why is AJ/Apple Family just trying to uproot the weeds with her mouth? She should have knowledge and tools to removing pesky weeds.

  • Why did Rarity's magic thing not play into anything later?

  • The clouds are never really explained as to their origin.

  • Why did AJ move to the town centre/hall?

  • Fluttershy left her cottage full of frightened animals, for no stated reason. I think she would’ve looked after them.

  • Ponyville is very barren. No townsfolk at all. Why did only the M5 stay around and be surprised by this incursion. Also Discord has two later on... from somewhere.

  • How did they know, or choose to teleport Discord to them?

  • The potion could only be opened with alicorn magic. But Twilight used what looked like Sombra’s dark magic. But that magic has been used by two unicorns, Twilight and Sombra.

  • Why are the group completely safe when they watch Twilight hallucinate?

  • Luna is fully grown in the flashback to start with and she originally ‘refused to lower the moon’ rather than form an eclipse.

  • NMM was only around for a few mins and is feared for centuries.

  • The element of magic was a complete mystery but is clearly used several times by Celestia & Luna. Why did this element get forgotten?

  • All the dialogue in the flashbacks are a bit too conveniently expository.

  • There’s a lot of convenient ropes that the M5 are pretty good at using to subdue their foes.

  • Why did they ask to separate if they knew they needed the elements? Why not take the elements with them?

  • How come they found the cave entrance so easily? And the stairs?

  • How did Twi fall so easily into the plants attacks? Are they local or parts of the dark seeds?

  • Why is everyone else so casual about defeating the plants?

  • Why did Luna/Celestia get freed last? They are closest and first to be abducted. Shouldn’t they be freed first?

  • Random box is random. Pretty contrived or given no reason to expect it.

  • Twilight's wings are inconsistently reliable. She can make a Sonic Twi Boom. She takes flight without noticing when anxious. But has difficulty remembering she can fly or even teleport great distances... also what is a SonicTwiBoom?

  • Why ,after this is over, didn’t they just take the elements back?

  • And if they know about the seeds, why not ask Discord to remove them? Why not remove them themselves? Did the placing of the elements destroy the seeds or not?

  • The M5 were needed by the Mayor, but they attend Canterlot at the end, despite Ponyville being in a state where they are probably needed more than ever.

These are just off the top of my head really.


In conclusion then.

These opening episodes seem to want to do two things at once, give us a history lesson and have a thrilling action story. But as they currently stand these two very different feeling parts of the story don’t mix.

The episode treats its context lazily, giving us just the information we need right when it needs it. It makes the whole experience feel kind of hollow rather than deep as any turn can be rationalized away by the plot due to how loose and unengaging the setting is.

I guess, in a way, this episode lives up to its namesake. Princess Twilight is still an enigma just like this story. The title and actions are supposed to be meaningful, but they are hollow and pretend.

To clarify things; I do not personally hate this episode. I can see it’s many flaws and failings, but honestly my response to this episode is ‘meh’. It failed to engage me and I can see many reasons why. I do not care for the story, setting or characters here. I feel apathy rather than direct dislike.
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:iconrune36232:
rune36232 Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2013
Byter, do you happen to like any episode after season 2? The show has not declined in quality, but from what I read here, you seem to hate every single episode. Heck, I'm actually starting to think that you wanted to do this, that you were planning from the very beginning to start reviewing all episodes past season 2 to show off your hatred towards something that I just can't quite put my finger on. No offense, but after all this criticism, you sound to be incredibly biased, you literally think that season 1 and 2 are perfect, I bet you are willing to defend any episode from those two seasons just to prove your point
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2013
I think you are projecting a little too hard there dude, if you tried any harder you could show off power point presentations at the office.

I am a critic, I critique things by being critical. Just because I see many flaws with S3-4 thus far, doesn't mean I think prior seasons are "perfect" or that I am biased. I have enjoyed some episodes post CW, I have disliked some episodes prior to CW.

This is all 'to the person' though (aka ad hominem). Instead of just looking at my character, perhaps you can look at what I have to say? Perhaps I have a few valid points about the show and we are getting hung up on what final conclusion I get from everything...?
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:iconnightmare060:
Nightmare060 Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013
This felt less like a review and more a list of all the negatives that didn't sit right with you. I can understand and even agree that the story structure was a little disjointed and there were a few plot contrivences here and there. Those are valid critiques. But as part of the bigger picture this is setting up allot of world building, had great character moments and set up the potential for a season wide story arc. There is allot to this episode and it feels like you scratched the surface to focus on the negatives.
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013
Could you explain the positives in a little more detail? World building isn't always a good thing, it depends on what purpose it is used. Good character moments? Sure tell me of them. Though how far does any one good moment go? Potential for future arcs is something that depends heavily on how it'll be actually implemented, potential means nothing if it is never used, and currently we don't know how well future arcs will play out.

Why do you think I've only scratched the surface? I cover the characters, story structure and contrivances, big issues in my book. Why does (currently unspecified) world building or potential count for so much, or small character moments so important compared to the work as a whole?


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:iconnightmare060:
Nightmare060 Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013
I'll upload the script to my review to my DA soon and link it to you. I'd share my video, but WMM made the quality shit so I'd rather not share that.

Biggest positives I can say off the top of my head is Discord. Showing subtle character development while still keeping him as his chaotic self. Not to mention Twilight's character not abruptly changing post Alicorn ascension, the weight to Celestia's emotions over her sister and the potential for a creation myth in future episodes via the tree of harmony.
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013
To keep the quality for WMM, go to 'save movie' and then 'save for high definition display' (for W7).  Sure, link me when they go up.

Hmm, I always say that  'character development' is a very complex claim. One needs to show what the character was, has gone through and how they have changed and then establish what this means. Discord still is an unreadable character for me, his chaotic & lying nature makes his actual nature and meaning always suspect, which makes, making claims about him even harder.

What does Twilight not being changed (after MMC makes it seem like a big deal) a good thing? Isn't that inconsistent? Meh.

What do you mean by weight? Her personal weight, the impact it imparts via the story? Just having unspecified weight doesn't mean anything to me.

Again. What does the potential mean? Potential isn't automatically a good thing. We need to establish what the nature of the potential 'is' and 'will' be used. Before we can jump to conclusions about what that potential means.
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:iconnightmare060:
Nightmare060 Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013
fav.me/d6wfkge Here is my review BTW. Not edited much so it still reads like a video script.
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:iconnightmare060:
Nightmare060 Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013
I always saw Discord as someone who was not evil, more Chaotic Neutral. He caused chaos for his own amusement, rather than any personal malice. I see him as developing more towards Chaotic Good post Keep Calm and Flutter on. I'm seeing his sarcastic, under handed comments on Twilight's status as a princess as being subtle in encoraging her to return to her friends (The scene was very rushed, I do agree). It's still early days, but it's worth considering that for Discord to be true to his base character, he can't COMPLETELY abandon his chaotic nature. He is the embodyment of chaos in a single being. It's more how he goes about that chaos and the results of his actions.

It's not inconsistant to suddenly change a character's personality out of left field. Her change is that she is now taking on the challenges of a princess and trying to live up to that title, while still connecting with her friends. He's a marker for character development, but she hasn't become a Mary Sue like many feared. THAT is the good thing.

What I mean by weight is that we have evidence to validate Celestia's emotions. Show don't tell, after all. Despite the contrived nature of getting there, we still had a vision of Celestia's battle with Nightmare Moon. We see her current relief and pride in her sister's reformation and we see her heart break in banishing Luna to the Moon, using the elements of harmony. We've seen through the voice acting, animation and story events more of Celestia's emotions and character beliefs.

Potential means we have a good foundation for expansion. It's also showing that magic is not only open to manipulation, but there are varying degreese of magical power and that magic has it's limitations. Without the elements, the magic in the tree of harmony was a limited resource. Now we have a great set up for a season wide story arc and a mystery of what can become.

The foundation is good. Will the rest be good? Can't say. But it doesn't make this a bad start.
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2013
This whole episode is Discord playing the M6 for chumps with some batman gambit. If that's the case, perhaps his 'reformation' is just another batman gambit for future gambits such as this one? Your perspective is very similar to that of the M6's, but they are the very people he is going to try (and has) fooled.
I as a proper skeptic see his machinations as very suspect, his 'reformation' is still weak source. Discord's plans can be anything the writers want and as long as he can continue to fool the M6, he can fool the audience into thinking he's changed at all. I can see your angle, but also think you could also be fooling yourself into his plans.

Erm what?
Inconsistent: adj: not staying the same throughout.
"It's not inconsistent to suddenly change a character's personality out of left field."
How isn't a "sudden change" not inconsistent? A "change" is the opposite of "the same" which thus should for fill the "not staying the same" condition.

I agree that her not being a Mary Sue is a good thing, but it doesn't make the episode good. It was also good that she wasn't turned into a pizza. The lack of terrible ideas or plot directions doesn't qualify something as being objectively good.

Except that Celestia "told" us her emotions at the start, her emotions in the flashback with NMM was already known, from before and from the prior episode. So it showed us a thing it's already told us twice. Again, how does this emotion validate the episode? Her emotions aren't important for this story arc, because the story isn't about her but the M6, or have you forgotten?

You again, haven't explained why anyone should care about this apparent foundation. There's a difference between explaining your logic, and explaining what you think in universe could happen. A foundation is an easy thing to do, anything that changes things up could be called a foundation. That still doesn't effect the quality of the episode, or tell us anything about things to come for certain.


To go back to a prior point. You say that I've only scratched the surface by talking about plot, characters, story and tone.
But all your points seem trivial, them not sucking at certain things, them changing things (even a little) and characters doing things or feeling an emotion once. They all don't seem to be stuck on the surface details and irrelevant pattern spotting.
I can see the plot, character story and tone being important to people watching the episode. But minor details and pattern spotting seems to be things that aren't often how people gauge quality. I cannot help but notice the irony in your claim, those things might be important to you, but it is you who is scratching the surface in breaking down how media can effect us...
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:iconnightmare060:
Nightmare060 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2013
Lets be clear; I said Discord is STARTING to show his reformation. It's subtle, it's not clear. But there are hints which I see being developed later on. See this is where I don't get your logic. His reformation was too rushed in Keep Calm and Flutter on, but at the same time it's still weak now that it's being done more garduly and with subtlety?

I think I may have made a typo in that sentence because even I don't understand that sentence. It WOULD BE inconsistant to suddenly change Twilight out of left field. Her character is REAMAINING Consistent while still being developed. She is not a Mary Sue because she still shows the character flaws she did before, just in a rejuvinated context. That's the strength of the show's writing; She's learning to take up her position as a princess and take command where needed, but still does not want to be seen as superior to her friends. Essentially, everything that people were worried about in Magical Mystery cure has not come true.

Celestia's emotions may not be relevent to the wider story in it's entirety, but why is it bad to still get character development and world building? This is a huge send off to a very important piece of magic in the show and we are still fleshing out Celestia's character as a whole. It would be bad if she only told us how she felt about Luna with nothing to show for it, but since we SAW it happen it has much more weight to it. Not only that, the flashbacks firmly establish what a risk the Mane 6 are taking and are setting up plot devices to be used in future. This is good world building because it's adding more intrigue and mechanics to the world as a whole.

Like I said in my review (albeit a bit hastily), I use the Caverns of Time as a comparison from the Warcraft universe, since it establishes it as an existing and timeless part of the world. Unlike the Alicorn potion, it isn't a contrivance to send players back to Warcraft's past. It's something that is explained enough so that we can accept it as an important part of the world and establish more drama.

It should be obvious why we should care about this foundation. The Mane 6 are, in the words of a good friend of mine, loosing their eqivilent of a Nuclear deterant. If something BIG comes along like Discord or Nightmare Moon, they are going to need more inventive ways or new magic to be established to deal with these threats. They can't just take out the elements of harmony again because it would upset a magical balance in the world, allowing a chaotic magic to take over. As we saw throughout the episode! We should care because it's doing what a good set up to a story arc should ALWAYS do; Give us a reason to keep watching through conflict and mystery. This is such a central part to any good piece of fiction, not just fantasy fiction, that it baffles me how you missed it.

My whole point in commenting here is that you didn't so much as fairly critique the episode as dig up mud to throw at it. You didn't explain what worked alongside what didn't work and you've missed some key aspects of basic story telling which should contribute to the value judgement as a whole.

Dragon Quest is one of my least favorite episodes because it never used any of the potential that could have become of the premise of that episode. We learn nothing about dragons beyond "Yeah, teenagers are jerks" (see my Warcraft analogy earlier for an example of how to set up a dragon mythos properly). The set up was fairly generic but at least it gave us a reason to keep watching; we want to find out more about Dragons. If following episodes do not carry on the set up of Princess Twilight Sparkle, then I will be one of the first people to call bullshit. But can't we accept the positive merits of the set up for an entire story arc on it's own terms rather than focus entirely on the nitpicks?
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2013
So his reformation is subtle, not clear, but you think you know what was actually depicted and thing that such a ambivalent progression is actually there?
Also, I like how you assume that my only issues with his reformation is pacing. For fun, I will let you keep guessing at my logic that you are trying to disprove.

Consistency by it's loosest definition can be easily affiliated with a lot of things. Twilight did go through a change, but how much this change will take effect is another matter.
Interestingly I have already looked in detail on her 'taking command' in my examination on leadership. Go there for detail. You really are obsessed about showing that she's not a Mary Sue. *shrug* I don't find this paranoid rhetoric cogent given that not taking an attribute I am paranoid about, or care about. I did cover her 'acsention' in my journal 'the magic of destiny ruins the magic of friendship'. If you want to see more apt rhetoric for my issues with it.

As I said in the msg you are replying to. It was already established. Development & world building usally need the details to be new ones, not old ones brought up again.

This show isn't Warcraft. In this show, the potion feels forced because such potions were not known about before and only arouse when it was needed. Equating a universe that does explain it's mechanics with one that doesn't, is silly.

But as I said, they could just retrieve their DeM devices. Also it depends on whether they will need them, or that they won't find another DeM power in the intermediate time. We still don't know enough to be certain on any of this. The finally 'good'ness of it we cannot ascertain at the moment.

If I would've seen anything positive I would have mentioned it. However I cannot see much positives with this episode, you have yet to show a logically consistent point. You just explain how you interpret things and then say it is good. Your logic seems to have a preassumed conclusion behind it. Most posotive points I could see, were also trivial (such as the animation of the sisters fight scene).

How are my points nitpicks? The "minor nitpicks" are ofc nitpicks though. But they aren't the core of the review. My general feeling was that the story was a hollow contrived and dissonant mess, these points are derived from the episode as a whole, because I work to avoid tunnel vision or rose tinted spectacles. Things happen, and one could love those things. But it's how the thing impresses its meaning as a whole that makes it art and not just fan pandering.
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:iconanimewolfgamer:
Animewolfgamer Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2013
I will never understand your pure negative to any episode after season 3. Also why does it bother you so much that luna, snip and snails to be in the the opening? That like turning down a piece of great artwork because one small thing makes the entire think clucky. 
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2013
After season 3 there's only been a 2 parter thus far. Given the lack of episodes out for S4 onwards currently, you only have this review to understand my perspective on that topic.

I don't like Snips & Snails, they are goofy characters that don't fit the show, and now they are given more prime position in the intro.
Luna is just cheaply added into the end of the intro sequence. I don't get why she is just to the side, or why a letter was being sent. Since now Twilight isn't Celestia's pupil anymore and doesn't need to document her lessons of friendship anymore.

Erm what? How is my main point in my journal about my nitpicks? My main issues was that of emptyness or lack of heart. Those aren't minor issues.
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:iconanimewolfgamer:
Animewolfgamer Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2013
Oops that I will admit is my mistake. I mean anything after season 2 but I know how you will say after this. 

So what about it? I may hate the two idiots but that doesn't mean the opening is shit and putting luna in doesn't seem any different anyway. 
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2013
Ah ok. ha ha. Yes I will reply via a comment here on DA with text, you have me sussed alright!

Who said the opening was shit? Putting Luna in is different from not having Luna there.

I don't see where you are going with this...
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:iconanimewolfgamer:
Animewolfgamer Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2013
What I'm saying is the opening any different when added those three. To me its still the same opening from the first episode only with some changes. 
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2013
"when added those three"? Erm what?

That's fine for you to find it to be the same opening with some changes. I don't hold that position though I think this opener is quite different from the original story.
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:iconbrony4869:
brony4869 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Have you . given a positive review for an episode? It s ike on every cbd that you always talk negatively about the topic episode and i just dont get it. Moving on though. From what your complaints are and just how you worded it, i get the sence that you were dead et on hating this two parter before you watched it because it was parts two and three to the Twilight alicorn princesshood plot that started with MMC and you thought that had been a isaster so obviously this would too. This episode was almost perfectly paced with a fantastically written plot that quite emotionally filled. The episode had only one hiccup: Zecora's potion. Not the necessity of the flashbacks ir what purpose the firt served because that was flawless. No, just Zecora having the potion and how she got it. The three flashbacks were all connected throught the fact that they were all about Celestia, Luna, and the EoH. Every instance about the elements of harmony and three of harmony before season one was shown. (I read the synopsis of the next episode so i am saying right now this bit if my argument is a bit spoilerish) the first flash back will more than likely have some use in the next episode when they go to the ruined old castle. Therefor it did have a pupose and wasn't just really nice padding.
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2013
I am very critical of this show to be sure and I haven't really enjoyed the decline of the show since S2.

I don't see how you got that feeling. These two episodes actually seem like they are trying to do damage control for MMC. Twilight is portrayed (mostly via songs) as this awesome supreme being that has ascended to even bigger greatness (or there abouts). This opener (without songs) is set apparently is 6-7 months later, has Twilight greatly dis-empowered (needs saving all the time, can't fly) and is confused (akward giving orders and splits from the party). Though the greater issues of not explaining anything/much are still present.

Perfectly paced? Explain. I would rarely say something is perfect. Because that infers an ideal.
Fantastically written plot? Well if fantastic = "imaginative or fanciful; remote from reality". I could kinda agree, partially.
That quite emotionally filled? Great. Where? Explain from where this emotion comes from.

"Not the necessity of the flashbacks ir what purpose the firt served because that was flawless." Erm what? I feel you are kind of rushing your comment. Please think over and proof read your comment. If you want to really communicate with me. You should give me enough respect to elucidate yourself. 

Well. I am avoiding all spoilers. So I will have to not read that argument until next week. Sorry. I take great lengths to remain unbiased (quite unlike you describe at the start of this comment.)

All in all. I don't think you are being completely fair to me. It's obvious that you adore this episode/show. But just because I am critical of it, doesn't mean I am biased or go into this with the wrong mentality. My criticisms are there for you to read and critique. You really should weigh what I have to say before you jump to assumptions about my character.
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:iconbrony4869:
brony4869 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
My apologies for not proofreading more. I usually do a good job of that. Not sure what happened there but surely you can figure out what my mistakes were and how to read it properly. I was just saying that he first flashback had its purpose and wasn't just padding. I haven't seen a decline since s2. If anything i saw an incline. I think the only truely bad episodes in season 3 for example were one bad apple, apple family reunion, spike at your service, and games ponies play. The best being arguable Too Many Pinkie Pies.

Yes, perfectly paced. The events of everything felt natural and smooth. Everything served its pupose in the storytelling and had well timed emotional build up when needed. It didnt feel rushed in the slightest. Its at least the best paced two parter. 

To nswer another part of your original post: the tree needs the elements to sustain itself now. That was sort of obvious. The elements might ot even be able to be removed for now. Possibly until the mane 6 die or some such. There would be o point because it would just be showing something that realy would ot need to be there and is assumed by the mane six to be rue and the audience should as well. That WAS the intention of the scene about them showing their concern for giving he elements up.
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2013
Ah ok. But no, those errors were crucial words that could change your meaning entirely, and they were so random I couldn't just correct the spelling.

"I was just saying that he first flashback had its purpose and wasn't just padding." Ok. Care to explain?

You still haven't defined to me how it was apt for an ideal. Maybe you think it was well paced or with good pacing? That would make more sense. Again, would you care to explain how it felt those things you describe.

*"To answer another..." *"might not be ..." *"be a point.." *"would not need..." *"to be true and"
Actually no that part isn't obvious. There's a lot of guesses and assumptions you are making there. I guess if we say the tree works like a magic capacitor it could work. But I don't think they tell us enough, which is why it's an issue in the first place.
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:iconsaltyoven:
saltyoven Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
One year ago I was an* Engineering student sitting down about to watch the opening to season 3 and to then having to write my rather disappointed review.
Let's* break down my reaction and explanations for my reactions to these two episodes.
The two stories* being told come* together with an audible clunk.
The encroaching disaster is depicted as something that everyone wants to solve but,* only a small part of the flashbacks play a role in identifying the issue.
After Zecora happens to have the right potion that happens to be useable* by only Twilight in a scenario where she can be in a trance for ages with no risk.
we have an* objective and aim finally.
But the M5 (no are) often act with one mind, and when the story does separate them,* their stories often don’t matter for the greater plot, like when Rarity couldn’t use magic or AppleJack was complaining about the weeds.
Here Twilight is a walkover to the group think for a reason we cannot judge given our lack of understanding. I have no Idea what you are saying here it's like you fused 2 sentences and instead of adding the other sentence to the end, you literally squeezed them together. the rockadile was the original name, but it was changed to cragadile btw
Snips & Snails are used in the pic of ponyvillains*.... why give them prominent position?
The M6 are away from Canterlot after MMC established the town as very dysfunctional*.
Why did the Sun rise*?
Why did Rarity's* magic thing not play into anything later?
Why did AJ move to the town center*/hall?
Why is* the group completely safe when they watch Twilight hallucinate?
All the dialogue in the flashbacks are a bit too conveniently expiratory. again I don't know what you're saying
Why not take the elements with them?*
Are they* local or parts of the dark seeds?
Twilight's* wings are inconsistently reliable.
And if they know about the seeds,* why* not ask Discord to remove them?
But as they currently stand these two very different* feeling parts of the story don’t mix.
It makes the whole experience feel kind of hollow rather than deep as any turn can be rationalized away by the plot due to how loose and unengaging the setting is. That's not what rationalized means. At all. HIPSTER BUZZWORD ALERT!
To clarify things,* I do not personally hate this episode.
also other buzzwords to avoid: "superflous" "estranged" "contrived" since you aren't using them correctly
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:iconsaltyoven:
saltyoven Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
yep, my bet still stands that you'll like 4 or less episodes this season. Please avoid using hipster buzzwords like "stilted," "estranged," first off the gut feeling. You're breaking the number 1 rule of how people got to be bronies in the first place: WATCH WITH AN OPEN MIND. I think this is probably the main reason why some don't like you. Personally, I'm not too bothered by the journals. I can't count how many people don't become fans if they follow preconceived notions. largish portion are flashbacks: the total runtime of all 3 of the flashbacks is 6 minutes and 20 seconds: 4 minutes 20 seconds from NMM, 1 minute of discord, and 1 minute for tree of harmony. this totals up for less than 1/6 of the entire episode. As for the opening having little to do with the plot, As for contrived...sort of. The only case of something being contrived was with zecora just happening to have a potion that only responded to alicorn magic. Finally Twilight has been depicted as the everyman since season 1. Do I need to remind you of the giggle at the ghosties where Twilight said "tell me she's not." That right there reflected what most people watching the show thought at that exact same time. As for the minor nitpicks, no one else cares about them but you. Seriously, those are things cinema sins would say. I'd like to see you do better, but you know what they say, "you can lead a pony to water, but you can't tell them to drink." My next comment will attempt to fix your grammatical errors. Hey, if you can have a cinema sins list of nitpicks, I can be a grammar Nazi
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
Hipster? I didn't know that subculture now have taken over those words... or that subculture mattered when using these words. *Shrug*

I don't see how a gut feeling I get from watching the episode relates to my conceptions of the episode before it. Reading most of this comment. It seems that you have gone into my journal with a very closed mind.

I think some of the nitpicks are things people have shown interest in. Someone here even tried to explain 'all' of them. So that's hardly "no one" cares... You are jumping a little to far with your conclusion there.

I like how in your opening comment you imply that you cannot help me. Isn't that kinda more just admitting to a self defeating nature? You should tell them why to drink it. Not just lead them there without seeming reasonable.

How can a list of nitpicks justify becoming a grammar Nazi? Someone noticed minor flaws in a show, therefore they must use strictly proper grammatical structure? On that subject, what about the grammar in this comment? No paragraphs and sentences with very confusing sentence structure. It doesn't seem you are exactly the master of practical grammar from this comment.
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:icontoxicwyvern:
ToxicWyvern Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This episode definitely felt like it was flipping back and forth between telling its own story and fleshing out previous events.  However, most of the flashbacks were at least relevant to the main story ( finding where the elements came from, and why the forest was attacking the town in the first place). 

"But the M5 are often act with one mind, and when the story does separate them their stories often don’t matter for the greater plot,"
Part of the issue is that even though this show is called Friendship is Magic, the story is mainly about Twilight and her story.  This means that the season bookends will focus on Twilight.  

At least the rest of the Mane 6 got to be part of the main story of this one instead of fooling around at a fair like in The Crystal Empire.


"Her competence with spells and ability to think on her feet are rather absent, making her a bit of a simple minded pushover who can’t fly very well yet"

Twilight really seemed to be out of her element in the beginning of the episode but she was able to work out how to save the town.  
 

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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
This episode did feel like it was trying to cover the cracks of prior seasons. It also seemed to want to tell us Twilight is just the same as ever, despite her mystical importance in MMC.
I don't think all the flashbacks were relevant though. What did NMM's flashback provide? What did it mean to us the audience and to Twilight? Other than show us what we knew on a plot unrelated to this one?
The existence of the tree was helpful, but how it wold be useful is unexplained. The cause of the whole problem (seeds) is only revealed at the end.
The explanation of what's needed in the plot, is mostly done via these flashbacks and they told us very little. Compare this to How Discord, NMM & Sombre was introduced. They were all explained right at the start, with a lot less ambiguity to how things will be resolved.

Yeh. I agree. The show focuses too much on Twilight in the bookends. It's still an issue when the M5 are supposed to be important characters to us. I don't think they got much more to really do this episode, other than save Twilight's hide. But it's an improvement I guess.

I think they wanted to dis empower Twilight this opener. But as above, she is still the focus. She is still the one who everything revolves around. She kinda does figure things out, but mostly via running around like a headless chicken and happening to do or find the right things at the right time...
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:icontoxicwyvern:
ToxicWyvern Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I agree with you about the Nightmare Moon Flash back being out of place.  While it was actually interesting to  see the rise and fall of Nightmare Moon, more time could have been spent fleshing out the conflict Twilight had with her friends.  This episode spends a bit too much time setting up for the adventure and not enough time fleshing out the conflict with in the adventure. 


One thing I liked was that the Elements of Harmony won't be used anymore. The mane 6 might end up using what they learned to defeat villains instead of just defeating them in one blast. 
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2013
Yeh I agree the adventure felt so rushed, it took them 30mins or so to set up a vague journey to get to the tree.

I agree, I am glad to see that particular macguffin's put to rest (for now). But they didn't leave macguffinless, they have that box. We'll have to wait and see if they really do have to use a proper ending in future....
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:iconkittysan101:
Kittysan101 Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
When it comes to Luna's form I think that it changes depending on her power level--which is why she looked different right after being defeating but normal in both the flashbacks from this episode and from the season 3 opener. 

As for the rest, I pretty much agree with you. A lot of the episode seemed more contrived than anything else, which is a shame. I did appreciate Rarity having some time to shine (as her appearances were rather sparse last season), however the lack of follow-up with her horn-conflict made some of her screen-time seem completely unnecessary.

Al-in-all they seemed to try and clam too much into one episode. 

Also is it just me or is Pinkie Pie developing somewhat of a Homer Simpson-sydrome? (I.e. Getting dummer or played more and more for laughs as seasons go by). Maybe I'm just becoming less tolerable of her antics, but her actions in these episodes seemed prettymuch just there for slap-stick. 

Mind you looks like we're being let up for a long-term arc, what with the box. Maybe the keys will be found in different areas. Maybe the Mane six will find themselves travelling more and we'll get some world building and new characters. Could make for an interesting break from the same old Ponyville-Canterlot dynamic and same old side-characters. 

I think the best way I could describe my feelings for this season's opener is cautiously optimistic. I didn't think they were amazing, and there were a lot of flaws, but they were far more tolerable than the majority of season 3 episodes. 
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013
I don't know. They never really say anything about her power level-ness. It's kinda weird to equate physical size and mane type to power levels. Though her sudden aging in S2 was kinda weird. But we don't know how she looked in the past, other than the opening books diagrams. I think her mane and look was of low-power Luna...

Rarity had a bit of time yeh. But they did throw any of that context out the window. I like Rarity too but not when she is so underutilized.

Agreed.

Pinkie this episode did nothing but silly antics. She had near to no character. So I do think she seemed to suffer from Homer Simpson Syndrome.

We'll really have to wait and see for the box. At the moment we know nothing about it. It will be a nice change not relying on the elements. The arc of finding keys could be done in a very interesting way.

I do agree this episode was more tolerable. It wasn't a painful slapstick eccentric episode. It's mostly forgettable. And if that's the new direction for S4. I do see that as an improvement. :3
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:iconkittysan101:
Kittysan101 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
A side thought here that I didn't include before but, when you think about it, that Twi-boom was actually a rather horrible thing for Twilight to have done as a character. 

I mean, Celestia confides to Twilight in private that this is the first Summer Sun Celebration that she can enjoy in a thousand years because, to her, it represents the return of her sister. 

Then she reiterates this to her subjects and starts the ceremony. This is a moment she's been wanting for so long. A symbolic reconciliation between her and her sister which, by now, both the audience and Twilight knows is really important to her. 

Then, all of a sudden, BOOM. Thought you were going to be able to celebrate the return of your sister and the celebration you've been wishing you could share with her  for 1,000 years. Nope. Twilights gotta do a Twi-boom on, what seems to be, a knee-jerk reaction. 

To upstage your mentor like that, especially when it comes to something that obviously has so much symbolic importance to her and her sister, is literally just abysmal behavior. It's moments like that which make me question whether the people who made this episode were actually concerned with the characters and their personal motivations and mannerisms or whether they just wanted to do stuff because it looks 'cool'.

Also, now that I think about it, how is season 4 a viable point for only one year having passed in the previous seasons? Sure, we've only seen one Nightmare Night, Running of the Leaves, Applebuck season, Zap apples season and Cider season but we've seen at least two winter-related episodes which showed that the show has previously gone through at least two-years worth of winter weather. 

I really struggle to conceive that everything that has happened in the previous seasons only occurred within the span of one year. That is incredibly jarring. 

Anyway this side though got rather long so I'll leave it there. There is a lot I could say about this episode but I think I've put forward some of my main irks. 
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
Hmm. That certainly is one possible reading into the story, though I doubt that was their intention.

Twilight does mention not being " ready to perform my part." and it's implied that she has royal duties that she's doing with the other princesses for the celebration in Canterlot. The Two Sisters also do not seem upset by her display. I don't think that it was meant to come across as something done on a whim it was vaguely foreshadowed before.

I think it's just the vagueness and pacing of the source material that appears reckless rather than it trying to make Twilight reckless. We had no clue as to what her involvement would be, they just rushed the ending with very little explanation. She was going to have a role, it just jumped out at us that the role was to put on a hitherto unexplained light show.

Yeh it does seem to imply that only a year has passed. Which is really troubling. But this like a lot else in the show thus far, it will probably be left unanswered.
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:iconkittysan101:
Kittysan101 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Well Lauren suggested (on the fly, though, I have to say) that it was a power level kind of thing when asked:
And for now it seems like the most reasonable explanation (we have no other) so it's what I typically take as near-canon. 

We've seen Luna looking like she does now in the past previously from her silhouette in the sombre flash-back.

But, as for the book illustration, I don't think we can consider that a reliable rendition of how either of the Princess look (even just within the Season 1 context). Appearance-wise Celestia's mane and wings are completely off for a start. Also, even if the colour scheme resembled lil' Luna the height certainly doesn't. So, regardless, it's not unreasonable to speculate that the appearance change was an inevitable progression of Luna's character, even if it does lead to some confusion (what with no in-show explanation).  
Regardless the flashbacks did make a few drastic changes to the book's stories that might have upset the order a bit. Then again so has a magical tree of harmony which magically has our main mare's cutie mark as its center piece. Must be from all that friendship Oh Brother... 
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
Hmm. I wouldn't put too much stock into an answer on the fly by someone who wasn't even running the show anymore at that point. The most common ground we all have is that it's not explained (very well), yeh. Though it does seem that S1 her as a younger sister and now that's being retconned by future seasons for her to always looking more mature. The book and EoH transformation can at least be brushed off as being historically inaccurate or a special event I guess.

Yeh I don't get the purpose of the symbolism with the tree. Probably more destiny symbolism bull. 
Maybe (as I suggested jokingly in the podcast) Twilight and the sisters are descended from the tree and alicorn-dom is only half way along the line to returning to be a tree (as only alicorns have meaningfully interacted with the tree). That the show will conclude with Twilight becoming a new tree and Fluttershy being really jealous!
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:icongogogadgethat:
Gogogadgethat Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013
...

...

...

...

Tell me something, Byter. Is there a single episode of the show after season 1 that you actually like? And for that matter, what is is that you actually look for in an episode in order to like it?
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013
I do actually kinda prefer Season 2 over 1. I enjoy that season (2) as well.

In order for me to like an episode personally. I just need sufficient reason to be engaged by the story, characters or setting.

But that's my own petty preferences. In terms of the quality what an episode contains. I need it to pack meaningful elements in correct accordance with the episodes' aims. This opener to season 4 has some crucial flaws that undermine it's story.

Compared to Canterlot Wedding, the way this episode handled its mystery us much more ham handed. The reveal of the mystery takes over 1 episode to do, and is done so clunkily. The rest of the story around it feels less appreciable and deep than even Canterlot Wedding. The troubles of our characters are having being more distant and abstract or short term and petty than CW.
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:icongogogadgethat:
Gogogadgethat Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013
Uh-huh. So, who's this Mr. Enter I keep hearing about?
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013
I don't know, what context do you keep hearing about him?
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:icongogogadgethat:
Gogogadgethat Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013
You mentioned him on your own profile as part of a "hate ship?" and in one of your reviews when you asked someone if he had sent them to you.
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013
He is a youtuber who doesn't think I am a good reviewer. He was mentioned because he kinda hates me, thus hate ship. Also some of the dislike from others are just echos from his youtube videos.
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:icongogogadgethat:
Gogogadgethat Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
Took a glance at his channel, it would seem that you two have quite the rivalry going on.
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
Yea that is quite true.
I write my reviews. He 11 months later takes umbrage with them. Though I think he might be a little faster on the uptake for S4 ;)
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(1 Reply)
:iconbiasedeyes:
biasedeyes Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2013
Ah well. What happened to the show that was all about the personalities and friendships of six ponies?
Why did it suddenly turn into the show about "The Forgotten Spell of Starswirl the Bearded" and "Six keys strewn across Equestria"?
I actually think that this episode was decently done, but it no longer fits the same genre which seasons 1 and 2 did.
Incidentally, I also think your suspension of disbelief is badly broken, and in need of repair. While some of the issues you raise are quite valid, few are beyond explaination, and most are ancillary to the plot. Several of the points you mention just didn't seem like issues to me, and others can be easily explained. I don't quite feel like giving you a point by point (especially because some of your issues are more unresolvable than others), but I can't resist giving you my take on the sonic Twiboom.
I don't think that it is a sonic Twiboom, actually, despite the visual similarity to a Rainboom. It doesn't seem like a displacement of the air at all, so much as Twilight casting a light manipulation spell while flying as fast as she can... you'd think she'd know better than to plagiarize her show material from her friends though. o_o

Your concerns about the flavor of the show, particularly the fear that the main five might become a hydra, are all unfortunately valid though.
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013
The more extravagant openers and closing episodes have all been very distances from our main cast's personalities and even their friendship (excluding GGG). They are more like cardboard cut outs milling about with DeM devices than characters.

Are you talking about my nitpicks? In regards to suspension of disbelief and explanations? It is why I call them nitpicks. They are little problems or things I don't get. I recognize that they aren't all that big or important or explainable. But together they make a sizable list. Each of them are little flaws of the story that I could drum up on this first impression.

In regards to the Twiboom. This, like most of the lore. Is not explained. It just appears out of nowhere. The crucial difference isn't whether there's a possible explanation. But how the story presents its lore to us. The sonic rainboom had it's own episode built around it. The sonicTwiboom is a unexplained footnote to a episode about history and the Everfree invading (both of which are really vague as it is). I see your explanation. But still dislike how they introduce it without any work or effort on their part.

Hopefully in the latter episodes of the show. The M5 become individuals again. They often are treated like a hydra in the opening and ending arcs, this episode just felt even more so than useral.
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:iconbiasedeyes:
biasedeyes Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013
The first opener, as well as The Return of Harmony, also played very much on the characters of the main cast, though perhaps curtailing their free will to an extent.

You seem to be looking for holes... Suspension of disbelief involves first assuming that the holes have some explanation, and only really probing when there's some sort of unbelievable failure. I can see what you mean with your nitpicks, but I can instantly come up with reasonable explanations to around half of them, so I think you're being too picky.

Yes, the Twiboom is intellectually lazy.

I know. :(
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013
The prior episodes did have more deep characters and arcs than this opener. But I think my discomfort comes from how those conflicts were always resolved. Bug magic villain appears, so they must use their big magic mcguffin.

I do find this story to be a pretty big failure, so here I do see reason to question most of what's going on (particularly given the state of the lore.). I also do not ever let my suspension of disbelief cloud my judgement on where there are holes or unexplained details. For example I do like Canterlot Wedding, but I do recognize that the thing has some huge unexplained areas that don't make much sense. I like it warts and all, rather than liking it and trying to cover up it's warts.

Twiboom just wanted to be a firework, to involve all the Princesses of Equestria. It had the heart. Just none of the meaning or context to make its meaning clear or sensical.
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:iconbiasedeyes:
biasedeyes Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
Why did you find the story to be such a big failure? It seems that the main issue is that you feel estranged from the characters (I agree with you here), not that the story is utter crap. The first and second season starters seem to have the same issue with variable handling as you note here, Hearth's Warming Eve is an episode of almost nothing but backstory with little to do with the characters, and creating issues which resolve instantly is common to almost all the episodes (and fiction in general!). It would seem to me that the story was no worse than other epsiodes (which were actually good), and that you are trying to justify your negative impression by shifting it to the plot.
Do you think the sense of distance from the characters is leftover from the previous season, or a real problem between the writers and animators? (I'm hoping the former, but suspect the latter.)

Ha! You have a character based motivation for the Twiboom (I didn't)! That's so adorably insecure of her. What more does it need to be clear and sensical than a physical and emotional explanation?*

*Two of the above questions are absolutely sincere, and one is rhetorical and slightly sarcastic. In order to help distinguish and prevent you from reading the sincere questions as sarcastic, I have marked the only rhetorical one with an asterisk.
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
" not that the story is utter crap" actually no. I did go to great lengths to show how the story felt like an utter mess.

" The first and second season starters seem to have the same issue with variable handling as you note here". Though I will argue that those episodes were more simple and focused than this season starter. They take much longer time establishing the direction of the narrative rather than flapping around at random.

"Hearth's Warming Eve is an episode of almost nothing but backstory with little to do with the characters" Agreed, and in that episodes case. That was it's focus. This opener also wants to be a grand action story about Twilight accepting her new role and that she's still one of the M6.

"and creating issues which resolve instantly is common to almost all the episodes (and fiction in general!)." I would have to disagree with you on that. Most issues are resolved in fiction. But those resolutions aren't instantaneous nor do they have repercussions. This opener resolves most of its issues by the next scene. Which trivializes most of its issues. Discord tearing apart the M6 took an episode and a bit to complete and was a growing issue that climaxed with Twilight giving up. Twilight splits up with the party for a contrived reason and next scene instantly is told the moral of the story and turns back. One has build up and pay off, the other is instantaneous weak and contrived.

"It would seem to me that the story was no worse than other epsiodes" I don't see how that works. As I said instant contrivance is less pathartic than rational(ized) consequence built up over suitable time.

" that you are trying to justify your negative impression by shifting it to the plot." Well if the plot is indeed a reason why I had a negative impression. It would certainly be something that could justify my reaction.


I claimed that it was just a firework, but that it was nonsensical due to the lack of clear context given for it. I am not sure how it's final manifestation is a character motivation, given how little I can correlate any of their intentions with their actions. I just think it wanted to be a conclusion to the episode by using a visual effect...?
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:iconbiasedeyes:
biasedeyes Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
Perhaps story means something more comprehensive to you?* I'm talking about the plotting, not dialogue or pacing or anything...

Actually, you're correct. The physical challenge isn't foreshadowed right away. Instead, Twilight's greenness is. Perhaps you feel this isn't resolved due to the distance from the characters? If so, I agree with you, Twilight still seems somewhat aloof.

Not all issues are resolved right away. In this case the persistent issues are the kidnapping of the princesses, the social wedge between Twilight and her friends, and the invasion by the Everfree. I believe your original example was that Zecora had a potion which interacted with alicorn magic, which is a nitpick at best.

'pathartic' doesn't come up on a Google search.

Well, whatever. I don't really see any big problems with the episode other than the marginalization of the Mane 5.

The context is that Twilight wants to show that she can do Princess stuff too...? The context is a celebration of the Summer Sun, and of the royalty who make it happen...? Considering that I can provide both a reasonable physical and character-based explanation for it, I doubt it was an animation error.
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:iconbyter75:
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
By what do you mean by plotting? "To conceive and arrange the action and incidents of"? Or "To form or take part in a plot; scheme."?   Both relevent definitions. Refer back to 'plot': "The pattern of events or main story in a narrative or drama." source: www.thefreedictionary.com/plot…
I probably do mean a lot more than you do when I talk about 'story' than just a focus on the events devoid of their context. I mean you might have the best plot imaginable, but poor dialogue, presentation and pacing will still kill that potential. As such, one shouldn't look at the plot in a vacuum, because context matters.

There is a disconnect between some of the elements in this story/plot. To draw an example: Twilight's new role of leadership isn't explored as much as it is displayed or brought up this episode. She gives some orders at the start (to the guards), but with no longer term impact or examination of what those orders did or meant in this opening, it's rather pointless. She watches the Sisters history and comments on it from time to time, but the sisters are using/finding macguffins, not being leaders for her to take inspiration from for her own leadership qualities. This comes to a crux when AJ tells her that her leadership needs to be protected (as justification for the split up). We still haven't seen or can appreciate from where AJ is coming from thematically. Actually all she's seen is that our current leaders are the macguffin users, which is actually a reason to stay with the group. Her only orders and responsibilities, don't matter or are now irreverent (guards find princesses order being forgotten/pointless, or her role in the summer sun celebration respectively).
So no, my justification isn't only on a character level. When Twilight did have those issues of leadership brought up to her. She did feel generic and bland (or yeh, aloof). But that's partly because from the examination of the plot or themes. Her roles of leadership are really poorly implemented, examined and explained. I do understand that leaders do provide roles to society, but that isn't implemented only (at best) assumed in this story. 

My initial issue with the creation and resolution of issues doesn't stem from the potion. It is the most blatant example of instantaneous resolution for this 2 parter. But it's prevalent throughout. I don't think that the most pressing current issues being resolved by hand waves most of the time is a nitpick. It's like Dave Lister and the luck virus in Quarantine, but without it being used for laughs. Or to use Rober Mckee's framework roughly. Drama is when the least likely thing does happen, due to what feels true to us happening. In this case, Zecora just happening to have that potion doesn't feel true to me. It isn't drama, it isn't rewarding.
I will agree there are some longer running arcs in this story. But I still think my complaints about their implementation still apply. They are still clunky and distant. They don't feel pressing or impactfull to me.

You are free to not see it. But I do think I have good reason to see those aspects. If you doubt my reasons. Feel free to question them. The burden of evidence is on my shoulders, as I am the one making the claim.

I don't know the context. The editing for that final scene was rather abrupt. We had just learnt the nature of the threat finally and that Ponyville needs to be cleaned up. Then suddenly a mostly wordless/meaningless celebration happens. I am not saying it was an animation error. I am saying that the meaning of this scene is blunted by how distant it is from me. I am guessing motivations because they aren't clear to me (due to how disconnected everything is). The Twiboom looks like a rainboom, but its likeness is confusing rather than reaffirming. The green flying abilities of Twi forgotten, because erm... erm... because she did something with a tree...
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