May 17, 2013

Looking Back and Moving On: Magical Mystery Cure


So, unless you've been living under a rock for the past three months, our protagonist, Twilight Sparkle, is now an alicorn princess.

In the buildup to the episode, fans were divided over whether or not this was a good idea. And when I say "divided", I mean that about 90% of the fans said that they were opposed to it.

Like, seriously. This is what it was like:


Yeah, nearly everyone was worried. Here at Obsession Is Magic, Dusty and I had a heavy debate going as to whether or not this would be a good thing.

He argued that it would ruin the show. I argued that while I didn't like the idea of having Twilight become an alicorn, I could see ways of making it work.

I believe in M. A. Larson. I believe in M. A. Larson. I believe in M. A. Larson.

These words were chanted over and over, by myself and many others.

When the actual episode aired, several bronies cried "This show is RUINED FOREVER!" or "I'm leaving the fandom!"

Though you'll note that few actually DID leave the fandom. However, I was an exception. I did leave the fandom after this. But, it's been three months. And I'm starting to think that maybe - just maybe - seeing all of that hatred just skewed my opinion. I may have seen the bronies hating it, and thus I wanted to hate it too.

Three months later, and although people still hate Princess Twilight Sparkle, they are less vocal about it. I haven't heard many complaints, so I think that I can now give an unbiased opinion as I rewatch the episode.

Find my review below.



So we open with a song. Now, opening with a song isn't anything new. It was done before in "Party of One." And that's often considered to be one of the best episodes of the first season, possibly outdone only by "Sonic Rainboom." So I gather that most bronies don't really have a problem with this.

As for whether I have a problem with it, not at all. In fact, I welcome it. This season had gone for a long time with VERY few songs, so it's nice to see them finally putting some in.

That said, had I known how MANY they were gonna put in, I wouldn't have the same opinion. But we'll get to that.

There are some weird "glitchy" things. Twilight just looks weird to me. As does Spike. And well, just about everyone. It could be that I'm just not used to seeing cartoony multicolored horses, having not seen them in a while, but their body proportions look off. Probably comparing it to real-life horses, though. So I'll excuse it.

Especially so, since I didn't think anything of it when I watched this episode the first time.

But what I will NOT excuse is poor writing. These characters are weird. There's a scene in the opening number where Twilight just dances on a table (it's not as sexy as it sounds) that another pony was using. WTF!? She is a rude, inconsiderate, jackass.

And she is supposed to be our protagonist.

Yeah.

Having said that, this does have precedence. In "A Friend In Deed", the whole town goes out of their way to do Pinkie's song. And she was just as rude, if not ruder. So why did it work in that song but not this one? Because... Pinkie.

As we saw in "Feeling Pinkie Keen", there are things about Pinkie Pie that just don't make sense and you can't explain them. She is immune to all logic. As such, her singing can have the "you will let me be rude to you" effect on the townsponies. And I will buy that. Because it's Pinkie. She does weird things like that.

Twilight, on the other hand, has no excuses. She's just rude here.

I'm barely one minute into the episode, folks! And already, we have what I would classify as a major problem: the fact that I hate the protagonist. But let's continue. Maybe it gets better.

We see Rarity with Rainbow Dash's cutie mark. And Twilight addresses her as "Rainbow Dash" before she looks at her. And Rarity RESPONDS to that.

This is a huge contradiction to what we see later, but for now, let's go with it. There's technically nothing wrong with it YET.

"My Little Pony... My Little Pony..."

Oh god I forgot how cheesy that sounded.

So we get some backstory. Apparently, Rarity has been controlling the weather since the day that she first got her cutie mark, by which I mean Rainbow Dash's cutie mark.

Bullshit.

There's two problems with that explanation.

First of all, even if you despise doing something, you will get better at it with experience. No matter what. Look at my former video reviews. I never wanted to be a filmmaker. But I got to be good at it. Look at any given webcomic. Webcomics are done in people's spare time. They're not expected to turn a profit on it - it's just fun. And they get better at it. I can't think of a single example when there has not been a noticeable increase in quality from the first webcomic to the last (well, assuming that it doesn't stop after just 12 strips or whatever).

This is true with anything. It would actually make a great Friendship Report if they were willing to do it. Because this is a lesson that I wish I had learned a long time ago. It was something that I only recently discovered, and I could have used this when growing up. But no. In the MLP-verse, apparently you can NEVER get good at anything unless it's the one thing that you were meant to do.

SUCK. MY. DICK.

Seriously, you're gonna shove THAT down little kids's throats? Fuck you, M. A. Larson. You goddamned hack!

Yeah, I'm sorry that I'm still complaining about this, but this really gets under my skin.

And what makes it even worse is that this has a precedent as well. To quote a TV Tropes editor:

The moral of "The Show Stoppers" was probably intended to be "Be Yourself, and embrace your natural talents," but to some fans it came off as "Don't waste your time trying new things. Just stick to what you're good at, even if you hate it."

Yeah. I can see that. Screw you, pony writers.

Now, as I mentioned, this scene has TWO problems with it. The second one is simply this:

Rarity claims that she has been doing this since she was more-or-less a little filly. And she has not improved at it. Assuming that that's fine, this brings one question. Why does Ponyville exist?

Seriously. It is being hit with a literal shitstorm nearly every day for the past... oh, let's call it, eight years. You could argue that it's only been three. You could argue that it's been fifteen. The ages of these characters are annoyingly undefined.

Except Gummy, who turned one year old in "Party of One", but I digress.

But even if it's only been a couple of WEEKS, the place would be devastated. A few days later, it would be uninhabitable. So there's no way that Rarity has been doing this for any decent length of time.

So there's only one valid explanation that I will accept here: Rarity is wrong. She is either lying or mistaken, but she has not been doing this for eight years or the like. But no. We are led to believe that this is an everyday occurrence in Ponyville for the past eight years or so.

Which leads us to a third problem: Why hasn't anyone done anything about it? Why not get other pegasi to help? Why not call other unicorns from other towns to work for you (for a fee, admittedly, but just temporarily until Rarity learns to do it better)? Why hasn't someone bought Rarity a weather teacher? Why hasn't Rarity outsourced her job to somepony else? Why hasn't anyone stopped Rarity from doing anything? She could be fired from weather manager, or run out of town by an angry mob, or killed by someone who just wanted to go outside for once.

All of these would make a ton of sense, yet none of them happen. Instead, the townsponies just grant her total control over the sky because of a mark on her butt.

A mark that symbolizes Rainbow Dash's ability to RACE, I might add. It had nothing to do with weather control. Ah well. I can't fault continuity errors. It's not like "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" has the same writer as this episode or anything. Oh wait.

Yes it does.

Seriously, M. A. Larson!? Can you not keep your own episodes straight? Look, if you want to be disrespectful and throw away someone else's contribution to the show, then that's fine. I will hate you for it, but that's fine. Here, though, you're throwing away your OWN work. This makes the plot hole bigger.

And that's not a good thing.

Did I mention that we're only two minutes into this episode so far? Oh boy, this is a treat! [/sarcasm]

So the townsponies get angry at Rarity. Which begs the question why they never did that before.

Seriously, imagine if that's how it worked in real life. Imagine if there was a jackass who was being unconsiderably rude to you and inconveniencing you every day as you tried to go about your routine. Some people would be angry and confront him about it right then and there. Others may be calm about it and not worry too much about it, but then get on his case about it after a few days. Some may even ignore it entirely, not wanting to start a fight. But you don't just ignore it entirely for eight fucking years and then yell at him for it. He'd say something like: "Uh, dude, I do this every day. What's your problem with it NOW?"

And you'd have no excuse.

Now, going back to my "Rarity is lying or mistaken" point above, it is entirely possible that the townsponies are also lying or mistaken. Fair enough. If none of the past eight years actually happened the way that Rarity believes that it did, then that's okay. That solves basically every problem so far. Their memories are being affected.

Which then begs the question: Why isn't Twilight being affected? Well, there is a valid explanation, but we'll get to that.

Anyways, Twilight wakes Spike and tells him to help the situation. We then get this exchange:

"I still don't see what you had to wake me up for. I love sleeping in the rain."
"This isn't about the weather, Spike."

Oh really!?

You know, it's funny, because guess what? IT ISN'T FUCKING RAINING.

Oh, don't get me wrong. It was raining basically ever since Twilight's song ended. But when they cut to this next shot of Twilight and Spike approaching Fluttershy's cottage, the weather is perfectly fine. WTF!?

The animators refused to work with the writers. That's the only explanation for why it says one thing and shows another.

Twilight provides some info for Spike, as well as for the audience. Rarity had Rainbow Dash's cutie mark. We know this already. But she also says that apparently, Rarity said that this (what the audience knows to be Fluttershy's cottage) is Rainbow Dash's cottage.

The problem is that she never actually said that. I get that the line happened off-screen. I'm not stupid. But the problem is that the line DIDN'T happen off-screen. It couldn't happen off-screen. Because there's no way for it to happen off-screen.

It never had an opportunity to be.

Recall that Rarity was being attacked by an angry mob. Well, not so much "attacked" as "getting yelled at", but whatever. The mob overwhelmed her, thus forcing Twilight to back away from Rarity. As such, Rarity never had an opportunity to tell Twilight anything.

Yet we're led to believe that she did. This just makes no sense.

So Twilight knocks on the cottage door, and Rainbow Dash answers it.

Twilight questions her about the situation, but Rainbow Dash knows just as much as Rarity, which is to say nothing at all.

Twilight then opens the door fully and asks "What's going on in... here?"

Okay, two problems here.

First of all, if someone only pokes their head out a door, it means that there's something that they don't want you to see. You RESPECT their privacy and don't open the door further. Especially if that "someone" is one of your best friends, Twilight. You're being incredibly rude this episode.

Secondly, it takes her way too long to react. She sees Fluttershy's animals being out of control and her eyes don't widen until the camera zooms out so that the audience can see it. From Twilight's perspective, that makes no sense. Imagine a building next to you being demolished and wreckage is flying everywhere. But until you turn around and look at it, none of it will harm you. That's this shot.

Now, you could argue that the reason for this is to draw suspense for the audience. If we don't see Twilight react to it, we won't know what's going on until it shows it. And you know what? I'll accept that. But the problem with that explanation is that even before this shot, we HEAR the animals out of control. So we know the big reveal already. The animators weren't cooperating with the sound effect people either.

We then get a clear view of the cottage interior. It's decorated with furniture and such that FLUTTERSHY would have. Not Rainbow Dash. Now, this further supports my "It's all in your mind" theory. Rainbow Dash doesn't really live here (though that begs the question of why the hell she is there now).

Or the animators were being lazy asses and didn't want to redesign their background vector.

Which do you think is more likely?

We then get a second song. You know, as much as I'll hate on the animation and the writing, I will admit that the soundtrack to this episode is superb. Props to Daniel Ingram for that.

We see a montage of Twilight visiting all of her friends to see what their new lives are like. I'll go through them one by one:

Rainbow Dash has Fluttershy's cutie mark and is looking out for Fluttershy's animals. But in the same shot, we see Pinkie's alligator, Gummy, which I guess makes sense because it's Pinkie Pie, so it's immune to logic. And we see Iron Will's goat. Which... I can't explain at all. Yeah, this is just bad animation. But what makes it worse is that it's unnecessary. The animators already have more vectors from "May the Best Pet Win!" among other episodes, so just re-use those rather than inserting these things in.

Fluttershy has Pinkie Pie's cutie mark and is trying to make the townsponies happy. You know what would help? Use your pegasus powers to manipulate the weather and undo Rarity's disaster. THAT would make people happy. Anyways, once again the animators got lazy with the background and just kept it Pinkie Pie-style. But what's more irritating is how much Fluttershy fails at making them laugh. Uh, aren't epic fails funny? Think about it. 99% of the videos on America's Funniest Home Videos are literally just people hurting themselves. That's all this is, except it's humiliation rather than pain. I understand why Fluttershy wouldn't find it enjoyable. The poor girl is being humiliated. But why isn't anyone else enjoying this? We also get a shot of DJ Pon3/Vinyl Scratch here. I greatly dislike this character for a number of reasons, but the fandom seems to like her okay, so I'll let it slide. What I won't let slide is what comes next. Spike accidentally obtains a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, does a silly dance with them, and everypony laughs. Just as Fluttershy intended. Yet she's disappointed. WHY!? I understand that she didn't make them laugh, but what difference does it make? The end result is the same. That's like saying that people would react differently if I shot myself in the head than if I stabbed myself in the head. It just doesn't make sense. Either way, the same effect happens: I am dead. What the hell difference does it make how it happened? It's still just as sad and tragic regardless of how I did it. Or, in Fluttershy's case, it should be just as joyful. The fact that she doesn't like it implies that she WANTS the ponies to be miserable. Which begs the question why she's trying to make them happy in the first place. The lack of logic in this scene's lack of logic really lacks of logic.

Pinkie Pie has Applejack's cutie mark and is working at Sweet Apple Acres. Now, going off of my assumption of it being a memory spell, this makes sense. It explains why Big Macintosh, Granny Smith, and Apple Bloom haven't questioned it. And it explains why Pinkie lacks the physical strength to do her job. The background once again goes unchanged, but I'll give this one a pass, because I don't know how you'd change freaking dirt. But there's one problem with this: the song gets a southern country twang in it during this verse. Andrea Libman, Pinkie Pie's voice actor, thus tries to do Applejack's southern accent. Why would she do this!? None of the other characters try to sound like their imitations. Including one character (Fluttershy) who was voiced by THE SAME ACTRESS. So she knows not to do it. Speaking of Fluttershy, we see chickens on the Apple farm, even though Fluttershy is the one who usually raises chickens. Consistency: You Suck At It!™ And of course, there's the elephant in the room: straight-maned Pinkie, and the writers's inconsistency with it. I'll just be the first to say that I don't see the inconsistency. Her mane is puffed up only by her own happiness. When people say that she should have a straight mane, they usually reference "The Return of Harmony", where she turned unhappy, but didn't go straight-mane. There is a huge difference there. In most episodes, Pinkie's happiness stems from helping other ponies. But in that one, it stemmed from hurting other ponies. She was happy by being unhappy, so her mane stayed puffed. People also reference The Last Roundup, where Pinkie was angry at Applejack and kept her puffed-up mane. But anger is not the same as sadness, so there's no need for a straight mane. And finally, in her "Smile Smile Smile" song, there was her double. And you could argue that because one of herselves was happy, the happiness spread to her other self. Then you question why she would need to clone herself in "Too Many Pinkie Pies" when she could already do it at will, but let's get back to this episode. (Though I suppose any continuity problems, including the straight mane, if you think it is inconsistent, could be chalked up to "It's Pinkie Pie. She's immune to logic." But whatever.)

Applejack has Rarity's cutie mark and is working at the dress shop whose name I can't spell. (Yeah, I know, I suck at that.) The music briefly shifts to "Art of the Dress" from "Suited for Success", the Rarity song, but then fades back into the song that has been playing this whole time. It is a nice effect, but it kinda feels out of place when none of the other verses did that. Now, Applejack is making dresses. Even though Rarity's cutie mark is for finding gems, not making dresses. Whatever. And Applejack supposedly fails at making dresses. How? Fashion is subjective, there is no such thing as ugly. If you want to wear something that most of the people would consider "ugly" or "not normal", then that's fine. Look at the bronies. They wear MLP shirts in public all the time (well, some of them anyways). Even though, from a societal perspective, that's complete garbage. There is literally no way to make an ugly dress. You could either fail to make a dress at all, or you could make a dress that's virtually unwearable, or even something different from what you intended. But once you put that needle to the thread, you have a guaranteed success rate. Even if it isn't even shaped like a dress, so it can't be worn comfortably and would leave naughty areas exposed, guess what? Some people may like that. And even if it doesn't sell, you still MADE it. Which is all that you are trying to do.

Rarity has Rainbow Dash's cutie mark and basically rehashes what we already know about her. We then see that everypony decides to keep doing their "wrong" talents because their cutie marks are on display and so they can't afford to let everyone down. God forbid if you don't conform to society.

Now, I'll admit that I like this. This is actually somewhat realistic. Those who deviate from the societal norm are ridiculed. Fair enough. But you can find another way out of it. You could get clothing to cover your cutie marks, like what Apple Bloom did in "Call of the Cutie" to cover her lack of a cutie mark. Now, I realize that Applejack is in charge of the dress shop, but I highly doubt that Rarity had a monopoly on the business.  You could find another dress-maker. Hell, we've seen a couple. Hoity Toity, Photo Finish, the unnamed one from "Stare Master", and probably even a couple that I forgot.

Or if that doesn't work, you could probably get surgery done on it. And don't tell me that this doesn't exist. In a world where tramp stamps are a natural coming-of-age thing, you would have reversal procedures if it doesn't go the way you want it. Especially so when we see cutie marks being REMOVED in "Ponyville Confidential." All it is is a dyed coat. Go dye your coat another color. And we do know that dyes exist in this world. Look at "Magic Duel" when they did illusionist magic on Sweetie Belle and the Apple Family. Look at "Boast Busters" when Trixie dyed Rarity's mane green. There are dyes.

And even if that's not an option, you could come up with excuses. Take Pinkie Pie's cutie mark for example: three apples. Apple Bloom herself said a long time ago that apples have "so many uses." She could make up what it does, as long as it has something to do with apples. She could say, for instance, that she's good at eating a buttload of apples all at once. And the ponies would accept that.

Trust me, there's ways around this, guys.

Oh, and did I mention that I'm only four and half minutes in so far?

You know, I think I realized why this is called "Magical Mystery Cure." Because by the time it's over, it's a mystery how you survived it and you want a magic cure for the effects that it had on your brain while watching it.

We then cut to Twilight and Spike returning home. Spike questions what's going on, just as confused as Twilight is. This tells us that Twilight and Spike are the only two characters in Ponyville that remember the events of the past three seasons the same way that we do.

So whatever happened must have involved the two of them being in a different circumstance than everypony else. We also get some subtle foreshadowing in the background, when we see the Elements of Harmony being colored wrong.

And we get a call back to Party of One, when Spike mentions that he took a seven-hour bubblebath. Just as he did in that episode. I guess that's his new hobby. Sure, why not?

Apparently, during this seven-hour bubblebath, Twilight receives a package from Princess Celestia.

Question. Why didn't Celestia send the package via Spike? Why would she use Equestria's postal service? She sent tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala via Spike, and probably some other things that I'm forgetting, but the point is that we've seen Spike used for non-message items before. So why not do so here? It saves money on postage.

Anyways, inside is Star Swirl the Bearded's final (incomplete) spellbook. Star Swirl was a great sorcerer from several years ago mentioned repeatedly throughout the series, usually by naming things after him. As I said, the exact measurements of time in the show are never clearly defined.

We know that Celestia has been ruler of Equestria for at least one thousand years. Because that's when she had Luna locked away in the moon. We know that Discord was the ruler of Equestria before Celestia took power. And it is implied in "Hearts and Hooves Day" that the Love Potion was what let Discord gain power. But it's never outright stated. Regardless, there is a common theme here. Equestria is, at the very least, one thousand years old.

That's assuming that Discord's entire reign, Celestia's rise to power, and her decision to lock Luna away all happened within the span of one year. Which is incredibly unlikely, so that means Equestria is MORE THAN a thousand years old.

And we know that Star Swirl the Bearded was the mentor to Clover the Clever. Clover the Clever was one of the six founders of Equestria. This means that at the absolute minimum, Star Swirl lived one thousand years ago. And you mean to tell me that in all this time, no one has ever thought to finish his spell?

I mean, we know that he wrote 200 spells, but that's such a small detail, so I won't hold it against M. A. Larson for not remembering it. It's not like he wrote the episode where we learned about that or anything.

Oh wait. He did.

So, if he wrote so many spells, that means that he is really fucking good at it. And that means that he was really famous. Famous enough to have an entire WING of the Canterlot Library named after him. Which, incidentally, was ALSO seen in an M. A. Larson-written episode.

And you're going to tell me that in all these centuries, no scholar or historian ever studied him and stumbled upon this book and tried to complete it?

I find that highly unlikely.

So then Twilight attempts to cast the spell.

From one to another, another to one
The mark of one's destiny, singled out alone fulfilled

This causes the Elements of Harmony to change color to be what they are in the present day.

What the hell did you think would happen, Twilight? Seriously, let's analyze this.

"From one to another, another to one" = Swapping
"The mark of one's destiny, singled out alone fulfilled" = Cutie Marks

This is a cutie mark swapping spell. Twilight then gets tired, and decides to make sense of it in the morning.

So she heads AWAY from her bedroom. Now, there is a reason for this. Heading towards the bedroom would mean that she would see the Elements of Harmony, so she has to avoid them. But why not just draw the Elements on the other side? Put them near the front door. Done.

And it makes sense even from a continuity standpoint, since this is the first episode where we see the Elements ever since Twilight was kept in charge of them in "Keep Calm and Flutter On", so we wouldn't have any reason to believe that the Elements were next to the stairs.

But no. The animators decide to do this scene wrong, and make it even more confusing.

Also, going back to the spell, why were the Elements of Harmony affected anyways? The origin story of the Elements is unclear at best. Their earliest known use was by Celestia to defeat Luna a thousand years ago. But we don't know if that's when they were first created or not.

What we do know, however, is that way back in "Friendship is Magic, part 2", Nightmare Moon destroyed the original Elements of Harmony and Twilight was forced to create new ones: her friends. Each of the main characters embody one of the Elements of Harmony. I think that it can be reasonably assumed that this is how the originals were created as well.

And if Star Swirl made a spell specifically for this, then that means he had to know about the ponies who embodied the original Elements, possibly even being one himself. But this can't be true. As we find out later in the episode, Star Swirl never had friends. So he made a spell regarding the Elements without having any Elements to base it off of? How did he make it then? This introduces so many questions.

Seriously, go pull out a neozinel and look at this. Don't know what that is? Great. Thanks for illustrating my point. It makes as much sense to you as something like "The Elements of Harmony" made to Star Swirl. Now, imagine if you were writing an instruction booklet on how to use a neozinel. You just can't. Because you don't know what that is. That's what Star Swirl did. He wrote about something that he didn't know anything about. Yet somehow got it to work.

And incidentally, I just made that word up, so don't lose sleep over not understanding it.

Anyways, the Elements of Harmony shift colors to now match the cutie mark swapping. Twilight's element, Magic, remains completely untouched by color-shifting, which explains why she was immune to the cutie mark swap.

So, in theory, all of the non-Twilight ponies who have connections to the Elements of Harmony should have shifted, but no one else did. That makes sense, as even the background ponies have their cutie marks shown correctly.

But what doesn't make sense is why their memories were affected. They honestly thought nothing strange about Rarity controlling the weather, it's always been like that. So the spell must have both affected them and not affected them at the same time.

The fact is that this spell had SOME effect on everyone except Twilight and Spike. Twilight makes sense, as she was the one who cast the spell. Spike doesn't, but I suppose you could make some excuses. He was close by, so he was within range to not be affected, though that makes very little sense, as it makes more sense if it would have affected him more in that case. You could also argue that he is immune because of the Elements of Harmony.

This is a stretch, but Spike did technically use an Element in "The Return of Harmony, part 2" when Rainbow Dash had abandoned them. And you could argue that due to that connection, he was immune to the spell in the same way that Twilight was. Because her Element was unaffected. But there's several problems with this theory. First of all, Spike's Element was the same as Rainbow Dash's. He was just borrowing hers. Secondly, not only did the Element fail to work thanks to Discord's influence, but Spike couldn't even successfully activate his. Everypony else got theirs to spark and then levitate them. Spike never did. So I call bullshit on this.

I think it's just the writers being lazy. It has a point, because if Twilight was the only one who remembered the events of the previous 64 episodes, then she'd have no one to talk about them with, so she'd either be talking to herself, which is crazy, or not talking at all, which is not helpful to the audience, because we wouldn't know that she knew that the world had changed. Spike is there to give Twilight someone to talk to.

And that's fine. As long as you write that in to the story. Maybe say that dragons are immune to unicorn magic or something. That would work.

Or you could leave a plot hole that's so big that I can drive the freaking Bagger 288 through it. (For those unaware, the Bagger 288 is the world's largest land vehicle. Wikipedia it if you don't believe me.)

Now, which makes more sense? Having a reason why Spike is unaffected? Or just having a plot hole? I thought so.

So now Twilight is stuck with a problem without a solution, as there is no counterspell for this, since Star Swirl presumably died before making one.

Spike suggests the memory spell from "The Return of Harmony, part 2." Twilight says it won't work, because their memories weren't altered - their true selves were.

BUT THAT CONTRADICTS WHAT WE SAW. Remember my rant about how Rarity had to have been either lying or mistaken? Go ahead and insert it here as undeniable proof that it IS their memories that were altered.

But let's ignore that bit. Let's assume that Twilight is right. Their memories are unaffected. Fine. The memory spell will still work.

Let's analyze what Twilight's solution later in the episode is. She goes to Fluttershy, and tells her that she might like taking care of animals. Just give it a chance. Fluttershy does so, and she is restored to normal. Rinse and repeat for the rest of her friends.

How is this any different than the memory spell? I get that the memories will seem like lies to the pony who the spell is cast on, but they will still receive the memories. They will still think that they may like it if they try it. The only difference is using magic versus using your mouth. Other than that, it's IDENTICAL.

In fact, it's actually better to use magic. With your mouth, you show them that they MIGHT like it. With memories of them actually enjoying it, you show them that they WILL like it. So by refusing this option, you actually make yourself weaker.

Twilight isn't very smart in this episode. Despite being the "smart" character for the last three seasons.

Spike also suggests Zecora's cure for The Cutie Pox, which Twilight says won't work either. Eh, fair enough, I suppose. I don't see why it would. So Spike is confusing me on this one. Why would he think that it might work?

But actually, this brings up another idea: what about Zecora? Twilight could go to Zecora for help. Zecora has always been Twilight's go-to source for solutions to anything supernatural. Go see if she could provide assistance with this. From a writer's standpoint, I see that this doesn't work because if Zecora solves the problem, then Twilight won't be able to be the focus of the episode later and become a princess. But that's still no excuse not to TRY.

Twilight goes to Zecora. Zecora says she can't help, having never seen cutie mark swapping before. Or she doesn't know what's wrong because from her perspective, this is natural. Just as the townsponies thought that it was natural for Rarity to control the weather. Zecora was affected by the spell too. Or Zecora wasn't at home. She was off on her own adventure. Which you could then show in a later episode, and link these two like you did with the "Games Ponies Play"/"Just for Sidekicks" episode.

There, take any of those options. Now, admittedly, I didn't even think of Zecora being an option until Spike mentioned her, so if you're really running short on time and don't want to show a trip to Zecora's, or if Zecora's voice actress was unavailable or whatever, you could just have Spike not mention her. Twilight wouldn't think of her, and neither would the audience. Just write out Spike's line about the Cutie Pox. Done.

Spike's next suggestion is that the other ponies might grow to enjoy their new lives.

Uh... not really, no.

Think about each case individually.

Rainbow Dash is all about speed, athletics, and flying. She is now an animal caretaker in her home, which is on the ground. This is about as far away from her happiness as you can get.

Fluttershy is a sweet, kind, gentle pony. She is now asked to be a crazy party animal all the time. Again, pretty far away. Admittedly, I think Fluttershy would enjoy her new life more than anyone else, because Fluttershy, in her heart, just wants to be kind to people. And that makes people happy. And in her new life, that's her goal. To make people happy. Well, replace "people" with "ponies", but same deal.

Pinkie Pie is crazy and out of control and just wants to have fun all the time. She is now working on a farm 24/7 with no real time off to relax. First of all, that's not a very realistic interpretation of how farms work. If it really was that much work, no one would do it. You do get some opportunities for relaxation. Admittedly, not as much as you would if you were a baker, as Pinkie was in her old life, but still. Pinkie wouldn't enjoy this life though. It's too serious for her.

Applejack is a country pony that is basically a Southern stereotype. She is now a high-class dress maker. That's basically her total opposite.

Rarity is now being asked to do a job that her entire SPECIES isn't meant to do. Yeah, that'd be stressful and sadness-inducing.

So, really, Spike? You actually think that any of them might enjoy this? Well, as I said, Fluttershy might, but the others won't.

We then get a third song. A depressing as hell song. All about how Twilight screwed up. I love this music. And the animation makes it even better. This is one of the few genuinely enjoyable parts of the episode, because it is set up so well. The darkened hues, the overcast lighting, the rain on the windows, the shadows cast, it all sets up an atmosphere of hopelessness.

And then the lyrics. Oh god the lyrics. This is some of the best-written music ever. It really makes you sad and makes you feel for the characters. Supposedly, some bronies even shed tears liquid pride over this song.

Eh, I dunno. I've seen what many people around me believe to be the saddest movie of all time: A Moment to Remember. If you haven't seen it, it's a Korean film that's supposedly tragic. I never shed a single tear at it. In fact, I kinda laughed at it. After how built-up the whole "this is sad and will make you cry" thing was before I saw the movie, it felt very underwhelming.

I guess I will briefly explain the plot of the movie and why it didn't work for me: So, it starts off, oddly, as a love story. These two people build up a happy relationship. Then the girl gets a rare form of Alzheimer's disease that manifests itself while the person with the symptoms is still young. She then forgets about her entire relationship and doesn't even recognize her boyfriend anymore. She then thinks that he is trying to attack her when all he wants is for her to be happy. And he tries to teach her how the world works, as she has forgotten it, but she cannot be taught. Every time she learns something, it is forgotten about mere moments later. This was honestly not sad at all for me. Mostly because I have lived in this position already. Both of my grandparents had Alzheimer's. And as tragic as it is that the girl got this disease, imagine if the boy did as well. I know what it's like when they both have it. And I know what it's like to try to take care of them and failing, because they are beyond help. This was my real life at the time. A work of fiction showing this seemed pathetic. Trying to help one person that you care about but they can't remember you at all? Try doing that with TWO people and then one doesn't seem so bad.

But the point is:

I've never once cried at a work of fiction. Because it's freaking fictional. Twilight Sparkle could teleport to Cloudsdale now, without a "walk on clouds" spell, fall straight through, and get crushed by the impact of hitting the ground. Just as a form of suicide. I won't care, because Twilight isn't real. And she never has been. She is literally a drawing on a sheet of paper that Lauren Faust bought.

Now, having said that, I do see sad scenes in fiction, and see the reactions of people around me. Just because I can't get emotionally invested in fiction doesn't mean that they can't. And I have studied this. I have learned what makes people cry, even if I am immune to the effects. And in that regard, this scene in My Little Pony does it perfectly. I don't deny for a second that it is amazing.

It's funny, the songs are my favorite part of the episode. Maybe M. A. Larson should have let Daniel Ingram write this episode.

Twilight then says, after Spike convinces her, that she will find a way to help her friends. They mean more to her than anything. We then see her reminisce over the picture from the theme song. In which their cutie marks are normal. Why not just show them that picture and then say: "See? Your cutie mark is different, something must be wrong here. We need to figure this out." Then they will help you.

Or you could try something stupid.

Take a wild guess which she chooses.

Yeah, so she grabs the Elements of Harmony, NOT KNOWING THAT THEY WILL HELP THE SITUATION AT ALL, and then goes to find her friends. Why does she bring these things with when she has literally zero evidence that this will help? Because plot hole.

She first goes to see Fluttershy, who wants to move back to Cloudsdale, since she can't make anypony laugh in Ponyville.

This is monumentally, ball-crushingly, stupid.

Even if their lives had been changed from the moment that their cutie marks appeared (since we do know that it was the same moment for all six of them), I think it's fair to assume that their lives pre-cutie mark were the same. In which case, Fluttershy is willingly and knowingly returning to a place where she was teased, humiliated, and bullied every day of her life.

We now interrupt this review to bring you a relevant video on the topic.


This is basically Fluttershy's life. And she is willingly choosing to return to it. NO.

I'm sorry, but... no.

I understand that the point of this scene is to show that things are so bad in Ponyville that she would actually prefer to get yelled at and beat up every day than to continue to stay here. Maybe that's true. But there are other options. You can still avoid Cloudsdale while avoiding Ponyville. It's not like those are the only two places in the world. You could go to Canterlot, or Fillydelphia, or Manehattan, or a number of other places. Heck, even the Everfree Forest would probably be kinder to Fluttershy than Cloudsdale was.

Now, you could argue that their lives were altered pre-cutie mark. But that makes very little sense. Take Pinkie Pie for example. If she was altered at the time of her conception to be born into what we know as Applejack's family, and lived Applejack's life, then it's not Pinkie Pie. It's Applejack. Our experiences shape who we are. And if Pinkie was raised to be like Applejack, making the same choices and living the same life, she will, for all intents and purposes, be Applejack. The same goes for all of her other friends.

As such, there's no reason for them to be unhappy with their new lives. The problem is that this spell is very inconsistent about its effects throughout the episode.

It would help if that it were defined by the writers beforehand.

Now, one argument that I just thought of off the top of my head just now is that perhaps the reason the spell is inconsistent is BECAUSE Star Swirl never perfected it. As such, it keeps changing what it does from one moment to the next. This would make a lot of sense.

But it would make Star Swirl evil. If one of these was his intended outcome, then that makes him evil. He wants to inflict harm on ponies. And I don't think that's consistent with what has been implied about him so far throughout the series.

But it would make for a great twist: he was glorified by history when he was actually truly evil all along. Imagine a later episode when they uncover historical evidence that proves Star Swirl was evil. Or better yet, Twilight gets thrown back in time and ends up meeting him. Then she discovers that he is evil. Maybe she has to kill and replace him so that history remembers Star Swirl as being a good guy after what SHE did. See? I'm writing a better episode than M. A. Larson did. This is much more fun than watching through "Magical Mystery Cure."

And if you don't think that this kind of thing happens, it does. History will glorify or vilify certain people. To the extent that I refuse to form opinions on historical figures. I seriously do not think that Lincoln, Gandhi, Jesus, Shakespeare, or the like were good people. Because I don't know them. I have no idea whether they really did anything or if our history books were written by people who want us to like the villains. On the flip side of the coin, I don't hate Hitler or Stalin or those people. Again, I don't know them. So I have no opinion on them. Maybe history was written by people who hated them.

I will never form an opinion of someone who died before I was born. Because they never affected me. That's my philosophy.

Anyways, back to ponies, before I get too sidetracked.

Anyways, Twilight convinces Fluttershy to help Rainbow Dash with her animals. Fluttershy is able to do the job effectively - despite having zero knowledge of how to do it. Because from her perspective, she's never done it before.

She deduces that the animals are hungry. Even though some of them in the background, like the beaver and the goat, are in fact, eating.

In animation terms, this is what is known as an "epic fail."

She feeds them and they stop giving Rainbow Dash a hard time. She realizes that this is what she was meant to do, Twilight gives her Element of Harmony to her, and she is restored back to normal.

WHY!?

First of all, Fluttershy barely did anything, so how does she know with certainty that this is what she was meant to do? And why did this realization restore her? We don't know!

I'm just gonna say A Wizard Did It and move on.

By the way, we're only ten minutes into this episode. Not even halfway, and already I think I have set a record for longest OIM Post. Though I could be wrong about that.

We then get a montage song about how the ponies are helping each other. It's incredibly uplifting and heartwarming to see the lengths that these ponies will go to in order to help each other.

Especially after the tear-jerker of a song from earlier.

Anyways, throughout the song, the ponies, one by one, get reformed back to their original selves.

And unlike Fluttershy's reformation, this was done in a montage. As such, it feels less sudden because we have no way to know how long it's been. For all we know, it took several hours to restore each pony. Fluttershy took a whole whopping ten seconds. Which is bullshit.

But here, it's done well. I wish they would have extended the song and found a way to fit Fluttershy's reformation into it. That way, we could better appreciate her, rather than laughing at the fact that it makes no sense.

After this, Twilight has an epiphany of how to fix Star Swirl's spell. WTF is this?

The last time you messed with that thing, which was literally a day ago at the very most, you ended up devastating your friends without them even realizing that you did it. You should stay away from that spell. Throw away the book. It can bring only evil.

And with your friends restored back to normal, what do you care about writing the ending to the spell? You already have what you wanted.

But no. She feels the need to finish the book.

By writing in it.

Oh god no.

Twilight, this is STAR SWIRL THE BEARDED'S BOOK. You're defacing a historical treasure when you do this. Write it on your own goddamn paper.

From all of us together, together we're friends
With the marks of our destinies made one, there is magic without end.

I'll go ahead and ignore the fact that this has NOTHING TO DO WITH the original contents of the spell at all. She didn't fix the spell, she made a new one.

Anyways, she casts the spell.

The Elements of Harmony fire at her at full force, thus vaporizing her. All that remains is a smoky crater of ash, ironically forming the shape of Twilight Sparkle's cutie mark. She has been killed.

This is kinda a big deal. The only other character to ever be killed on this show was Sombra. So yeah, killing off your main character is kinda huge. Anyways, next scene.

We cut to a cosmic area. This is the higher plane of existence that Twilight ascended to after her death. Sure, why not?

Twilight is here, wondering where she is and what's going on. Princess Celestia appears to her. Celestia is, in fact, a goddess. Her powers have always been left largely undefined, and Lauren Faust herself even said that this was deliberate. Celestia is too powerful that there are no limits on her. She's supposed to be that mysterious mentor that always knows everything but never really lets on to it. Like Dumbledore, Gandalf, Uncle Iroh, Rafiki, The Doctor, Mr. Miyagi, Ooguay, Phoenix Wright (seven years after his prime), Jiraiya, or Hohenheim. Yeah, I don't expect you guys to get every one of those references, but hopefully you picked up one or two.

Point is: she can go back and forth between planes of existence. Fine, I'll accept this.

Celestia informs her that she has done something that has never been done before: making her own magic.

What the fuck? What the actual fuck?

If no one has ever created magic before, then where did the spells come from? Were they just engraved into the planet's surface while it was forming? Unlikely.

Oh, and this line might be helpful:

"Star Swirl the Bearded is only the most important conjurer of the pre-classical era. He created more than 200 spells! He even has a shelf in the Canterlot library of magic named after him. Maybe I should start up a pony group to teach ponies about history. I bet everypony would love it! Don't you, Spike?"

--Twilight Sparkle, "Luna Eclipsed", aka an episode written by M. A. Larson.

So ponies are politicians. One moment, they believe one viewpoint. The next, they believe the opposite.

Start making sense, you freaking tools.

Celestia sings a song and we see all of Twilight's adventures. Which makes no sense. It makes sense to the audience, since we saw this stuff, but there's no way that Celestia could have seen it.

We see Twilight's childhood with Cadence. This was before she even met Celestia. We see her "magic kindergarten" fantasy from "Lesson Zero." This never actually happened. So Celestia shouldn't know it.

I suppose you could make the argument that Celestia is so godlike and powerful that nothing is beyond her reach. Eh, that's kinda a weak argument, but nonetheless, it does make sense. By the way, she's watching you as you're reading this post.

Anyways, it's unclear what happens next. Twilight gets magicked back to Ponyville, descending from this plane of existence back onto the plane of existence with the living, including her friends. It's unclear whether Celestia restores her to this plane, or if she is able to go there herself. But it doesn't matter too much.

When Twilight comes back, she has a pair of wings now.

Applejack even says that she's never seen anything like it.

Applejack represents the Element of Honesty, she'd never lie, right?

And now, ladies and gentlemen, a brief look at everyone ever seen on-screen in the MLP-verse that has both wings and a horn. I recommend that you have this video playing while you look at the pictures:


Without further ado, the pictures:





(the filly in the back on the right)

(the first, third, and fifth guards)






And that's just what's on-screen. Adding in toys and video games to canon would essentially add EVERYONE who has ever existed ever to this list.

Oh, and that Rarity pic up there? It came from "Sonic Rainboom." Guess who wrote that episode? M. A. Larson. Yeah, AJ sure has never seen anything like it before! And apparently neither have you, M. A. Larson. But you freaking WROTE IT.

Anyways, getting back to the episode, all of Twilight's friends congratulate her. Fluttershy then says:

"You look just like a princess."

Fair enough, since your leaders are alicorns, after all. It would make sense if she-

"That's because she is."

WHAT THE FUCK!?

Where the hell did you come from, Celestia?

This makes sense from the audience's perspective. We just saw Celestia, but none of the characters here, sans Twilight, have seen her since the events of "Keep Calm and Flutter On." So from their perspective, it makes no sense. So why does no one act with surprise when they see her here?

Oh, right. Poor writing. Gotcha.

Everyone, Twilight included, is confused about Twilight being a princess.

Pinkie even gets a glass of water just to do a spit take. It's funny, but I think you could top it. Maybe show her preparing the water all fancy like for what is several hours in-universe, and then have her finally come back with it, just to spit take. That'd really push it over the top.

And Pinkie Pie is immune to logic, so I can't argue it.

We then get the coronation scene. There's honestly nothing wrong with it. If Twilight really is a princess, then it makes sense to coronate her.

Of course, I find it incredibly lazy that the animators just re-used the same backgrounds from "A Canterlot Wedding," but still.

Twilight gives the cheesiest speech ever... with her back to the audience.

*facepalm*

Twilight, I know you're new at this, but COME ON.

Oh, and when I say "the audience," I mean the ponies that she is giving a speech to. HER audience. I don't mean the camera. Cause I would rather her acknowledge her own audience than the animator's audience.

Also, of note, the crown that Princess Twilight Sparkle wears is... The Element of Magic. Really? It was just one of the Elements of Harmony the whole time? I dunno, it just doesn't feel special enough. I would have expected something new.

But ah well. I'm sure the animators couldn't possibly be asked to make a new crown. It's not like they've already given a new crown to Celestia, Luna, and Cadence in this episode already. Plus added new clothing to the other five main ponies. Oh wait. They did. Why not give Twilight a new crown/tiara too?

Now, you could say that they were so busy doing all of that stuff that they didn't have the time to make a new crown. Yeah, I could tell that they were REALLY busy recycling the set from "A Canterlot Wedding" and including the same camera angles and crowd shots. Yeah. Definitely.

It just takes so much effort to have to press Control+C followed by Control+V. Truly, these animators have worked their butts off and need a break.

We should start a petition to try and get the idiots who complain about the lack of a new crown banned from the Internet for not having respect for the animation team.

By the way, in case you couldn't tell, I was being sarcastic the whole time.

Now we get Shining Armor's "liquid pride" scene. I wouldn't have even really thought of it if it weren't in here (well, I also noticed during the shot of their parents, but ignore that one too since it can easily be removed), but what are the odds of two non-royal siblings both becoming royalty on two separate occasions? This is an awfully huge coincidence. But I guess it had to happen to someone.

You know, the past twenty-five births in my family have all been males. Any female that gets conceived is miscarried. This happens, on average, to one family out of every 33,554,432. I was that one. I am that one. So I suppose it is possible.

We then get Twilight flying towards the camera, assuring us that everything is going to be just fine. And I believe her.

You know why? Because this episode was worthless!

The creative team could have had Twilight become an alicorn at the start of the episode. The rest of the episode would show us what they would do with that. Now, though, we don't know what on earth is gonna happen.

That's why people are worried about Season 4. We don't know what Alicorn Twilight is like. We don't know her. She only appeared very very briefly. The uncertainty causes doubt, fear, and worry. Bronies are concerned that she may not be a good thing for the show. There is no proof of her being a bad influence to the show. Maybe nothing changed.

There is no proof of her being a good thing for the show either. Maybe she shouldn't have changed.

This episode just leaves you wanting more. Because we didn't get what we wanted.

We should have had more answers to what Twilight becoming an alicorn entails. Which we did not get. It leaves the episode very unsatisfying.

Seriously, put aside all speculation and look at what we know for sure will happen:


This.

Now, I will admit that I am disappointed in Twilight's flying into the camera. I think it would have made a great episode for Rainbow Dash to teach Twilight how to fly. But whatever. Maybe the writers have something better planned. You'll just have to wait and see.

But one point of note: I don't want Twilight to be a unicorn again. That's the easy way out. I want the writers to put effort into their work and give us a good story about why Alicorn Twilight is a good thing. I want this decision to be logically implemented, rather than scrapped altogether. To throw it away would have to produce an episode that would throw it away. And that would be just as badly written as this one. Because it just wouldn't make sense. Why have her become an alicorn if you didn't do anything with it?

I don't want the decision reversed, I want it fixed.

So that's "Magical Mystery Cure."

Now, my overall thoughts on the episode? As I said, I initially did enjoy it more than most bronies. Now though? Well, I feel the need to make a comic about it. Be right back.


There. That just about sums it up.

And if you're wondering: yes, this is why I don't make comics very often. Or at all, really. I suck at it.

I started this post wondering whether this episode is as bad as everyone always says it is. I wanted to know if my opinion would change because of the lack of influence from other people around me.

And my opinion has changed.

Before the rewatch, I liked the episode, but just hated the ending.

Now? I see that there's a HELL OF A LOT more wrong with it than just the ending.

So, while this post did help change my opinion, it changed it in a way that I didn't expect: a negative way. We'll see if "Equestria Girls" and Season 4 are good enough to win me back, but for now, I stand by the fact that my decision to leave the fandom was not unjustified. And I won't be returning at least for a while.

5 comments:

  1. So, what do you guys think? Is this the new record for longest OIM Post?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Chameleon had a comment to make here. Because it surpassed the 4096-character limit, he sent it via email to me, Dusty, and Dromaeosaur.

    In case anyone else wants to take a look at it, I posted it online. It can be found here: http://pastebin.com/hEskAjnu

    ReplyDelete
  3. J-E-S-U-S! Yes, I'm pretty positive you've outdone us all on length. Insert joke on "overcompensating" here. ;)

    You'll forgive me if I don't read this now, as y'all know I try to squeeze in as much as possible on my tri-weekly trips to Burger King, so I'm saving this and I'll go into a review of your review and post it up Monday... if I've even finished reading this by then, and I'll reply to you're thoughts as well Chameleon, although I saw that you didn't know the finale had gotten such ire drawn to it and well all I can say is you must not have watched my review because I pretty much just scream how much I hate it for about six minutes.

    P.S. Plus I'm super happy to see both GS doing an awesome in depth post and Chameleon showing back up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dusty's response to this review can be found here: http://pastebin.com/vCUPnetG

      Delete