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11 March 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. "It's About Time" REVIEW


Illness sucks. Big, small, important, not important, being ill is always a major pain in the ass, that's the bad thing about it. Illness is the drama of the human body, the thing that keeps reminding us that we have to fight hard to get better. I am writing this surprisingly deep analogy because at the time of writing these lines I am with quite a considerable cold, in bed, not giving two cents for my life. You know what's the funniest thing of all? This is the first time I got sick since I became a Brony. Seriously. I basically set myself a new record by staying 100% healthy for an entire year. I don't know if that will ever amount to something, but I consider it a personal achievement nonetheless. However I wish I had a way to tell my past self that I was going to feel like crap, but that wouldn't have served any use. Oh hey look, I just segued into the episode review! Let's get down to it.



My TL;DR is going to be pretty stoic and unoriginal this week. I don't feel like doing it witty. If you want witty go follow John Cleese on Twitter or watch some British comedy. Is the episode good in Friendship is Magic standards? Yes. Is this the best episode of Season 2? Nope. And if you don't decide to skip the whole article you will find out why.


So the episode starts with Spike having a "creamy" dream. I feel really dirty writing that, but there's no other way to put it! The very first thing we see right from the start is him walking with Rarity on a candy road that leads to a house made out of cookies and cream. Now keep in mind that the writer for this episode is M.A. Larson (and when I noticed I literally clapped my hands together in happiness) and his previous work includes "Secret of my Excess", so we can pretty much say he is taking care of keeping alive that passion that Spike feels for Rarity. I got to admit I really liked it, even if it's just a fifteen second joke to segue into the real core of the episode. Spike is woken up by the noise of hooves clopping downstairs (what the hell is wrong with me today?) and he finds Twilight pacing up and down the library worried about her schedule. Spike shrugs it as another of her paranoid tantrums and goes back to Peachy-Rarity Land.

The next time we see Twilight she shows clear signs of sleep deprivation, but looks satisfied that she finished re-scheduling her week, right when things turn into "Terminator 2: The Final Judgement". I loved the build up of the spell and how it's presented in a very classic science fiction way. The stacks of paper blowing, the sparks hitting Twilight's tail, and then the ball of light forming. And what does come out of the ball of light? Thankfully it's not an Austrian actor nor is an American actor with tendency to get ran over by cars, it's none other than Twilight herself, with an eye patch, terrible hair, a scar on her face and a torn black skin-tight suit. Now, many people called this a reference to Metal Gear solid because of the eye patch, the suit, the bandage on her head, but I'm not sure. There's been a lot of heroes looking similar to that (Snake Plissken from Escape from New York for example) so I think it's more a combination of tropes rather than a Big Boss shout out. However those who wish to think that I will not stop you. Future Twilight looks and sounds extra panicky and tries to warn Twilight about something that will happen in the future, but right when she's about to tell her what it is, the spell runs out of effect and she disappears. This of course sends Twilight in a quest to try and stop this mysterious catastrophe, so she does the most sensible thing: Protect Equestria from every single type of catastrophe!

Run to the Vaults! Grab your Jumpsuits!
This leads to a part that I actually always find in episodes written by M.A. Larson which is ponies working together as a team. It happened in every single one of his episodes, you can take a look at that, and what I love the most is that their team work always has a positive effect (unless Pinkie Pie ruins it). They always accomplish their goals and it gives a subtle message to the kids that working as a team is a good thing. That's something I really like, bro hoof to Mitch from me! However this doesn't prevent the sudden entrance of Cerberus!

Martin SHEEEEEN!!! *shakes fist*
No! Not that Cerberus you guys! The legendary creature, you know the guardian of the Stygian Abyss, Hades' dog, the thing that in Dante's Inferno looked like a giant worm on steroids that fused with the three-eyed fish from The Simpsons. Well here he actually looks a lot closer to the Harry Potter version of Cerberus which makes it really kid friendly but still quite intimidating. Then we are told that there is a place in Equestria called Tartarus where all the Ancient Evil Entities have been sealed and Cerberus is there guarding the place. Uhm, ahem, alright guys hang on a second. Equestria has...a Pony Hell? Pony Hell exists!? Well you know, it does make sense because God does exist, so why not Pony Hell? This said I bet there is a Heaven too. I bet it's located next to Las Pegasus, am I right guys? No? Okay. Cerberus is rampaging around Ponyville as he gnaws on a strawberry tower when Twilight charges magically against it and then Fluttershy rubs his belly creating an anti-climax. A hilarious anti-climax because there's few things funnier in this show than seeing Fluttershy taming this demon dog with a belly rub. Twilight leading it with a toy ball comes to a close second though. The next morning she comes back home satisfied for bringing Cerberus back home, when a letter from Princess Celestia hits her right on the cheek and causes a scar very similar to the one her Future self had. Terrified, she finds out that the future hasn't changed, that there is something else coming. Through a rather cliff note-y argument Twilight realises that if she doesn't do anything then nothing will happen so she decides to stand still in the middle of the library and not move until Tuesday, which Spike uses to his advantage and come back into Full On Troll Mode. There is something to say about Spike grabbing a feather and tickling Twilight all over her body, but I will leave that for the Rated-R version of the review. Twilight doesn't take it anymore and so throws Spike against the wall with a blast of magic energy causing him to blow a green flame over her head sending it to Princess Celestia like in The Godfather. Okay that doesn't happen but don't tell me it doesn't sound cool! What he really does is blow her mane and leave it like Future Twilight's, which makes Twilight realise nothing changed at all.

I'm possitive there were a few people who looked at this and said "That's my fetish".
Out of "sensible" options Spike advises her to go see Madame Pinkie Pie to tell her future through the use of a crystal ball which leads to the next injury in her path: A flower pot to the head thanks to Pinkie's Pinkie Sense. I've been wanting to see more validation for the Pinkie Sense and the fact that Twilight addresses it so casually and that it does work without needing to tell the viewers about it pretty much proves it's 100% canon. This doesn't leave Pinkie at ease as she goes to see Twilight to her library only to find out she has gone completely Beautiful Mind in there. Her walls are covered in papers and scribbles, she has graphs that make no sense and blackboards full of math problems that I'm pretty sure a math brony will solve in the near future. She has grown so obsessed with what will happen that she tries to pull a Big Brother (when she could just ask the Princess directly, but then again that's not what Twilight would do) and begins monitoring all of Equestria. Sadly she doesn't seem too handy (get it? She's a pony, no hands, hehe, I'm so clever) and doesn't know that pointing a telescope to the sun can burn your retina, which leads her to throw an eye patch on her face, getting a step closer to Future Twilight. Out of time, out of options, out of sleep and out of sanity, Twilight decides there is only one way to prevent that catastrophe from happening: She has to stop time.

Why didn't I think of that before!?
In skin tight black suits Twilight, Pinkie and Spike infiltrate into the Canterlot Castle. Well, Twilight infiltrates through cartoony hijinks while Spike and Pinkie Pie just walk around like nothing. Oh yeah, it's perfectly normal walking around like a ninja in such a cosmopolitan city like Canterlot in the middle of the night (especially if it's not Day of the Ninja). Then there is this scene where Twilight tries to sneak past a guard posing as a statue that some people have pointed is a reference to Metal Gear Solid 4 (only reinforced by the fact that Twilight looks like Solid Snake in that game). However I think Hideo Kojima is more influenced by cartoons than Studio B is influenced by MGS, so I think we are acknowledging the wrong people guys, just saying. This helps Twilight sneak into the castle as she starts to find the scroll that will allow her to stop time. She doesn't find it on time and she has nothing else to do but curl into a ball and wait for the inevitable. Then the sun rises, the butterflies flutter, the birds chirp and balefire bombs start hitting all over the place. Not really, no. Nothing happens at all, it's just another day in Equestria, Princess Celestia passes by to compliment Twilight's hair, her sister is nowhere to be seen, and everything seems alright. Twilight then figures out that she shouldn't have worried so much about the future and so decides to travel back in time to warn her past self. And thus, by warning her Past self, she starts a chain of events that will lead her to the end of the episode. Defeated, but happy to know that nothing bad is going to happen, she returns to Ponyville to get some well deserved rest.

But no ice-cream because Spike ate it all, that little rascal.
So that was "It's About Time", what did I think of it? Well, I can perfectly say that I totally called it. I know I'm not alone in this, we all pretty much saw the episode coming from a mile away and it's probably the simplest of M.A. Larson's works in this series, but this isn't a bad thing at all. In fact my favourite part of this episode is the whole moral. Here we are not given a letter to the Princess but a visual moral that is sent in a very subtle way. We can't change the past no matter what we do, and we shouldn't panic about the future. That is quite deep for a children's cartoon. I love how they treat their target audience like intelligent people and don't outline the dots for them. Good work guys! Storytelling wise I am quite pleased too. I know some people will call time paradox, but really I come from the Futurama school of Time Travelling. Guys, this is a very basic time travelling episode and for all I know it works okay. Don't read too much into it. What other things did I like? I liked little touches! I loved to see Rarity and Applejack working together like pals in the fixing of the dam. I loved to see Rainbow Dash and Spike abusing poor Twilight with a feather and tickling her. It was awesome to see how natural the characters felt, like the Royal Night Guards addressing Twilight as what she is (Celestia's top tier student). I loved how they expanded on the universe with new cities like Las Pegasus or Baltimare, or new places like Tartarus. Spike was cute with the tummy ache and the ice cream, I bet his fans will love that part and if you connect it to the beginning of the episode you can get very interesting interpretations. In the lacking department all I can point out is that this is one of those rare episodes where I found no surprises, or at least very few surprises. Besides, M.A. Larson episodes always have very high stakes. He seems to be the type of writer you go to when you are dealing with something big, something important. Let's see his work so you get what I'm saying.

- Swarm of the Century: Ponyville destroyed by a swarm of insects with Princess Celestia in her way.

- Sonic Rainboom: Rainbow Dash must pull off the legendary move to save her friend and the Wonderbolts.

- Cutie Mark Chronicles: Tell the origin stories of the Main Six characters in 22 minutes and tangle them together.

- Return of Harmony Parts 1 and 2: Discord returns to spread chaos all over the place, breaks the Elements of Harmony and those who bear it, and everything seems lost.

- Luna Eclipsed: Princess Luna returns after a thousand years and she has to mingle with the crowd.

- Secret of my Excess: Spike grows out of control to the point where he almost kills himself and Rarity.

- The Super Speedy Cider Squeeze 6000: The Apple Family bet everything they have on a contest and they lose.

As you can see those are pretty high stakes and very heavy stuff. However the stakes of this episode are all inside Twilight's head, and none of the other characters apparently seems to care. At the beginning we see all of Ponyville banding together and working. That was cool and it felt like M.A. Larson. But then, by the end, Twilight is super worried about the catastrophe while her friends don't seem to care at all. That kind of sucked me out of the build up. Well, that and like I said, I called the whole thing before even watching it, but that didn't make it less enjoyable. It's a really good episode that fits neatly into my M.A. Larson tier, and I don't have any other "Tier Groups" for the episodes of this show.

It's still better than "Twilight goes insane with science Tier".
- Defining Moment: Any time Twilight goes crazy and tries to pull one of her ridiculous plans/theories which ends in a dose of Twilight abuse. I love Twilight, but I love her more when she's getting her flank kicked.

- Moral: Whatever we do, it's impossible to change the past, and we shouldn't worry excessively about the future, especially if we are not sure of what's going to happen.


27 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Will do! Thanks a bunch for the wet-well wishes <3

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  2. hmm not bad your review :D

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  3. The thing I love the most about Mitch is that he always tryes to use all of the characters (and most of the times he succeeds).

    Like in "Secretsof my excess" pretty much all of the characters had their moments.

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    1. He actually does! Every episode he writes features all the characters, thought sometimes he does unbalance their appearance. However, he does work to get all of them working together and that's always a lot of fun.

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  4. Good review, but you forgot to mention some of the characters voices were slightly off. I also really liked the moral of this episode, because it resinates with me,and I think it's something new for kids to think about

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    1. I didn't notice, but maybe that's because I'm spanish and I don't distinguish accents. However, I did notice Rainbow Dash had her voice a bit off.

      I do love the moral as well, it's awesome.

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  5. I love reading your reviews every week! The no-pony summer is coming soon, though...

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    1. I have a few things planned for then, mostly Top Ten lists, and some Fanfic reviews, plus a batch of artwork I'm doing, and personal projects on TUMBLR. So I'm actually looking forward to this summer.

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  6. You know... I wasn't even considering the folks with tickling fetishes, and now you've ruined that scene for me. Other than that, great review.

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    1. Awwww sorry ^_^; I didn't mean to.

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  7. My favorite bit is how Future Spike and his tummyache subtly set up a contradictory second moral: Don't worry too much about the future, but don't totally blow it off, either.

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    1. It is a wonderful subtle moral. I bet kids will think twice before going all bananas for some ice cream. Really intelligent writing here.

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    2. They've done it in a few other episodes too, I think. Green Isn't Your Color and Lesson Zero spring to mind.

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  8. Aww, none of your alternate interest curves is all positive. :c
    A fair review, as before. I like the fact that you actually attribute the references right. Everyone shouting MGS gets a bit annoying, even if it has similarities it's not the only one. I assume you saw where the blackboard thing came from, as I found the link to this in that EqD post.

    One thing I especially like about your reviews is that you at times break down the similarities in a specific writer's episodes. I haven't really paid attention to who writes what, except for the one you can't avoid noticing if you do anything on the ponynet, so these are always insightful bits for me.

    Concerning your intro, whenever I'm sick I think about how you don't remember how awful it feels to be sick when you're not. (If that makes any sense). Get well soon!

    I'll also link my thoughts as I did last week if you want to read them. The thread is quite big again, so be warned.
    http://www.ponychan.net/chan/show/res/36247098.html#36249368
    (Again, if it doesn't move to the right post, search for 36249368)

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    1. Twilight found out my curve and messed it up with her crazy calculations. Nothing is possitive in her outcomes :\

      I was expecting a Math's Student to mention the veracity of the math equation, but not this early. I love how fast this fandom is, loaded with veridict information as well.

      It does make sense, one doesn't remember how much it sucks until we are. I'm getting better, though my throat is a field of needles XD Thanks a lot for the well wishes.

      I will take a look, let's see.

      It's one huge post, but I loved it. I am with you, I actually like Rarity and Pinkie since they have been pairing them up a lot as of late. Really good review man!

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  9. About the MGS, Escape From New York references: EfNY Snake was the inspiration for MGS Snake, so both work.

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    1. It is, it definitely does, but I imagine Studio B refferencing Escape from New York rather than Metal Gear Solid. It's more likely to me, but like I said those who want to think it's an MGS refference I won't stop them, and those who want to think it's a Snake Plissken refference I won't stop them either.

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  10. I originally had this episode pegged as a 7, but after a second viewing, it's almost creeping its way up to 8.

    Time to get my brain working on ideas of what's trapped in Tartarus. The G3 ponies?

    I can also see this episode as a sly dig on all those doomsayers and end-of-worlders.

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    1. I agree with your numeric rating right there. I don't use them, but it's a great way to measure the episode's quality when you want to get the point across quickly. For me it's between 8 and 9, but closer to 8 really.

      I bet the ones trapped in Tartarus are the Pony Toddlers, Jimmy Hoffa's mutated briefcase and James Cameron's ego.

      I didn't consider that interpretation, that's cool.

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  11. Burd here.

    I'm possitive there were a few people who looked at this and said "That's my fetish". <-- I was one >v>

    Another one of your entertaining reviews! I overall loved the episode, not just for the shout outs to Terminator, possibly MGS, and maybe a HHG2G one though I might be overanalyzing, but it was really well done and entertaining. Also they got the time travel aspect right from a physics standpoint so that was a plus.

    Still kinda wish that Doctor Whooves was involved, or Twi used the Song of Time from Zelda to go back, but you can't have everything :P

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    1. ;D I was thinking on you when I wrote that of course.

      Thanks a bunch for the comment man, it took me this long to reply because I am migrating from FA to InkBunny, pain in the ass.

      I bet we will see this episode used in many future fanfics.

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  12. I have no idea whatsoever on how to interpret that last chart you got there.

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    1. Oh come on, it's very easy!

      The blue line is the standard one because it...goes...no wait, that's not it. Nor is the red one, nu-huh. Oh and don't even bring the green one. But then it's clearly the yellow! Or...no it's...I don't know how to chart T_T

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  13. In both this episode and Read it and Weep the sneaking music is a shoutout to Sly Cooper, however I've only seen a couple of people notice.

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