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Monday, December 30, 2013

Sunday, Pony Sunday (Special Monday Edition)

Yes, I've fallen rather behind the curve lately, what with the holidays and all the stress they bring.  I'm going to try to catch up on my "Didja Notice?" series of MLP episode analyses.

Episode 4: Daring Don't

This is pretty clearly a filler episode, as it has nothing to do with the season's story arc of "Solve the mystery of the Harmony Tree's locked box."   I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, as they can't all be arc or mythology episodes, but...

... well, ehh. This episode really didn't do anything for me, as I had no real interest or sympathy with the Daring Do character , who was made out to be more than a little bit of a jerk (and if you can out-jerkify Rainbow Dash, that's pretty bad).  I always envisioned Daring Do as an Indiana Jones type (obviously) but they seemed to crib her personality from the worst aspects of Wolverine (I'm the best at what I do, and what I do isn't pretty, so I do it alone, snikt bub snikt.)

I did like the nerd-off between Twilight And Dashie, though:
Rainbow Dash: We've gotta go help!

Twilight Sparkle: You heard her! She says she works alone!

Rainbow Dash: How can we just stand by and do nothing? You know what's at stake here! Ahuizotl has sought control of the Tenochtitlan Basin since book three!

Twilight Sparkle: True, but in book four, she defeated Ahuizotl and secured the Amulet of Atonement, dispelling the dark magic of the Quetzalcóatl Empress, and thus protecting the basin with the Radiant Shield of Rasdon!

Rainbow Dash: But the Radiant Shield of Rasdon is vulnerable to the dark enchantment of the Rings of Scorcherro!

Twilight Sparkle: Are you forgetting that the Rings were scattered to the four corners of Tenochtitlan, thus rendering the dark enchantment powerless?

Rainbow Dash: Only if you assume the Rings have yet to be retrieved, and the ring Caballeron just stole isn't the last ring to complete the dark tower and its cruel hold on Tenochtitlan! Did you ever think of that?!

Pinkie Pie: You gotta admit, Rainbow Dash makes a pretty good point.
Other thoughts:

  • I'm sure I'm not the only one to see the comparison between Dr. René Belloq and  Dr. Caballeron?

  • Daring Do is a pegasus. Why doesn't she, you know, fly when chasing the bad guys?

  • Oh look, there's evil kitty again.

  • I realize how ridiculous it will sound when I gripe about believability in a show about magical talking cartoon ponies, but the the Fortress of Talicon -- which holds lost archaeological treasures as well as a tribe of aboriginal ponies -- is just a day's travel away from Daring Do's cottage? sigh.

  • Honestly, I just want to write this episode off as "Rainbow Dash's Daydream."
In conclusion -- yes, I know you've been wondering if I'm going to reference the obvious connection between "A.K. Yearling" and J.K. Rowling --  I close with this bit of fanart from talented brony PixelKitties:

“No one will be alive by the last book. In fact, they all die in the fifth. The sixth book will be just a thousand-page description of snow blowing across the graves ...” -- George R. R. Martin

Episode 5:  Flight to the Finish

I haven't seen this episode. Missed it on TV, and it fell off the Hub's website before I could get to it. I've got my DVR set to record it, though, and I think it'll repeat on New Year's Day.

That said, it's a Cutie Mark Crusaders episode, so it's unlikely there's anything arc-worthy here.

However, since I'm on a PixelKitties kick...

Episode 6: Power Ponies

ZOMG. I loved this episode SO MUCH, you guys. While I was slightly disappointed there wasn't a callback to Mare Do Well, this episode did so many things right that kicked my gigglebox right over.

  • A reference to cleaning up the sisters' castle in the Everfree Forest!  I totally called it.

  • Mare-tropolis? Why then does it have zepplins like Gotham in Batman: the Animated Series? (Answer:  because awesome and funny, that's why.)

  • The villain has a Joker origin, Doctor Octopus/Medusa powers, and is called the Mane-iac. Before, I was simply interested. Now, I am *invested* in this story.
  • Also, is it just me, or is Mane-iac done by the same voice actor who did Night Mare Moon?
  • Holy Robin Reference, Batmare!
    • Masked Matter-Horn is a totally awesome name and I'm going to file that away the next time I play in a superheroes game. Giving Twilight matter conversion powers is a solid fit. 
    • However, Filly-Second is the best name ever. I would have picked Rainbow Dash to be the speedster, but giving sugar-filled Pinkie Pie superspeed actually fits her personality. 
    • Speaking of Dashie, giving her weather powers seems like a gimme. Zapp isn't a great name, though. (Although to be honest, neither is "Storm".)
    • Radiance?  Slightly better, and it fits the Green Lantern/Star Sapphire motif. And I do adore how all her creations are prissy. 
    • Mistress Mare-velous isn't a great name either, although I like the combination of Wonder Woman's lasso with Batman's batarangs (especially when they look like horseshoes). 
    • Saddle Rager actually took me a bit to figure out, as I knew there had to be a pun somewhere. I finally figured out that it was a play on battle rager, aka a berserker.

  • I love how in the first fight, the Mane Six totally botches their powers, and by the next scene they've figured out (more or less) how to use them. That's the Failure is Awesome mechanic in action!

  • Isn't it funny how Rarity is the first to really figure out how to best use her powers?

  • The minion on the sprayer with the alarm made me giggle, too. Finally, a competent villain! And Mane-iac didn't even have to yell "You had ONE job!"

  • Saving the best for last:

    "I have a hairdryer."

    "We have a Flutterhulk."

Look! More PixelKitties!

Episode 7: Bats!

I have mixed feelings about this episode. On the one hand, it is very cute, and there's a fun song which is always welcome, and my inner goth approves of anything vampiric. On the other hand, they pretty much telegraphed the "right answer" which I felt wasn't fair to Applejack. I would have preferred a more nuanced moral about finding a compromise for all parties and not just "Fluttershy is always right when it comes to animals/ecology and she shouldn't give in to peer pressure."  After all, her proposal for a "Vampire Fruit Bat Sanctuary" contained no provisions for keeping the bats out of the rest of the orchard -- she admitted that she didn't speak their language, so there's no guarantee that the bats would have stayed there -- and Sweet Apple Acres is apparently a major food source for Ponyville as well as a family business. Applejack has a right to keep an infestation from destroying her crops!

Again, a few thoughts:

  • Oh, Rarity, you're SUCH a size queen.
  • It's funny how during the song, Applejack kind of has a Batman thing going, given what happened in the previous episode.
  • I'm honestly surprised it's taken three seasons to make a "Winter Wrap-Up" joke.
  • Nice callback to Dash's cider obsession, though.
  • Pinkie Pie as Carmen Miranda seems fitting.
  • Why am I not surprised that Rarity has a HAZMAT suit?
  • OK, so the spell has been performed, the vampire fruit bats no longer want apples, and yet something drained the apples during the night. During the night. This will be relevant later.
  • Calling her Flutterbat is cute and all, but the writers missed an opportunity for a truly magnificent pun:

  • Look, Twilight has Magical Powerpoint Abilities!
  • Now's the time when they're discussing how to reverse the spell, and they seize upon the plan to... use mirrors?  To make Fluttershy use the Stare on herself???  How does that even work?  WHY would she want to stare herself?  I know they're riffing off vampire mythology here, but...
  • Remember earlier, when I said that the apples were drained the night previous?  Clearly, Fluttershy only turns into Flutterbat at night (because otherwise nothing would have happened to the orchard after Twilight cast the spell.)  Occam's Razor suggests that the simplest course of action is to wait until sunrise when 'Bat turns back into 'Shy and then dispel the magic.
  • You probably missed it on the TV, as it was very brief, but Flutterbat has a different Cutie Mark:

Three pink bats. This confirms that the Horseferatu is a cupcake goth. 

And to conclude:  a comic!  Not from PixelKitties this time, but from dm29!

And with that, I'm caught up!

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