Monday, April 23, 2012

Episode Talk: S2E25-26, A Canterlot Wedding

Well, the end of season two has come and gone, and I'd be remiss not to make a few observations about the final episode.  Overall, I'd say season two was a lot like season one; a few really good episodes, a few that made me cringe, and a whole lot that I enjoyed despite their hokier moments.  But if this summer is anything like last, one thing's for certain: there's going to be a huge influx of fanfiction over the coming month or two, and at least some of it will be pretty good.  So there's that to look forward to!  But for now, a few thoughts on the two-part finale:

-Honestly, this episode was probably about as good as it could reasonably be expected to be.  Yes, it was rushed.  Yes, the heroes couldn't have won in the end if Queen Chrysalis hadn't been acting like an idiot (see also: Discord, Nightmare Moon).  Yes, there were a few gaping plotholes.  But on balance, the episode was still enjoyable, which is all I can really ask for.  Reaction around the internet has been extremely varied from what I've seen, which I suppose is to be expected when something gets as much hype as this did.  The finale may not have been everything I hoped, but it wasn't bad, all things considered.

-I thought the episode did start slow, though.  The jokes in the opening (fun with acronyms, Rarity's fainting with delight, etc.) were really forced, and I wasn't a fan of the first song.  A piece as simple and exposed as B.B.B.F.F, as it's apparently named, makes it really obvious when a singer tries to gussy up her lines by scooping into every long note or making softer passages excessively breathy in an attempt to sound more "genuine," as Twilight's musical VA did.  Then again, I have the same complaints about a lot of contemporary country and pop music, so maybe I'm just being an old fogy.  Regardless, the first five minutes or so had me concerned, but I was much happier with the rest of the episode.

-Sorry, but I'm with Twilight on this one: how do you not tell someone close to you that you're getting married until the day before the wedding?  I don't care if Shining Armour's been distracted by keeping the force field around Canterlot up 24/7, he could have taken thirty seconds to send a scroll to Twi saying he was engaged, which was probably (unless this was a shotgun wedding, but let's not go there) six to twelve months ago.  And presumably he and Cadance were dating before that, but Twi didn't even know her brother was seeing anyone!  Let me tell you something: if I got a wedding invitation from my sister the day before her wedding, and I hadn't even known she was in a relationship, I'd be furious.  And even if she was a Secret Service agent personally in charge of guarding the president (or whatever equivalent to Shining Armour's situation you want to come up with), I wouldn't cut her any slack for not bringing me into the loop earlier.  Shining, you screwed up big time.

-I have no idea what to make of alicorns anymore.  Apparently they can intermarry with unicorns?  Does that mean that unicorns also have lifespans measured in millennia?  Or that only Celestia and Luna (for whatever reason) have that kind of longevity?  Or is Cadance planning to have a few dozen husbands over the course of her life, and Shining's just the first of many?  I'm so confused.

-My premonition that Trixie would show up in the episode didn't come to pass, but her VA did as the villain.  Eh, close enough; I'm counting that as a successful prediction.

-Likely nods to the adult male fandom: Sibsy's pony, DJ Pon-3, Derpy (of course), and maybe Lyra getting a voice and Spike playing with pony dolls.  Probably a few others as well.  Not a nod to the adult male fandom, despite what some people would have you believe: ponies shaking their butts.  Guys, grow up; the animators aren't slipping T&A into the show as some sort of bizarre fanservice, and it's really kind of creepy to suggest they are.

-Twilight's failed attempt to confront Cadance at the end of the first episode was my favorite part of the entire show, but mostly because it reminded me of an AD&D game I ran several years ago.  Long story short, towards the end of the first session the paladin detected evil on a shopkeep, and discovered he was indeed evil.  The paladin promptly ran him through, and when the guards showed up to arrest the paladin, he calmly announced "It's okay; he was evil!"  Much like Twilight, he quickly found out that demonstrable evidence of wrongdoing is an important prerequisite to making such accusations.

-The second song (the This Day aria) was excellent.  You could tell evil!Cadance's singing VA was having a blast with the piece (even if she can't comfortably hit a high E full voice, but nobody's perfect), as were the animators who worked on her facial expressions.  The song itself contrasted  the two characters it highlighted clearly, and both orchestration and vocals were perfectly in tune with the desired audience reaction.

-Yes, the changelings and their Queen were holding the idiot ball through the entire episode.  It bothered me too.  But I liked them a lot on a conceptual level!  And their physical appearances were excellent; creepy and dark, but still clean, and ambiguously insectoid.  But where do they come from, and what previous contact have they had with Equestria?  I'm sure that even as I type this, literally dozens of fanfic writers are hard at work trying to answer these questions.  It'll be interesting to see what folks come up with.

-Okay, the main six fighting the changeling army was an incredibly fun scene to watch, but there's something I have to ask.  I'm almost afraid to bring this up, because I haven't seen it mentioned elsewhere, which tells me I'm probably just imagining it.  But when Dash rescues Fluttershy from the three Dash clones, does she kiss her on the nose?  It sure looks to me like she does, and it sounds like there's a kiss sound effect.  I thought it was really sweet, though I admit my second thought was "I wonder what the shippers will do with that."  But I guess I'm the only one that saw it?  Maybe I'm just going crazy.

-I guess that sometime between this episode and season one, Dash learned to do sonic rainbooms on command.  Good for her; maybe now she'll have a shot at getting into the the Wonderbolts someday.

-I loved all the little (and overt) references to Will and Kate's wedding last year.  Of course, I got up at four in the morning to watch that, so I guess I'm just a sap for pomp and circumstance.

-No more episodes for four to six months!  Ah well, more time to read fanfics, I suppose.


  1. It's debatable whether or not Dash kissed Fluttershy on the nose, but in any case the scene further shows that it's hardly debatable that the two are two of the closest friends on the show, if not the closest, even though we don't see much of it. They are pretty much shown to be lifelong friends after all. And all of that makes me very happy.

    Oh, and I'm pretty sure that the Changling putting a spell on Shining Armor would prevent him from noticing the difference.

    1. *the difference in Cadance.

      (gosh I'm tired lol)

  2. I think the best way for me talk about the newest episodes is to go the long way, mainly by talking a bit about G1 first (I was curious okay, not everything I do is wise). There are a number of reasons why MLP:FIM is better than the original MLP. For starters, compare Rescue from Castle Midnight to The Mare in the Moon. They’re very similar in that they both involve a villain who wishes to bring eternal night, the ponies trying to find a plot device of “generic good word” that can defeat the villain (and said plot device shoots out rainbows and purifies things), travel through a series of obstacles (less so in Midnight), and a final battle at a dark castle. However, Mare in the Moon has one important advantage over Castle Midnight; it has an extra twenty minutes to develop the main six characters before their adventure and still had them show distinctiveness during it. Even though I dislike Mare in the Moon (I find the whole ”show what element the character is” aspect to be incredibly formulaic and I despise villains who are willing to kill one moment and then back off when their offers are turned down the next) it was still better than Castle Midnight because at least there were characters with personality there. The Wedding episodes, however, were almost on the level of Castle Midnight and in fact share some of my problems with G1.

    Honestly, if you ever watched any episodes of G1, you would have trouble figuring out the personality of its characters (Surprise is an exception). There are one too many of them and they act basically as the plot requires them to. The difference between them is like that between the first and second editions of a novel; the font and cover (color and design) maybe different but the words inside (personality) are pretty much the same. For the wedding episodes, I felt the characters were also lacking in the development department. Cadence and Shining Armor aren’t developed as characters, because beyond their love for each other (which was generic) and Shining Armor’s insistence on his duty, they didn’t do much in my book. So they remain blank slates from beginning to end, defined more by their relationship to Twilight (who is made more special again, much to my dismay) than anything they do. Cadence also suffers from not actually appearing till part 2 and until Twilight showed up, she did nothing to get out of her predicament (what kind of prison is this any way that allows them to do magic). I was also abhorred by her power of effecting the emotions of others, and I believe that it hurt its message about love for others in the romantic sense. After all, how is it better than the love potion in Heart and Hearth’s day? And beyond Twilight, none of the main six are really needed. Instead, they are simply there to give her someone to talk to (a monkey or a mirror could fill that role) and like in a lot of episodes where they are not the focus, they are reduced to a caricature with all subtlety drained from them (and in some cases here, their intelligence).

    1. Then there are the villains. FIM is, thankfully, not heavy with heavies and when one shows up, it’s usually a non-evil (but still unpleasant) antagonist such as Trixie, Gilda, Iron Will, or Film and Flam as opposed to out and out villains. They’re still one dimensional but it isn’t hard to find someone a bit like them in real life. G1 however, was filled with real villains and they were incredibly predictable in their nature and thus dull to watch. So is Nightmare Moon, who acts like Maleficent, even borrowing one of her lines, has an incredible cliché goal, and because of plot reasons, she can’t kill the heroes even though she overpowers them greatly. But she has one advantage over most (if not all) villains in G1, a decent motive. What caused Luna (who was for some reason not helping her subjects when Canterlot was attacked during the episodes) to transform into the evil mare was her jealously and desire of being appreciated, which is something that we all experience. She’s not evil for the sake of being evil; she’s evil because she takes it too far. Discord is also better. While he is chaotic for no real reason and he’s pretty much the antithesis to the show’s theme, he makes it up by having an overall fun and goofy personality. He’s not a sneering baddie with a stick-up-his-butt serious personality that would zap his minions if they would fail him (something I could see Nightmare Moon doing) but instead a sneaky trickster that lets his silliness mask his malevolent nature of causing suffering for others. The Queen of the heartless, I mean changelings has none of this and the show got so much wrong with her and her kind. First, they feed off the love of others, that’s an incredible common evil species trope and a bad one at that. Plus there’s nothing positive about them, the entire species is wicked to the core. That’s right, like orcs, like trolls, like so many fantasy species; an entire race is created to be all bad. Does no one see the problem with that? Plus the queen is a moron. Twilight apologizes to her at the end of part one and what does the queen do, pretty much gives herself away by sending Twilight underground, instead of oh maybe ignoring or brainwashing her, heck she should have used mind control on the populace or some guards. Same thing when the actual Cadence shows up. In addition, the two acted so differently from each other, that I found it hard to believe that no one else besides Twilight could see the difference as well as the notice that Shining’s eyes are green at the wedding and looked like he went through a lobotomy. And she has no real setup, compared to Discord and Nightmare Moon. We’re just told Canterlot needs to tighten security for some reason. And if she needs to feed her kind, why would she think about attacking the big city with the force field, instead of the country side, where there are fewer guards? Her design is terrible as well, it’s like if you took Nightmare Moon’s design bred it with a toothed insect and then used a paper puncher on it. I also, unfortunately, picked up a Little Mermaid vibe from the scene at the mirror during the song (there should be an eternal moratorium on villain songs) and Shining’s eyes being green, which does not help. The real killer is that she has a bland and generic personality and when you combine that with everything else, you have one of the worst characters to exist in this show. She wouldn’t even be worthy of a G1 episode. Maybe I’m a little biased because I had my own shape-shifting species planned for a fanfict and this pretty kills the logic of using them, but I found nothing enjoyable about the changelings.

    2. Then there were other parts like the Rainboom. Remember, back in season one there were only two instances when Dash did a Sonic Rainboom, once when she got her cutie mark and then to save a friend’s life. There was an emotional and character accomplishing part to it; it was supposed to mean something. But here it was cheapened like in Lesson Zero; she just pulls it off without a sweat. Wasn’t it supposed to be hard to do? And while I’m glad they didn’t need the elements of plot device, how they defeated the queen was worse, a stupid Deus ex Machina powered by a cliché (should have the queen yell “Curses, I’ve been defeated by the Power of Love” to complete it). Plus, if the shield is able to push all the changelings out, how did the queen get through in the first place? After all, it should originate with Shining and spread outward. If she snuck in as say through the train, then why didn’t she try that strategy with the rest of her kind or better yet, have him cancel the shield when you have him under mind control (it’s not rocket science, it’s common sense). The fight with the changelings was also out of place in the show (I was thought this was MLP, not PPG). And Celestia, I know you’re trying to be polite but when the villain is monologuing (why is this not a word), attack them. And is she really that weak? Either Shining’s love for Cadence is stronger than I’m willing to give credit for (and in which case, I would think he could tell the fake from the real, mind control or not) or Celestia is a bigger pushover than I can believe. And the good guys didn’t completely nullify the threat, just pushed away, probably across their borders. Ah, the motto of the Equestiran foreign policy, “Dumping our problems on our neighbors since 12 A.D. (After Discord).” But yeah, they’ll be back, unlike the other threats.

      Overall, this is a really poor (I’d say it was almost horrible, and that’s the lowest rating I can give) season closer. Honestly, if there was anything I liked, it was crushed under the weight of the bad. I didn’t like the Gala episode either but that episode was setup in the third episode and had a reminder of it later in the season. The Wedding did not have that besides Hasbro’s marketing (so it’s a short term one). If Shining and Cadence were shown earlier in Season 2 with a couple of episodes so we got used to them, their Wedding could have had an emotional connection for us. Then we would be happy for the two of them instead of needing Twilight to care for either. Cut out the villain as well; make the central conflict between Twilight, Shining, and Cadence and put the parents (why were they not at rehearsal and why did they not get any lines) as part of it as well. Or just make the wedding a case of Murphy’s Law gone extreme expect for the bride and groom still say “I do”; that would make it funny and still show the two loved each other a lot. I would have possibly liked that. Instead, I was treated to a bad Disney movie with new characters that were bland, a cliché and melodramatic idiot for a villain, and a message that is wrecked because love was shown to work even if it doesn’t involve emotional sincerity, which is to me the most important part about love in general and why it can be considered a special feeling between people, in the first place.

    3. I suppose the main reason I enjoyed the finale was because I wasn't expecting it to be any good to begin with, as I don't really disagree with anything you've said (except I loved the fight scene), I just don't feel as strongly about it. I imagine the main reason the finale's getting as much praise as it is is because of the pomp and circumstance surrounding it.

    4. I initially had the same problem with Cadence's (I refuse to spell her name with an "a") power. However, I later thought that she doesn't so much force love unto others as bring it out. She reminds ponies, as it were, of their love for each other. There's something beautiful about that, isn't there?

    5. Not in my book. Even then it's the manipulation of emotions that I object to. In the grand scheme of things, it's no better than any sort of mind control, because it's someone else controlling them.

      Honestly going in, I wasn't expecting much from this episode myself (although I refused to lower my standards while watching), but this was below even that.

    6. In my revised version:

      And I can't believe that I've halfway convinced myself to actually write out a novelization of "A Canterlot Wedding" incorporating all the fixes I've come up with--

      But in my version, Cadance works at Canterlot General Hospital as a combination psycotherapist and Prozac, helping disturbed and depressed ponies by using either the "talking cure" or giving them a little shot of her magic to regulate their seratonin levels--getting them to love themselves, as it were, so they can start reaching out to love other ponies.

      Because it's all about the overthinking. :)


  3. "I have no idea what to make of alicorns anymore."

    For the sake of not having Shining Armor grow old and die while Cadance remains youthful, I'm going to assume that Celestia and Luna's longevity has more to do with them being special in some way (maybe because they discovered the Elements of Harmony and defeated Discord the first time) than it has to do with them being alicorns. And I'm leaning towards calling the alicorn a rare magical birth mutation rather than a proper subspecies.

  4. You're far from the first to notice RD and Fluttershy's "kiss." I saw a video of it earlier. There's a gap between the two, however. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the animators planned it just to mess with us.

    As for the lifespan issues, maybe only some alicorns can live so long, or perhaps they can share their near immortality with one other pony, though doing so drains their own lives.

    Based on what little we know, I've come up with the following fan theory: Celestia and Luna are not typical alicorns. They are goddesses who founded the royal family, and "alicorn-ness" is passed on matrilineally (which is why Blueblood is merely a unicorn), but this does not grant those descendents immortality.

    Yes, pacing was an issue, much as it had been for Return to Harmony, which should have been a 3-parter. I felt the pilot worked pretty well with just the two. I'd love to see what the writers could do with a little more room. Perhaps a movie is in order?

    Unrelated to the episode: I want to thank you. Your reviews have been very helpful. I probably would have never read Memories if it wasn't for your review, and I'm loving It's a Dangerous Business so far, in spite of its flaws. So from the bottom of my heart, I thank you

    1. Yeah, the idea that alicorns can only be mares is pretty strong by this point. Someone also brought up the idea that the subspecies, if you will, is actually called "Princesses". Not only is 'alicorn' a fan invention, never said in the show, but Twilight (or someone, I forget) says a line like, "But you're a Princess; I'm just a regular unicorn", as though the two were of the same sort of classification, rather than political station and pony species.

    2. If you know your MLP, you would know there were princesses in the previous version, making me fear we have now reach the point of no return because the insistence that there were a group of ponies specifically known as Princesses was made as part of a move to make money out of toys showing these special ponies by showing them to be better than everyone else, and then ended with all the main characters turning into Princesses too.

      Draw your own conclusions based on the current line.

  5. So much world building to do. So little time.

  6. I actually sorta enjoyed it. I managed to miss the plotholes going through it the first time... and frankly, with Season 2 eps, I never really want to rewatch them, unless they involve the CMC. I thought this was a nice stab at a real villain, even if they introduced Shining Armor really poorly. If he and Twi hadn't been so close, I could excuse her never mentioning him, but now it's obvious that they thought him up late in the process.

    Still, I couldn't expect better from them for the time they had and the sort of story they were telling. The visuals were good, as always, and for the intended audience, this was pretty epic. Just... Pony as a whole can't make me excited anymore.

    1. Though it can make me mad. Though, even that ability is starting to go away. It may be time for me to pull up stakes and leave, if it goes past a third season. Residual goodwill from Season 1 will make me persist with a third season, just in case they do something cool like give Scootaloo an episode or have Discord return. But 65 episodes might be all the pony I want.

    2. Discord's definitely returning. John de Lancie's confirmed it

    3. When was that? Thus far, every comment from his has been actively avoiding any mention of who he has voiced.

  7. I was really hoping you were going to post this up today, Chris :)

    So...I'm going to kick off with the power-level issue. I think I may be the only person who isn't thrown off by the non-existant changes to Celestia's power level. Every single comment I have seen thus far appear to work on assumptions that are solely based in the fandom alone. I refer to earlier distain for 'god-like power' and such. The show never hints at that for even a second, it's just an assumption of a voratious fanbase. Celestia's no different now than in Episode 2.

    We still have no idea how winged unicorns are created, thus all bets on how their lives work are essentially, off. Cadence being Celestia's neice could be a symbolic title, or it could be literal. However, I'd say it makes it pretty clear that she's not on Celestia/Luna's level, since then she'd be a sister (figuratively), or coulsin (literally). The show demonstrates that we're seeing the new Princess mature at the rate of a normal pony, so there's little reason to suspect that it isn't just something that crops up now and again.

    As for it's more immediate effect on the story, I'd have to say that making her a winged unicorn (and yes, I refuse to use 'alicorn') for toy-manufacturing reasons, was a poor choice. Not that I bash it's necessaity for the parent company, by not only did it add absolutely ZERO to the story, but I felt it would have been actually BETTER if she'd been a unicorn. They already have a Prince Blueblood, so why not a unicorn Princess Cadence? Meh, whatever.

    That and I'm also in the 'you don't need to make Twilight even MORE special' camp. Princess as foal-sitter. Meh, I say, MEH!

    1. The story itself:

      Giant force field visible in the first scene. I guessed 70% of the plot from that scene alone. Maybe I got lucky, but evenything after that was riotously bland because the characters seemed to be acting dumb as a precursor to making the plot work. I mean, it's not like we aren't finishing season 2 of a show about friendship, wherein one episode in the same season was dedicated to twilight's friends taking a second to actually LISTEN to her when she's freaking out. No, as always, friendship lessons go out the window when plot calls.

      After that, the number of plot crowbars was staggereing. Staring with the very existence of Shining Armour, and to a lesser degree, other princesses, to the mass-neglect of anyone bothering to ask what the 'threat against Canterlot' actually was. Sloppy storytelling of the highest order.

      Let's try and rush through some stuff:
      Real-Cadence's power: Sickeningly creepy.
      Sonic Rainboom: Bad. Keep special...special!
      Bond-Villain: Kinda cool character, but lazily used.
      Fanservice: In fainess, kinda awesome.
      -Luna: Felt way too much like an aftertought for one of the fandom's best loved characters.
      -Lyra's voice: Win
      -Vinyl Scratch: Win
      -Party Cannon: Win
      -Same Shield Twilight Used: Continuity win (one of few)
      -AJ's fiddle: Win

      As for the fight scene..hmmm. Didn't like it. Well animated and everything, but setting the main characters up to win a heavily outnumbered fight? Aside from being a rather dodgy precedent, I thought it hurt the overall tone of the show. I was dissapointed enough when Twilight used an offensive spell at all, but again, devolving into a full on fight was tacky, in my opinion.

      The main 6 were sloppily used, and Pinkie felt horribly forced. That's usually my best character to judge the mindset of the writer, if you're using characters as plot crowbars, Pinkie is usually the first to go off the rails. Luckily, Rarity was actually behaving sensibly for once, but then she's the most aligned with the story's premise, so that makes sense.

      So there was plenty for me to enjoy, but I'd rate it as a bad episode overall. The power of love between two under-developted and wooden characters dos not a finale make. Sadly.

    2. You call them 'winged unicorns' and I think that's actually a very good idea. Aside from the fact that 'alicorn' has another meaning (though I recently saw someone quote a Piers Anthony novel where 'alicorn' was used to mean 'winged unicorn, which makes me wonder if that was at all generative of the fandom usage), if you think back to the pilot intro legend backstory, Celestia is said to have 'unicorn powers'. That wording has always bothered me, and is beginning to again with this latest episode.

      I think, as far as worldbuilding goes, the best thing that could have happened in this episode did: seeing Cadence as a teenager. She's obviously only a few years older than Twilight and has grown at a similar rate, suggesting at the very least that she was born, if not also that she will lack the standard alicorn longevity seen in the main (I hesitate to use 'actual') Princesses. I mean, that just wouldn't be fair to Shining Armor, right? And once again, I've forgotten where I was going with this.

    3. I pretty much work on the assumption that until otherwise evidenced, winged unicorns have no more or less magic than any unicorn. Celestia, and to a lesser degree Luna, are just older, and thus more practiced. I see no reason to assume that magical power isn't raised through use like any other mental, physical or emotional capacity. From that point of view, I cannot find any inconsistency in how the princesses have been portrayed. Fans are just weird :P

    4. Yeah, I can totally get behind that. Even if Celestia and Luna do have a greater amount of power (equivalent to at the magical ability of at least half the pre-Equestrian unicorn population), there's nothing that really says "able to raise sun and moon" is the same as "cannot be defeated by anything, ever". Celestia's powerful, yes, but most of her power is directed at one very specific thing: raising the sun.

    5. In reference to your Alicorn dilemma, look El Alicornio. It's a legend of Cantabria which expanded elsewhere slowly, but was then superseded by the definition of it being the horn.

      As for the power of the sisters, don't you guys find scary the amount of doublethink involved in all of these, how we are trying to justify actions by assuming things of said actions and then acting as though they were facts? I have seen fanon in other fandom, but it's getting quite worrisome at this point...

    6. Yep, that's why I try to ignore fanon as a matter of principal.

  8. re: Shining Armor not telling Twilight
    I saw this as a goofy meme on ponibooru, but seriously, what if the letter Garble threw in the lava was the announcement? That's still cutting it pretty close, but they do at least lampshade that Twilight and Shining haven't been in contact since she moved to Ponyville, i.e., since the start of the show.

    Thank you for pointing out the butts thing. Seriously, people, there have been butts since episode 1.

    re: Flutterdash kiss
    There is either some kind of noise in the episode or someone added it into the YouTube video (you and I no doubt saw the same one). I for one welcome our new shipping overlords and would remind the fandom of Hurricane Fluttershy's "You're gay?" "I'm gay!", which holds about as much water. :V Also don't forget Dash kissed AJ in Mare Do Well.

  9. Season 2: Making Lemonade

    Now, maybe this is unfair, but I lay the problems I've had with season 2 squarely on the shoulders of Jayson Thiessen. It's not really his fault, though: he just thinks like an art director rather than a writer, and handing the reins--sorry--of a show like this over to a non-writer leads to lovely pictures and extended sight gags like "The Cutie Pox"--10 minutes of story stretched over 22 minutes of program--and "Putting Your Hoof Down"--everyone in town is suddenly a jerk.

    All my problems with the stories could be easily solved, too: making the Cutie Pox communicable, for instance, would bring Apple Bloom from the heights of joy--she's given her friends their cutie marks, too!--to the depths of despair when it runs amok over the whole town, or simply establish that Iron Will is in town for a week and that everyone in the market had attended his seminar the night before. I have similar fixes for other episodes--maybe I should write out "novelizations" of the episodes this summer and submit them to EqD... :)

    With "A Canterlot Wedding," let's have Shining Armor tell Twilight in their first scene together that the wedding came as a surprise to him, too. He and Cadance got engaged just before these threats against Canterlot began turning up, so the two of them agreed to put the wedding on hold till after the threat could be dealt with. So when Cadance began insisting that the wedding take place immediately, Armor finally decided that it'd be easier to just do it since his whole role making the city's shield was wearing him out too much to argue with her. This then establishes that Queen Chrysalis--and I do love that name!--has only been impersonating Cadance for a couple days rather than the indefinite period of time we have in the script now.

    As for how the queen got through the shield, I'd say she came in through the caverns. That way, it'd be partially Armor's fault since he only extended his shield down the ground rather than in a complete sphere around the city. Chrysalis doesn't bring all the Changelings into the city this way, though, since her main goal is generating enough strong emotion to feed her subjects. So she wants the huge upwelling of fear that will result from the shield shattering. Making fear the Changelings' primary food source, too, would allow for the queen being surprised by her own power when she blasts Celestia. Chryssy just doesn't understand how much greater the power of love is, so she's completely unprepared for what Cadance and Armor conjure up there at the end.

    So, once again, the addition of a handful of lines to the script would've solved most of my problems with the story. That Megan McCarthy is being called the showrunner now rather than Jayson Thiessen actually fills me with hope for the 3rd season: with a writer in charge, maybe they'll return the focus to story points rather than admittedly cool visuals...


    1. I agree, and I think that's why it frustrates me, because the stories seem sloppy rather than just bad. I won't pretend I liked all of season 1, but it just seem so much more prevalent in the post-Faust era.

    2. For my money, they just need to ignore the bronies and focus on the core audience again. That's where they had their best moments. This isn't our show, it's the kids' show that happens to have elements we can enjoy. Pandering to us cheapens it for everyone.

    3. It's a fair point. I mean, there is plenty they can do for us, but I agree that it should always be secondary to a good story. That's what made season 1 fun, after all.

    4. I don't feel like there's been too much pandering. I mean, we got the Derpy scene (for all that was worth); it was a thank-you shoutout, and as far as I'm concerned, absolutely all that was necessary. :) Of course, not everyone is going to feel that way. :|

      But things like having Vinyl show up to fill a role: that's not pandering at all, since it's both unobtrusive and serves a purpose. That kind of thing I wouldn't mind seeing more of, if only because it keeps things consistent in-world.

    5. I'm referring to plot elements like, say, the characters repeatedly going insane this season. Even beyond what we saw in Season 1.

      "They liked Party of One! More insanity! MORE!"

      So we get my personal season 2 jumping the shark moment, the Fluttershy/Bear fight. That wasn't for the kids at home. That was for the bronies.

      (I should note that Party of One and Putting Your Hoof Down were my least favorite episodes of the season).

    6. I think that is just your bias speaking. There are plenty of examples of Twilight going insane in season 1 - her first reaction to the whole Nightmare Moon thing for instance. It is a character trait that can't be ignored.

      Also, the development cycle itself proves you wrong. Lesson Zero must have been written well before Party of One even aired. It is an animated show, so short of small shout-outs or scenes that don't really affect the story, we couldn't have seen anything like that in season 2. Yes, if they start pandering to the older audience explicitly in season 3 it could get a little bit strange. But this is not what is happening in season 2 at all.

      I feel that many bronies are simply tired of the show after the first season, and are viewing it with undeserving nostalgia.

    7. Well, then that's almost worse. They went back to the insanity well too many times without that excuse. And I'm not saying that there was no insanity before those episodes, though you're right to correct me on the timing. It just felt like the characterization suffered a lot this season, and I do strongly suspect that bear scene wasn't meant for the 4-8 crowd.

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    9. "They liked Party of One! More insanity! MORE!"

      "So we get my personal season 2 jumping the shark moment, the Fluttershy/Bear fight. That wasn't for the kids at home. That was for the bronies."

      Wasn't it mentioned that most of S2 was done before the brony phenomenon? If so, I doubt that Studio B would have the desire, permission or resources to shoehorn an entirely new episode into S2, just for the sake of "pandering".

    10. I don't know if you can really say the bear thing was a shoutout. Well, you pretty much can't say what was or wasn't in at least the first half of the season without asking someone on the team.

      That said, Party of One was great because it expanded on a character in a humorous manner. Putting Your Hoof Down I enjoyed because I believe that beneath Fluttershy's calm surface is a raging torrent of anger waiting to be released, but I can understand that not everyone believes that, which is why it seems to be unpopular.

      Then there's Lesson Zero, which I rank as the second worst episode in the season. Twilight had better freakouts in season 1 (I always go back to her scale model of Ponyville freak in Swarm of the Century), so it wasn't adding anything to her character. If anything, it took away from her character by virtue of destroying her faith in Celestia and showing that she's willing to make things worse just to get her way. Not to mention it started the season's "we're your friends but we're going to discount everything that you say until shit hits the fan" trend that was carried through to the finale. And yet most fans count LZ among their favorite episodes; that I do not understand.

    11. If you care more about wacky shenanigans than character consistency, I can see why.

      Well, that's not fair. A close brony friend of mine likes it because he relates to Twilight's personality. And yes, it's an example of the insanity portion of her personality. Since I don't like that part of her, the freakout doesn't work for me.

      And I have less issue with Fluttershy being a cauldron of anger than the way in which it was expressed. The episode just about killed her for me, since it's one thing to be angry; it's another thing to apparently think the things she thought about Pinkie and Rarity all along.

    12. I really like Lesson Zero - it is in my top 5 for sure, and it is mainly because of Twilight's characterization. The "wacky shenanigans" are just a nice added bonus, but I can't really say that there is really anything too out there.

      The whole thing works in the way of confronting her less pleasant character traits, like her OCD-levels need for organization and protocol, her need for acceptance - consequences be damned, her tendency to over think situations and her certainty to always be right. You combine all these with the whole deadline issue, and you get a very believable character breakdown.

      All of the mane 6 have some kind of psychological issue that defines them - Rainbow is very insecure, and boasts as overcompensation, AJ wants to take all the world in her shoulders, Pinkie is very self-serving (even her need to make others smile comes from how happy it makes her), Rarity is a perfectionist and tends to over-blow situations, and Fluttershy is just a psychoanalyst nightmare. Many of the critiques of episodes seem to come more from dislike of these traits than the writing itself, but that is very unfair, you can't really say you like some character without accepting the bad with the good. Also, negative traits tend to help storytelling.

    13. "A close brony friend of mine likes it because he relates to Twilight's personality."

      Strangely, I'm pretty sure my distaste of Twilight in that episode is for the very same reason.

  10. Can someone please direct me to more information about Meghan McCarthy? According to a comment above she's going to be "the showrunner" for season three, but I can't find any information on that. Also, according to Wikipedia she wrote these episodes, and I'm honestly worried for the future if she was directly responsible for the Swiss-cheese plot, Twilight being the only Mane-6 who mattered, and RD's effortless Sonic Rainboom.

    1. She first worked with:

      Lauren Faust on the series "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends," but more importantly for this discussion, she wrote "Dragonshy," "Call of the Cutie," "Green Isn't Your Color," "Party of One," "Lesson Zero," "Sweet and Elite," and "Hearts and Hooves Day." This information comes from her page at

      As for references to her as "showrunner," I'll send you to this item from EqD which quotes the schedule for last weekend's L.A. Times Festival of Books as well as this item which has video of that presentation.


    2. She wrote Lesson Zero (effectively tied for my least favorite) and Hearts and Hooves Day (my current favorite). I have no idea how I expect her to perform as showrunner.

    3. And she wrote A Canterlot Wedding. Personally, I think her hits have outweighed her misses (the latter having come only in season 2), and for the reasons listed above (having a writer helm the show instead of an art director), I'm taking this as a positive note.

      I also wonder if there isn't going to be a new showrunner every season because the old one burns out. :/

    4. I also wonder if there isn't going to be a new showrunner every season because the old one burns out.

      There might be:

      Something to this. Poking around for Ms. McCarthy's "curiculum vitae" above, I found that Rob Renzetti, the man no one ever talks about when it comes to MLP but whose name appears at the beginning of every episode as "story editor," resigned last year shortly after Lauren Faust left--this is according to his Wikipedia page.

      So it looks like the two main story people quit the show after giving preliminary approval to the season 2 scripts, which would've left no one as "head writer" during the bulk of the actual production process...

      Mike Again