Today's post was going to be my next fanfic review. I had the header all typed up, even. It was going to say, "I don't have anything to say about the newest episode, because I couldn't think of a single thing I liked about it."
But dangit, I do want to say a few things about it. Also, I eventually realized there was one thing that I liked about the episode (one thing specific to this episode, that is--any praise which could apply to every episode of MLP I'm taking as a given). So, click down below the break if you want some slightly after-the-fact Bats!-themed venting.
-Okay, let's start with the part I liked: Pinkie Pie. She's a tough character to write well--the line between "goofy" and "annoying" is a thin one, and sometimes seemingly nonexistent--but I thought this was one of her better episodes in terms of balancing silliness with not being a distraction. The drill gag was a little much for me, but other than that she was the one thing about this episode that got me to grin.
-Okay, I grinned at Spike lampshading his uselessness, too, but then I retracted it when I thought about the comic-book episode which this one follows. You know, the one all about Spike not being completely useless. Was this episode originally intended to occur before it, or was this just a case of poor planning/poor synergy between scriptwriters?
-Speaking of poor synergy with other episodes: Bats! was full of shoutouts, callbacks, and continuity... and basically all of it was wrong. The most obvious being that The Stare™ is now something Fluttershy can do on command, but which she only uses for emergencies--both in flat contradiction to previous canon. Then there's Dash going from would-be cider enthusiast to painfully addicted cider junkie (InquisitorM mentioned once that, having previously been unaware that non-alcoholic cider was a thing (crazy Brits), the Super Cider Squeezy 6000 episode looked rather different to him than the writers probably intended. I can only wonder what he made of this one), Applebuck season vs. Applebucking day, Fluttershy's back to being a doormat (I say this every time we get a "Fluttershy is a doormat" episode, but how many times can she learn the same dang lesson before it starts to stick?), etc. This speaks to either a distressing lack of interest on the show writer's part, or a disturbingly low assessment of the audience. And I'm not talking about us "periphery demographic"-types, either: this show is aimed at eight year old girls, and apparently Merriwether Williams doesn't think they know or care what happened in the show less than a year ago. There's a big difference between having little or limited continuity (which the show does semi-regularly, and which, while annoying for fanfic writers and show theorists generally, is perfectly acceptable for this kind of show) and going out of your way to bring something up, only to ignore it anyway.
-That song was awful. It was clearly too low for the primary voices involved, resulting in an inappropriate-to-the-song's-tone breathiness and a just-plain inappropriate lack of precision (Ingram's been writing music for these people for three years; shouldn't he have a better idea of their vocal ranges by now?), and lacked any sort of direction. I think the main problems wer the (lack of) endings for musical phrases, and poor rhythm-word synergy; contrast this song with the conceptually similar Find a Pet, which has strong phrase endings (emphasized by musical flourishes) and matches word stress to diction extremely well. This song was an interminable muddle, with stressed words often seeming almost random.
-I HATE POINTLESS STINGER ENDINGS. I HATE THEM. I HATE THEM SO VERY, VERY MUCH. Let's be honest, there's better than a 99% chance that Fluttershy's still being part(?) vampony will never be mentioned again, in which case the choice of closing scene was... arg, I don't even have words for it. It's just cheap shock pablum, not even shocking anymore because it's so overdone, the only effect of which is to negate or at least mitigate any resolution and to damage continuity with future episodes because it's never again addressed. And, on the off-chance that this is mentioned again, I have exactly zero faith based on this episode that this subsequent appearance will justify the narrative harm caused by the stinger ending.
-God, I hate pointless stinger endings so much! This kind of garbage is why I watch so little TV! If this was a fanfic I'd downvote it and probably leave a nasty comment just because of the ending. Okay, not just because of the ending... but damn, if there was ever a time when these endings worked on shows with more than zero continuity, it's long since past. This is the sort of junk I expect from a SyFy original movie.
-I understand they're trying to create a conflict, but how can Fluttershy possibly fail economics and ecology so hard? I mean, it's like an episode of Captain Planet, only instead of the villain being so ridiculous that you can enjoy it for the camp, the "feed the pest species your primary crop and... its numbers will magically decline and you'll somehow be even better off than if you just drove them off?" strategy is contrasted with what's actually a quite reasonable counterproposal.
-This is by far the low point of season four (so far) for me. I can take comfort in the fact that at least the moral wasn't awful, but literally everything else (except Pinkie) was a disappointment. The characters were flat and one-dimensional, the conflict arbitrary and poorly resolved, the song an utter waste of the talents of everyone involved, the pacing abysmal, and God dammit I hate pointless stinger endings!