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7 November 2013

My Thoughts on The Great and Powerful Trixie

Okay, time to breathe life back into this corpse of a blog and talk about something pony related for once. I know it’s been forever since I posted anything here, and I blame both my overwhelming amount of unfinished commissions looming over me like the Tower of Mordor, and the fact that Season 4 was taking forever to come and I had nothing else to talk about. I could have reviewed some fan productions in the mean time, and believe me I am going to get to those one of these days, but for now let’s focus another editorial on a character that both the fandom and I like, but for completely different reasons. I’m talking about the most boastful, full of herself and clumsy unicorn out there, The Great and Powerful Trixie.

My personal experience with Trixie is nothing but satisfactory, taken from the actual show and not what fans have come up with. Since I am so busy drawing and watching movies I barely have time to read, and that involves both books and fanfics. If I was more reading oriented than movie-watching oriented I would know more about the writing part of this fandom, but as it stands my only experience I have with fanfics focuses on what my friends read, and none of my friends read stories about Trixie. I know it’s weird that I stated the fandom's appreciation for her and then follow up my explanation saying that no one I know really likes her, but that’s the truth! I don’t know anyone personally who enjoys her, really. Not even my sister, who loves Trixie-like characters, likes her. So my opinion of her is more based on what I have seen in the show, and what I've seen in the show is just two episodes, so let’s focus on those.

Trixie stares in dumbfound shock when they tell her she's not appearing in Season 2.
Boast Busters” is the one episode that turned me into a brony, so I have it high in a pedestal when it comes to liking it. It was the episode that made me realize I was watching something really special, and really good. It shattered my doubts about this series and allowed me to get into a world of magical cartoon equines. Looking at it now I notice some of the conflicting themes brought in, like why would the Mane Six suddenly feel like going against Trixie and trying to out-stage her? If the show tries to give a positive message about conflict this is not the way to go. But what people remember the most about this episode is the character of Trixie, the way she holds herself, how she speaks in the third person, and how much of a fluke she is when it comes to magic and facing a real life endangering threat. The way the character of Trixie is presented in this episode is that of a typical con-man, or, con-mare I guess (to follow on the horse puns), so like every other con-man story her own boasting indirectly ends up getting her into trouble. Let’s face it, had she not told everyone that she defeated and Ursa Major, Snips and Snails wouldn't have gone to the Everfree Forest to get one so Trixie could prove herself. That’s like loading a gun and giving it to someone and then daring them to shoot you with it, what do you think is going to happen? But, the important part of this is that, when the Ursa shows up, Trixie doesn’t run out of town. She doesn’t escape like a coward. She actually stays, and tries to fight back, and even if she just does it to prove she can do it, just for egotistical reasons, she is still doing it! She has the courage to not run away and stand her ground. And later on she even has the guts to admit that she made up that story just to make herself look better. Not until the situation is all cleared she runs away. The impression I got from Trixie after watching this episode was that of a clumsy boastful wannabe wizard who has failed so much in life that all that she has left is making up stories about being a heroine, but she wasn't completely unlikable. She had her flaws, but she made up for them by knowing when to give up her boastful persona and admit her mistakes.

Is this the face of boasting!? She's two seconds away from crying!
And then came “MagicDuel”, the highly awaited return of Trixie to the show, and right when I thought they couldn't develop her character more, M.A. Larson happened. Many of the things I take out of this episode come from personal interpretation of how the character of Trixie acts and reacts. Like some of the best episodes of this series, we all get different interpretations out of some of the morals, characters and resolutions. What we get in this episode is a revenge-driven, bitter and manic Trixie, who has made herself with an ancient (Egyptian?) artifact called The Alicorn Amulet, and returns to Ponyville with the intention to kick Twilight’s flank and take over the town in the process. After a series of well thought out magic tricks planned by the Mane Six and Zecora, Trixie is despoiled from the amulet, the town goes back to normal and the Magician Pony makes amends and apologizes to Twilight. So, what do I get from Trixie from this episode? Quite a lot of things, actually. I reached many of these conclusions by over thinking them so I apologize in advance if I go too far with what I write here.

If you don't like it I'll have Seth's waifu to exile you out of my blog!
First of all, Trixie's motivation to make herself with the Alicorn Amulet. Disregarding the fact that we have an Earth-shattering mystical trinket lying in some rundown store in Who-knows-where, I think that Trixie just got the amulet because she was throwing a tantrum. You know when you get angry because you are losing at a game, or you fucked up a layer in Photoshop, or your favorite team is losing, or your Wi-Fi goes out, and you pick up the nearest thing and throw it against the wall? Trixie has been so angry and frustrated ever since “Boast Busters”, getting her wagon painted, being laughed at, and working her ass on a rock farm, that she just bought the amulet in a fit of rage to go back to that little worthless town and show all of them off. However, she didn’t think on the consequences of her actions and, like the book at Twilight’s library later reveals, she didn’t expect the amulet to start corrupting her, which leads me to my next point.

The Great and Powerful Trixie does not trust points.
If you watch the episode with the idea that the real villain is The Alicorn Amulet, the while scenario turns a lot more dramatic and darker. Trixie doesn’t have control over herself, she is doing what that jewel tells her to do, punishing ponies, forcing them to do her bidding, hanging flags all over the town like an Orwellian nightmare, and it wasn't until they appealed to her natural boasting side that they managed to remove the thing from her neck. Who knows what could have happened if Trixie hadn't been stopped in time? Trixie's corruption is made clear in the episode when she starts going deranged, forcing Snips and Snails to drag a carriage without wheels because she doesn’t trust wheels. This was confirmed by M.A. Larson who said that’s a sign to indicate her gradual spiraling into insanity. It's like a pony version of Howard Hughes.

This is only made clearer when Twilight says that Trixie is not like how she used to be, that she’s going from boastful and annoying to mean and nasty. The reveal of the book only cements that the corruption of the Amulet will end up engulfing Trixie if they don’t do something about it. Trixie isn't exactly a victim here, after all she’s the one who put the amulet on, but she’s not really evil either. She’s just stupid, like we all are when we get angry and we don’t think straight. She has a silver lining of goodness to herself, and that’s evident towards the end of the episode.

I'm a woobie, I swear, pwease, wub me!
The ending is possibly one of the most positive and hopeful endings this show has ever had. In it we see Trixie, humbled and apologetic, helping Twilight with her fireworks and asking for forgiveness. Once more, she is brave enough to suck it up, admit her mistake, clear the air, and then move on. I am a big believer in giving people a second chance, and here Trixie is given just that. She made a mistake, she admits it, and she looks genuinely sorry about it. She wants to be forgiven because even she knows she is better than what she just did. And then, in her own particular fashion, runs away behind a puff of smoke, before tripping over and getting a face to the ground, in what I think is a funny and quirky moment that defines Trixie’s character really well: She is a complicated, boastful, clumsy and not too smart unicorn magician who, wanting to be more powerful, just realized she’s not made to handle all that power. This ending proves that villains, bad guys, can be redeemed, can be saved. Season 3 was big in redeeming bad guys, first with Trixie and then with Discord, and that’s wonderful since we haven’t had a villain really redeem him or herself since the series’ pilot episodes! Perhaps that’s one of the things I never really liked of Season 2, how the villains stay villainous and are not given a second chance. One of my favorite tropes is when the bad guy becomes friends (or acquaintances) with the good guy, like Rocky and Apollo Creed in “Rocky III”, or The Doctor and Dalek Sec in that one Season 3 “Doctor Who” episode, or Spiderman and the new Green Goblin in “Spiderman III” (what’s with the number 3 and making foes become friends?). I really love this trope because, honestly, it has happened to me in real life. When I was in high school there was a guy who hated my guts, but after a year and a half of bullying me we talked it out and decided to drop our differences, and we became fairly good friends. It’s been a while before this trope showed up in this series, and I am so glad to see it. In a land where danger is all over the place it’s a much better idea to have a lot of allies than having even more enemies. Seeing Trixie as a possible support for Twilight and her friends is a much better position than having her as a recurrent villain. I know that, in a cynical world, having your old enemy join you might be a poor idea because they might betray you as fast as they are helping you, but the world of Equestria is known for being very cynicism free (unless the one writing it is Merriwether Williams).

Just saying, the Mane Six now have these two guys (possibly) joining their ranks. I don't think having your old nemesis join forces with you can be a bad thing.
So, series wise, I really like Trixie. I like her a lot. I think she is one of the most complex, fun and interesting characters this show has given to us, and it all comes from both what the writers gave me and what I interpret from how the character acts and reacts. She has a lot going on for a magical talking horse.

But I think that’s where my disconnect with the majority of the fanbase comes from. I don’t like Trixie because she’s loud, obnoxious and boastful. I like her because she’s clumsy, she admits her mistakes, and she shows room for improvement on her flaws. That’s why when I talk to other bronies and Trixie comes up in the conversation I always come across as the type of guy who hates Trixie. I don’t, far from it! But their reasons to love her are my reasons to hate her, and their reasons to hate her are my reasons to love her. I have yet to meet someone who shares my opinion on the character, and it’s really hard for me to exercise it when every now and then Sethisto makes a post on Equestria Daily about how Great and Powerful Trixie is (not).

Oh, yeah, I'm going to get to this one very soon, and it ain't going to be pretty.
Maybe that’s why I stay away from most of what the fandom produces when it comes to certain characters. I have the feeling that I wouldn't appreciate Trixie as much as I do if I only focused on how screeching, annoying, hateful, nasty, bitter and evil some fan made productions portray her. She has the potential to be all those things, though. Hell, every character in the show has the potential to be evil! I used to read fanfics, very well written ones, where Twilight turned insane and killed all her friends! But in the end what matters is what we focus on. If you want to focus on what makes a character evil, then perfect. If you decide to focus on what makes a character good, then good too. I decide to focus on Trixie's good aspects, because that’s how I am, and I find it surprising that the majority of the fandom focuses on some of her worst traits. I think we all should do an exercise on focusing on the virtues of a character, rather than obsessing with their flaws. Perhaps, in doing so, we will stop using the term “Acting out of character”, a qualifier that I hate to use in any circumstance, but that I am forced to when we decide to accentuate the bad parts of someone instead of giving a fair amount of good and bad.

But, then again, this is just my opinion.


  1. I get the feeling that Trixie is to MLP what Bobba Fett is to Star Wars; a character with a relatively minor presence in the series canon that captured the imagination of many fans, which led to said fans to take the character's contribution to the series and blow it out of proportion.
    Despite the reception to Magic Duel being generally positive, there is a minority that argues that the depiction of Trixie is, as you say, out of character, particularly because Trixie and Twilight don't take the eponymous duels to their most literal extreme. In other words, the argument is that they shouldn't even be called duels because Trixie and Twilight aren't blasting magic at each other with deadly intent. The source of this critique is that fans decided that these two were bitter rivals, given the ending of Boast Busters and the opposite nature of the characters, and that Trixie's return to Ponyville meant that this alleged feud was going to continue. It's almost as if fans had decided that in the scale of the series' villains, she's on a similar level to Discord or Chrysallis.
    While I think it's understandable why Trixie would hold a grudge against Twilight, I've never considered her to be evil; she's just a bully with a big ego. She got satisfaction out of belittling others, but never wanted to actually hurt anybody (at least before going mental with the amulet). But now, it seems that she has learnt her lesson. Despite being a bit rushed, I really liked how the ending of MD showed that there's more to her than the boasting and self-agrandizing, that she actually feels remorse for her actions. If she comes back, I think her character could benefit from exploring whether she has cleaned up her act and whether she acknowledges her ego continues to be a problem, a problem that she's now aware of. I can imagine that it would be satisfying if she and Twilight became better friends.

    1. Yeah, that minority can go suck on an exhaust pipe. Whenever I see someone use that term to describe something in the show, I have to walk away before I start some shit. I hate conflict, but man is it hard to avoid sometimes. Trixie was in character 100% in that episode, fucking hell.

      I want to see Trixie helping Twilight in Season 4. That would be something amazing.

  2. I think Trixie is the way she is in the fandom is because for a long time, she was the only available go to villain that the show had. Sure, we would get others as time passed, but Trixie got to take the spotlight long enough to get entrenched in others headcanon.

    I personally love the character, for many of the reasons you stated. I also think she has a potentially deep character if the show ever wishes to expand on it. I guess we'll see.