• Editorial: Is Chrysalis Irredeemable?

    If there’s one thing that this show lacks when compared to other cartoons it’s a stable of recurring bad guys. Not to say that it’s short on villains, but the antagonists we do get almost unfailingly wind up defecting to the side of good before too long. Friendship is magic, after all. The closest we ever got to a regular villain was Diamond Tiara, and even she got her redemption in the end.

    However, there is one baddie who consistently rejects friendship in favor of remaining Evil with a capital E:  Chrysalis, soul-stealing insect and former queen of the changelings.  But why is that?  What is it about Chrysalis that makes her stay evil when all other villains wind up on the straight and narrow?

    Let's put a pin in this bug after the break!

    To understand the purpose behind Chrysalis' perpetual antagonism, we first need to understand just why she is the way that she is.  What drives her do do the evil things that she does?  Once I started looking into that, I found a surprising answer:  Chrysalis is not actually a villain.

    I know, just stay with me on this one.

    A villain in the classical sense acts as a foil to the hero.  A villain displays goals, characteristics, motives that stand in opposition to the hero's own, setting off the conflict.  A villain usually has some kind of long term goal that they work towards, or a grand ideal that they intend to see propagated and enforced.  Sometimes a villain can be sympathetic, undertaking necessary evils in the name of noble or at least understandable intentions.  None of that can be said to apply to Chrysalis.  The way I see it, Chrysalis is not a villain.

    She's a monster.

    I mean, take away the cute pony face and she's practically a Xenomorph.

    In all of her appearances, Chrysalis' only motivation was to steal the love and magic from ponies to feed herself and her hive, or to gain enough power to do so.  She doesn't have any higher ideal or lofty goal.  She's not trying to prove anything.  She conquers only to consume, and she consumes only to conquer.  She is driven purely by a desire to destroy and to feed, and nothing more.  To top it all off, she's like this not out of necessity but out of choice.

    The best example of this can be seen in the season six finale.  After Thorax converts the changeling hive and shows them that they can survive without stealing love, they offer the same to Chrysalis.  In spite of all of the atrocities she committed and everyone she's hurt over the centuries, Starlight still offers her a way out.  Starlight offers Chrysalis a hoof in friendship, and a chance to be forgiven and start over.  Heck, she even offers to throw in a free paint job.  And what does she do?

    Miss me with that Crayola $#!^.

    She rejects it.  She doesn't even think twice.  When given the chance to live a happy, peaceful life where she'll never have to hurt anyone Chrysalis instantly throws it away.  She'd rather give up her crown and seek revenge than consider even for a second that there could be another way.  She doesn't care about her hive, she only cares about having the power to do the two things she knows how to do:  Feed and destroy.  She doesn't want anything more than that, and she's not willing to change.

    But don't take my word for it.  If you want to know the story about how Chrysalis became the way she is, she'll tell you herself:

    Hail Hydra.

    As far as giving the bad guy a redemption goes, she seems like she'd be a pretty tough nut to crack.  But should it even be cracked at all?  As much as we all love Chrysalis, it might ultimately be better that she never gets a happy ending.

    When you look at the structure of this show and what it aims to teach about friendship, having a character like Chrysalis, a terrible person who steadfastly refuses to change her ways, can serve a real purpose.  Maybe this is just real-world cynicism creeping in, but those types of people are out there.  For all the kids out there hearing the message to try and treat everyone with compassion, they're eventually going to run into the jerks who won't hear a word of it.  I think it's important to have an antagonist like Chrysalis who refuses to hear reason, to let those kids know that while friendship should always be the ideal there are going to be times when it just doesn't work; And that when someone does refuse to accept your kindness it's not your fault, it's theirs.

    If you have to explain to someone why eating your own children is bad, you probably don't want to be friends with that person.  Just saying.

    In a show that so often goes out of it's way to show that even the worst among us can do the right thing when given the chance, Chrysalis stands as an anomaly.  Even when given the chance to make things right and live an easier life, she's determined to stay miserable, angry, and violent.  And all this not because she has to, but because she wants to.  So can someone as bad as her ever be redeemed?  Sure, it's technically possible.  I'm sure there's seven hundred thousand fanfics out there that deal with just that.

    The better question is, should she ever be redeemed?  In my opinion, I think not.  From an in-universe perspective she is quite literally rotten to the core, and is willing to sacrifice anything and everything to get what she wants and never change.  After everything she's done, I don't think it would make sense for her to pull an about-face now.  From a storytelling viewpoint her continued villainy serves to make a strong point; one that is arguably more important than any single story of redemption could be.  Chrysalis is a gleefully evil, soul-devouring, tyrannical monster, and that's just the way she should be.

    Long live the queen.

    ~ The Skullivan