So, I'm not really a comic book guy. It's just never something I got into. But I have seen a fair number of comic book (i.e. superhero) movies, either with friends who were excited for this or that movie to come out, or on TV while flipping channels and looking for a diversion. As a group, I've found that those movies aren't particularly to my taste, but there have been a few that I've enjoyed, and plenty more that were at least watchable. By far the most painful superhero movie I've ever had to sit through, however, was The Avengers.
I've gotten in trouble for saying that before, so let me back up and explain that I don't think The Avengers was a bad movie, particularly, but that various things conspired to make it an absolute burden to watch. First, there were the expectations; before going to see it, I was told time and again that it was the best superhero movie ever, one that even people who didn't like superhero movies would love, it was directed by the guy that did Firefly, etc. Second, there was the fact that it was a sequel to five different movies, of which I had only seen one (Iron Man) at that point.
I refuse to take the blame for not having seen the others, by the way; nothing in the movie's advertising, or the recommendations I was getting, suggested that this movie was intended only for people who'd caught all of its forerunners, most of which weren't even advertised as necessary preludes. If I go to see Spider Man 3, then I've got no leg to stand on if I complain about not knowing I needed to see the first two. But The Avengers (and my friends) didn't even give me fair warning that I was already supposed to know who Samuel L. Jackson was before I came into the theater.
There are plenty more reasons, but those aren't the ones that tie into the point I'm ever-so-slowly getting to. See, the thing that absolutely killed me about the movie was the battle toward the end. It killed me because there's a stretch of, like, 20 minutes*--everything between when the bad guys start pouring through the rift, and when one of the good guys (I think it was the girl) realizes they've got to get the thingamabob from the top of the skyscraper--that could have been excised, in its entirety, without damaging the film in any way. You wouldn't need to change a single line! There's plenty more fighting after that to establish out heros' butt-kicking credentials (and more importantly, they have at least one "learn to work together" moment after that, so we're still getting a resolution on that front), there's no relevant dialogue in that section, nobody who matters gets hurt, gets important character development, or gets anything else of note, and... well, and basically nothing happens except a bunch of semi-incomprehensible CGI, devoid of even the suggestion of plot relevance or character exploration.
You may not agree with that analysis--in my experience, few people do--but the dramatic climax (not the plot climax, which involved rainbows and eye torture) of Twilight's Kingdom disappointed me for basically the same reason that the battle in The Avengers did. When the dramatic peak of the episode is a full two minutes of explosions with no obvious function (other than to blow up the tree, I guess? Truthfully, it didn't even occur to me to care about that one until I read a few other people's reviews. I was too busy wondering if Owlowycious was just getting to safety, or if he just got written out of the show in the most hilariously tangential way ever)... I'll be honest, my eyes glazed over about halfway through, and I never quite got back into the episode. Two minutes (and I did time that one) is a long time--a full tenth of an episode, dedicated to nothing worth mentioning.
But there was a bigger problem as regards my ability to enjoy the episode: there was almost nothing here that I liked. I mean, okay, Celestia sang again (another mediocre song, but I'm pretty sure I could listen to her VA chant a grocery list and be enraptured (though while I'm on the subject, what was up with the animation on her mouth while she was singing?)), Tirek was memorable for a villain, and Discord had some good physical comedy, but I'm talking about the things that got me into this show in the first place: low-key conflicts, an earnest, uncloying sincerity, and the refreshingly unaggressive aesthetic. Not every episode had all of those things, but not only does the finale not have them, it seems to me that it signals a turn away from those themes. Perhaps that's necessary; I've heard people comment that there are only so many SoL conflicts the girls can have without repeating themselves (though we certainly haven't reached that points yet), and establishing Twi and company as
But the thing is, it's a lot of new options for a show I'm not sure I want to watch. The overwhelming feeling I had while watching Twilight's Kingdom was "there's nothing (well, no deal-breaking thing) wrong with this episode, except that I'm not enjoying it." It could have been an episode of Transformers, or Spongebob, or of any other show I don't care about. It looked like a generic children's show to me, absent any of the qualities which drew me to MLP specifically.
I mean, it's not like I'm going to stop watching the show over this. But there have been times in the last two seasons when watching the show felt like a chore; something mildly annoying that you have to make time for once a week so that you can keep doing the fun things, like reading, writing, reviewing, and taking in the other fruits of the fandom. I get the impression that a lot of fandoms based on TV shows end up this way, but it's a new experience for me; my previous fan-interactions were all based on books, and all on books that I loved. The fandom was me desiring more of what I loved about those books. This isn't something I've had to deal with, before.
I know I'm jumping around here, but man, I was disappointed with how the Discord thing went down. I thought for sure that either he was playing the long game, or that Fluttershy was going to remind him about how wonderful friendship is. Instead, it seems he was legitimately going evil until Tirek yanked that chair out from under him, which is so much less interesting than the former and less thematically powerful than the latter. Also, does giving up your alicorn power "in the name of friendship" really count if you know it's going to get you the key that will let you defeat the baddy? I mean, Twilight had to know, and a sacrifice where you already know you're getting back more than you give up isn't really a sacrifice at all.
Look, this wasn't a bad episode the way that, say, Bats! was. It may well have been the strongest two-parter to date. But it was a disappointment to me, because it sure looks like it portends a season five with less and less of the stuff I care about, and more of the stuff I don't. And even when we do get the "little" episodes--I'm sure we'll get yet another one next year where Dash ditches the Wonderbolts because she's loyal, and yet another episode where Fluttershy learns to be assertive--they won't be the quiet triumphs and tribulations that I most enjoyed. They'll be set against the backdrop of RAINBOW DASH and FLUTTERSHY: FRIENDSHIP DEITIES, and the lessons will have to be tailored to that level of relevance or else they'll just be asinine. That's fine, as far as the show's concerned. But it's not what I, personally, want out of the show.
The finale was fine, as far as such things go. But after watching it, I can't say I'm particularly sad to have a few months off from the show. This is the most indifferent I've felt at the end of a season.
*Okay, if I watched it again and timed it out it would probably be more like six or something, but it felt like an eternity. 20 minutes is my good-faith but probably high estimate.