Monday, October 24, 2016

Episode Talk: S6E25-26, To Where and Back Again

Okay, now that I've had a couple of days to bask in the goodwill borne of longevity, it's time to squander it all by complaining about the show!  That, or praising the parts you (yes, you) didn't like.  Which will it be this week?  You'll have to read to find out!  Only one thing is certain when Chris starts talking episodes: there will be at least one screenshot of Carrot Top.

Here we see Carrot Top and Berry Punch chatting as Starlight and Trixie return to Ponyville.  Berry's in the middle of describing to Carrot Top how, while walking home from the bar last night, she observed a swarm of changelings descend upon the town, abduct several of the community's most prominent members, and fly off to parts unknown carrying the screaming Twilight and company and leaving behind several of their own number in disguise.  Carrot Top, in turn, observes that changelings aren't exactly the most subtle of species, but that it could be worse.  The fact that Twilight's shenanigans rarely result in the town being destroyed these days is a step up, at least.  Both agree that the whole situation will probably sort itself out by tomorrow.

Later in the day, the two of them went to each of the "main six" in turn, demanding the fifty bits back which "we totally loaned you last week."  

Episode thoughts, below the break.

Unfortunately, this was mostly another "eh" episode for me, with a few moments of "are you kidding me" sprinkled in amongst them.

I've been thinking about the "eh" thing the last few weeks--as I mentioned a little while ago, it's been my reaction to the last few episodes, but I don't think the problem is that I'm sick of pony (I still like the old episodes, there are still things in the episodes I like, etc.).  I think a lot of it comes down to setting.

One of the big draws of early FiM was the setting: Equestria was a unique fantasy world in many ways, and early episodes like Winter Wrap-Up, Fall Weather Friends, and the like explored the way in which the denizens of Equestria interacted with their land.  Other episodes explored this in a more subtle way--I'm highlighting a couple of the most obvious examples, here--and collectively they helped flesh out a milieu that was both fantastical and original.

The more recent episodes simply haven't done that.  Either their setting contributions are cookie-cutter (the bunyip a few weeks back is the definition of generic outside of "loves cucumber sandwiches," which is... well, it's not exactly a vibrant contribution to the land of Equestria, is what I'm saying.  Compare to, say, the cockatrice, which managed to be more original and organic despite being fundamentally more derivative to begin with), or have been left unexplored.  The latter is my issue with a lot of the changeling land stuff today.  A castle/hive that literally changes should be a brilliant addition to lore... but instead, we see doors open and close a few times after its first mentioned, and then the entire concept is promptly ignored.  How easy would it be to make the changelings' ability to move freely through a castle that none of the heroes (except Thorax) can navigate?  Incredibly!  Likewise, the throne ends up being a mere plot device--when the entire journey is built around "get to the throne and destroy it," the fact that nothing is done with the throne (history, crucial foreshadowed weakness or vulnerability (not "Thorax told us the weakness," mind--foreshadowed),narrative importance to its destruction beyond "plot device reasons, all of the above...) terribly disappointing to me.

Meanwhile, characters were a mixed bag for me.  I still can't really enjoy Starlight as a character, especially anything that references her past (like going back to Our Town), because it just calls attention to the fact that her redemption didn't work.  I mean, I didn't like the way Twilicorn was handled at the end of S3, but it didn't change any of the characters' personalities, so it hasn't been a show-ruining experience for me going forward.  But Starlight's redemption did change her, the main six, and apparently her old minions in terms of attitude and outlook, and it remains a hurdle to enjoying seeing her onscreen that I can't quite seem to clear.

On the plus side, Discord is great!  Trixie... I'd have liked her less whiny and more haughty, but her and Discord were great trading barbs.  Thorax was a plot device not a character, so he doesn't count.  That's not an insult--there's nothing wrong with a secondary character being nothing but a plot device.  Though as it happens, I think he was a bad plot device, which brings me to the ending.

Here's the thing: I like the idea that "if changelings could learn to share love, they would never go hungry again."  It's a great ironic twist, and could tell us a lot about how changelings view themselves.  But, you know, it only works in two scenarios: one, if it's so unthinkable/impossible for changelings to do that it's never happened before, or two, if it does happen on a semi-regular basis (but presumably is aggressively "addressed" by the queen and the other changelings).  Instead, the show gave us a world where "sharing love" is something anyling can do with minimal effort simply by being told to try it, and somehow, this is a shocking, new development.  This incredibly obvious, so-easy-it-probably-could've-happened-by-accident thing just never came to pass until a few ponies showed up and it was narratively convenient for them.

That's my biggest issue with the episode, really, and it's where my "are you kidding me" moments all come from: things just happening because that's what the narrative requires, without the slightest consideration for common sense.  I'm not even talking about stuff like Chrysalis expositing her evil plan to the faux-main six for no reason other than so Starlight can hear it--that I can at least pass off as storytelling shorthand.  I'm talking about the changelings being able to simultaneously capture a dozen or more of the most important ponies in Equestria, despite their continued incompetence when it comes to blending in (between Cadence, Spike and the main six, we're now eight-for-eight on "changelings are totally unable to act remotely like the ponies they're mimicking), never mind the complexity of pulling off a heist with that many moving parts and opportunities for exposure in the first place.  About "sharing love" being as quick, simple, and absolute as flicking a lightswitch.  About Thorax digivolving transforming into a king because... he went first?  Whatever, because he's the only changeling whose name we know besides Chrysalis, that's all the reason that's needed for him to ascend to royalty.  Never mind the logic of it--it's what the narrative demands, therefor it will happen, and that is reason enough.

And let's not even touch the issue of changeling agency.  Every member of the species (or at least, every single one in the castle, it appears) instantly chooses the "flip your species" route?  I wish we could have at least had three or four lines of uncertain back-and-forth from a few changelings first--something to suggest that any of them put a modicum of thought into this, or were exercising their free will rather than simply reacting and/or following orders.

Looking back on the season, my feelings are similar towards it as they were towards season three.  There were a few bad episodes, a bunch of okay ones, and a few that I liked... but nothing that's going to be make my short list of favorites.  After season five, which felt like an improvement, that's a disappointment to me--especially when there were a lot of episodes in there that, in the abstract, I feel like I should have liked more than I did.

Maybe the bloom really is off the rose.  Or maybe the show's as good as ever, and I'm just not seeing it the way I used to.  Whatever the case, this episode at least doesn't have me feeling particularly nervous going into next season--that's nice!  I guess we'll see what comes next, after enjoying a long hiatus fanfic-reading break.  That is why they have these gaps between seasons, right?


  1. Although I haven't got as far as season six, I sympathize with you, Chris, regarding the issue over recent seasons. During the ending of season five, I reached a point where I stopped watching the show at all because I wasn't finding it as enjoyable or interesting as it used to be.

    I don't know why that happened, but I have plenty of hypotheses. The most reasonable-seeming one to me is that it was "death by a thousand cuts"; more and more small things piled up that I didn't like or didn't care for or didn't agree with, and eventually it crossed a line into "diminishing returns" territory.

    For instance, I've never particularly enjoyed the show's "redeemed villains" trend from season three onwards, not because I oppose the theory but because nearly every time it's used, it's too rushed and used as an easy and unconvincing solution to a conflict. Also, I was deeply unimpressed by the way the Cutie Mark Crusaders' storyline concluded in season five. Their episodes were always favourites of mine. And during a stylistic rehash of Magical Mystery Cure, no less!

    Then, there was how they mishandled Twilight's ascension in arguably the worst episode of the entire series, how the Equestria Games ended on an anti-climax, how the worldbuilding started to feel like someone just shrugged and said "anything goes", how they replaced the humble and iconic library with that gaudy castle and the sentient map...

    That said, I don't rule out nostalgia. Revisiting the first season alone, I used to remember Applebuck Season being more entertaining than it actually was, though rewatching it was still harmless enough. Also, I swear Swarm of the Century was less irritating the first time I watched it, whereas now I'd prefer to skip it; Pinkie's "hilarious" antics really get on my nerves in that one. To be fair, I also enjoyed Boast Busters more when I revisited it, and a few months back I rewatched some of season four and found new favourite episodes to add to my list.

    Of course, there's always the possibility that the show really has gone down a slope, at least for your palate. I think the only way to even start testing that assertion for sure would be to watch all the seasons in a week-long marathon and give each episode a sporting chance. That way, you should quickly notice any trends and changes that affect your overall experience. At the very least you might be able to "measure" any long-term decline of enjoyment.

    Man, I feel for ya, though. It's not encouraging to think a show you remember with fondness might have passed its prime.

    Maybe it's a sign to take a hiatus and see if there's another show you'd prefer? I did that between seasons three and four, and that's how I became a fan of the Avatar series.

    "I guess we'll see what comes next, after enjoying a long hiatus fanfic-reading break. That is why they have these gaps between seasons, right?"

    I don't rule out the possibility. :)


    As someone who grew up watching Digimon, I am pleased by this.

  2. >anyling


    Chris I expected more from you :C

    1. Not as bad as "anybuggy," which I have seen used with deadly seriousness.

  3. It's obvious that Starlight is just Harber/Miller OC self- insert, this episode is like a mediocre fanfic in which their poorly written self-insert saves the day.

    And like all self-inserts she's going to become the new protagonist, mark my words.

  4. I got to thinking last night about old seasons versus new ones while I was struggling to fall asleep. Part of the issue for me is the difference in tone. There were two Benny Hill chase scenes in the first season, yet I can't picture them doing one in the more recent episodes. There weren't any in Season 2, either, but they wouldn't have felt out of place

    It's been almost three weeks since I watched the finale, and it wasn't a terribly memorable one, so I can't say much about it. I don't recall hating Discord, so that's an improvement. I could buy that sharing love was so totally alien to the changelings' mindset that they'd never think of it themselves, but then it shouldn't have been so easy to get them to try it. They'd have to learn how to share first

  5. "...'if changelings could learn to share love, they would never go hungry again.' It's a great ironic twist,..."

    I will take that as a compliment, thank you. ;)

    Seriously, though.... Even though I enjoyed the episode a great deal more than you did, I hated the ending. It's not just the improbability of every single changeling abandoning their old ways to become clown bugs. It's the Death of Changelings. They were great antagonists, and now they're colorful background... things.

    Some people have pointed out that Chryssy could spawn more of them. So what? You only have to mention the sharing love thing and they'll convert. No problem.

    The loss of the changelings has made Equestria a less magical place.

  6. Honestly? This feels like "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" all over again. Over here and to a certain extent on Fimfiction there was a good deal of criticism. In the fandom at large, it was a massively popular episode. I know conventions aren't exactly the best place to gauge considered opinion, but the same seems to have happened with this one.

    As for me? I think the finale had obvious flaws and was immense fun. I think I, and I guess therefore a lot of other fans, must just not be as discerning/picky as many of the people who post here. And if you're Hasbro, a few discerning fans is no good. You want lots and lots and lots of toy-buyers. This will get those, so it's a win for them, so things like it will happen again.

  7. Honestly, the finale didn't really do it for me either. I've been feeling much the same as you, Chris. This season has been supremely forgettable overall, and there were points where I basically was forcing myself to watch the newest episode just to stay in the loop. It's sad, but I think the way the show is going, it's losing a lot of what made it great before. They've started playing it safe by redeeming every villain even when it's not satisfying narratively.

    I think Impossible Numbers has it right up there. Death of a thousand cuts where stuff like Glimmer's entire character arc feels empty because of how her redemption wasn't earned or how the mane six have been shafted out of the spotlight for their own finale by tertiary characters like Discord and Thorax.

  8. Huh. There's a character limit on these comments.

    1. Let me preface this by saying I haven't kept up on episodes since the start of season 6. But I did just watch To Where and Back Again so I could comment.

      I'll start with some side notes and nitpicks.

      Twilight stuck her neck out for Discord in the season 4 finale. While I could understand it before then, Discord's continued focus on Fluttershy to the exclusion of all others is beginning to feel indirectly self-serving.

      Also, the show seems to have... well not so much tall poppy syndrome as a crisis poppy lawnmower. Whenever a major problem arises, every pony beyond a certain competence level (usually just above the protagonist of the day) is rendered completely useless. I half suspect that when they changelings showed up they found the mane 6 hogtied from an Apple family rodeo incident. I mean, I try to ignore it, but the consistency with which the most competent ponies in Equestria get bested does bother me.

      On that note, Twilight's face at the end was priceless. Her student was describing how she saved the day despite what should be impossible odds while Twilight and company were utterly useless.
      Twilight just looked like: "Is this what it feels like to be Celestia?"
      And all I could think was: "Congratulations, Twilight. You're a real princess now."

      And then there's Chrysalis's escape. There were telekinesis users, shield spell casters, a teleporter, and the fastest mare alive, and they all just let Chrysalis fly away. At least make an excuse for it. Just having her leave through a hole that closes after her would be something.

      But enough about that. On to my real complaints, and the potential decline of the show. I have four points I want to touch on. I think they are each really important to the show, and I think all of them have been getting weaker with time.

      1. Ponies are Respectful and Kind toward each other.

      I really liked how the ponies finding it within themselves to greet, thank, listen to, and otherwise show some concern for one another was such a constant of the early episodes. It's one of the reasons I fell in love with the show. And yet it's not present in this episode. What is present is 1) the opening scene with Twilight and Starlight which feels like a mix of lazy, telly recap and overblown instruction on how to behave 2) ah... am I missing some context here? It looks like Trixie is holding a grudge against Twilight and is tormenting her with Starlight's obliviousness. If this is unintentional, then it is the sort of lack of attention to emotional detail that you will not find in season 1. If it is intentional, then it does not fit with the tone of Equestria. The only excuse is if it is an ongoing plot arch to be resolved, which, admittedly, I would not know about, but it did not look like that to me. And 3) Lots of bickering between the episode's characters. I'll make allowances for stress, but it was treated so offhandedly. No apology; no reconciliation that acknowledges that the bickering might have hurt feelings. It wasn't horrible, but it suggests to me that interpersonal respect is less of a focus than it used to be.

    2. 2. Character Development. It's more than just circumstance change.

      And Rainbow Dash says to Starlight Glimmer: "Trust me. You are a totally different pony now."
      Yea, Rainbow Dash said that. In this episode. Does... does she read our criticisms? Does Equestria have access to our internet? Am I writing this on her behalf?

      You never heard that.

      But I agree Starlight Glimmer does not act in a way that's believable for a pony with her history. This is all the more frustrating because her character seems to be about how she can relate to other villains (Chrysalis) / ex-villains (Luna), and how she supposedly does not want to lead, on account of once leading evilly. But beyond that, she is an utterly bland character. If you asked me to describe everything I know about her without mentioning her appearance, role, or history, I would struggle to put two sentences together, as opposed to the half-page I could write on any of the main 6. Given that, I'm not surprised her redemption doesn't work for me; she doesn't have the depth to pull it off.

      Starlight Glimmer's redemption was not character development. It was a change in her role and addition to her history that somehow managed to have no further effects on her as a pony. It was a change in circumstance only.

      I'd go into other cases but this post is getting long already and I have one more thing I want to cover here.

      *Ahem* Twilight Sparkle. It seems you still have no decision making of your own. This is a major flaw in your character and one of the show writers' best chances to have actual character development with their long-time main character. Why do you not use it?

      It really wouldn't be that hard. Really. In fact, let me rewrite that scene with you and Trixie to set it up.

      (Trixie is in the window of her wagon, with Twilight on the ground below. Starlight and Trixie are going to Starlight's old village. Twilight clearly wants to go, but hasn't even asked to. For this scene, I am assuming Trixie is not holding a grudge against Twilight.)

      Trixie: "Great idea Princess Twilight, asking me Starlight's best friend to help her on this difficult journey."

      Twilight (with false smile): "I'm glad you want to go. I'm sure it will be a great chance to have fun. And to learn about friendship. For you. Both."

      (Trixie leans comfortably on her windowsill and stares bemusedly at Twilight. Twilight maintains her false smile as best she can.)

      Trixie: "Of course, if Twilight wanted to come too..."

      Twilight: "No. It's quite alright. I'm sure I have a bunch of important stuff that needs doing. Besides, if Starlight had wanted me there I'm sure she would have asked. So she doesn't. Right?"

      Trixie: "Trixie does not thing Starlight has thought about it."

      (Trixie stands up a little straighter.)

      Trixie: "Trixie is just saying that if she were The Princess of Friendship, she would adore the chance to celebrate with the grateful town that she and her friends helped save."

      Twilight: "And I would. Maybe. But I can't."

      Trixie: "You are a princess, Twilight. Trixie does not know what is stopping you."

      (Trixie leaves the window. Twilight, with an unsure expression, looks to the window, then to her castle, then in the direction of Starlight's village. But then she shakes her head and walks around to the front of the wagon for the next scene.)

    3. This is not all that different from the scene in the episode. All it really does is make clear that Twilight's hesitancy to decide something for herself is an issue worth examining. I would take it as a promise that a future episode will address this problem Twilight faces, rather than the present case, where I can't even tell if the show writers are doing this intentionally or not. If they don't see it as something for Twilight to learn from, then why have they been making it obvious since The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone, if not even further back?

      After I watch episodes that only pay attention to circumstance and surface details, seeing such an obvious chance for depth with a character get ignored can be frustrating.

      3. There's a World out there to Explore.

      You know what? No. This is all sounding too negative. I don't hate the show. So let's have a more upbeat interlude.

      I feel like the humour in the show is still quite strong. For example:
      That right there? That is hilarious. And I will write a book explaining how anyone who disagrees is wrong.

      This book will consist of three words.

      Those words are "That is hilarious."

      But back to complaining. Yes, complaining. I am not whining. Do you want to hear whining? No, you don't.

      I may have rewatched a bit too much.

      *Ahem* Bridle Gossip explores more culture than To Where and Back Again.

      There. I said it. The episode which focuses on a single strange equine, one which could have been as simple as a pony who looked odd and still worked for the episode's purpose, presented a greater sense of cultural and worldly exploration than the episode where we literally walked through the hive of a quasi-alien race, complete with an ancient artefact of unknown origin, multiple trips to the site of a communist cult by its ex-leader, and had a god of chaos in tow.

      I may not be as enamoured of world-building as Chris, but that is just tragic.

      It feels like, somewhere along the line, throwing in something that should be interesting replaced making interesting what was there to see. It's a lot like the difference between character development and circumstance change. We can tell when something *cough*magicthrone*cough*shiftinghive*cough* was pulled out of a hat for the episode with every intention of stuffing it back in there afterwards. But let me make this blunt: if you want an engaged audience, one of the last things you should do is encourage your viewers not to consider or question the various pieces of your world, convenience to the plot be damned.

      Beyond that, keeping a strong, varied sense of the setting from one place to another would help a lot. [Insert obligatory complaint about Twilight's castle not belonging in Ponyville here.]

      (Pauses for breath)

      Well then, I suppose it's time to discuss that ending.

    4. 4. Friendship is Magic, not a Deus ex Machina.

      You know, when I first watched MLP, I almost couldn't get through the ending to that first two-part episode. It was so corny. It is still so corny. But it is what it needed to be: Nightmare Moon is defeated, not by show of force, not even by cunning and trickery, but because the main 6's support for each other gave them the strength – of character as much as power – to overcome anything. In a show that is subtitled "Friendship is Magic," this makes perfect sense.

      To say that the elements should not work after being shattered – to call that an unearned win for the main 6 – is to undermine the nature of their world, where the values the elements represent – so blatantly that we actually call them Kindness, Generosity, etc. – are the most powerful force there is.

      But that left us with an unfortunate disconnect. Those whose strength comes from their friendship must win, even when they are not the most powerful in terms of raw force. But from day one that was done via a magical artefact, and that set a precedent. With time, the in-world explanation excusing the magical artefact has become weaker and weaker. A crystal heart. An underground tree. That underground tree's rubber-chicken-locked box. And here, an entire race's ability to spontaneously change their nature.

      The Elements of Harmony did not work because "good guys must win," but because the main 6 earned it along the journey to reach them. By contrast, the changing of the changelings was just an errant fact of the world, and a surprise at that.

      This, too goes hand-in-hand with character development. It's been a long time since I felt our heroes needed to overcome something personal to save the world. Rather, they face something personal (if we're lucky) and then the world saves itself. But if the world will save itself, why should we care?


      I'm sure this has come out much harsher than I meant it. I actually enjoyed To Where and Back Again. But there is a difference between enjoyed and cared about. Ultimately, I don't expect this episode will stick with me.

    5. Kewl write-up! I like your points on how culture has been explored and I pretty much agree with everything you said about Starlight. She's a character I would like to like more than I do but, like you said, she's bland.

      What I'll comment on further is your interpretation of the Trixie/Twilight scene. Trixie has been an abrasive character since day one and that hasn't changed even with all this time. I wouldn't say Trixie holds a grudge against Twilight, but she won't pass up an opportunity to stick it to her. Trixie can't beat Twilight magically, so taking underhooved pot-shots is her way to one-up her. As for fitting the tone of Equestria, Trixie has NEVER fit the tone of Equestria, and that's one of the reason's she's my favorite character.

      As for the bickering between characters in the second part, it's Trixie and Discord. What do you expect? One I just described as abrasive and the other is a massive asshole. It's a miracle they managed to come to an understanding with each other at all with the ending.

      Nice post, though!

    6. "As for fitting the tone of Equestria, Trixie has NEVER fit the tone of Equestria,"

      I disagree. I think she fit extremely well, or at least as well as many other antagonists like Gilda, the Flim Flam brothers, and Lightning Dust. There's a largely Manichean arrangement in the world of Equestria, even if the "good-and-evil" dichotomy is usually no stronger than "nice-ponies-and-jerks".

      While I can only speak in the abstract, not having seen the season six finale, I have heard about it, and I must admit the idea of Trixie playing second fiddle to anybody strikes me as really strange, and almost certainly OOC. She seems more like the "jump in and take charge" kind, even with all the humiliation she's faced as a result.

    7. Honestly, with all the crap Trixie's gone through in her life, I'm not surprised she's willing to pay second fiddle. Her arc has involved learning that she's not nearly as great as she thinks she is, and I think she's finally accepted that, even if she wouldn't admit it.

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  10. I can't say I was a fan of the finale either. Between Starlight, Thorax, the ending with the fairy changelings, and all those lazy narrative contrivances like the offscreen kidnappings, I didn't find much in the episode to like. I'm a big fan of Discord, so I guess I liked his parts well enough. They were okay. But this was still far from his best showing.

  11. I finally watched this, so I can now comment, long after anyone will read and respond to it.

    I'm not surprised this particular segment of the fandom likes to find the show to be declining, because these are exactly the people who like to pick apart details, but honestly, there comes a point that you take something for what it is.

    If the writers had asked for feedback on what would improve the episode, then we could easily come up with things like this, but the problem there goes back to one I've been touting ever since I started reviewing ponyfics: you have to make your product what you want it to be. If I tailor my story to every little criticism one reviewer makes of it, then that story is optimal for him as my audience. If I go through a bunch of reviewers, it will be optimized for the last one who saw it. No matter what I do, everyone's going to have something they dislike about it, and many people might agree on what it is they dislike.

    Then here's the kicker. After I write 100 stories, people are going to say there was something they didn't like about each and every one, and having 100 complaints is worse than having 1 complaint back when I had only one story, right? This is where I find the "death by a thousand cuts" argument utter bullshit. Of course you'll find more you dislike about the show as there are more episodes It's only significant if the rate goes up much, and I don't think it has that much for most people. It's a case of saying "there are now 100 things I dislike" versus "there is still only one thing per episode I dislike." Plus the inevitable decline just due to aging. I've said this many times, but my favorite Harry Potter movie will always be the first one, because that's when everything was fresh and new and exciting. I know it's unlikely to actually be the best one, but it's still my favorite. You can't expect anything subsequent to generate that thrill of discovery again, and when people go into that effect of dulled familiarity determined to find flaws to pick at, you can bet they'll find them, especially when they're looking for a level of sophistication in a product that doesn't intend it. This is one of the few instances where I think the fandom at large has the right idea by taking the MST3K stance: just repeat to yourself it's just a show--I should really just relax.

    Demanding this sophistication from the more advanced fanfiction is fine, since it's rooted in the corner of the fandom more devoted to internal consistency, layers of complexity, and nuanced characterization. But it's kind of missing the mark when it gets to the point that people feel the show owes such things to them.

    So, yeah, I had some issues with the episode, but I expected to, and I'm not going to let that ruin it for me. It was still fun.

    1. I see and know all, Pascoite. Your comment has not escaped my notice. Unfortunately, I'm about to go to work, so I can't give much of a reply. That first HP movie definitely wasn't the best. I actually hated it even when it came out, though I was a big fan of the books. Azkaban's when the film series really came into its own

    2. "This is where I find the "death by a thousand cuts" argument utter bullshit."

      Since I introduced that phrase to this thread, I think I should step in and respond. I apologize in advance if this comes across as hostile or if I misinterpret your point, but I think it needs to be said.

      Regardless of whether or not you somehow happen to be immune to the effect yourself, the "death by a thousand cuts" argument is not "utter bullshit", and it's frankly unfair and misguided to suggest that it is. The concept in this context isn't even that esoteric:

      If a show adds more and more elements which you don't like, then you find it increasingly less enjoyable to watch.

      That's essentially it. If you subsequently leave it alone for said reason, it's not "bullshit" to do so, especially with the implication that it cannot be the fault of the show itself should such an event happen.

      How you equate that stance with perfectionism, overanalyzing, fans acting entitled, etc. strikes me as being needlessly presumptuous, as well as potentially anti-intellectual. An ability to extract enjoyment out of more scenarios than other people is one thing. Suggesting by implication that others are hard-to-please curmudgeons who undermine their own enjoyment of a show is quite another, and it's not something I feel should go unremarked or uncontested.

    3. "If a show adds more and more elements which you don't like, then you find it increasingly less enjoyable to watch."

      It's also ridiculous and disingenuous to assume this won't happen. As more characters, place, anything gets added to the show, of course they're going to add to the list of things you don't like. If that means you sour on the show as a whole, fine. Don't watch it. Yet the vast majority of people I read complaining about season 6 frame it as a lack of quality, and that's entirely different. The show doesn't need to pass those things through the fandom for approval, and I'm going to enjoy the show for what it is, not demand more than it was intended to supply. If that's what I want, I'm turning to fanfiction. Maybe I'm not seeing a representative group of the naysayers, and maybe you're not part of them, but this is a topic of discussion that's come up repeatedly among the EqD staff, and Aquaman and ABagOVicodin in particular also can only shrug at all this intense criticism. Apathy I can get, but a lot of it's awfully mean-spirited. Take Unremarkable Pony's four-comment rant up there. At least Chris is more equitable about it and doesn't go for the inflammatory language, but I still think it's inevitable to get elevated expectations.

      This reminds me of a blog post GaPJaxie made once. Two different people had both read through every one of his Actingverse stories and downvoted/left negative comments on all of them. He had to wonder why someone who clearly had decided he didn't like it kept reading, then hanging around and telling everyone else not to like it either.

      In any case, you've remarked and contested in good faith.

    4. "It's also ridiculous and disingenuous to assume this won't happen."

      I don't agree, at least not entirely. Myself, I've consistently liked certain series, such as the Avatar TV series. That's the case even though, if I was critical enough, I could list at least one thing an episode I'd improve or consider a (minor) flaw.

      That impossible perfectionism was not what I meant by "death by a thousand cuts". I suppose it's more about the ratio of like-to-dislike than about counting the absolute number of flaws (the "100 flaws of 100 episodes" thing you were talking about?). I hope that clarifies where I'm coming from.

      Otherwise, I think that's a fair reply. There ARE some who are like that, and of course I can't speak on behalf of other people. Myself, I don't want to suppress my own take on something if it's negative, but I also aspire to make it clear that it's just MY take, and I wouldn't dream of "hanging around and telling everyone else not to like it either". What would be the point, after all? That's for them to decide.

      For instance, I remember when I watched Raiders of the Lost Cutie Mark, and I was so disappointed that I wrote a blog expressing why I didn't like it. But I admit that's MY take on it, and therefore MY problem; other people seemed to like it, and more power to them.

    5. Ha, Pascoite! And you thought your comment was late.

      "Apathy I can get, but a lot of it's awfully mean-spirited. Take Unremarkable Pony's four-comment rant up there. At least Chris is more equitable about it and doesn't go for the inflammatory language,"

      Aw jeez. I was worried I would sound that way. It's a shame tone-of-voice doesn't carry with text, because I cannot say "crisis poppy lawnmower" with a straight face, not even just then.

      I meant it when I said I enjoyed the episode. I just also had this vague sense of disappointment and frustration. I tried to explain that sense, as much for my sake as for others', and I found I had a lot to say.

      I meant to phrase it decisively, for clarity's sake, and I know I dipped into accusations a few times out of frustration. It's like, imagine you were at a vending machine, and you put your coins in, and they got stuck. Now you have neither your coins nor your chips, but you know that if those coins just went a little further you would get your chips. And you want those chips. It's that frustration of being so close to what you want and yet not being able to do anything to cross that final gap. I got frustrated when writing my comment because of how much I would have loved what I felt the show might have been.

      But let me be clear: I do not think the show staff owe us anything, least of all consultation for the future contents of the show. We're neither the target demographic nor the show's primary source of income. I'm just glad to have seen the show in the first place. The half-day I took to write that comment was a good day, because I spent most of it watching various MLP episodes for "research's" sake. That good half-day is something I have to thank Hasbro, Faust, the show writers, and a few million young girls for making possible.

      And I'm really really sorry that I've encouraged the sort of entitled hatefulness you're talking about.

      I would delete the comment, but I still think it makes some good points in spite of its tone.