Monday, January 21, 2013

Reviewing is Magic: Episode 6

There is no shame in confessing that, up until this episode, I thought all of the adventure was gone from this show.  I mean, I had heard rumors of things the main characters would face, but after this many episodes where the main lesson seemed to be repeating "be good to your friends" (and one episode where the moral was Wil Wheaton's law), I had given up on the insane adventure theme and dire threats from the first two episodes happening again.

And then Twilight Sparkle defeated a bear made of outer space.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Something that's easy to forget, in these first few episodes, is that Twilight Sparkle is, for all intents and purposes, a foreign exchange student.  She is in Ponyville to learn about friendship, yes, but she is still first and foremost studying magic.  This is why her name is Twilight Sparkle and not Awkwardia McMakingfriends.  That and it doesn't roll off the tongue as well.

We start the episode with Twilight Sparkle and Spike deep in the study of magic, with Twilight learning what might be the most awesome thing you could ever do with a cosmic force that a cosmic being uses to make the sun rise:

Giving creatures mustaches.  That is a glorious 'stache that Spike is rocking there, one I can only assume is titled The Bruce McGill.

And of course, Spike's immediate thought is that he can use it to make Rarity fall in love with him.  And sadly, the rest of the episode is not about Spike trying to hit on Rarity while looking like an extra from Animal House, but instead moves on to the arrival of- oh wait, first we're introduced to the two worst characters ever.

Meet Snips and Snails.  Every episode that has them pop up is like biting into a nice lasagna, until you realize the meat you're tasting is someone's thumb.  They are the one constant reminder that this show was originally meant for young girls, as we all know you can't get away with naming a character "puppy dog tails" without ticking off pet lovers.  Also, having a character named "Snails" who acts like he's mentally slow is rather offensive.  It's not the worst character to have that name, I'll give them that much.

Oh god, I just know someone's going to "Ask Erik" me about that movie now.

Anyway, all of the citizens of Ponyville are excited because there's a new pony in town, and apparently this new pony has one hell of a PR agent, because everybody is already claiming that this new pony (that nobody has seen before or heard of before) has the most magical power anybody has ever seen.

So yeah, this is Trixie, and I think she's great.  Up until this point, the only pony characters we've seen be mean are Nightmare Moon and....well, that's about it.  Gilda wasn't a pony, so it's to have a villain for an episode who is so over the top in her behavior, she's one castle and lightning storm from saying "I'll show them all!"

Trixie is fully serious about her act, though, and this is the other thing I love about Trixie.  For all her posturing and claims that she's defeated terrible creatures and saved the day, she never takes on the role of a dastardly villain.  She rolls into town, essentially announces she's better than everyone, and then sits around for a while before moving on.  She doesn't demand money, she doesn't destroy anything or steal anything using her act as her cover, and she doesn't really endanger anyone's life, she just acts like the embodiment of the opposite of Wil Wheaton's law.

Now, Twilight has the right idea during this, but for the wrong reasons.  Twilighht is afraid that if she were to try and beat Trixie at her own game, it would be showing off even worse than Trixie is, and everyone would hate her as much as they hate Trixie,  She and the rest should just ignore Trixie, let her boast, and then she'll move on, but Trixie's dares to very pony present to try to prove themselves get Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity to all step up.  Trixie is amazing here, because each one of the native ponies perform stunts that are simply amazing and her response is to just humiliate them and not even try to duplicate their stunts.  Amazing.

So the show's worst characters are completely fascinated by Trixie, and can't stop singing her praises, especially about how Trixie claims she once defeated an "Ursa Major."  Spike points out there's no proof and that nobody around saw Trixie do it, so Snips and Snails...well, they do the stupidest thing ever.

They go wake up an Ursa Major and lure it back to Ponyville.

I will now present to you one of the most badass monster designs I've seen in ages.

I mean, damn.  Everything about that bear screams "terrifying.". Its size, it's design, the fact you can see through it, leaving you wondering if it really is made up of star's a great threat, and one that I've been waiting to see.

Here's my second favorite Trixie moment,  in that when the two worst characters on the show try to coax her to defeat the Ursa "so they can watch" and "it took a lot of trouble to lure it there" Trixie again doesn't act like a stereotypical villain.  Me?  I would've magically lifted those two idiots up with magic and tossed them into the bear's mouth, cause that kind of stupid shouldn't breed.

Instead, Trixie tries to beat up the bear, single-han- hoofedly?  Anyway, this is great, since she knows she's full of it but still gives it her best shot.  Granted, her best shot does nothing, but hey, there was always a chance it would suffer cardiac arrest or spontaneous combustion or something.

Twilight arrives, Trixie confesses her false boasting, and the TWC start to realize that things just got real, and the Twilight steps up to bat.

Now, I'm not going to spoil what Twilight does, but I am going to show you just how much magical power she's putting out.  Keep in mind that, up until this point, lifting every apple at once from all those trees in the apple bucking episode required just a small amount of sparkle around Twilight's horn.  Let's see what she's doing now.

Again.  Damn.

So the Ursa is vanquished, Ponyville is saved, and we learn two important lessons.  One, your talents are part of who you are, and you shouldn't hide them just because you're afraid of looking like you're showing off.  Two, well, the twist involving the Ursa Major is cool enough that I won't spoil it.

Now, the show ends with one great moment and a scene that proves that there is no justice in Ponyville.  The great moment is that Trixie gets one more boast about her awesomeness out before she straight up "ninja smoke bombs" her escape.

 The part that disappointed me?  Well, watch for yourself and see the punishment that Snips and Snails get.

I wish those two would get turned into glue.  I really do.

The Good:

Where do I begin?  The Ursa Major is one of the best designs for a monster I've ever seen, and the animators did a great job with it.  Trixie is one of my favorite characters on the show, and seems like she could easily come back to be a recurring arch-nemesis, one driven more and more mad by her inability to destroy Reed Richards show up Twilight Sparkle.  All of the ponies also get a great moment, but the story really does make us pause and wonder how much power "Princess Celestia's favorite student" actually has.

The Bad:

Snips and Snails.  Thinking of ways to express how much better the show would be without them strains my ability to not make explicit swearing part of this blog.  The voices do perfectly capture just how obnoxious and self-interested they are, but that's like saying the stench perfectly captures the emotion behind what you just stepped in.  I comment that Trixie is a great villain, but in this episode it's Snips and Snails who seem to be the real villains.  It's because of them lives are put in danger.


Still one of my favorite episodes, this is the one that got me to look into the show in the first place.  I heard the phrase "a bear made of outer space" and knew I had to investigate.  And now that I've seen it, I can't wait for more, because this lived up to and surpassed all of my expectations.

So, uh, what's next?  An episode about flower arranging, or a hidden moral about jealousy when it comes to competing musical instruments?

What's that?  They fight a dragon?

This show amazes me on every level.

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