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MLP Episode Review: “To Change a Changeling”

In this episode, Starlight and Trixie pay a surprise visit to Thorax in the Changeling Kingdom. However, the “welcoming committee” is Pharnyx bagging them to brother Thorax. Pharnyx has yet to fully reform preferring the old ways of the hive. Most of the other changelings have reformed (thanks to a more assertive Thorax with advice from Ember), but Pharnyx is the last holdout.

Starlight and Trixie try to reform him, but the former starts to think it’s a lost cause and that Thorax will eventually have to chase him out of the hive since no one else likes him. Starlight then impulsively alters a trail of leaves to lure a maulwurf so the hive can see Pharnyx’s good side in his role as a protector like he was for Thorax at an early age. However, Pharnyx apparently has left and the maulwurf is on his way.

Thorax, Starlight, and Trixie go after Pharnyx to see him battling the maulwurf, but is overpowered. Two changelings and two magical ponies is not enough either. The rest of the hive, initially unmoved by Starlight’s speech, is almost there. Ultimately, Pharnyx comes up with the solution by getting the maulwurf to keep hitting itself and retreating. Pharnyx ultimately transforms and is welcomed back into the hive.

This was a very good episode. You have a complicated character in Pharnyx who yearns for the old changeling ways, but yet is still interested in the hive’s safety. Thorax is really good here in not just converting the kingdom into something out of “The Office” in terms of activities, but in admonishing Starlight for altering the trail. It did work ultimately, but it is another impulsive move that could have backfired horribly. And then there’s the dynamic between Starlight and Trixie which is very solid.

Trixie is her usually hammy self while Starlight has to play the straight pony. This has become quite the partnership as the show has progressed and I wouldn’t mind more of this.

So overall, this was a very good episode thanks to the humor and the dynamics between the changeling brothers and between Starlight and Trixie.

GRADE: A-

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Campfire Tales”

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Gather around as we expand on the Legends of Magic comic series, Tales 2-4. It’s the annual Big Sister/Little Sister campout to Winsome Falls. However, their campsite is disrupted by a swarm of fly-ders and the sisters have to retreat inside a cave. There, they start to tell campfire stories to pass the time until the fly-ders move on.

Applejack is first by telling the story of Rockhoof (from Legends of Magic #2) and his origins and how he joined the Mighty Helm. Rockhoof gained his mighty strength by digging a trench to redirect the flow of lava from an erupted volcano to save his village. Apple Bloom was really excited by this tale.

Next up is Rarity and she tells the story of Mistmane (Legends of Magic #3) and how she sacrificed her own beauty to save her kingdom. Finally, after Rainbow Dash prevents the fly-ders from coming into the cave by blocking the entrance, she tells the story of Flash Magnus (Legends of Magic #4) and how he braved past a couple of dragons to rescue a pair of comrades.

After making the best of the situation, the CMC and their respective big sisters take the back route and discover a shortcut to Winsome Falls. That’s a bit contrived, but the rest of this episode was quite fascinating.

Every since Issue #51 of the main series, the direction has been to link much closer to the main series in Season Seven. That apparently holds true with the Legends of Magic series and the ever present world building even at this stage of the series. If you have seen the three issues in question, you at least have an idea of all three. If not, I’ll post after the grade (WARNING: SPOILERS!). But seriously, do read the comics. Some of them could well have been episodes on the show—especially some of the early issues.

The best of the three was the story of Mistmane with the scenery which seems to inspired from Ancient Japan as well as the Double Dragon battle between Mistmane and Sable Spirit.

Overall, this was a pleasant episode, as these flashbacks to a different usually are, and a nice tie-in to the comics which was promised just prior to the start of Season Seven.

GRADE: A-

StatManDan

WARNING: COMIC SPOILERS BELOW! If you do not wish to be spoiled by the synopses of these comics, look away now.

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MLP Review: “Triple Threat”

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This reminded me of a “Brady Bunch” episode once. Anyway, Spike has invited Dragon Lord Ember to Ponyville—as well as Changeling pack leader Thorax. The former is seeking friendship advice from Spike since the dragons’ competitive nature is a bit of hindrance. The latter wants to talk to Spike because he’s having a hard time with a pack of changelings who still prefer to feed off love. Spike is deathly afraid that neither will get along with each other and cause a war. This becomes Spike’s friendship problem to solve.

So, Spike (with the help of Twilight and Starlight) go out of their way to make sure Ember and Thorax do not see each other. After several awkward moments, the Thorax and Ember meet each other and nearly come to blows before Spike admits that trying to keep them apart fearing they would not get along. Ember thinking that because she’s “bad at friendship” and Thorax thinking that he may be too soft.

Actually, Thorax and Ember do get along on their own. Ember gives Thorax a lesson on being more assertive when enforcing rules of his pack and Thorax giving Ember lessons about talking about her feelings (what she didn’t like to do in “Gauntlet of Fire”). And then Spike learns a lesson about trusting his friends would get along with each other and his scales glow which means his friendship problem is solved.

About those awkward moments, some of them were funny. For example, Ember getting used to Pony customs and also mistaking Starlight and Twilight with each other. Of course, Twilight’s scene with the chairs was funny as well. However, this whole episode was weird with one awkward moment after another. It’s when Thorax and Ember have time alone that they start to click. It’s about giving them space to learn friendship and that was something Spike (and indirectly Twilight and Starlight) was not giving them. They are actually good in this episode, it’s Spike that was a bit iffy until late.

Nevertheless, it’s not a terrible episode, it’s good because of and despite some awkward moments from all the characters involved.

GRADE: B

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Fame and Misfortune”

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Remember that Friendship Journal and that Twilight hoped that one day other ponies could learn from her and the Mane Six. Well, that day came in this episode and if “Slice of Life” was a thank you to the fans, this episode is somewhere between a “Take That” and “WTF” to certain parts of the fandom (including those who review the show).

Where to even begin with this? There were critiques about how Fluttershy was learning the same lesson over and over (back in Season Four) and Fluttershy going to great lengths to show how more confident she’s become in this Season Seven episode. There was a critique about how “Twilight was better without wings” which I suppose was a shout-out to those who are so “Quibble Pants” about everything since “Magical Mystery Cure”. Of course, this episode was written by MA Larson–more than two years after he wrote his last episode, “Amending Fences”.

It seems there is a great deal of frustration in ponies (and fans of the show) who do not make an attempt to learn from the friendship lesson and descend into petty arguments such as who is best pony and other critiques of the show. Worse, the crowd outside the castle are still going at it by the episode’s end. The other lesson in this is a good one in that you can change how you deal with these things and you can take solace with those who do take the friendship lessons to heart as Starlight showed with Toola-Roola and Coconut Cream.

So yes, there will be many mixed reactions to this episode, and this episode aired during the weekend of BronyCon (which is likely a coincidence). My reaction is that it’s an okay episode, but left too many things out there like how Rarity is getting neg-repped via cancelled orders and the other ponies in the worst they have behaved perhaps ever in the series. The song was appropriate and the secondary lesson of how to deal with harsh (and sometimes unwarranted) criticism is one the show staff could use as well. At the same time, and this is something I have touched upon before, some fans could do well to actually apply the friendship lessons themselves rather than get into petty arguments like the ones seen here in this episode.

There are lessons for all of us here, and sometimes they can be pretty harsh as they were here.

GRADE: B

StatManDan

EqG Review: Mirror Magic

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After over four years, Sunset Shimmer returns through the mirror to pick up a new journal after her old one ran out of pages. The Mane Six are on a friendship mission, so Starlight Glimmer is there to give Sunset the journal–and go back with her to explore the EqG world.

Juniper Montage, now working behind the counter at the movie theater because of her actions in “Movie Magic,” finds a mirror enchanted by Equestrian magic that shows her what she wants to see and wishes things and the Rainbooms into the mirror.

Starlight is their to save the day though as she convinces Juniper that she could attain forgiveness. And yes, the Rainbooms (not to mention this whole franchise) is a VERY forgiving group!

If Starlight framed the argument into Juniper gaining acceptance, the ending may have a little more weight to it. Otherwise, it comes off as a bit of a plot hole. The revenge issue is spot on, though. Who knows that better than Starlight!

The main purpose of this episode was to do two things. Get Sunset back into Equestria and to get Starlight to experience the human world (as human as this world is). Other than that, it doesn’t do anything else special and it just follows on from “Movie Magic.”

In all honesty, this may have been better served if all three ‘Magic’ specials were combined in a single showing. In retrospect, “Dance Magic” should have been given a C+ while “Movie Magic” does deserve a B like “Mirror Magic” does. That said, it might have been better to turn this into a 90-minute special.

GRADE:  B

StatManDan

Equestria Girls Review: “Movie Magic”

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The episode begins with the girls on set for the latest Daring Do movie as a reward for helping save Camp Everfree thanks to a director who was a camp alumni. However, things are going awry with stolen props and set dangers. Looks like we have a mystery, gang!

One suspect is the star, Chestnut Magnifico, who is looking to get out of a contract due to time constraints so she can move on to the next project. The other suspect is director Canter Zoom’s niece Juniper Montage who knows her way around the studio. So yes, it’s her.

This whole episode is one big homage to classic Scooby-Doo complete with chase montages and Velma Twilight deducing how Juniper was the culprit. And Juniper would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids and their dog! (Sorry, not sorry!)

There is some eye candy to this episode such as the Rainbooms in Power Ponies form (Sunset as the Mane-iac since there are only six Power Ponies). There’s also an homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark at the end (which is ruined by Rainbow’s over-enthusiasm).

It’s not a bad episode, but it does come off slightly better than “Dance Magic”. The next one is the one most people are interested in, though, as Starlight Glimmer gets a turn through the mirror (and Sunset goes back through it).

GRADE:  B

StatManDan

Preview for Legends of Magic #4

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We have a preview for Legends of Magic #4, coming out on July 5th. Check it out after the break.

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