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Season Seven in Review

 

Well, that was a fun ride! While a lot of attention was placed on the Movie (and of leaks and other countries jumping ahead of the US schedule), Season Seven was a step up from the previous season. It was also unique in that the comics were tied-in more closely to the events of the show from Issues 51-53 (“From the Shadows” Arc) to the Legends of Magic series. Everything got tied up in a neat little package called “Shadow Play”. Oh, and we finally got to see Starswirl the Bearded, Rainbow Dash’s parents, and Applejack’s parents. I showed my hand a bit after the “Shadow Play” review on what was best an what was not, but here’s the full list from 25 down to 1:

25. Triple Threat: After two great episodes for Spike in Season Six, this episode reminded me of a Brady Bunch episode where Peter double-booked dates and he’s going out of his way to not have one see the other.

24. Not Asking for Trouble: Much like “Party Pooped,” this episode came down on the Yaks and how they absorbed the lesson in the end about asking for help. The comic that followed about Pinkie being an honorary yak was a bit better.

23. Marks and Recreation: A little switch from what I put down in the “Shadow Play” review upon further review. Rumble was being too much of a jerk in this one.

22. Honest Apple: This reminded me of an old Monty Python saying, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.” That fits AJ to a T here when it comes to fashion.

21. Rock Solid Friendship: Here we have an example of Pinkie at her worst. Luckily, Starlight and Maud manage to hold things up in this one.

20. Forever Filly: Two words best describe this one: Helicopter Sister

19. Hard to Say Anything: I hope they are not typecasting Vincent Tong as a waifu thief. The song duel got very cringeworthy.

18. Daring Done?: Good lesson, but scene setup is too predictable even by this show’s standards.

17. Uncommon Bond: Sunburst was a little too inconsiderate of Starlight in this one.

16. A Flurry of Emotions: Twilight could have saved herself a bit of trouble by either delegating some of her duties to Spike and/or paying more attention to Flurry Heart.

15. A Health of Information: Fluttershy was a little too disturbing in this one. This was her “Applebuck Season”.

14. To Change A Changeling: This is where Starlight’s impulses are not a good thing, though her dynamic with Trixie was good here as was Pharynx.

13. Secrets and Pies: Rainbow did not have to overcomplicate things in making up with Pinkie. She also did not have to be so dishonest, either.

12. Campfire Tales: This episode initially set up the Legends arc for the show while the comics preceded it a bit. Just a nice sequel to “Sleepless in Ponyville”.

11. Fame and Misfortune: There are lessons here for both show staff and for fans however harsh they may be. The town ponies were too harsh in this one.

10. All Bottled Up: It was a funny episode. There were just nine episodes that were better than this one.

9. Fluttershy Leans In: I still enjoyed this episode a lot. I still say Fluttershy is in the right here. This is that Monty Python saying done a little better than in “Honest Apple”.

8. Celestial Advice: This was a good way to start the season with some focus on Celestia for once and a nice follow-up and breather to “To Where and Back Again”.

7. Discordant Harmony: Discord hasn’t been the best in single-part episodes (“Dungeons and Discords” an exception), but he was much better in this one with Fluttershy reminding him of how chaotic he is.

6. It Isn’t the Mane Thing About You: If you suspected Season Seven was slacking off a bit, in comes Rarity and this episode to pick things up.

5. Parental Glidance: We meet Rainbow’s parents for the first time and they were quite the cards, but Scootaloo is the MVP of this episode.

4. Once Upon A Zeppelin: If “A Flurry of Emotions” didn’t do as good a job of showing that Twilight needed to balance duty to others and duty to herself and family better, this one did. Everypony in top form here.

3. A Royal Problem: A few episodes delivered on what fans were hoping for such as this episode focused on Celestia and Luna. This episode had everything except a song and it was still the third best episode of this season.

2. Shadow Play: This was an outstanding way to tie everything up this season and with the comics. It also sets up the potential for future storylines for the show if it wants to. That’s something for a show in its seventh season.

1. The Perfect Pear: While a Celestia/Luna episode was something much cdesired. One about Applejack’s parents was even more so. This episode went above and beyond all expectations for it and it is still the highest-rated episode on IMDB. Need I say anymore?

So that was Season Seven. I already mentioned the top five songs in the season—which were the only ones this season. Here are the top ten character debuts in the season:

1. Pear Butter
2. Bright Mac
3. Grand Pear
4. Pharynx
5. Starswirl the Bearded
6. Mage Meadowbrook
7. Somnambula
8. Bo Hothoof
9. Windy Whistles
10. Burnt Oak

Other Unofficial Awards this Season:

Most Surprising Return: Iron Will

Best of the Mane Six this Season: Twilight

Best Parents: Applejack’s

Lingering Question of the Season: How were Rainbow’s parents allowed to bring a cannon and fireworks to the Wonderbolts show?

Best non-Mane Six Character of the Season: Starlight Glimmer

Something I Thought I Would See in Season Seven, But Didn’t: Chrysalis (let alone her planned revenge)

Final Thought of Season Seven: This show has a lot of life in it, yet!

See you in Season Eight!

StatManDan

MLP Review: Shadow Play

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For those of you who argue that there are episodes of the show that were better than the Movie, here’s another one to add to the list. Sunburst discovers Star Swirl’s journal (not to be confused with his spell book in “Magical Mystery Cure”). It turns out that he, Rookhoof, Flash Magnus, Mistmane, Sonmambula, and Mage Meadowbrook were brought together to serve as pillars of Equestria through sorcery, strength, bravery, beauty, hope, and healing. The six pillars sacrificed themselves against the Pony of Shadows to send it and them in limbo. Before doing that, they left a seed that would grow into the Tree of Harmony.

Astonished that the legends are real as well as the Pony of Shadows, Twilight sets out to set her mentor and the other pillars free. To do that, she, the rest of the Mane Six, and Spike set out to retrieve the following: Rookhoof’s hammer, Flash’s shield, Mistmane’s flower, Meadowbrook’s mask, and Sonmambula’s blindfold. Twilgiht, Starlight (who has her doubts about this), and Sunburst make the final preparations. They succeed in bringing the pillars back, but also the Pony of Shadows.

The Pony of Shadows retreats after being held back by Star Swirl ,Twilight, and Starlight. The Pillars and Mane Six move on a plan to banish the Pony of Shadows for good, though Twilight is hesitant to sacrifice the Elements of Harmony and Starlight is wondering about whether this is really a friendship problem. The map calls every pony to Hollow Shades where the pony named Stygian who was exiled by the Pillars for taking their instruments. Just as the Pillars and Mane Six attack, Twilight sees Stygian trapped inside and goes in. Stygian maintained that he only took the instruments to replicate them and gain their respect after bringing them to take on and trap the Sirens. With an assist from Starlight, the rest of the Pillars and Mane Six free Stygian and send the shadow back into limbo.

Star Swirl reunites with Celestia and Luna and the Pillars will go out exploring what’s become of their lands and of Equestria. He also thanks Twilight for helping him understand friendship and Twilight thanks Starlight for helping her see things beyond her idol worship.

So where to begin with this? After he was first mentioned 138 episodes ago, we get to see Star Swirl in the flesh. We had the Legends of Magic comic series as well as the episodes “Campfire Tales”, “Daring Done?”, and “A Health of Information”; but didn’t know it would all come together in this fashion in the finale. And it all worked very well. One thing that didn’t work well was the root of the conflict which came down to poor communication between Stygian and the Pillars. While the Pillars got all the glory for defeating the Sirens, Stygian got none and tried to do so through somewhat nefarious means and went on a downward spiral from there. But really, that was the only flaw in this episode.

Every single character was in top form and it was interesting to see the Pillars interact with their respective successor in terms of the Elements of Harmony. The continuity not just with the season, but the comics and “Rainbow Rocks” as well was spot on. Recall that Twilight was able to complete a spell that Star Swirl couldn’t because he did not understand friendship like Twilight in “Magical Mystery Cure”. It was a nice touch to have each of Twilight’s friends demonstrate their elements as reflections of each of the Pillars’ elements.

So this was a top class finale to cap off a wonderful Season Seven. It is a definite step up in class from Season Six and how it compares to Seasons Four and Five is anyone’s guess. We certainly cannot wait for Season Eight!

GRADE: A

Top Five Season Seven Episdoes:
1. The Perfect Pear
2. Shadow Play
3. A Royal Problem
4. Once Upon A Zeppelin
5. Parental Glidance

Bottom Five Season Seven Episodes:
5. Rock Solid Friendship
4. Marks and Recreation
3. Honest Apple
2. Not Asking for Trouble
1. Triple Threat

(NOTE: It was very hard to name the bottom five, especially where there were just two obvious choices.)

The Season Seven Songs:
1. Flawless
2. You’re In My Head Like A Catchy Song
3. Best Friends Until the End of Time
4. Battle for Sugar Belle
5. Blank Flanks Forever

(These were the only five songs in the season. “Pinkie Pride” itself had six songs.)

A more in-depth Season Seven review is coming up!

StatManDan

MLP Review: Uncommon Bond

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You knew the show would get around to this, so it follows that it is the penultimate episode of the season. Sunburst comes to Ponyville to see Starlight Glimmer. The latter is really looking forward to the trip, but is surprised to learn that Sunburst likes to go antique hunting—so does Twilight. He also likes stage tricks like Trixie and geology like Maud Pie.

All of this actually upsets Starlight because Sunburst has turned out different after al the years apart and that he has more in common with Starlight’s friends than with herself. Starlight attempts to relive the good old days with Sunburst to the point of travel back in time and as foals to play their favorite board game, but that doesn’t work.

Twilight re-assures Starlight that Sunburst still wants to be friends (even though he doesn’t have a troubled past or a shared feeling of being different from others) and they, Maud, and Trixie present a life-size version of Dragon Pit (the board game). While Starlight and Sunburst do not have as much in common as they used to, they can still enjoy each other’s company. Though judging by the book in the mystery barrel (and in Legends of Magic #6), that next meeting may come much sooner!

So this was a decent episode. We have seen before in other cartoons where things can change between friends after an extended period of time apart, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to be friends anymore. As long as friends enjoy each other’s company, then that’s all that really matters. There’s really not much more to add to this episode is that it does set up the season finale next Saturday. Stay tuned!

GRADE:  B+

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Secrets and Pies”

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Pinkie Pie is baking a pie for Rainbow Dash’s 73rd Wonderbolt training session. Rainbow accepts the pie at Wonderbolts HQ, but Pinkie soon finds the pie in the dumpster instead of inside her stomach. As a matter of fact, Pinkie has never seen Rainbow eat one of her pies, she’s always been distracted (read: fall for trick of looking away from Rainbow).

Pinkie comes to the conclusion that Rainbow doesn’t like her pies and has lied about liking them. Pinkie’s attempts to catch her in the act come up fruitless until gravity exposes Rainbow Dash as a pie she throws up into the air lands on Pinkie. The truth is Rainbow Dash does not like ANY pies (which comic main series #59 will delve into).

Rainbow though the hassle was worth it because Pinkie would be crushed if she found out someone didn’t like her pies and it made her happy to see Pinkie happy. Also, she was willing to eat a “pie” she baked to make it up to Pinkie. That’s kind of the sour part of this episode. They do mention that Rainbow should be more honest with Pinkie, but her way of trying to make it up to her is as overly-complicated as her schemes to get rid of her pies.

But really, that was the only sore point, though a significant one in my opinion. Other than that, we get some very good facial expressions and Pinkie’s imagination go out of control (liked the “Evil Dash” bit). It’s just that Rainbow didn’t need to overcomplicate things in making amends with Pinkie.

GRADE: B+

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Once Upon A Zeppelin”

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I have to think that this episode was made with the notion that it has been 100 episodes since Twilight became an alicorn. This is the 165th episode of the series.

Twilight has been invited by her parents to be part of a family vacation on board an airship. Shining Armor, Cadance, and Flurry Heart are also on board. It appears Twilight Velvet and Night Light won a contest for this vacation (without reading the fine print). However, it turns out the other ponies on board have paid to see the Twilight and Cadance courtesy of Iron Will now offering themed vacations with the motivational speaking market drying up.

Twilight offers to make a deal that she’ll perform the “Princess functions” as long as her family get to participate in events they want to. However, it turns hard on Twilight since she is unable to play bingo with her Dad, race boat with an airsick Shining Armor, or barrel riding with her Mom. Meanwhile, Cadance is watching Flurry Heart in the day care center on the ship. Plus, Twilight has a contest winner named Sky Tracker on her tail as an “honorary family member”.

Things come to a head when Twilight misses the Northern Stars after signing autographs. She even stomps on Sky Tracker’s foreleg in anger. A heart-to-heart with Cadance shows her that while she’ll always have responsibilities as a princess, there must be some boundaries set between responsibilities to others and responsibility to one’s self like Cadance had to draw when she had Flurry Heart.

Twilight apologizes to everyone and, gasp!, goes off schedule to treat every pony to ice cream. Meanwhile, Iron Will jumps the ship after he loopholes his way out of facing customers who learn that the cruise never guaranteed the participation of “actual princesses.”

In the end, Twilight is treated to a family version of the Northern Stars show and finally gets some downtime with her family.

This was a very sweet episode despite Iron Will’s participation (who’s even more of a jerk here than in “Putting Your Hoof Down”). We’ve seen family episodes featuring five of the Mane Six (we haven’t gone in depth with Rarity’s parents, yet) and just about all of them so far have been very good episodes. “The Perfect Pear” is still the best of the five, but I have to feel it’s now a toss-up between this and “Parental Glidance” for second.

In “A Flurry of Emotions”, Twilight needed to draw a line with adding babysitting her niece on top of a full schedule for the sake of spending more time with her. Here, the line needs to be drawn with regard to keeping everypony happy and keep herself happy. Sometimes Twilight needs some…ahem…”Twilight Time.”

Still, this was a very enjoyable episode with Twilight and her family and one of the top entries of Season Seven.

GRADE: A

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Marks and Recreation”

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With their counsel high in demand, the Cutie Mark Crusaders open a day camp to help foals and foster teamwork as that’s how the CMC got their cutie marks. All the foals are enthusiastic about it (one of them getting a cutie mark for haikus on the first day) except for one—Rumble—who was last seen in “Hurricane Fluttershy”. He has grown up a bit since and his big brother Thunderlane is now in the Wonderbolts.

Rumble could not be more disinterested in the camp’s activities, nor a cutie mark in general. He’s afraid that once he gets a cutie mark, he’ll be boxed into doing just one thing for the rest of his life. Rumble convinces others to break from the camp for a while. The CMC are flummoxed by this. How can a foal not want a cutie mark?

So they go to Thunderlane to see what’s up? Thunderlane discloses that since he himself became a Wonderbolt, Rumble wanted to emulate him. He is good at the camp’s activities, but he is afraid the cutie mark will prevent him from becoming a Wonderbolt. That is what Apple Bloom concludes and they bring in Thunderlane as a guest of their camp.

Bored from being limited by what activities they could do (that could lead to a cutie mark), the foals return one-by-one to the CMC camp and learn that their cutie marks will not prevent them from doing just one thing for the rest of their lives.

This episode presents the CMC with a unique problem: What to do about a foal who DOESN’T want a cutie mark? After seeing nearly five seasons worth of the CMC obsessing over them, it’s actually interesting to see how they come across a pony who isn’t as enthusiastic about them.

You could be forgiven if you were expecting Starlight Glimmer to appear at some point. What didn’t work was the song which ran a bit long and Rumble being a bit jerky at times. I also feel there was a missed opportunity to have either Starlight or one of the Mane Six come in to talk to Rumble, but asking Thunderlane is a viable substitute.

The episode is not overly spectacular, but it is still a good episode nonetheless that presented the CMC with a challenge they have not come across.

GRADE: B+

StatManDan

MLP Review: “A Health of Information”

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In this episode, Zecora is helping Fluttershy gather moss for oxen visiting the latter’s sanctuary. However, a flower spews its poison and Zecora comes down with Swamp Fever. Because this is MLP, Zecora will turn into a tree if she cannot be cured.

Fluttershy takes it upon herself to find the cure no matter the costs. Twilight helps her research and they come across a healer known as Mage Meadowbrook and she lived in a place called Hayseed Swamp. There, they meet one of her descendants called Cattail. They find the cure, honey from flash bees who are immune to the flower’s poison. However, just as they figure out the cure, Fluttershy has contracted swamp fever and is in full determinator mode to the point of exhaustion that takes her three days to recover. The stare doesn’t work, magic won’t work, and whatever Cattail tried didn’t work.

They try again and finally come across disguising Fluttershy with the mask that looks like the face of a queen bee. They get the honey and cure both Fluttershy and Zecora.

Now we’ve seen Applejack work to the point of exhaustion in determinator mode some 159 episodes ago. But here, Fluttershy takes it to another (distressing) level. She nearly kills herself trying to help Zecora. She prides herself on being a caregiver and caregivers sometimes go at all costs to treat their patient—to a fault.

If you have read some of the comics, then you can see where this ties into the Legends of Magic and one of the issues of the main series. There’s also a strong hint that all of this will build up for the season finale in five weeks.

Back to the episode, this was a very good one that has a lot going for it such as building up the Legends of Magic, to Fluttershy and Twilight, to the fact that the show can worldbuild so well in its seventh season. However, fans might get a bit disturbed by Fluttershy’s determinator status in this episode. Outside of that, this is another solid Season Seven entry.

GRADE: A-

StatManDan