Carrot Top and her little sister competed in the derby last year, but after a biased (and suspiciously Apple-centric) judging panel denied the Orange Arrow its rightful victory in the Most Traditional competition, she vowed never to have anything to do with the race, ever again. On the day of the derby, her friend Lily dropped by and asked if she wanted to go. After patiently listening for twenty minutes while Carrot Top detailed exactly why she would never be seen within a country mile of the stupid thing, Lily nonchalantly mentioned that Applejack and her sister were racing this year. "Apropos of nothing," Lily added, putting her word-a-day calendar to good use, "did you know that some ponies go to races just to see the crashes?"
This may not have been Carrot Top's proudest moment, but it certainly gave her a chance to put her word-a-day calendar to use: shadenfreude wasn't something she woke up that morning expecting to be able to work into a conversation, but life's funny like that sometimes.
Saturday's episode didn't have any Carrot Top, either--but, seeing as it's the long-awaited "so, what's the deal with Changelings, anyway?" episode, I had a few things to say about it. Head below the break for some straight-up opinionatin'.
-First opinion: too little Carrot Top.
-Okay, okay, for real: I didn't have terribly high hopes for this episode, but still found it disappointing. That doesn't have very much to do with the particular interpretation of changelings which the show writers opted for, but mostly with how all the ponies reacted to Spike's song. Let's start with changelings, though! Obviously, we've lost a lot of favored headcanons: hiveminds, tragic misunderstandings (at the cultural level, that is, not the individual one), and more are all definitively un-canon. We can probably also infer that ectothermism is out (Thorax seems to move around pretty well in the show and ice; he must be warm-blooded, or have some way to regulate his temperature), as is the idea that feeding on love destroys or degrades that love, or negatively affects the pony drained (at least, nobody seems concerned about side effects, to the point where Cadence is shoving her baby in his face) and that shapeshifting requires much, if any, energy (Thorax can cycle through several forms without difficulty, despite being on the brink of starvation). What we got is basically "Changelings are funny looking ponies that can chose not to be funny looking (and/or be inanimate objects) and who
-Which brings us to Thorax: the only good changeling. Okay, there may be other ones, but the picture that he paints is pretty unambiguous: changelings as a group are evil from birth, with himself as an exceptional, possibly unique counterexample. That's not exactly uncommon in fiction, but the problem with it being used here is that Thorax isn't just trying to get in the Crystal Empire's good graces; he's trying to get rid of the stigma of being a changeling. That stigma is entirely justified and reasonable, the episode seems to tell us; this unusual creature notwithstanding, changelings are vicious, nasty little buggers whom you definitely shouldn't trust. The answer to the rhetorical question Spike asks is clear: we "can't we imagine a changeling can change" because Thorax wasn't a bad guy who reformed; he's an unexplained outlier who was apparently good all along. That being the case, the ponies as a group should absolutely keep distrusting changelings. Making nice with Thorax specifically would be another matter, but Spike doesn't really make that case--he's busy asking why we can't just accept a changeling on his word.
-Be all that as it may, though, I still found everyone's acceptance of Spike's friendship absolutely baffling, because... well, the ponies don't seem to know much about changelings (nopony at the Royal Wedding back in season two seemed to know what one was, anyway), but the one thing they absolutely do know is that changelings can mindrape you. I mean, Shining Armour is standing right there while Spikes doing his ballad, and he was personally subject to a mind-affecting spell cast by a changeling. So why is everyone so confident that Thorax didn't just make Spike come stand up for him? This is the kind of thing that makes me honestly wonder of the writers of this episode are actually familiar with the show, or if they just read the cliff's notes and said "Hey, there're shape-changers? We can work with that."
-As for the song itself: it was fine, though I thought it went rather long. Or perhaps it was just the visual repetition; we see Spike making the same few gestures at the same few ponies (and blank background) a lot, which might have affected my impression. Perfectly pleasant ballad other than that, if not something catchy or terribly memorable. A lot of people didn't seem to like it as well, but honestly, everypony's blind acceptance in the face of what little they actually know to be true was what bugged me a lot more than the tune.
-One thing I'll definitely say in this episode's favor: Glimmer didn't play a big role. Still not on board with this "bonus main character" thing, and the fact that she nearly disappeared after the first few minutes was nice.
-All in all, this episode didn't have nearly enough of my favorite background pony, and also had a incomprehensible moral (don't pre-judge, even if a race is literally evil from birth! Believe your friends, even if you know someone might be forcing them to lie to you against their will!). Oh well, maybe next week will have something more to my taste! In the meantime, though, pour one out for poor Maxilla; it took almost four years, but she's finally been definitively jossed.