• "Shadow Play", Parts I & II: Episode Followup

    Hi, I'm Cereal Velocity. You might remember me as that obnoxious white horse on Twitter, or by, "wow, where the hell did that guy go, anyway?"

    It's been quite a busy year for bite-sized personal horses. The launch of a feature film that by all accounts has earned its budget back should embolden Hasbro to keep funding more of them, fingers are definitely crossed for the assets created for its process and workflow make their way to the show, and we've long since had confirmation that an eighth season is well on its way next year.

    I think it's safe to say that none of us expected to be here right now.

    And it's awesome.

    Today, we cap off season seven with a two-parter finale- Twilight's Fanfics, the Episode.

    A popular theory was that Starswirl actually survived this whole thing unscathed, but hasn't gotten around to writing the next part of his book. This would confirm the theory that George R. R. Martin was also a student of his.

    Gratuitous aside- I'm glad every time we get to see Sunburst. I love his little socks.

    "Figure it out yet, Twilight?"

    My team lead, to me, every single morning. Same face and all. Never code for a living.

    Also man is that candle next to all these books giving me anxiety.

    Helping as always, Glammer.

    Serving a term as a merciless dictator really sharpens up your ancient language skill, apparently. Maybe Glitter Glue has her own version of Twilight's khampfy chair.

    Guess they skipped the forest travel scene in this flat colored universe, too.

    Those aren't socks on Sunburst, but Hoovers.
    Fun fact, these runes spell out, "PONI RULES".

    Can't do it, the face kills it. "They're gonna caption this, I know it, god f-*buysomeapples*-ing damn it." 

    Dash has won best face and we're not even six minutes into part one.

    "... finding a whole set of ancient ruins is pretty impressive!"

    Yeah, finding a whole set of ancient ruins that were carefully drawn and preserved in a book. That Sunburst remembered off the top of his head when prompted. Yeah. Way to go, Twiggy. I guess you're now the third-place purple-ish unicorn.

    Boy, that's convenient.

    Being time for their scheduled message, the citizens of Terminus gather around the hologram of the long-dead psychohistorian to hear the next Seldon Crisis.

    Finally we seem to be getting some payoff for teasing these five other mythological horses this season.

    What's interesting to me is that while all of their backstories were of roughly equal length (in Health of Information, Daring Done, and Campfire Tales), Somnambula and Meadowbrook got an episode to themselves while the other three were packed into Campfire. It doesn't end up making a difference in the end (spoilers), but the special treatment was interesting.

    Unless there was something in the comics about them. I can't read, so I might have missed something.

    Fun fact, Meadowbrook has been mentioned before Health of Information. In Cutie Map, she's the one who supposedly made Glammer's dictator stick.

    "Drawing me here will only make me stronger!"

    Well, we can't draw you anywhere else, that's what the storyboard says to do.

    "But I wouldn't say the mystery's solved."

    Yeah, we still have another thirty two minutes of screentime. Can't you see the playback bar?

    That's more reading right there than Applejack's done in six years.

    There was about a second of animation between Twilight poofing the diorama and Rarity piping up, and I felt the little ego I have left escape from me like a deflating balloon when my very first thought mirrored Tabitha's line right as she said it.

    This is it. This is my life now.

    Little did Twilight know that they all escaped into Limbo on purpose, but not for the reasons they actually say at the end. Equestrian politics at the time was very stressful.

    "Okay, so we're gonna setup six more episodes this season, but we're going to compress them down into two so that everyone can keep complaining that we rush scripts and hopefully drown out the fact that those holograms at Ponehenge had digital scanlines which makes no sense for a fantasy realm." - Josh Haber

    Seriously, scroll back up. Total immersion ruiner.

    "I guess we don't need to figure out who should get what."

    To the archetype boats, everyone!

    "... is preposterous."

    Someone needs to go re-watch Campfire Tales.

    Hold up, is that...

    I'll be damned, it is- a blink-and-you'll-miss-it Indiana Pones. Have we seen this model in Daring Do episodes before?

    Screenshot presented without comment.

    That said, I'll take back my jab at AJ from before.

    Okay, Rarity, you used your horn for, like, all of that work. How are you dirty? Did you just roll around in stuff off-camera while you did that?

    Maybe Simple Ways rubbed off on her.

    Even dirty she's perfect.

    This kind of looks like a dragon version of Glimglam.

    Calm down, CouchCrusader, I can hear you from here.

    "Lord Ember only commanded us to be nice to ponies."

    I mean, what's worse here? Not being nice to ponies or their friends, or messing with an official ambassador? The United Neighshuns is going to have a fit over this. Luna will almost certainly agree to sanctions over... I dunno, what can ponies export to dragons? Screen time?

    "See, cause that's what you said to them."

    I didn't know Grubber was in this show.

    "We didn't want to spend too much time on Fluttershy, so we began in media res and explained things as we went." - also Josh Haber probably

    This just in- wing hands are still weird.

    "I really liked that green slime asset we made for the Sphynx sequence. Can we use it just one more time?"

    I do enjoy the casual tearing down of the mythos, though.

    "Oh yeah, no, we thought this pit of slime was pivotal to an ancient legend that defined this pyramid, turns out it was just a stuck sewer line. Kind of puts things in perspective."

    "How much are we paying you again?"

    So it's... so it's not that toxic? Is it only toxic if you drown in it? Because even tickles and hugs are toxic if that's all that's in your lungs.

    I'm gonna just believe Pinkie is incapable of conceptualizing death, and thus does not fall prey to it.

    "You know, outside of my dreams."
    "And my fanfics."

    Speaking of this frame- SunLight? SparkleBurst? Does this ship have a name?

    Helping as always, Glamglam.

    I think we all remember from whom your wings were bestowed, Twi. He insists to this day that it wasn't his idea, but I think we all know.

    That vase was cracked in her scene. Episode ruined.

    Is there some kind of default attack key for unicorn magic? How do they know what to hit this book with? Is it some kind of quick-time event? Was it a quest item?

     I need to know these things, I'm looking through the rule books and it doesn't say anything.

    "We brought you back!"
    It's just like one of my Japanese animes!

    Continued in Part II of Twilight Ruins Everything

    Helping as always, Glimmy.
    Wait, you actually helped this time.

    Chris Britton voices Starswirl, with this being his first appearance in the mainline show. I love the depiction, but- and I'm sorry to do this to you- his air of authority is completely undermined by the subtle jingling of the bells on his hat every time he moves. It's hilarious.

    "Then my spell worked... before *jingle* it was *jingle* meddled with."

    You'll always hear it now.

    "It's like poetry, sort of. They rhyme."

    I do like the backstory being woven here, in truth. The elements that represent the good in the world change over time but are always rooted in a set of core values. History is a cyclical cycle where the peop- uh, horses change, but the stories don't.

    It's clever.

    Dash begins to question all of her life choices.
    I do enjoy the probably-corporate-enforced use of the apples on the cider jugs.

    No alcoholic beverages here! We're still PG!

    > tfw your lifelong hero picks up your spell like a dirty napkin

    "... but Twilight doesn't do anything halfway!"

    Except, you know, she got you and the other Pillars out with no plan to get them back in.

    That's pretty halfway. That's like exactly halfway. You walked out the door with one shoe and forgot your watch.


    "Do you think the map could be trying to tell us where the Pony of Shadows is?"

    Twilight, the map in this very instant has been replaced with a scared programmer in an interview frantically trying to write Quicksort on a whiteboard, calling pivot() at random and hoping the interviewer moves on in exasperation.

    You'd be better off with Celestia's butt mark and a giant magnifying glass.

    This face existed for like one or two frames. It's like they're daring me.

    "Should we talk to him?"

    "Nah." - Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship and savior of Equestria and the surrounding realms by being the most obnoxiously friendly small horse ever put to screen.


    That's the problem with Ancient Arrows. Instant death, none of the juicy loot.

    I couldn't believe no one had made this gif yet, because holy crap.

    "A necessary sacrifice."

    Jesus, who does this guy think he is, Jack Bauer? Is he gonna start forcing towels down people's throats and shooting kneecaps?

    Hold up, that's gold.

    His attitude jives from a canonical perspective though, at least for me. It obviously serves its primary purpose of setting up a "don't meet your heroes" lesson for Twilight and a further cementation of Glammer's redemption later on. Past that, though, consider the timeline of events- if Starswirl and the Pillars had no indication of the passing of time while in Limbo, the tree and the elements probably don't have the same weight in their minds as they do for the main six. They're proud of it, but they also planned it, and instant gratification wins the day. They're also all still alive anyway.

    In the end, far from simply being the personification of "the ends justify the means" just to move the plot along (or just a jerk, really), it also just makes sense, which helps me buy into his character a little bit more.

    Something pointed out to me later that I hadn't noticed is Spike's absence after the gang leaves from the castle. The show leads have since confirmed that since he had no lines, he was simply cut.

    There was also the fact that having this many characters on screen was causing Flash to crash constantly.

    The program, not the horse.

    Ah yes, the Well of Shade, the Chinese knockoff brand of Chasm of Darkness.

    Sugar-free Canyon of Murk. Low-sodium Gorge of Tenebrosity.

    "In the darkness, only ambition will guide you."

    Hey, you got your visual metaphor in my allegory!

    Seriously? That was such an excellent transition of tone and some really solid writing and they had to extend the screen time with a line cheesier than the quesadilla of Twilight's nightmares?

    You're killing me, Haber.

     "Guys, I found the magnifying glass, now we can- oh."

    You ever sploosh so hard you forget your idol's name?

    If this completely justified s-*buysomeapples*-t eating grin doesn't endear you, you're forever lost.

    "We can't have them stay here where they might get entangled in regular plot lines, you know there's no budget for that. We had a whole movie to make, you know."

    I'm sure we'll be seeing them in season eight and beyond, seeing as how everyone but Starswirl had about three lines apiece. I remember when continuity between even episodes was a thing you could rarely count on, and now it's becoming difficult to keep up even between seasons.

    Does that make me old? I think it does.

    Hope you enjoyed, EQD. Remember- the ride never ends.