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Submitted on
November 29, 2013


3 (who?)

Given the many issues of the opening two parter, I thought a more in depth look at just a tiny part of the opener, could help reinforce my points about emptiness. So lets talk about how the topic or themes of leadership are handled. My hope is, by going through this less prevalent aspect, to examine it’s usage with minimum confusion. 

Twilight is now a new leader of Equestria, to what capacity we still don’t know, but the opener does bring up her role of leadership. Overlooking the Summer Sun Celebration is just a ceremony, the first time Twilight has to lead is when the two royal sisters disappear and the royal guards ‘await her command.’ because “We're officers of the Royal Guard. We take our orders from royalty”.

First off, isn't there a captain of the royal guard? Shouldn't he (or she, given Shining Armour has probably left his post) direct the guard in some capacity should the Princesses be unavailable? Regardless, given what little we know about the guard or situation, Twilight probably gives the best order; for them to search and update her if they find anything. The problem and solution don’t have much depth to it but at least Twilight is in charge of something and is leading. The only issues I have with how this is implemented is that this moment has no impact on anything later on. We do not see the results of her decision, nor is her decision explored with any depth.

The reuniting of the party and flashbacks don’t have much to do with leadership either. Whilst Twilight sees the alicorn sisters using macguffins, this does very little with leading their kingdom.

Leadership crops up again as a reason for the M6 to split up. AppleJack brings up the point that Twilight is a princess and “I just don't think Equestria can risk losing another princess.”. Rarity agrees by saying “Equestria will need somepony to lead in their absence.”. This need to preserve Twilight as a leader perplexes me. Thematically, our journey up to this point has brought up next to nothing about leadership and what was brought up is simple and has been completely forgotten about. The reasoning they present suffers from the similar problems of the guards that it is either so simple or unexplained that it lacks any impact.

In universe there’s several issues with this implementation, given the state of perpetual height of the Moon and Sun, Equestria will probably be in dire straights with or without leadership if they cannot stop the Sun from continuously heating that side of the planet. There is also Princess Cadence, who the guards did list as a potential royal they take orders from, who could also lead Equestria. Splitting the party has many many more faults but I'm just going to focus on only this theme.

Next scene, where Discord instantly tells Twilight the obvious. He doesn’t even bring up the point of leadership. He instead talks about her being important and needing to be safe, and that’s it for leadership in these two episodes.

In conclusion. 

The guard scene had a sense of importance to it, that never really played into anything else in this story. It is a bone with very little meat on it, due to how vague our understanding of the scenario at play and the impact it has on the universe.

The issue of needing a princess to lead after the Rockadile scene suffers a similar problem. It is meant to be impactful, but there’s no meat on the bones or feeling from the story thus far to reinforce this impact in this regard. This issue is all the more important, given the story implications of splitting the party. The guard scene may ultimately be pointless, but here the separation of the main 6 is a bigger deal (at least if it wasn't instantly resolved by counter argument by Discord).

The scenes may have tried to be impactful by raising the issues of leadership up to Twilight, but these issues are just displayed rather than explored, and that’s why I felt so hollow from the experience. The issues they represent aren't explored or felt by the audience. This isn't just leaving room for interpretation, or demanding too much from a kids show. This is a matter of a topic being raised in a vacuum to enact major changes in the plot. The absolute lack of any attempt to tell us anything deep or complex makes it feel artificial and contrived, which is my main complaint with most of this episode.

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Icematoro Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013
"Twilight, go home, I mean, it's not like you're the one who solved many if not all the major problems we had up to this point."
"Let us just blindly go to the forest, without any real plan, in a quest to find something we know nothing about"
"We'll totally be able to defeat this plants we weren't able to fight back at ponyville."
"It's not like we need the elements of Harmony to fight the evil, I mean, those things are useless."
3 seasons of claiming Friendship is the answer for everything, that the fact that they were together is what made them strong... for this... At least Applejack realised that... way too late -.-
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013
Yeh at least the show didn't stick to this split up being the right choice. Though I doubt that they would've ever taken that approach.
But it's odd, that like in TCE. Our characters are taught the same things that they should and have already known.
It feels so contrived. The show needs to let our characters resolve their own problems, without false drama or magical devices.
TheGoldCrowOnDVD Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2013
I saw two problems that would probably happen with Princess Twilight when the whole thing hit the fan:

A. They build her up to be this amazing princess leader making her seemingly as important as MMC implied, but that would be alienating a lot of people who like the other characters or those who never liked Twilight.
B. They totally down play the princess thing making the whole change seem pointless and you have the equivalent of a 500 pound gorilla in the room when you see her still living in a tree library and doing nothing royal.

The route they seemed to take is a weird mixture of both. She's randomly important, but the issues revolving around leadership are hastily hand waved to not put into focus on making it so royal duties can readily be shirked whenever the plot demands it.
thebronyfan00 Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013
Is there really no middle ground?
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013
If I had a lot more time. I would love to break down how empowered Twilight was in this opener.

I think they wanted to really hard to go for B, to damage control MMC. Twilight is spoken of in high regards by 'other' people, but she herself is never shown as being all that special. In fact they spend a lot of time showing us, her sucking at flying, her panicking, her loosing to the plants and her making a bad choice leaving the group. The episode really really wants to tell us that she's not a Mary Sue, but since she's still the protagonist and her weakness is as contrived as her importance everything falls down for me.
michealdark Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2013
A lot of reviewers that like the episode have brought up a similar point: the second half's pacing so so bad that conflicts that should have bigger importance are wrapped up in less than 3 minutes, making them seem like they're pointless (seems a familiar trend with the adventure arcs...and I tend to like the adventure arcs!)
byter75 Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013
Yeh I totally agree. Part 1 did basically nothing, and part 2 had everything crammed into it. It is the same problem EG had.

To give more credit for past adventure arcs they did try simpler stories than PTS & TCE. Return of harmony was well paced for it's 1st arc, where Discord pulls the M6 apart for most of its length, ending with Twilight giving up. I really liked that, it felt natural and had time to breath. The resolution was too fast, but at least it used the built up experiences/letters of S1 to soften the blow.
michealdark Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013
Adventure arcs are hard to pull off anyways because you do have to be mindful of the pacing. Even media that can dedicate needed time to both exposition and action can fail miserably. Look at just about every "event" style book DC and Marvel have done for the past decade. The only ones to come close to getting it right have been "Death of the Family" and "Avengers Arena" (surprise book of the year for me, as I loathed the entire premise, only to be blown away by the execution!), and both benefited from being self-contained to one line or to their own book, without dragging everything else into them.
byter75 Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013
It's certainly hard, but really rewarding when done right. A writer needs to be able to take the challenge and to not get lost in trying too much.
Prior season adventure arcs were much simpler and as such they were usually much more successful in getting the story across than PTS.
In this case, PTS' leadership is barely in there and it's an issue by how trivial or suddenly important it all is. To simplify things, they really should've axed the guard scene and mentions of it when splitting up. It would make things a whole lot simpler and more focused (due to there being more time).
michealdark Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013
I wouldn't have done the splitting up half-way through the Everfree. I would have done it before everyone started the journey. Maybe have Discord play thing up like he's the judge in a trial or something, have the 5 present their reasons why Twilight should stay and then have Twilight put on her defense, but have him rule in the 5's favor. But then, once they're gone, let Twilight mope for a bit, then start giggling at her. When she gets mad and starts questioning him, he's like, "You really think that I'M a good judge in this situation? When you know your friends better than anyone, as well as your brother and Cadence and their leadership abilities if something should happen to you? You're joking me, right? Because if so...I'm the king of jokes, and this isn't a very good one! Now, the question is, are you going to just give up and let your friends dictate to YOU how YOU'RE supposed to lead, or are YOU going to SHOW THEM the kind of leader you are? Princess Twilight, are you really a princess, or are you just chicken dung?!"

Or something similar. Because the break-up scene did need to happen, and I think Discord did need to push her to go back into the danger and take leadership herself, but it needed some kind of scene that really emphasized it.
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