• "The Mean 6": Episode Followup



    Imposters! I think y'all know the drill at this point, folks.

    Hit the break for this week's episode of What Happens When You Don't Have Eyeballs.




    Points to the photographer for the cutie mark. She's literally here as a shutterbug.


    ... you don't suppose she showed up late because she was busy getting cocooned within changeling slime and disposed of in the Everfree Forest, do you? Haha, what am I going on about, this show's rated a family-friendly TV-Y, right?



    Imagine how much mane straightener Fluttershy goes through every morning. If her weave be like that naturally, she's probably propping up a good fifth of the market on her own.




    Honestly, the community's already done so much more with this than I'll ever be able to.



    Oh hey, it's this chick.


    The consensus out there is that Chrysalis has really fallen from her prime in this episode, but that doesn't stop her from getting in some really intimidating poses on her own time.



    According to the comics, Chrysalis and the changelings were born from a carnivorous tree that sprouted from a rotten acorn -- you should really go read the issue in question. It's pretty metal.

    There's a lot you can do exploring the floral side of changelings, I feel. The hive became a lot more plant-like with Thorax in charge, and the maulwurf that threatened the new changelings will resonate with anyone who's had to deal with moles in their garden...

    Also, runes. Because why not.




    Rainbow Dash, the fact that you automatically assumed that that was Rarity's stuff Applejack was lugging around only adds fuel to the shipper fires.



    I wanna know more about the spell that created this Mean-Six -- the products are so similar to how our Mane Six behaved when they fell prey to Discord's whispering waaay back at the beginning of the second season, but their cutie marks got changed.


    I was kind of hoping Chrysalis lasered their marks onto those trees wrong, but nah, she got them all spot-on at first. I suppose that goes along with being a crafty infiltrator.


    "Your FACE."



    Even filtered through the twisted perceptions of a changeling queen, those two still go so well together.



    Chrysalis, if you had just, I dunno. Won? In the past? You wouldn't have to be paying your dentist so much for your tooth-grinding issues.


    Pinkie is the embodiment of the upsides to a bed of roses.

    I'm a little surprised S&P let this slide, actually -- you know there will be at least ONE kid out there who'll think about taking a roll through the roses after this.



    See, this shot is great because Applejack's solution is to wrap it.



    "Hey girls, I'll catch up with you later, I just need to return this little birdie to his home."

    Oh, wait, she didn't say that at all. Just goes off wandering alone in the Everfree Forest because a chick caught her eye.



    Mean!Shy stole the show every time she was on screen. Every time she acted like a jerk, she stuck around to really rub it in. I can only aspire to these heights of pettiness.



    Mean!Twi's feather fingers. DHX, please.


    This sub-plot of Twi's was a really satisfying turning point for me in this episode. I still think Chrysalis is one of the most threatening villains the show's ever produced, but you really get just how far she's fallen with Twi here planning to use the Elements for herself.


    Gee, Fluttershy. The Everfree Forest isn't where you belong? Personally, I beg to differ I'm sure you'll be all right.



    Look! Your best friend Rainbow Dash is here! She couldn't be anything else but -- oh.



    Ironically, one of Twilight's pre-planned learning-while-pretending-to-be-fun activities was "getting eaten by grues". She's really disappointed that Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie caught on and zoomed off to beat her there.


    In another universe, Meanity would eventually rebel against her father, creating her own chimeras and partnering with the prince of a far-off kingdom to take what belonged to her.

    I think that story ends well for her.



    Even staring down the pointy end of an enraged changeling's horn, Mean!Jack really commits to her tall tales. Not even Meanity wants to deal with owning those.




    We're six seasons later, and Meanieshy still has it out for poor, innocent flowers.




    "I'll give you some language! That broad was practically in frame with you and you didn't see her stepping off to whatever Tartarus she was looking to raise next!"

    Sorry, Nutter Butter, I gotta go with the bird on this one.


    I don't have any commentary for the next few screens, because Meanity really says it all for me.


    "If you don't back up right the **** now you're gonna get bofa."




    I think it's really easy to pile onto these ponies for not realizing "hey, my friend is acting completely the opposite way she normally does and her cutie marks are whacked", especially because we don't live in a world where dopplegangers can steal us away and seamlessly assume our identities and these ponies do, but...


    Actually, yeah Rarara, you don't have much of an excuse here.





    "And then we were tied up in boxes and put up on shelves where giant monkeys purchased us and took us to their lairs!"

    I'm sorry. I get one of these jokes a follow-up. I just hafta.



    No, Fluttershy, everyone argues forever. That's the magic of friendship for you.


    Just as an aside, the show's done a lot with soft highlighting and shading for drama. But I think it works in-show better if that highlighting and shading is more crisp, like with what we see here with Chrysalis emerging from the underbrush.

    Also, she continues to get cool shots in this episode.


    Time for more Rarity faces!




    You know, for kids. This obviously includes Tabitha, who couldn't have had anything less than a ball in studio the day she recorded this.


    Really, shouts out to the layout artists for creating all of these new face assets for Rarara.





    I do appreciate how it's Rainbow Dash of all ponies thinking critically about what's going on. I think it's worth noting that she won't have remembered getting Discorded in Season 2, even if Twilight filled her in sometime afterward, so she wouldn't have that experience to map onto Meanity's.



    Something about how Applejack says "a bucket of honey! Yeah, that's the ticket" without following up on how she lost her leg after 127 Hours completely destroyed me in this scene.

    I also remember going hiking with my Boy Scout troop when I was in eighth grade or so, and it was a lot like Starlight's experience there. Two water bottles (because none would be available at the campsite), uncomfortable poncho, bugs and sweat -- sounds about right.




    I liked Starlight's hair here. That's about it.



    Oh my god, they're married.


    "Y'know, if I were a truth-tellin' mare, which I am, I wouldn't tell you about how you just missed the real Rarity. Even though her tail wasn't in frame the moment you were too."




    Twilight, Twilight -- do you not remember almost this exact conversation happening between you two not that long ago? You know, the one you suppressed that caused you to subconsciously open up a school with your friends even though most of them are already working a brazillion jobs that shows you have a hard time admitting to having PTSD?


    N-no? Oh. Carry on, then.




    I love how this isn't the first time Rainbow Dash returns to the gang completely oblivious as to what's going on. She's this universe's Vincent Vega, but 100% cuddlier.




    Nothing gets you thinking your friends couldn't possibly hate you more than anxiety. Oh, anxiety.


    At least a dogpile solves that particular problem because Fluttershy gets all the mares.





    Cut from this episode: a serious back-and-forth between Chrysalis and Applejack about why it's not a badger art installation before the queen catches herself.


    In another time and place, I could almost see Mean!Jack being that friend everyone keeps around because the level of her bull is just that high. You don't trust them with anything, you just wait for them to say the weirdest things they can think of.


    There's no reason for any of the Mean-Six to wreck this campsite, they're just that awful.




    Even Chrysalis has to pause and wonder just what she's doing.



    I'm not exactly sure when I got bad at figuring out what happens in this show -- I was thinking the Mean-Six's presence was somehow corrupting the Elements of Harmony and that we wouldn't know what happens until later in the season.

    It now just more seems like the Elements saw these posers rockin' on up and they were all "nah, fam" to the Tree. And then the Tree just goes "'kay" and next thing we know...



    You get the founding artifact of all of ponykind wrapping you up in its ghost tentacles and just melting you from existence.

    And if this scene weren't terrifying enough, there's apparently a version of it (unaired, of course) where this wrinkly horror was dialed up even more. You'll have to take it from me, though.


    Aw, lookit Pinkie sweeping up the campsite with her tail. That's just adorable.

    -----------

    Not a bad episode going into the mid-season hiatus. Admittedly, nothing really happened in this episode -- no one even realized just how close Chrysalis was in all of this, and they seem to be more at ease with their best friends turning into schoziphrenic jerks at the drop of a Stetson hat than healthy ponies should be.

    Concerns about how this plays out in future episodes aside, though, there's only so much conflict you can build up and tear down in twenty-two minutes. And it's a mark of really solid friendship when apologies and forgiveness are given that quickly, that easily. It's a fine line to walk, just how much miscommunication a story needs in order to not fold up on itself, but a story with perfect communication and things still going wrong isn't what we always need. We've already had an episode about that.

    For what it was, the seemingly-mandated "evil twin" episode of the series, the different ponies wove in and out of each other's stories, and that takes a lot more balancing and forethought than you think it would. It was great for its little moments, and if I missed your favorite one in here, stick it in the comments and belittle me mercilessly.

    Thanks for reading. CouchCrusader, out.

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