• "To Change a Changeling": Episode Followup - War Never Changes

    WeAreBorg here once again with the Followup to this weeks "To Change a Changeling". A fun episode for this season all about stubbornness and change.

    Join me below for adventure, terrible plans, lasers, cute bugs, cartoon violence, and feelings.

    Let us begin as I always do, with the moral lesson. But before that, I'd like to take a step back away from the microscope and remind everypony that is just that, a "lesson", not a hard and fast rule. There are always 'ifs', 'ands', or 'buts', so most times a full 22.5-minute episode isn't going to cover all the back and forth. It's a lesson to be applied in the right situation and the right time.

    "Yes Borg, we know, get on with it." Well, not everyone knows, so there. I read the stream discussion. I lurk. I see you all there with your words!

    Aaaaanyway, "To Change a Changeling" shows us the balance between "changing oneself for the better" and also "not letting go of what defines you". We'll see it's not just Thorax's brother who needs to change. There are a few side morals like "doing what's right regardless of what others think", "herd mentality is bad", and "Celestia Damn it Starlight, stop trying to solve problems with magic or violence!" Do these ponies never learn?

    Also, we learn that even if you're totally comfortable with the way you are, you should be forced into society's physical norms.

    Let's start the show...

    This is what happens when you don't mow your lawn a couple days after a hurricane. Source: My lawn. Either that or Thorax hasn't gotten around to the landscaping classes.

    It's interesting to note that it's mentioned that because the changelings no longer feed on love the plants are coming back. This either suggests love is synonymous with "life force" in Equestria and Changelings have an ambient life sucking ability or "bad changeling" magic inherently kills things around it, suggesting Changelings are by nature parasitic and can not live symbiotically with ponies naturally.

    I see it's difficult to get your barrings when Discord teleports you somewhere. Also, Changeling mailbugs have some skill to still be able to deliver letters without anyone knowing how to get back. But letters do get back....Starlight must have gotten directions from Derpy.

    I like this call back to the season 6 finale. Discord sure was frustrated. Continuity!

    It's nice to get another episode with the Great and Humble Trixie. I was super surprised when Sethisto didn't steal this follow up from me. I mean Glimglam and Trixie? He said he was waiting for the upcoming bat pony episode.....

    Also, this bit with Trixie tooting her own horn is a none too subtle reminder about how Trixie, though changed, hasn't changed much. Change is after all our theme for the episode...

    Speaking of change or rather not change, as we learned in "Fame and Misfortune" one lesson does not a change make, so it's actually quite nice to hear about Thorax still facing some challenges of being a new leader. I love the way Starlight is explaining the Dread Maulwurf or rather Maulwürfe which is the German word for Mole. Maulwurf being the word for a mole, maulwürfe being the plural form. The half bear part is important, but we'll get into this creature more when he's on screen.

    Also, this might be one of the best gifs of the season. I spent a good 5 mins just watching it. Very similar to the Applejack ghost animation.

    Edit: Fixed my German!

    Yeah Trixie, after hydras that are several stories tall, a maulwurf is not that big a deal if its hole is only that big, right?

    I love that they bring back the rock gag. One of the most iconic things from the episode where we met Thorax.

    Also, I love how guttural Trixie's scream is instead of all girly and high pitched....at least in the English version. Can someone get us a Trixie screaming in multiple languages compilation?

    How scared is Starlight?

    Not at all. When you face down a changeling hive with no magic, one changeling won't phase you...or it'll send you into a fit of crippling PTSD if you're Fluttershy.

    Also, that face. Trixie has a lot of great faces in this episode so I'll try to grab them all.

    "I'm not nice." Changelings have good ears...um..." tympanal organs." 


    They're bugponies okay!?

    What was Starlight's reaction again?

    Imma Firin' Mah Lazer! 

    So this changeling is either really good or Twilight absolutely sucked at avoiding Starlight's blasts. Oh well, at least Starlight is also good with levitation and shields, and Trixie knows how to teleport now...

    Nice job Trixie, your Go-Go-Gadget-Teleport didn't go off eh? Also, does he have differently sized sacks laying around for different numbers of ponies that wander by?

    This place needs some Round-up....and maybe some Raid.

    This episode of Startrix shipping is brought to you by the same Kevin behind "Honest Apple".

    More of Trixie's Go-Go-Gadget-Teleport. It's her process. Every actor has a process, even Nicholas Cage.

    Also, my and Cynder's faces last night in bed...as I'm trying to soothe the baby without leaving the comfort of my blanket.

    How to literally feel like garbage.

    I'd like to point out that in the English version, Pharynx's voice actor is the same as Bright Mac's, Bill Newton.

    Thorax's face says "Hello ladies." Notice the sharp contrast between Thorax's throne and Chrysalis's.

    Thorax does a good job treating his brother like he's in a nursing home.  

    If you recall the entire top spire of the hive was destroyed, so it's cool to see the changelings in the open air here, fully embracing their new lives.

    This is how I act every morning before coffee and/or 11:00 AM. 

    The continuity is strong with this episode: Starlight brings up Ember helping Thorax with his leadership problems in "Triple Threat". Also, another great Trixie face here.

    And this is Pharynx, Thorax's "elder broodmate" (no autocorrect, I did not mean broodmare this time) which suggests that while the brood had other changelings, Pharynx was very much the one who stood out. Various mammal species will have elders as leaders. Also, the pharynx is in the head of insects ahead of the thorax. In addition, 'brood' is used to describe the young of many species including hive insects like bees. Food for thought.

    Starlight lies about as well as Applejack. Also, another Trixie face! She does not look amused.

    Is Pharynx amused?

    Nope. Also, something looking "better with holes" is not a thought a Trypophobe ever has. Ironically due to the plant growth and want of sunlight, the hive appears to have more holes...

    ...like this "less loud and bangy" part of the hive. On this episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, a leader is on a quest for an arts and crafts table for a swarm.

    Let's check out how the Changeling's cultural appropriation is coming along...

    This...is actually something they should be really good at. Having evolved to trick ponies through not just looks but acting.

    Swing dancing. As snug as a bug cuttin' a rug.

    There's a lot to take in here and I don't mean to eat. Thorax mentioned in "Triple Threat" that he had stomach problems likely due to his diet, and I can see why. Like what the apples is happening here. So the most glaring thing here is the giant bug on that plate. Is it food in the shape of a bug? Or an actual bug? Hopper said it's a bug eat bug world out there, so it's quite possible they have been transformed into omnivores. Also, if you look closely you'll see the red and blue cube jellos have the same white grub thing as the ones on the left. Changelings eat bugs. It's canon now.

    Let's check out arts and crafts...

    Day1 of Artist Training Grounds. Also, Thorax is adorable and best bird.

    'Pastels are murder' doesn't have the same ring to it when you throw the paint. Also, here we are starting to see Thorax's leadership problems are being picked up on by his citizens.

    "Nuh uh" Lol. Trixie is no help this whole episode. She is out of her comfort zone of developing friendships and is out for number 1. Her jabs and back handed compliments really make this episode fun.

    Making a trail of green stuff to distract it from all the other green stuff. Not sure how well that is going to work. Can't wait to get to the Maulwurf.

    So Thorax mentioned earlier that the only thing they did before was hunt and patrol, and Pharynx here was in charge of the patrol. In other words, this guy is a badass. He's 'the wartime soldier in peace time' trope.

    "You yell and blast him with magic." Thanks, Trixie. I bet you were a riot at Princess Celestia's School for Magical Unicorns. Also, I like how Starlight just knows Trixie well enough to just roll with her.

    Let's see how this little talk goes...

    "I put you in a bag. I thought it went great." maybe the best line in the episode right here.

    It seems like there is enough stored love in the hive to be feeding Pharynx here for a while. Why he said "used to" feed on ponies. No more hunters. Also, I have a hard time believing he has no idea who Twilight Sparkle is. Assuming he didn't have a position of power during the Canterlot invasion, a lot of changelings were focused around capturing Twilight and her friends. I'm just nitpicking I guess.

    How is Starlight going to relate...

    A dictator who ruled a village with an iron hoof. You can tell she misses that a little. Also, her jab at Trixie coming to terms with being second best. Their relationship is best, it really is.

    "Wow, you're both losers." The foundation of their friendship. We're gonna need some aloe for these burns.

    Let's talk about how much that hurt...

    ...at the Feelings Forum! Also female changelings! Or at least female voiced changelings. I watched this episode a lot to see if there were any physical identifiers as to a changeling's sex but the changelings in this episode are copy/pasted a few times and identically designed changelings have had both male and female voices, such as our female here and the lettuce carrier earlier, so it's possible the new changelings are still mostly drones who can not reproduce or hermaphrodites and can change into either gender depending on need or preference. Very progressive.

    Anyway, this one Changeling has an identity crisis...

    You can be male one day and female the next, or both on the same day.

    If I don't see a real life version of that piece of pottery in the Submit Box, I'll be most disappointed in you all.

    Also "You know who." Pharynx is best Voldemort.

    "He teaches little changelings to growl and hiss." This brings up more new-changeling reproduction questions. I suppose they haven't had their new form very long and still have little changelings. I wonder who I can pester at Hascon for an answer?

    This dude's soup is the real conflict of the episode. Also, Hippy Bug needs to meet up with Zecora and swap some paint swatches or something.

    So this is the point where we really start to understand where Pharynx is coming from. He's pointing out a cultural change that could have life threatening consequences.

    It's like all his side chicks caught him at once.

    I like this moment because Starlight stays true to her nature and clearly shows she isn't the best Friendship disciple. She gives up on Pharynx. A leader sticking up for family at the cost of reputation or position is a time honored trope and one that's very real today, so Thorax's dilemma is relatable.

    Also, Trixie's quip about "3rd" chances. That's how many she's needed for sure.

    Additionally, "Bad Bug" with the eyebrows.

    Good thing he's not around to hear...

    Ahahahahaha. You'd think Starlight and Trixie would learn not to trust rocks. I expect to see this cosplay at a con.

    This Trixie face. "Maaayyybeeee"

    Let's randomly learn about Thorax's child foal grubhood....

    Reminds me of the last season of Samurai Jack. With warrior skills installed at birth, you'd think a few more changelings would have clung to the warrior mindset and way of life a bit more. I guess Chrysalis was really just that bad.

    Also, in the background, those ceiling pods twitch...we've seen changeling ceiling pods before. Those are full of ponies desperately trying to escape for their lives....

    Anyway, what was Thorax like?

    Totes adorbs. Also, he has a Spike figure there if you didn't notice and the other figure he is holding in one of his leg holes. Changelings don't have magnet hooves.

    So this is important to the plot because we see later this is one of Pharynx's go-to forms. In addition, this is important to the world building because changelings don't need to be close to the size of something to change into it. I imagine we could dive into all sorts of what ifs like sustainability, actually strength vs. illusion and what not but I'd rather do that in an editorial dedicated to it.

    Something else relevant to the plot...

    Ah yes, childhood bullying and physical violence. The sweet memories. I still hit myself to this day, like right now at 4 AM trying to stay awake and finish this thing.

    Story time over...

    Trixie cute face. Her deadpans and tone changes make this episode amazing.

    I still need to know what magic feels like!

    Watch in awe as The Great and Powerful Trixie proceeds to lose track of a changeling!

    So, solving a problem using magic and/or violence? Check. This is a Starlight Glimmer episode.

    It's not a new face but I thought you might like a Trixie scrunchy face.

    Already Starlight's plan has backfired and it hasn't even been executed yet.

    Two of these changelings are screaming because they were animated without tails.

    As a magician, Trixie is a pro at timing. Another tailless changeling. It's the blue ones...

    Ooo. Angry and assertive Thorax. Me likey.

    Too bad that's where his leadership stops...

    Time for Starlight to harness her natural leadership talents and inspire the masses!

    How effective was it?

    Glimglam rolled a 1! Seems not all the vegetation has returned to Pride Rock.

    Let's roll again and find ourselves a random encounter...

    Alrighty, so this is the Maulwurf; described by Applejack Thorax as half mole, half bear. The literal translation of the German is roughly "muzzle throw" which describes the normally blind mammal's form of digging and sensing prey. Our giant purple creature here is also modeled after the star-nosed mole or Sternmull in German. As a cross with a bear, it gains eyesight, making it a formidable predator. Predator you say? It's interesting that this fellow eats plants because both moles and bears are known to eat bugs and insects including such hive creatures as termites, and ants. Star-nosed moles are the fastest eater of any creature, able to determine food and consume it at the theoretical maximum speed of neurons, so like 5ms.

    So what is Pharynx gonna do about it?

    Hey, it's that bug form we saw earlier. If all 5 eyes are functional, I feel like that would be super disorienting.

    We can see that this bug form is still much bigger compared to Pharynx's natural body. As a grub, his ugly bug form was just slightly bigger than say, Cadance. Here he has quite a bit of weight behind his hit but he's not able to sustain it for long.

    Dizatron 2.0

    Also, I like how Starlight's 'go to' was firing more lasers and Trixie's was smoke bombs.

    Ah, the Braveheart speech did work! Good job Starlight. Let's watch an effective team of warriors and deceivers take down a single threat en mass....

    Or not. Why don't they all change into giant wasp things?

    Also, this happened to me last time I fell asleep on my back porch....except it was mosquitos.

    Hey, it's that hit yourself thing we saw earlier!

    I like how slow Thorax is sometimes. He's just so not great at being a leader. That's a theme in this whole episode. Thorax is bad at being a leader, Pharynx is bad at changing with the times, Starlight is bad at solving a conflict, Trixie is bad at being nice, and all the other changelings are bad at being changelings. It's making for a very interesting episode!

    When your sleeve gets stuck on your desk and the professor says to stay after to volunteer for his study.

    After more self-ass-kicking than Fight Club, the changelings are victorious and the giant purple Lorax flees and the hive can finally learn their lesson that the hive mind isn't all that it's cracked up to be and Pharynx has found the balance between doing what he believes in while also embracing change. Our wartime soldier was in the right the whole time. What he really loves is his hive. The new element of loyalty, everypony.

    Speaking of a changeling loving something...

    We have now changed a changeling! Pharynx's darker colors are quite popular among our readers. It's important to note that he also has antlers like his brother suggesting his importance. It is possible his and Thorax's brood were a specialty type beyond that of a mere drone, that manifests itself physically in this new form. Similar to worker ants, warrior ants, and breeding ants. This maybe why almost all the blue changelings have no tails.

    The no tail thing is starting to bug me...see what I did there?

    What is Trixie's take on the whole thing?

    A Trixie face of course!

    And what does Thorax think?

    Yeah, he's not thrilled. Yes, Starlight your terrible plan did work out. Stop having terrible plans.

    So is Pharynx like the changeling Luna now? Thorax-the light happy friendship side, and Pharynx-the also happy but I'd murder something side. A fun dynamic.

    Your voice actors everypony! Green changeling should be the one in the Friendship Forum with the identity crisis. Passing Changeling I believe is the one who tells Trixie he just saw Pharynx. Assistant changeling is lettuce carrier. Young Changeling is, of course, the main bully grub. And Group Leader is the Hippy Bug and Painted Changeling was the blackface changeling. Changelings 1,2,3 were at the Feeling Forum.

    Alright everypony, I hope you enjoyed this episode with Thorax's brother. Look forward to next season where Thorax gets married to Abdomen.

    Remember to not read the follow up and copy/paste your reviews you already posted to the Stream Discussion as always or if you prefer to read the followup, let me know what you thought of it and the episode!

    Borg out!