Tag: dnn

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

MLP Review: What Lies Beneath

A test is coming up about friendship’s effects on Equestrian history and the Young Six are having their troubles. Gallus and Smolder have trouble with the course material, Silverstream is in awe about plumbing, and Yona is asleep. At least there’s Ocellus and Sandbar. Meanwhile, Darla Dimple Cozy Glow expresses how great they are handling things despite their “disadvantages” as a group. It leads them to wonder if friendship is in their nature.

Enter a mysterious crystal root sticking out of a mysterious cavern. A illusion of Twilight appears to the group and will not hear about friendship not being truly in their nature. Each of the six are separated and given a test. Gallus must face his claustrophobia, Smolder must admit that she does like cute things, Yona must face her fear of spiders, Ocellus must face her fear that the Changelings’ past might affect her future, Silverstream must come face-to-face with the time the Storm King invaded Mount Aris, and Sandbar is given the loyalty test.

Gallus and Smolder get through their tests first and the former helps Silverstream with hers and the latter helps Ocellus with hers. Yona overcomes her fear of spiders and they help the rest get to Sandbar. Sandbar stops following a fake Rarity and Rainbow Dash and stands by his friends.

The glowing Twilight returns and it’s really a spiritual manifestation of the Tree of Harmony which as developed new abilities of its own as it grows (which perhaps explains that scene in “The Mean 6”). With all six passing the Tree’s tests, they are free to go back to the library. They’ll likely get an extension on the test, but Cozy Glow continues to be hinted in a certain direction.

Now in “The Mean 6”, we got a hint that the Tree has a mind of its own and it pretty much confirmed it. It adds another element of intrigue that we could possibly see more of in Season Nine. We also got a subtle hint that Cozy is not all that she appears to be (at least to those who have made this far without the spoilers).

As for the Young Six, they do get better as the season moves along. It’s hard to pick a favorite (*cough*Silverstream*cough*) from the six, but you can’t help but feel that they are learning a lot about friendship on their own than from the teachers and maybe that’s the intended direction.

It is a good episode to test the mettle of the Young Six adds some intrigue to the Tree of Harmony which just added a new power which is testing those who have their doubts about friendship (though testing part of the arc with the chest in Season Four).

GRADE: A

StatManDan

MLP Review: A Rockhoof and A Hard Place

Well, that was a unexpected. Rockhoof is trying to find his place in the modern world after being in limbo for 1,000 years. His “traditional” methods of unearthing artifacts clashing with the meticulous methods of Professor Fossil in Rockhoof’s old land. His re-enactment of his tales tends to cause damage to Twilight’s school. He also disrupts a fire-breathing contest between Spike and Smolder, mistaking it for a raging fire.

The other pillars haven been adjusting much better than Rockhoof. In Canterlot, Flash Magnus is the new drill sergeant for Princess Celestia’s royal guards. In the Crystal Empire, Mistmane is the royal landscape artist for Princess Cadance and Prince Shining Armor. In her village home in Southern Equestria, Somnambula is a motivational speaker and meditation guru. In the Hayseed Swamp, Mage Meadowbrook sells potions and remedies out of her home/health clinic. Even Stygian has found moderate success as a best-selling novelist. Seeing how well his old friends have adjusted to living in modern-day Equestria, Rockhoof feels more miserable and out of place than ever.

A job as General Seaspray’s Hippogriff Navy goes awry when using the stars to guide the way does not take into account rocks in the ocean. And yes, I’m not sure why the Hippogriffs need a Navy when they can turn into sea ponies, either.

Rockhoof is miserable to the point where he asks Twilight to cast a spell to turn him to stone (because we can’t say assisted suicide on a TV-Y show). However, Yona, inspired by Rockhoof’s stories, reads him her essay about how she felt she didn’t fit at the school at first, but has since made close friends. Rockhoof suddenly has an audience when he decides to finish the story.

Seeing this, Twilight make him the Official Keeper of Tales in Equestria. She’s a Princess, don’t question it. Rockhoof finally has purpose in the modern world.

Here is one of the more surprising episodes in the series. Much like “Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?” took a darker tone with its topic of self-torture to relieve past pains, this is pretty much as close as this show will get to hinting at suicide much like “Tanks for the Memories” used hibernation of a pet in lieu of death of a loved one.

Much as I feel that Steven Universe can tell its stories in 22-minute episodes (read: “Bismuth”) even though it sticks to 11-minute episodes, MLP could well have episodes that deal with touchy topics with a semblance of maturity if given the chance. That was one area that puts Mister Rogers and even Arthur in a class of their own, but I need to get back on track with the episode in question.

There really isn’t that much wrong with this one and it’s in the top tier for this season. It’s about someone trying to find their place in the world after a seemingly long time away from it and that one should keep trying instead looking for a way to leave it. It’s nice to see all the Pillars again, though you do wish they were able to help more. However, we do get a nice save from Yona and by extension the Young Six who were actually enthused by his stories.

We’ve had some good character moments this season, we just needed some better stories and this episode fits the latter.

GRADE: A

PS: Since a series continuity error has been brought to my attention on “The Washouts”, I have to downgrade my grade on that episode to a B.

MLP Review: The Washouts

The episode begins with Scootaloo fast-tracking the meeting of the Rainbow Dash Fan Club with a new Washouts fan group—which makes an eavesdropping Rainbow Dash worried that she has competition as someone Scoot looks up to. The Washouts are a group of former Wonderbolt Academy Cadets who specialize in more extreme stunts with no regard for safety.

The Washouts are of course being led by Lightning Dust, in her first appearance on the show in 130 episodes, and who is apparently as bitter as Johnny is in “Cobra Kai”. Lightning Dust founded the Washouts to fulfill her disregard for safety and the strict rules and regulations of the Wonderbolts.

When an opening comes up, Scootaloo is interested, but Rainbow Dash throws a block. Rainbow takes her to Wonderbolts HQ so that Spitfire can go into full “Matt Foley” mode to dissuade Scootaloo from joining the Wonderbolts and drop out so she could join the Washouts.

Scootaloo is not discouraged and joins the Washouts. She also says she gave up in trying to following in Rainbow’s hooves because she can’t fly. Scootaloo wants to do stunts with her scooter. However, the stunt Lightning Dust has in mind for Scootaloo, now that she knows that the latter is forming a Washouts fan club, is something Evel Knievel wouldn’t even try in his heyday. Dash saves Scootaloo from the stunt while Lightning Dust blasts off like Team Rocket and proclaims her lifelong rivalry with Rainbow Dash.

In the meantime, Rainbow Dash forms the “Scootaloo Fan Club” with Dash’s parents as members.

Here, the lesson is that Dash needed to let Scootaloo make her own decisions and can only be a great role model for her. That also means allowing her to learn from making the wrong decisions. Following a team of stunt ponies with no regard for safety clearly falls into that category. Scootaloo’s following of a pony other than Dash also calls attention to Dash’s own insecurities about someone upstaging her.

It’s a good episode with a good lesson even though there were some extraneous elements such as Pinkie’s cupcakes and why Twilight would be interested in the Washouts. Then there is Spitfire. Evidently, Nick Confalone was watching a DVD of the Best of Chris Farley (RIP) on Saturday Night Live when figuring out how to incorporate Spitfire into this episode. Anyone who watched SNL during the 1990s would enjoy that scene. If you did not, it was cringeworthy.

So it’s a good Dash and Scootaloo episode, though some things were a bit extraneous and one bit was greatly exaggerated—and I’m not talking about the stunts (which you should NEVER try anywhere).

GRADE: A-

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Road to Friendship”

In a brilliant ode to the Road Trip movies of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, Starlight and Trixie go on a road trip to Saddle Arabia. It’s similar to “Pinkie Apple Pie” in its setup, but it’s Starlight looking forward to a road trip with her best friend Trixie and her cramped caravan that must be her home—though they don’t really specify why Trixie prefers her caravan to the most spacious one from the Saddle Arabian Hoo’Far.

It is a straightforward story that is an ode to the Crosby-Hope “Road to…” pictures of the 1940s and 1950s. The song was the highlight as Starlight and Trixie play off each other in comedic fashion mixed with the usual problems encountered in a road trip episode such as finding a room, going off budget, etc.

Starlight and Trixie attempting a friendship chant like Twilight’s and Cadance’s was also hilarious. The appearance of Hoo’Far during each scene was timely. The one issue I have besides not giving a specific explanation as to why Trixie does not want to part ways with her caravan is that Starlight indeed had no right to trade it away in the first place. Outside of that, the episode is a continuation of the slow, but certain improvement of the episodes as Season Eight, for those following the US broadcast schedule, winds down.

GRADE: A-

StatManDan

MLP Review: The End in Friend

We have an interesting question in class asked by the Young Six: How can two ponies with very divergent interests such as Rarity and Rainbow Dash be friends? Rarity and Rainbow Dash have a hard time answering that question themselves as Rarity is more concerned with uniforms than catching the ball in buckball while Rainbow Dash is every person ever waiting on someone shopping for footwear. (I know Applejack is the cowgirl, but Rarity has worn cowgirl boots much more often on the show.) Things come to a head in the gem mine when Dash wants to go treasure hunting while Rarity is looking at the gems and appear to wreck Twilight’s lesson.

Both are called into Starlight’s office and she suggests putting themselves in the other’s shoes (not necessarily Rarity’s boots which could be an opportunity for Hasbro or Build-A-Bear). Rarity is given a “Daring Do” book while Rainbow Dash is given a “Shadow Spade” book—neither one reads the other’s book.

Cue the contrived missing artifact for Rainbow Dash and Rarity to find and learn something new from each other. We meet a new creature in a Bufagren and Rarity creates toothpaste that freshens its breath. The trail of blue glitter (not the magenta glitter from Rarity’s boots) leads to Spike who had the amulet all along. And that’s our lesson for today every creature!

I like how this is turned into a friendship lesson for the Young Six as it fits the theme of the season. It also gives us a chance to see the (}no pun intended) rare dynamic between Rainbow Dash and Rarity. It’s also good that they show it is normal for friends to disagree and banter from time to time.

This could well have been a recycle of a Season One episode (“Look Before You Sleep” in particular), but it’s saved by the fact that it is wrapped around teaching a lesson to the Young Six. The only issue I have is that you can tell that this quest was a setup, especially if you recognize the school’s symbol on the door. Outside of that, this is still a good episode as it continues a string of them.

GRADE: B+

StatManDan

MLP Review: Friendship University

After hearing from Starswirl the Bearded and his travels, Twilight learns about a place in Las Pegasus called Friendship University that promises that you can learn friendship in half the time as Twilight’s school. Twilight and Rarity investigate and find that it’s being run by the Flim-Flam brothers and they get EEA accreditation from Neighsayer because Season Finale setup.

Rarity and Twilight go undercover to find evidence of the scam and the latter (with a poor disguise) gets caught breaking in while the former blends in because she had a better disguise. They discover that the while tuition is free, the worksheets are not and they are funding the Flim Flam’s resort expansion. Not necessarily illegal, but it is certainly unethical and certainly a shot at for-profit education. Something the Flim-Flams did that is illegal was plagiarize Twilight’s school guide. Starswirl, who was a student at the school, tells them to return the money to the students and shut down the university.

So yes, this is quite a preview of the season finale with Neighsayer challenging Twilight and the hinting of Cozy Glow as subtle a a brick through a window.

The episode itself is good, though points off because Twilight’s disguise leaves a lot to be desired while Rarity again steals the show. Surely she could have done better for Twilight’s disguise. Outside of that, we do get a good lesson in standing up for one’s beliefs even though it means risking your reputation. Overall, what this episode does is to provide some setup for the Season Finale.

GRADE: B+

StatManDan