Monday, December 19, 2011

Episode Talk: S2E11, Hearth's Warming Eve

You know, it's the darnedest thing.  Traffic to this site is mostly pretty steady from day to day, but it always seems to take a nosedive around Saturday morning (US time).  It's almost as if all the pony fans have something better to do right then...

Anyway, thoughts and commentary on the latest episode, after the break.

-This was probably the most anticipated episode of the season to date, and it delivered in spades.  Words cannot express how much I enjoyed it (still hasn't unseated May the Best Pet Win in my mind, though).  Mythology and goofy slapstick, two great tastes that taste great together.  Most of the reaction I've seen on the forums/chans has been very positive, as well it should be.

-Leaving aside the obvious "history of Equestria" stuff, there was a lot that was definitively revealed about the way the ponies' world works.  The planet is confirmed to be round (though this brings a whole host of questions about how controlling the sun and moon works), we've learned that unicorns can control the sun and moon (So much for Celestia and Luna being the only ones capable of wielding that power), we now know that Pegasuses don't feel the cold (and Jetfire's It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door inches ever closer to canon), and there are, or at least were, kings and queens who ruled pony tribes (we also know via word of Faust that there's nopony higher up the regal ladder than Celestia and Luna, but c'mon: queens are now canon!  Think of the possibilities!).  All that, and I'm sure plenty more that I missed.  This episode filled in a lot of unknowns.

-After hearing them say "pegasi" so many times in the show, I was finally ready to give up and admit that Equestria has different rules about pluralization that we humans do (for the record, words that end in -us take an -i when they're pluralized, unless they're Greek, in which case they take an -uses instead).  But then Pinkie Pie, of all ponies, gave me a glimmer of hope.  Vive la pegasuses!

-Given the clothing and terminology, I think it's beyond question that the pegasuses were a warlike race.  But who did they make war with?  Other pony races?  Other pegasus tribes?  Griffons?  I want to know who they fought, and what they fought over.  Huh, I never thought I'd be asking for more stories about ponies and war, but here we are.

-Dash is still my favorite pony by a mile, but it's nice to finally see Applejack get a decent episode.  She had some of the best lines this time around.

-"And now our bodies will become as cold as our hearts...because we were foolish enough to hate!"  Is it just me, or does Twilight always get saddled with the cheesiest lines?

-The Equestrian flag they raise at the end has two alicorns on it.  So where do alicorns fit into this whole origins story?  They appear not to be Celestia and Luna, as I originally thought they were.  That just raises more questions!

-The song at the end was a bit of a disappointment to me.  I think something simpler, preferably a cappella, would have been a better fit.  You know, something more like a carol than a musical number from a TV show.  I can't imagine a group of two or four singers gathering around the Yule Hearth's Warming log to sing that piece.  Oh well, the song was still good; it just isn't what I expected, nor what I think would have been the best fit.


  1. Pegasi/pegasuses is quite a mess.

    (also you accidentally capitalised pegasuses early on in the post)

    Copypaste from a wiser man than I:
    It depends completely in whose faux rules you want to follow and why.

    For starters, there actually isn't a single mythological species known as a pegasus, they are called pterippus and were fairly famous as a sign of being blessed by the gods, after all it is a flying horse.

    Now, because people are less than original, pterippus is weird sounding, and Hercules is more than famous enough, people immediately related this kind of creature to Pegasos, his horse.

    Now, here is where it get's tricky: because Pegasos is a proper name and was originally in greek, the transfer to english occurred as part of a messy amalgamation of both latin and greek terms into a single and undivided entity. This as a result came to make the rules of capitalization which rule each of their respective language get... confused.

    Seeing how pegasus was created, people began to use latin rather than greek capitalization for the word, because most if not all greek words which ended in os got turn into their latin equivalent that ended in us and thus we ended with a greek word which is pluralize in latin (again, the original word is a greek name, Pegasos, which got turn into a noun, pegasos, which then got turn into latin, pegasus).

    So now, for the pluralization of latin words, the plural of any word ending in -us it is -i (focus, foci) and thus if you are to remember all that happened above, you will end up with pegasus as a singular and pegasi (faux latin at it's best) as it's plural.

    But wait! There is also the fact that the word in question is still greek in origin and the rules of latin pluralization have no reason to fit in with it. Seeing how the rules of pluralization of the noun version of the original name is in greek, despite all the changes, it is actually arguably better to say the plural is pegasoi/pegasai, as that is the plural for the original word (still faux greek though).

    But wait! There are other things at play as well, namely the fact that the word might or might not be a different declesion that the one we expect, due to the fact the word never existed in both languages we try to bring it from, there is a good chance other rules of pluralization apply to it, making pegasudes be equally as valid depending on how much deeper you want to go.

    But wait! Considering the fact pegasus is an english construct rather than any real greek or latin word, this would make it be a completely original term (if based upon greek and latins words) and make it so that its pluralization be exactly like any other word. Thus, pegasuses is then again just as valid as any of the above.

    And thus, you end up with a gigantic mess of possible translation, pluralizations and spellings, all because people couldn't wrap their heads around pterippus (but could around a hippocampus.)

  2. Actually, if you look closely at some of the buildings in the Pegasus city there are hints at who they did battle with. One building has a mural of a Pegasus fighting a Draconaquis! (though it could also be a Hydra.)

    Perhaps Discord's race have been enemies of Ponykind longer than we thought.

  3. Really loving that first comment. Here I'd thought that "pegasai" came from people whose only real experience with foreign language was Japanese ("ai" being pronounced the same as the "i" in "pegasi"). I come away from this no longer needing to correct authors on this matter!

    Of course, the beauty of the English language is the ability to completely ignore the rules of the languages is borrows from (Twain's line of shaking down other languages in dark alleyways applies), thus 'pegasi' is still thoroughly acceptable, as 'pegasus' the Latin/Greek word is a completely different word from 'pegasus' the English word. The thing to get out of this argument is, as I said, what is not wrong. Which is everything.

    Also, I now need to write a story were calling pegasi (I still prefer it) anything but "pegasudes" en masse is insulting, only no one else realizes this.

  4. eh, I prefer pegasi for the name of the currently-still-mythical creature, but I'll accept pegasai. You're wrong, users of that spelling, but I love and tolerate you anyway.

    As for "round" equaling "spherical", well... no. Balls are kinda round, but so are circles. Balls, being three dimensional, have up and down. Flat round circles don't, so globe or no globe, it still makes sense that Equestria is flat. It's also more fun that way.

  5. Always love these posts, and now I can finally reach the blogger server to tell you so! Thank you for being open to commentary on your thoughts, and being so thorough on your reviews.

  6. Perhaps that's why they so often instead call them pegasus ponies. Bypass the whole problem!

    Yeah, the question of who exactly they fight has been irking me from the beginning. If they hadn't been to war in the past, why would Celestia's guards have armor? Armor which, I might add, seems designed to protect primarily against attacks from above.

    Or maybe I'm just overthinking it, and the artists just put them in that armor to look cool.

    Maybe they're at war right now, and that's why we see so few male ponies. ;)

  7. Oh, wow. Turns out there's a LOT more to the pluralization of pegasus than I'd ever imagined. Thank you, anonymous poster, for setting me straight. It looks like I'll need to be more careful about making sweeping generalizations about language rules in the future. Such is the peril of having an educated readership, I suppose.

    Don't stop, though. Lord knows SOMEone needs to keep me honest!

  8. Who would they be fighting? Why, every other living creature on the planet! Ponies are squishy, and the landbound ones are slow. Pegasuses (see?) would no doubt have had a lot of conflict with the griffins (I almost wrote that as "friggins"). Not to mention there's nothing saying the unicorns weren't warlike in their own way; they just wouldn't have dressed in armor because sissymages.

  9. That flag:

    Has got me all worked up to write another bit of pony fiction, something I haven't had time to do since I finished Half the Day is Night back in July. Not that I actually have time now, of course, but this darn idea just won't go away...

    Lovely comment above about the variety of plurals, too, though my favorite phony Greek plural remains "octopodes."


  10. I really didn't dig the episode that much. Maybe it was just a little over-hyped, or hell, maybe I just wasn't in a good mood at the time. I have watched it since though, and it didn't get better.

    I think, however, it was really because it struck me as the most obvious cop-out EVER. Naturally, the team behind the show won't set anything in stone unless they specifically need if for he episode, and some of Faust's comments highlighted as much quite clearly. As such, I just can't see this episode as anything more than a way of doing a historical story without actually having to give it ANY weight as true in canon. Sure, if I was being my most cynical, I could find plenty of ways to get around things that have been implied as canon, or point out how what has been accepted as canon isn't proved (apart from the party cannon, that's definitely real!). However, mostly you'd have to go out of your way to pick things apart (of course, the fandom does that a lot), and if you want to do that, stop watching a kids cartoon. To me though, this dodge was just TOO obvious.

    Let's put on a play, which is a story that might be completely made up from scratch. No-one actually ventures an opinion on the validity of the story itself at any point, and that just struck me as an easy cop-out on the part of the plot writers.

    Further, the character interactions were TOO heightened, as if a season and a half of Friendship is Magic and the lessons learned therein had inexplicably been forgotten. For a run of the mill kids cartoon, that would actually be perfect, but frankly I've come to expect more. Season 1, I assume because of Faust's direct control, didn't generally seem to question the viewers intelligence. If it did, it tended to have the out of being intelligently tongue-in-cheek, but several episodes in S2 have lost that in my opinion.

    In the end, the story was good, the jokes were good, the animation as ever, was superb. I just think it failed to mesh together like the good episodes do, and it felts very forced, *especially* the end song. Seemed to me like they felt they had to have a song and crowbarred something in at the end. Also, I agree with many fan comments I've read that this episode displayed why Pinkie Pie is incredibly hard to use properly, and I found her annoying throughout. Maybe I'm just a Pinkie-hater though, I mean, 'Feeling Pinkie Keen' would be my stand out worst episode ever, bad plot, bad moral lesson, bad idea.

    On the upside:
    Imperial Dash
    Queen Rarity (and maybe massive-hat Rarity)
    Watching fans argue, trying to draw canon from a story within the story (fun for the wrong reasons!)
    Snow scenes and winter costumes (more ways to make Fluttershy extra cute!)