Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 75: To Where and Back Again, Part 1 + 2

Introduction / Navigation

< Part 74 | Part 75 | Part 76 >

Season 6, Episodes 25-26

I wanted to start my Eurovision blog post series so badly, but I had promised myself I would finish this little order of business first. It turned out to take, well… longer than expected. Because I wanted to start my Eurovision blog post series so badly! Still, I promise this review will be a fun one.

(As of this post’s publication, my first Eurovision review is out, but I wrote it after finishing this post.)


Season 6 Episode 25: To Where and Back Again, Part 1

In five words: Starlight faces changelings’ great revenge.

Premise: Starlight Glimmer has returned from a trip to her old village to find out changelings have kidnapped her friends, so she gathers an entourage of supporting characters to save the day.

Detailed run-through:

Typical of Starlight Glimmer episodes, we begin with a calm slice-of-life scene where she and Twilight Sparkle reflect on how far their relationship has come, plus some goofy Spike gags. Their calm reflections are broken when Spike notices something strange incoming:

Twilight, Spike, and Starlight are bowing down to our true lord and savior.

This is the entire purpose of the season 6 finale: for the queen of all things good in this world, Derpy Hooves, to crash into Twilight’s castle and deliver a letter to Starlight. Everything else is an irrelevant afterthought, including all the boxes of books she crashes into. Clearly, Derpy used this method of delivery to make sure the letter would end up in Starlight’s hooves, not Twilight’s. She knows Twilight can be self-absorbed and assume all letters are meant for her, and she knows a letter to Starlight might contain something extremely private. If all characters were as thoughtful and forward-thinking as Derpy Hooves… I would say that would be great, but it would make the show completely boring. There can only be one best pony, and her name is Derpy.

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Progress on my next MLP post (To Where and Back Again)

Yesterday, I finished reviewing To Where and Back Again, Part 1, and now I’m about to start part 2. Once that’s done, I’ll write my recap of the season of course. I plan to release the post on May 26, keeping my pattern of releasing MLP posts on Fridays. You may ask: why has this taken so long? That’s a fair question, and the honest answer is I’m getting burnt out.

Now, don’t get me wrong. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a wonderful show that means the world to me. But like any ambitious project I do, there’s ebb and flow to my motivation. I’ve learned from experience that when I think I need a break from a project, I should do it before I strain myself too hard, to prevent what happened with my Homestuck posts in late 2016 to early 2017. If you don’t know, during that period of my Homestuck posts, my motivation was crumbling but I tried desperately to keep writing them, and I succumbed to burnout so extreme that I paused the post series for almost two years. I don’t want something like that to happen again.

I’m already pushing myself a little to reach the end of season 6, because it’s so much more satisfying to reach an elegant stopping point than an awkward one. The best way for me to conquer burnout on a project is to start or resume a different project—in this case, my Eurovision blog post series. And like all my ambitious projects, the starting phase has me overwhelmingly excited to dive right in, but I always need to plan it out first. In retrospect, my Homestuck blog post series was a major learning experience for what I should and shouldn’t do with projects, especially how to deal with burnout.

I’ll see you soon! It’s possible my first few Eurovision posts will come out before my review of To Where and Back Again, but I won’t start writing them until I finish that review. That’s what I promised myself.

Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 74: Top Bolt

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< Part 73 | Part 74 | Part 75 >

Season 6, Episode 24

I feel bad that I’ve missed so many weeks when going through season 6! Though my love of this show is as strong as ever, my motivation for writing these posts has decreased over the past few months. That’s how it always is with my ambitious projects: motivation comes and goes in waves, leading to months at a time of hiatus. Once I am done with season 6, I’ll take a break during which I’ll scratch an itch to start a brand new blog post series—I’ll announce what it is later today. (It wouldn’t be quite as long as my Homestuck or MLP post series, but longer than my Regular Show post series.)


Season 6 Episode 24: Top Bolt

In five words: Bookworms discover well-intentioned lies.

Premise: The Cutie Map sends Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash—the Mane 6’s bookworms—to the Wonderbolts’ flight camp, where they encounter two childhood friends in training who have unknowingly been holding each other’s flight skills back by secretly giving boosts.

Detailed run-through:

Going by the position of Rainbow Dash’s shadow, it looks like her locker is fifth from the right, on the bottom row.
This will be important later.

The start of this episode is a clever bait-and-switch. As she prepares to go back home, Rainbow Dash banters with her fellow Wonderbolts. Spitfire grumbles that she has to run trials week, then admits she loves putting on her aggressive act. This seems like it’ll just be a quick reminder that Rainbow Dash has fully established herself as a member of the group, making viewers think the rest of the episode will take place somewhere unrelated.

Indeed, when her cutie mark starts glowing, she flies right to Twilight’s castle and excitedly asks where the map will take her. It turns out she needs to go back to Cloudsdale, much to her annoyance. Twilight Sparkle could have easily gone there earlier to find Rainbow Dash, but instead she waited for her friend to show up and waste time flying. Maybe this was a deliberate prank on Twilight’s part? Maybe she has a skeevy, trickstery side that she normally hides? Or maybe Twilight was a bad friend and forgot where Rainbow Dash was over the past few days.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 73: P.P.O.V. (Pony Point of View) + Where the Apple Lies

Introduction

< Part 72 | Part 73 | Part 74 >

Season 6, Episodes 22-23


Season 6 Episode 22: P.P.O.V. (Pony Point of View)

In five words: Mystery solved through conflicting tales.

Premise: Applejack, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie have come back from a boating trip with their friendship in shambles, and Twilight Sparkle tries to piece together their contradicting stories.

Detailed run-through:

To start the episode, Twilight Sparkle is excited to hear how three of her friends’ boating trip went. We get an excuse for why Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy didn’t go on the trip: they were at a Cloudsdale flight school reunion. This leads me to wonder, why did the show choose Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack, out of all character combinations, to go on the trip? I’ll discuss this peculiarity in the overall thoughts, so that I don’t get ahead of myself.

I refuse to believe Rarity didn’t bring at least ten spare outfits to wear in case her current one got dirty.

The three ponies depart the train in separate directions, refusing to talk to each other. If they’re so mad at each other, why did they go home in the same car of the train? My best guess is that the rest of the train was full of excited ponies who had a delightful trip.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 72: Viva Las Pegasus + Every Little Thing She Does

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< Part 71 | Part 72 | Part 73 >

Season 6, Episodes 20-21

We’re almost done with season 6! My plan is to split the last five episodes into three posts: episodes 22-23, 24, and 25-26 (the finale). If I release the next three posts every week, I’ll be finished with season 6 on May 5.


Season 6 Episode 20: Viva Las Pegasus

In five words: Selfish hotel owner gets overthrown.

Premise: The Cutie Map sends another odd pair (Applejack and Fluttershy) to another odd place (Las Pegasus) to deal with another pesky two-faced celebrity (Gladmane).

Detailed run-through:

Before I begin, I’d like to say that this episode has me at an awkward position. I’m so close to an episode that I am extremely excited to analyze, in no small part because it’s a Starlight Glimmer episode, but I first have to pick apart an episode that I feel neutral about analyzing. That’s why I procrastinated on starting this post for about a week.

If the Cutie Map sent her to Appleoosa, I could already hear Applejack’s delighted “hoo-wee!”

The cold opening of this episode is short and effective, only 48 seconds long, since we know the map episode formula. Applejack and Fluttershy both aren’t very thrilled to enter the noisy party town of Las Pegasus. I find it amusing that Applejack has the worst luck when it comes to cutie map missions: seasons 5 and 6 both sent her to a big city that she’d rather not be in. It’s the exact opposite of Rarity’s level of luck—she got sent to both the cities she adores the most.

The efficient storytelling is continued through what TV Tropes calls a Gilligan cut. Applejack says that Las Pegasus probably isn’t as bad as they think; take a wild guess what happens next.

You guessed it! It’s even worse!

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 71: Buckball Season + The Fault in Our Cutie Marks

Introduction / Navigation

< Part 70 | Part 71 | Part 72 >

Season 6, Episodes 18-19

It’s a little annoying that I’ve generally had more to say about odd-numbered episodes of season 6 than even-numbered episodes, because it makes it hard to decide which episodes to give their own posts and which to pair up. We’ve been on a streak of relatively short reviews since The Cart Before the Ponies, and I think I’ll give Top Bolt (S6E24) a post of its own and pair up the rest.


Season 6 Episode 18: Buckball Season

In five words: Pinkie and Fluttershy play sports.

Premise: Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy are interested in playing a sport called buckball against Appleoosa, but when Applejack and Rainbow Dash try to coach them, they become pushy and ruin the fun.

Detailed run-through:

Every time Rainbow Dash says “buck”, I have to remind myself that she’s not swearing.

This episode starts with a throwback in tone to the cartoony slice of life scenes that are everywhere in season 1. We get a dramatized portrayal of Applejack about to buck an apple onto a target, but then Rainbow Dash interrupts her and they have a comically serious discussion about the upcoming buckball match against Appleoosa. Applejack and Rainbow Dash are the most well-established pairing of Mane 6 members, and this episode will explore their dynamic with new characters in the mix. Rainbow Dash acts as her classic doofy self when she sternly agrees that Appleoosa could never beat Ponyville at buckball, then asks what buckball is.

Fluttershy, on the other hand, is deliberately emphasizing the B in “buckball”.
She doesn’t want to repeat the incident where she cussed about her brother in front of a foal.

Fluttershy: Wow, Rainbow Dash. You sure seem to know a lot about this game. I’ve never even heard of… buckball.
Rainbow Dash: Yeah, I’m kind of an expert.
Applejack: An expert who hadn’t heard of the game either until I told you.
Rainbow Dash: Well, it’s a new game. I probably know more than most ponies, so that makes me an expert.

Applejack and Rainbow Dash’s banter is hilarious and endearing, and it truly brings me back to season 1. It’s not exactly outright shippy… but the fact that I had to say it’s not exactly outright shippy shows that it can totally be interpreted as shippy. I also love how serious Applejack gets that Braeburn challenges her to a match. This is Applejack at her finest: getting stone cold serious about silly family traditions that don’t mean much.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 70: The Times They Are a Changeling + Dungeons & Discords

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< Part 69 | Part 70 | Part 71 >

Season 6, Episodes 16-17

This post took a little longer than the last few because spent a few days (March 15-18) on a trip to New York City where I met several Internet friends and a friend from school. During that trip, when waiting for things to happen in my hotel room, I wrote the first half of my review of Dungeons & Discords.


Season 6 Episode 16: The Times They Are a Changeling

In five words: First step resolving changeling discrimination.

Premise: The Crystal Empire is under threat by a changeling spy, and when searching for the culprit, Spike discovers a sensitive changeling named Thorax who merely wants to be his friend.

Detailed run-through:

For some reason, pretty much every episode taking place in the Crystal Empire starts with a train ride there.

To start this episode, Twilight Sparkle demonstrates a severe lack of fourth-wall awareness when she says Flurry Heart has grown a lot and she probably won’t even recognize the baby. If she was aware of the fourth wall, she would know that babies in a cartoon NEVER age until the time skip finale. Starlight and Twilight have a friendly discussion that shows good progression in friendship lessons, which makes it surprising that in the next episode focusing on Starlight, she royally screws things up.

Spike keeping a plush of his pony waifu wherever he goes was clearly inspired by bronies doing the same.

Pretty much every episode taking place in the Crystal Empire also has a reminder that the crystal ponies obsessively worship Spike. Spike has a variety of goofy disguises prepared, and I wonder… could this be a hint that he’s soon to befriend a member of the race whose specialty is impersonation?

One difference from pretty much every episode taking place in the Crystal Empire is that this time, it doesn’t feature all of the Mane 6—instead, it’s only Twilight Sparkle, Starlight Glimmer, and Spike who visit. The minimization of the cast helps give supporting characters some spotlight time that would have otherwise been taken by Pinkie Pie gags.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 69: The Cart Before the Ponies + 28 Pranks Later

Introduction / Navigation

< Part 68 | Part 69 | Part 70 >

Season 6, Episodes 14-15

Warning: this post contains the most negative review of any episode I have written thus far. The second review, not the first one.


Season 6 Episode 14: The Cart Before the Ponies

In five words: Crusaders’ sisters ruin the fun.

Premise: The Cutie Mark Crusaders participate in a derby competition where they have to build their own carts. They each get help from their big sisters, who all take over the project and make it theirs.

Detailed run-through:

After all the adult fan-oriented humor of the last episode, it’s quite the whiplash to hear a bunch of foals say “good morning, Miss Cheerilee!” Unlike in the Crusaders’ episodes of season 1, which featured tons of generic background fillies, all but one of the foals in the class is a named character, and the unnamed one is a colt with a clearly distinct design.

The class is very confused when Cheerilee tells them they’re going to learn advanced physics. Then when she says it’s going to be for this year’s Applewood Derby, they all cheer in excitement. I bet Cheerilee wrote a whole bunch of advanced math formulas on the chalkboard just as a prank to the class, so she could see their relieved and delighted faces when they learn about the derby.

I’m further convinced the math formulas were a joke when Cheerilee puts a much simpler blueprint over the chalkboard. Each of the foals in her class will be provided a block of apple wood that they have to make a cart out of in one day, and they can each choose an older pony to help them—the Crusaders all know who they’ll pick. There are three different awards for the race: fastest, most traditional, and most creative. It seems obvious which of the Crusaders would want to win each prize… right?

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 68: Stranger Than Fan Fiction

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< Part 67 | Part 68 | Part 69 >

Season 6, Episode 13

We’re halfway through season 6 now! My output has been a little slow lately, but I still want to release weekly posts whenever possible as I go through the rest of the season. After the season, I’ll probably take another break. I’ve reviewed each season more intensely on average than the last, and I’ll need to collect myself before I go through the densely packed episodes of season 7.


Season 6 Episode 13: Stranger Than Fan Fiction

… or as I like to call it, The Body Pillow Episode.

In five words: “This one’s for you, bronies.”

Premise: Read the title of the episode. What do you think it’s about? … okay, fine. At a Daring Do fan convention, Rainbow Dash meets a fellow fan named Quibble Pants who turns out to have very different opinions on the book series. Both of them get wrapped up in a real-life Daring Do adventure, Rainbow Dash excited and Quibble Pants skeptical.

Detailed run-through:

It’s no secret that the later you get into this show, the more the episodes are designed around its adult fans. While some episodes of season 6 at least try to act like they’re teaching simple friendship lessons to little kids, the title of this episode embraces that it’s designed for bronies. The name practically screams, “this one’s for you, bronies”—both in paying homage to them and teaching a lesson on how to respectfully interact with each other. You and I already know this review is going to be huge, so why not embrace that and pick apart this episode as thoroughly as I can?

This episode starts with what looks like another wild adventure from a Daring Do book, indicated by the movie-like coloring…

We never see the friendship summit in Griffonstone, but we do get to see more griffons six episodes from now.

… except it turns out to be Rainbow Dash’s fanfiction.

Rainbow Dash: Well, don’t stop there! You read, I pack. That’s the deal.

There’s so much to unpack in this exchange, I’ll start by analyzing it line by line. First off, I can relate to Rainbow Dash’s impatient excitement to show her friends her fanworks based on media they both like. The thing you have to understand about Rainbow Dash is that she’s a HUGE nerd, rivaling Twilight Sparkle as the biggest egghead of the Mane 6. They’re just different types of nerds—Twilight is the straight A student type, while Rainbow Dash is the smart but lazy C student type. Both are the resident bookworms of the main cast, giving them a special dynamic.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 67: Spice Up Your Life

Introduction / Navigation

< Part 66 | Part 67 | Part 68 >

Season 6, Episode 12

I decided to give this episode and the next one both their own posts because my review of Spice Up Your Life turned out longer than I expected, and my review of Stranger Than Fan Fiction will inevitably be super long. And also because I scrambled to finish this post today, publishing it a few hours later than the usual time. I haven’t started writing the next review yet.


Season 6 Episode 12: Spice Up Your Life

In five words: Family restaurant suffers blind judgement.

Premise: The Cutie Map sends Rarity and Pinkie Pie to a family restaurant in Canterlot that is struggling to stay afloat due to a family conflict, but there’s a greater problem that they aren’t yet aware of.

Detailed run-through:

To start the episode, Starlight Glimmer and Twilight Sparkle perform a magic spell to restore the Cutie Map, whose functionality apparently ceased when Starlight Glimmer used it to rampage through time. I’m not sure why the episode goes out of its way to show this restoration; it feels like this was meant to be a difficult challenge to take up the plot of an episode, but maybe an episode focused on this premise wouldn’t have been interesting enough, so they instead decided to do this at the start of this episode.

This makes for one of those weird cases where Starlight Glimmer is there, but only for one small role or plot point fulfillment. But frankly, complaints about Starlight Glimmer stealing all the spotlight in season 6 are silly. We’re twelve episodes in, and so far, she’s played a significant role only in the premiere, sixth, and eighth episodes of the season. She’s a wonderful character who I love dearly, but she’s still a supporting character.

I have to admire how well Pinkie Pie has memorized the map of Equestria.

The Cutie Map flashes between several random pairs of Mane 6 members in random locations, including Twilight and Twilight in Twilight’s castle. We’re supposed to assume those are glitches, but are they really? Maybe those are friendship missions that the ponies missed out on when the map was dormant, and the missions eventually solved themselves. And who’s to say Twilight never had another mishap with alternate selves offscreen? There are plenty of possibilities!

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