Sunday, February 17, 2013

Reviewing is Magic: Episode 10

If you watch any show long enough, you start to pick up on repeating patterns.  For instance, I love the program Psych, but I can essentially boil most episodes down to "Crime happens, Shawn makes a lot of 80s references, the police are clueless, Shawn spots something before the forensic police do, solves crime."  Leverage fell into the same boat, where I enjoyed watching it, but it really became formulaic after a while. 

Oh Internet, never change.
In watching My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, I find myself watching for the patterns.  Certainly, every character has their reliable quirks (Twilight Sparkle schedules and organizes to the point of being OCD, Rarity can't stand to get dirty, Fluttershy suffers cardiac arrest every time someone steps on a twig near her), but I have to admit that I've impressed that there are few "every time X happens, I can expect Y to happen."

At least until this episode, when it's established, once again, that NOTHING GOOD COMES FROM THE EVERFREE FOREST.  So far we've seen bears made out of outer space (I'm so happy that phrase exists, because otherwise I would have to pay someone to make it up), flowers that do horrible things to bodies and the laws of physics, manticores, and sea serpents.  The only good thing that seems to exist in there is Zecora, and she moved there from "far away."

The episode begins with Fluttershy proving that she belongs with Disney princesses again as she gathers flowers with the help of local wildlife creatures.  At some point I really need this series to explain how language works in this world, since we know cows and mules can speak the same language as ponies, but dogs, squirrels, and birds seem to have their own language.  And yet, Fluttershy can speak to these animals.  Is it a natural gift?  Is it a magical talent?  Is she just not right in the head?

Anyway, Fluttershy's goal is to gather flowers because Princess Celestia is stopping by for an "informal" visit.  However, this is interrupted by one of the best panic faces I've seen caused by a rock making a "chirp" sound.

That was the expression on my face about ten minutes into Barb Wire.

Now, I must warn you about the creature you're about to see.  We know the animators can make a really terrifying monster (made of space), so be prepared as I show you, after much consideration, what is quite possibly the most dangerous creature the show has ever portrayed.

Work with me here, people.

So Fluttershy immediately falls for the chirping bug and decides to take it home, ignoring the fact that, right in front of her, it consumes every apple in that basket sitting near her like the Tasmanian Devil.

The show even sets the tone, doing everything but a "dun-dun-dunnn" as the camera zooms in on the basket and things fade to black.

After the title sequence, we learn about Princess Celestia's impending visit from Twilight Sparkle, who goes out to check on the decorations.  And let me tell you, Ponyville don't skimp on decorations when it comes to "informal" royal visits.

Remember what I said about Twilight organizing to the point of OCD?  When you're micromanaging the pony in charge of watering flowers, I think you're a bit too focused on things.  Her first stop is the bakery to check on the banquet (it's also a recurring theme on the show that all banquets are comprised solely of baked goods...but since I doubt any creature living in Ponyville is a carnivore, I guess it makes sense) and discovers that Pinkie's dubbed herself "official taster for the princess."

And has thus eaten most of the banquet.

Fluttershy arrives and presents her three (3) new friends, leading to a moment of confusion about where two others came from, but Twilight is more than eager to take one off her hands.  Pinkie, though, responds to the offer of a new pet with a resounding "blech" and informs us, the audience, that what Fluttershy is carrying around are "parasprites."  This isn't really explained much beyond that, as suddenly Pinkie Pie is determined to locate a trombone.

That's Pinkie Pie logic for you.

Twilight checks in on Rarity and Rainbow Dash next, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't laugh at Rainbow Dash through this whole scene.  The most athletic, least "girly" pony of them all, and we find her like...well, like this:


Twilight discovers her single new pet has become three (3) as well, and Rarity and Rainbow Dash are both eager to each have their own pet as well.  Pinkie shows up looking for an accordion (?) but is pretty much ignored.

Night falls, everybody heads to bed, and the next morning Twilight finds herself infested with bugs.  Bugs that are strong enough to carry around heavy tomes off of bookshelves and drop them on the floor.  That's some powerful bugs.  We cut to Rainbow Dash who's undergoing similar problems in the city in the clouds an- wait.

Have I mentioned yet that it seems most pegasus (except for Fluttershy) live in a cloud city?  Not only is it a cloud city, but it's also the city where weather is built.  Rainclouds, rainbows, and entire weather systems are manufactured and distributed by pegasus from this city.  That's just amazing.

Now, granted, I don't know if Rainbow Dash actually lives there or if this is just some cloud city suburb (or she somehow owns a multi-story cloud palace on her own), but either way, we have cascading rainbow waterfalls around greco-roman cloud architecture. 

Where was- oh, right, Rainbow Dash is also swarmed by bugs, as is Rarity, but she's able to get them to help her around the shop...until she learns how they reproduce.

You see, parasprites consume so much food because their major method of reproduction is to cough up another fully grown parasprite.  Which can then cough up another one.  We have an asexual breeding machine that consumes at least a hundred times its own body weight in food in order to continue the breeding process...but it gets worse later.  Much worse.

The three ponies take their rounded up insects to Fluttershy who's also drowning in them, and with the help of Applejack, manage to round up the entire swarm into a ball and roll it back into the woods where, presumably, it hit a patch of blue flowers and cannibalized itself, cause those flowers are jerks.

So, problem solved, right?  Wrong.

It turns out Fluttershy kept a single, solitary parasprite, which in the time it took them to haul the rest into the woods, bred another hundred on its own.  The breeding is getting faster, folks.  Think about what it would mean for humanity if there was a creature out there that could consume food at that rate and breed that quickly.  If we didn't catch it and annihilate it as soon as it appeared, if one solitary parasprite managed to make its way to the Midwest, we could probably kiss our food supplies goodbye.

So, they already had to herd up a bunch before, and with time running out they don't have time to do another complete round-up of the parasprites, so the show takes the next logical plan of action by having Rainbow Dash move so fast she creates a tornado.  No, seriously.

I'll also point out that Rainbow Dash alludes to the fact she's able to do this because she's part of the "weather patrol."  This means that, since almost all pegasi I've seen are able to push clouds around, then all pegasus ponies can make tornadoes.

I swear to god, if the show creators don't publish a scientific paper about how this all works, my mind won't be able to take it.

So the problem's solved!  ...until the tornado also sweeps up Pinkie Pie's cymbals that she shows up to show off.  Spinning metal discs + tornado speeds = Rainbow Dash crashing into a tree and the parasprites being funneled directly into Ponyville.

So, all the food in town's being eaten, the Princess is due any moment, it's time for magic!  Twilight Sparkle casts a spell that encompasses the entire town that causes the parasprites to stop eating all the food.  So what happens?  They start eating everything else! 

Picture that above doomsday scenario I mentioned for imagine that instead of eating our crops, they were eating homes, lamp posts, and cars at the speed of piranhas' legendary ability to skeletonize cows.

That mental image will keep me up at night.

You think I'm kidding?  Look at what part of the total swarm does to a farmhouse in a matter of seconds:

That's flooring, pots, pans, furniture, clothing, everything gone in seconds.

Twilight manages to grab one and goes to Zecora, hoping that her zebra voodoo (man, that feels racist to type) might know what they can do, and Zecora gives the conclusion that I reached earlier in the episode:  Ponyville is doomed.

So, this is where Twilight suffers a brief mental breakdown, gets a distant look in her eyes, and decides the only logical thing to do is copy Blazing Saddles by building a replica town.  Sadly, they aren't able to implement this plan before salvation appears in the form of...Pinkie Pie?

Yeah, if you read my earlier comments, it turns out that Pinkie Pie was assembling an entire one man- er, "one pony band." 

Parasprites, it turns out, love music, and are soon bouncing behind her like the pied piper of Hamelin leading out all the rats in town. 

Now, I know what you're thinking:  "So, Erik, you're saying that if these creatures somehow ended up in the real world, we'd only need an act that would probably get booed off of America's Got Talent to round them all up for us?"

Well, yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.  But think about this for a moment:  The key to defeating this creature in the My Little Pony universe revolves around locating, assembling into a single unit, and then playing musical instrumentsPonies don't have fingers.  I don't even know why banjos exist in this universe!

To compare that here, if parasprites were real in our world, it would probably somehow involve finding someone who could capably play the holophonor.

So Pinkie leads Satan's Insect Army out of town, the other ponies meet up with Princess Celestia...who, it turns out, is being called away for an emergency.  See, Fillydelphia (see what they did there?) is currently undergoing a crisis due to an infestation of some strange insect creatures. 

So the day is saved, the Princess' trip is postponed, and the main characters are able to return back to their home to bear witness to the devastation.

Terrifying.  And that's not even taking into account the fact that ponies can't really wield construction equipment.  No hands.

I think, when you look at what could be in some horrible alternate universe, maybe we should be thankful that we only have to deal with Japanese Beetles, locusts, and (up here in the northeast) black flies.  It could be so much, much worse.

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