• "The Crystalling", Parts I & II: Episode Followup

    Four months. Four. You can count that on your hooves.

    I'm joking, of course. It would be sick and unscrupulous of me to accuse all you fine readers of being horses. What do horses know? They can't read. I'm perfectly safe writing all this.

    We're here, everyone! Four months since our last episode of MLP and we're already hurtling headlong into another magical season of peculiarly magic ponies -- in particular, one of whom went from being the arguably most unsettling villain to appear in this show yet to... a friend-in-training.

    My name is CouchCrusader, I'm thrilled to be doing this again, and below the break I present 99 reasons why kids are horrible, horrible ideas.

    Before we begin, what is all of this?

    For the newcomers among us, episode followups are the brainchild of my esteemed colleague and partner in [horse noises], Cereal Velocity. Every Sunday at noon blog-time after the release of an episode, one of us at EqD will throw up a bunch of screencaps with bits of commentary and attempts at humor underneath. These (try to) show you stuff you might have missed on first watch, and you may get some commentary on the story or other show elements depending on who's helming the followup for that week.

    One thing I wanna stress is that these are not reviews. I'm no stranger to posting odd interpretations of events on-screen that go on to incite chaos, but I've also never said that Rarijack is canon because the show keeps pushing it. No wait, I have.

    Let's keep forging on before I get myself into trouble.

    Part I

    This is like the complete opposite of that one Zootopia scene in the naturalist compound. For modesty's sake, Spike, whip that towel off.

    Fanfic. You know that's all she has in there.

    Stay the hell away! My love is my own!

    Theme. And hey yeah, Starlight's in there, too, complete with that "I didn't hogtie and ship to Neighpon whoever was in this spot last season" face she does so well.

    "You don't have to mollycoddle me. I want to improve my writing. Tell me your real thoughts."

    "Oh, whew. Made it just in time for the exposition."

    "Uh, the what?"

    "Don't mind that Starlight, Dashie, just say your super speedy pony lines of super speediness."

    "And what are you gonna do?"

    "... Why'd I even ask?"

    Big as Twilight's castle is, that darn tree didn't even bother to budget for wall number four.

    I don't even know where to begin with Rainbow Dash. Enjoy your wall of reaction images.

    Something this series does really well is find all the different ways to relay whatever backstory the new episode needs -- most everyone here knows about the storybook that opened the series, and the old-timey educational film setting up Hurricane Fluttershy, but you also had comic panels in Power Ponies!, 300-esque illustrations of Aramaspi's attack on Griffonstone last season, and now Spike slams an urn on the table and spins it like Qbert.

    Did anyone else notice that the Crystaller on the urn was an alicorn? Later in Part II, Shining Armor reveals that he was going to ask Twilight to step in. Excellent bit of foreshadowing.

    Anxiety sucks, man. I miss my meds for a couple of days and I can barely hold myself together. I've never had anything like auditory hallucinations like what Starlight gets when confronted by the prospect of facing her estranged friend again.

    I swear I'm not trying to pull anything when I suspect this scene resonated with a few people.

    Also -- it's a surprisingly complex ploy Josh Haber, writer of the episode, is going for here. Twilight can't be that oblivious to something bugging Starlight that much, can she? Well, she can. And for a good deal of the two-parter, I wasn't exactly sure I wanted teacher!Twilight for Season 6.

    Those doors weren't as bad as the pair holding back nothing but a thousand copies of Daikatana and Homelands Magic boosters.

    At first I was gonna joke about how Spike was gonna hit puberty some time, but -- those are not insignificant guns he's sporting. Like, not bad.

    Let's also take a quick detour into noting that even though we're playing Spike's self-absorption for laughs, a little love for one's self image is far from a terrible thing. There's a reason he dresses up as a dragon every time Nightmare Nights comes around.

    I'm not sure how I feel about pigtails on filly!Starlight still, but you can't not weaponize adorable when it's going "look at what I'm doing!" at you.

    Sunburst seemed decent enough at knowing what spell any situation called for. If you're paying attention through Starlight going complete ham on this kitchen, though, you might begin to get an inkling of how Sunburst turned out later compared to her.

    I really can't imagine any harsher end to a friendship than the other person checking your teeth with their butt. Does that not strike anyone else as rude?

    All right, this is kind of cute.

    Hey, remember the last time Shining Armor tried sending his sister an invitation to an important ceremony of his? Well, instead of sending it directly via fax dragon, he tossed a snowflake into the air believing it would land exactly where it needed hundreds of miles away.


    But I guess it worked this time?

    All right, so we're off to the Crystal Empire.

    Dash -- just how did you not see Applejack carrying that crib aboard in the first place?

    Hey, will you just look at these two? Rarity does Rarity things to Applejack and AJ's cool with it. There are flames a'fannin' at DHX and someone threw out the fire extinguishers.

    OK, point of order. "Interesting" is the word I'd use to describe Starlight deciding to redo her mane. I guess I'm confused at why her forelock grows out from one side of her head instead of along the centerline with everypony else? It gives her an "alt" vibe I'm not sure really meshes with the character I saw in this premiere.

    Then again, I'm judging hairstyles on horses at a quarter past one in the morning, so I'm a little less than three hours removed from completely losing control of my life.

    "Oh my god, that was a lot of exposition."

    "Just wait until tonight, my most faithful pupil."

    I'm feeling a lot like Shining right now. WHAT IS SLEEP? Hey, though -- at least he came to pick his sister up in person this time.

    Hey, HEY! This ain't season 5, get back here

    Here Starlight bitterly regrets the time she spent investigating only one mode of punishment for those who wronged her, and Spike doesn't even have a booty mark.

    There. Spike has fans. He's universally beloved up north. Are you not happy??

    Popcorn acquired.

    Meanwhile, Twilight learns something about the adages for horns and wings of over-plus size.

    "It's okay, she's in a diaper, you can stay, Mr. TV-Y."

    Also taking a moment to echo everyone else who just stared at the baby, then at her mother, and mouthed "How...?"

    "And Cady wants a second after this one," Shining thinks to himself, going back over that catalog of tools one of the dungeon jailers had loaned him.

    That's a really good color combination for some reason. She's like Roseluck with a darker coat.

    Haha, what if that's Queen Chrysalis getting lazy with her eye colors?

    I'm pretty sure popping a balloon that size would leave you with a missing eardrum, or at least one pushed through your brain and out the opposite ear.

    Then again, Pinkie Pie can just do whatever she feels like doing and physics is powerless to resist her. Also, this is adorable.

    Cadance has subjects. I actually kinda forgot about that. Twilight got her own kingdom back at the end of Season 4, but when will she actually rule over anypony in it? Weird to ponder.


    Oh, wow. Crystal fillies are the best. How can you ever do wrong by them?

    Back to Spike. Where is Starlight getting her refills from? Chipmunks look at her and immediately feel inadquate.

    What's with ponies and building their houses after themselves? You don't see bread-people living in toaster houses, do you? (If you do, check to make sure you're not in a deeply-nested alien simulation (you'll be able to tell if you are)).

    "Too much friendship! Too much friendship!"

    Scrunchy face.

    "Holy Tartarus! Why do y'all have wings?"

    "Blame Josh Haber, sir."

    Was anyone ever able to figure out the differences between the two brooches Rarity insisted weren't duplicates from Trade Ya!? If I sound a little outraged I'm not, that exclamation point is literally in the title.

    Also, I love how Rarity knows Shining Armor is miles off the coast of sanity, and therefore reasons that the best way to help him was pulling some schtick like this in the name of whittling down the options.

    On second thought, I'm not sure I like what those eyes are saying to him, either.

    Meanwhile, it's back to Sparkle Castle and the HD remake of Missile Command Twilight never asked for.

    Seriously, though, that point defense is on fleek.

    Pinkie's having flashbacks to the first time she babysat the Cake twins. It wasn't no bowling league out there. There were no rules, and Flurry Heart is just upping the game.

    I let y'all off easy six caps ago. No filters left here. Enjoy. Mmmmm.

    So technically Sunburst had already had a conversation with Starlight I didn't bother to cap. Here they are, the two of them, wondering what whackjob thought stools were for horses.

    Also, check out that sick portrait in the upper right. ART.

    HTTP 418: I'm a teapot.

    Man, is that how it works? Overcome soul-crushing exhaustion with brushies? I'm on the brink of trying anything myself at this point.

    It's like Haber is trying to tell us something about having babies, and how much it sucks to have a baby.

    Part II

    Tremendous shade from Luna (even if she's only in mid-blink) because let's be honest, Celestia's only repeating stuff said literally a couple of seconds before this.

    Wait, what happened to the heart?

    SNAP. LITERALLY. BABIES DESTROY CIVILIZATIONS (though most of them wait a few years before turning totally evil).

    So while Celestia and Luna go off fighting eldritch clouds of the cold variety (and not the smoke monster variety (hey, go check out Ask King Sombra)) and other members of the Mane 6 are disposed of, I really enjoy how Pinkie keeps getting roped into library searches with Twilight. We've seen how good she is at that before.

    Time and place, Spike. Time and place.

    Hey, but seriously. At pretty much an A- level of performance through this two-parter, Spike's really showing up in his support role. His debugging of Starlight's belief that Sunburst doesn't want to be friends with her is exactly the kind of thing he excels at (undoubtedly honed on similarly-tempered unicorns in the past). I'm really glad these two got to spend most of the episode together, as it really goes a long way into opening Starlight up. They're not exactly equals, Spike and her, but it just makes sense that even the Princess of Friendship might not be able to hold an earnest conversation off the bat with somepony acting as her pupil.

    "How did I grow a logo?"

    Love, hope, and beach chairs -- the three official exports of the Crystal Empire. I mean, where'd Starlight get hers from earlier?

    Somepony fudged up and left a brown M&M backstage.

    Why is Fluttershy so perfect? Only she has that "you tried your best and that matters but to be honest we were never gonna pull this off" quality to her head pets.

    Back to the library! No, Flurry Heart, the title of Book Princess is already taken.

    Some animator had waaaay too much fun with her face there, too.


    A net? Rarity, this isn't some Scooby-Doo chase scene. You're not traipsing through Jellyfish Fields. You are literally trying to stop Baby Armageddon. Dream bigger, darling.

    Hey, Starlight. Glad you could make it. Ducking blaster bolts of magic is par for the course in this circle of friends and you're adjusting quite well! Don't even ask yourself what you've gotten yourself into.

    The longer I look at this cap, the angrier I get.

    *vvvvvvt* Laser shield.

    Mr. TV-Y is still up there in the corner, so I'm not allowed to use the words I wanna use at Tempts-Fate-Way-Too-Often Princess here.

    Many of you will have figured out Sunburst's deal by this point, but before leaving the library, Starlight did bring him up to Cadance as a big, important wizard and Cadance pulled a blank. Big, important wizards would make themselves known, so it follows that the converse is true (I think. It's been a long time since I took logic). His confession that he wasn't the magus Starlight made him out to be tugged at me a little.

    Technically I think this shot came before the last one, but it lets me 1) bring up an interesting angle for Sunburst's face and 2) point out that we do get to see a bit of the old, angry Starlight when she fires back with her start of, and journey through, darkness. She does later tell him it's OK that they drifted off when they did, but without her going off, it wouldn't feel anywhere near as authentic.

    I'm really hoping the writers explore more of Starlight's anger in future episodes. A lot of its root causes got addressed between the Season 5 finale and this premiere, but the ways she confronts problems don't have to be at this point.

    "I barely have any idea of what you just said, and it sounded kinda hot and I definitely wanna hear more."

    Starlight joins the club Sunset Shimmer founded in admitting to be "totally evil" and I like it. It'll never happen, but may those two girls meet each other at some point and preferably kick the crap out of a dragon or something. Fight me.

    Here's a shot of two princesses being gratuitous badflanks.

    And I chose this one because I just like the detail of the side-blown ice still stuck to Celestia's horn. She is literally all chill.

    This came and went incredibly quickly, and as someone who never watched G1 I wouldn't have caught onto it. Apparently, Somnambula's Weather Abjuration derives its name from a witch of yore, although it seems that that particular baddie just stole the youth from ponies à la Mother Gothel.

    >student lets slip that their greatest hope is not an accomplished wizard -- but he's well-read!
    >Trollestia approves

    Once again, a normal unicorn stands hoof-to-hoof with three alicorns and equals them in magical power. I'm genuinely curious to see where Starlight ends up at the end of her studies. 

    "If this works I am gonna get so much tonight!"

    Spoiler alert: it worked.

    Also, it looks like someone forgot to hex Sunburst's eye shines there. Fired.

    I mean, come on. What else are you gonna do after saving an entire empire?

    I've kinda left these guys out of the climax so here they are? I think I prefer Cadance's do-up this time around. Does it remind anyone else of Megara's, by any chance?

    Whoa, nuts! Parents! And they're talking!

    If you paid attention to the credits at the end, Tara voiced "Mrs. Sparkle" and Andrew Francis voiced "Mr. Sparkle." "Like father, like son" and their womanly counterparts have never had trues words spoken of them.

    They're all laughing knowingly after the "peaceful little angel" nearly condemned them to one thousand years ice dungeon death, but I'm frankly paying attention only to AJ and Rarity.

    Someone gin up a "Fledgling's Forbearance" in this world that won't get you sued in court for blunt force trauma and I will nominate you for the gold medal prize. Eat sneezing like a normal pony, you--

    Oh god, even her mouth is a heart. You deserve every letter of your name.

    Seriously, I can't think of any greater revenge a parent could inflict on their child than naming them as the near-calamity they caused an entire civilization days out of the womb.

    Remember waaaay back near the beginning of this follow-up when I said I wasn't thrilled about teacher!Twilight this season? Turns out that big ol' checklist all but blew up in her face, and got her to realize something important about how she came to learn about friendship for the past five seasons.

    I'm almost certain Twilight's done growing as a student, and I wouldn't know how further episodes in that direction would play out. As a mentor of her own, now -- it's nice to see a new avenue of growth opening up for her.

    Let's put to rest any doubts about what these two did upon returning to Sunburst's place that night.

    Those Yahtzee dice rolled alllll night long.

    And that's the end of the episode! Fade to -- wait a minute, what the heck?

    So begins the sixth season of MLP. I wish I had clever stuff to say here, but I'm only getting an hour of sleep tonight and I figure I should milk it for as much as I can.

    Take a peek at the voice credits, however, and you're gonna see Kelly Sheridan and Ian Hanlin score top billing for the episode as Starlight and Sunburst, while Tabitha St. Germain added Flurry Heart to her already sprawling pony resume.

    Actually, I think I can springboard off of that a little more. How much do I care about little new miss Flurry Heart? Really, not a great deal, at all. Putting aside the fact that being the only "natural-born" alicorn puts The Journal of the Two Sisters in a strange spot of canonicity, I've always been among the slowest to welcome other princesses into the pantheon.

    I figured that might've come across in the way I tended to feature Starlight's story more than Flurry Heart's. That's how this followup feels to me. I'm sure there were tons of moments I didn't screencap in either thread that you want my head piked for omitting, so that's why we're gonna open up the comments section and let y'all copypasta to your hearts' content.

    Thank you for reading. CouchCrusader, out.