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11 November 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "The Crystal Empire" Review


So, it has come again! After what seemed to be the longest summer in history (so long it turned into winter almost) we finally have My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic coming back. It’s been a hard ride, with no new episodes and after a season finale that, the longer we distanced from it the less and less people seemed to be thrilled by. It has been an interesting drought, to be honest with you. A lot of things happened, many good, some bad, and others were just unbelievable. It’s not without dread that I write these words, from a different house, country and situation in life than I had before, since I myself have less idea of what will happen in my future than in the future of this series. But this is not about mixing personal issues into the enjoyment of a cartoon. This is about a show that has brought so much good into the world that it’s getting ridiculous, and it’s now back to keep kicking flank, so let’s get down to it and review its premiere episodes!


But first, I must tell you all a story. Is the tale of the dreaded and feared lord “Too long, don’t read”, also known as Lord TL; DR. He showed up at night, near children’s beds, to spoil the ending of their favourite books and stories. Many kids will cry in frustration, while others just sighed in relief. If he had to say something about this episode, he’d say that it’s one of the best two parters, and that it’s perfect to start off the season. But then he is not here now, so those who still want to find out why he would say so, by all means, continue your reading.


The episode starts in Canterlot, where Princess Celestia spends the whole day mixing potions, preparing magic spells and studying how to keep the country of Equestria safe. Not really, no, she actually focuses all her efforts in signing paper after paper while trying not to fall sleep from monotones. I appreciate this touch, as it puts Celestia into a more realistic light. She might be God, and she would rise the Sun every day, but her tasks go beyond that. It’s pretty interesting to see that aspect of her. Here we go again, it’s only the first ten seconds and I am already praising this show. Anyway, I have to keep it focus. Celestia’s task is interrupted when one of the royal guards storms into the throne room to inform her that something has returned in the northern lands of Equestria. Celestia requests her guards to send Shining Armour and Princess Cadance as she writes a letter to Twilight Sparkle. By how worried she looks, she might be wishing that whatever popped up on the north is not a giant wall of stone.

In the inmortal words of Chef Sandy: "Winter wrap up is coming"

In Ponyville, Twilight is getting ready to attend Celestia’s call in a series of slapstick and motor mouth dialogue moments that many will find funny. The outbreak of so much tension on the unicorn’s shoulders ends up sending the library thirty feet up in the air. Returning to Canterlot, Celestia and Luna share one of the rare dialogue moments between the two, during which Celestia denies Luna’s request to investigate the north situation herself. After dropping some foreboding foreshadowing, Twilight shows up and she’s promptly briefed by Celestia. As it turns out, whatever returned in the north is a new country known as The Chrystal Empire, a land populated by ponies made out of glass and that was once invaded and enslaved by King Sombra, this episode’s bad guy. After King Sombra got vanished and turned into shadow (get it? Sombra is “shadow” in Spanish. I don’t know if that was supposed to be a knee slapper or what) he casted a curse on the empire, making it disappear for a thousand years. But now it has returned, and Celestia needs to keep it protected as it possesses a powerful magic energy. Apparently the crystals in that place enhance the magic energy of whoever uses them. If the one who uses them is kind and good, that power spreads all over Equestria making everything better. If the one who uses them is evil, well, you can fill in the blanks here: Darkness, black crystals, recession everywhere, M. Night Shyamalan movies in every theatre...you get the drill, pure evil. So of course, they have to protect it, which is why Celestia has chosen Twilight Sparkle for the task. She is to go assist Cadance and Shining Armour, and if she succeeds in protecting the empire she will be allowed to move onto the next level of her studies. It was at this point that I started to feel certain sense of story arc going on, and with the synopsis of so many episodes already out, the tone of this whole season is starting to mystify me. Twilight agrees, of course, as she steps out of her meeting with Celestia feeling rather defeated. I think we all can relate to her. We all have been in that situation, when you just finished talking to someone and you proved to be up for the task, but as soon as you are left alone you start thinking that it might be quite too big for you to handle. I’ve been there, and I can totally relate to Twilight.


Except for the eyes, I never had that problem.
This doesn’t stop her of course, as she takes all of her friends into a train and fast forward to the frozen lands of the north, where they are greeted by a very badass looking Shining Armour. The atmosphere of this scene is amazing. It feels like the North Pole, with the constant wind blowing and the endless blizzard. It’s overwhelming and dreading, which is perfect for the introduction of our villain, who shows up as a cloud of black smoke. Hoping they don’t trip on any hatch with random numbers scribbled on it, they all run away to the safety of the empire, but not before Shining Armour gets hit, nullifying his magic. Despite this, they are safe for the time being, as they are all bedazzled by the beauty of the architecture the empire has to offer. Rarity more than any of the other ponies, as she looks left and right, her mouth unable to articulate just how much she loves what’s she’s seeing. Inside the palace they meet up with Cadance, who’s growing weaker from performing the spell that protects the empire from whatever it is attacking them from the outside. It’s wonderful to see Cadance interact with Twilight as they greet each other with their childhood “hoof shake”. Being in the state that Cadance is, and with Shining Armour injured, it depends on the Mane six to find out what’s wrong with the crystal ponies. We then follow them as they try to get information out of these very sulky, very depressed, very dead eyed ponies with diamond shaped reflections in their eyes. After a fruitless, though pretty funny, sequence of interrogations and questioning, the six friends get together again and thanks to Applejack they find out there is a library in the city where they might find some clues. As they step inside, Twilight loses it. She literally loses it. She starts spinning in circles as she just sees books, and books, and books beyond her pony eyes can see. It’s such a sight. Once again, Applejack plays the straight guy here and asks the librarian for directions. After what might have been hours for them, they finally find a book on the history of the crystal ponies where it explains that a celebration called “Crystal Fair” is to bring the ponies together and thus return the life back to them, as they are exposed to their history. So the six friends get together and set up the fair, which happily enough does have its desired effect. The crystal ponies cheer up, recover their hair styles and part of their crystal coats, as they start eating the food and taking part into the different activities. It’s during one of these that Rainbow Dash meets up with the librarian from before, who tells her that the whole purpose of the fair is so that the crystal ponies can recharge a relic known as the Crystal Heart, which will then help protect the empire. The only problem is that the Crystal Heart they have is made out of a glass shard, and is in no way magic at all. With time running short and the end of the episode coming soon, Twilight finds herself clueless as to where this relic is. Cadance, unable to hold any longer, collapses and with her the magic shield, as a giant black shadowy face sneaks into the empire, licking its fangs in hunger.

You don't want to know what he was licking here.
When the second part starts it basically loses no time on taking us back into the action. Cadance rebuilds the barrier with what little magic energy she has left, while Twilight sets up the plan. She will look for the Crystal Heart, while the rest of her friends keep the crystal ponies distracted with the fair. As time grows short, Twilight figures out that the Crystal Heart is inside the castle, since it is the last place anyone will even wonder looking into being way too obvious. Before she can take another step, Spike joins in for the ride, not to help, but because he doesn’t want to leave Twilight alone. At this rate it will turn out to be true: Spike is the new Rainbow Dash, he’s so loyal. Once inside the castle Twilight uses her best Sherlock Holmes techniques to reveal a hidden passage way into the castle’s lower levels that is revealed when shadow is casted over it. After going downstairs for quite a while she faces a door that seemed to have escaped from the Harry Potter world. It’s a living door that runs away anytime she tries to open it, and when she uses a dark magic spell on it, it traps her into an alternate reality made out of her own fears. In there, Twilight sees Princess Celestia giving her a stern look as she tells her she has failed. I want to thank Meghan McCarthy for keep giving us insights into the psyche of these ponies. Thankfully, Spike snaps Twilight out of the door’s spell, but not before he gets caught in it as well. After a cool down hug, Twilight dispels the door’s magic powers and opens another flight of stairs that will take them to the highest point of the castle.

Not pictured here: The level select screen.
Meanwhile at the fair things keep getting more and more intense. Sombra is slowly creeping his way into the empire, as the crystal ponies grow eager to see the Crystal Heart in order to power it up again. As the Mane Six do their best to keep their curiosity to a hold, Cadance just keeps getting weaker, and the situation more desperate. But never mind that, there is a jousting tournament going to happen. Back to the endless flight of stairs Twilight decides she’s had enough and decides to cheat Sir Isaac Newton. Using a spell that might as well have been developed by Aperture Science labs and beta tested by Super Mario, she inverts gravity and slides up the flight of stairs. If someone doesn’t edit this scene with the “Inception” music, I will be a very unhappy brony. As fun as that scene is for both the audience and Twilight, back to the fair things don’t get any better. Sombra’s presence is now more palpable than ever, and when the fake relic is revealed to not be the Crystal Heart, the manure just hits the fan. The crystal ponies panic and start running every which way, prey of their own fear for the one who imprisoned them a thousand years ago. But if you thought things would get well as soon as Twilight gets to the real Crystal Heart, you are wrong. She is trapped in a jail of black crystals, and the relic flies out of her reach. At the same time Cadance’s magic completely runs out, which causes Sombra to storm into the empire spreading his dark shards all over, covering every house with them. In this situation nobody would expect things to get well. It’s pretty much a hopeless situation, but it is during these situations when the real heroes appear. Twilight turns to Spike and tells him to grab the crystal and take it to Cadance. After a rocky (no pun intended) way down, Spike finally delivers the relic to Cadance, which powers up her magic, as she powers it back and puts it into place. The crystal ponies bow before it and, with their magic, increase the power of the Crystal Heart, turning everypony’s coat into crystal, including the Mane Six, Shining Armour and Cadance. King Sombra is helplessly defeated, the dark shards are vanished, and the magic of the empire extends all over Equestria in the shape of aurora lights. 

Buy the whole set for only 9,99 at your local ASDA.
Once back at Canterlot, Twilight awaits for the results of her test as protector of the Crystal Empire, as she stands in front of a painted glass that depicts Spike’s brave act of heroism. Twilight feels like she has failed, as she wasn’t the one who delivered the Chrystal Heart to Cadance, thus failing in the task of completing her test. However, Celestia puts her fears away, as she explains it’s better to have a student that is willing to sacrifice her own interest, rather than one who will put her goals before everybody else. This allows Twilight to pass her test and thus move onto the next level of her studies. Her friends sing her a very feel good song, Celestia and Luna look at each other confidentially, and everypony smiles at the end. 

Oh my God, that was exhausting. I don’t know about you guys, but a lot happened in this episode, actually, way too much. There is a lot going for this episode and basically all of it is good. I think this is the best two parter that the team of DHX and the writer staff has put together, only topped by the Discord episodes. 

It’s very heavy on story and world building. We are told a lot about the empire’s history and how things work, the kind of food they have, the society they are ruled by, and how their magic works. Let’s be honest here people. This show exists because Hasbro wants to sell little plastic horse toys. It’s a twenty two minute long toy commercial. If someone manages to take a toy, and flex out enough story and character that will make Tolkien proud, I think we can call that more than just a job well done, it’s an absolute miracle. There is a lot thought and care put into the concept of the Chrystal Empire. It’s a gorgeous land with very pretty looking characters that has a lot of medieval and traditional into it, despite how far advanced their magic is. It’s a benevolent land, and it’s clear that its positive energy is spreading all over Equestria now. That is one of the aspects that I loved so much about these two episodes. Also, the songs. These three songs are fantastic. The Failure song, The Crystal Fair song, and The Success song, especially this last one is probably one of my new favourite songs. The Crystal Fair song carries a lot of weight, and it’s a very intelligent resource to explain more about the history of this empire. Okay, what else did I like? I loved the character interactions and how much screen time and protagonism is given to each other. I never felt the show makers were showing favouritism to any character, and they all felt like themselves. Rarity was perfect, hilarious when she has to be, and kind and open heart when it’s needed. Her constant fawning over the beauty of the empire and how pretty she will look with a crystallized coat are both adorable and hilarious. Pinkie Pie dressed as a jester was also hilarious, but if I have to pick an incarnation of her that would be Pinkie Fisher. I’m afraid of what is she going to pull off in the future. This pony is made out of a substance that doesn’t exist in this world, or any other world. Fluttershy was hilarious too, proving once again that comedy is all about timing. Rainbow Dash was brass as always, ready to get things done even if that includes pushing Fluttershy away with a blunt spear.

Or wear her as a costume, *shivers*.
But if I had to give the award for best ponies of these episode, that would go to Applejack and Twilight. While Twilight comes as no surprise, since she is the one we follow everywhere in this two parter, Applejack caught me completely off guard. Whoever gave her so many lines and so much input, thank you! Seriously, you deserve a monument. I haven’t seen Applejack shine this good in quite a while. She was the straight mare, the serious part of the team, the one who doesn’t get distracted by anything and keeps her eyes on the goal. I always envisioned her like that, and it was wonderful to see her in an environment she’s comfortable with. If the first episode gives us so much about her, I can’t wait to see what’s coming up in future ones. It was a treat to watch. Also, her relationship with Rarity is just fantastic! We have stepped away so hard from the days of “Look before you sleep”. Back then we had Rarity and Applejack unable to tolerate each other. By the end of this episode, Applejack is cheering Rarity by complimenting how unique she is. I want to frame that scene and hang it on a wall, so I can look at it and make a heart shape with my hands anytime I lay eyes upon it. I liked more stuff of course, don’t think I’m done. It was great to see Luna again and, even though she wasn’t as involved as other fans might have wanted to, it was great to see both sisters together in several scenes, planning things out and being what they are, rulers of a land. Their scenes had an ominous feel to them, very regal, which is a lot to say for this cartoon. Once again Cadance proves to be a very likeable character, with a cutie mark that’s as prophetic as Twilight’s and Shining Armour’s. Of course, she was born to protect the Crystal Empire, it’s written in the books of the all mighty Hasbro Gods. Honestly though, she was great in this one, and more than once I gasped in fear of something bad happening to her.

Hey Cadance, you look just how I feel.
However, if someone deserves a special mention for himself, that is Spike. I have never been Spike’s biggest fan. To tell you the truth, I never really liked him and at certain points I even hated him. He has had some rocky moments, some episodes that ranged from amazing to just mediocre, but he was always, well, a cute baby dragon with a cool raspy teenage voice. He never managed to shake off his purpose, the reason why he’s involved. He is, and will always be, the sidekick. There have been countless sidekicks in the story of movies and TV Shows, and I never knew in which category would Spike fall into. Would he be amongst names like Penny Gadget or Pikachu, or will he have the misfortune to be next to Scrappy Doo or Robin? Well, as it turns out, this episode has elevated him to a new level of sidekick. You know those scenes in movies and series where the sidekick throws everything to a side to become the biggest badass who has ever lived? Well, Spike walks the line of that category. He is brave enough to deliver the Crystal Heart and save the day, and doing it while trying not to kill himself. I could feel the many fists punching the air coming from Spike fans, my best friend included, as I myself became more engaged with the little dragon. Congratulations Spike, you are a good character in my eyes, and a great sidekick too. All your previous snarky and out of place comments have been excused.

Okay, enough with the praising, what didn’t I like? Well, I think I’m not alone here when I say that King Sombra is the most useless, least intimidating villain any cartoon has ever given. I get what they were going for. They were building up this villain as some sort of incorporeal presence, an enemy that you are not supposed to see but to feel. The fear everypony feels for him should be enough for you to be terrified of him, if it wasn’t for the design. I’m sorry, but whoever designed King Sombra wasn’t in their best day, and compared to the previous three big baddies this show has had, he looks pretty ridiculous. Nightmare Moon was a fearful black horse with helmet and armour, and a mane made out of night sky. Discord was a cluster of other animals who could snap his fingers to remove parts of your body. Chrysalis was a bug succubus with holed up legs and giant green eyes. And then we have King Sombra, a villain who looks like someone made him with the pony creator tool in DeviantArt. No offense and all, and I know it’s a hard act to follow, but it feels uninspired. I feel bad though, because “Big” Jim Miller, the storyboard director, does a great job at voicing him. I thought it was Frank Welker, that’s as big a compliment as I can give without falling into hyperbole. Too bad it’s all for nothing. Another complain I can share with you all is that there is a bunch of story and not enough time to let it breath. I blame the limitations of the show and the network, but the show makers themselves of course. Like I said, it’s a miracle they managed to do all this based of a toy, but with these two parters I always end up feeling we might needed a third episode, so we could have a basic three act structure, giving the climax a much needed build up, and allowing the villain to do something nasty, especially this one who enslaved ponies and ruled an empire with an iron hoof.

My genericness knows no bounds!!!
Other than that, I can only say that season three couldn’t start any better. This episode brought back great memories, as it made me relive what it was to watch the show for the first time. There is a lot of sincerity in the execution of these two episodes, a lot of passion in the acting, and a lot of thought in the writing. The concept of a society recovering and becoming better by knowing more about its past has a lot of subtext that kids aren’t going to get (or maybe yes, kids these days are smart). It’s a fantastic idea very well flexed here, and it proves that Meghan McCarthy knows what she’s doing when it comes to story edit this show. All my fears are gone. All my doubts have dissipated. All the hesitation towards new episodes is gone. All I want now is something very simple: More. I want more, please. If the beginning is this good, I can’t wait to see the end.

Morals: I’m taking a few out of this one.

- Make an effort to know about your past, as it will make you strong to face your future.
- Don’t doubt when you have to rely in your friends.
- You shouldn’t put your own interests before your friends’, especially when they are in need. Self sacrifice is very important to consider, and only brave people can do it.

Defining Moment: Any scene, sequence or snippet where Spike and Twilight were together. The chemistry between these two is so good you can create several new elements in the periodic table.

27 comments:

  1. Buen review, compartomuchas de tus opiniones.

    A mi personalmente me gusto King Sombra, claro su diseƱo pudo ser mucho mejor y pudo tener mas tiempo para darnos mas historia, pero siento que igual logra su cometido, al menos yo estuve los 2 episodios pensando "¡que no regrese al poder!", ya que al inicio de la primera parte Celestia nos muestra que pasa si King Sombra regresa al poder.

    Lo de que Spike salvara el dia fue completamente inesperado y lo recibo con los brazos abiertos, realmente fue un giro que estoy seguro ningun fan habria previsto, no importa cuantos fanfics haya leido.

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    1. Nadie se esperaba que Spike fuese a ser el heroe, y es por lo cual estos dos episodios me han gustado tanto.

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  2. Hehe, I always enjoy reading your reviews.

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  3. I was wondering if you were going to resume these with the new season. Glad to see you did. However, I have to say I disagree with you on this episode, a lot. I'd say it was the worst of the two-parters, mostly because the characters didn't feel right at all and Twilight obsessing over the test felt just wrong to me, considering the circumstances.

    >a lot happened in this episode, actually, way too much.
    This I agree with. They tried to do too much in such a short time and sort of failed because of that. I also agree with you about Sombra, him looking like an OC someone just made. Those teeth, that special horn, those colours... Yeah.

    Anyways, I'd say this was a good review, even though I disagree with it. People like different things and view things differently. Not much I can comment on, since I'd be just repeating what I wrote myself. I'll just drop that here. Had to split it to keep it at least somewhat readable. Part 1 Part 2

    Looking forward to your future reviews!

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    1. Wait, you think THIS is the two-parter in which the characters didn't feel right, and not "A Canterlot Wedding", which ripped the entire cast (minus Twilight) out of character (plus made them all retards) in order for its plot to work? O.o I mean, if that's your opinion, no problem. I just don't really get how you could reach that conclusion. Maybe it's just me.

      I didn't mind Sombra's design, I think he was a fantastic villain, just oozing with charisma and untapped potential, while invoking images of Sauron in my mind. The scariest part about him is how he can kind of serve as a mirror image for Twilight if she isn't careful. That's what makes Sombra so unique amongst the MLP villains: he wasn't a fallen alicorn, a cockroach queen or a spirit of chaos, he was a unicorn. A mortal, normal unicorn, to whom something happened that changed him into or made him decide to become a total monster, with a truly frightening amount of power to boot. Given that Twilight already had to use dark magic to solve Sombra's traps, she has to be careful, or she could very much end up becoming just like him.

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    2. I have to say I haven't really paid attention to the mane cast being OOC in ACW, I don't I saw any glaring problems in their characterization. Could you give me some examples of those? I admit I might have been focusing on other issues at the time (brother and alicorn babysitter come to mind...) and could have missed that.

      As for Sombra, well, as I've said, I'd rather he had stayed as a cloud of black, would have been scarier. I think untapped potential is the right word to use here. But yeah, him being a unicorn could work that way. We don't really know how he got those powers and why he is so different and those are actually some things I would have liked to see. I do hope they'll explore Twi using dark magicks at some point, maybe we'll have some answers then.

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    3. The entire mane cast in "A Canterlot Wedding" felt as though they'd been regressed to just after the pilot. They should know better than to do what they did to Twilight at the end of part 1. Compared to that, characterization here was spot-on, and in fact I have to ask where you thought it was off.

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    4. I'm not sure I understand what you mean. I'd say they had a good reason for leaving Twi alone at the end of part 1 of ACW. From the very beginning, in basically every scene with her friends, Twi was negative. She was unhappy Shiny didn't tell her in person about the wedding, one could even say angry. When checking on AJ she just sat there with a sour look on her face, with Rarity she mocked Cadence. Then when they were sitting together, having drinks, she just complained how she was a mean pony, which her friends actually addressed and didn't just ignore, unlike in Lesson Zero. And then Twi stormed off, because she believed she was right. And after that we have that moment you mentioned, with Twi driving the bride-to-be away in tears the day before her wedding.

      It doesn't matter if Twi was right or not, all her friends saw was a jealous(?) pony who didn't want to give up her BBBFF and who tried to ruin the bride's big day. If they hadn't tried to talk Twi out of it I might agree with you, but they did explain why Cadence might have acted the way she did. They were wrong, obviously, but they thought they were right. Twi was acting like a bitch and they couldn't have known why that was.

      Considering all this, I don't see how them walking out on Twi was wrong in any way or how it means they've regressed, especially since they reacted differently from LZ. Were there any real issues with their characterization in that episode?

      As for me and The Crystal Empire, I'd suggest reading the "review" I linked in my earlier post, especially the part where I talk about the characters. I admit the complaints can be subjective, thought RD was acting in a way that showed she apparently hadn't learned anything last season, being overly aggressive as she was and guilt tripping Fluttershy of all ponies. Basically the characters were simplified versions of themselves, and in some cases those "simplifications" don't even work that well, like the Element of Generosity not giving a crap about the crystal ponies, instead being obsessed with crystals.

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    5. I mean that they didn't trust the goddamn Element of Magic, the canonically most intelligent pony in Equestria apart from the princesses, to know better than they do what her freaking babysitter (whom they had never met before) was like and how she would behave under pressure. The way they snubbed her at the end of the episode in particular was spiteful and downright malicious, in no way an appropriately scaled response to Twilight's admittedly atrocious behaviour. If that's what you regard as in-character, no wonder we don't see eye to eye on characterization - our standards in that regard are obviously so far apart as to reside in different solar systems. Simplification (as admittedly happened in "The Crystal Empire") is one thing; complete derailment is another. (Don't even get me started on Celestia, who damn well should have known better.)

      Sorry if I sound a little aggressive here, but almost all the reactions to "The Crystal Empire" I've seen online have been relentlessly negative, and I'm beginning to wonder whether I've seen an entirely different episode, because my opinion is pretty much the same as James's. The bronies as a whole have become an entitled little bunch, and it just made me sad to see that yes, the whole complaining thing is happening in this fandom just as it does in every other. I was naive to think we'd be better than that. The episode might not have been perfect, but perhaps the pedestal we put this series on became a little high over the summer? "A Canterlot Wedding" introduced "old friends" we'd never heard of before, and solved its central conflict with a deus ex machina of biblical proportions, and still it wasn't as negatively received as "The Crystal Empire" seems to be.

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    6. What exactly did the others do to Twilight at the end of the first episode, then? How is walking out on a bully to comfort the victim "spiteful and downright malicious"? I know I wouldn't want to stay behind and hang out with someone who just tried to ruin someone's wedding after having been overly negative the whole time. There is trusting Twilight, and then there is blindly trusting her. She had nothing to back her up, only her own word, and she didn't even point out her best point, which was Cadence having been her foalsitter. The others had seen how Cadence acted themselves and had decided it was not in fact bad, but that she was just stressed out and Twi was overreacting. Honestly, I don't think they've ever blindly trusted her, so them not trusting her here is not contrary to their previous characterizations at all.

      And of course, I'm not defending ACW as a whole. It had issues and it created some problems, but this wasn't one of them. If I had to try and explain why TCE has had such a negative reception the biggest thing probably is it being the first new poni in a while. This episode had been hyped a lot, saying it was going to be "their biggest adventure yet" and all that stuff. It just didn't live up to those expectations. It also had issues with the villain, who was probably one thing a lot of people were excited to see, considering how well-liked villains seem to be in our fandom. So yes, people probably put it on a pedestal of some sort during the summer.

      As for complaining, I point out things I don't like because I like this show. Not everyone cares about how Fluttershy was characterized or if Rarity looked like a bitch, they only care if it's funny and makes them laugh. And even though I disagree with them, they have the right to their opinion. Why shouln't I, then, be allowed to speak my mind when there are issues with things I care about? And of course, bronies are people too. Thinking we are different or better because we like ponies is naive, and tooting our own horn is the one thing that annoys me the most. Yes, I do try to be better, but bronies are people too.

      Anyways, TCE. I'm not sure if you read that review or not, since one of the more important points regarding characters was Twilight's hesitation to save the crystal ponies and her friends by failing her "test". That might not be character derailment per se, but that doesn't make me feel good about Twilight, at all. My definition for out of character behaviour is "acting in a way that directly contradicts previously established characterization". I can't say anyone in TCE was OOC by this definition, with the exception of RD making Flutters feel bad, mayhaps. Maybe even Rarity being that selfish. Doesn't mean they didn't feel bad to me, though. And that's pretty much all I've been saying.

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  4. It's weird how much I always seem to agree with you. At the time when everyone loved A Canterlot Wedding, I came here and got to read a review which shared my own opinion: There were a lot of good parts, but it kinda fell flat overall.
    Now, with a lot of people saying that these episodes were probably the worst of the two-parters, I come here to see you claim it was one of the best. You even say that you thought the Success Song was the best song in the episode, an opinion I thought only I had.

    Thanks for your great reviews. Though maybe you should try disagreeing with me more often.

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  5. I thought this episode was just OK. Not exceptional, not offensive, just solid.
    Pros:
    -After having nothing to do in previous two-part episodes, Spike finally gets a chance to shine
    -The design of the Chrystal Empire, and the Chrystal Ponies, is all really good, particularly the animation behind their chrystal coats.
    -Characters were consistently funny, particularly Rarity and Twilight
    -AJ gets to be very involved as a supporting character
    -Anyone else notice the reference to George Orwell's 1984?
    Cons:
    -I still don't really care for Shining Armor or Cadence; they haven't had enough development to carry such a large portion of a given plot
    -Pinkie Pie, while consistently funny, had a couple of jokes that feel forced
    -King Sombra is a missed opportunity
    -It feels like Spike isn't fully appreciated for what he did at the end; instead every charcter is only thinking about whether Twilight passes her test or not.

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    1. Okay, I get most of your cons (even though I thought Shining Armour and Cadence were put to far better use here than in their out-of-frakking-nowhere debut), but Spike not appreciated? You did see the giant stained-glass window he got almost to himself? If that isn't appreciation, I don't know what is.

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    2. Sure, but Spike's victory moment seems to be brushed aside by Twilight and Celestia only talking about the outcome of the situation. Also, we never get a big "thank you, Spike" moment

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  6. Well well well, I'm glad you're still writing these review, I always look forward to read them! They are a delight, even if I don't always agree with you (here, though, I agree, except for Sombra that I did like).

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    1. Oh I will forever write these reviews, for as long as Friendship is Magic lasts

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  7. Though I rarely agree with you, I always enjoy your well thought out reviews. This was no exception.
    Looking back on it, you were right. There simply was too much they wanted to fit into the episode and not enough time to make it happen. The two-parters always seem to have this problem. However, the team knows that they only had so much time to get things across and having done three two-parters before this, they should be used to it, so I'm not going to give them a free pass on that.
    In brief, I think the episode should have been without a villain, the environments (which were almost copy-pasted from Canterlot several times) could have been more imaginative, some of the characters were played up too much (RBD was WAY too agressive, Pinkie Pie was strangely stupid), and to stop relying on plot devices (Elements of Harmony, Crystal Heart, etc.)
    I will praise that they seem to be working on an overarching plot for this season and the nods they gave to it made me very happy. It was also a very funny episode, my favorite moment being the Fluttershy costume bit. I'll also commend them for doing a good job with the moral and letting Spike have a chance to do something, even if they pretty much forget about it shortly afterwards.
    It wasn't their strongest episode, but that wasn't because of an inaction on their part, it was because they were too ambitious with the restraints they have to stick to. I won't fault them for ambition, but I hope that the rest of the season gives the elements they are foreshadowing the time they need to fully develop.

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    1. Definitely agree regarding Rainbow. In particular, I really didn't like the way she behaved towards Fluttershy in the jousting: hasn't Dash learnt anything from "Hurricane Fluttershy"? Rainbow *was* redeemed for me somewhat by a tiny moment late on: just as Rarity walks off screen in the song reprise, the two pegasi share a smiling glance. Blink and you'll miss it, but I'm glad it was there. I just hope we're not going to see "Annoying Dash" as the default this season, though.

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  8. oh good, i found this! i enjoyed reading your reviews all last season, always got the link from the eqd comments. don't know why i didn't bookmark, but i was worried i wouldn't find it again, come this season.

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    1. I hope you bookmarked it now C: I will keep posting in the write ups/follow ups, so keep an eye out for my material.

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  9. Hooray, I've found your reviews again! This is the first season I'm watching with everyone else, so I'll definitely keep an eye on these as I think they're absolutely wonderful. As for the episode itself: for me, this was an 8/10 episode: good, even very good, but let down by the lack of development for King Sombra. That was frustrating: he's *potentially* a great villain, and who knows? Maybe we'll see him again. But in *this* tale, he just didn't do enough for my liking. As such, Discord still wins the "best season-opening villain" competition fairly handily in my book.

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  10. Excellent review as always. For anyone interested, you can find my thoughts on the season premiere here: http://bit.ly/XBnewH

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  11. After a long drought of Pony episodes, is good to be back here. For that long drought, is kinda obvious the fandom are going to be more nitpicky than usual, me included. Let's start: the failure success song after watching it on summer i didn't think it was very memorable, yes, the song is very catchy and Spike have a part on it and it was awesome; I'm not telling this because I'm a Spike fan, he just sang and dance beautifully, a big kudos to the animators and overall to Cathy Waseluck. (I watch on Twitter that she is being flooded with words of appreciation and gratitude, something that she thanked for. Broclaw!!) Back on track,the failure song didn't add up anything to the episode, it only assess Twilight's insecurities. You can say that song give us a shot of Twilight state of mind, but the point i want to reach is that this two parter is only of 41 minutes as Canterlot Wedding, and I just simply hate that the first part of both two parters is only build up and the second part is rushed up action.
    About King Sombra, I agree with most of us that he was one of the weakest villain in MLP FIM and I could said from all the MLP generations and that's just sad because also he was with the most potential and the creators didn't let him display it, from all the clues I could get from him, he was so terrible and cruel and I could say cunning; maybe like Twilight. Maybe they could bring a reference from Star Wars that if Twilight is not careful, she could convert into someone like him, not probable but possible considering the fear of failure she has displayed, highlighted strongly in this episode.
    (As a sidenote I also noted a slight similitude between the plot of the crystal empire and Pokemon 2000 as Ash was trying beyond his own capabilities to obtain all of the crystal to defeat an intangible menace, (climate change). Now let me laugh like King Sombra and display my Sweetiebot face.)

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  12. There's no H in Crystal Empire, and no U in Shining Armor.

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  13. Tht was great to be back.

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