I saw the season finale over at a friends house. Don't want to sound too overly hyped or excited or anything, but I FUCKING LOVED IT! In a calm and manageable sense.
I should also say that since we chatted a bit during the season finale, and since the guy's cable box wasn't working too well, we missed out on certain details, but we got most of it. Regardless, I consider this a bit of a first impressions write-up rather then my usual analysis junk... which is not to say a lot of them are basically my first impressions, but since I don't have ALL the details, I don't want to be too analytical, since there might be something I missed. That being said, I can't really think of anything wrong with the two-parter, even stuff that might have been a problem or annoyed me kind of made up for it in other ways. Hell, it might have even improved some episodes that I didn't think too fondly on...
I guess I should star off by saying this episode almost seemed to address the problems this season has had. That's happened quite a bit this season, actually, openly addressing earlier problems... even problems that occurred this very season. I find this odd, because I would expect the episodes to be finished by the time they aired, and thus there wouldn't be much (or any) time go "go back and fix it" by adding a few things here and there to openly address those problems. In this case, Twilight seems to be having troubles with feeling like her princesshood amounts to anything. Again, I can't help but feel like it specifically addresses all the times Twilight's princesshood SHOULD be addressed or at least mentioned yet is either ignored or outright contradicted. Did Meghan McCarthy KNEW this would happen and wrote the episodes this way because of that?
What's strange is that Celestia, Luna, and Cadance (who, admittedly, I STILL want to know what her deal is, like why or who she became an alicorn and why does she seem so young while baby-sitting Twilight) seems to realize this but doesn't seem to do anything about it other then "be patient, you'll do princess-worthy stuff when we get around to it". It's funny, seeing as they usually don't do anything, so they're probably internally taken aback when they hear how Twilight wants to actually DO things. There's a song, which is beautiful since it's Celestia singing along with Luna (first time, yay) and Cadance, plus they do try to make it look as visually stunning as possible, but there are moments that I thought were rather... awkward... like the princess flying overhead, circling around Twilight, I dunno what that was about.
Then Celestia gets a vision (Luna as well), about the return of a great evil... LORD TIREK! In other words, the villain of the original My Little Pony television special Rescue at Midnight Castle (who's actually called Tirac there... eh, whatever) returned for the season 4 finale! I never even watched that special and my inner nerd went bonkers! Of course, it's not the same Tirek, it's this series' version of it. I'm foggy on the details, but apparently Tirek and his brother Scorpan (again, another returning character) journeyed from a far-away land (did they ever say WHERE this land was, or if ALL the inhabitants from there can steal magic?) to try and conquer Equestra, but Scorpan soon befriended the inhabitants and couldn't bring himself to fight them (again, kind of like how the original Scorpan wasn't all that bad). After trying and failing to convince Tirek to stop his conquest, he went to Celestia and Luna, who... somehow defeated Tirak and put him in Tartaros...
Um... Okay, I definitely didn't think of this before or while watching the two-parter, but... how, exactly, was Tirek defeated? What did the Celestial sisters do to beat him? Eh, maybe Scorpan was on hand to back them up, who incidentally left for his homeland after Tirek was imprisoned in Tartaros... though really, what happened to reduce Tirek to such a state? Did Scorpan steal all of his magic? Again, had a hard time paying attention with other people and connection problems, so sorry if I missed anything. Definitely going to have to watch this two-parter again on my own time. Also, how did he escape? Why now of all times? Did they say how? Was Cerberus just asleep around that time?
Well, whatever, the four princess have a meeting about what to do, Cadance says "I know just the princess who can help", Twilight assumes she's going to be tasked with finding Tirek, but Celestia says now, and that Discord will do it. Way to mislead your sister-in-law, Cadance... Seriously, why is she an alicorn, again? Things would be so much simpler if she never existed. But yeah, they're tasking Discord with tracking down Tirek, because apparently he can sense magical disturbances, and thus can sense when and where Tirek is harvesting magic. Interesting, considering this ability of his was never mentioned before, though I guess it makes sense; where there's chaos, he'll be sure to know where it is! Though I get the feeling this wasn't exactly what Celestia had in mind for why she wanted to reform Discord... or maybe it was? Regardless, I'll get into more detail about that later.
Twilight decides to go to the old castle in the Everfree Forest and read up on books there, since she has nothing better to do now, and Discord drops by, goofs around some, then reminds them of the locked chest from the beginning of the season, reveals he's been eavesdropping on Twilight and knows about her problems, promises to bring cucumber sandwiches on their next date later that day, then drops the journal they've been keeping with some... interesting bookmarks. Twilight and company aren't too impressed with Discord (except Fluttershy, and I have to admit, I love the cute little friendship they have now) and try to read up on anything that could help unlock the chest... until Twilight decides to humor Discord and read the bookmarked pages of the journal. Meanwhile, Tirek is stealing magic and growing bigger and stronger with each pony he meets, before he runs into Discord. Tirek is clearly not strong enough to try and take on Discord, though he's more surprised that he's been freed (yeah, it seems these two know each other from way-back-when). Discord admits that now he's friends with the ponies (though mostly Fluttershy), to which Tirek mocks him, saying he's still imprisoned, just not through stone. And I have to admit, Tirek raises a good point; despite all the times they've TRIED to make Fluttershy and Discord look friendly with each other, it really does feel like Fluttershy is using her "friendship" with Discord as a harness more then anything most of the time. He then tries to tempt Discord to the dark side, join forces with him, and under their rule, Discord can be free to do whatever he wants!
...Back with the mane 6, Twilight reveals to the rest of them that she's been reading the journal entries marked, and retells the stories told. For a second, it almost feels like it's going to be a clip show, but we only see a piece of "Leap of Faith", and a bit from "It Ain't Easy Being Breezies" and nothing else, which I found odd... The mane 6 are confused as to what this has to do with anything, but Twilight quickly puts the pieces together, and figures that each of those moments involved them having a difficult time sticking to their element, and also involved someone else learning from their element, and finally, pointing out that each of them got something from that someone else. The each decide to get their little trinkets out to the chest, but are clueless as to what to do... Pinkie angrily yells at Boneless, and throws him at the chest... to which he immediately turns into a key. ...Hope Cheese Sandwich doesn't mind that his once most treasured companion has been turned into a key. The rest of the mane 6 place their trinkets on the chest and each of them turn into keys... But there's still one key left: Twilight's. And unfortunately, she hasn't experienced anything that made her stand by her element yet... Then Spike gets a letter from Celestia, saying that Discord's betrayed them! I'm make a joke about how Celestia REALLY shouldn't have expected that much, considering that Discord's reformation was finicky at best, but I'll get to that later. Discord has been taking Tirek around, surprising ponies with his antics and having Tirek sucking all the magic out of them (including Pegasi and Earth Ponies, which I'll also touch up on later). Celestia knows it's only a matter of time before they reach the four of them, so they have to make a bold move: getting rid of their alicorn magic!
Twilight is at first shocked by this, but decides to agree to it and give up her magic, to which Celestia corrects her, and says, that she, Luna, and Cadance are giving up their magic, and giving it to Twilight, banking on that Tirek won't know that there is another alicorn princess in Equestria... Wait, so does he know about Cadance? How could he, when she seems only slightly older then Twilight? Seriously, what the FUNK is up with Cadance? Are they ever going to explain that? Regardless, Twilight agrees, and also (semi-reluctantly) agrees not to tell her friends... Why did she not need to tell her friends? What downside is there to them knowing what's going on? I guess I know why they're being kept out of the know (so that they can be captured, drained, then used as a bargaining chip later on), but that's more story reasons, I have to wonder what kind of in-universe logic there is to this? For that matter, how come Celestia, Luna and Cadance aren't using that creepy-looking dark magic Twilight used in the season premiere, Princess Twilight Sparkle? You know, the one she used when she said that "only alicorn magic can affect the potion"? that scene STILL bothers me to this day, even moreson now that I know that wasn't alicorn magic. Like seriously, what the what?
Well, whatever, Twilight gets a major power-boost, returns to her home, and realizes SHE has to raise the sun now! While some funny antics happen while she tries to fulfill the other princess's duties (as well as trying to contain her new-found powers) when Shining Armor, who's not in Canterlot for some reason (I guess since this is an international crisis and his wife is there), as Discord and Tirek pop out and steal his magic. Tirek lets Discord do whatever he wants (fulfilling his promise, I suppose) while Tirek tries to take the princesses magic... only to realize they have none. Back in Ponyville, Twilight gets even more ridiculous with her added powers, and her friends take notice and ask what's up, to which she... actually, I don't remember what exactly happens here. I THINK she goes to the old castle to try and do more research or something, and since she doesn't want her friends to know what happened, she tells them to have everyone in Ponyville stay indoors while she does it.
Meanwhile, Tirek banishes the princesses to Tartaros, as he revels in his victory. Discord insists that it's THEIR victory, to which Tirek shows his gratitude by giving Discord a pendant/medallion he wears around his neck, saying it was from a trusted companion of his. Discord apparently likes this, since he says it's what he wanted... I think, having a hard time remembering moments... Unfortunately for them, Tirek discovers a stain-glass window with alicorn Twilight on it, and is furious at Discord for not telling him about her sooner. Meanwhile, back in Ponyville, everypony's safe indoors (supposedly) and the mane 5 are wondering if Discord completed is mission... To which, Discord shows up with a platter of cucumber sandwiches... and cages all of them. Tirek then shows up and steals all their magic... and steals Discord's... Apparently, Tirek had been playing Discord this hole time (and I'll touch more on this later), and says that medallion/pendant of his belonged to his "traitorous" brother Scorpan, and thus it's as worthless as he is. Discord... seems genuinely heartbroken by this... Ho boy do I have a lot to say about this.
Twilight, I guess, catches wise to the fact that Tirek has arrived for her, and an epic battle ensues. Really, even though the inhabitants are "supposedly" safe indoors, the fact that Twilight's house blows up (Owloycious makes it out fine) shows that they could easily perish in this fight. In fact, given how intense the fight gets, I'm surprised no one actually got hurt, given how Twilight and Tirek are going all Dragon Ball Z on each other (one of my friends pointed out that it's more Dragon Ball Z Kai, since if it were DBZ, they'd have spent several episodes charging up before actually fighting). Speaking of DBZ, I distinctly remember during the Androids Saga that there were androids who could absorb energy, making it difficult to fight them... The Super Android 17 Sage in Dragon Ball GT was even worse, in that even punches and blows transferred into power for Super Android 17! During this whole fight, I'm wondering why Tirek literally doesn't just gulp down the magical blasts Twilight keeps shooting at him. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's cool and all, but it feels like something's holding it back...
After Tirek realizes that they're at a stand-still (yes, even with all the ponies PLUS Discord's magic, he seems to be evenly matched with Twilight... which really diminishes how powerful and intimidating Discord was and begs the question of why they needed the Elements of Harmony to beat him, but whatever. Speaking of Discord, though, he, Spike, and the rest of the mane 6 are encased in little bubbles and Tirek threatens to kill them (in a kids show-friendly way) if Twilight doesn't give up her magic. Twilight has her "element realization" moment, and gives up her powers, making Tirek huge and all-powerful! He agrees to let her friends go... but leaves Discord trapped. When Twilight prompts him to release him, Tirek openly wonder show she can still consider Discord a friend after he betrayed them, but releases him anyway. Twilight's friends gather to her, and Discord, broken and depressed, admits that Twilight finally taught him what try friendship is... and not in a hokey forced way like in Keep Calm and Flutter On. After being betrayed by someone he THOUGHT he gained trust in, and seeing someone who he betrayed welcome him back, he now finally understands what it means to be a friend... and gives Twilight the pendant/medallion he got...
...BA-BOOM! Key time! Everyone rushes to the chest (what I like is that everyone, including Discord, runs there, since no one can fly now... how often have you seen Discord running?), and Twilight has the pendant/medallion transform into the key, and all 6 ponies turn the keys open, and... RAINBOW POWERS, ACTIVATE! I still think they look kind of ridiculous (my same friend said that NOW it's definitely Dragon Ball Z), but I kind of like them in-show. Tirek is shocked at this sudden turn of events, even moreso that all his stolen powers can't seem to harm the mane 6! The mane 6 make that motherfucker taste the rainbow, and he's... somehow banished back to Tartaros, complete with chains and a cage... okay... And with that, all the magic returns to the ponies, and the princesses are freed from Tartaros! But that's not all! the chest apparently shoots into the air and lands on the wreckage of Twilight's old home, and grows into a large crystal tree... almost like... Twilight got her own castle, right there in Ponyville!
So Celestia says some stuff to them, again, my friends are too blown away by what just happened to even pay attention. All I got out of it was that not only does Twilight live there now, there are also thrones not just for her, but for the rest of the mane 6... AND SPIKE! But not Discord! Sorry, Discord, you're going to have to work your way back up to it. And it ends on a song, which... I guess is okay, but didn't do much for me, honestly.
So that's the general summary, here are some things I wanted to point out:
1.) When Pinkie said "why the looooooooooong face?", both me and someone else said "your a horse!" XP
2.) So those two ponies from the Equestria Games were there, glad we finally get to see exactly who they are... Though I wonder if we'll ever see Maretonia after that...
3.) ...I'm just going to say it, Tirek is, flat out, THE best villain this show has had, period! He wasn't one-dimensional like Nightmare Moon, he didn't have a last-minute bout of stupidity like Discord did in The Return of Harmony, he wasn't COMPLETELY stupid like Chrysalis was, and he wasn't completely lacking in presence like Sombra. Tirek has a lot more going for him then just being an evil bad guy that happened to have been from an earlier generation of the MLP franchise! Sure, all he wanted was power and to rule, similar to a lot of Disney villains, and while a lot of people equate Queen Chrysalis to being like a Disney villain, her plan was so full of holes and she made so many stupid decisions that's it's a wonder she got as far as she did! Tirek knows what he's doing, and he didn't take any chances until he KNEW he could handle it! He tricked Discord, the ultimate trickster, into doing what he wanted (though really, at this point, tricking Discord doesn't feel like that much of an accomplishment, considering how many times he's been suckered into doing stuff), and didn't bother betraying him until he had enough power to take Discord's magic. Also, unlike Discord, who somehow didn't notice that the mane 6 regained their friendship and thus didn't do anything to stop them from using the elements of harmony to seal him away again, Tirek had no way of knowing about the locked chest, or that it contained the thing necessary to defeat him. There's also a bit of depth to him that's not apparent at first. Tirek had a brother named Scorpan, and Tirek didn't care about making friends, he just wanted to rule, so when Scorpan betrayed him, he only saw it as a betrayal and not as Scorpan doing what's right. Because of that, of course he's not going to trust anyone again, especially not Discord. His motivation matches up with his actions, UNLIKE Chrysalis, who wants to take over Canterlot to have her people feed on the love it's inhabitants provide... yet seems to go against what will ultimately fulfill that goal just to demonstrate how evil she is and also fall into stereotypical villain cliches... Yeah, you know what, I'm actually surprised. Considering Queen Chrysalis, King Sombra, and Sunset Shimmer (who was just an alpha-bitch most of the time and devolved into stupid-evil territory for the climax), this is the first time Meghan McCarthy's written a truly effective villain! Like seriously bravo, I'd tip my hat to you, Ms. McCarthy... but I haven't got a hat (ba-da ba-da-bum-bum-bum)
4.) ...So apparently, Celestia sleeps with her crown, necklace/brooch/whatever, and those things on her hooves while she sleeps? Okay...
5.) Scorpan is mentioned frequently, but never actually seen... I have to wonder if we'll ever actually see him, or what his homeland is like later on. Hey, maybe that'll be a good thing to explore in season 5 (along with griffons).
6.) It was pointed out by Meghan McCarthy that the bookmarks would be important... I'm not sure if she realized this, but they were important in more ways then one, not just in terms of Twilight finding out what she needed to find out, but in terms of Twilight's opinion on Discord... which I'll touch up on...
7.) ...now. For me, this feels like the perfect end to "Discord's reformation" arc. It had a rocky start, and it had some bumps along the way, but now it truly feels like his redemption here is sincere and warranted. Let me explain: I and many others weren't really convinced that Discord wasn't really reformed at the end of Keep Calm and Flutter On, but not in the "who's side is he truly on?!" kind of way, in a "why the Hell did he do that?" kind of what. To me, Fluttershy had barely done anything to warrant Discord having her as a friend, and certainly didn't do enough to have Discord literally give up on what he wanted just to be with her... not to mention, Fluttershy openly admits that her plan was essentially to use her friendship with Discord to make him not do what he wants to do, almost like a one-sided relationship... And considering how good a listening Discord can be, it's strange that he didn't pick up on this plan and easily feel for it. And despite me overall liking Discord this season, I feel like his redemption is infuriatingly questionable, given how KCaFO ended. Meghan McCarthy wanted to play up the whole "who's side is he REALLY on?!" thing, even though it seemed pretty definitive that Discord was on Fluttershy's side, and throwing out jokes like Discord confusing Rainbow Dash for Fluttershy as well as misnaming her, it really spits in the face that the only thing keeping Discord from going wild is Fluttershy! Here, it's clear that he only cares about Fluttershy, even while talking with Tirek, and the episode makes points to show that he's consistently on good terms with her over everypony else. When talking with Tirek, though, he pretty much convinces Discord that having Fluttershy as a friend isn't really worth it, and promises that he can run free like he used to, if they join forces. Now, mid-way thought, I thought this was going to lead up to a reveal that Discord wasn't on his side at all, or that he DID betray them but when everything turned out fine he'd play it off like he was on their side the whole time, the same kind of thing we saw in Princess Twilight Sparkle. And while we didn't get that, I think what we got was actually better... for me, anyway. Once everything seemed to be under Tirek and Discord's rule, Tirek gives Discord that pendant/medallion thing, and... I guess Discord still wants a friend, so he takes this as a sign of friendship. I guess to him, so long as he has someone to do nonsense with, it's all good... Now that he has a taste of what friendship is, he doesn't want to COMPLETELY let it go, but also doesn't fully understand it to realize what it means to betray friends... until he was betrayed himself. Really, part of me feels like Discord SHOULD be smarter then this, though then again, he's shown to have tons of lapses in judgement from time to time... and besides, it's actually really sad to see Discord betrayed like that! Even sadder then Fluttershy's reaction to Discord's betrayal! Yeah, I know, it sounds like blasphemy for me to say that, considering how protective I am of Fluttershy, but there's just something about Discord, naive to friendship, finally knowing what it's like to be betrayed and abandoned... What makes this even better, though, was when Twilight agrees to give up all the alicorn magic, and she insists that Discord go free as well. Now, some might thing this is another one of those "that's what friends do" scenarios that sometimes don't hold water on their own, but thankfully, there's more to it then just that. See, what I never really liked is that Twilight still considered Discord a "friend" despite Discord abusing their "Friendship" to the nth degree and not even liking him all that much. After all the crap Discord gave her, it would be stupid and forced for Twilight to still accept Discord despite everything he's done... but that's not all he did. I like to think that Twilight realized, through the bookmarks in the journal, that Discord WAS trying to help them, just in his own unique way. Because of that, I feel like it's far more acceptable for Twilight to want Discord back, because she knows he can be good and helpful if he wants to. This... actually makes it one of the more touching scenes in the entire series, I'll be honest. Discord, one of the biggest villains of this show, finally brought down and humbled, wants to be friends with Twilight and finally understands what it means to be a friend... It's funny, I was almost thinking he knew the pendant/medallion was the key, but his expressions and the tone of voice he had, it felt like none of this was what he wanted or expected... which, really, makes it all the more heartwarming to see him finally "get" what friendship is all about, and actually wanting to be friends with the mane 6. This KIND of begs the question that KCaFO brought up, though, in that now that he's reformed, and ACTUALLY reformed this time, how are the writers going to work around having him use his God-like powers to fix just about anything. Well, considering that this two-parter introduced characters that can overpower Discord, and that Discord's magic isn't all that different from pony magic, I think it would be more accepting now to find that he can't just snap his fingers at everything. Really, I'm actually looking forward to what they do with the new, TRULY reformed Discord! Before I was questioning if him being a regular character would be worth the clunky set-up, now I'm genuinely excited for what's in store!
8.) Discord apparently still has Fluttershy's lamp that he made to look like himself... despite being traded off to the exotic beast pony in the episode Trade Ya. Eh, maybe he really did make a bunch of them.
9.) Some people might be confused as to why Tirek was stealing "magic" from ponies other then unicorns. Hell, I remember one of my friends saying Earth Ponies are worthless because they don't have magic. I pointed out that that's not true, in that they have a closer connection to the Earth, plus I THINK the episode itself mentioned that Earth Ponies have a lot of strength, which is apparently their own magic. Pegasi, too, have their own magic, which might explain their ability to fly, as well as their ability to control the weather. Small touches like that feed my inner nerd!
10.) Like I said, it doesn't appear that alicorn magic is that different from regular unicorn magic (except that it's brighter, I guess). I still have to wonder why Twilight used dark magic on the "time potion" in Princess Twilight Sparkle. And of course there's Cadance, but I really don't feel like discussing that right now.
11.) My friends got a lot of huge laughs out of Twilight trying to control her magic. Me, not so much. One in particularly got a HUGE laugh out of Discord holding a long sandwich on a stain-glass window, while Tirek holds a sword apparently slicing it up. I didn't laugh out loud, but that definitely was funny!
12.) Like I said, the fight between Twilight and Tirek was pretty intense. Almost to the point of over-blowing it, what with all the DBZ-like beams and stuff. But it definitely felt a lot better and more relevant to the plot then the Celestia-Nightmare Moon fight in Princess Twilight Sparkle, so I'll give it that.
13.) I pointed this out to my friends... But while Twilight seems to be a magical genius, her real element seems to be "friendship"... My friends kept saying "well, Friendship is Magic, so yeah", but I was just like "well why don't they call it friendship? Couldn't they make it less vague?" Maybe they did it that way to make it less obvious what Twilight's supposed to do in the name of friendship... but in that case, how did she know that the element was called "magic", since apparently it was completely unknown... You know, I love pointing out inconsistencies of the "Lauren Faust"-era, it really helps cement the fact that the series was NEVER flawless, and just because the new "Meghan McCarthy"-era seasons have flaws that doesn't make the show under Lauren the best thing ever in comparison.
14.) Like I said, I'm not entirely sold on the new "Rainbow Powers" yet. Hell, I'm not even sure what they entail or how the power up the mane 6 aside from giving them massive hairdos and tails. Eh, I'm willing to see what they do with this, if they do anything with this at all. I'm also guessing all they need to do to get the powers is to turn those 6 keys, open up that chest and release them; in other words, their last-ditch effort to save Equestria is in one box... Oh, and by the way, I pointed this out to my friends, what defeated Tirac in the original MLP TV special was something called "the Rainbow of Light". Given that it was Rainbow Powers that defeated Tirek here... I'd say it's a nice call-back.
15.) So Twilight FINALLY gets her own castle, one she doesn't have to leave Ponyville to really go to! And Twilight's friends can come and hang out there, since they get their own thrones! I LOVE that Spike gets his own throne, right next to Twilight! I love that the chest somehow knew he was an essential-enough guy to get his own throne! XD
16.) Like I said, the songs were... okay. Not the best I've heard, but definitely not bad. They just didn't leave much of an impression on me. Maybe I need to hear them one more time, just like I need to watch this two-parter without my friends present.
And I'd say that's about everything I wanted to say. I'm honestly incredibly stoked, this truly might be the best two-parter, if not the best two episodes of the series in my book, and definitely something to be proud of, like Meghan McCarthy said. Yeah, I'm actually sold on the show's new direction, let's keep it up for season 5! ...which isn't until 2015... holy shit... no more new ponies... This'll be weird. Well, at least we have quite a few things to talk and speculate about, AND I've got a bunch of other shows and games to catch up on in the meantime. Still, a pretty wicked way to end the best season of the show, way to go guys!
Oh, and apparently CR! is unimpressed. Figures... :/