My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic “Where the Apple Lies” Review

It’s a disappointing thing to say, but Season Six of My Little Pony is coming to a close in a few weeks. There is however a lot to look forward to next year. Not only is Season Seven confirmed, but we’ll also be seeing three Equestria Girls specials and of course the theatrical film. Back to today’s episode, this is the first Applejack-centered one since “Applejack’s Day Off.” The latter wasn’t great, so Applejack was due for a quality installment. “Where the Apple Lies” is one of the most entertaining episodes yet and one of Season 6’s best.

Official Synopsis: When Apple Bloom tells a white lie to make cover up a mistake, Applejack shares the embarrassing story of how she came to value honesty after telling a series of lies that almost destroyed the farm and landed the whole Apple family in the hospital.

The episode’s first act focuses on Apple Bloom trying to get herself out of a situation by lying. After she’s found out, the rest of the Apple family tell the story of how Applejack came to uphold honesty. The rest of the episode is told through the flashback. This is effective because in real life hearing how one overcame a problem or came to value something can be a great thing for another person. The flashback is a lot fun for a variety of reasons, chief among them being a great look at the early days of the Apple family.

One of the most fun aspects of the flashback is the relationship between Applejack and Big Mac. The two had a loving, but also antagonistic sibling relationship. Mac is a highlight throughout the story here. Apparently back in the day he was the most talkative character. The writing has a blast with this, giving him the most funny lines. Another highlight was Filthy Rich. He hasn’t appeared all that much in the show. Recently his human version was seen in Equestria Girls: Legend of Everfree, but that was a poor representation of him. Here he’s a business pony, but an honest, likable one. His reactions to Granny Smith being “sick” were priceless.

The primary purpose of the flashback is to showcase that lying is never worth it. Not only is it not worth it, but a single lie can lead to many more which can result in a bad situation someone never intended to be in. Applejack’s lying gets her into situations that probably wouldn’t happen in real life, but it’s nonetheless effective. (And humorous.) There aren’t major negatives, just minor things. For one, Applejack as as filly making a deal with Filthy Rich came off as unrealistic.

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Overall, “Where the Apple Lies” is a fantastic episode. The subject of lying takes the center as Applejack explains the things that occur when one tries to fix a situation by lying. Not only is it wrong, it makes things worst. The entire flashback is a blast. From Big Mac’s constant talking to Filthy Rich’s fun character, there’s a lot to like.

9/10

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic “P.P.O.V. (Pony Point of View)” Review

My Little Pony returns with an episode featuring a well known gimmick. This season in particular has been trying a couple of new formats. The early/mid Season 6 episode “The Saddle Row” is the biggest example. In today’s episode, the “Rashomond Effect” is used. “P.P.O.V.” is one of the funniest episodes of the season. That’s really the only good thing that can be said about it sadly, aside from the ending message.

Official Synopsis: When Applejack, Rarity and Pinkie Pie all return from a boat trip angry at each other, Twilight, after hearing three very different versions of the events, must discern the truth to save their friendships.

One of the reasons why MLP is such a great show is that a new viewer can jump in at any point during the series. For example, my first episode wasn’t the opening two-parter; it was “The Show Stoppers,” which was in the middle of the first season. Some episodes are of course better than others but almost every single one would be a solid way to introduce a new viewer. Sadly P.P.O.V. cannot be counted among these. If for example this episode was someone’s first exposure to the show, they wouldn’t see true friendship at play. Instead they would be witnessing unreasonable characters and then a poorly written conclusion.

The main reason why this episode falters is the portrayal of Applejack, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie. They appeared unreasonable throughout and when they finally realized what each was of them was trying to do, the veiwer is left shaking his/her head. It’s just incredibly hard to believe none of the three understood what was really happening. This is not to say this is the worst written portrayal of some of the ponies. (That honor belongs to “The Cart Before the Ponies.”)

Even the best of friends can get into arguments, but the episode needed better writing to showcase that. The overall concept is pretty good. Often people will have biased versions of an event to recollect. The exaggerated versions are entertaining and made me laugh a few times. It doesn’t excuse the three ponies’ portrayals, but at least one can have fun with the story. One of the best aspects is actually Spike. He’s written as a fun sidekick to Twilight. The greatest part was Twilight nailing the delivery of the message at the end. Best friends should never take communication for granted. Misunderstandings can happen if people don’t communicate properly, even among the closest friends.  It’s an excellent message that needed a better middle act leading up to it.

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Overall, P.P.O.V. is an entertaining episode, but not a greatly written one. Yes, even longtime friends like Applejack, Pinkie, and Rarity can get angry with one another; but what is shown here seemed unrealistic and hard to believe. The message is fantastic, which is the main well-written aspect.

5.5/10

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic “Every Little Thing She Does” Review

My Little Pony returns with an episode bringing back the season’s semi-main focus: Twilight training Starlight Glimmer in the ways of friendship. This character arc has been pretty good, even though redeeming Starlight in the first place was a questionable decision. “Every Little Thing She Does” isn’t a fantastic episode nor a particularly mediocre one either.

Starlight Glimmer is excelling at her magical studies with Twilight Sparkle, but she has been avoiding her friendship lessons. Feeling pressure to impress her teacher, Starlight attempts to tackle several friendship problems at once.

The episode begins with Twilight in a magic training session with Starlight. This was a fun sequence because we got to see the two in a kind of sparring practice. The main story starts when Starlight sets out to complete all of her friendship lessons at once. Based on the description it seemed like the plot would have Starlight go around Ponyville attempting to complete these friendship quests somehow at once. Instead of going that route however, the writing went in another direction. Sadly, this is where the episode falters.

The story wants us to accept that Starlight is totally okay with using spells to cheat her way out of completing the lessons. It can argued that she didn’t mean to mind-control the ponies, but once she saw what the spell had done, she decided to keep going. Yes, it’s shown she has grown desperate to complete the lessons, but she nonetheless appeared unreasonable throughout the middle act.

The message at the end is the best part and makes the episode slightly above average. Starlight states she’s afraid to do projects with each of the Mane 6 because she’s worried she might not be good at them. Twilight tells her that it’s not about the project; it’s about getting to know the person (pony) more. It’s about the company. This is especially true in real life. If for example I asked my hypothetical future wife to play a game of Super Smash Bros. with me, I wouldn’t be asking because she’d give me a challenge. (This is assuming of course that she wouldn’t be into the game.) I would ask simply because I like her company. We sometimes do things we’re not into/good at for the other person, whether it be to get to know him/her better, out of love, or simply for the company.

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Overall, “Every Little Thing She Does” is a standard episode made better by the excellent delivery of the message at the end. With a better middle act, we could have had one of the best of the show.

7/10

 

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic “Viva Las Pegasus” Review

This episode of My Little Pony brings back the Cutie Map. The plot of Season 5 centered around it, and it’s still a clever way to establish a story. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that it chooses two ponies not randomly, but for a reason. “Viva Las Pegasus” stars the unique team-up of Fluttershy and Applejack. While some aspects of it would have benefited from being a two-parter, it nonetheless is an entertaining episode and one of the best from Season 6.

The Map sends Applejack and Fluttershy to Las Pegasus where they find Film and Flam working in a resort called Gladmane’s, where suspicious dealings are going on.

One of the greatest aspects of this episode is the change of scenery. We’ve seen the suburbs and busy city, but never the casino hotel life of Las Vegas. “Fish out of water” is the popular saying, and it applies here as both Applejack & Fluttershy are uncomfortable in this kind of lifestyle. The pacing is excellent as we’re introduced to a bunch of characters. The most notable is Gladmane, whom goes on to be a great portrayal of a corrupt businessman. The writing by the team of Kevin Burke and Chris “Doc” Wyatt is excellent as they manage to tie everything together in the middle-to-last act in a coherent way.

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The Flim Flam Brothers haven’t been seen since Season 4’s “Leap of Faith,” so they were due for a new appearance. The middle and last acts are where they shine, because they get to put their deceptive practices to engaging use. Before that however is the problem. It is highly unrealistic that these two brothers would start to argue because one other pony tells each of them something negative: claiming that one Brother said something about the other and vice versa. The big turnaround also happened incredibly unnaturally. This is the main reason why the episode would have been good as a two-parter. More time was needed to establish the Brothers becoming enemies and reconciling.

The lesson isn’t “in your face” this time around, which is fine. Sometimes these type of lessons are best when the viewer can infer what they are. The verse “Love your enemies” best exemplifies what is seen here. When Fluttershy and Applejack see the Flim Flam Brothers are no longer friends, Applejack is totally fine with it while Fluttershy wants to help. This lesson treads difficult ground, because one can throw the analogy of “hey you wouldn’t help two mass murderers get back together right?” True, but are the Flim Flam Brothers truly evil? Deceptive yes, but evil? The lesson would have been more effective if the Brothers had renounced their practices, that way it wouldn’t have been Applejack and Fluttershy bringing together two “bad” characters. On the flip side, even if you help out an enemy there’s no guarantee they will all of a sudden become a hero. So, at the very least, the concept of putting aside hateful feelings and helping even an enemy is something the lesson succeeds at.

One more interesting thing about the lesson is that Applejack doesn’t help out the Brothers until it helps serve her purpose. She doesn’t express to Fluttershy that it was wrong not to help them. So, what does this mean? Is the lesson a well done one or not? It’s tough to say. In concept it’s good, and its execution seems to be aiming more for realism than trying to make a point. It seemed like the story was less about this message and more about the actual plot, which is definitely fine. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call this episode one of the most well done in terms of writing.

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Overall, “Viva Las Pegasus” is a great episode. The writing is excellent (one of my favorite lines was when Applejack said, “So all his talk about friendship is just a load of applesauce”) and the story comes together nicely at the end. The subtle unveiling of Gladmane as the antagonist was fantastic. The Flim Flam Brothers are smartly utilized in the final act, which almost makes up for their mediocre portrayal during most of the runtime. It is disappointing that Fluttershy and Applejack didn’t get to interact with each other more, but that’s a minor thing. The episode should go down as a highlight of the Season.

9/10

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic “The Fault in Our Cutie Marks” Review

Another week brings in another My Little Pony episode. Like “28 Pranks Later,” this one’s title is a reference to another piece of media. This time The Fault in Our Stars is parodied, though the actual plot of the episode has nothing to do with it. The Cutie Mark Crusaders haven’t had much luck in terms of quality adventures this season. Both “On Your Marks” and “The Cart Before the Ponies” were on the mediocre side. Thankfully, this streak ends with their best installment in a long while.

An enthusiastic young griffon asks the Crusaders to help her get her very own Cutie Mark; the Crusaders encounter a seemingly impossible problem.

This episode is sort of the antithesis to the Crusaders’ general plots. The fillies’ mission is to help others find out their purpose in life and result in a Cutie Mark springing to life. This time however, the question is posed: “What if it’s basically impossible for someone to get a Cutie Mark?” In this case, a griffon by the name of Gabriella has shown immense interest in getting a Cutie Mark of her own. As viewers and the Crusaders themselves suspect, it’s incredibly unlikely for that to be possible since it seems like only ponies can have Marks. The Fillies are thrown in for a loop because for the first time they think a situation for them to solve is helpless. The viewers can feel their genuine sadness as Scootaloo proclaims to Gabby that the Crusaders “can’t help you.”

Gabby is a very fun character to have around, and in many ways the griffon version of Pinkie Pie. Depending on the viewer’s tolerance for the latter, one will either find Gabby cute or annoying. Personally, I thought her dialogue was good and once again the viewer can feel her genuine sadness when she learns that she won’t be getting a Cutie Mark. One of my favorite scenes was the early flashback, which recalled the events of “The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone.” It was a neat callback, but the greatest aspect of it was the fact that one’s actions (in this case Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash’s) can have unseen positive effects. Because of Gabby witnessing the heroic actions of the two ponies, she was inspired and that inspiration eventually led to her realizing her purpose.

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Overall, “The Fault in Our Cutie Marks” starts a little choppy but ended up being a great episode. The Crusaders face a problem that seemingly doesn’t have a solution, and the viewer can hear the despair in their voices when things seemingly take a turn for the worst. Writer Ed Valentine makes great use of Gabby as a fun character looking to bring light into her rather mean-spirited city. Twilight appears, though it would have been nice to see her offer some advice. She just explains the impossibility of a griffon getting a Cutie Mark, and that’s it. The song was very good, and all the voice work was especially great in this episode.

9/10

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic “Buckball Season” Review

It’s always interesting when a new writer tackles the characters. Jennifer Skelly makes her debut with today’s episode, “Buckball Season.” This one continues the slice of life-centric storytelling Season 6 has been doing. Sadly, as stated in previous reviews, the writing has been more on the average side. The previous two had finally broken that slump. Today’s installment has a few notable aspects. For one thing, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie have rarely  starred together in a team-up, so this was a treat. Another is the sports backdrop, which is a fun take on basketball & volleyball. It’s not a great episode, but these parts make it pretty fun.

When Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy turn out to be Ponyville’s best Buckball players, Applejack and Rainbow Dash agree to coach them against Appleoosa. But when the pressure’s on and the players stop having fun, Ponyville’s newest star athletes lose their competitive edge and quite possibly the biggest Buckball game in history!

So, one has to ask why this episode isn’t particularly great. “Buckball Season” suffers from  a rather mean portrayal of Applejack and Rainbow Dash. (Which interestingly enough happened also in “The Cart Before the Ponies.”) Their portrayal wasn’t as extreme as in Cart thankfully, but they still seemed rather unreasonable. This was for the sake of the message, which was about why pushing someone too hard can/will suck the fun out of a game. This isn’t a bad message (we’ll address that momentarily) but character development should never be sacrificed for the sake of the lesson. Another negative with the writing is Applejack and Rainbow deciding that Pinkie & Fluttershy should compete instead of the former two. This just didn’t flow properly and it’s hard to picture Rainbow letting another pony take her place in a competition.

The actual ‘Buckball’ was pretty fun to watch. Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie make for an excellent team, both on the court and just as friends walking around. The different personalities play off each other well. A surprising highlight was Snails. He’s typically seen with Snips and together they’re usually nothing more than the comic relief duo of the show. Today’s episode actually gave Snails some personality, which was certainly welcome.

Now, the message is a simple one. Aligning with the idea of overdoing it as coaches, there’s this concept of “having fun is what’s important.” This is definitely true in some senses, but one must be careful not to overdo that message and make it seem like fun is the only important thing. In real competition, winning is important and one should train hard to win. The other extreme is of course when the idea of winning consumes a person and makes them miserable when he/she loses. The episode’s message doesn’t go to either extreme. It does scratch the surface of the former, but only barely. The lesson is for the most part good.

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Overall, “Buckball Season” has some writing problems stopping it from being a great episode. Applejack’s and Rainbow Dash’s portrayals were off during the second act, and them deciding not to play was completely unnatural. Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie make for an excellent focus. It was also good seeing Snails have an actual role outside of the comic relief realm. The message is a solid one that the episode thankfully doesn’t overdo.

6.5/10

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Dungeons & Discords Review

Another Saturday equals another installment in the ongoing My Little Pony saga. Despite Season 6 being more on the mediocre side when compared to the previous five, every episode always bring some kind of entertainment. Still, for awhile I was concerned because quite a few episodes this season were either just okay or average. This finally changed last week with “The Times They Are A Changeling,” a much needed emotional entry. Today’s installment has a unique backdrop for the plot. Plus, Discord always makes things extra interesting. “Dungeons & Discords” is definitely better than Discord’s last starring role in “What About Discord?” It isn’t a particularity great episode, but some parts were a lot of fun.

When the Mane 6 leave town, Discord decides to join Spike and Big Mac’s “top secret” Guys’ Night. Much to Discord’s dismay, it turns out to be an evening of fantasy role-playing.

At this point one has either wholeheartedly accepted Discord as a reformed antagonist or still openly against it. I personally think the decision is still a mistake, but for the sake of reviewing I’ve done my best look at his new status quo from the show’s standpoint. Some of his subsequent adventures have been effective, mainly in  “Twilight’s Kingdom.” It is however easy to notice that he’s been more on the lackluster side thanks to incredibly mediocre/average episodes “Make New Friends But Keep Discord” and “What About Discord?” Today’s entry definitely rises above those. How is the writing overall? It’s more on the mixed side, but never outright bad.

A tabletop game isn’t a bad idea for a slice of life story. If the episode had put more of a focus on the game’s inner workings it could have been better. The most fun parts are when Spike and Big Mac are actually in the game. Instead of the story going the route it took, Discord making the game “real” for the entire duration would have made for an immensely entertaining tale. The middle act isn’t a chore to get through, but at the same time some parts were just grating because the story at the time didn’t seem to have much of a point. While seeing Discord continually growing more annoyed with the game the viewer is wondering what the Mane 6 are up to in Yakyakistan.

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The final act brings things full circle with a solid message. It’s definitely a good thing to invite somebody whom is alone to come play. That’s part one of the message, the second is that no one is better than another. Discord drives the latter home. Of course, if one is still against Discord being reformed, this message will be painful to watch. Some notable aspects of the episode include the sequence with Discord showing Spike and Big Mac what he considers to be a real “guys night out.” Another is perhaps the most clever line from the show yet, (hats off to writer Nick Confalone) which was said by Rainbow Dash: “If he messes with us I’ll turn that Yeti into confetti!”

Overall, “Dungeons & Discords” is an entertaining episode. The middle act is sometimes grating because the viewer just wants the story to get to the point. The gaming parts are a lot of fun, and at least half of Discord’s lines were very good. The message was definitely solid. While not a 5 star episode, this one was pretty good, and if you’ve gotten past Discord being a good guy, it’ll be even better.

7/10