• "Celestial Advice": Episode Followup

    Somehow it's here: a whole 'nother season of ponies upon the world! And with that new season comes a new round of followups from your friends here on Equestria Daily!

    To recap how these things go, they're not meant to get super in-depth with analysis and tedious extemporation. We try to round up all the things you might have missed on a first watch, or we might include bits of trivia or give context to references the show makes, but at the end of the day we're just here to have fun and celebrate what we can.

    With BABScon this weekend, Cereal Velocity ceded his customary position as premiere followupper, and I hope to continue doing right by that which he started. My name is CouchCrusader, I'm thrilled to finally get to doing this again, and I hope to see you beneath the break.

    We're not even fifteen seconds into Season 7 and Twilight contrives an excuse to sneak into Starlight's room for the view. Which is fine, I guess? Maybe "asking a friend for access to their private spaces face-to-face" is one of those lessons you only learn in Advanced Friendship 501.

    I'm writing this followup pretty late in the night because I spent forever shopping out the gun Starlight's pointing at Spike. Really don't know how Hasbro OK'ed this. Starlight had it kill-shot sideways and everything.

    Cathy Weseluck, G4 Spike's actress, also voiced Rarity in G3. I'm certain this casting gag's been leveraged before -- remind me where it got brought up if you know what I'm missing!

    Harshing Twiggles' mellow aside, it was nice to see Spike mostly fine with pulling smokescreen duty for Twilight's stealth measurement mission. It's easy to forget that these two have (well, ostensibly) been each other's longest-time friend.

    I have many questions about that Discord and Celestia photograph at the top of the mirror there.

    Also, Fluttershy? Didn't you have an engagement with Rainbow Dash to make when you were with Rarity? Priorities, filly, abide by them.

    You'd think writing for the show is this rarified process of dignity and careful thought, but from what I've heard it goes more like this:

    "Guys, how do we show Pinkie getting the castle ready for the hero banquet thing?"

    "F[BUY SOME APPLES]k if I know, she pulls a rope and tables and confetti come flying out of the ceiling."

    After seeing this logo appear on the IDW comics, it's cool to see it updated for the Season 7 intro. Friendship is Magic, but it just got Darker and Edgier!

    Check out Fluffy Clouds on the left! You might remember this affable pegasus from "Tanks for the Memories" in Season 4.

    DHX, stop making this so easy.

    You would think, in a world with hydroelectric power and an awareness of laser defense systems, that ponies would invent a kind of ribbon-clasping device that would avert, in some timelines, the horrific sundering of your new ally's horns in twain.

    Pinkie's running commentary was spot on the whole time, but can I draw your attention to Shining's face back there? What... what is he doing?

    If you think the show's coming to overuse DJ PON-3 whenever the story beats require the techno beats, please insert your head into the nearest subwoofer and put on some Metallica until I tell you to come back out.

    Oh cool, that's Andy Price's OC walking with Mayor Mare. Sorry, filly, you should know he's already taken!

    Also, Scootaloo, what are you doing on that table, do you know where your hooves have been, are you too good for a chair

    So I've seen a 50/50 reception to Discord in this episode, but I think I'm more than fine with how he comported himself this time. There've been episodes in the past where the writers struggled to balance the "incarnation of Chaos infinite" side of him with "oh, he's reformed, he's a good guy now", because you see him go on in the worst of them with chains of tedious inconveniences. so his getting his inevitable comeuppance never feels all that satisfying.

    Here, though not explained in the show, he just wants to watch Twilight embarrass herself in front of her friends and her only pupil when it turns out she didn't plan far enough ahead in Starlight's friendship curriculum. That's no trivial stumble. Knowing that Twi is nervous enough about being perfect in front of Princess Celestia, this is the kind of dick move for the lulz I'd expect of Discord.

    Joke's on all of us, though. You think you're only getting three more years of friendship lessons? Honey, this freight train has no brakes.

    This was a great moment, even in the service of a throwaway gag. One-line question, one-line answer, one-line stage direction. The confused looks these two give each other afterward almost yells "We've been over this. sugar darling."

    I never really noticed Thorax had mobile eye irises. They're there; look real close.

    Discord is the kind of draconequus you hire if you decide your company just doesn't, and I mean doesn't, need an HR department.

    Trixie's wonderful in this episode. She's quite the remarkable foil for Discord, given their shared overconfidence and sense of theatricality.

    Also, ponies look great with tiny "o" mouths. I don't remember seeing all that many in recent seasons.

    For a brief moment, I see a Twilight from one of the first two seasons: stressed out and buried under reams of parchment.

    "Girl, your PC sucks, grab some character sheets and I'll help you whip up some new murloc fodder or something."

    I'm super glad to see that the reformed changelings haven't magically become 100% model behavior bugs after the last season finale. Yes, we will share our love with you and invite you into our homes, but Chrysalis forbid you bring wildberry honey in this clover honey house because we compromise with assault and battery.

    "There is no wrong way to fantasize" is the kind of line a writer cannot include in a script unintentionally, and I will love it forever.

    Also, given Spike's colors in Twilight's projections, any line of his that you transcribe will be literal greentexting of Twilight's understanding of social norms.

    Whoo -- 'scuse me. That's an incredibly healthy backside.

    Not!Starlight asks these changelings if they're just bugs, but this is happening in Twilight's head as a manifestation of her conscious and unconscious thoughts. I'm a little worried!

    Also, whatever changeling could successfully conjure a flyswatter from thin air has much better places to be than in a changeling hive all the time!

    "Twi, girl, we know you mean no harm and we can help you learn what to do next time, but you really need to be careful with how you see people who are different than you are."

    Imagine being Twilight in the moment she seizes upon sending Starlight to the dragon lands. No, really sit in it. Can you ever see yourself that desperate to B.S. a plan in the eleventh hour, just to satisfy some jerkwad, arbitrary deadline.

    I have never thrown such wild and desperate ideas around while plotting out a story, or tearing off on a topic because I'd put off writing that college paper.

    Mm-hmm. Never. Stop looking at me like that. Look at that thicc b-- bicep instead.

    (Obligatory fact of the fun nature: you will remember that Joanna Lewis and Kristin Songco, writers of this episode, had also written "Gauntlet of Fire" as well! If seeing Dragon Lord Ember again, Twilight-tinted astral projectionings aside, made you feel good inside, you gotta wonder how happy they were to pick her back up.)

    To which point I thoroughly disagree with your perspective on the situation, Spike. Twilight understands this dragoness and mare faaaar too well.

    Elevated notoriety, sleek build, pinpoint fireball accuracy? Pretty sure Starlight fits the bill for a Night Fury.

    Oh, Ember's hot, too.

    I'm honestly impressed that DHX made new assets for Dragon Lord Torch just for this bit. I liked him and his raucous but law-abiding personality.

    And then there's Garbage Garble, but Twilight's projection of him gets points for the Glimmerglammerung.

    "Oh, wow! Season 3 was a good vintage for assets."

    "Put your horn directly on the potion and picture the ___ you wish to make."

    Maybe I was sleep-deprived when I listened to this a second time, but I did not hear every letter in that word.

    I don't know why Flurry Heart is the cuckoo here, but I have less than zero objections to this choice. She looks adorable anyhow.

    "If we do it just right, this should allow us to materialize an object that was lost in the past."

    I mean, at this point you've either read or watched Fullmetal Alchemist, or you haven't. It's pitch perfect.

    So Starlight is Alphonse in this fic -- except that the story ends with "gotcha, it was just an escapade mental fantasy"!

    Full-throated, belly-heaving laughter from Princess Celestia makes this episode for me. The same idea from "Newbie Dash" applies here: don't fall into the trap of thinking that Twilight's emotions need to be coddled and held aloft just because she's the protagonist, any more than insisting that the Wonderbolts accept Rainbow's problems with being called "Crash."

    It's amusement Celestia betrays here, along with sympathy and no small amount of relief. As we get to see later, she had the same outlandish worries about sending Twilight away from Canterlot, and seeing her former pupil pilot her way through a similar menu of inner turmoil validates her past struggles. Definitely a niche one at that -- sending off your most talented student to adventures unknown -- but when you're ancient as Celestia is you come to live through most everything that can happen.

    Shouts out to the layout department for bringing back the original Canterlot Six from "Amending Fences". These little bits of continuity do more to knit the show together than you'd think.

    And then you have Ruby Pinch travelling back in time to hang with Lyra! Or... is it that an accident in magic kindergarten has kept her young into the present day?

    Also! What kind of upside-down curriculum does Equestria have where Cheerilee teaches Ponyville foals astrophysics while Celestia's hoof-picked students turn happy things into numbers?

    Really, can we get more of this side of Celestia? The kind who just wants her associates to make more friends?

    Time for the comments section to dogpile me! Before this episode, has it ever been established in canon or fanon that Celestia knew in advance that Twilight would defeat Nightmare Moon?

    It's possible that's the wrong way to read into this scene, though. The simpler explanation is that Celestia has experience, and painful experience at that, with sending loved ones far away from her.

    Honestly, I don't remember these five being so close before Twilight came to Ponyville. I'm pretty happy to chalk this one up to the production process, though.

    "I knew there was a special group of fillies in Ponyville", one line on a script, has room to interpret the above scene in a different light, where these five could have appeared in their own scenes of a rapid-fire montage. DHX could have decided that such a montage was infeasible in the seven or so seconds this scene had available.

    The above isn't to apologize for the show so much as it is to remind myself that it chooses to prioritize telling a self-sufficient story over gridlocking itself beneath every possible cross-episodic reference.

    Definitely missed an opportunity to dig up the filly models for these girls, though. I mean, it's right there in the script.

    This isn't the first time we've seen Celestia's more worried and vulnerable side.

    I hope it isn't the last, either. That nervous gait was adorable.

    I don't think Celestia has ever gone as far as admitting that she was worried about being left in Twilight's past. This is a huge, huge thing for the legendary diarch of Equestria -- you'd think that at some point, somewhere, somepony was Twilight's equal in this regard.

    As always, it's up to you to decide if the show itself has proven that Twilight's relationship with Princess Celestia is that transcendental. The paradox here is that the show is all we can ever build official canon off of unless otherwise determined, but the show cannot show us every pony Celestia's come to know over her life. If there's room to be made for a special cases, Twilight gets top consideration.

    Don't be me. Don't dig this deep. This is a show I came to because it wasn't afraid to remind me that idealism and realism are not mutually exclusive concepts.

    Back to the party! And there's Discord, so sure of the incoming drama he's fomented that he has his popcorn ready.

    Bro, are you saying this entire bit was all about the crazy rents in the chaos realm?

    Before you excoriate the former eldritch horror for not choosing Fluttershy because Fluttershy is his best and only friend -- well, it's not hard to imagine him warming up to Starlight after the changeling hive... adventure. If the show is to service its message of making friends, Discord's on target by considering Starlight to be his backup butter-soft pegasus.

    Still doesn't change the fact that he's a slimeball, though.

    Starlight's on her way to assembling her own answer to the Mane 6, and I'm curious to see how far Season 7 will take them? When I've made these kinds of predictions before, though, they've never panned out. I'll just settle for Starlight Glimmer's new and unexpected friendship with Thunderlane; she hears he's got a cute butt.

    I'd definitely be a little sad if we don't get to see Starlight chilling out with the Our Town Four. Clearly, having too many friends is the problem.

    Twilight, your definition of "long and hard" here needs revising.

    When Nick Confalone brought Trixie back in "No Second Prances", he has said he needed Starlight's first new friend to be a pony who would infuriate Twilight to the ends of Tartarus.

    It's a lesson that bears repeating here: some of your friends are going to have friends you may not get along with at first. But it's worth putting in good faith efforts to reach a middle ground. You never know when making that second-degree frenemy into a first-degree friend will come to bear dividends.

    Hug it out, bro.

    And the "Best Face" winner here goes to this shop-vac. Awful nice of Pinkie to provide the bookends to this episode.

    I'll be frank: as the seasons wind on, premieres become less and less the "oh my god it's back" rush it used to be for me. I know there are tons of you out there who would beg to differ otherwise, and I can't encourage you all enough to continue supporting a show you love; I'm always glad for more pony. The point I'm trying to make here, I suppose, is rather that it's nice to see the writers dip a toe into a slice-of-life episode for the season opener for once, and the gamble paid off.

    Granted, I think it's fair to say that this was a lot of set-up for maintaining the status quo. I think the show could have profited from sending Starlight off to make her new life as a pony of friendship. It's a little hard to go back on this episode and give an answer for what changed.

    However, I'm not convinced this is a bad thing. I might be alone in this, but the occasional episode that ends where it starts becomes more re-watchable for me as it doesn't have to rely on an A-to-B story to have its impact. If anything, I'd have called Starlight's departure premature by at least a season, and it feels more like we're getting a rain check on that in the interest of leaving some storytelling doors open for the future.

    I have a lot of faith in what this season's new story editors will do. Joanna and Kristine get the closest to Amy Keating Rogers' style of writing out of all the writers on the current roster, and they really hit it out of the park with "Rarity Investigates!", "Gauntlet of Fire", and "Top Bolt". Fans of the fourth Equestria Girls movie should also appreciate their time at the helm.

    Keep the comments classy, get hype for new pony, and as always, thank you for reading.

    CouchCrusader, out.