“The Times They Are A Changeling” (try saying that in one gulp) is finally an “important” episode. Now, this is not to say that every episode of My Little Pony has to be “important” in the sense that it furthers certain plot developments or establishes a new status quo. Slice of life stories is the show’s strong suit, and something the first two seasons in particular excelled at. The reason why I used the word ‘finally’ is because the last few episodes have been more on the mediocre side. The writing just hasn’t been quite up to the usual standard. The latest installment fixes this. It’s not a perfect episode but it’s definitely leagues ahead of what we’ve been seeing.
Spike travels with Twilight and Sunburst back to the Crystal Empire to visit Flurry Heart, only to discover that the entire Empire is in a panic due to the reported presence of Changling spy.
Maybe the comics have spoiled me, but I couldn’t help but think how cool it would have been if the lone Changeling had been the prelude to a grand invasion. The first act with the Crystal Empire being worried that the Changeling could be anyone was greatly effective. Of course, the overall point of the story isn’t one of grandeur. It’s meant to convey yet another message of friendship, though this time with a different backdrop.
The main idea of the story is lineage, or one’s association. The Changelings in their appearance way back in the epic “A Canterlot Wedding” appeared almost as mindless drones. When one thinks of a Changeling, it’s associated with the sinister Queen Chrysalis. Therefore, if one of them were to appear, everyone would think the worst. But what the episode conveys is that one shouldn’t be judged on lineage or a stereotype. The son of a killer for example shouldn’t be judged on association. Just because he’s related to a criminal doesn’t mean he has to be a criminal as well. Thorax’s (the lone Changeling) plot was engaging. The flashback to ‘Wedding’ was very effective since we got to see things from his perspective.
Spike’s role this season has been his finest. All of his prior development finally transformed him into one of the show’s most engaging characters. He was pretty solid here mostly. The inhabitants adoring him and his giving orders to the royal guards was a bit on the silly side. Also, instead of approaching Shining Armor about Thorax, why didn’t he confide in Twilight about the situation? Some of the happenings in the middle act could have been avoided. With that said, there’s some very powerful moments. The viewer can see the sadness on Thorax’s face when the only friend he’s ever had doesn’t stick up for him. Spike going back and making it right was excellent & great character development for him. The climax song was fantastic. Cathy Weseluck had never gotten a full-length song to herself before, so hopefully starting here we’ll hear more with her.
Overall, “The Times They Are A Changeling” is a very solid episode. It packs fantastic emotion and a quality message which unlike the last couple weren’t at the expense of character development. Aside from a few annoying moments here, Spike continues to be a great product of the latest season. The writing duo of Kevin Burke and Chris Wyatt deliver a winner.