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.
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.
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.
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.
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).