HO. LY. SHITAHE MUSHROOMS.
Now THAT is how you open a season! If this is what took you guys so long, DHX, then I am sorry for EVERY SINGLE THING I ever complained about during the wait. Because WOW.
I never thought there’d be an episode of My Little Pony that includes false imprisonment, implied starvation, brainwashing and COMMUNISM.
One thing you’ll notice very quickly about the episode is that not a single moment is wasted. The plot gets started almost immediately with the animatic, and from there there’s always something happening. The plot here is probably the most… ‘full’, for lack of a better term coming to mind, of any of the two-parters we’ve had so far. Nothing is rushed, there’s no wasted space, everything that happens leads into something else, the humor is right on the dot… I’ll have to watch it again to be sure, but it doesn’t seem like a single inch was poorly handled.
Now, the song. ‘Our Town’. It reminds me of a marching tune (as in ‘marching in lockstep’), and the entire sequence is just creepy enough to be unsettling while still keeping the facade of a happy group intact. I don’t know who pulled that off, but they need a medal or something.
This episode also introduces us to a new mage character named Meadowbrook, with 8 magical items. Also, he’s apparently an ‘eastern unicorn’ from the distant past. I’m glad they didn’t go with Starswirl the Bearded yet again, and it’s a nice bit of world-building.
Starlight Glimmer is… a good villain. She’s intelligent, charismatic and devious with the ruthless cruelty to lock people in a shed to be brainwashed (and while it’s not outright stated, it’s implied that the ponies in that shed don’t get any food. Did you see any plates during that time lapse portion? I didn’t.). Her plan was both ingenious and horrifying, and I have to agree that getting a Princess to Equalize willingly would be a huge boost to the town’s popularity. The fact that she was the only pony in town whose colors weren’t desaturated (i think that’s the right word? eh, someone’ll call me an idiot if it’s not) was a brilliant bit of foreshadowing that both called back to Discord’s personality altering-magic and also helped Starlight to stand out amongst the group.
I was going to call her ‘great’, but there’s one big problem: We never really figure out why Starlight believes what she does, and it kinda harms the character. We don’t know why she decided that all cutie marks were bad, or what she wanted the community for. She says in the episode that she wants to foster friendship by making everyone equal, but not only does she not hold herself to that standard, she continues to say it even after it’s too late to fix anything. Presumably there’s a reason she’s doing this, but it’s never really made clear.
Also, much like with Sunset Shimmer, her name is basically ‘Twilight Sparkle’, which is distracting as all crap. She definitely works as an evil mirror counterpart to Twilight, so I can see why they did it, but the fact that this had been done before got a little distracting.
The good news is that she ultimately escapes at the end of the episode, meaning there’s a chance she’ll return as a recurring villain, and we can learn more about this philosophy of hers.
While the Equalization was an interesting idea, it wasn’t around long enough to get a good look at in my opinion. When the Mane Six were Discorded, we had numerous scenes showing what each of them was like under the effects. We had something similar here, and it could’ve been brilliant, but unfortunately we only get one or two jokes from each of them. It’s a little disappointing, but nothing that distracts.
One other bit that sort of disappointed me was the chase at the end. While it’s a very good climax, so much of what occurs during that climax feels… off. Double Diamond just happens to find his skis during the chase? And they just happen to work fine after what I can only assume was years? Really? And while it’s a minor nitpick, I was disappointed with the balloon bridge portion – What I thought was going to happen (and would’ve been very appropriate to the episode’s theme) would be that Night Glider (and maybe another pegasus) would pick up the other ponies and bring them across the bridge.
But again, that’s a nitpick. This is by far the best opener to a season we’ve had so far, and hopefully a sign of good things to come.