Author Topic: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)  (Read 60799 times)

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Offline Ziel

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #325 on: March 05, 2012, 04:55:48 pm »
I can't believe I'm actually the first person to post here about "Putting Your Hoof Down," especially since I was busy all weekend and didn't get around to watching it until today.  I was looking forward to reading other people's posts and was hoping to find something to like about this episode from them.  As it is...  I was really disappointed.  I'd been excited for there to be a new Fluttershy episode, but this episode felt like utter fail.  I mean, at the beginning of the season when the arch villain Dischord tried to turn Fluttershy evil, she was the only pony who's nature was so true that she didn't fall for his tricks.  Yet, a quick seminar from a minotaur, and she's suddenly beating people up and saying mean things?  I kept hoping that it would turn out that the minotaur had cast some sort of magic on her...  Although, I still would have felt like it stretched credibility for a random minotaur to have an easier time magically turning Fluttershy evil than Dischord did.

I guess I did enjoy the classic gag with Pinkie Pie switching roles mid-argument to trick her opponent into giving her what she wants.  And the idea of Angel being such a picky eater was cute.  But I can't help but feel like this episode was a horrible betrayal of Fluttershy's nature.  It started out by claiming she was too much of a pushover (plausible), followed that up with turning her really mean with a little bit of assertiveness training (a terrible contradiction of her personality as established in the rest of the show), and concluded by claiming that, actually, she was perfectly capable of standing up for herself when it really mattered all along (a confusing contradiction of the beginning of the episode) or else that the assertiveness training really had helped? (which would mean that she was refusing to pay the minotaur even though he really had helped her...).  The moral heart of this story was a sad mixed-up mish mash, and the character arc was either non-existent (the ability to stand up for herself was inside Fluttershy all along) or kind of troubling (assertiveness can make you evil, but you should go ahead and get it and then blame the person who gave it to you for turning you evil, even though, in the end, he really helped you out?).

Ug.

[Edit:  when I started writing this, no one else had posted yet.  That doesn't seem to be true now that I've finished.]

Don't mind me. I'm just doing my requisite Forum Ninja duties :P

I've heard a handful of people who found the lessons a bit troublesome/misleading. I guess I just watched it through a different lens, because I didn't really get much of that. I saw something more along the lines of 'When you know you are in the right, it is okay to hold your ground, but don't get carried away'. Granted, this could get dangerous if a kid tries to use this against their parents.

I didn't really see it advocating assertiveness to the point of bullying. On the contrary, it was shown to really hurt Fluttershy, to the point where she was going to shut herself away from the world entirely. In the end, she was able to stand up for herself without changing who she was.

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Offline Landrav

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #326 on: March 05, 2012, 07:43:38 pm »
I agree, I don't think the episode promoted any negative lessons at all.  It clearly showed that Fluttershy hurt her friends, and when she realized it, it hurt her, too.  I don't think it was SO out of character for Fluttershy because it was more of that "power is intoxicating" feeling than really being a full personality change.  Someone on Ponychan went through an explanation of each incident where she used a catchphrase and it was pretty much an escalation caused by positive reinforcement (getting her way).  Of course, I'm giving a generous allowance for the simple fact that it's a cartoon, and a lot of what they do with the show pretty much HAS to be exaggerated. This is especially true because of the very short time limit the creators have to work with.  I don't deduct any points for something that's outside their control.

Last night I watched this episode maybe 6 times on loop while I did other stuff on the internet.  Then I watched Hearth's Warming Eve while I fell asleep on the couch.
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Offline Ryffnah

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #327 on: March 05, 2012, 09:29:16 pm »
I didn't say that it promoted negative lessons.  I'm not concerned that it's telling kids to go beat people up.  I'm simply disappointed by what felt like an unclear, out-of-character character arc.
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Offline Hoagiebot

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #328 on: March 05, 2012, 11:12:49 pm »
Well, I gave it the old college try to be the first poster for this episode.  I originally thought that I wouldn't be able to watch the new MLP:FiM episode, "Putting Your Hoof Down," on Saturday because of the show's new time-slot being during the afternoon when I am usually asleep, but one of the other occupants in my house decided that Saturday afternoon was a splendid time to hammer some nails into a wall near my bedroom, so what do you know, I was awake to watch 'Ponies on Saturday after all.  *grumbles*  After watching the new episode on Saturday I did sit down in front of my computer and put 5-straight hours into writing my review of it, but that just wasn't enough time and had to go to bed leaving it unfinished because I had a Software Development Community meeting to go to the next day.  I had originally hoped to finish my review on Sunday night after my meeting was over, but on my way home I had an unbelievably close brush with almost being in a high-speed car wreck when some maniac going at least 10-or-15MPH over this road's 55MPH speed limit decided to cut me off without clearing my car first.  Had I not emergency slammed on the brakes he would have careened right into me, sending me into a concrete barrier.  But that was not where the incident ended-- naturally there was another car following too close behind me, and while that driver saw me braking and also slammed on the brakes, seeing his headlights in the review mirror it became apparent that there was a really good chance that the other driver would not be able to slow down in time and smash into me from the rear.  So immediately after the maniac in front of me just barely, somehow, cleared the nose of my car while passing into my lane I laid off the brakes and hit the accelerator again to regain some speed and help maintain the gap between myself and the driver behind me.  That lead me to somehow also narrowly escape from being hit from behind.  All of that took place in only about 2-seconds worth of time, and I still don't know how I got out of it without getting completely totaled.  After being severely shaken by that, once I got home I got myself a hot bowl of soup, a hot shower, and then just went to bed.  So now I find myself on Monday sitting back in front of my PC and putting another 4-hours in to finish up the rather lengthy review that I originally started on Saturday...

Now, when I watch new episodes of MLP:FiM I make it a point to make sure that I don't know who wrote the episode until after I have finished watching it.  I do this to try to keep at least my initial thoughts and reactions about the episode unbiased by my preexisting preconceptions about each MLP:FiM writer.  That way I won't feel that an episode is better than it really is just because it was written by my favorite MLP:FiM writer, M.A. Larson or worse than it really is just because it was written by my least favorite MLP:FiM writer, Merriwether Williams.  With that said, when I was watching this episode something about it just felt a little off to me.  So much so that my very first thought about the episode after I had finished watching it was, "Whoa, that was a weird one."  So after watching the episode I decided to go down to my evil subterranean lair, fire up one of my many computer minions, and look up who this episode's writer was on the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Wiki.  The answer of course was that the credited writer for the episode was Merriwether Williams.  I should have known.   Oddly, another additional story credit was given to Charlotte Fullerton for this episode.  That makes it trickier to figure out who is exactly responsible for what, but since Merriwether Williams is credited as the episode's actual writer, I am going to have to assume that she was the primary creative influence at work here.

While there was a lot about this episode that didn't seem quite right to me, my number one complaint about it has to be the behavior of both Pinkie Pie and Rarity early on in the episode when they try to demonstrate to Fluttershy how to stand up for herself at the marketplace.  Now I would expect Fluttershy's behavior to initially not set a good example for the viewers in the first two acts of this episode because she is the character that need's to learn the episode's aesop by the end, and her losing her way only to find her way back again is her character's development arc in the plot, after all.  The problem is that when Rarity and Pinkie Pie first tried to teach Fluttershy to be assertive I don't think that *their* so-called "assertive behavior" set a very good example either, and that's not right because they were supposed to be Fluttershy's positive influences in this episode!  To explain, when Rarity wanted to show Fluttershy how to get what she wants, she does it by going up to that oblivious and socially awkward stallion and basically threw herself at him, using her feminine wiles and flirtatious behavior to basically seduce the stallion into giving her what she wanted.  That's not right!  What a great example to show to this show's primary demographic, young girls!  Hey little girl, does that guy have an item that you want?  Well then flirt with him and make advances towards him until you wheedle him into giving it to you!  Rarity says that it's O.K!  Man, and to think that I was originally all upset that somehow Derpy's fannon name and voice made it through the editorial review process at DHX Media/Hasbro Studios in "The Last Roundup."  As far as I am concerned, that was just a small unintentional weiner-up compared to what we have got going on here!  The fact that Rarity's actions here somehow made it through all of the network's E.I. executives and was green-lit is unbelievable!  I know that I have mentioned this a bunch of times already in pasts posts here, but during the first season of MLP:FiM the Educational and Informational Department at Hasbro was so strict with the show's writers that the term "egghead" was barely allowed to get through.  Where the heck are those super-strict E.I. Department people now?  Asleep at the wheel!?

Then you have Pinkie Pie try to teach Fluttershy how to be assertive with the tomato-selling mare, and her method of doing so wasn't much better than Rarity's.  First of all, since when is it wrong for a seller to decide to raise the selling-price of their product, as long as it is not intentional gouging?  Maybe half of this mare's tomato crop recently got destroyed by tomato hornworms, which caused a halving of her tomato supply and thus a doubling of her price from the week before?  Anyway, Pinkie Pie's solution to this was to essentially trick the mare into giving her what she wanted by confusing her through a Bugs Bunny-ripped off wordplay routine.  That's not right!  There is nothing wrong with haggling on a price for something if the seller wants to.  I haggle all of the time when I am trying to purchase all of the wonderful treasures that I find at local hamfests.  But what we saw here at this particular moment in the episode wasn't haggling.  It was swindling instead.  The tomato seller did not want to sell her tomatoes for less than two bits, and Pinkie Pie intentionally tricked her through a word game into accepting only one.  Hey kids, it's O.K. to pull a fast one on people because Pinkie Pie says so!  Aye yai yai does Merriwether Williams (and possibly also Charlotte Fullerton?) have a crooked sense of morals or what!?

That leads me to my next major gripe, which is the fact that in two of Merriwether Williams episodes now it feels like I am watching a Fringe-like slightly different alternate universe version of Ponyville instead of Ponyville itself.  In "The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well" for example, our calm relatively flat town of Ponyville is suddenly turned into a mountainous small city of chaos, where tall building are being built, roads wind down mountainsides and end suddenly at cliffs like ski jumps, and everypony all of a sudden needs saving.  Now all of a sudden in "Putting Your Hoof Down" the vast majority of Ponyville's residents have suddenly turned into inconsiderate jerks.  Do you remember in the first season episode "Boast Busters" how contrasting The Great and Powerful Trixie's self-centered behavior was compared to the rest of Ponyville's residents, making her a clear antagonist?  Now we have an entire town acting like Trixie!  I realize that this mass character behavioral shift conveniently serves this particular episode's plot, but geez, there is no way that this is the same Ponyville whose residents were happily bounding from the town's rooftops and singing "Smile, Smile, Smile" with Pinkie Pie just one episode ago!  Based on what I saw today, if Spike had accidentally bumped into Cheerilee and spilled her groceries on his birthday in Merriwether Williams's Ponyville, Cheerilee probably would have probably responded by kicking the tar out of him and leaving him for dead along the roadside instead of giving him that really cool feathered hat!  The random townsfolk in today's episode seem almost that mean to me!  I don't know, maybe Ponyville in today's episode was flooded by visiting ponies from the mean streets of Manehatten?  *shrugs*

Still another thing that kind of bothered me about this episode was the lack of an appearance by the rest of the Mane Six.  I do have a pretty good out-of-universe guess as to why they weren't there-- they were probably omitted due to the Law of Conservation of Detail since they weren't essential to the story, but still, I think that might have been an overly extreme application of the law.  I am not saying that I feel that Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Twilight Sparkle should have served any kind of major role in the story because there just wasn't enough episode running time for that, but they could have made some sort of small cameo appearance somewhere during the marketplace or Sugarcube Corner scenes or something.  With the episode how it was I started to get the gut feeling that the production team was trying to pinch pennies with it, as if the other main characters were left out to save money on voice actresses.  That may or may not actually have been a factor-- I really have no idea, but whether it was or wasn't that was still the impression that I got.  

For those of you who are interested, when you break down the plot of "Putting Your Hoof Down" with Syd Field's Paradigm you get:

  • Exposition: ("Provides some background information to the audience about the plot, characters' histories, setting, and theme.")  The exposition for this episode begins with the teaser scene.  The exposition for this episode serves to show to the audience how large numbers of citizens in Ponyville take complete advantage of Fluttershy's kindness and meekness, pushing her around, being rude to her, and all-around treating her poorly because she doesn't stand up for herself.  This includes everyone from Angel the rabbit to the ponies who cut in front of her at the asparagus stand.
  • Inciting Incident: ("Also called the catalyst, this is the point in the story when the Protagonist encounters the problem that will change their life.")  The Inciting Incident occurs at 6:47.  A stubborn and spoiled Angel kicks Fluttershy out of her own house, causing her to crash head-first into her mailbox and find the flier for Iron Will's self-help seminar.  This causes Fluttershy to realize that she truly is a doormat and declare that she will never be a pushover again.
  • Plot Point 1: ("The last scene in Act I, Turning Point 1 is a surprising development that changes the plot's direction and begins the second act.")  Happens at about 10:20 at Iron Will's Assertiveness Seminar.  Iron Will coaxes Fluttershy to criticize the goat that she knocked into on stage, and while she is initially hesitant to do it, as the crowd cheers she suddenly realizes that she liked doing it.  Act II begins at 10:24 with Fluttershy back at her house, feeling good about her newly found assertiveness, and going out to "attack the day."
  • Midpoint: ("An important scene in the middle of the script, often a reversal of fortune or revelation that changes the direction of the story.")  Happens at 12:53 when Fluttershy misinterprets Pinkie Pie's laughter as ridicule and she angrily dumps the bowl of punch onto Pinkie Pie's head.  This changes the direction of the story because now Fluttershy has suddenly devolved from standing up for herself against bullies to becoming an over-reacting bully herself.
  • Plot Point 2: ("A dramatic reversal that ends Act 2 and begins Act 3, which is about confrontation and resolution.")  Our low point for Fluttershy near the end of Act II occurs at 14:37 when she quickly becomes overly-defensive towards Rarity and Pinkie Pie when they confront her about her behavior.  This causes Fluttershy to doubt her friends' loyalty to her and she lashes out at them, insulting them and making them gallop off crying.  The "Plot Point 2" reversal that ends Act II and begins Act III occurs at 16:17 when Fluttershy looks at her reflection in the puddle and realizes that she has become a monster.
  • Climax or Showdown: ("The point at which the plot reaches its maximum tension and the forces in opposition confront each other at a peak of physical or emotional action.") The climax in Act III begins at 19:19-- Iron Will has come to collect his fee for the seminar, and Fluttershy holds her ground against him and tells him no, until he finally capitulates and gives into her.
  • Resolution or Denouement: ("The brief period of calm at the end of a film where a state of equilibrium returns.") Starts at 20:42.  Fluttershy has stood up for herself against Iron Will, and did so without being mean, overly defensive, physically violent, or using cheesy self-help catch phrases.  Fluttershy apologizes to Pinkie Pie and Rarity for her previous bad behavior, and they forgive her and share a big giggly group hug with her.  Later, Fluttershy even stares down the standoffish Angel and gets him to eat what she has put in front of him, neatly tying up the last loose end of the story's conflict.

Some other things in this episode that I noticed:

  • 0:06 - Fluttershy: "Lunch time!  Who's hungry?  Plenty for everypony!"  Why did Fluttershy say "everypony" here?  What pony?  I see squirrels, mice, birds, ferrets, and rabbits, but no other ponies.  I wonder if saying "everypony" here was an in-universe slip of the character, or an out-of-universe slip of the writer.
  • 0:23 - Angel's a real scumbag in this teaser scene, and throughout the entire episode, really.  I'm mean really, how many Bronies out there would kill to be Fluttershy's little pet, and he's sitting there abusing her, slapping her in the face, and kicking bowls onto her head.  If Angel were my rabbit, at about this point I would be reminding him that not all of Earth's creatures eat little green pellets, such as, oh, the falcon and eagle that Fluttershy has been shown to have, and that he could easily become part of the "circle of life" for them if you catch my meaning.
  • 1:02 - Hey, where's the gag?  While I don't mind at all that the teaser scene is being used for exposition in this episode, the teaser scenes often ends with some sort of joke.  In "Hearts and Hooves Day" for example, the writers were able to both use the scene for exposition and have a joke in the form of the Cutie Mark Crusaders making a Hearts and Hooves Day card that was way too big for its envelope, so it definitely can be done.  This episode's teaser scene really ends on a downer, with a slapped Fluttershy saying that she will give into Angel's unreasonable demands.  I don't really think that you would want to lead into what's supposed to be a light-hearted and fun show on such as uncomedic low note like that.
  • 3:20 - Does anybody else here feel bad that Rarity is completely taking advantage of the poor nerd pony right here?  I was strung along once by a girl like this back in high school, only for something far more expensive then a bunch of asparagus, and believe me, it really hurts when you find out that the girl wasn't really interested in you and was instead using you for a free ride.  One thing's for certain-- Rarity's stock price has tumbled on the HJIPSE after this performance.
  • 4:20 - I wasn't even particularly crazy about this particular comedy routine when Chuck Jones first did it in his 1951 Looney Tunes animated short, "Rabbit Fire."
  • 4:56 - Hey, it's Derpy!  The poor mare, she just can't catch a break!  All she wanted was some asparagus, and now she has just discovered from the seller at the asparagus stand that it is all gone.   :'(  I feel for you Derpy, I really do.  On a side note, if you look closely you will see that there is a muffin-design on her saddlebag!
  • 5:07 - I made an argument above that Pinkie Pie shouldn't have tricked the poor tomato-selling mare into giving her a lower price through a word game because it was like swindling.  However, if Pinkie Pie had done the same thing to the cherry-seller here I would not have reacted the same way.  The cherry seller is being equally unethical here by being a price gouger that is taking advantage of Fluttershy's situation-- he would have actually deserved the Pinkie Pie treatment to serve him right.  Also, isn't the Cherry Seller from this episode Derpy's former boss from the episode "Feeling Pinkie Keen" when she worked as a flying-truck-unloader?
  • 7:11 - I don't know why I like the slightly wall-eyed narrow pupils and overall character-designs of the goats, but I do!  For some reason it makes the goats remind me of overly sleazy late-night TV infomercial salesman, like this guy!  Tell me you don't see the resemblance!  They even both where the same kind of microphone!
  • 7:39 - Here we have the first appearance of Iron Will, accompanied by a "sound-alike" version of the song, "Eye of the Tiger."  Iron Will's a Minotaur!  How about that!  As a bit of trivia, there really is no end to the number of magical creatures that the writers could include into MLP:FiM.  This is because Hasbro also owns the rights to Dungeons & Dragons (Wizards of the Coast, which currently owns Dungeons and Dragons, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hasbro.)  So really, any monster from the D&D game could easily be thrown into the show!  Also, Iron Will's voice is done by the same voice actor who does the character "Hercule" from Dragon Ball Z.
  • 7:50 - While I didn't personally catch it while watching the episode, apparently Derpy is also part of Iron Will's audience.  Maybe she's there to learn how to stand up to Hasbro's corporate executives! :D
  • 8:37 - Iron Will: "I pity the fool who doubts Iron Will's methods!"
  • 11:16 - Has Bon Bon *ever* had the same voice twice between episode?  With that question in mind I checked up on it on the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Wiki, and the article for Bon Bon there seems to agree with me that she doesn't.
  • 11:47 - Nice!  It reminds me of what always happened to Biff Tannon whenever there was a manure truck within the city limits of Hill Valley!
  • 13:56 - Would it have been so much to ask to have Derpy be the mail-pony that delivered the wrong mail here?  I really liked the fannon idea that she was one of the mail carriers of Ponyville.
  • 16:28 - Fluttershy: "I'm the monster."  Awww, poor crying Fluttershy.  We even have overly sad piano music playing during this scene to help us feel bad for her.
  • 17:21 - Ooo!  I love the change in camera focus during the assorted characters' dialog here!  Nice!
  • 18:10 - Hey, I just noticed this, but Fluttershy also boarded up the doors and windows of the birdhouses that are shown here!  LOL!
  • 18:47 - I absolutely love Pinkie Pie's animated "squash and stretch" here!!!
  • 19:06 - Iron Will: "When somepony tries to block, show them that you rock!"  Yes!!!  This is my absolute most favorite part of the episode here!  I thought that it was an absolute riot when Iron Will chucked Pinkie Pie into the mud, and then one of Iron Will's goat assistants started chewing on Pinkie Pie's tail!  I could watch Iron Will chucking Pinkie Pie into the mud like this all day!  In fact, I wish that more characters would deal with the often clingy and annoying Pinkie Pie this way!
  • 20:50 - Rarity: "In fact you didn't change at all!  You were the same old Fluttershy that we've always loved."  I can see what Ryffnah is getting at here about this line of Rarity's, and how it makes the "aesop" moral lesson of the episode appear look like it is a "broken aesop," or in other words that Fluttershy, instead of coming out in a better place at the end of the episode than where she was at the beginning, only instead ended up exactly where she was at the beginning of the story as if some kind of cosmic reset button had been pressed.  However, I don't entirely agree with that interpretation due to the next scene, which shows Fluttershy once again dealing with a standoffish Angel.  Instead of Fluttershy literally allowing Angel to smack her around this time she stands up to him, and he backs down to her and eats what was put in front of him.  That does indeed show that some character development has taken place with Fluttershy and that she has grown to become a bit more assertive now.  I will say however that this character development with Fluttershy could have been portrayed in a much clearer fashion than how they went about doing it, and I do think that Ryffnah's complaints are completely justified.

As for my final thoughts on this episode, it did have some funny and entertaining moments, especially Iron Will tossing Pinkie Pie into the mud, the contents of the garbage carts being dumped onto Bon Bon and Cherry Berry, and poor Derpy missing out on buying her asparagus.  In fact, Iron Will and his goat cohorts were entertaining, period.  But even those elements couldn't save this episode from its many apparent weaknesses-- an inappropriately behaving Rarity and Pinkie Pie manipulating other ponies in the marketplace, mixed sometimes broken moral messages, a plot that feels rehashed from other episodes where Fluttershy has to overcome her meekness, such as "Dragonshy," the suddenly overly self-centered and inconsiderate residents of Ponyville (which kind of ruined the mood of the place), a very aggressively trimmed-back cast of main characters, etc., so overall I am going to have to rank this one in the lower echelons of the second-season MLP:FiM episodes.  As I said above, the whole entire episode just seemed a bit "off" in one way or another.

While I don't think any of the regular MLP:FiM writers have a perfectly spotless track record with me, Merriwether Williams is the only writer that I really truly wish that they would stop commissioning screenplays from.  While her episodes definitely aren't the worst things that I have ever seen on television or anything like that, at the same time she just doesn't seem to be a very good fit for MLP:FiM.  None of her episodes have really captured the same essence of what MLP:FiM is about that the other writers have bought to us, and no one can write episodes that divide the opinion among all of the bronies as sharply as she can.  Couldn't they just commission the writing of a couple of more episodes from M.A. Larson, Meghan McCarthy, Amy Keating Rogers, and/or Cindy Morrow and just call it a day?  They don't need her services that badly, do they?

In any case, at least next week we finally get to see the time travel episode of MLP:FiM that I have been eagerly waiting for!  I have my annual SKYWARN Advanced-Level Severe Weather Spotter Training Seminar going on next Saturday, so unfortunately I won't be able to watch the episode as it airs, but maybe I will be able to catch it afterward before I have to go to my Lake Area Furry Friends monthly bowling meet.  Let's hope!   :)
« Last Edit: March 06, 2012, 08:35:24 am by Hoagiebot »

Offline Ryffnah

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #329 on: March 06, 2012, 12:32:09 am »
Yes, I was troubled by Rarity taking advantage of the nerdy pony too.  And I also thought it odd that Pinkie Pie wouldn't allow the tomato vendor to raise her prices.  At first, I thought the tomato vendor was gouging Fluttershy (as the cherry vendor later did), but the "two tomatoes = two bits" sign showed that wasn't the case.
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Offline Ryffnah

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #330 on: March 10, 2012, 08:16:05 pm »
MLP: FIM "It's About Time" -- I liked the ice cream house.  I liked the way that Twilight went to the trouble of sneaking around even though all the ponies who ran into her (the guard, the princess) didn't notice anything out of the ordinary about her being there.  I liked how Pinkie Pie bounced everywhere they went.  And I loved the way that Pinkie had balls and eye patches stashed all over Ponyville.
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Offline aspect

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #331 on: March 10, 2012, 10:19:28 pm »
I went somewhere for Spring Break for once, so I found myself stuck in Puerto Rico studying rocks with a bunch of geologists rather than watching "Putting your Hoof Down." I made an effort to see it in the hotel but the internet was spotty and I only got to see the first half until last night.

Since the new episode is out now I won't dwell too much on the cuteness of Fluttershy &c. &c., but:

0:06 - Fluttershy: "Lunch time!  Who's hungry?  Plenty for everypony!"  Why did Fluttershy say "everypony" here?  What pony?  I see squirrels, mice, birds, ferrets, and rabbits, but no other ponies.  I wonder if saying "everypony" here was an in-universe slip of the character, or an out-of-universe slip of the writer.

"Everypony" is just the MLP word for "everyone". Though there are many other sentient species in Equestria (and beyond? is there a beyond?) ponies are common enough that "pony" can be understood as synonymous with "person" the same way we might conflate "humanity" with "personhood". (This is somewhat rare, but it's possible to google up examples, such as "could a robot be considered human".)

I guess I'd also just say, I really found the Rarity/Pinkie dynamic a neat little aspect of that episode too, and I think it makes sense to leave the other mane 6 out for an episode. They all had friends before Twilight came to Ponyville and brought them all specifically together; in my "headcanon" they all interact with their other friends in between episodes.

But anyway, back to more recent things! or should I say, back to the future! "It's About Time" has a lot going for it: Twilight using lots of magic, good Pinkie Pie gags, plenty of Spike and even Spike with Rarity, monsters and (somewhat offscreen) epic adventure, a Mad Science Twilight scene. Continuity references galore: Starswirl the Bearded was one I personally hoped would show up again, along with Pinkie's sixth sense; we also had Fluttershy taming a beast, Spike enjoying his sleep perhaps overmuch, and Twilight being good at taking charge and giving orders. And at the very end, Celestia even showed up, which I suppose isn't a big deal but I was really hoping for. (Really, Twilight should have contacted Celestia first thing rather than organising the whole disaster-preparation effort herself...)

I liked Twilight constantly using telekinesis and teleporting around because I feel like a background thread in MLP has been Twilight constantly getting better at magic, to the point where it's almost a danger to herself and others. (I started thinking this when she accidentally teleported herself and Spike back in "Ticket Master".) Naturally this idea is at the core of every fanfic I've thought up including the one lying unfinished in this very forum. This episode fits perfectly into that overarching plot as it shows Twilight's magical abilities starting to cause serious trouble. Of course, the spell turned out to be one-time-use, which keeps the time-obsessed Twilight from completely breaking reality later as we all know she would. Hmm is there a tvtropes page about the habit authors have of not breaking reality? ie, super powerful abilities are not controllable or disappear after they are used, cool technologies can't be used with each other (in Star Trek, replicator and transporter technologies don't work on the same principles since replicators can't make living things, which means transporter buffers don't serve as backup copies of people and usually individuality is conserved).

But I digress. (And use a lot of parentheses.) Another thing I liked was the whole future self / past self thing. But probably the reason I liked it was because of its extensive use in the webcomic MS Paint Adventures; I almost felt like it was a reference, though it probably wasn't. MSPA involves a lot of time travel (and other awesome things) and several of the characters have odd relationships with their past and/or future selves. (Karkat the Troll, for example, simply hates and thoroughly distrusts both his past and future selves, and constantly argues with them or tries to avoid them.)  This episode repeated a couple of times the theme that you should remember you really are your future self. This is a curious moral since as far as I know nopony actually has this problem.

It's pretty funny how at the end Twilight is frustrated that "now I'm gonna spend a week worrying about a disaster that doesn't even exist!" but then Pinkie reminds her that that's past Twilight's problem not hers. The problematic future tense here as well as the moral dilemma of whether to feel guilty about causing suffering which is in the past are just funny to me.

On to a few things I didn't like about the episode. Toward the end Twilight makes a lot of dumb mistakes, which is because she's too worried about trying to follow her future self's wishes and avoid disaster. Her not even seeing the Starswirl wing is a little weird but probably realistic. But the very last mistake, of precisely duplicating her previously-experienced conversation, is a bit of a stretch, especially since she seemingly had already calmed down and realised there was nothing to worry about. But, fiction always has trouble depicting stable time loops containing characters trying to destabilise them; it's just a very counter-intuitive thing to try to design. So this isn't a real criticism. Nor is my second complaint: I don't like the way the ninja outfits look. :P I guess my only real complaint is that we didn't get to see any of the undoubtedly awesome adventure of saving Equestria from the monsters of Tartarus, and instead valuable screen time was used repeating one admittedly well-done scene twice.

Lastly, I didn't spot Derpy in this episode! Did anyone else??

Offline aspect

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #332 on: March 11, 2012, 09:33:02 pm »
A few more points about the latest episode, after rewatching it.

1) There is a lucky horseshoe in Madame Pinkie's tent. Later there is one in Twilight's library!

2) I really like how Pinkie says "..hope she still isn't mad" right before we get the reveal that Twilight has set up a mad science lab in her library. I do not know if this was an intentional pun!

3) I have come to the conclusion that Pinkie Pie was behind everything.

Pinkie directly gives Twilight the eyepatch. Pinkie indirectly gives Twilight the headband. Most significantly, Pinkie is the one who actually finds the time-travel spell in the first place. I say "in the first place" because well... inside a stable time loop any event could be considered the "first" event since the rest of the loop's events happen after it. But what if Pinkie Pie really orchestrated the whole thing? Clearly her goal in doing so was just to have fun. Note that she is the first to react when Cerberus shows up, using it as an excuse to do more yelling and running around; this time getting everypony to join in unlike before.

4) "from fillydelphia to los pegasus..." Is Equestria shaped like America, with punny versions of major American cities?

5) Fixing up the dam during the checklist montage was also a nod to continuity. Didn't catch that the first time through! :P

EDIT: Here is an explanation of how Pinkie Pie could have 'caused' the whole episode. I posted this originally in the EQDaily comments and lengthened it slightly for here.

In a back-to-the-future style time theory where paradoxes must be consciously avoided, there is something like 'meta-time' so that we label the individual timelines a, b, c, et cetera, in the order they 'occurred' in meta-time. Regarding ordinary time there are stable objects like rocks which last over time and unstable objects like fire or ripples which eventually dissipate. In meta-time, the unstable objects are time travel events which create paradoxes; these are wiped out the next timeline, or perhaps they just disappear outright. The stable objects in metatime are stretches of time which never get interfered with via time travel, as well as time travel events which do not uncause themselves.

Sometimes an initially unstable time travel event can resolve itself into a stable time loop, just like stable ash can only occur after unstable fire. The idea would be: Pinkie Pie initially finds the time travel spell and gets Twilight to use it, probably to make time for scheduling time to schedule! The next time around Pinkie plans to have Twilight travel through time but discovers she has 'already' done so. Past Twilight talks about how Future Twilight asked Past Twilight to make the plans so that Future Twilight wouldn't have to. But then Past Twilight ends up not making the plans (perhaps because of Pinkie Pie's party) and has to try to travel back in time in order to reprimand herself. Pinkie comes along with Twilight to make sure she finds the time travel scroll. Twilight spends the next timeline shirking her other responsibilities in order to make a detailed schedule, since that timeline will 'be destroyed' anyway and the schedule can be passed on in a stable time loop. But this is not truly stable because Pinkie Pie is still in the background trying to exploit the time loop.  This time around may be the first time Pinkie releases Cerberus; because Twilight is spending her time scheduling, she isn't present to realise Cerberus has to be returned in order to keep Equestria from being overrun by monsters.

So then Twilight, for the first time, goes back in time mainly for the purpose of warning herself of impending danger. But if she successfully warns herself the loop is unstable. Fortunately for the time loop, Twilight gets a papercut after saving Equestria and this distracts the next Twilight from getting the specifics of the warning. However, Twilight is not yet pinned down by fate; she is ready for Past Twilight's distractability and manages to stubbornly get the message through. The loop happens a couple different ways after this until Pinkie Pie randomly happens to give Twilight an eyepatch, which again makes the loop more stable by distracting Twilight. But not yet stable enough...

Highly stable time loops can take a lot of meta-time to form because of things like Twilight not usually making the exact same speech she heard in the first place. Over iteration after iteration they would build up defense mechanisms to keep themselves from being changed by their participants; in this episode the defense mechanisms were the "signs," which kept future Twilight from relaying the message by distracting past Twilight. This makes the time loop more deterministic since it's mostly caused by Past Twilight's reaction rather than Future Twilight's message.

After an infinite amount of meta-time passes we arrive at a timeline from whose point of view time travel cannot change the past, like in the episode.

Probably I should write this meta-time progression as a fanfic since I've got it mostly planned out. ;)
« Last Edit: March 11, 2012, 10:39:17 pm by aspect »

Offline Narei Mooncatt

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #333 on: March 12, 2012, 02:04:57 am »
3:45 - Guess Fluttershy didn't learn her lesson afterall from last week.

4:20 - Twilight has impecable balance for being on 2 hooves

4:30 - "And I raaaannnn. I ran so far a-wayayayayay...."

5:15 - I want a rag that can clean cement from my hair!

6:10 - Just WHERE is she sticking that parchment when she finishes her list?  :o

6:47 - Cerberus was about to mark that building! (Speaking of which, anyone else think it odd that their equivalent of the gates of Hell sounds like nothing more than some random hole in the ground outside of Ponyville?)

8:40 - Don't worry about the floor. It's a tree. It'll grow back. :P

11:40 - Epic crystal ball face

14:03 - I'd never trust a medic that stashes supplies in a fireplace.

15:10 (and others) - Is it just me or do those stealth uniforms seem awfully shiny? Like they're made out of latex or vinyl. And Pinky Pie thought they were wearing them for fun?!?! That's all I'm saying about that.

16:40 - Yes, how DID she miss that? lol

18:40 - I dunno, I think I like that look on her.

19:15 - Again, where is she putting those parchments???

19:30 - Animators get lazy, simply copy/paste early scene into the end. :D

20:35 - I can't believe she didn't realize that's what was going to happen and either not go back in time at all, or try a different tactic with her past self. Hence why I don't get in to time travel discussions. Too many questions.*

21:00 - Past Twilight, Future Twilight. Past Spike, future Spike. Last week was Old Fluttershy and New Fluttershy. What's next I wonder.

*Like here's the problem with your scenario, Aspect. The only way Pinky Pie could find the time spell was because Future Twilight and told Past Twilight about the location of said spells and Pinky Pie had went along with her. So how would you explain Pinky Pie finding the spell in an earlier "loop" to kickstart the whole thing if Twighlight wasn't with her? Granted, she is the master at breaking the 4th wall, but I don't think she's that good. Then again, she did help herself up a cliff in Friend Indeed. Hmmm...
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 02:08:56 am by Narei Mooncatt »
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Offline aspect

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #334 on: March 12, 2012, 03:49:41 pm »
*Like here's the problem with your scenario, Aspect. The only way Pinky Pie could find the time spell was because Future Twilight and told Past Twilight about the location of said spells and Pinky Pie had went along with her. So how would you explain Pinky Pie finding the spell in an earlier "loop" to kickstart the whole thing if Twighlight wasn't with her? Granted, she is the master at breaking the 4th wall, but I don't think she's that good. Then again, she did help herself up a cliff in Friend Indeed. Hmmm...

Pinkie clearly has sufficient powers, she just usually isn't organised enough to use them for the plot. She's like one of those cartoon characters who can summon hammers from thin air to beat people up... except when it would actually be useful to do so.

But anyway, my intent was that Pinkie explores the Canterlot library on her own a little before the episode begins and discovers the time travel scroll; or becomes informed of its exact location in some other way. Pinkie being some sort of uncaused cause is funnier though.

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #335 on: March 14, 2012, 05:43:11 am »
Well, it once again looks like I am arriving very late to this party, and that many of you have already discussed many aspects about the new episode, "It's About Time," that I otherwise would have touched upon in my own post.  As for why my post has been so delayed, there are actually a couple of reasons.  First of all, I had a pretty busy weekend last weekend, and had to refresh my Advanced-Level SKYWARN Severe Weather Spotter certification on Saturday morning/afternoon, I had furry LAFF Furry Bowling Saturday evening into early Sunday morning, and then I had a Software Development Community seminar about Apache Cordova on Sunday afternoon.  Because of that, I just wasn't able to watch the new episode on Saturday afternoon when it originally aired even though I had desperately wanted to.  Secondly, I was also holding off on writing my post until I heard back from my friendly watchdog here on the forum, Admin Alexandre, about whether or not I could include a questionable word in my post.  To explain, there is a hero-character trope used in this episode that is rather central to this episode's plot.  Since I love to discuss what tropes are used in MLP:FiM episodes, I was planning on both naming the trope and linking to it.  Unfortunately, TVTropes.org gave this particular trope a name which I suppose isn't quite TV-Y7 rated, so I wasn't sure whether or not I could get away with addressing it by its given name here in the forum.  In the past during borderline cases like I would have been satisfied with just replacing the vowel in the questionable portion of the word with a strategically placed asterisk, but I recently found out the hard way through a moderated post that that is no longer considered acceptable Furtopian behavior either.  All is not lost however, because luckily I have been given permission from Alexandre to be able to link to the trope's page, so I will do just that.  However, instead of using TVTropes.org's given name for the fashionably scarred, goatee-sporting, longcoat-wearing, tough version of a hero from the future, I am going to have to have to come up with my own name for the trope.  I think that I'll go with "hardcore future self."  Believe me, I like TVTropes,org's original name for the trope better too, but rules are rules so you'll have to bear with me here!

About the new episode, as some of you may remember, I am a huge fan of time travel stories, and I was really excited to watch this episode ever since I first learned about it back in February.  So much so in fact that I have been blabbing about what I hoped that I would see in this episode in posts here since the middle of last February.  One of the things that I wrote back then was this:

In fact, my favorite fiction book has long been The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, and my favorite movie of all-time, The Terminator, also features time travel prominently as part of its plot along with one of my favorite hero tropes, the "hardcore future self."  [...]  Since I doubt that there are going to be any "hardcore future self" characters in My Little Pony (though it would be absolutely awesome if their were-- could you imagine a hardcore battle-hardened Rainbow Dash from the future wearing grungy black armor, being covered in scars, and having one robotic eye?  My main man Tirek could easily provide the bad future for that Rainbow Dash to come back in time from!)

Well what do you know, we actually did get a "hardcore future self" character in MLP:FiM!  And while it may not have been a robotic-eye enhanced Rainbow Dash like I first joked about, we did get the rest with Twilight Sparkle-- grungy black clothes, facial scars, a "Mad Max"-style hairdo, and even one eye-patched eye!  And what can I say, I loved every moment of it!  In fact, I loved having a "hardcore future self" Twlilight Sparkle so much that I am almost tempted to say forget the magic of friendship, forget cute little adorkable Twlilight trying to fit-in with everypony, and forget having the meanest typical protagonist being a magic-using blue mare who boasts a little bit too much about herself-- lets have a war-torn shattered Discord-ruled future, a Princess Celestia turned to stone, a Canterlot reduced to rubble, and this battle-hardened won't-take-any-crap-from-nopony future Twilight Sparkle ripping Discord's tongue out of his throat and feeding it back to him to this guy's heavy metal music!!!  It would be awesome!  Once again maybe not TV-Y7 appropriate, but awesome none the less!  Hey, a similar dark future freedom fighter theme once worked for the otherwise adorable character Sonic the Hedgehog, right?

Some other hopes and predictions for this episode that I had back in February included:

This upcoming episode is probably going to be an example of the trope, "Set Right What Once Went Wrong."  TVTropes.org describes this trope as:

Quote
The character receives foreknowledge of what will happen (or, if Time Travel is involved, Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory will allow them to remember what happened "the first time around") and has to correct it.

That's all well and good-- Twilight Sparkle receiving a warning from her future self could lead to a great story.  There was one thing that was mentioned in the TV Listing episode summary for this episode that worries me however: "Twilight receives a warning from her future self and drives herself crazy with worry".  I want to see Twilight Sparkle acting on the information that she receives from her future self and actively trying to change future events.  I don't want to see her just sitting around and going crazy worrying about what could come to pass.  I saw enough of Twilight Sparkle going crazy in "Lesson Zero" to last a lifetime as far as I'm concerned.  As a result, I sincerely hope that the TV listing episode summary is just describing the first act of the episode, and not the entire episode.  If Twilight only worries during the first act, then at the beginning of the second act she can resolve to change her fate, then at the mid-point she can discover that she only succeeded at making everything worse through her attempted changes, and then for the third act she can discover one last crazy dangerous way to make everything better again, only to just barely successfully resolve things in the end.  If the events play out like that, then this episode can be really good.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a time travel episode centered around the trope, "Set Right What Once Went Wrong" like I was hoping for.  Instead, as Aspect mentioned, this episode was centered around the time travel trope, "Stable Time Loop," along with a hefty dose of the trope, "Self-Fulfilling Prophecy."  In other words, just as I had feared, this episode revolved entirely around Twilight Sparkle worrying about what was going to happen and through her actions bringing it about instead of something more action-packed, such as learning about some forthcoming disaster, trying to stop it but making it worse, and then doing something last-ditch and crazy at the climax to barely avert it at the end.  This was a bit of a let down, because the very second that I saw "hardcore future" Twilight zap into the room at the beginning of the episode I got my hopes up that there would be something terrible that Twilight would have to avert, but instead all of the horrible dark future kind of stuff that I was hoping for all I got to see was a paper-cut, some dragon-belched hair, a bump on the head caused by a falling flower pot, and a burned retina from glancing at the sun through a telescope.  *sigh*  And while I suppose that you could argue that wanting some nail-biting action in my ponies is being a bit unreasonable for a show whose primary demographic is young girls, we have had some good adventure episodes in the past such as "Friendship is Magic" parts 1 and 2 and "Dragonshy," so it's is not like MLP:FiM hasn't taken the occasional more action-oriented turn.

Also, as a personal side note, while I am a huge time travel fiction fan, unlike Aspect I have no love at all for such unnecessarily stodgy time travel concepts in my fiction as stable time loops, the Novikov self-consistency principle, or nasty Temporal Paradoxes that would make your reason for time traveling either unnecessary or impossible.  Luckily, there is a way to have your time travel in fiction and not have to worry about such things, and you don't even have to write confusing text-walls like Aspect did in an attempt to get around them using explanations such as "meta-time."  It's called the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, and was originally formulated by American Physicist Hugh Everett in 1957.  To quote Wikipedia:

Quote
The many-worlds interpretation is an interpretation of quantum mechanics in which a universal wavefunction obeys the same deterministic, reversible laws at all times; in particular there is no (indeterministic and irreversible) wavefunction collapse associated with measurement. The phenomena associated with measurement are claimed to be explained by decoherence, which occurs when states interact with the environment producing entanglement, repeatedly splitting the universe into mutually unobservable alternate histories—distinct universes within a greater multiverse.
[...]
Many-worlds implies that all possible alternative histories and futures are real, each representing an actual "world" (or "universe").

To understand how this would work with time travel, first consider the concept of one-dimensional time, i.e. a "timeline."  That timeline represents the linear procession of all of the events that have occurred, both past and future, in your universe.  Now imagine an infinite number of universe, each with a slight difference from one another.  This difference could be as small as one electron in one atom somewhere in the universe being in a slightly different position, to as large as a universe where humans never evolved, whales rule the earth, and we have five moons.  With an infinite number of universes, there is a universe for every possibility and with any change that you make you are actually just instantly and unobservably switching (or "branching") to the universe where that change is true instead of altering the universe that you started from.  To once again quote Wikipedia:

Quote
The many-worlds interpretation [when applied to time travel] could be one possible way to resolve the paradoxes that one would expect to arise if time travel turns out to be permitted by physics (permitting closed timelike curves and thus violating causality). Entering the past would itself be a quantum event causing branching, and therefore the timeline accessed by the time traveler simply would be another timeline of many. In that sense, it would make the Novikov self-consistency principle unnecessary.

So in other words, if you base the effects of your time traveling on the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics you actually *can* go back in time a kill your own grandfather and yet still happily exist yourself because the moment that you did so your personal reality branched into an alternate universe where your killing your own grandfather was always true.  And while the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics isn't the most popular of the many interpretations of quantum mechanics that are out there these days, it also as of yet can't be disproved, so as much as those Einstein General Relativity masochists will hate your Many Worlds Interpretation-based time travel stories, they won't be able to completely hand-wave them off either!  Ha ha!  In addition, because of its inherent flexibility, the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics works great for fictional storytelling.  When you write stories, you need to first and foremost focus on the actual story and make sure that it is both compelling and entertaining.  When you start getting caught up in stricter more General-Relativity-based ideas of time travel that becomes extremely difficult because at best you run into the Novikov self-consistency principle which seriously limits what you can do in your story and can cause plot holes and temporal paradoxes that can make forum commenters like Aspect start writing posts about things meta-time, objects taking the slow-path to the future, what is stable and not stable in a timeline, etc.  But if you use the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Physics all bets are off, and you can create pretty much any crazy adventure through time that you can think of, and throw the explanation of Quantum Mechanics at any angry nerds out there that start ranting in online forums against you.  It's a win-win scenario as far as I'm concerned, because you can both write the interesting story that you want and fend off the nerds with a real philosophy of Physics at the same time!

Anyway, I digress.  For those of you who are interested in the structure of MLP:FiM's screenplays, "It's About Time" breaks down with Syd Field's Paradigm as follows:

  • Exposition: ("Provides some background information to the audience about the plot, characters' histories, setting, and theme.")  Our exposition starts at 0:17 during the teaser scene of this episode, which provides us with the background information that Twilight Sparkle is normally both a worrier and a planner to the point of obsession.  This is displayed to the audience through showing Twilight Sparkle's all-night pacing, her desire to schedule a time for herself to make additional schedules, her overblown anxiety over what the consequences will be if she doesn't precisely schedule everything, etc.
  • Inciting Incident: ("Also called the catalyst, this is the point in the story when the Protagonist encounters the problem that will change their life.")  The Inciting Incident happens really early in the episode at 2:05.  A surprised Twilight Sparkle suddenly comes face-to-face with her time-traveling hardcore-looking future self.  Twilight's future self tries to deliver Twilight a warning, but the adorkable present-time Twilight is too busy blabbering to herself about the unbelievableness of the situation and asking her future self unimportant questions that she doesn't give the future-Twilight a chance to ever deliver her warning before she disappears back into the future.  This makes present Twilight start to worry about what the warning could have been about, and this worrying kicks off the episode's plot.
  • Plot Point 1: ("The last scene in Act I, Turning Point 1 is a surprising development that changes the plot's direction and begins the second act.")  Happens at 8:03 when Twilight Sparkle receives the paper-cut on her face from Princess Celestia's "Lost Dog" scroll and she realizes that it causes the same cut on her face that future-Twilight had.  This makes her come to the realization that all of the disaster-preparedness work that she has done with all of the other citizens of Ponyville up to this point hasn't done anything to prevent the impending future disaster that she fears from happening at all.  Act II begins at 8:31, conveniently after the commercial break, with Twilight Sparkle now trying alternate ways to avoid having Future-Twilight's future come to pass.
  • Midpoint: ("An important scene in the middle of the script, often a reversal of fortune or revelation that changes the direction of the story.")  Happens at 11:04 when Spike tells a recently-defeated Twilight Sparkle that he might know of somepony who can tell her what the approaching terrible disaster in the future will be so that she can learn how to prevent it.
  • Plot Point 2: ("A dramatic reversal that ends Act 2 and begins Act 3, which is about confrontation and resolution.")  The "Plot Point 2" reversal that ends Act II and begins Act III occurs at 14:00 when Twilight Sparkle burns her retina by accidentally looking at the sun through her telescope.  This causes her to realize that her plan to "monitor everything" isn't working, and that only the dramatic action of finding a magic scroll in the Canterlot Archives to stop time itself will save Equestria from certain doom.  Once again conveniently, Act III begins right after the commercial break at 14:31 with a location change.
  • Climax or Showdown: ("The point at which the plot reaches its maximum tension and the forces in opposition confront each other at a peak of physical or emotional action.") The climax in Act III begins at 17:24-- Twilight Sparkle has made her way into the Starswirl the Bearded Wing of the archives to find the time-stopping scroll, but has realized that it is already almost Tuesday morning,.  With the rising sun providing a "Race Against the Clock" situation, Twilight Sparkle and her friends must find the scroll with the time-stopping spell and use it to prevent the impending disaster before the sun comes up or all of Equestria is doomed!
  • Resolution or Denouement: ("The brief period of calm at the end of a film where a state of equilibrium returns.") Starts at 18:09.  The impending disaster that Twilight Sparkle feared never comes to pass, and Spike comments how it looks like Tuesday is going to be a beautiful day.  Princess Celestia, for whatever reason, walks by and comments on the new style of Twilight Sparkle's mane to further emphasize to the audience that all is truly well.  Twilight Sparkle realizes that she has allowed her own irrational fears and anxieties get the better of her, and that she needs to stop worrying about things that she can't control and tackle problems as they come.  Then, to tie up the loose end of the Stable Time Loop story trope, Twilight Sparkle goes back in time to warn herself not to worry about the future, only to not be able to give that warning, which is what kicked off the inciting incident with her in the past at the beginning of the episode.

"It's About Time" was written by M.A. Larson, who also wrote the episodes "Swarm of the Century," "Sonic Rainboom," "The Cutie Mark Chronicles," "The Return of Harmony Part 1 and 2," "Luna Eclipsed," "Secret of My Excess," and "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000."  He is also the MLP:FiM writer that I generally credit as being my most favorite this season, but to be honest, I didn't feel that this episode was one of his better efforts.  "It's About Time" basically reminded me of my least favorite episode of the season, "Lesson Zero," only with a "Stable Time Loop" trope thrown in to spice it up a bit.  Spice it up it did, but that still doesn't cover up the fact that this plot is basically Twilight Sparkle once again over-worrying about something, going to complete irrational lengths to rectify it, and then only learning that she was obsessing over nothing after her ever increasing attempts to rectify it have spectacularly backfired.  At least Twilight Sparkle didn't brainwash three innocent fillies into fighting over a ratty old stuffed animal with her magic as part of her solution this time around.

In addition to this, I also had a very hard time connecting with the episode's protagonist (Twilight Sparkle) and caring about what was going to happen to her, keeping me from becoming engaged with this episode.  The reason for this is because the episode lacks a clear obstacle for the protagonist to overcome, which removes most of the tension from the plot.  Sure, the episode tries to make us feel tense by having Twilight Sparkle repeatedly tell us how an impending future disaster is going to befall Equestria, but we are never shown or even told what that impending disaster is going to be, which makes it very hard for us to care whether this so called disaster actually happens or not.  This isn't true for other adventure-themed MLP:FiM episodes.  For example, in the first season episode, "Friendship is Magic Part 1" we are told that on the one-thousandth year of her imprisonment Nightmare Moon will return and bring endless night.  We can understand why that is bad and why it has to be stopped, and that provides that episode's plot with the needed tension.  For another example, in the episode "Hearts and Hooves Day," Apple Bloom shows us what would happen if Big McIntosh and Cheerilee became forever lost in one another by visualizing the schoolhouse falling to pieces and the unharvested apples rotting on the trees.  But here we have Twilight worrying about some unspecified possibly non-existent event, which could actually be nothing at all.  That is something that is hard enough to become engaged with as it is, but with Spike and later Rainbow Dash not even taking the situation even the slightest bit seriously, it becomes pretty hard for me as an audience member to take the situation seriously as well.  Let's face it-- if I don't care about what is going to happen to Twilight Sparkle if she doesn't succeed in overcoming the story's obstacle, then why am I bothering to watch her try to overcome the obstacle?  I realize that this episode's entire inciting incident revolved around Twilight Sparkle not knowing what was going to happen in the future-- it's not that I don't get that.  What I am saying is that the entire premise is flawed-- a story should be written about something that's consequential, not inconsequential, so that the audience has something to really care about.

Because of the inconsequential-nature of obstacle that Twilight Sparkle needs to overcome, several plot points in this episode were also very weak.  In all of the other MLP:FiM episodes that I have broken down with Syd Field's Paradigm thus far the plot points in them were really pretty clear-- the plot changes direction at the turning points between the acts, the midpoint is truly an important scene for the plot, the protagonists often find themselves at their lowest points where "all is lost" before they are drawn into the last desperate climax, etc.  With this episode, many of these plot points are very "wishy-washy."  To explain what I mean, lets compare the some of the later plot points of this episode to a very good example of a well-written screenplay, "Hearts and Hooves Day."  In "Hearts and Hooves Day," your first plot point, which changed the entire direction of the story, is when the defeated Cutie Mark Crusaders learn of the existence of a love potion from Twilight Sparkle.  Up to that point the Cutie Mark Crusader's method of using a staged romantic picnic to bring Cheerilee and Big McIntosh together had completely failed, and they were essentially out of options.  However, their learning about the love potion changed all of that, and sends them off into the whole new direction of creating and using the potion.  In "It's About Time" we have a confident-feeling Twilight Sparkle think that all of her disaster preparedness work has averted disaster, only for her to receive a strategic paper-cut showing her that nothing she has done has changed anything thus far.  O.K., that works.

But things don't correlate so well once we get into the second act, starting with the Midpoint scene.  The midpoint is supposed to be a very important scene in the story where it looks it looks like the protagonist actually has a chance at succeeding.  In "Hearts and Hooves Day," this is where Cheerilee and Big McIntosh first drink the love potion, and it looks like everything is going according to the Cutie Mark Crusaders' plan to the point where they start gleefully dancing around Big McIntosh and Cheerilee.  To use yet another example, in "A Friend In Deed" Pinkie Pie gives Cranky a spa treatment and a new "Dreamboat Special" toupee as a gift, and he warms up to her a little bit.  Compare this to the midpoint in "It's About Time," where we get Madame Pinkie Pie claiming that she can predict the future, which, as any regular watcher of the show will know, has no chance of working at all because "it's Pinkie Pie."  In other words, we never get that dramatic little twist in the story in the middle where it looks like the protagonist is going to succeed, only to have things unexpectedly fall apart on them.  With Twilight Sparkle, nothing is really going right for her throughout the entire second act.

The second plot point for this episode between Act II and Act III also has absolutely no moxie behind it.  In "Hearts and Hooves Day," this second plot reversal comes when the Cutie Mark Crusaders feel that "all is lost," and that Cheerilee and Big McIntosh will be gripped by the power of the love poison forever, only for Sweetie Belle to suddenly discover that all is not lost and that there is an antidote.  Do you see how that changes the direction of the story right there?  It's pretty much a textbook example of a turning point!  In "It's About Time," on the other hand, we have a sleep deprived Twilight Sparkle burn her eye with a telescope and then suddenly decide that the only way to stop her imagined disaster from happening is to go through the dramatic action of stopping all time itself.  Since there are no concrete reasons given for why suddenly stopping all time is the only way for Twilight Sparkle to succeed, this doesn't really change the direction of the story.  It is just upping the ante of Twilight's ridiculous behavior.

Because there is a feeling throughout the episode that nothing is really at stake, the final climax of this episode is also very weak.  We're supposed to get sucked into the tension of the climax's "Race Against the Clock" situation, but it completely falls flat because with Pinkie Pie happily bouncing around and having fun and Spike lazily wisecracking and licking an ice cream cone how dire could the situation really be?  Pinkie Pie herself sums up the confused mood of this approaching climax at 17:18 when she responds to Twilight's worried ranting by asking, "And that's bad, right?"  What a great way to convince the audience that the ponies are entering the story's point of maximum tension right there-- one of the main characters themselves don't even know that they are.  In the end Twilight doesn't overcome *anything,* and the sun rises.  Boy, I am so glad that Twilight was able to battle her way through that challenge.  *yawn*.  For crying out loud, if you are going to make your plot revolve around trying to prevent some nebulous possibly horrible unknown event, at least make the audience feel like the event really should have to be stopped.  If everypony, including Spike, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie, were acting as panicked as Twilight was throughout the entire episode, then maybe there would have been some real tension and this episode could have worked.  But instead we have Pinkie Pie joyfully hopping around Canterlot and not even knowing why, Rainbow Dash playing pranks and laughing at Twilight's expense, and Spike gleefully eating ice cream by the gallon.  Yeah, that puts me on the edge of my seat for sure.  *sigh*

So in the end, while I really loved the fact that we had an appearance of a "hardcore future" Twilight in this episode and the introduction of time spells, unfortunately the story that they were part of was in itself a very flaccid and unenthralling one.  

Some random thoughts and observations that either I or Narei Mooncatt haven't already covered:

  • 2:30 - Twilight Sparkle: "Who are you?  I mean, you're me, but I'm me too!  How could there be two mes?  It's not Scientifically possible!"  Miss Sparkle, please read my explanation of the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics above. According to that particular philosophy of Physics, it is possible!
  • 3:38 - *GASP!*
  • 4:46 - Since when did Twilight Sparkle have the authority to boss all of these other ponies around?  Isn't that the Princess's or even the Mayor's job?  Sure, Twilight was granted some authority to organize a celebration by the Princess in the episode "Friendship is Magic Part 1," and she was granted some authority by the mayor to help run the Winter Wrap-up operation, but I doubt that any of that applies here!  I mean think of the disruption that Twilight is causing by sending the pegasi off to Manehatten and Baltimare, and sending the town's apple farmer and dressmaker to Spackle a dam?  I would think only the mayor would have such emergency powers!
  • 5:10 - Speaking of the dam, isn't that one piece of continuity that they could have forgotten about?  I was still trying to bleach my mind of any memory of that godforsaken thing, and now they have just brought it up again!  I guess now we're really stuck with it since it has appeared in more than one episode!
  • 5:16 - This scene is the perfect setup of a Brony shipping fan-fiction if ever saw one!   :D

6:10 - Just WHERE is she sticking that parchment when she finishes her list?  :o
Hmmm.  That is a darn good question!   :D

  • 6:47 - I wonder if home flood insurance would cover something like that...
  • 9:55 - I absolutely *adore* Rainbow Dash's pose right here!  So cute!  I'm going to have to draw it!
  • 11:10 - I so wish that instead of using the completely out of the blue throw-away "Madame Pinkie" here that they instead used this scene as an opportunity to bring back Equestria's most amazing and talented magical mare ever, The Great and Powerful Trixie!  I mean really, who would make a better theatrical fortune teller than her?  Using Pinkie Pie in this role doesn't make much sense here, especially since I don't even think that Pinkie Pie possesses an attention span that is long enough to even put up that tent.  Besides, isn't Pinkie Pie already holding down to other jobs in Ponyville (working at Sugarcube Corner, babysitting) already?
  • 12:49 - Spike: "Who cares as long as I get to keep eatin' ice cream!"  Spike is being *so* caring and compassionate towards Twilight's problems here!  Apparently he didn't learn the aesop from "Lesson Zero!"
  • 14:44 - Pinkie Pie does look absolutely adorable in that cat burglar outfit!
  • 18:38 - Twilight Sparkle: "I don't know, but I do know one thing-- I look ridiculous!  *giggles*"  Of course you look ridiculous because every self-respecting hardcore future-self needs to have one of their eyes replaced by a robotic one!  My favorite comic book artist of all-time Ben Dunn has established this!  So quick-- remove that eyepatch, grab a fork, and start a-gougin', because other than that you already look fine just how you are!  :D
  • 18:57 - Spike: "That's great!  Does that mean that there's not going to be anymore late night pacing?"  Considering the fact that this is one of Twilight Sparkle's defining characteristics, I highly doubt it, Spike.  In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if this particular lesson is lost on Twilight by next week!

To quickly answer Aspect's questions:

Lastly, I didn't spot Derpy in this episode! Did anyone else??

I didn't spot Derpy either, and according to the "Derpy" article on the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Wiki she didn't appear in this episode.  This isn't the first time that she hasn't appeared in an episode by any means, so her lack of an appearance here could very well be just by chance, but at the same time this does make me worry a bit that we might have finally hit the stage of the show's production schedule where if any marching orders were given to remove her permanently from the series by the executives on high weeks ago we might actually be seeing those changes now.  Only time will tell if this is actually the case or not, and I am crossing my fingers that Derpy will be back next week!

Hmm is there a tvtropes page about the habit authors have of not breaking reality?

See the trope "Status Quo is God."

ie, super powerful abilities are not controllable or disappear after they are used

Look into both of the tropes, "Strong as they Need to Be" and especially "Story Breaker Power."

in Star Trek, replicator and transporter technologies don't work on the same principles

I don't know where you are getting your information from, but according to Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki, "A replicator was a device that used transporter technology to dematerialize quantities of matter and then rematerialize that matter in another form. It was also capable of inverting its function, thus disposing of leftovers and dishes and storing the bulk material again. (DS9: 'Hard Time', 'The Ascent'; VOY: 'Year of Hell', 'Memorial')"  You are correct in saying that Federation replicators at least aren't capable of creating living things (with the possible exception of the virus in the ST:DS9 episode "Babel" if you are on the side of the debate that considers viruses to be alive), but this is not due to the replicator technology in and of itself, but because of the large amounts of data storage that would be needed to store the patterns of living things.  To quote Wikipedia:

Quote
This process requires the destructive conversion of bulk matter into energy and its subsequent reformation into a pre-scanned matter pattern. In principle, this is similar to the transporter, but on a smaller scale. However, unlike transporters, which duplicate matter at the quantum level, replicators must be capable of a large number of different materials on demand. If patterns were to be stored at the quantum level, an impossible amount of data storage (or a set of original copies of the materials) would be required. To resolve this, patterns are stored in memory at the molecular level.  The drawback of doing so is that it is impossible to replicate objects with complicated quantum structures, such as living beings, dilithium, gold, or latinum. (However, in the TNG episode "Allegiance", aliens used their version of replicators to create a Picard impostor.)

transporter buffers don't serve as backup copies of people

A transporter can store a copy of a person for an extended length of time.  In the ST:TNG episode "Relics," Captain Montgomery Scott was able to store his pattern in the transporter's pattern buffer for 75 years after his ship, the USS Jenolan, crash-landed on a Dyson Sphere.  You also have a couple instances where a transporter turned one person into two copies of themselves, such as the ST:TNG episode "Second Chances" where this happens to Riker, and the ST:TOS episode "The Enemy Within" where this happens to Kirk.


*Whew!*  Gee whiz, I think this is the longest forum post on any topic ever that I have ever written in my entire life!  I didn't know that I had it in me!  I'm going to need a few-day vacation from posting anything anywhere after this one!  Anyway, next Saturday we have the brand new episode "Dragon Quest."  I don't know exactly know why, but for whatever reason I just don't have very high expectations for this one.  I don't have any inside information on the episode or anything like that-- instead, I just read the episode's TV Listing Summary and went, "Meh, this one sounds like it's going to be sub-par."  I sincerely hope that I am completely wrong about that, because naturally I want every episode of Ponies that I see to be better than the last!  Eh, I don't know, maybe my disappointment from "It's About Time" just turned me into a bit of a "Gloomy Gus."  In any case, I guess that we'll soon see!  Well, 'till next time everypony-- I really need to stop typing before I wear my computer keyboard keys down to their springs!   :D
« Last Edit: March 14, 2012, 09:17:50 am by Hoagiebot »

Offline aspect

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #336 on: March 14, 2012, 12:03:07 pm »
There was an aweful lot of "unlike Aspect..." in that post. :) Thanks v much for the Star Trek lore by the way. All I really meant with replicators being a different technology was the molecule-versus-quantum thing, but with transporter buffers I didn't realize anyone had ever gotten an *extra* copy of themselves that way. (I assumed *quantum* information couldn't do that.)

Also thanks for the TVtropes links!

Quote from: Hoagiebot
And while the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics isn't the most popular of the many interpretations of quantum mechanics that are out there these days, it also as of yet can't be disproved, so as much as those Einstein General Relativity masochists will hate your Many Worlds Interpretation-based time travel stories, they won't be able to completely hand-wave them off either!  Ha ha!

I think Many Worlds is definitely becoming more popular, if it hasn't already taken that spot, for important reasons. The physicist David Deutsch argues that almost all other interpretations are not rationalist; they allow the uncertainty principle to undermine the all-important concept that there's an objective reality out there that we're measuring. In Many Worlds interpretation, the waveforms are the objective reality, and concepts like location or speed become just a sometimes-convenient way of talking about physical reality.

While I'm on the topic I'd also like to repeat the interesting point that the many worlds interpretation is reversible, so while timelines split, they also can rejoin! And this can be done locally or globally. And Many Worlds also allows timelines to interact in other, more mysterious ways; so while the exact physics is unknown to me (for the time being), it isn't very implausible for the different timelines to communicate directly with each other in a work of fiction. This means you're not necessarily stranded away from re-entering Timeline A once you've travelled back in time and created the 'branch' timeline B.

But, Hoagiebot, I'm not entirely sure what quantum jiggery you're proposing in order to actually perform "many-worlds travel"; it seems like the actual time travel would still be based on relativity (like Günter Nimtz' quantum-tunneling experiments which arguably sent information back in time by exceeding light speed). If what you want is for a split to occur with one universe having the time travellers arrive and the other not... well, that is already happening all the time, we don't have to build a time machine! Every person who's ever been born has suddenly appeared in Hitler's dining room in one timeline or another. That doesn't exactly feel like time travel to me.

Lastly! Meta-time is still super useful for analysing quantum many-worlds time travel (however it's accomplished). My whole little meta-time tale would be equally plausible in this interpretation; each time Twilight Sparkle travels back in time there's a new branching, and meta-time 'passes' as these branches build up. I guess that just underscores the fact that many-worlds has something for everyone's time travel tastes.

(However, it might be possible to travel back in meta-time.)

Offline Foxxhoria

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #337 on: March 18, 2012, 06:55:02 am »
Heh, I felt Merriweather actually managed to pull Rainbow Dash off better than Rarity this episode.  There were still definitely parts that were off (calling something as awesome as dragons lame?!  That's not Rainbow Dash! And I feel the part with the nuttiness and the "we know", and the part with the fire in her face, were just an attempt at humour at the expense of Rainbow Dash; I mean, I'm not opposed to that, but it felt unnecessary), but Rarity was all "I'm fabulous!" and "Spikey-Wikey" and not much more...and it got annoying.  There was none of the subtlety and depth of Sweet and Elite and Green isn't your Color, or even Secret of my Excess, but then again Merriweather's never been good at subtlety...

I also found this episode similarly mean-spirited to her other episodes, but I guess at least that was the intention of the dragons.  Still, I didn't go away with a happy, satisfied feeling like I expect from FiM.  I was kind of just rattled around and then it suddenly came to an end.
It's a kind of empty feeling at the end...even if the phoenix was cute (but what of the mother?!).
Understanding leads to empathy,
Empathy leads to admiration,
Admiration leads to love

Optimism leads to disappointment,
Pessimism leads to joy,
although, with optimism you are happy almost all the time,
and pessimism you are sad almost all the time.

Where's the line between being bored and generally too lazy to do anything? :p

Offline Narei Mooncatt

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #338 on: March 18, 2012, 11:52:52 am »
I didn't care much for this week's episode. Not because of the way it was made, but because I'm not much into dragons. Two things did stick out to me, though.

In the scenes that had dragons flying over the horizon, anyone else feel like they were out of an Atari game? The were changing directions instantly, not the sweeping curves you'd expect of a big dragon. Also, Rarity. Since when is she so cutesy wootsy with Spike? I can't tell of she was treating him more like a baby or starting to reciprocate his feelings for her, but it seemed out of character for her.

Oh, and her comment, "Who says camouflage has to be drab." :D
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Offline aspect

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #339 on: March 19, 2012, 08:13:49 pm »
I enjoyed this episode! I laughed through most of it. And it was nice for them to go to a distant part of Equestria for a change. Also I thought the moral was good since Spike's mistake early on of thinking he needs to be like other dragons was corrected. (Heh, but he decided to be a pony instead! :P Can't he just be himself? I think now we need an episode where Spike tries to be more of a pony and fails.) But a quest for self-discovery is never all that epic of a quest, so those looking for more adventure-style episodes will probably still not be satisfied. It seems MLP is firmly about internal conflict.

Also despite this being a Spike episode I felt like I didn't learn that much about what makes him tick. I suppose he spent most of the episode trying to conform to dragon standards of behavior rather than his own.

Where the most characterization came in was in the relationship between Spike and Rarity. It seems Rarity is more affectionate of Spike than she used to be but treats him as a child. Well, isn't he much younger than her? He probably doesn't have much chance of changing her view.

...calling something as awesome as dragons lame?!  That's not Rainbow Dash!

I think Rainbow Dash simply believes she's the best flyer in Equestria, even as compared to dragons. Naturally dragons are huge and can't do the same tricks as a little pony. Since Dashie is so competitive she wanted to upstage the dragons to her friends. The way I see it, it was a pretty in-character line!

Offline Hoagiebot

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #340 on: March 21, 2012, 12:32:43 pm »
For any of you who were actually able to make it all the way through reading that absolutely mind-numbingly huge text-all that I wrote about the episode "It's About Time" last week, you might recall that I had some foreboding even back then over this week's episode, "Dragon Quest":

I don't know exactly know why, but for whatever reason I just don't have very high expectations for this one.  I don't have any inside information on the episode or anything like that-- instead, I just read the episode's TV Listing Summary and went, "Meh, this one sounds like it's going to be sub-par."

Now that I have seen this episode, I am very sorry to say that it pretty much lived up to my expectations for it-- I found "Dragon Quest" to be nothing particularly special, and I didn't really find myself getting as involved or as invested with it as I normally do with most MLP:FiM episodes.  While no episode of MLP:FiM has ever really been anywhere close to bad by any means, and all of the episodes including this one have had their strong points, some episodes in this series have definitely been better than others.  "Dragon Quest" has not been one of the better ones, and it will be another one of those episodes where I find myself in the future saying, "Well yeah it was O.K., but could we please watch another MLP:FiM episode instead?"

Unsurprisingly, this less than magical episode was written by none other than Merriwether Williams, and I think that I made it pretty clear at the very end of my post about the episode "Putting Your Hoof Down" how I tend to feel about this particular MLP:FiM writer.  Unfortunately, "Dragon Quest" is a pretty typical offering from her, and as a result it shares many of the same common characteristics as the rest of her episodes, such as tending to be a bit more mean spirited than what we're accustomed to and just not seeming to really "fit in" within the greater MLP:FiM universe that the other MLP:FiM writers have pre-established.  Sure, this episode desperately tries to fit in with the other writers' episodes, but it attempts to do this through throwing in excessive continuity nods galore.  But this being Merriwether Williams, not all of the continuity nods are made in places where they always make sense, and a couple of them were so out of place-feeling that they made me start to wonder about when this particular episode could have taken place chronologically to make sense.  As a result, I truly have to wonder whether or not some of these continuity nods were actually unintentional continuity snarls, and if Merriwether Williams bothered to do the research before she started throwing these continuity nods to other previous episodes in.

To sidetrack for a moment, this particular continuity situation with "Dragon Quest" actually reminded me of a conversation that I had with another local brony a little over a week ago.  We were discussing the very loose continuity of the MLP:FiM series overall, and he mentioned to me that he had read that when the MLP:FiM series was first being made, the Hasbro executives from up on high dictated that all MLP:FiM episodes should strictly follow the "Status Quo is God" trope, or in other words that the series should have no overarching conflict, that every episode should be able to stand-alone by itself, and that no matter what happens during the plot of each episode that everything should be resolved and back to the "status quo" by the end of it.  Now, I have never come across such a documented edict from Hasbro myself, so I can't say whether or not such a demand was actually made by them, but at the same time I wouldn't be at all surprised if this alleged demand from Hasbro turned out to be true.  This is due to the age demographic that this animated series was originally targeted at, and because it is actually a very common demand from television executives because it makes a cartoon series more marketable for later syndication.  To quote TVTropes.org, "This trope is especially true for cartoons, where networks want to be free to broadcast reruns in any convenient order or lack thereof."

With that said, despite any alleged edict for stand-alone episodes from Hasbro, MLP:FiM has still over time seen more and more of what TVTropes.org calls "Continuity Creep" seeping into its episodes.  To explain the term, according to TVTropes.org, "Continuity Creep" is:

Quote
Continuity Creep is the tendency of a TV show or comic book that starts off with an episodic Sitcom, Adventure Town, or Monster of the Week format, which then begins to accumulate more and more Continuity Nods and ongoing storylines. Or if it starts off with each episode containing a single self-contained story, and ends up with sprawling plots that span multiple episodes, it has undergone continuity creep.

Many of the episodes of season 1 were in fact very self-contained, and most could be watched in any order with losing little to anything at all.  However, very small continuity nods began to appear in the show even back then, but they tended to be unobtrusive things that really made a lot of sense to include such as repeat appearances of Rarity's grand galloping gala dresses between the episodes, "Suited For Success" and "The Best Night Ever" for example.  Just compare that to a season 2 episode like "A Friend in Deed" where there were continuity nods galore, even during the teaser scene where we see Pinkie Pie with the baby Cakes twins from the episode "Baby Cakes" again.

Now just to make this perfectly clear, I normally see continuity nods as being a good thing.  I, like many long-time fans of a series, absolutely love it when I see things, characters, and events from previous episodes ingeniously worked into the plots of later ones to good effect.  Catching continuity nods are almost like little fun rewards for being a loyal watcher.  So I have no complaint about the use of continuity nods in MLP:FiM in general.  I mean heck, the mere fact that we used to get to see Derpy show up again and again in episodes when she was originally just an uncaught animation error was a fantastic continuity nod and a wonderful shout-out to the fans.  But as I said before, in the episode "Dragon Quest," we have some continuity nods present that just don't seem to fit into the episode quite right, and it almost makes me wonder if MLP:FiM is possibly beginning to stray a little bit too far away from its original more stand-alone oriented formula, and if perhaps the writers/animation staff involved (or at the very least Merriwether Williams) should become a bit more cautious about what continuity nods that they throw into their episodes in each week.

What bothers me the most about "Dragon Quest" is that this whole entire episode seems like one giant rewrite of the all of the dragon-related canon that was established in the episode, "The Secret of My Excess", or at the very least "Dragon Quest" must somehow take place before the events of that episode happened to make any kind of sense at all.  To explain, in "Secret of My Excess," we learn from Zecora that dragons get more mature and grow larger when they act like dragons-- the more stuff that they hoard, the bigger, meaner, and more monstrous that they get.  This is then clearly demonstrated in the episode, as Spike grows to Godzilla-like proportions, kidnaps Rarity, obliterates half of Ponyville, and then puts the beat down on the Wonderbolts for good measure.  Now with "Dragon Quest" all of that pre-established information is thrown on its head.  Now you have dragons seemingly growing up gradually over time like most animals.  This is hinted at by Spike finding teenage dragons during the great dragon migration and the teenage dragons poking fun at Spike for still being a baby.  In contrast, if a dragon's size and age were still determined by how greedy it was like in the episode "Secret of My Excess," I don't think that the teenage dragons would have been as quick as they were to poke fun at Spike because they would have been already well aware that Spike, just like any dragon, could be capable of becoming both ferocious and absolutely huge in size practically overnight by just swiping and hoarding some stuff.  In addition, all of the Mane 6 at the beginning of "Dragon Quest" also didn't seem to act like Spike had ever acted like a real dragon before even though he tore up the whole town in a rampage in "Secret of my Excess."  Instead, they poke fun at him for being sweet, meek, and for wearing an apron.  I have a feeling that if they had remembered Spike wrecking half of Ponyville and using Rarity as a war club to knock Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy out of the sky with, they wouldn't have been so quick to start teasing and laughing at him.  It would be pretty hard to forget the devastation that Spike had caused, and I doubt that even Rainbow Dash would call Spike "lame" after he pummeled her out of the air with his tail like that.  There seems to be even more forgetfulness of the events from "Secret of My Excess" in "Dragon Quest" when Twilight Sparkle was trying to help Spike find out more about his kind by doing some "late night research" with all of her books in her library.  Had she remembered, Zecora in "Secret of My Excess" seemed to a lot about dragons, and probably could have answered a lot of Twilight's and Spike's questions.

All of this "forgetfulness" of the past events of "Secrets of My Excess" seems to point to the idea that "Dragon Quest" actually takes place before "Secret of my Excess" and not after, but this is where the very oddly placed continuity nod to "The Secret of My Excess" in "Dragon Quest" completely messes that possibility up.  In his post about this episode above, Narei Mooncatt asked, "Since when is [Rarity] so cutesy wootsy with Spike? I can't tell of she was treating him more like a baby or starting to reciprocate his feelings for her, but it seemed out of character for her."  Well, this is actually not out of character for Rarity, at least not after the events that took place in "Secret of My Excess."  If you recall, during the climax scene of "Secret of My Excess" at 19:55 when Spike and Rarity are plummeting to their deaths, Spike reveals to her for the first time that he has always had a crush on her.  She stops him from speaking, and then smiles at him and begins to cry.  Suddenly, they are both saved when Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy swoop in and catch them, and they are set safely onto the ground.  Rarity then walks up to Spike, tells him about how she's proud of him, and then tells him, "You're my hero, Spikey-Wikey!"  So all of Rarity's baby talk, pet names, and coddling of Spike are actually all a big continuity nod to this major moment from "Secret of my Excess."  We all made a very big deal over this scene from "Secret of My Excess" at the time, so I am very surprised that Mr. Mooncatt no longer remembers it.  Anyway, once again I wouldn't mind a continuity nod like this under most circumstances, but considering the fact that all other signs in "Dragon Quest" seem to point to it taking place before "Secret of My Excess," this continuity nod really screws things up.

Also, I don't know if anyone else here noticed, but this episode also has another weird continuity nod at 7:47 when Spike is shown on a raft with Cranky Doodle Donkey.  This is obviously a pre-"A Friend in Deed" Cranky Doodle Donkey since he is still wearing his original toupee that Pinkie Pie later destroys during the events of that episode.  This would seem to point to the idea that "Dragon Quest" takes place before "A Friend in Deed" did, and while that wouldn't be a story breaker by any means, it is still odd for a current episode to be showing events that only could have happened if it took place before that previous episode had aired.  With all of this craziness and confusion in mind, are you starting to see my point about what happens when a writer seemingly becomes a little too careless with their continuity nods here?  I have never really had to devote this much time to thinking about when a MLP:FiM had to have taken place chronologically like this before, and much of this is due to some oddly chosen continuity nods that really didn't really have to be there rather than the actual story itself.  Other writers, such as M.A. Larson and Amy Keating Rogers also often fill their episodes with lots of continuity nods, but at least they seem to be disciplined (or skilled?) enough to choose nods that while fun also won't needlessly snarl up their episodes like this!

Moving on to this episode's story structure, when you break down the plot of "Dragon Quest" with Syd Field's Paradigm you get:

  • Exposition: ("Provides some background information to the audience about the plot, characters' histories, setting, and theme.")  The exposition for this episode kind of slowly gets going during the teaser scene, but really starts in earnest after the opening credits/theme song has played.  In this episode, the exposition serves to introduce that Equestria has many wild dragons including a great dragon migration containing hundreds of them, and that Ponyville's resident lovable dragon Spike doesn't act like any of these other more fearsome dragons.
  • Inciting Incident: ("Also called the catalyst, this is the point in the story when the Protagonist encounters the problem that will change their life.")  The Inciting Incident occurs fairly early in this episode at 2:58.  When Rainbow Dash and the others see Spike passing out cupcakes to them while wearing a heart-patterned apron, they can't help but point out his meekness compared to the truly terrifying fire-breathing dragons soaring above.  This taunting by all of the pony mares around him and Rarity's baby-talking to him emasculates poor Spike, who then starts questioning who he is and what his purpose in life is supposed to be.
  • Plot Point 1: ("The last scene in Act I, Turning Point 1 is a surprising development that changes the plot's direction and begins the second act.")  Happens at 5:34 when Spike decides to go on a "quest of self discovery" and join the great dragon migration to learn what it means to be a dragon.  Act II begins at 7:22 with a location change and a montage showing Spike traveling far and wide, largely on foot, while following the path of the great dragon migration.
  • Midpoint: ("An important scene in the middle of the script, often a reversal of fortune or revelation that changes the direction of the story.")  While there was kind of sort of a midpoint-like moment at 12:12 when Spike successfully tail-wrestled a costumed Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle, and Rarity, causing the leader of the teenage dragons to admit to Spike that "maybe you are a dragon after all," I think that this screenplay's real midpoint occurred at 14:35 when Spike's lava belly flop impressed all of the teenage dragons and caused them to admit that he was "one tough little dragon."  This later point changes the direction of the story because from that point on the teenage dragons truly saw Spike as one of them, and allowed Spike to party both with them and go on dragon raids with them.
  • Plot Point 2: ("A dramatic reversal that ends Act 2 and begins Act 3, which is about confrontation and resolution.")  The "Plot Point 2" reversal that ends Act II and begins Act III occurs at 16:04 when the leader of the teenage dragons invites Spike on a dragon raid to swipe phoenix eggs, which is something that Spike knows is wrong.  This sets up the final conflict that Spike will to confront and overcome in the climax of the third act.
  • Climax or Showdown: ("The point at which the plot reaches its maximum tension and the forces in opposition confront each other at a peak of physical or emotional action.") The climax in Act III begins at 19:01-- Spike overcomes the peer pressure from the other dragons to smash the phoenix egg that he found on the ground, and then despite their intimidation he vows to go against their wishes, follow his conscience, and protect it.
  • Resolution or Denouement: ("The brief period of calm at the end of a film where a state of equilibrium returns.") Starts at 20:34.  Twilight Sparkle successfully magically teleports herself, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Spike back to Ponyville.  Spike realizes that he doesn't have to act like or live with other dragons despite the fact that he is a dragon himself, and that Twilight Sparkle and the rest of the Mane 6 are his real friends and family who love him.

Some other interesting things that I observed in the episode or really liked:

  • 0:00 - The teaser scene is a continuity nod to the season 1 MLP:FiM episode "Dragonshy," where it was established that while Fluttershy has no problems dealing with manticores, cockatrices, and Cerberus, but is absolutely terrified of dragons.  It also appears in this teaser scene that Fluttershy is having absolutely no problems showing her assertiveness, at least when it comes to watching great dragon migrations!
  • 1:43 - While all of the Equestria military gear that we have seen thus far has been very ancient Greek or Roman in appearance (i.e. Princess Celestia and Princess Luna's royal guards), apparently the ponies also have more modern military style clothing with a camouflage pattern resembling the U.S. M81 Woodland Pattern and steel helmets that resemble the U.S. M1 Helmet that was used from WWII until 1985.  Who knew?
  • 2:33 - This furtive glance that Rainbow Dash gave to Applejack here is so conveniently suggestive that I have to wonder if the animators placed it into the show on purpose as a shout-out to all of the "Appledash" shipping fans out there!  :D
  • 4:16 - Twilight Sparkle: "I don't know!  For the last time, Spike, you were given to me as an egg.  I don't know who found you are where they found you!"  Spike: "Seriously?  That's all you know?"  You know, this particular problem with Spike and Twilight not knowing where his egg came from does not seem to be very insurmountable to me.  Spike's egg was presented as part of an entrance exam into Canterlot's magic school, right?  So how about Spike and Twilight take a quick trip down to Canterlot and ask the school's administrators where his egg came from?  If it's part of their standard entrance exam process (as it would seem to be), I am sure that they would have to know where they are getting their dragon eggs from.  Failing that, through Spike's magic fire breath Twilight Sparkle even has a hotline directly through to Princess Celestia, so they could always easily ask her.  If the princess doesn't know where Spike's egg came from, she definitely has the authority and the pull to investigate further into the matter and find out.  Twilight Sparkle, Spike, and the princess all seem to be on pretty close and friendly terms, so I have a feeling the princess wouldn't mind doing a favor for something as important to Spike as this.  And, as I mentioned above, Spike and Twilight Sparkle also could have asked Zecora more about dragons, as she seemed to know a lot about them in the episode, "Secret of My Excess."  But hey, why write letters and ask simple questions when you can go on a perilous quest to follow a great dragon migration, right?
  • 5:05 - I love how Twilight Sparkle mentions that Dragons are "rare" in Equestria at this point in the episode.  I don't know about you, but between "Dragonshy," "Owl's Well that Ends Well," and even the beginning of this episode I think that we have seen plenty of them!  Heck, they almost seem like Equestria's version of pigeons we see them so much!
  • 5:33 - Spike: "Yes!  I'm going on a quest of self discovery!"  Hmm.  It's not often that the primary protagonist himself flat out states what trope the story is going to follow!
  • 6:46 - Rainbow Dash: I still say you're nutty, but hey, I've done *lots* of nutty things!  And I think that we should all start a thread in the "Adult-Rated General Discussion" section of these forums to speculate about what those nutty things were!  LOL!
  • 7:46 - Here's Cranky Doodle Donkey, with his original pre-Pinkie Pie destroyed toupee.
  • 7:49 - I honestly don't know why (because I think that it is completely unnecessary), but the pair of phoenixes and their nest are visually introduced as "Chekhov's Gunmans" here.
  • 8:43 - Who would have thought that they would ever have a Heavy Metal background musical score in MLP:FiM?
  • 9:18 - That big brown teenage dragon has a tail like a Gronckle!   :D
  • 10:43 - When I first watched this episode with my younger brother and I saw that Spike was going to enter the belching contest, I told my brother that, "I bet that a scroll will come flying out when Spike belches!"  Sure enough, one did!  :)
  • 10:50 - Teenage Dragon: "Get this guys!  Spike's pen pals with a namby-pamby pony princess!"  Keep laughing there, chuckles.  That "namby pamby pony princess" is practically a living god, a literal "Gozer the Destructor" in pony-form, and probably one of the most powerful beings ever to have existed!  Heck, using her magic she can even move the sun through space!  Considering the fact that the sun is a blazing ball of plasma and hot gas that has a mass of 1.9891×1030kg, and is located 1.496×108km away from the Earth, I have a feeling that using her magic to rip a couple-ton teenage dragon located only a few miles away into cold cuts wouldn't even be much of a warm-up exercise for her!  You have been warned!
  • 11:49 - Crackle!  LOL!
  • 12:33 - The dragon with the absolutely massive tail has to be my favorite gag in this entire episode!  I literally laughed out loud here!
  • 13:16 - Ouch!  Right in the undercarriage!
  • 14:49 - I don't know if I would want to walk under that...
  • 16:04 - Brown Teenage Dragon: "Aren't you totally psyched to go on this raid?"  Pffft.  These dragons are starting to sound like World of Warcraft players.
  • 16:53 - I know that we have seen phoenixes in MLP:FiM before with Philomeena, but what can I say, I was still very impressed by their visually striking character design right here.
  • 17:25 - I love the Formula One race car-esque diving sound effects that they gave the two diving phoenixes right here!  :D
  • 18:24 - SOLAR FLARE!!!
  • 19:51 - If I were these dragons I wouldn't be laughing so hard at Rainbow Dash-- she did buck a full-grown dragon in the face in "Dragonshy!"
  • 20:26 - The next time that Twilight Sparkle and her friends get into a jam, remember that this episode establishes right here that she can use her teleportation powers to instantly transport groups of ponies long distances and out of danger.  How much do you want to bet, to keep the tension up in future episodes, that this story-breaking magical ability of hers will be conveniently forgotten the next time that Twilight and her friends find themselves in trouble?  I mean "teleportation" is listed right on the "Story Breaker Power" trope page as a signature story-breaking power even!
  • 21:20 - I have seen a lot of comments on other brony sites complaining about how it was wrong for Spike to keep the phoenix egg and not return it to the egg's parents.  While I can see what these other fans are getting at, this really didn't bother me, especially since the phoenixes' nest was broken, and the episode showed the two phoenix parents flying far away with the other chicks.  Therefore, it would be reasonable to speculate that perhaps the phoenixes never returned, or that Spike was never able to find them again to return the egg to them. What worries me however is the tragic fate that this poor orphaned phoenix chick likely has in store for itself.  I will bet my bottom bit that just like Owloysius before him, this poor little phoenix chick will likely suffer from "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome," and we'll rarely, if ever, see him appear in the show ever again.

As a side note, this is the second episode in a row without any appearance what-so-ever from our beloved Derpy, which is kind of disconcerting.

To quickly reply to one previously made comment:

...calling something as awesome as dragons lame?!  That's not Rainbow Dash!

I think Rainbow Dash simply believes she's the best flyer in Equestria, even as compared to dragons. Naturally dragons are huge and can't do the same tricks as a little pony. Since Dashie is so competitive she wanted to upstage the dragons to her friends. The way I see it, it was a pretty in-character line!

I have to wholeheartedly agree with Aspect's comments about Rainbow Dash's behavior here.  Rainbow Dash is both cavalier and competitive to a fault, so I have no doubt that she would feel the need to show off and brag about how much better her flying skills are than the dragons.  She is little miss "10-seconds flat" after all.  How about that Aspect-- I can agree with you in posts too!   :D

Next week we have the episode "Hurricane Fluttershy," which according to the "U-Verse Channel Guide Summary" involves Fluttershy helping the other pegasi create a tornado powerful enough to suck up all of the water needed for the rainy season.  As a SKYWARN Severe Weather Spotter I find this kind of ironic since this episode will be airing during the U.S.'s actual tornado season, but oh well.  I don't know why, but Fluttershy-centric episodes seem to keep on falling into a pattern of:

1. Fluttershy is too meek/shy/scared/self-conscious to try or do something
2. Some external force, be it Iron Will or the Mane 6, try to get Fluttershy to do it anyway
3. Fluttershy does it, but goes too far
4. A cosmic reset button is pressed, and Fluttershy becomes meek/shy/scared/self-conscious again

We see this kind of thing in "Dragonshy" and "Putting Your Hoof Down," and to a lesser degree in "The Stare Master" and "Green Isn't Your Color," and I have a feeling that "Hurricane Fluttershy" is going to center around this theme as well.  Hopefully I am wrong about this, because I *want* to see something that is creatively different that truly wows me, but I won't hold my breath.  In any case, since making this massive tornado seems to have to involve all of the pegasi, maybe, just maybe, I will get one of my most cherished wishes granted, and we will get to see a scene with a Spitfire speaking part again!  I mean she is a pegasus, after all, so hopefully they'll need her!  *crosses fingers!*  Until next week, everypony!

Offline Foxxhoria

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #341 on: March 21, 2012, 07:40:54 pm »
Rainbow Dash is both cavalier and competitive to a fault, so I have no doubt that she would feel the need to show off and brag about how much better her flying skills are than the dragons.

Yeah, but Rainbow Dash is the sort who would only say something like that if she could prove it there and then.
(I doubt she'd use a word like lame though)

Otherwise she'd just admire their awesomeness, or perhaps try and fly along side them and then maybe realise that that's not actually a great idea.

But her characterisation's not exactly been great this season, particularly not coming from Merriwether...
Understanding leads to empathy,
Empathy leads to admiration,
Admiration leads to love

Optimism leads to disappointment,
Pessimism leads to joy,
although, with optimism you are happy almost all the time,
and pessimism you are sad almost all the time.

Where's the line between being bored and generally too lazy to do anything? :p

Offline Narei Mooncatt

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #342 on: March 24, 2012, 11:01:00 pm »
I had to watch todays episode on my phone since I wasn't in great coverage for my air card (different carriers), so kinda hard to go back and point out any specific highlights other than some of the more promenent points. I'll admit that the theme of Fluttershy being too meek at the begining of an episode and having a revelation that allows her to be overly strong at the end is kinda getting old. That being said, I did really enjoy this episode and is likely the best IMHO at doing her character development if you want to pick just one. Or maybe tie with Dragonshy. Just goes to show you, you can solve anything with an 80's music montage! :D

Anypony else find their hearts breaking when she ran off to the forest and was crying? I was like "Oh, poor little thing!" But then I couldn't help but giggle when the squirrel tried to offer up an acorn that was in its mouth. Hmmm... other notible points:

I wonder if they ever debated making Derpy the one to drop the notices in the begining. It makes sense that RD would do it because she was leading the cause, but... DERPY. MESSENGER BAG!
Fluttertree anypony?
Wing high fives and pushups
Some new animations (Loved the reel to reel movie! And also when Fluttershy was surrounded by the eyes)
RD hitting the tree so hard that her eyes POPPED THROUGH IT! XD
Hoagiebot should be happy that his beloved Spitfire made an appearance
Fluttershy LOOSING in tug of war with a BUTTERFLY?! LOL
I found myself thinking 1.21 gigawatts of power at the end

I'm sure there's other moments, but I can't think of them right now. And YAY! I'm the first this time to post about an episode.
I've got a 53' tail. Truck driver by trade, professional tourist by choice.

Offline aspect

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #343 on: March 25, 2012, 02:02:55 am »
The Fluttertree reference was perfect. Showing RD knowing exactly where she was hiding implies that everypony is used to Fluttershy's tree obsession by now.

Fluttershy's faking sick is exceptional as well, I like how she tries to sort of collapse against the door frame.

At 13:07 "do I look like I speak squirrel?" is a nice touch. :)

In the end Dash didn't live up to her "nopony's getting sick on my watch" claims. Hmm I wonder why! She took no efforts toward preventing a factor potentially devastating to her plans; or perhaps she genuinely thought her public stance against ponies getting sick would actually keep them from doing so! She should have avoided gathering everyone together for the training sessions and given those who seemed sick opportunity to rest up before the big event. I guess the reason I'm making a point here is that the episode does very little to encourage rationalism, when rational thought is obviously a quite important tool for solving one's problems and achieving goals. Keeping a positive attitude is important too, but is absolutely no substitute.

There were a lot of new pegasi characters in this episode! Which is to be expected I suppose. But I would have liked a little more concentration on ponies who have been in the background a long time, like Cloud Kicker and Medley (names grabbed from mlp.wikia.com), rather than characters like Thunderlane and Blossomforth. I guess this is probably just a consequence of how the show is written; since background ponies are inherently created by the animators and foreground ones by the writers, the two worlds can be a bit disconnected.

Lastly, in both this episode and Dragon Quest, a lot of characters accidentally rammed through trees! I find myself picturing Equestrian trees as very spongy!

Offline Foxxhoria

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #344 on: March 25, 2012, 11:17:17 am »
Well, that was the best episode ever.

The biggest thing to note is the characterisation - having been...rather misrepresented nearly the whole season, both Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy finally got an appearance they deserve.  Rainbow Dash actually had feelings and emotions, never mind for others, and Fluttershy's issues and development was subtle and realistic and relatable.

The environment was really nice as well; particularly in Fluttershy's training montage.  That was wonderful scenery.
And awesome background music.
Not to mention some of her adorable expressions...

And finally the new characters; Cloudchaser, Flitter and Blossomforth are all awesome characters.
(I despised the muscly...thing though).

And I guess to clear up some potential logic issues - Spitfire was the judge for the competition, much like someone from Guinness World Records, so wasn't supposed to help; 1000 was the wingpower they were capable of if they all got up to 10.0 wingpower, which they were unlikely to all do really; add to that the 8 missing and it's not so surprising that they couldn't reach 800.

I guess the only things I can find to dislike about this episode are the muscly pony, some of the visual gags (like eyes through the tree...) and...the fact that Spitfire's voice is a bit different and she didn't speak nearly enough.

In all, an amazing episode, and among my favourite of this season.  And if the next two episodes are pretty crap (which it looks like they probably will be...), this episode has left me satisfied me enough!

...Until the wedding at least!
Understanding leads to empathy,
Empathy leads to admiration,
Admiration leads to love

Optimism leads to disappointment,
Pessimism leads to joy,
although, with optimism you are happy almost all the time,
and pessimism you are sad almost all the time.

Where's the line between being bored and generally too lazy to do anything? :p

Offline Hoagiebot

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #345 on: March 25, 2012, 12:01:22 pm »
Both my faithful lap-cat Merlin and I just finished watching the new episode "Hurricane Fluttershy."  (My cat Merlin actually gets all excited when he hears the MLP:FiM theme song playing on the TV because he knows that it means that I will be sitting down to watch it, and that he can jump in my lap and get his neck scratched for about 30-minutes!  :) )  As much as the weather nerd in me gets absolutely killed on the inside by the magic pegasi-controlled weather of Equestria (Tornadoes made by pegasi wing power!?  That's all wrong!  Where's my meso-cyclones!  My hook echos!  My rear-flank down drafts!  My clear slots!  My rain-free base!  Arrrrgggh!), I promise that every time that I start to get overly upset by it that I will close my eyes, breath in deeply, count to ten, and then repeat to myself, "I got to see Spitfire.  I got to see Spitfire.  I got to see Spitfire." until I calm down.  LOL!

My play-by-play for the episode:

  • 0:09 - It's Cloud Kicker!  Her share price has been rising on the HJIPSE Index for the past couple of weeks because I absolutely love her name!   :)
  • 0:11 - And of course Derpy's back!  I am so relieved that she is, too!  After two weeks in a row with her being MIA, I was starting to get worried that the Hasbro execs finally got ahold of her and turned her into pegasus sashimi!  Luckily that is not the case, and Derpy was featured pretty prominently in this episode!  YAY!
  • 0:16 - Where did these two lavender-colored pegasi suddenly come from?  We've never seen them before in 47 episodes, and then suddenly they're featured pretty prominently in this one.  *shrugs*
  • 0:31 - Oooh!  That dark navy blue-colored pegasus with the constellation of Orion as his cutie mark is pretty cool looking!
  • 1:23 - 2:14 - Like Mr. Mooncatt above me, I too very much enjoyed how they had the 1950's style educational filmstrip in this episode.  I especially liked how they styled the animation in the film strip-- it was very reminiscent of the works produced by UPA in the 1950's, which is very time-period appropriate!
  • 2:12 - Instructional Video Narrator: "So the next time that you're wondering, 'where does all of that extra rainwater come from?' just remember... *film strip rips*  Yeah, um, I have a question!  Using an entire town full of pegasi to lift rainwater sounds awfully over complicated and inefficient.  Why doesn't Cloudsdale just drop a giant hose into the reservoir and use pumps to bring the water up?  Or why don't the pegasi build their cloud-belching factories on the ground right next to the water supply?  Or why doesn't Twilight Sparkle just use her story-breaking teleportation powers to teleport all of the water to Cloudsdale instantly through magic?  And what are all of the poor ponies in Ponyville going to drink after you empty their entire reservoir?  And... and... well, you get the idea-- this plot is just silly!
  • 2:42 -  *HUGE GASP!*  Spitfire's going to be in this episode!  Oh thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!  *cheers*
  • 3:23 - That super-pumped up bodybuilder pegasus that repeatedly screams "YEAH!" kind of reminded me of The Ren & Stimpy Show cartoon character, "George Liquor," in pony form.  Somebody in either the Top Draw or DHX Media animation staff must be a John Kricfalusi fan.
  • 3:45 - Blossomforth, eh?  Well there's a strikingly-colored new pegasus!  I did a little bit of research on her, and apparently she is a creation of the MLP:FiM toy line and not the animation production staff.  According to the MLP:FiM Wiki, Blossomforth first "appeared in the third wave of Playful Ponies and the second wave of mystery packs before appearing in the show."  So apparently the MLP:FiM toy line is influencing the show (probably under the direction of the Hasbro execs) just like the show is influencing the toy line.
  • 4:22 - Awwwww!  Fluttershy's tiny little "ah-chews" are soooooo adorable!  <3
  • 5:17 - I'm so used to Rainbow Dash being pretty much just an unrepenting jerk (albeit a loyal one) that I was kind of surprised when she all of a sudden put her hoof around Fluttershy and compassionately asked, "Come on now, what's going on?"  Rainbow Dash doesn't reveal that she actually has a heart very often.  So little in fact, that I almost wonder if this moment of compassion from Rainbow Dash was out-of-character, even though I don't really want it to be.
  • 7:01 - Ah the Anemometer.  The National Weather Service would like all of us volunteer severe weather spotters to have these so that we can give them accurate wind speed readings with our reports, but of course they also expect us to buy these somewhat pricey devices ourselves.  Now that I know that they can also be used to determine a pegasus's wing power I might have to finally consider shelling out the clams to buy one of these things-- it might just be a good hook to use should I ever run into a cute pegasus mare and I need to find a way to break the ice with her!   (:
  • 7:06 - Twilight Sparkle: "Thus gauging your cumulative H2O anti-gravitational potential."  "Anti-gravitational?"  Defying gravity in a Physics sense has nothing to do with this.  By forming an artificial tornado you're creating an intense low air-pressure center, which then sucks in things from the surrounding environment into it to equalize the difference in pressure.  Think "vacuum cleaner" or "water pump"-- not "anti-gravitational."  *sigh*  I consider this to be a techno babble fail, personally, and... wait a minute, I need to calm down, count to 10, and repeat: "I got to see Spitfire.  I got to see Spitfire.  I got to see Spitfire."
  • 8:20 - Rainbow Dash's wing power is over 9000!  Seriously though, as I mentioned within spoiler tags in my "My Little Pony FiM Movie & Video Phread" post about the HUB trailer for this episode, apparently pegasi have power levels now!  I wouldn't be surprised now if "Mary Sue" MLP:FiM fan-fic pegasus characters everywhere are suddenly going to have "wing power-levels" that are even greater than that of Rainbow Dash! :D
  • 9:56 - That is quite a complex that Fluttershy has there!  Perhaps she needs to pay a visit to Dr. Sparkle, Pony Psychiatrist!  :D
  • 10:48 - I think this is the only time that I have ever seen Angel being anything other than a complete selfish jerkface towards Fluttershy.  Perhaps this is why she hasn't fed him to her falcon.
  • 11:42 - *sigh*  And here comes the obligatory Rocky movie parody training montage.  Listen to the 80's guitar music playing in the background during this scene-- it even sounds like the music that they used during Rocky's training montage in Rocky IV.
  • 12:00 - A squirrel on the left is wearing a Cloud Kicker mask, and a rabbit on the right is wearing a Derpy mask!  LOL!
  • 14:39 - It's Spitfire!  *gets all giddy!*
  • 15:04 - You would think that Rainbow Dash would feel pretty bad for ragging on poor Thunder Lane for the entire episode after hearing from his baby brother Rumble that the poor guy actually ended up in the hospital with the "feather flu," but no, she just goes right on worrying about her wind speed record.  Ah!  I am glad to see that we got all of that borderline out-of-character compassionate stuff behind us!  Now this is the overly-competitive cavalier Rainbow Dash that I know!   :D
  • 15:34 - Really, Spitfire?  I've waited 22-episodes to see you with a speaking part again, and you're already checking your wristwatch because you want to leave?  And it's not even a cool calculator watch like my own Casio Databank!  Keep this attitude up and I'll start crushing on your Wonderbolts look-alike teammate, "Blaze," instead!  Hmph! :P
  • 17:01 - Unlike Mr. Mooncatt, I didn't like seeing Rainbow Dash's eyes popping through the tree like that-- it didn't seem to match the typical MLP:FiM visual style.
  • 18:21 - I know that Spitfire is only supposed to be some kind of celebrity wind speed record-recording judge or something, but you would think that with her being a powerful and heroic Wonderbolt and all that she would pitch in and help if the Ponyville pegasi were stuck at 795-wing power, especially if it meant that it would get the job done and prevent any members from the Ponyville pegasus team from hurting themselves.  But hey, I guess that would ruin Fluttershy's character development arc, wouldn't it?  *sigh*
  • 19:35 - Fluttershy must have used her Kaioken attack right here!  :D
  • 20:43 - Spitfire: "Nice job, Rainbow Dash!  You may not have set a new record, but you showed a lot of guts!"  Yeah whatever, Spitfire.  I should be all aflutter and throwing all sorts of huge celebrations and parades in the streets of Hoagieland because I heard you speak again, but you have made that so hard for me to do by being so unhelpful in this episode.  Sometimes it really hurts to learn more about the true nature of your idols, and find out that they don't live up to your expectations!  :'(

Here's how "Hurricane Fluttershy" breaks down with Syd Field's Paradigm:

  • Exposition: ("Provides some background information to the audience about the plot, characters' histories, setting, and theme.")  The exposition for this episode starts right at the beginning of the teaser scene.  There is no dawdling around with non-related jokes in this episode.  This time around the exposition serves to introduce to us to the idea that the pegasi of Ponyville have to gather up water through a tornado to provide the raw materials needed by the Cloudsdale weather factory to make it rain across Equestria and that Fluttershy is too scared/self-conscious to want to participate in the effort.  The 1950's style film strip sequence and Fluttershy's flashback to her time as a filly in flight camp are all part of this.
  • Inciting Incident: ("Also called the catalyst, this is the point in the story when the Protagonist encounters the problem that will change their life.")  The Inciting Incident occurs right at the beginning of the episode during the teaser scene at 0:12.  Fluttershy receives Rainbow Dash's flier asking her to help out with creating the rainwater-gathering tornado, and then after reading it she freaks out about it.
  • Plot Point 1: ("The last scene in Act I, Turning Point 1 is a surprising development that changes the plot's direction and begins the second act.")  Happens at 6:43 when Rainbow Dash guilt-trips Fluttershy into changing her mind about not wanting to help with the tornado, and Fluttershy tells Rainbow Dash that she's "game."  Act II begins at 6:56 after the commercial break with a location change to the Ponyville running track.
  • Midpoint: ("An important scene in the middle of the script, often a reversal of fortune or revelation that changes the direction of the story.")  Happens at 10:16 when Fluttershy only achieves 0.5-wing power with her flight, and then hears Cloudchaser and Flitter laughing at her.  Devastated, she dashes off crying her eyes out and telling Rainbow Dash, "I just don't have the courage right now."
  • Point of Commitment: ("The point of commitment is where your main character reaffirms her commitment to her goal.")  Happens at 11:26, with Fluttershy reaffirming her belief that she is a good flier and renewing her commitment to prove that to the rest of the pegasi.
  • Plot Point 2: ("A dramatic reversal that ends Act 2 and begins Act 3, which is about confrontation and resolution.")  The "Plot Point 2" reversal that ends Act II occurs at 13:35 when Fluttershy learns that all of her hard work and training that she has undergone has only increased her wing power to a measly 2.3.  Crushed by the news, Fluttershy once again gives up, backs out of helping Rainbow Dash, and walks off with her head held low.  Act III begins at 14:35 with a location change to the Ponyville Highland Reservoir.
  • Climax or Showdown: ("The point at which the plot reaches its maximum tension and the forces in opposition confront each other at a peak of physical or emotional action.") The climax really gets going at about 17:32-- Rainbow Dash has already tried to create a tornado without the help of Fluttershy and failed.  Now Fluttershy is watching all of her pegasi friends put their well beings on the line by risking a second dangerous attempt.  Seeing that the pegasi are once again not quite able to make the tornado, Fluttershy decides to jump into the fray and give it her all to help her friends.
  • Resolution or Denouement: ("The brief period of calm at the end of a film where a state of equilibrium returns.") Starts at about 19:50.  Fluttershy's help tips the scale into the favor of the pegasi, and they are able to just barely create a tornado that is powerful enough to transport all of the reservoir's water to Cloudsdale.  Everyone cheers for Fluttershy, and carry her away from the reservoir above their heads like a hero.


Hoagiebot should be happy that his beloved Spitfire made an appearance

Oh I definitely was, but I do wish that she made a little bit better of a showing of herself.  When she last had a speaking part in the season 1 episode "The Best Night Ever" and we really got to meet her for the first time, she seemed:

  • Kind and polite: ("So you're the little pony who saved our lives. We really wanted to meet you, and say thanks.")
  • and really laid back like she was just one of the guys: ("Always hungry after a show, eh Soarin'?")

Add to that her saucy name and her sharp yellow and orange fiery coloration, and what can I say?  I like her!  As a result, I did get really excited when I saw that she was going to be part of this episode.  But in this episode she really didn't do anything particularly endearing or noteworthy.  You get to see her wave to her fans, look at her watch like she really doesn't want to be there, and then just kind of stand idly by while the Ponyville pegasi darn near fly themselves to pieces while trying to form the first tornado without lifting a hoof to help them.  I mean, none of this is really enough to paint Spitfire in an overly negative light by any means, as you could probably form reasonable speculations on why she acted the way she did.  But her behavior in this episode didn't really score any points with me either, leaving me feeling not as ecstatic about seeing her as I thought that I would be.

Oh well, I still do love my Spitfire (so much so that I recently tried to win an 18"-tall one-of-a-kind fan-made plush of her on eBay, but tragically lost), so I sincerely hope that she gets featured in the show again, maybe at the royal wedding or in a season 3 episode perhaps, and that she is given a role where we can actually learn a bit more about her and what makes her tick.  I realize that asking for more Spitfire could turn out to be a double-edged sword (just look what they did to poor Derpy in "The Last Roundup" for example), but at the very same time the writers have also managed to make me like Cheerilee more and more every time that I have seen her, so it's not like I'm completely impossible to please!

Getting back to "Hurricane Fluttershy," this episode was pretty middle of the road for me.  I like it a lot more than the last two episodes that I saw, but I still didn't like it as much as my all-time favorites.  I don't really have any real complaints about this episode or anything.-- it was a strong effort, but at the same time it didn't blow my mind and "wow" me.  If I had to give it a letter grade it would be a "B" or a "B+," which I am sure you will all agree is a pretty good grade.  Also, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I don't let myself see who wrote the episode until after I have finished watching it because I don't want my feelings about a particular writer to taint my reaction to the episode.  After I finished watching this one, I originally felt that it was written by the same writer who wrote "Winter Wrap-up," (Cindy Morrow), but then I changed my mind and decided that it was probably Meghan McCarthy of "Dragon Shy" and "Lesson Zero" who wrote it.  As it turns out I should have stayed with my first reaction, since it was really Cindy Morrow who wrote this one.  Oh well, I guess that I just don't have as good of a bead on these MLP:FiM writers as I would like to think that I do!   :P

Next week we have the episode "Ponyville Confidential," featuring our favorite power trio, The Cutie Mark Crusaders!  I have to say that I am pretty stoked for this episode.  For whatever reason, the Cutie Mark Crusader episodes never seem to disappoint.  In fact, they seem to have a far more entertaining group dynamic going on than even the Mane 6!  After seeing the preview commercial for it on the HUB while watching "Hurricane Fluttershy" I have nothing but good premonitions about it, and I can't wait!  To share my thoughts about a preview scene shown in the commercial:

Spoiler: show
I sincerely hope that when Spike belches fire and burns up the newspaper that he accidentally sends the Gabby Gums column to Princess Celestia with something embarrassing written about her in it!  That would be so epically hilarious!   :D  :D  :D


Until next week!
« Last Edit: March 25, 2012, 12:03:21 pm by Hoagiebot »

Offline aspect

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #346 on: March 29, 2012, 07:15:03 pm »
I know I'm a few days late on this, but, I just saw the promotional material for the wedding season finalé and
Spoiler: show
magically cloned ponies!! It seems like one by one my fanfic ideas are actually happening! Now I just await magic-based computers being taken over by Twilight-created AI!

Offline Shim

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #347 on: March 29, 2012, 07:58:32 pm »
I know I'm a few days late on this, but, I just saw the promotional material for the wedding season finalé and
Spoiler: show
magically cloned ponies!! It seems like one by one my fanfic ideas are actually happening! Now I just await magic-based computers being taken over by Twilight-created AI!


WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT.

Offline aspect

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #348 on: March 29, 2012, 11:22:45 pm »
WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT.

Remain calm, there will prolly not actually be killer AI's! Just loads of evil pinkie pies!

Offline Hoagiebot

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Re: MLP:FiM Season 2 Discussion (WARNING! Spoilers Within!)
« Reply #349 on: April 01, 2012, 12:30:23 pm »
Oh Cheerilee, I could just get lost in your opalescent green eyes.  I absolutely adore everything about you: your sweet, patient, and always cheerful disposition, your melodic voice, your amazing generosity, the fact that you seem to have a total disregard to the responsibilities of your job by allowing your grade-school class's newspaper to be run by a child sociopath and distribute scandalous slander while completely unsupervised... Oh my little shmoopy-doopy sweetie-weety pony pie, where have you been all my life?

...wait, this isn't my shipping fic that I'm typing in!  It's, it's... ah well never mind.  You all better start buying up more "CHRLE" stock on the HJIPSE index, because we just had a new episode of ponies, and as one might expect the share price of CHRLE, SWTBL, SCTLO, APLBM, and even RBDSH are all having a rally!  *cheers!*

As I mentioned last week, considering the fact that yesterday's episode, "Ponyville Confidential," featured the Cutie Mark Crusaders, I was extremely excited about it and I absolutely couldn't wait to see it!  There were a couple of reasons for why I was so ecstatic about finally seeing this episode: First of all, where ever there are the Cutie Mark Crusaders Cheerilee tends to not be too far away.  While I don't find Cheerilee's character design and color-scheme to be as sharp or as visually striking as my main mare Spitfire (and it's hard for me to put somepony with that much pink and magenta in her on my computer's desktop), there is just something about her personality that I find to be absolutely captivating.  On one hand, she seems like she would be the absolute best grade school teacher on earth.  I mean, she is so darn cheerful to a fault that her name is "Cheerilee" for crying out loud.  And just look at how happily her students respond to her ever-present sweetness and thoughtful words of encouragement:



That is one satisfied student right there.  But then on the flipside you have Cheerilee seemingly shirking her responsibility of actually teaching anything or acting as authority figure at nearly every opportunity, whether it be to cancel the day's lesson to watch Applebloom spin hoop-de-loops out in the school yard to the most recent incident of her "advising" her students on how to run their student newspaper by calling out to them "have fun!" and then quickly skipping out the door as quickly as she could.  Cheerilee had so little involvement with the student newspaper in fact that even when the paper suddenly explosively and unprecedentedly started expanding beyond its original student readership to Ponyville at large and then later even to Cloudsdale she apparently took no notice, or at the very least took no action.  I personally started wondering what the heck she actually was doing that entire time-- my own theory involves her sitting by herself in the teacher's lounge while drinking from a flask a la Mrs. Krabappel from The Simpsons, but I am open to alternative suggestions.

The second reason why I was so excited about seeing this episode was the Cutie Mark Crusaders themselves.  I'm sorry, but they are just so much more interesting, funny, and fun to watch than the Mane 6 are most of the time!  In addition, their motivations are always clear, and it is their unending determined quest to procure their cutie marks that lead them on the most wild of adventures and perform the most zany of antics.  What other characters could ever possibly get away with doing everything from zip-lining, rock-climbing, skin diving, taffy-making, putting on a rock ballad stage show, dosing their grade school teacher with a love potion, making enormous Hearts and Hooves Day cards, and unleashing Discord the ancient Spirit of Disharmony upon all of Equestria?  Nopony, that's who!  The Cutie Mark Crusaders rock!

This episode was written by one of my favorite MLP:FiM writers, M.A. Larson, and true to his form this episode was one of the stronger shows of this season in my opinion and was genuinely funny throughout.  It also had a lot of awesome little continuity nods throughout the episode that were all well placed and really fun to catch.  Continuity nods such as Spike saying how one of the Gabby Gums headlines was "The Amazing Trixie's Secrets Revealed" and the "scandalous" photo of Big McIntosh with the "Smarty Pants" plushie were not only great shout-outs to long-time watchers of the show, but were also very funny and gave me a real chuckle.  This is in stark contrast to the episode "Dragon Quest" that aired two weeks ago when the continuity nods that were shoehorned into that story by Merriwether Williams were so out of place and chronologically confused that they actually took me out of the story and instead distracted me to the point where I started wondering when the episode could have possibly taken place in relation to all of the others.  While the Merriwether Williams episode actually made me start to question whether or not all of the continuity creep that was seeping into MLP:FiM was starting to go a bit too far and was becoming detrimental, I absolutely had none of those concerns at all with all of the continuity nods in this episode, and that has shown to me once and for all that it is not continuity creep that's the problem for MLP:FiM, but particular writers who don't bother to do the research or use continuity nods carefully that are the problem.  Merriwether Williams should really take the time and study how M.A. Larson does things more closely-- he seems to be able to pull off selectively using continuity nods to enhance the story of an episode like a boss!

With that said, there was definitely one thing in this episode that just didn't feel right to me, and that was the behavior of the ponies in town after it was revealed that "Gabby Gums" was really the three fillies Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo.  Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, and especially Big McIntosh are all supposed to all be responsible *adults* and trusted mentors to the fillies, but the way that they treated Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo after they found out that they were Gabby Gums was truly unacceptable adult behavior.  Blocking the children with force fields, dumping rain on them, giving them the silent treatment, and angrily telling them to "go away" is just not the way that adults should be reacting to small children.  While I can understand all of those adult ponies being upset that their secrets were revealed and that they were embarrassed in public, that is still no excuse for their treatment of the children.  These adult ponies are supposed to be role models to these children, and instead they were acting like petty children as well.  While I am generally not a huge fan of Rarity or her behavior, in this case she really shined, at least when compared to the other adult ponies anyway.  She was angry about having her secrets published in the student newspaper as well, but instead of dumping water on poor Sweetie Belle, giving her the silent treatment, or telling her to go away, she instead explained to Sweetie Belle about how what she did was wrong, and how it made her and the other ponies feel bad.  Sure, in the grand scheme of things Rarity is a hypocrite because she was enjoying reading the "Gabby Gums" gossip column more than anyone, but at least when things went too far she didn't shun the children, block them out, or run them off.  Instead, Rarity confronted Sweetie Belle, explained to her about why what she did was wrong and then attempted to guide her into the right direction.  In other words, she acted just like how a big sister should act, and I commend her for it.  Applejack should really take some lessons from Rarity in this regard.  I usually only accuse Merriwether Williams of writing MLP:FiM episodes that seem mean spirited, but truth be told in the third act of this M.A. Larson episode I thought that the adult ponies were acting a bit too mean spirited (and in addition irresponsible) as well.

I tried my best to break down this episode's story with Syd Field's Paradigm, but I had a bit more difficulty with this episode than I normally do, so I am not completely confident that I got the timing of each plot point quite right.  I was having the most trouble determining exactly where Plot Point 1 was in the screenplay, so if anyone begs to differ with how I broke this episode down I am open to suggestions-- I may later decide to edit my breakdown should I realize that I identified a plot point incorrectly.  Anyway, here it goes:

  • Exposition: ("Provides some background information to the audience about the plot, characters' histories, setting, and theme.")  The exposition for this episode starts right at the beginning of the teaser scene by showing us that the status quo is that the three young grade school-aged fillies Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo are all still desperately trying to get their cutie marks.
  • Inciting Incident: ("Also called the catalyst, this is the point in the story when the Protagonist encounters the problem that will change their life.")  The Inciting Incident occurs right at the beginning of the episode during the teaser scene at 0:31.  Applebloom tells the other two Cutie Mark Crusaders about how the Foal Free Press newspaper was looking for journalists and how they should try to get their cutie marks by writing for it.
  • Plot Point 1: ("The last scene in Act I, Turning Point 1 is a surprising development that changes the plot's direction and begins the second act.")  The last scene in Act I begins at 6:30.  The surprising development that changes the plot's direction is that the Cutie Mark Crusaders learn that their "Gabby Gums" column is a huge success in the schoolyard, and Diamond Tiara makes them her staff gossip columnists.  Act II begins at 7:36 with a scene change to Rarity's Boutique.
  • Midpoint: ("An important scene in the middle of the script, often a reversal of fortune or revelation that changes the direction of the story.")  Happens at 11:58 when Diamond Tiara tells the Cutie Mark Crusaders that their interview story with Spike is their "worst column yet," and the Cutie Mark Crusaders start to question whether or not it's right for them to be writing a gossip column because they could possibly be hurting other ponies feelings.
  • Point of Commitment: ("The point of commitment is where your main character reaffirms her commitment to her goal.")  Happens at 12:47, with Sweetie Belle reaffirming her goal to get her cutie mark to the other Crusaders, and the three of them reluctantly deciding to carry on with their gossip column to "give the ponies what they want."
  • Plot Point 2: ("A dramatic reversal that ends Act 2 and begins Act 3, which is about confrontation and resolution.")  The "Plot Point 2" reversal that ends Act II begins at 16:30 when Diamond Tiara reveals to the Cutie Mark Crusaders that she has embarrassing photos of the three of them and that she will publish them in the newspaper if they quit writing their "Gabby Gums" column.  This leads to an "all is lost" plot point at 18:38 when all of the ponies in Ponyville turn against the Crusaders for being Gabby Gums and the Crusaders realize that they have ruined all of their friendships with their blind pursuit of their goal.  Act III begins at 19:00 with a location change to the basement of the schoolhouse.
  • Climax or Showdown: ("The point at which the plot reaches its maximum tension and the forces in opposition confront each other at a peak of physical or emotional action.") This is kind of tough, as there really wasn't any kind of final confrontation between the primary antagonist of the episode, Diamond Tiara, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders.  With that in mind, I guess that I would have to say that the final confrontation occurred at 19:14 when Sweetie Belle yells out "Stop the presses" and they sneak in their open letter to Ponyville as their latest Gabby Gums column.  I suppose that you could say that Diamond Tiara was eventually defeated by proxy by being stripped of her editorial duties by Miss Cheerilee.
  • Resolution or Denouement: ("The brief period of calm at the end of a film where a state of equilibrium returns.") Starts at about 20:02.  The citizens of Ponyville all read the open letter that was written to them by Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo, and they all begin to forgive the three young fillies.  Rainbow Dash stops draining rain clouds onto them, Fluttershy stops sobbing inconsolably, Twilight Sparkle removes the force field from around her library, Applejack starts talking to Applebloom again, etc.  The ruthless Diamond Tiara gets stripped of her powers, and ten also gets some of what she deserves when she is placed in charge of the printing press and subsequently gets covered in printer ink.

I would love to discuss my final thoughts on this episode and maybe list out some of my play-by-play reactions to all of the absolutely hilarious things that happened in it, but its getting late and I am starting to get a bit bleary-eyed from sitting in front of a computer screen for so long.  As a result, I am going to call it a day (I'm nocturnal) and probably finish my thoughts about this episode in a follow-up post tonight.  In the meantime I would absolutely love to hear about what all of your reactions to the episode were so far, and I'll catch you all later!
« Last Edit: April 01, 2012, 12:32:03 pm by Hoagiebot »