[source]

Special – “The Best Gift Ever”

Written by: Michael Vogel
As the ponies prepare for another Hearth’s Warming, families come together to celebrate the holiday; Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash are ready for the big day, but Princess Twilight Sparkle doesn’t have time to celebrate.

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MLP Review: School Raze

All of the magic in Equestria has stopped working for some reason. The Mane Six suspect Tirek and head to Tartarus to get some answers. Meanwhile, eager helper Cozy Glow is being left in charge because Starlight is helping the Mane Six as well (even though she was instructed to go to Celestia if she saw something). The Young Six have their suspicions of Cozy Glow and Neighsayer arrives because he thinks that a) Twilight and her friends have gone off on an adventure and b) believes the non-pony students are responsible for the disappearing magic, so he usurps the school.

Sandbar fakes turning on his friends to get the Cutie Mark Crusaders to help and we get a lot of answers. Tirek is pen pals with Cozy Glow who has taken some artifacts to trap the magic in Equestria and Starlight.

So, Sandbar and the CMC help free the others and then Neighsay after he realizes Cozy’s plot. Meanwhile, Tirek admires Cozy’s plan, but think about the fact that the Mane Six are trapped with him and magic is the only way out. The creatures in Tartarus still have some magic left and the Mane Six harness it to escape. Meanwhile, the Tree of Harmony saves the Young Six and they in turn save Equestria and Cozy’s manipulations are exposed. She gets sent to Tartarus and we are likely going to continue this in Season Nine.

Two things that put this two-part finale near the levels of “To Where And Back Again” (not a compliment). Neighsay suddenly shows up and where in the hoof does he get the idea that Twilight and her friends are going on some adventure willy nilly? Unless, it was Cozy’s plan all along to draw him in and then get him out of the way.

Then, there is Cozy’s ambitions. They are somewhat unclear. She says that Friendship is “power” and having all the power will get her all the friends and rule Equestria. They are likely going to revisit that like how they tracked to Starlight’s past in “The Cutie Re-Mark”. I’ve heard another theory, but we’ll see if it comes true in Season Nine. And yes, why would they put Cozy Glow near Tirek in Tartarus other than the story needing that to explore next season?

The Young Six have been very good introductions this season even if some of the episodes they were in were subpar. This finale unfortunately ends up on the lower end in comparison to other season finales with only “To Where and Back Again” and “Best Night Ever” being below it. It’s not that any of the finales have been totally awful, but on the other side of this are “A Canterlot Wedding” and “Twilight’s Kingdom” which are two of the best episodes of the series and two other top tier finales in “The Cutie Re-Map” and “Shadow Play”.

As for Season Eight as a whole. Again, we have a concept with promise thanks to the Young Six, but we sort of come to point where we don’t know what to do with some of the characters who have been here for awhile. Shining Armor was conspicuously absent this season even though he was in the titles (as was Flurry Heart for the most part). Cadance and Luna barely got any time themselves.

As for the episodes, it was slow to get off but was getting better towards the end. Yet, the finale does leave a couple of things to be desired. However, the Young Six were a great addition to the series and will likely be key in Season Nine. We do have an interesting villain in Cozy Glow and fans will be interested in a team-up with Tirek. Chrysalis is still out there as well. We’ll see what happens in Season Nine. Two things are certain: 1) the show will celebrate its 200th episode and 2) “Best Gift Ever” comes in two weeks.

See you then!

GRADE: B+

RANKING THE FINALES:
1. Twilight’s Kingdon (S4)
2. A Canterlot Wedding (S2)
3. The Cutie Re-Mark (S5)
4. Shadow Play (S7)
5. Magical Mystery Cure (S3)
6. School Raze (S8)
7. To Where and Back Again (S6)
8. Best Night Ever (S1)

TOP FIVE SEASON 8 EPISODES:
1. Sounds of Silence
2. The Hearth’s Warming Club
3. Surf and/or Turf
4. Grannies Gone Wild
5. What Lies Beneath

BOTTOM FIVE SEASON 8 EPISODES:
20. The Maud Couple
21. The Mean 6
22. Non-Compete Clause
23. The Parent Map
24. Yakity-Sax

StatManDan

[source]

825 & 826 – “School Raze”

Written by: Nicole Dubuc; Josh Haber
When the magic of Equestria begins to fail, Twilight leads her friends on a quest for answers, leaving the School of Friendship open to an attack from a dangerous mastermind; While Twilight and the rest of the Mane Six try to escape Tartarus, Cozy Glow furthers her plot to take over the School of Friendship with only Twilight’s students and the CMCs to stop her.

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Before we begin, I have a quick plug:

Ponyville Ciderfest is October 26-28 at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee and I am hosting “Pointless Ponies” there on the 27th at 3pm CT. 

Here’s where you come in. I am in need of participants for the survey for the game. 

https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4562293/Pointless-Ponies-8b

I am looking for at least 100 participants for this survey. If you could please spare 15 minutes to take this survey between now and 11:30pm CT next Saturday (12 hours after the Season Eight Finale airs in the US), I would really appreciate it. 

As always, your participation in the survey is important to the success of the show and is greatly appreciated.

Thank You,

StatManDan


Now onto the review:

This episode is pretty much a do-over from “Dragon Quest” in which we have Spike trying to learn about his true self being a dragon raised in a pony world. This is where Smolder is a vital component of this story in terms of a fellow dragon to hang around with.

Another dragon named Sludge crash lands in and is nursed back to health by Spike and the Mane Six. Then, he reveals himself to be Spike’s father, though it’s apparent that there are problems with his story. Spike treats him around for some “father-son” time, but then Sludge plays the “being a real dragon” card which is really taking advantage of Spike just to stay in the castle and not really roughing it in the world. Sludge is eventually found out and takes his leave and Spike parents are still an unknown quantity. Even though Twilight will let Spike travel to the Dragon Lands more often to find out about himself, Spike says he already knows who his “real family” is.

Yes, this is a much better episode than “Dragon Quest” and one of the main reasons is Smolder. Spike needed someone besides the ponies  to hang around with and that’s what we have been getting with Smolder. It also gives one of the Young Six something outside the school arc to do.

The one problem I have is that it wouldn’t be a “Spike learning about himself episode” without Spike making some instantly bad decisions such as not seeing the ruse as it unfolds. Outside of that, this is a good episode and continues the string heading towards the Season Eight finale.

GRADE:  A-

StatManDan

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824 – “Father Knows Beast”

Written by: Josh Haber
When a strange dragon crash lands in Ponyville claiming to be Spike’s father, Spike is ready to do anything his father says in order to learn how to be a real dragon.

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MLP Review: Sounds of Silence

Perhaps as a makeup for largely not doing much in the Movie, Applejack and Fluttershy are being sent by the map to solve a new friendship problem. This one is at the Peaks of Peril where they come across a group of creatures called Kirin. The Kirin are silent and do not speak which makes things difficult. However, Applejack comes across a Kirin named Autumn Blaze (voiced by Rachel Bloom). She sings a song about how the Kirin were once very sociable creatures unitl a fight broke out between two Kirin one day, and hurtful words were exchanged. The two Kirin’s bodies were ignited in fire by their anger and they turned into Niriks (Kirin spelled backwards), Their arguing quickly spread to the rest of the village, causing everything to go up in flames. To prevent this from happening again, the village leader Rain Shine ordered the Kirin to step through the Stream of Silence, suppressing their voices and emotions.

Autumn found a special flower that broke her silence, but Rain Shine made her choose between her voice and the village. Autumn chose her voice. Despite Autumn using up all the flowers at the time, AJ is still determined to get the Kirin to break their silence. However, Fluttershy says they should maintain the status quo to avoid harm to their village and the animals nearby. Sensing disagreement, the Kirin threaten to toss AJ and Fluttershy into the Stream of Silence before Autumn puts a firewall between them and the stream.

Autumn Blaze then says having emotions is not dangerous—what matters is what one does with them. Applejack and Fluttershy agree that giving up one’s emotions just to avoid feeling anger is no way to live and that friends can argue from time to time as long as they don’t let it get in the way of their friendship.

With that, we find the flowers from Autumn’s song (as well as earlier with Fluttershy helping some animals earlier in the episode) and the Kirin regaing their voices and emotions. Friendship Mission Accomplished!

The show went back to some of the basics with this episode and it paid off magnificently. We get a great song from Rachel Bloom and this may not make up all the way for what little AJ and Fluttershy did in the Movie, but these were the right ponies for this job. We also got a great lesson that emotions themselves aren’t dangerous. What matters is what one does with them. It is one of the best lessons of the season and it looks more and more like the season will end on a strong note.

GRADE: A+