Tag: opinion

SU Reviews: “Historical Friction” & “Friend Ship”

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SU Review: Historical Friction

Jamie arrives and is producing a play called “Beach City or Bust,” written by Mayor Dewey. It’s the story of the Mayor’s great-great-great-great grandfather William Dewey. Steven auditions and gets the role of William by default. Jamie is going to play everyone else. Initially, William Dewey is a great person with no flaws—which make him unbelievable. Steven takes the script to Pearl, still guilt ridden from the events of “Cry for Help.”

Steven tells Pearl about how William Dewey is portrayed as flawless (making him boring) and Pearl wishes she could be flawless. Steven says that it is impossible to be flawless and people make mistakes and there is satisfaction in accomplishment after struggle that makes a character and experience great. With that, Pearl takes a look at the script says it’s historically inaccurate. So she makes changes that Jamie approves of.

At the night of the play, Steven and Jamie apply the changes with Steven as William and Jamie as everyone else—including the Gems. The play is a success much to the relief of the Mayor and the enjoyment of the town. Jamie becomes the lead director of the Beach City Community Theater and Pearl is thanked by the Mayor for preserving his legacy. And the political banner at the end was Steven’s idea.

This was a pretty good episode and one that Pearl needed to build her self-confidence back up. Steven is great as always (bad accent aside). We get some nice backstory about the town. This was a good breather episode as we approach the end of Steven Bomb 3. There was really nothing wrong with this episode.

Pluses and Minuses:

+  Gives Pearl a chance to rebuild self-confidence
+  Steven and Jamie
+  Fun play

SCORE:  5/5

StatManDan


 

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SU Review: Friend Ship

Well, it finally happened. There was one order of business left for Steven Bomb 3, and that was for Garnet and Pearl to talk things over. It took them getting trapped in a crushing pit, but it happened. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The Gems confront Peridot, but Pearl tries to hard to capture her and she escapes. Through the use of Peridot’s escape pod, the Gems track her to an old Gem ship, where Peridot traps them.

OK, fast forward to Garnet and Pearl in the pit. Pearl confesses that she needs direction from someone and someone at present is Garnet since she’s the strongest. Garnet counters that even she can get weak sometimes like we saw in “Keystone Motel” and that Pearl needs to be her own gem. That will restore Garnet’s trust in Pearl. So they fuse into Sardonyx to escape the pit. They confront Peridot one more time, and make progress by getting one of her feet.

Pearl needed an episode like “Historical Friction” to prove that she can contribute to something positive. She also needed this episode as a reality check that the only thing she can do to regain Garnet’s trust is being herself and that there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship and that no one is flawless.

On a side, the action scenes were great as everyone got a part to play. Peridot is becoming quite the antagonist and one wonders what her plans are in the future, though we could’ve done without the taunting from both sides. I am going to look past that, though.

Overall, it’s nice conclusion to the Steven Bomb and we shall wait until Season Two comes back.

Pluses and Minuses:

+  Development for Garnet and Pearl
+  Action sequences
+  Nice conclusion to five-episode arc.
+  Peridot as a villain

SCORE:  5/5

StatManDan

SU Reviews: “Keystone Motel” & “Onion Friend”

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Review: Onion Friend

So we get to meet Onion again (taking Steven’s chips) and we see his Mom, Vidalia (who likes to make portraits of Amethyst). It turns out Vidalia and Amethyst are old friends and manage to share how each one’s lives have been stressful lately.  Oh, Sour Cream is there, too. It turn’s out he’s Marty’s biological son. He still likes to DJ much to the chagrin of his stepdad Yellowtail which accounts for some of the stress at Onion’s household.

Onion takes Steven to his room where it’s creepy. He feeds a mouse to his pet snake (or so we’re led to believe) and shows a video of himself being born. He does take Steven to a secret compartment where he shows him his collection of G.U.Y.S. (Guys Under Your Supervision) and G.A.L.S. and that makes the visit to Onion’s house somewhat worthwhile.

This was more of a cool down episode at least for Amethyst, who is given a way to talk about how she’s feeling ‘trapped’ with what’s going on between Garnet and Pearl. Meanwhile Vidalia is given a chance to see an old friend whom she feels ‘inspired’ by because no matter what, she could always go with the flow. Amethyst says it was Vidalia who could go with the flow and that she was just a ‘dumb sponge’ following her around.

I guess Onion really means well when he shows Steven around his house, creepy as it is most of the time. Good thing Onion showed Steven his collection of G.U.Y.S and G.A.L.S. Most things are explained well in this episode, though it’s kind of sad that both Amethyst and Vidalia are experiencing such troubles at their respective houses at the moment.

Pluses and Minuses:
+  Nice cool down episode for Amethyst
+  Vidalia (when not with a shotgun)
+  Humor (albeit dark and creepy at times)
–  Creepiness goes to extremes at times.

SCORE:  4/5

StatManDan


 

Review: Keystone Motel

Garnet is still not talking to Pearl. Greg comes in and suggests a road trip to Steven to “The State of Keystone” and to a motel (with free ice!). Greg is talking to “an Internet person” about a tunnel brush. Okaaay. Garnet decides to go with them and Steven is excited. The joy is short-lived though when Garnet splits into Ruby and Sapphire in conflict over whether or not to forgive Pearl. Sapphire wants to, but Ruby is in red rage over what she perceives was a cheap excuse to fuse on Pearl’s spot. Ruby’s so hot that she steams the pool Sapphire is convinced that Ruby will not stay angry forever via future vision and freezes the room, essentially forcing Steven outside and to square pizza with Greg.

Greg is convinced things will blow over in the morning while Steven suggests that Ruby and Sapphire talk to each other. Well, the former doesn’t happen when they go to a diner. In fact, Ruby is agitated to the point where she destroys the booth. That was the last straw for Steven who walks off in disgust. He was excited that Garnet came along, but then all the bad feelings from home followed him on the road trip and now starts to wonder if it’s his fault. Ruby and Sapphire finally come around, the former realizing she’s been to preoccupied with just being mad and not finding a solution and the latter to preoccupied with future vision that disregarded what was going on in the present. They make up and fuse back into Garnet and return home, where Garnet at least spoke to Pearl (“Not now.”).

A couple of call backs here that are important. First, we see how strongly Garnet (or Ruby in particular) feels about fusion like in “Keeping It Together” and the conflict is mostly with herself after Pearl arguably used it for cheap victories. There’s also a call back to “Joy Ride” where Steven is again wondering if things are his fault. Steven does not want to see conflict in the slightest between the people/Gems he knows; whether it’s between the Gems, Sadie and Lars, or whomever. It has to take him to put his foot down to get Ruby and Sapphire to even take into account his feelings. The only bad thing about this episode was it appeared mostly to find a resolution to “Cry for Help” and a reminder that there is still a kid in the room who doesn’t like seeing his friends fight in front of him because he’s going to wonder if it’s his fault.

Pluses and Minuses:
+  Humor
+  Greg
+  Steven putting his foot down on Ruby and Sapphire’s argument
+  Steven’s attitude toward conflict is natural
–  Episode mostly exists to serve as resolution to previous episode.

SCORE:  4/5

StatManDan

SU Review: “Cry for Help”

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Welcome to Steven Bomb 3. As a reminder, since the episodes are normally 11 minutes in length, they will be scored based on a scale of 0 to 5.

The episode begins with Steven and Amethyst watching “Crying Breakfast Friends” when Peridot interrupts the feed calling for help from Yellow Diamond. Peridot has rebuilt the communications hub from “Coach Steven.” Sugilite (Garnet/Amethyst fusion) destroyed it last time, but Garnet decides to bench her because they could get carried away. So Garnet fuses with Pearl, who couldn’t be more excited, and create Sardonyx to destroy the hub. And there was much rejoicing except for Amethyst. To be honest, Sardonyx turns out to be quite the personality.

However, the interference returns the next day and so does Sardonyx. Amethyst sings her first solo (“Better Off With Her”) expressing her sadness that she can’t be with Garnet because fusing with her makes her stronger. When interference occurs for a third time, Steven and Amethyst try to take care of things themselves. They see a green flash thinking it may be Peridot, but are shocked to find out it’s Pearl rebuilding the hub using Peridot’s escape pod. She’s only doing it so she be with Sardonyx with Garnet.

When Pearl is forced to confess this after what Garnet thinks is interference for the fourth time, absent her future vision, Garnet is furious. She accuses Pearl of distracting the team for selfish needs by rebuilding the hub so they could destroy for “victories.” Sugilite returns to destroy the tower.  Back at the house, Garnet is giving Pearl the silent treatment while Amethyst ends with the quote, “Man, it sure would be nice if things worked out the way they do in cartoons,” to which Steven agrees.

Once again, this episode leaves us with more questions. What has gotten into Pearl? She appeared so obsessed with being with Rose and now with Garnet? In truth, both Pearl’s and Amethyst’s reason for wanting to fuse with Garnet is to feel powerful.

Outside of that, this episode runs the gamut of emotions and all in 11 minutes, but it’s confusion that the viewer will leave with and hopefully more will be explained as the Steven Bomb goes forward. I don’t have a problem with the downer ending, but how it got there leaves questions to be asked.

Pluses and Minuses:
+ Sardonyx is lively
+ Amethyst song
– Pearl’s motives are confusing

SCORE:  4/5

By the way, the Ratings Report for Steven Bomb 3 will not occur until all five episodes have aired, so the report will come a week from Tuesday.

StatManDan

MLP Review: Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?

The cast and crew must have known that there would be a halftime break, so why not go all crazy with the 13th episode? Princess Luna has a dream about turning into Nightmare Moon again and the Mane Six go Rainbow Power to bring her back. However, that’s not the dream is supposed to go according to Luna. There’s a blue smoke monster called Tantabus that converts dreams into nightmares, and it has now infected the dreams of the Mane Six.

Luna brings them together to sleep at Twilight’s castle in an effort to chase down the Tantabus before it gets too powerful and invades the real world, but is unsuccessful. The Mane Six offer to help and Luna eventually agrees, especially because Pinkie Pie has other ponies in her dream about a giant ice cream sundae, it’s going to get bigger and more powerful.

So, Luna conducts a group dream with all of Ponyville and this is where the Holy S**t Quotient explodes. I could list the number of amazing things that are seen in the third act, but I can save time by imploring you to see all of it again or for the first time if you have not done so already. Basically, everypony gets a part to play in this one and it’s another continuity cavalcade with a dash of fan service which is done in a way that only this show can get away with.

We eventually get the reveal that Luna created the Tantabus herself as a means of self-punishment for harming so many ponies as Nightmare Moon.  Now, the Tantabus is feeding off her guilt and growing stronger every time Luna feels bad about turning into Nightmare Moon. But Twilight finally convinces Luna to forgive herself, especially since everypony else has already forgiven her and Luna is a much different pony now. That ultimately destroys the Tantabus, saves Equestria, and the episode and the first half ends with Luna in a peaceful slumber for probably the first time in ages.

There is a lot to absorb here in the incredibly fast-paced episode. The cold open and the first two acts seemed to fly by and the third act was high energy by itself. First, people are going to point out that Nightmare Moon hardly did anything either in the Season Four premier or in the pilot episodes. They also need to remember that Celestia deep down was remorseful because she had to banish her sister to the Moon and it caused her great pain. Luna admitted in “For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils” that she failed to control her worst instincts and that episode was her telling Sweetie Belle, “don’t be like me.”

There’s also this and it’s I feel it’s extremely important. Self-punishment is actually a way that some people deal with traumatic experiences. Of course, it’s extremely unhealthy and strongly discouraged in real life, but absent more positive alternatives, some people just find it easier to inflict immediate pain on themselves to help forget about the traumatic memories of before. But really, you shouldn’t harm yourself physically in any manner.

It’s a bit heartbreaking that Luna has the power to keep ponies safe in their dreams, but until now hasn’t been able to save herself from her own nightmare. I was going to compare Luna to McGucket from Gravity Falls where he had a laser to erase traumatic memories from his mind, but the side effect was that he would end up a crazy, old guy. Here, it’s a bit more relatable because what Luna is doing is ultimately harming others and she realizes she need to stop it.

Again, words will not be able to do justice to the third and final act. You have to see it yourself. The animation was simply top notch and it was an outstanding way to go into the midseason break. With half the season gone, there’s half the season to go!

PLUSES AND MINUSES:

  • +  Luna with a relatable problem regarding traumatic experiences
  • +  Animation
  • +  Humor with Mane Six dreams
  • +  Every pony involved
  • +  Stunning Third Act

SCORE:  10/10

So yes, I’ve given 10/10 for three of the last five episodes. With “Slice of Life,” it was almost by default since that was essentially a love letter to the fans of the show. And for what it was, it was done remarkably well. But with “Amending Fences” and “Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?”, both dealt with problems that are very relatable to real life and would likely hit home to some fans of the show. The way the show handled the conflicts that Twilight and Luna were going through, respectively, were quite amazing and deserving of such a high score.

StatManDan

MLP Review: Amending Fences

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We’re going back to where we began with this episode. After Spike brings up the fact that Twilight, being the Princess of Friendship nowadays, wasn’t the best at being a friend. Twilight realizes, 102 episodes later, that she had good friends in Canterlot and now she feels terrible for neglecting them. So she sets off to Canterlot to make amends. Spike comes along to remind Twilight of their names.

So yes, Twilight is off to reunite with the ponies we first met in the pilot episode. Her old library in Canterlot is just as she left it before Princess Celestia gave her “an assignment.” But now, thinking they’ve been suffering ever since, she needs to make it up to Minuette, Twinkleshine, Lemon Hearts, Lyra, and Moondancer. First up is Minuette. Actually, Minuette is glad to see her wants to get her photo taken with her. (I guess she and a couple other ponies like to see royalty.) They go and see Lemon Hearts and Twinkleshine as well.

Twilight apologizes to the three of them for up and leaving them for Ponyville. However, the three actually take things in stride. They knew that she was more interested in books at the time. They travel to the old science lab and reminisce about school days and Twilight reminisces about Moon Dancer. They go see her and it turns out she is more interested in study than friends nowadays. The other three say that she was coming out of her shell when she decided to throw a party—the same party Twilight turned down to learn about the Elements of Harmony. Realizing the error of her ways, Twilight tries to make it up to her. After a dinner with old friends fails to do the trick, Twilight goes to her “secret weapon”—Pinkie Pie.

Twilight sets a version of the James Woods trap with books and lures Moon Dancer to a party that Pinkie helped set up. It initially doesn’t work because when Twilight didn’t arrive at the party, she felt humiliated to the point she gave up on friendship. However, Twilight and the others are not about to give up on her. Where the episode truly shines is that while Twilight has faced magical creatures, the end of Equestria, etc.; but seeing how her actions affected Moon Dancer gave her one of the worst feeling she ever had. With that, Moon Dancer is ready to open up again and Spike even makes a contribution with a photo of the Canterlot friends back in the day.

This was an amazing episode. Few, if any of us thought, the show would ever go back to that seemingly innocuous scene back in the very first episode nearly five years ago. Yet, here we are back in Canterlot. It was a pleasant surprise to see Minuette, Lemon Drops, and Twinkleshine be so accepting of Twilight after all these years. And then there’s Moon Dancer who as it turns out, was deeply hurt by Twilight’s snub, and embodies what Twilight is attempting to accomplish in the episode. In retrospect, Moon Dancer became what we suspect Twilight would have become if Celestia hadn’t sent her to Ponyville to “make some friends.” In fact, it might be similar to the Twilight we are about to see in “Friendship Games” in September.

We’ve seen Twilight evolve into a character who would go out of her way to do right by others. Case in point, the (super-judgmental) yaks in “Party Pooped”. Now that she has learned a great deal about friendship during her time in Ponyville, she now feels a bit of guilt that she wasn’t that great of a friend when she was in Canterlot. It only makes sense for her to make amends.

The title of episode 7 this season was “Make New Friends But Keep Discord.” That title was a take on the Girl Scouts’ song “Make new friends, but keep the old.” This Saturday’s episode is the embodiment of that very motto. While Twilight has made new friends over the course of the show, she (and her Canterlot friends) realize how equally valuable it is to keep the old. It’s also a reminder of a scene from It’s A Wonderful Life where Clarence remarks about how the actions of one person’s life touches so many others’ lives, and when that person isn’t around, it leaves an awful hole. To Moon Dancer, Twilight’s actions not to attend the party and then leaving abruptly for Ponyville left an awful hole in her life. And now realizing that error, it’s left an awful hole in Twilight’s and the way she goes about making amends is testament to the character that Twilight has become.

This was an unexpectedly powerful and emotional episode that fans of the show could relate to. There have been times where we weren’t being the best of friends and we would like to make amends if we can. That was Twilight today.

Foal Papers said it best in one of his tweets. If “Slice of Life” was a love letter to the fans of the show, “Amending Fences” was a love letter to Lauren Faust and how the show began. The mission of Season Five is to spread the magic of friendship across Equestria, and this episode showed that mission applies to spreading, or in this case rekindling, that magic to old friends as well. I don’t know if M. A. Larson intended for this episode to be so powerful, but that’s exactly what it was and he has written the two best episodes in Season Five thus far with this one just a bit better. It is also the best Twilight episode the series has had so far and that’s saying something given all the two-parters (where Twilight is de facto the central character in them), “Lesson Zero,” and “Magical Mystery Cure.”

Pluses and Minuses:

  • +  Cavalcade of continuity
  • +  Twilight goes back to where she began
  • +  Twilight’s old friends help make the episode
  • +  Truly emotional episode
  • +  Relatable problem
  • +  Humor
  • +  Pinkie and Spike fly Air Twilight

SCORE:  10/10

StatManDan

 

PS:  I also recommend the review of this episode by deviantArt reviewer thejboy88.

MLP Review: Party Pooped

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It’s the second straight episode by a new writer. Neal Dusedau’s effort (“Princess Spike”) was OK. Here is Nick Confalone’s debut effort.

Twilight is nearing “Lesson Zero” mode as she welcomes a delegation from Yakyakistan. As you might have guessed, they are yaks led by Prince Rutheford. However, every attempt to make the yaks feel at home is met with Angel-like tantrums at the slightest imperfections. It’s up to Pinkie Pie, who is planning the party, to save the day.

She had read up on yaks, absent a pony ever visiting Yakyakistan. However, she gets a bit unnerved when she and her friends just can’t get things just right. So she make a journey to Yakyakistan which is north of the Crystal Empire. Random hilarity ensues. Meanwhile, Twilight and rest of the Mane Five are in a bit of a panic mode themselves as the yaks are threatening war. However, they stumble upon Pinkie’s war room when she has files on every pony so she can properly plan a party for whomever. Here, they appreciate all the hard work Pinkie puts in to planning parties, if that was not apparent in “Pinkie Pride.”

Back to Pinkie, she gets to Yakyakistan after a series of ponies help her from Cherry Jubilee to Princess Cadance. But a diablous ex machina sends her right back to Ponyville. She thinks she has let her friends down, but brightens up when she figures out how to please the yaks. Every pony she came across on her way to Yakyakistan was friendly and offered his/her/their assistance from Cherry and her stable after the train was stopped at Dodge City due to sheep, to Princess Cadance at the edge of the Crystal Empire. Of course, there are some random moments where Pinkie Pie briefly becomes the one and only Pinkie Shears, and that made things more humorous. In the end, the yaks become friends with the ponies and Twilight’s hide is once again saved by Pinkie Pie (“Swarm of the Century”).

This was an episode that improved as it went along. At the start, the yaks were very one-note and very Angel-like from “Putting Your Hoof Down.” Most people in the Mane Six’s position would have thought, “Why bother?” at some point. However, Twilight’s mission, and by extension that of the rest of the Mane Six, is to spread the magic of friendship across Equestria (and beyond in this case). It was actually brilliant to have Pinkie learn the solution through her journey and use that to show that the friendliness of Equestria’s residents can make the yaks feel at home. However, the yaks are just a step over Trenderhoof in terms of interesting characters in that they were largely unlikable for two-thirds of the episode.

Overall, this was a better effort than last week as this episode started off a bit slow, but got better as it wore on. Not quite a top-tier episode, but another in a string of good Pinkie Pie episodes dating back to “Too Many Pinkie Pies.”

Pluses and minuses:
+ How Pinkie goes about solving the friendship problem.
+ Humor
+ Wonderful lesson.
+ Twilight shows that she still can slip into “Lesson Zero” mode when answers aren’t forthcoming.
– Yaks are not too interesting for most of the episode.
– Yaks acting like Angel in “Putting Your Hoof Down”

SCORE: 8/10

A quick note that the next episode, “Amending Fences,” airs on Monday, July 6th at 4:30pm ET/3:30pm CT. Discovery Family is going through the first ten episodes of Season Five on Saturday (1-4) and Sunday (5-10). “Party Pooped” will lead into “Making Amends” on Monday.

Friendship is Magic returns to its regularly scheduled time slot on Saturday, July 11th at 10:30am ET/9:30am CT with “Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep.”

StatManDan

MLP Review: Princess Spike

Ponies from all over Equestria have come to Canterlot for the annual Grand Equestria Pony Summit. Princess Cadance is set to dedicate a statue made of gemstones from each city represented. Twilight gets to do much more than smile and wave, she is in charge of organizing the event. Spike is there to offer any assistance, but quickly feels unappreciated when the crowds cheer the princesses.

All the organizing has taken a toll on Twilight and she is in bad need of some rest. Cadance charges Spike with making sure she is not disturbed. Spike goes around to make sure that happens, even though there are couple of important tasks that are interrupted such as the removal of dragon-sneeze trees and the repairing of a water main. Feeling accomplished though, and Twilight still asleep, Spike begins making decisions on her behalf (and later getting treats on her behalf).

Predictably, things unravel and there’s a flood and the leaves of a fallen dragon-sneeze tree make Spike sneeze breaking the statue. Thinking that Twilight was making the decisions, the angry delegates march towards where Twilight is staying. Spike apologizes to the delegates for the mess he made and the delegates repair the statue (which will hopefully withstand another dragon sneeze).

This one is a little different from “Power Ponies” is that Spike is using Twilight’s position to make himself better instead of feeling useless. Yet, it’s similar in a few other ways in that we get a second Spike is unappreciated episode when it’s not totally necessary. It kind of makes things repetitive. Also repetitive is how Spike gets a bit greedy, though not entirely similar to “Secret of My Excess” or “Just for Sidekicks.” Spike intentions were in the right place like in “Inspiration Manifestation,” but he needs to be confronted about his actions again with Cadance in place of Owlowiscious. To be fair, Spike does compose himself well when tasked and initially does a good job and does make an admirable attempt of settling the dispute between the Manehatten and Whinnyapolis delegates, but he let things get out of control while attending to his task.

It’s not a bad episode by any means. It was great seeing all the new ponies, the return of Fancy Pants, and Twilight in a meaningful role as princess as well as Cadance. However, this episode suffers from the fact that Spike is repeating some of the mistakes he’s made in previous episodes.

It was always difficult for this episode after following “Slice of Life,” to the show’s credit, they did an admirable job of handling Spike to an extent. However, at some point they need Spike to learn from some of the mistakes he was making.

Pluses and Minuses:
+  Twilight in Princess role
+  Delegates and return of old favorites
+  Humor
+  Spike handles himself well, at first.
–  Spike repeats errors from previous episodes.
–  Handling of Spike feeling unappreciated was done better in previous episodes

SCORE:  7/10

StatManDan