• Editorial: Twilight the [Redacted] - A Writer's Perspective

    "I'm going to be a WHAT?!"

    Hey, remember that thing that happened yesterday that we’re still going to count as a spoiler, just in case you haven’t run into it already? Well, first of all, congratulations on not knowing what I just referred to if you haven’t, because that takes some serious effort. Secondly, well...

    Why don’t we sit down, have a beer, and talk about this?

    So, yeah. Twilicorn.

    What I’m about to write about may seem obvious to some, but it’s catharsis for me, and may help some not make the same knee jerks I did.

    Let’s get one thing out of the way first: now isn’t the time to draw conclusions about whether this, as a whole, is a good thing or a bad thing. We haven’t seen it yet. That’s the bottom line. Plenty of things sound weird when you summarize them or leave out substantial details.

    “Inception was a movie about knocking people out so that you can steal things from their heads.”

    Actually, I’d still see that movie.

    There’s little denying, though, that the idea by itself is kind of hard to grok for many. I had trouble wrapping my head around it, and by the explosions in my Twitter feed (and past indications when we posted the hints of this occurring), a lot of other people did, too. Any change to the show is bound to have its vocal detractors, but yesterday’s announcement was like looking at the Hindenburg’s last flight touching down during the sacking of the Roman Empire next to Pompeii. On the sun. Thousands of comments on the post in question and many more on the related ones went to discussing this confirmation. There were just as many vocal supporters in those ranks, mind you, but I think it was fair to say there was a tiny bit of an uproar.

    Okay, a lot.

    Twilicorn hasn’t exactly come as a surprise to many, I imagine. Putting aside fan theories based purely on speculation from seasons one and two (of which there were many) there have been so many leaked toy models, posters, and assets depicting Twilight as an alicorn lately that I suspect most of us had gotten used to the idea that this was going to be an Actual Thing quite some time ago. In that time period I heard many reasons for and against this fundamental change to the show, but- and maybe this was because I was looking in the wrong places- I heard less than I expected of the reason I was wary of the idea at first: the mythos.

    I understand that it’s extremely easy for one to call oneself a ‘writer’, but I think I can at least somewhat qualify for the title. I’m not published or anything, but I’d like to think I know a thing or two about structuring a story. I take them very seriously- for example, I am quite sad when encountering a plot hole or an inconsistency in one, which mostly means I have a very difficult time playing most first person shooters and writing the phrase ‘plot hole’ without giggling like an idiot. I can appreciate a well-crafted mythos, and that’s part of the reason I love the pony universe. There’s little niggling things done for the sake of it being a cartoon, but for the most part it’s pretty consistent.

    And then Twilicorn.

    “What? She can’t be an alicorn, that’s... how can that be? Alicorns are special! You can’t just magic some wings onto a unicorn and call them an alicorn. That’s cheap. She’ll have to leave her friends! This breaks so much canon. I need a bucket of ice cream.”

    This, too, but that was sort of unrelated.

    That’s a pretty accurate representation of what went through my head when I realized the whole flappy purple unicorn thing wasn’t some sort of hoax. My writing instincts kicked in and compared what I thought I understood about the mythology of the alicorns in Equestria and rebelled, because this move so clearly cheapened the appeal of the winged unicorns and trivialized something that I thought was special. It felt like a bad fan fiction.

    That lasted for about a minute before I pulled my hoof out of my ass and actually thought about it. I was as guilty of a knee jerk reaction as anyone.

    So, let’s talk about what we know so far. I present none of the following as hard evidence of anything, mostly because my last name doesn't rhyme with 'joust'. However, I think I can make a pretty good case against...

    Alicorns are special!

    No, we just assume they are.

    If you walked into a stadium full of people and found that there were three Asian men in the entire crowd, you would assume that Asian men are rare. If you also found out that the three of them really loved to knit sweaters, you would also assume that Asian men like to knit sweaters.

    This is a preposterous line of thinking, of course, and yet it’s largely what we’ve done with the alicorns that we’ve been presented with. With the introduction of Saddle Arabia, at least, we know that Equestria is not the only place where magical talking horses exist, and we cannot safely assume anything about Equestria’s particular brand of alicorns. They all happen to be princesses and they all happen to be powerful magic users. There’s nothing in the show that states that princesses have to be alicorns, nor that alicorns have to be magically adept. You don't have to be an alicorn to move the sun and the moon. There’s not a shred of evidence that says alicorns are special in any way aside from their extra limbs. You could make a case for their apparently long lives, and you might be correct, but it's ambiguous at best. We don't have a timeline of how long ponies live.

    Twilight’s planned transformation is a further extension of those aforementioned general assumptions, of course, but correlation does not imply causation. The writers in charge of this could simply fill in the canon’s blanks during the finale and not break any laws of the pony universe. That’s what I expect them to do, as a matter of fact.

    I'm sure some of you just ran down to the comments section to tell me I'm being controversial on purpose, but this really is kind of a vague subject. In a story, vagaries are a doorway to fleshing out the universe, so I'm not trying to stir anything up. I'm just pointing at the door they've left wide open.

    You can’t just add wings whenever you want to!

    Well, actually, this has already happened.

    Discord may represent the biggest get-out-of-jail-free card that has ever been written when it comes to messing with the laws of any universe- much like Star Trek’s Q- but he’s still canonically viable because the writers say he is. It’s that simple when it comes down to it. The changing of the universe’s laws are not random, because it is a character that is doing the changing and he exists in the universe and obeys the laws he does not change. He is also not infinitely powerful, as has been demonstrated by the mane six and the Elements of Harmony.

    If we accept all that as fact, then removing of both limbs and the powers associated with them, in the case of horns, is perfectly valid in the pony universe. Given that this fact has been established, I suspect highly that Discord will have a role to play in the finale, given his reformation. It would be kind of weird if he didn’t, given that a whole episode was dedicated to it.

    She’ll have to leave her friends!

    There’s not much to say about this one other than multiple writers on the team have denied it. It’s not often they comment on these things before they air, so I’d take that as true.

    It does touch on another panic point, though, which I think I could address. Some of the comments I saw seemed to take very seriously the idea that Twilicorn will mark the end of the show as we know it, closing off all of the doors of exploration and familiarity that we’ve been accustomed to.

    While this will almost certainly alter the style of the show in some major fashion, I don’t believe that it’s cause to throw away all of the elements that make the show what it is. The writers have stated in the past- and in the recent article- that Twilight will remain her awkward lovable self, and will likely need the help of her friends to adjust to both her new limbs and her new responsibilities. There are still tons of lessons to be learned from the world filled with magic zebras and beasts from Greek mythology. You can change part of the pie crust without changing the delicious cherry filling. This is word fluffery on my part, but the fact is that Hasbro just wants to make a new alicorn toy to sell. That doesn’t mean the entire show is changing. DHX knows better than that.

    Larson, though...

    I won’t make any more postulations than those above, because I feel anything else is reaching a little further than the show’s so-far-presented canon explicitly supports. I realize that just by writing this I'm taking ponies too seriously, being the serious business that they are, but I think this stuff is fun to talk about. Regardless, I think it’s clear after thinking it through that it’s just too early to oppose Twilicorn from a thematic standpoint. She can fit in there if there’s work put into making it happen. The foundations are there if the writers want to use them. After the finale we can make a more informed judgement if she was written well enough.

    Yes, I spent seventeen hundred words to say, "wait and see". The tags have never been so appropriate.

    I’ve written stories in the pony universe, so I can say firsthand that it’s very rewarding to take said universe and mold it a certain way to make your story work. Unfortunately, I also know that it’s easy to take inferences for granted, like whether or not Equestria has indoor plumbing- a very serious issue. Slightly less serious are the things that some of us might have assumed about the alicorns all this time.

    It’s time to toss some of that out the window, I think. For better or worse, it’s written in stone. A finale cometh. Let’s see what happens.