• "Twilight's Kingdom", Parts I and II: Episode Followup

    So here we are again.

    I heartily agree with what my friend CouchCrusader said after this episode aired- the headlining G4 movies might have very little to do with pony, but it feels like we finally got our small personal equine movie this weekend.

    If the ratings, polls, and discussions I've seen are any indication, this season has been the most well-received we've had so far, touching base with the second season in a way that's too close to call. It is fitting, then, that such a pronounced exclamation point has been put on the tail end of it. There's no two ways about it: this was the finale everyone had been waiting for, and it hit the ball right out of the park. It was powerful, it was engaging, and it advanced the biggest storyline we've had in this generation. We might not be seeing our pony friends again in a proper season until next year, but after this I think I'm okay with a little waiting.

    Before we begin, I want to thank everyone on the team at DHX for making this possible. The writers, the storyboarders, the directors, the producers, and all of their support teams. You're the reason we're here and the reason we're passionate about this wonderful thing called ponies that you've helped continue. You're awesome and we love you. Shine on, you crazy diamonds.

    Below the break: the episode followup for Twilight's Kingdom.

    Continuity! It's a thing that happens now.

    And if it's being used to put Rainbow Dash down a peg or two when she's in Rainbow Jerk mode it's doubly important, right? Should probably give that expression back to Applejack, Rares.

    Thank you.

    Get it? It's because they're horses.

    Although in reality I do think most of us can relate to Twilight to some degree here. Being put in a situation like this and at times not feeling like you belong there has been the theme for her this season, and I think her writing has balanced her natural adorable awkwardness with her emerging leadership skills and sense of responsibility quite well.

    That said she does look a little chubby here and that's cute.

    I'm honestly having trouble placing what style (or combination of styles) they were going for with the dignitary ponies, so for the sake of comedy I will assume they are Cheese Sandwich and Rarity in costumes.

    If you've ever wanted to know exactly how clip-cloppy a small horse can sound in a giant palace atrium made of crystals populated by only two guard ponies, this finale is for you.

    "Yes, my solemn sacred duty is to raise the moon for my citizens."

    "You're damn right I run this sh[buy some apples!]t."

    "Is she really going to explain this in song form? Do we have the budget for that?"

    "If you take away my first and only singing part, you'll be the princess of a kingdom of broken glass."

    This is a fantastic song, though, and it underscores Twilight's apprehensions to a tee. Also of note is how smooth the animation on Twilight is during pretty much the whole thing. You can see the vibrato in the singer's voice. It's extremely impressive.

    It's also a good reminder that the underside of ponies' hooves look like this sometimes.

    Update your fanfictions.

    Also, yes, my head will be bitten clean off in the comments section if I don't clearly mention that this is Luna's first singing part. I can't tell if it's still Kazumi Evans, Rarity's singing voice, but I'm sure I'll be corrected.

    For the record, I'm betting it is.

    Has walking alone in a dark, misty alley with a basket of oranges ever been a good idea? Like, ever, in the history of literature or cinema or really all of history? Oranges are just asking for trouble, man.

    Mystical, strange hooded creatures just appearing out of nowhere. It's bad for your health!

    It's such a great explanation for why Applejack distrusts oranges, but that scene was cut, as you know.

    Ever since the teaser came out for this particular scene and the villain was named, it was clear what the team was paying homage to, even if it's never explicitly said during this finale that he's been seen directly in the show before.

    This is Tirek, and he's a villain from the first generation. From the wiki articles it doesn't seem like he's reprising his role exactly as he appeared there with his Rainbow of Darkness, but it's close enough. And, holy hell, he is scary. In case you forgot that this show can get a little dark sometimes, here comes a centaur that can remove magic from ponies and leave them mostly lifeless husks. I mean, seriously, that's metal.

    Also of note: hooded, cloaked figure with yellow glowing eyes? Seem familiar?

    "I know it wasn't a dream because I've seen your dreams. Seriously, gross."

    Dude came to conquer all of Equestria and left with the distinct impression that these ponies aren't all that bad and maybe they should just be friends instead. If only all problems were resolved that easily.

    "Why is the sun so big?"

    "I am so high right now."

    Celestia and Luna took such offense to an invasion of their kingdom and the stealing of their subject's magic that they literally sent Tirek to hell. We always knew Celestia knew how to get down with the harsh punishments, but... wow.

    "We believe it happened when Cerberus left his post at the gates."

    Continuity! It's a thing that happens now.

    Seen above: the widest Cadance has ever opened her eyes.

    Applejack is nothing but a good businesspony. I bet she's making a fortune selling this expression.

    Lens flare.

    I'm willing to bet much of the budget for this episode went into the visual gags whenever Discord does anything.

    Not only is the show directly making fun of itself now, it even fits into the ongoing narrative about how insecure Twilight feels about being a princess with no role to play but smile and wave.

    I also didn't notice this before, but Fluttershy is the only one who's amused at this.

    I said it during the Followup for the season premiere, but Discord plays a very important role in teaching lessons to Twilight in this show in a way that almost directly parallels his role as Q in the various Star Trek television series'. His very nature allows him to exist outside everything else that's going on, and the perspective is important.

    It's also hilarious to watch, look at Applejack's face, oh my god.

    Aside from that, let's take a moment and appreciate how impressive balancing that book on your horn is. Horns aren't all fun and games, kids. They get stuck in doorways more often than you think.

    Maybe that's just me.

    Oh, just set this up to break our hearts later, why don't you, Meghan.

    If the solution isn't in a book, it's not a solution at all.

    Silhouettes in dark alleys- vaguely showing you scary scenes since Al Gore invented movies.

    I was watching this and made a mental note about making a comment on how many ponies seem to do business in dark shady alleys in Ponyville, but then Discord became a pony.

    It's like the voices of dozens of pieces of fanart cried out and were suddenly silenced.

    Discord: puns and all.

    In all seriousness, this might be my favorite scene in the whole two-parter.

    If you've ever sat down and tried to write dialog, you know it's hard. That's intuitive. Writing dialog about one character trying to convince another character of something they normally wouldn't believe is difficult. You have to read the line carefully. It's easy to make it sound contrived or unbelievable. In this case, Tirek is trying to bring Discord back to his roots and away from the mane six.

    Discord goes from visual gags and deflection...

    ... to slight doubt...

    ... to listening to Tirek in complete silence.

    "Join me, Discord, and reclaim your greatness. Unless, of course, 'pony errand-boy' is the role you've always wanted to play in this world."

    Discord doesn't say a word at the end of Tirek's tirade, and yet we know he's convinced.

    Major points to both Mark Acheson as Tirek and some really clever writing here.

    The solution WAS in a book! I am the smartest purple unicorn.

    Lens flare.

    "Rainbow Dash, you had the chance to fly with the Wonderbolts at the Equestria Games, but then Derpy showed up waving a flag and everyone sort of forgot what was going on."

    "Oh. Uh. I never read that far into your last entry, Rarity. Good for... uh, good for you."

    When I saw this scene, I knew it had to be in gif form by the time I finished watching.

    You guys didn't disappoint.

    Unfortunately, all three jokes I just made to describe this can't be printed on Equestria Daily.

    "Oh, but I'm sure if we've gotten our keys, you have too, Twilight"

    I don't see the problem here.

    dictDumbChest = pHarmonyTree.getDictionary()
    if pTwilight.key in dictDumbChest.keys():

    Looks like Tirek really stole the show.

    Points to the Wonderbolts for being Equestria's unofficial air force and leading the charge and all that, but you get the feeling that if they had bothered to develop something like an A-10 that this would have gone better for them.

    "Twilight, in order to stop Tirek, we need to give you two pairs of wings!"

    Directed by M.A. Larson.

    "We do not believe that Tirek is aware that a fourth alicorn princess exists in Equestria."

    Oh man, there is no possible way that this will come back and bite us in the butt. It's not like the show airs in Tartarus, right? They probably have terrible reception down there.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think we've seen the bigger princesses from the top before. Also, they did this same triangle formation during the first song, if you want to go back and find it.

    This just makes me worried that if I were an alicorn that I'd hit the "give up my magic" button by accident. Imagine trying to explain to Zecora that you've made your sandwich sentient because you sneezed at the wrong moment.

    Yes, Zecora can probably fix that. She's done weirder.

    Alicorn. It's a hell of a drug.

    I know this is supposed to be a touching scene, but this just made me laugh. Now we know that the black splotches aren't part of Luna's cutie mark. What do we call her now? Ink butt?

    Later, after the episode is over, Twilight regrets that she didn't consult her sun-raising book.

    The first thing that Shining Armor does when he sees Tirek is try to shoot him with a unicorn laser.

    They sure picked the captain of the Royal Guard right.

    One can only imagine the tone of the conversation they were all apparently just having, but props for regaining such regal composure by the time Tirek does what he's going to do next.

    Well, that's expensive.

    At least he knows how to make an entrance. He better, because now there's no door. Because he's destroyed the entrance. By making an entrance. Through the door.

    You try captioning a hundred screencaps and then you can tell me not to make stupid jokes.

    Makes you wonder if every pony with wings makes a trail like this if they fly fast enough.

    Imagine carpet burn, but like seven hundred times worse.

    Also, how did everyone get there so fast? Oh, wait, Pinkie exists.

    "Well, yes, it's literally the Greek version of hell, but at least it's not the moon. Right, Luna?"

    "What I'm hearing is that you don't want to sleep again."

    "Ooh, I do love a good accessory."

    Discord toys confirmed.

    Yes, yes, Discord's heartbreaking betrayal, but I've been chewing on the idea of cucumber sandwiches ever since they were mentioned in the cave and I still don't know what to make of the idea. Are they an actual thing? Because I'm imagining a pickle sandwich and I can't help but gag.

    Keep making jokes, Cereal. Don't cry. More jokes.

    It's like teaming up with someone who can steal magic was a bad idea.

    Looks like Twilight's stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    The joke is that the hard place is another rock.

    Oh, man, good move grabbing the owl. I hope the library is okay, th-


    If there's one thing you don't mess with, it's Twilight's books. Or her house. I'm having trouble deciding which one is actually making her more angry. Oh well, I'm sure this dispute between godlike magic users can be decided over a nice cup of-




    The magnitude and the spectacle of this scene can't be done justice by words. The screencaps themselves are hardly describing how intense what's happening is. This is like the battle between Luna and Celestia in the premiere but on a much more devastating scale, and a more emotionally impactful one I might argue because we actually don't know how this is going to turn out.

    Yes, it's very over the top. Yes, it's exceedingly clear where the main influences for this scene come from. That said, as we near the metaphorical exclamation point to the end of this episode, and indeed to this season, this sequence nicely forms the body. Now all we need is the dot.

    Don't cry. Don't cry. Don't cry.

    Damn it.

    "D'you think that might be the last one we need?"

    I mean, there's only a few minutes left in the episode, so unless you have a better idea...

    Seen above: Tirek doing his best Monkeylord impression.

    Looks like the tree function finally returned.

    Look, I'm just completing the joke from the premiere, just let me have this.

    Source: twily-daily

    "How did they soak that? I had a dice pool of like seventeen and four net hits."

    "They rolled really well, sorry."

    As if putting him right back in Tartarus wasn't humiliating enough, put him in a tiny cage, too.

    Hey, look, it's the princesses.

    I know we have several versions of this exact map floating around as posters, but it's still neat to see it in the show. Are there any new features you guys can make out? Discuss it in the comments, I want to know.


    "I must go. My people need me." - The Box

    "Nevermind, I am a tiny castle." - The Box

    Lens flare.

    "As princess, I believe I have the power to spread the magic of friendship across Equestria. That is the role I am meant to have in our world! The role I choose to have!"

    There's our exclamation mark's dot. As the season draws to a close, Twilight has a new sense of purpose in her new role as princess, but essentially still has the same role that she's always played. Her friends will keep helping her, the other princesses will still help guide her, and we still have our adorable awkward bookish unicorn underneath it all.

    I mean, now she has a badass castle too, but other than that, life will be the same. The show goes on and no one will be the wiser that Twilight, the Princess of Friendship, has a throne to sit on now. I think that's as much as I could have asked for.

    That said, put on the final song and let's look back.

    Let the rainbow remind you
    That together we will always shine

    It's been fun. I've been Cereal Velocity, and you've all been great.

    Catch you in 2015.