• Let's Review: Guardians of Harmony – Twilight Sparkle

    Time to talk about our main mane character. How does Twilight Sparkle handle the Changeling invasion?

    But more importantly, what does Lyra really think about Sweetie Drops' mane?

    Find out the answer after the break, but watch out for spoilers!

    Friendship is wreckage!

    Last chapter featured a tale of two princesses. Amore was the old guard; aggressive and proactive in stockpiling resources. Cadance was more cautious but also less active in handling the immediate threat.

    I find a Changeling blowing a raspberry oddly charming.

    Twilight seems to follow Amore's tactics. Trying to solve the problem directly while receiving a resource that could help down the road. The fact that she's given this power by a third party is worth talking about, but first we set the stage.

    The Changeling invasion is... confusing. They aren't approaching under disguise or any other subversion. We start with a group harassing Big MacIntosh, Sweet Cream Scoops, and others while Lyra appears disinterested. This would seem out of place if we didn't see a trio of ponies later on being nonchalant about the invasion themselves. So are the Changelings attacking or is this just a small raiding party?

    Sweetie Drops appears to relocate her friend, but things immediately turn nasty. This is where Andy Price's style stands out. I love the detailing he puts into Changeling Lyra's sinister look. The man can draw some frightening stuff when he desires. Plus Sweetie Drops' expression really sells that her heart is breaking.

    Always love Price's shading style.

    Why a Changeling would want this result doesn't make sense. If they feed on love, wouldn't it be better to lure Sweetie Drops away and trap her? Is there some benefit to ruining a pony's relationship and feasting on despair instead? It'd be interesting if Changelings fed on different emotions, but so far love is the only dietary need.

    One question that's come up in the EqD comments is whether or not the statement that Sweetie Drops has no real friends besides Lyra is true. I think a lot of this hinges on Slice of Life and the joke/background story that Bon Bon/Sweetie Drops has been an undercover agent. We've seen her with plenty of ponies, but that could just be associations or keeping up appearances. Given what we've seen so far, I have no trouble buying that this is a harsh truth used with cruel intent.

    She's going to be harping on about that move for weeks.

    I would also have no trouble with buying a Guardians of Harmony Lyra Heartstrings figure with friendship harp throwing action. Just saying.

    Twilight takes the helm of her story from this point with Sweetie Drops and Lyra along for comedic relief. Which means that Spike is out of his usual role. It seems this one Changeling has been given Twilight a merry chase because it knows her one weakness: she loves to lecture. She claims to have chased it several times, though it might be multiple Changelings and she just can't tell them apart. Oh dear. Was that speciesist? That sounds a little speciesist.

    With no solution in sight, the friendship castle decides to plot-dial Twilight and lead her to its highest levels. This is where we encounter the crux of the story. Is this new armor set a worthwhile addition?

    Not impressed! My smartphone tells me I've
    reached my destination all the time!

    In previous stories with the Elements of Harmony or the keys that led to Rainbow Power, Twilight and friends undertook a journey. They made choices and faced consequences, showing both vulnerability and strength. As a result these powers felt earned and more satisfying. Other magical events like the royal couple's shockwave or the crystal heart's power felt more shallow because we didn't witness as much of a journey. Often the focus was narrowed to a few characters, leaving key characters out of the loop.

    This time Twilight is getting a new set of armor almost for free. The only barrier is that the door won't open unless two friends are present who have faced the most difficult of tests. I'm going to chalk this up to Lyra and Sweetie Drops coming to terms about the latter's past and affirming their friendship is real. A mean-spirited Changeling doens't strike me as the "greatest of tests". One harp throw and the friendship is back in business.

    Twilight, shouldn't you get other ponies to the castle as well?

    Going back to the armor, there is an function I enjoy. Not the clamping capture wings, but rather how it's used. With the previous powers listed, the energy flash solved all the problems. The villain was weakened or converted, the imprisoned liberated, the infirm strengthened, and all Equestria's ills reset to zero. In a sense, the magical charges did the fighting for the Mane Six. This armor has magical power to allow Twilight to see through deception, but it still relies on her own flight ability and dedication to seek out the Changelings.

    There's a smaller line of mystery text.
    "If you can read this, you don't need glasses."

    I also recognize this trend not just from previous toy-based shows but old fairy tales as well. My favorite example is The Soldier and Death, which featured a man receiving powerful tools in exchange for generosity and self-sacrifice. Twilight is working to save other ponies, so some help from a magical resource makes sense.

    I'm also glad that the castle's mystery expands, because I shall never celebrate its interior. Colorist Heather Breckel and Andy Price do some nice things to make this place work, but I just don't like the interior. The cold hues of violet and icy blue make it seem so unwelcoming. It's anything but a home. Fortunately, Breackel uses the blue floor and gradients along the walls, combined with golden banisters, to help Twilight stand out against the background. Price likewise draws in details to at least try and make this castle more homely, including portraits of Celestia and others.  

    Mad props to Andy Price for setting his own ponysona as a Changeling. I don't know if we're seeing things as Twilight views them, but given the other pony's expression I'm inclined to think that the armor is forcing the Changeling to reveal itself. 

    Again, I want to give Andy Price a 
    "Not a Changeling" badge at Babscon.

    Twilight states that this will clear up the Changeling invasion within Ponyville, and after that it's off to the Crystal Empire. This will not happen. It's possible that word of her success reached Chrysalis, who would want to eliminate a set of armor that could remove the Changeling's greatest power.

    Why doesn't the Changeling jump out?
    Because that thing comes equipped with a seatbelt.

    I'm left to wonder where Twilight is depositing those Changeling's as well as how this armor might impact future Changeling-pony relations.

    How Good is the Sales Pitch?

    The armor is only employed for two panels and never features a sharp "snap" but rather a "snag". Spike is Twilight's spear-bearer but I take this to be ceremonial. I like seeing the ponies take a direct approach, but impalement is a step too far. The big draw for this chapter is that Twilight has been given a new, powerful tool that she can use against multiple threats. Though personally I bought the two-pack just for Twilight's war-face.

    I think this is an effective pitch but the real appeal lies in the armor's origin. Did the castle willfully create it or was it crafted by another and the castle acted as a conduit. A little mystery gets young minds going and can set up an idea for some play time. I'm fine with having some lingering questions. 

    This is my favorite chapter of the bunch. It features two supporting ponies who may be comic relief, but their own friendship has an impact. It's nice when Equestria's scope expands to feature more than just the Mane Six's adventures. Twilight remains determined but practical, and her home may have a will of its own or someone else could be looking out for her. 

    We may never get answers but that also gives room for fan ideas to come forth. 

    Tomorrow we'll see how the Wonderbolts deal with their newest resource. 

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!