((Disclaimer: Yeah, I said I was going to stop reviewing the episodes for a while, but this whole situation has set me on fire, the words were coming out better than ever, and I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity to get productive.))
Sometimes people think we need a reminder. It’s like they think we are not in this world at all, like we abstract ourselves into an alternate reality where laws and regulations don’t take place, where everything is a free for all and we can do whatever we want without facing consequences.
They are right.
I think there is no need to beat a dead horse (I am going to slap myself for that one) in the intro for my episode review, but I have to say I am feeling rather troubled by what our fandom has gone through during the past seven days. I myself cannot believe how many mood swings I experienced in such a short amount of time. It’s getting kind of ridiculous and I am running out of ways to express how pissed off I am, and the funniest thing is I don’t know who to be angry at. I won’t address this here, I am going to write an editorial about it as part of my weekly posting, mostly because I want to fill the gap that’s going to start when next week’s episode puts an end to a season full of mood swings, drama storms, fire, terminated projects and fan rage, but that has also seen a lot of charity work being made, new friendships forged, new conventions, a more positive portrayal of us on the media, and some of the best episodes in the series’ history. Because, in case any of you forgot (like I did) this is not just about selling toys. This is about one of the best cartoons in modern television.
On with the review!
Regarding TL; DR’s this season I have been very scarce with them. I remember when I had a billion ideas for each and every one of them, and now I am pretty much running dry. It took me five years to figure out that they stood up for “Too Long; Don’t Read”. I think. I don’t know if the “don’t” should be “didn’t”. It’s kind of confusing. You guys have a confusing language. I think the episode was pretty good, but not one of my favourites, and if you want to find out why go on ahead and read.
|Animalympics is shot live in front of a studio audience.|
|This re-defines completely the term head-butting people-er, ponies.|
|I believe in Freaking Out!!!|
|Imagine it looked like this, but with eyes, and a lot of legs.|
|They compensate their lack of knowledge with an overdose of bedroom eyes.|
|To be honest, Shining Armour is the David Bowie of Ponies. Everyone would hit on him.|
So the ponies find out that the pony they were escorting is the wrong one, which leads them to believe that the real supervisor is waiting for them at the train station. As they get there they sourly find out that she’s nowhere to be seen, so they decide to divide the Empire into five sections and inspect every single one. That is until Pinkie Pie suggests them to not start with the Spa, because Cadance is there and if the supervisor is where Cadance is, well, in her own words that will be game over. So of course the real supervisor is at the Spa, and who else is there with her but Peachbottom herself! They share a couple of lines and soon enough Peachbottom is telling her about how amazing the Empire is and all the things she has been shown in the few hours she has been there. By the time the rest of the Mane Six arrive the Princess has yet to cross paths with the supervisor, but as soon as they step into the Spa Rarity notices them, revealing Cadance’s new look, and calling the attention of the supervisor pony. Right before everything blows in their faces, Rainbow Dash steps forward and confesses how her feverish wishes to have the Crystal Empire win clouded her better judgement. It’s partially true, but this is poor Dash taking the blame for the whole team’s screw up (with the exception of Rarity who was busy doing Cadance’s mane and being Best Pony). So after a series of rather trampled dialogue exchanges we find out that, despite how upset the supervisor is with the lack of a reception, everything else that Peachbottom has told her makes up for it, especially since the perspective that she was presented with was unbiased, unrehearsed, and not manipulated in the slightest. This grants the Crystal Empire the right to host the next Equestrian Games, as the happiness of the Crystal Ponies powers up the Crystal Heart sending ripples of positive energy all over Equestria. As the heroines jump back into the train we are linked back to the near ending of “Just for sidekicks” and with that we finish their second adventure in the Crystal Empire, oblivious to the baby dragon, the little fillies, and the six critters that are hiding under their seats.
So that was “Games Ponies Play”, and despite how many good things it has I can’t
say it was my favourite episode of the season. I am well known for explaining
my points carefully and in detail, but with how touchy and sensitive the fandom
is right now I have to be extra careful on how I say what I think. This time I’m
going to start with the things that I didn’t like, since they seem more
prominent due to the amount of good stuff.
I didn’t really like the plot. I didn’t
like it at all. You can joke about that sentence all you want by the way, I
have it coming. Seriously though, there are many plots and storylines that I am
a fan of, especially when they are averted, inverted, played with, or
lamp-shaded. But this one is played straight, and I think that’s the weakness
of this episode. I know they took this one from a “Faulty Towers” episode, but there’s nothing special to it. It’s the
typical misunderstanding plot where the comedy comes from the fact that the
characters are talking and acting that way because the character that’s the
focus is not who they think they are. I think I don’t enjoy that kind of
transparency. There are other ways to approach it, like for example, if not the
audience nor did the characters know that this was the wrong pony. That would
have been interesting, tricking both the viewer and the characters into it, and
it could have made sense into the episode itself! You usually show the correct
character when you are going to do something with it, but the character of the
Supervisor pony (whose name is actually Harshwhinny and I never actually caught
it while watching the episode) is barely in the episode but for a couple of
scenes where she gets splashed with water. I think had they saved the reveal of
this character for the scene where she is at the spa with Cadance and
Peachbottom it would have been a stronger reveal. That’s what I would have done
though, and since that never happens I think that the way the plot develops is
uneventful, uninteresting and lacks of a good punch, which is kind of funny
since this episode is written by Dave Polsky, who has proven is quite an expert
on punch lines.
What else did I dislike? I think the
Crystal Empire could have had a lot more development. This place is still new
to all of us, not just the fans but also the citizens of Equestria. The Mane
Six themselves mention how little they know of it, so showing so little of the
culture and the history of it feels a bit lacking. It’s not the point of the
episode of course; the point of the episode is to entertain for twenty two
minutes, not to give a history lesson. But this is one of those episodes where
I wish we could have spent more time learning about the folklore and less time
chasing a pony with a flower pot on her head. Seeing little snippets like how
crystal ponies train, or the ceremonial headdress made me happy and satisfied
my curiosity, but there were a lot of things that they could have shown or
explained. Like, what different Olympic events do they have in this country?
Are there Pegasus crystal ponies? How about unicorns? Why was the mail pony
wearing winged horseshoes and why was it so cool? I think this episode is
perfect fodder for fans to load their head canons, so I will leave it to them
to come up with theories that explain each of these questions. After all, we
have proven to be as creative as those running the show.
|The Chrystal Empire's arm race has reached Techno-Warfare levels.|
|Easy joke in 3, 2, 1...|
|This is still one of the funniest things in this show.|
|They are still better than us when it comes to cheerleading routines.|
|"Even me Dahling?" Especially you, darling. "Oooh!"|
|"Give me your spotlight! Thank you Dahling, bye!"|
Speaking of, and I don’t get tired of saying this, I really liked Cadance in this episode. She wasn’t a lot in it, but it was good to see her the few times she was around. I know I am in a minority, I know my opinion is not the most popular one, I know that whenever I say “I actually really like Princess Cadance” everybody around me looks at me with weird eyes and says “Oh you are wrong!” followed by “and that’s now how you spell her name, it’s Cadence, not Cadance!” screams. I guess I will take a little liberty here and explain in this paragraph why do I like her so much. It feels, from what I see her do, that she does care for those around her. I know that this episode might not be the best example to show that, since the first thing we see her do is getting a massage in a spa, but like I argued earlier in this article she might be taking a break from preparing the Empire for the supervisor’s visit. Besides, she was also getting prepared for her hairdressing, and I don’t know about you but there is a lot of sacrifice involved into turning your hair into a sculpture full of crystals. I wouldn’t do it! But besides that she also shows concern for those around her, she worries for Twilight and how stressed she is, she offers Rarity to try everything in the spa, she hopes that the sick pony with the flu gets well, and overall she just acts like a really nice pony. She is nice because maybe being nice to others is good, and it feels good. That’s for this episode though, but what I saw of her in other episodes I also liked it. I liked how she was beat up and frazzled in “A Canterlot Wedding part 2”, and how all the horrors she surely had to endure (go check some fan art of her being trapped by Chrysalis if you can’t come up with anything, it’s quite interesting) were paid off when she finally had her perfect Royal wedding. She was brilliant in the Season 3 premiere, how she held up the shield protecting the Crystal Empire until her last drops of magic, and how she managed to catch Spike and the Crystal Heart just in time, saving the country and destroying King Sombra. I can understand those who hate her, I can understand those who see her as a Mary Sue Alicorn OC with no depth who just got shoved into the show because Hasbro needed to sell her toy. I can totally understand you. I just don’t share that point of view. She is the kind of character I’d love to be friends with. In a day and age full of angry, cynical people, she is transparent on how she is. There are no ulterior motives, no concealed schemes or hidden traits to her personality. She is what you see: A very nice pony with wings and horn that likes to make others happy, and worries about the needs of her people
|I am a 28 year old guy, why do I like this pretty pink pony Princess so much!?|
Wow, I can’t believe I wrote so much about Cadance.
I also liked her husband, Shining Armour! Yeah, let’s talk about this other character that came out of nowhere with the Season 2 finale. I too like Shining Armour, though I think I am not in a minority here, which makes things easier for me. I think that’s mostly because of how unfathomably likable the character is. I understand why it’s such a give or take with Cadance, but things seem to be more straight-forward with the BBBFF, just like his own character, and that’s a good thing! Shining Armour has being getting better and better with each time he has appeared. We have seen him as a young colt dreaming of being captain of the guard. We saw him on duty with his armour and helmet. We saw him in his wedding attire, looking all regal. We saw him with those badass glacial glasses and black scarf, as if he just stepped out of “The Empire Strikes Back”. And in this episode we see him with a trainer cap and a whistle, barking orders to ponies and training them. I assumed he was into sports too, but it’s great to see him in action as a coach. I am not sure in which character or personality are they basing Shining Armour, for all we know it could be a mix of several, but he reminded me of Prince Felipe de Borbón in this episode. Felipe de Borbón is the Prince of Spain, and he too is into sports, so of course my Spanish sensibilities railed my perspective of the character right home, and boy did I enjoy it. If we see Shining Armour riding a boat in a frigate competition I think I will die in the middle of a fangasm.
Besides the solid characterization of
everybody in the show, I also liked the two new ponies that we are introduced,
Peachbottom and Harshwhinny. Peachbottom in particular is one character that
struck me as surprising for the way they handle her claustrophobia. They never
acknowledge it, nor they explain it, but they just show you what happens to her
and the effects this has in her actions, which result in screwball comedy
genius. I like how this show has the whole “show
don’t tell” business down and properly handled. Harshwhinny was alright.
Like I said, they should have shown her less and then make her reveal a bigger
deal than what it really was, but she kind of left and impact, and I like how
her design is somewhat different than the other mares we saw in the show. It’s
probably her eyes, she looks like she is suspecting of everybody all the time.
I liked the little touches of folklore, like the crystal pony wearing the
winged horseshoes, or the training course in the stadium, those were very cool.
And of course, I loved the comedy. I was feeling very down, very depressed, and
surprisingly hostile towards anything related to recent events (and I still
kind of am), but the comedy in this episode picked me up and cheered me up
quite a big deal. I also have to applaud them trying something new. Alright, I
didn’t really like the whole “Fault
Towers Plot” but I liked how well they weaved this episode with “Just for Sidekicks” to the point that
you could watch both episodes back to back and follow the storyline without a
problem. For something the team tries for the very first time it certainly
turned out really well, so kudos to them for trying new things and succeeding
|Genuinely likable fellow right there, isn't he?|
|Congratulations on a job well done. Have a Little Dashie!|
- Defining Moment: Rainbow Dash crashes against the spa’s windows, and then she proceeds to slide down very, very, very...very slowly. Meanwhile Rarity obliviously works on Cadance’s mane.