Are you familiar with military equipment? No? Neither am I, but I still know what a torpedo is, so let’s assume you all know that as well, because if this episode was some sort of military equipment it would be the biggest fucking torpedo in the history of humanity. A torpedo directed towards the expectations and assumptions of bronies all over the World that made fan theories about a character with two lines of dialogue. Yes, it’s the Luna episode, appropriately titled “Luna Eclipsed” and it’s with surprise that I discover the fandom is taking the pieces of what that torpedo just destroyed, made a bonfire and are now dancing around it singing happy lyrics. I might be checking just the comments on Equestria Daily but Holy Fuck Nuggets with Ketchup, the fandom seems to love Cannon Princess Luna! This must be the most staggering thing I’ve ever seen since the fans kind of liked the new Star Trek.
And before you make any more assumptions (you bunch of Pinkie Pies) I must stop you right there and explain my thoughts on today’s episode. But, as I always do, let me give you a TL;DR of what I thought of this episode. Did I really like this episode? YES. Was this the best episode ever? No. And if you hang around a little longer I will explain you why.
First thing first, let’s get the big thing out of the way: Luna’s personality.
|I'm here to kick flanks and eat candy. And I'm all out of candy.|
One thing I will say right off the bat is how good Luna looks. She looks great! That was exactly the first thing I said when I saw that promo picture on Facebook. Her design is a perfect blend of intimidating looks and adorableness. She can be cute and cuddly in one scene and then turn into a hell horse in the bat of an eye. They took the elements that made Nightmare Moon cool and the elements that made Luna so kooky and the result is what we are given. She also speaks on formal English with a grandiloquent voice (that sounds like Galadriel from Lord of the Rings). This blend of elements makes for a very complex yet simple character design.
However, looks aren’t everything we are given. There are a lot of personality traits we are dealing with here. We see Luna in so many different character dynamics that it gets quite loopy. In the time span of 22 minutes we get cute Luna, monarch Luna, angry Luna, sad Luna, happy Luna, thrilled Luna, silly Luna, dominant Luna, scary Luna and prankster Luna. She switches between all these personalities so quickly, and the contrast between them is rather jarring. You can’t make up your mind about how her personality is because she keeps changing between them back and forth between emotional states, like a real person.
And to be honest, that’s what makes her so interesting.
Her character is much more complex than what many of us even fathomed, and this goes to prove the ability of the writers to give many traits to a particular character in just 22 minutes and never feel like it struggles with the plot, the storytelling or the character itself. It’s amazing to see Luna struggling with her own behavior during the first few minutes of the episode. How she stutters, and gasps, how insecure she actually is and how she hides it behind her overblown voice and her rage accesses. When she’s before the citizens of Ponyville, she’s an Intimidating Monarch. When she’s alone, she’s broken and in the edge of tears. This makes her a more three-dimensional character, and so it invested me quite immediately in what would happen with her during the episode. This is High Quality writing here people. They managed to flex a character that was literally a blank slate in less than 22 minutes, and it’s brilliant.
|Is that an apple in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?|
So yes, I really liked Luna and the way they portrayed her in the episode. Does that make this episode perfect? Well…Almost. It definitely makes it go up several notches, but there are glaring flaws that don’t allow it to go any higher. I am going to address what many people seem to be complaining about: The story and the pacing. I think people complain about the wrong stuff when they mention the pacing and the story. I read people mentioning the plot hole about Nightmare Moon’s story and how the townsfolk were surprised in Episode 1 when they already knew of it. They knew of it alright, they didn’t expect her to actually return (they never saw the signs). Guys, not only it works great as a stylistic resource, it brings a great motivation for Luna to show up and try to clean her image. If you had a festivity dedicated to how evil you are, you’d like to show up during it to prove people you are not evil at all. The other issue people bring up is the fact that the conflict gets resolved real quickly. Well, the conflict is brought up real quickly as well! Luna decides to end Nightmare Night because she is in an angry fit after one of Pinkie Pie’s scared attacks, so it’s understandable that when the fit is over, she decides to bring it back. That’s very childish, and it shows how much Luna has yet to learn (thus expanding on her personality and moving the story forward). The gripes that I have with the story are that the balance between characters is uneven, the pacing of the scenes is a little bit odd, the total absence of the Cutie Mark Crusaders in favor of Pipsqueak and the moral itself. I’ll address these individually.
The pacing is a very important element of the story and it’s a mix between the narrative and the tone of the scenes. Since we are following Luna we are also experiencing what she feels, and even though her reactions are spot on, sometimes the tone of the scene doesn’t feel right. When pandemonium hits Ponyville it feels too jumbled and messy. I didn’t know if I had to laugh or feel bad for Luna. If that’s what they were planning more power to the creators. However, I don’t share that decision, especially when a few minutes later everything seems better, though we can argue that Luna hanged around town for a little bit longer and allowed the citizens to get used to her in a more natural, less forced way. That’s left to the imagination of the viewer however, so that’s me filling the blanks. I still feel very happy for Luna to finally fit in. I never thought I’d be so cheery to see her popping out of the tub chewing an apple (but I was, and it was a great scene).
The balance between characters is something that sounds odd but it happens. There’s enough of Luna and there’s enough of Twilight Sparkle, but there’s too much of Pinkie Pie, too much of Pipsqueak, too little of Zecora and too little of Fluttershy. In this subject I bring the fact that Rarity wasn’t present, but seeing as Tabitha St. Germain was already doing three voices (and that her entire storyline was leading nowhere according to the staff of the show) I have no complains regarding the lack of our favorite Marshmallow.
Now, why didn’t we have the Cutie Mark Crusaders? I know they were in the group of kids that follow Pinkie Pie but they had no dialogue whatsoever. That’s inexcusable and it actually pisses me off. Instead of Applebloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo we get a walking talking Oliver Twist reference. Yes, it’s alright, Pipsqueak is so British he makes Bakura from Yu-Gi-Oh feel straight, and that makes him adorable. But I’d rather have Applebloom tugging Luna’s mane than this guy. This doesn’t mean I hate him. I don’t hate him. I hate the fact that we focus too much on him. Thank Faust he didn’t stole Luna’s thunder.
But finally, and I think most important of all, the moral. Remember how I said this episode was a torpedo? Well, if it that torpedo was to be de-activated, this would be its big, red glowing button saying “Press here to Disarm”, because it kind of brings the whole thing down. It’s not that bad of a moral: Give friendship to those who don’t have it, don’t be reclusive, don’t judge before knowing the pony better, etc. It’s a mix between Bridle Gossip and what could’ve gone on the original pilot, but the way it’s delivered and the episode chosen to be delivered is not right. A much better moral would’ve been the following (FiM writing crew, if you are reading, take note):
“Don’t let the past ruin what the future might bring you. Somepony might have done something bad in the past but there’s always a chance for them to change.”
It’s a rather deep moral for this show, with the whole redemption theme, but I like it more than the default moral they came up with. They could’ve even not had a moral. They didn’t need one! But that’s how the show’s is structured, and I guess we can’t change it…yet.
Oh yes, and I forgot to add one last gripe of the episode.
|"You know...you kind of remind me of The Roadrunner. I HATE THE ROADRUNNER!"|
You see, I remember when Sibsy said that this season was going to make us like characterswe didn’t like before, but I wasn’t expecting to hate characters I didn’t mind before. Applejack was on the bottom of my favorite ponies from the Mane Six, mainly because her personality wasn’t fully developed. Now, that place is held by Pinkie Pie. Her attitude and the way she acts during the whole episode is not only annoying, it’s quite cruel. Yes, it is all in good fun at the end but that doesn’t make her less, well, evil. She never explains she’s joking, she never says she’s not actually scared; she just does it for shits and giggles. Maybe it’s the way M.A. Larson writes her. Let’s not forget, he wrote Swarm of the Century (where Pinkie Pie didn’t explain a single thing), Sonic Rainboom (where Pinkie renders her vocal cords useless with a lick of rainbow juice), and The Return of Harmony (where Pinkie Pie would put the chocolate rain before the fate of all of Equestria). She’s not a bad character. She’s flexed out, funny, unpredictable and incredibly entertaining to watch. Yet her actions seem to exist only to either stretch the story or force the characters into a no-win scenario. And, even though that works really well for the storytelling, it doesn’t do any good for character development. Pinkie Pie, welcome to the bottom of the barrel.
But really, everything else that I don’t mention in this review I don’t think I should mention it because I really loved it. I loved the costumes the ponies wear, from basic vampire costumes to walking references to “JAWS” and Raggedy Anne. I really liked Spike, which each and every episode seems to prove to be self aware he is in an animated show and has a sound sarcastic personality. I really enjoyed Luna trying out the fair games and having fun and being happy. I loved Fluttershy scared, shell shocked and turned into a ragdoll. I loved Zecora coming back with Angelica Huston’s costume in The Addams Family! I loved Derpy’s cameo inside the bobbing apples tub. I really enjoy and I’m very happy to see that, all issues aside, we keep getting a very fun, very entertaining, very well done show with complex characters that keep being developed.
As I said before, it’s not my favorite episode of all time (that’s still Sonic Rainboom) but it’s a very close second. Sure it has flaws, but what doesn’t? I came to it looking for answers and wanting to see Luna’s canon personality. That’s all I wanted and, not only had I got that, I got more. If I had to rate this episode, I would rate it with a thousand smiley faces with black hearts coming out of their heads...
…Because Luna is Best Pony.
|But Happy Luna will always be Bestest Luna.|
- Defining Moment: Anything with Luna in it. Seriously guys, anything with her in it is the episode’s highlight for me, whether she’s disappointed, vindictive, throwing plushie spiders, impersonating Nightmare Moon, looking sad, shouting... You name it, and if it has Luna in it, then I loved it.
- Moral: Check Episodes 2 and 8 of Season 1 for a better insight in this department. I stick to the “Don’t let the past ruin future friendships” moral. It feels more adult and clearer than this one, though I doubt it’s accurate to what the show’s creators wanted to transmit.
The explanation in the wiki page will explain things better, episode-wise:
Alright. If you say so.