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Submitted on
May 12


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Twilight’s Kingdom... It’s not as bad as the Crystal Empire or Princess Twilight Sparkle. I wouldn't say it’s good, it’s still a rickety story like all of Meghan’s longer episodes/movies, but it is a step in the right direction. Between S2 and 3 for some reason Meghan dropped the ball (it happens), The Crystal Empire (in comparison to Canterlot Wedding) had many gimmicks (Mainly being the Fair (jousting) and Castle (stairs, door)), “jokes” (Rarity obsessing over crystal ponies, flugelhorn, Pinkie Spy...) and instant resolutions (We need information, oh we need the heart. Where Sombra hide the heart? Oh here’s the path. Oh no there’s a door! I got past it.). Slowly over time, Meghan has been picking up the pieces, Twilight’s kingdom mostly avoids narrow sighted gimmick driven stories filled with dumb jokes, which is the best praise I can personally give it really.

My first impressions of this episode, was that it was... boring, simple, generic. I tried it with my byter-patented “can it work as an audio play?” test and it passed fairly well.

One of the biggest problems this episode has, is that the majority of it is just standing and talking, if we just look past what they are talking about, what did the characters actually do?  The main 5 just followed Twilight around for while, then she runs off and they just sit around in ponyville until they are captured and stuff.The princesses just went to Canterlot and then sat around doing next to nothing until they were captured and sent to Tartarus. Discord just meets with the M6, meets the big bad, hangs around with him and gets betrayed/captured at the end. Tirak is just running around separate from the rest of the cast (except Discord and the princesses at one point) until he challenges Twilight and it all gets wrapped up. Twilight just goes from place to place, she gets all the magic and then just messed around with it until the big fight.

    Basically the majority of what “happens” is done by people talking about or through the plot. How does Twilight express her pointless princess position? She talks/sings about it. How does Discord get convinced to be bad again? He talks about it. How do we learn what the villain has done? Celestia tells Twilight about it. How or why do they choose to trust Discord or put all the magic to Twilight? They talk it over. This property, like the rest of the kid exposition this/last season, makes this episode a fair radio drama out the gate, because the majority of the episode is given to us aurally, not visually. This to not say ALL of it is talking, the battle, Twilight controlling her super magic-ness and Tirek bashing down the door are times where (for the most part) the characters don’t feel the need to explain what is going on and what they are doing.

So whilst most of what ‘happens’ is just exposition/talking... what about the plot and characters?

Well as I have established before, I am rather disappointed that once again the rest of the main cast serve no purpose beyond being magical beakers from which to distill “friendship magic”. This show keeps talking about friendship, but I think it’s pretty clear that they only care about Twilight and her magical friendship destiny nonsense more than they care about actually having their friendship manifest in a real/meaningful way. I guess at least, compared to all the rest of the cast, be it the CMC, the cakes or even Mayor Mare... at least the M6 get a little recognition (rather than absolutely none at all).

Ok. let’s be frank, this story is about Princesses (all 4 alicorns) and powerful magical beasts (Discord/Tirak), it’s going for big scale, all the self entitled alicorn magic up against all the magic of all the people absorbed by a giant magic vampire, before friendship comes in at the end to save the day...

The three princesses just move around as a single unit, like a three headed hydra that has even less diversity than the M5 hydra. They weren't that good in my opinion, in the start they just tell Twilight it’s all alright... which means nothing really. They make a lot of the important decisions of the show, making them have all the agency over the story... As I said this story is simple... so the only rational presented is what is going to happen. It actually looks like the Princesses are rather impulsive, as soon as one of them propose something, that’s the plan. Despite being rulers of the whole of Equestria with many diplomatic ties to other nations, the princesses seem to have only two cards in their hand. 1. Send Discord. 2. Hide all the magic in Twilight and just deny total victory. It’s patently just a shallow ploy to have the story be on the level of Twilight and magic vs magic. I mean is there nothing that you couldn't throw at the bad guy apart from Discord? Like arrows, or non magical creatures, or whatever you did last time to arrest and imprison him last time? Eh. The princess's plans weren't that good, it was obvious that Discord was going to betray them. The plan to rely on anonymity of Twilight is also dumb... Discord knows ALL the princesses and he is with the big bad. I don’t think not telling the M5 will change anything because Tirak isn't exactly interrogating everyone, he’s just steamrolling around sucking everything, it’s obviously just another impulsively chosen order that makes no sense because the plot says so.  Also, why would he know about Cadence? She is a new princess of love who has a different race of ponies (in a kingdom) who he hasn't prayed upon (and might not know about). At least smash or cover up the Windows or references to Twilight if you are choosing this plan, an escape plan isn't much of an escape if you leave the important details just lying around. So yeah, the princesses are dumb, control all the decisions and don’t even do that much, though they do sure like talking, so at least no one will be left behind on their dumb and simple plans.

This is trying to be Twilight’s story, but well written it is not.

She is not playing to her strengths at all during this episode. Twilight of the Nightmare Moon or Discord arc was an interesting protagonist because she has always been a driven person, who could motivate the others to come along with her to try to save the world, you know, a leader. It seems though that ironically becoming a princess has undone these traits more than it has let them shine. It starts by her being complacent about being a new figurehead, but it also makes her really passive about it. We common folk have to work hard to get our education/skills and to ply our little jobs... It is hard to relate to someone who has had everything handed to her on a silver platter just whine about it this late in the game.. You are supposed to be a leader, you should try to take charge of something, like you have already done so in the past (winter wrap up), because now you don’t need anyone to order you around, you can set your own goals.

This is a real problem in regards to Princess Twilight in general. Despite her title, she lacks initiative (she needs Discord to basically highlight the answer in their diary) and drive (she just does whatever the other princesses decide, she doesn’t have any plans of her own). She is just a passive puppet who does what she is told, more a drone than a leader. This story, like “Princess Twilight Sparkle” doesn’t really explore her leadership and just displays the issue at the start before dropping it for big events going on in the story. Ironically Twilight is the least fit leader than she has ever been in this story, it is only her ability to use Deus Ex machina things with her magical beakers that really save the day. She shouldn’t get her own kingdom at the end of this, because she acted in a way that almost got the whole of Equestria stomped on by two monsters who were also her fault.
    To use an analogy, she is the plucky peasant who defeated the scary dragon using a supporting team of casters who buffed her to OP levels. The kingdom appointed her a knight, but without a dragon to fight she just sat inside eating pies. When another different dragon shows up (one which grew on all the crusts she left on the messy floor), she got slowly out of her chair and tried to defeat it single handedly, but only after the kingdom had thrown all their remaining money at her to save them. She trades all the kingdom’s remaining money for those casters, who quickly find a convenient chest of wands to buff her up again to save the day again, hooray! Not only that the wands gave her a new palace and the king says to the old lord of the place (assuming that Twi now owns ponyville) “she has a castle here I guess you don’t control these lands now I guess... lol”. 

So yeah. Twilight no longer really fits the role of protagonist like she used to. Her story isn’t that great, she basically just acts as a person around which the plot is made, rather than one who seems to be forcing the plot forward. In most stories we follow a ‘hero’ someone who has the drive and ability to change the world... in this story we follow almost the opposite of that, a princess with great abilities, waste them. She is supercharged to crazy levels but she hides from the problem until confrontation is the only real course and in the end she gives up everything for a pathetic short term goal. I am not saying that strictly speaking her actions don’t make sense... only that the tone of the story and who she is doesn't seem to jive very well together into a cohesive story that people would actually want to watch. I mean it’s still Twilight, it’s still equestria about to be doomed... but ehhh. The people of his place aren't that important and Twilight doesn't do things because she wants to, she does them because she’s ordered too... I just don’t get why watching someone follow orders and make choices that “have” to end in a happy ending is a good story...

Then we come onto Tirak. I don’t really have much to say about him. He is a bad guy who gets crazy powerful and threatening... He doesn't actually crossover with the other characters much. He seems to just be on a vacation tour around Equestria reaving the snot out of everyone. Tirak mostly only plays into Discord’s story and the big fight at the end. Which in the end, is still better than Sombra, both might just be distant, implied danger to the main cast, but at least Tirak did stuff and he was intimidating. I still prefer villains who have chemistry with the rest of the cast, but sometimes you can have just a simple bad guy and have him do bad guy stuff... Simple but not too bad.

So lastly we come onto Discord, I liked his arc the most of all the ‘reformed’ key people. It wasn’t very complex, he’s tempted with power, helps out a bit and eventually gets betrayed. It’s simple... he is a bit dumb, but at least it is more cohesive than Twilight’s figurehead position arc or erm... taking orders? Discord doesn't really have the charm he once did, only really teleporting about and doing silly stuff at the start. Even when he has full reign he just stands around watching Tirek. Discord is not an interesting character because he is dumb and boring. He loved chaos, a free spirit, now he loves being bossed around, lovely. I don’t have much to say on his arc really. It was simple and forced... why did Tirak give him the necklace (if you are about to betray someone you don’t really need to care if you are in their good books)? Well because the plot says so. Why didn’t Discord just freelance around causing his own kind of mischief? Or expect the inevitable power struggle? Because he’s dumb and the plot says so.

Lastly... I guess I should cover what I missed.

The songs were pretty generic... not even catchy. Just sung conversations or morals. I didn't really care for either really. Just singing something randomly doesn’t really change how it feels to me. I actually don’t like the one at the start because singing takes a while and took a whole lot longer to say what would have been said anyway via the Princesses interacting normally. I would actually prefer if they had just tried to make the interaction more complex rather than more flashy. The ending song was ok, mostly just token platitudes like the “success song”. I will only say that the metaphor for rainbows are kinda funny when you think how rare and short lived rainbows typically are. Sure they are colourful, but they are also immaterial illusions, it’s funny mlp wants to use rainbows (beyond toys) as a metaphor for what they are going for.

The fight scene was... a lot of flashy effects. It didn't really focus much on how the characters feel, because it was just goodie vs baddie. It was flashy but lacking substance. Both of them were mostly invulnerable, making each blow... uneventful until (if they ever did, at the writer's discretion) it finally does matter.

The rainbow power and build up to it was clunky. I don’t really care for it. The scene where Twilight just goes through what happened before is pretty underwhelming. The context of a safe room far from trouble or other people doesn't really help with communicating these friendship stories and the pattern between them. Twilight: “Your element is generosity” *reads script* “and you still were that after she was mean” Rarity: “yup”. Eh, fulfilling the box doesn't mean that much implicitly to me, it's just an arbitrary rule set that gives huge powers. Again, making friends means you can rely on them, that's a real chance of friendship manifesting in a real/meaningful way. Reaching 200 friends on facebook is sort of the same (200 people had to accept your friend requests after all), but gaining superpowers from that is just arbitrary.

The dignitaries were kinda forgotten... or not important. It could’ve been better, played a bit into Equestria's foreign ties and allies in times of need.

The loss of the library wasn’t played up very well.. It feels a bit of shame to blast it and not really have the characters say much about its loss... because... OMG another crystal palace has appeared in it’s place! ehhh... it’s just shiny and colourful. It’s just trying to accommodate for something.

All in all, this finale reminded me a lot of the star wars prequels. Both have either: 1. Big flashy battles, which have a lot of work put into them, but not much emotional stakes in them. 2. Dialogue scenes that mostly are just people standing and talking. Both have plots that don’t make much sense beyond their own internal childish logic. Both have great problems with assigning a proper protagonist  This episode is mostly just about big amounts of magic flowing around our boring princesses and beasts, our two main characters (Discord & Twilight) are just walkovers, bland everymen who do what the plot needs them to do. If we subjugate our characters to the plinkett test (tell me about the characters without saying what they do, what they look like and what their job is), when using this finale as the only source material, I think you would be hard pressed to come up with anything. Let’s see.. erm..  Tirek is a erm.. a cold calculating egoist? Twilight is erm.. a princess? No wait that’s her job. Erm. She is very obedient and passive? Celestia is very, erm, she erm, likes the throne room?

In the end, this finale is one of the biggest (in scale) ‘saving the world’ two parters, its sights are set on handling all the ponies magic vs all the alicorn’s magic, the only players are the Princesses, Tirek and Discord. The common pony, aka the rest of the cast, are just pawns in this giant chess game, if they remembered at all. This show wants to talk about friendship, but it is so engrossed in making Twilight a person who has all the superpowers and not a Mary Sue (by being passive and awkward about her powers), that she comes across as a Mary Sue who has no right to her powers, which is ironically one of the least likable Mary Sues out there.

As I have always said, friendship was best shown in the slice of life stories, where the stories were between people on a common grounded level. “Friendship is magic” has always been a shallow lie when the magic aspect comes in. Friendship is the relationship between two characters, not just a tool to unlock ultimate power via dues ex machina. I have never cared for the elements of harmony or the keys and having stepped the game to this level, how are they going to top that next season? Ironically of all the ‘saving the world’ stories, Dragonshy is still one of the most grounded in actual friendship of all of them. It’s not the greatest episode, but without the elements, the ending was way more meaningful because it spoke more to me about Fluttershy’s solidarity for her friends than the biggest dumbest rainbow powers you can throw at me.
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Demonite89 Featured By Owner May 17, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
At the end of MMC, I didn't think that Twilight should have been turned into an alicorn pincess, but at that time, I couldn't really say that she didn't deserve it.

After completing season 4, I couldn't help but think that Twilight shouldn't have become an alicorn princess purely for the fact that she does not want to be one AT ALL. During the episodes that focused on her princesshood, all I could think about was that Twilight needed to grow up and deal with her new responsibilities.

The idea of Princess Twilight's role of "spreading friendship across Equestria" also rings very hollow to me. Aside from the other Mane 6, Spike, the Princesses, and the CMC, Twilight doesn't seem to have made any other friends or has aided in friendship problems that didn't involve one of the parties listed before. While Twilight is a lot friendlier towards other ponies than she was in the series premiere, she's only really become friends with those who have all but forced themselves upon her. Pinkie Pie would be a much better character to spread friendship since it's at least alluded to that she has many other friends within Ponyville.
Gogogadgethat Featured By Owner May 13, 2014
I suppose the fact that you didn't utterly despise it is a step up. At this point, I'll take what I can get.
TheGoldCrowOnDVD Featured By Owner May 12, 2014
There is so much I want to talk about.

The songs were everything I hated about "The Failure Song". A song that was there that served little purpose and if you cut it out, nothing would be lost as we established how Twilight feels without the padding song. Speaking of how Twilight feels, haven't we seen this story before? Three times in fact? Crystal Empire, Equestria Girls, Princess Twilight Sparkle, hell even Winter Wrap Up. Twilight given a big task, having self doubt about herself and role and Princess. Is the extent of her princess character? Her getting selective amnesia learning the the same lesson in every premiere and finale. By the way, what was the resolution? What did she learn by the end of this that made her more wiser. She beat a bad guy with a friendship DEM, got a tacky castle (we'll talk more about this later), and assigned to spread friendship throughout the what? Besides the castle she's already been doing these things forever. So the reason she felt useless at the start was because she didn't have a castle, seems a little shallow.

On to Tirek himself. I don't know I wasn't really feeling it with this guy. Irinoclly I found him most engaging when he was at his weakest with the creepy voice acting and mannerisms. As he got bigger, he just turned into big bruting bad guy. I went back and watched Midnight Castle and I honestly like that incarnation more. They build him up by keeping him in the shadows showing him holding a bag with a bag beating like a heart. Then when they finally show him, he looks like something that crawled out of hell. I also like Scorpan in that one who was completely absent besides the storybook flashback in the FIM version. I just thought FIM Tirek had no screen presence by the time he's really big.

Discord felt like the most organic thing in this episode. Except he's swayed to the dark side faster than Anakin Skywalker. This is why Stay Calm Flutter On really failed. Nothing really convinced me he was a good guy now and wouldn't do something like this. His friendship with Fluttershy felt so flimsy non-existent, just the script telling us they are best friends forever. What did they do together? What common interests do they have? She just sort of sheepishly tolerates his bullshit, but she does that with everyone so it really didn't contribute to much to the relationship. If you have ever read the IDW comic featuring Discord and the CMC, they did a "Good Discord" so much better. You actually see him and the CMC doing stuff together and the sugary sweet ending actually works for me because you see the CMC appreciate his actions and could genuinely see why he'd be touched by it.

The ending was so rushed it wasn't funny. Sure the big DBZ fight (it actually reminded me more of Aang vs the Fire Lord from Avatar) while visually appealing and flashy...just seemed so out of place, like I stumbled into another show. It's like they were meandering and pandering to say "See guys! This isn't a little girls show!". I liked the concept of Twilight saving Discord I thought was good to earn the key, but then I saw there were only five minutes left...and what do you know. They put almost no substance behind Twilight and Discord sharing that moment. He gives a little speech and gives her the necklace and almost immediately after Applejack just blurts out "Hey that might be your key lets go try it!" I would have liked a little more exchanges between Discord and Twilight before she realized it was the key because I wasn't feeling it. I don't even need to comment on the rainbow pony design. They were bad. Period. The castle however looks so dumb and doesn't fit the theme of Ponyville at all. The thing looks so toy-e-tic and tacky. The interior of the place however. I kind of liked. The literal twilight motif it had. The round table thrones that FINALLY make the other 5 look equal to her.

The main thing that I didn't like is as you put it. The cardboard cutouts that make up the mane 5 just feel like a means to an end now. At least in Return of Harmony they were actively doing stuff in the plot. As of late this show is throwing around the word friendship saying it makes you an almighty god compared to the bad guy because they don't have any friends. Yes, they have been sort of the theme since the beginning, but they tried to put a meaning behind it in the past. In the Nightmare moon arc her newly formed friendship gives her hope, in return of harmony she learns through the bad times it's still worth fighting to keep it. The only message of friendship this finale leaves you with is...friendship is good! Yay? I don't feel an undying friendship between these characters, they just seem like regular accentuates who fire a rainbow at a bad guy every now and then, but it's so offset as I feel the story is trying to tell me they are the bestest friends who ever had friends...EVER!

Now I make it out like I hated this episode(s), but actually I found them mildly entertaining. Better than crystal empire and princess twilight sparkle. I just find there is more to talk about when you focus on what didn't work. I only gush about something when it's REALLY REALLY good, like Peter Dinklage's performance last night on Game of Thrones. :)
byter75 Featured By Owner May 16, 2014
The first song is more egregious if you ask me, it takes several minuets out of the start of the episode for basically nothing that we didn't already know (and pointless "it'll be alright's" from the princesses). It does remind me a lot of the failure song, because it's the same talking but singing about what was already obvious waste of time formula. The song at the end reminds me a bit of Raise This Barn, it's a cheery happy dumb song at the end of the episode to signify their final victory. I do think that it didn't do anything except give the story a chance to pat itself on the back and given how the ending is so rushed, it takes time away from many other important things.
Oh joy, another self doubt arc... It's always great to see the characters doubt themselves over and over again with seemingly no meaningful progression. The way it was handled this episode is really lazy, they have her talk about it to start with, drop the concept for the rest of it and then just chuck her a castle at the end. I am a bit surprised at how some people watched that "arc" and say how it was brilliant, I guess they just love the self doubt angle over and over again...

This incarnation of Tirek was rather brute force-y, not very subtle. I was also interested in his initial mysterious, creepy form. I think Tirek was superficially threatening, but he lacked the personal touch. The only thing he hurt that I (or most people) cared about was... well the treehouse (which got replaced anyway). I mean he sucks the M5 and Discord, but only towards the end and it didn't feel that dramatic. Tirek was just a steamroller and Equestria was squished like butter, the job was easy and it's not to impressive to squish a pound of butter.

Discord was the only one with the semblance of a complete arc in this episode... the episode does seem to recognize the flimsy-ness of his reformation, but it still doesn't really set any ground rules. Discord always just feels and does what the writers just want him to do, he is still just a plaything, just used to toy with us whether he is reformed or not.

Yeah the fight wasn't really built up to that well... I think it was because Twilight/Princesses were just trying to run away or keep their distance from Triek all the time. Fighting was never really explored or put on the table until Twilight chose to do it, it makes the fight spontaneous, on a whim. It makes it feel more gratuitous than it really should be. If this fight was always on the table, something that had to be committed too, an all or nothing senario, then at least we are expecting it, at least we have explored the repercussions of it before it starts. As it is, it's just "I can't master this magic... oh look it's the villian... boom. Oh I guess I should fight him I guess".
I felt the whole key thing with Discord was too blatant for my tastes. Why did Tirek give Discord the necklace if he is going to betray him next scene? Why did he choose to betray Discord at that point? Why did Discord team up in the first place but not do anything? Because the plot said so. Most of the characters choices and emotions didn't grab me and Discord's story fails in my eyes because of that. There's no payoff to his key (before or when it happens), if his journey was so stilted, simple and brushed over.
I didn't care for *another* castle building... or the *symbolism* in it's architecture. As with her being a princess, we don't know how much the others will matter in future... I mean those thrones don't mean anything in the end of the day, it needs the personalities to fill them. Given the direction of this show, I don't get that great a vibe. I mean Rairty is just the clothes pony... who is a friend of Twilight... What role are they going to give her on that throne? Well... she is going to help organize and design for the fancy events in future... beyond that, I doubt they will do anything amazing with the M5...

The difference with the past was that the others were a lot more involved in their own stories... the "meaning" felt more personal when they were actually around helping reach the castle or being Discorded. The stories were about a group of friends (where everyone in the group was the focus) which concluded with "friendship". This episodes story is about big magical things flying about (where there's a group of friends in it) concluding with "friendship". I've never liked the "friendship" (or "love") endings... but at least before the journey matched the conclusion. Now it's just a worn out cop out.

There's not much to this finale'. It is plain or rather simple. There's a dumb action plot to enjoy but that's about it. There is so much to complain or nitpick about, because it's a very very rough gem, maybe even just a rock... but hay at least it wasn't horribly awful!
somari1997 Featured By Owner May 12, 2014
you know byter i'll admit your review of this episode was a lot better then i expected, i still don't agree with anything you said but at least you weren't as negative as your other reviews
byter75 Featured By Owner May 12, 2014
I am glad you found out I would be better than you imagined. Though I get the impression that the "quality" of the review and how "negative" it is are proportional to you.
It is a shame you don't agree with "anything" I said... I would have hoped that at least the basic details of the episode I got right, like how Discord talked to Tirak or how the rest of the cast wasn't seen this episode... oh well..
The-Daily-Rage Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I'm sorry, but this reply makes you seem a bit egocentric.  People are going to have different opinions with you on just about anything (I have a lot of different opinions than you about this two parter that I'll post later). That's one thing you need to understand when you're a reviewer. 
byter75 Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2014
I don't think some details are really up for being a 'matter of opinion'. If I say that Twilight was in this episode, then anyone who thinks otherwise is going to be clearly wrong. It is not egocentric to think that the more basic details are things that people should be able to agree on. If someone can't even agree on these more basic details, then it is most likely that they are just disagreeing for the sake of it.
The-Daily-Rage Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
It's also that truth is subjective, at least most of the time. We all can agree that The Last Airbender sucked, or Hurricane Fluttershy was great. That's why I think it's a bit egocentric. You're stating your opinion as fact, when we can use arguments against it, such as Twilight's self doubting herself adds more depth to her character, and avoids making her a Mary Sue, which they could have taken that route, if the wanted to go the lazy way. And I'm not disagreeing for the sake of it, I have a legitimate disagreement. 

Still though, ugh, a bit off topic, but we can both agree that MMC sucks. 
byter75 Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2014
I did't say "truth" I said the "basic facts". The basic facts aren't exactly 'The Last Airbender sucked'... I stick to what I said, that some basic facts would be things like Twilight was in the episode or that Tirek spoke to Discord.

You might disagree with the more personal or complex sentiments I have made, but that doesn't mean there's some veracity to my most basic sentiments...
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