Monday, November 25, 2013

Season 4 Premiere Commentary

Okay, the day has finally come. Season 4.  The time when the powers that be shall separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff, the troo kvlt fans from those destined to leave the fandom forever (and mean it this time!)

I always lose track of the finer points of what I was going to say when I try to write something a day or more after the fact, so I'll be updating this article as I go with my thoughts and opinions about the highly anticipated/feared Season 4 2-Part Premiere.  It's also the best way I have to give an honest opinion rather than one calculated to placate the fandom and fel- please Hasbro, like [REDACTED] has probably already published.

EDIT: I have an affinity for working a little blue, so I've had to go back and edit a few key phrases. Hopefully, you'll have no idea where they were.

While I was there, I've added a few thoughts with the benefit of hindsight. I've prefaced these with EDIT notes so you'll know what was immediate and what I only thought of later.


As of this entry, I am five minutes into the first episode.  Things are looking interesting, but there are some very troubling signals already.  We open on a worried looking Twilight flying clumsily, just in case you managed to forget that she has wings now despite the pony segments in Equestria Girls doing very little other than reminding you of that fact.

Her friends all address her as Princess Twilight, and her reaction is better than I was thinking it was going to be.  She asks them not to call her that, since they are her friends.  One of the key elements of this show has been harmony, which includes none of the main characters being objectively better than the others.  This dissonance between the show's stated "point" and its current state resonates rather well, except for Rarity, who can't understand why anyone wouldn't want everyone (even their friends) to distance themselves from and belittle themselves before her by using her title.  Wonderful.

Then Twilight crashes into the ground and there's a funny line from Pinkie.  That's not bad, but then the credits start.  They are exactly the same as before, which isn't bad, except for one very noticeable thing.  The shot of the main six gathered together has been rejiggered to include Twilight spreading her wings across a large percentage of the frame, as if to say "we're going full steam ahead with this whether or not it makes sense." Despite all the promises of this being resolved satisfactorily within the premiere, which was promised to comprise the second and third parts of a trilogy beginning with the season 3 finale, it seems to be broadcasting very loudly and triumphantly that they are here to stay.

I want to clarify right now that I'm not against that in principle, but it looks like they're setting up an over-the-top action action action plot rather than resolving any of the many questions we were left with by the season 3 finale: namely "why and how in the blue fudgemonkeys did any of the events in the second half of the episode happen?"  I may be asking too much of a children's show, but I am a firm believer that being "for kids" is no excuse for logical inconsistencies and a "screw logic; kids won't notice/care" attitude.

Still, this is going on really really long (probably because I never wrote up a proper review of the season 3 finale) and it looks like we're going to be in for a fun story.


Okay, so Celestia gets taken out like a redshirt on Star Trek.  I can go with it for expediency's sake, but it kind of nerfs her status as the most powerful being in the world (which they never officially state, but due to everyone's reverence for her, it's implied.)


Being mildly annoyed seems to be a bit of an underreaction when faced with invincible hellweeds.  Then again,  I suppose the Apple family's barn gets destroyed so often that they were figuring they were due for another disaster.  Honestly, I'm surprised they didn't cut away during EqG just to show something unnecessary destroying it.
Something something something something LEONARD BERNSTEIN!


 So, the vines can interfere with and cripple magic?  That'll put a lot of pressure on our heroes, since they tend to rely on magic to solve their problems after everything else fails. I'm interested in seeing where this leads.

EDIT: Nowhere. It leads nowhere.  This plot point lasts for less than a minute before they forget it completely.


 Obligatory Wilhelm Scream.  I really shouldn't even call attention to it, since they use it so often and these days it's not a cute in-joke anymore.


So... they have a spell (or whatever you want to call it) to summon Discord whenever they like, apparently.  I'm too lazy to rewatch Keep Calm And Flutter On again at the moment, but I don't recall them ever getting that.  I really don't like it when we're meant to just assume things happened off camera in the time they were gone.  Still, it's good seeing him again, even if having him be a beast on a leash is less interesting than it was when he was a villain.

 ...speaking of things that happened off camera, they were talking earlier as though this was the very first Summer Sun Celebration since Luna had returned.  I don't generally go along with fanon, but the 1 season = 1 year assumption seemed to be working pretty well.  Just how much (or little) time HAS passed in this series?

There's some food for thought.


So... they want to cast Discord back into stone without any evidence, and the only defense for him is that you should place trust in your friends? Not to open up a whole can of worms, but I'd be rather nervous if I were ever on the wrong side of their legal system.


Definitely not suspect.

Okay, okay.  Here's somewhere I have to draw a line.  "Oh hey guys, I found this potion that's exactly what you'll need just laying around... somewhere." That's more convenient than the Bat Utility Belt's shark repellent.

Secondly, the writers seem paradoxically unaware of the internet.  I think I've used up my allowance of foul language, so suffice to say that it was not a smart idea to make Twilight chug a white potion.  Why did she even have to turn it white anyway?  There are other ways they could have achieved the same effect.  One that just comes to the top of my head is this: the potion can only be physically handled by alicorns and is so strong that it would be like poison to any other creature that drank it.  Quick, simple, and no need for simulated [REDACTED].


 Oh yay, flashbacks.  I'm glad to see a little bit more of the Nightmare Moon conflict, but it doesn't tell us anything the original legend didn't already.

EDIT: Actually, after some thought, we do learn that the creators think two subsets of bronies can go fudge themselves.

1. Bronies who thought Celestia's mane used to be pink.  Nope.  Apparently, the artists for the storybook Twilight was reading were just lazy.  All those hours you spent in your fanfiction world-building about the flow of magic and how Celestia's loss of connection to the Elements of Harmony (or whatever nonsense you chose) changed her mane? Wasted.  Feel free to e-mail me your delicious tears.

2. Luna fans who believe she was possessed by some kind of outside evil like in InuYasha. Sorry, but from what we can see, it looks like she's just a whiny, jealous little female canine

I'd put in a joke about DeviantART, but that's where I took this from.


 After the inspiring little "We'll do it together!" line, they run into some trouble and everyone immediately changes their minds.  Twilight shouldn't come along anymore because she's a princess now, and that really cuts to the heart of why a lot of people were less than satisfied with this plot development.  Twilight is now, by all objective measurements, better and more important than her dearest friends.  Of course, I agree with Napoleon Bonaparte that a leader who's unwilling to be up on the front lines is a coward who shouldn't be leading squat, but I don't think French Imperialism will dictate the choices in this episode.

How are you supposed to be friends, a state which is generally predicated on you either being equals or not calling attention to the fact that you aren't - when one of you is measurably better?  When pressure is applied, it always shifts from egalitarian friendship into a Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee relationship, a politer version of master and servant.

Maybe this is the creators acknowledging that this is a very serious problem that would, in reality, drive a wedge in between even the best of friends.  Maybe they are building toward some kind of climax that involves Twilight sacrificing her newfound majesty for the sake of her friends.  It would be a bit communist, but it would make sense.


Hm, and Discord seems to agree with me.

Well, whether I end up being right or wrong about where this episode is headed, at least it cements that I belong on a site called Discord's Domain.


And the episode is over now.  I didn't feel like stopping in the middle of the climax to write more, but... what?

What purpose did Discord being behind the evil weeds serve?  I mean, I was a little put out that he seemed to be nothing but an idiot in the flashback, so it's nice that he actually had some kind of devious machinations at the time, but there was no need for that flashback involving him or for him to be behind the weeds in the grand scheme of things.  The elements of harmony having been removed from the tree for so long could have been explanation enough.

More on the elements: things have certainly changed, all right. Discord's no longer bound by the threat of them, held only by emotional blackmail from being himself.  He's free to come back as a villain, which would be cool.  In the season 2 premiere, he gave the impression of only being nonchalant because he had so much power that he didn't consider anyone else a threat.  Him in full villain mode would certainly be a fascinating sight, and teach the kids a good lesson about not placing your trust in people who have every reason in the world to hate you.

You can trust me, Georgie!

Oh, and there's a box.  It's supposed to spark debate, I guess, but speculation is useless at this point since we have no data to go on.  For what it's worth, my theory involves a soon to be very upset Brad Pitt.

You know what I mean.
 The only other thing I'm going to say is if that box contains Princess Skyla, then I quit.

Good night everybody.  Be good to yourselves, and each other.