• Overanalyze This: The New Elements of Harmony?

    In the season 8 finale, the Mane Six found themselves outsmarted by the villain's plans and trapped in Tartarus, powerless to stop her.  And so it fell to the group of students from Twilight's school known as the Young Six to save the day.  While they were of course successful, their victory came by way of an unpexected source of assistance; one that could have some pretty big implications.

    Let's take a closer look after the break!  (Obvious finale spoilers ahead, naturally.)

    As we saw in the climax of School Raze, the Young Six were ultimately saved from Cozy Glow's machinations by the direct intervention of the Tree of Harmony itself.  Infused with its power, we see the six of them glowing with a magical aura as they're freed from the spell holding Starlight prisoner.  You don't need to look very closely to see that each of them is glowing with a different color.  One of the other students even notes, "They're glowing like the Elements."

    They're color-coded!  Just like Power Rangers or government surveillance helicopters!

    However, what's interesting to note is that they aren't the colors that are typically associated with the Elements - those of the actual gemstones. Rather, they match the colors of the Element's respective bearers. But why is that?  With the level of attention to detail that goes into the visuals of this show, the idea that this somehow happened by coincidence is impossible. It's fairly certain that this was intended to mean something.

    Consider this:  What if instead of simply being protected by the Tree, the students were actually being granted the power of the Elements of Harmony?  We've already seen that others besides the Mane 6 are capable of wielding them, and the virtues they represent are by no means exclusive to Twilight and her friends.  Perhaps the Young Six were deemed worthy of recieving that power?  If that's what this scene was trying to convey, then that could be the reason it looked the way that it did.  Highlighting them in the colors of the Mane Six could have been done to allude to which student bears which element by association.

    With that in mind, let's take a look at each of them and see how well they fit their given roles.

    Silverstream, the Element of Laughter

    Alright, the first one is a bit of a gimme.  With her constant exuberance and unabashed affection for everything and everyone, of course Silverstream would be the most likely candidate to bear the Element of Laughter.  She exists in a state of perpetual excitement and wonder about the world around her, and it seems that the only thing she loves more than everything is sharing that love with her friends.

     Her Spotify playlist is definitely just Everything is Awesome on infinite loop.

    But much like the original Element of Laughter, Silverstream's desire to obtain and share happiness goes much deeper than it looks.  Much like how Pinkie Pie's tendencies stem from her strict upbringing and a desire to make sure no one would ever feel as sad as she used to, Silverstream's passion for life comes as a result of the trauma she suffered under the subjugation of the Storm King.

    Silverstream knows what it is to have lost.  The hippogriffs lost everything they had when they fled Mount Aris, and while they tried to build a new life under the sea the threat of being discovered and losing everything again still hung over them.  As we saw in What Lies Beneath, the idea that the Storm King might return and take that freedom away again still terrifies her.  That's why Silverstream approaches life with such gusto; She refuses to take anything at all for granted, even something as simple as a flight of stairs, because she knows how easily it could be lost forever.  That's also why she wants everyone else to appreciate the lives they have as much as possible too.

    Yona, the Element of Honesty

    Another one that's kind of a freebie, Yona embodying Honesty comes as no big surprise given what we've seen of her culture.  Yaks are are a strong and proud people, but they're also quite blunt and direct.  They've got no qualms about telling you exactly what's on their mind, and if you tick them off they won't waste any time letting you know it. Yona's no different. 

    It's the same aspect of Honesty that Applejack herself only recently came to grips with - the kind of brutal honesty that can turn into outright rudeness if not handled delicately.  But with Yona, her bluntess isn't about being mean or causing offense, but simply because she sees no reason to be anything other than completely upfront.  

    Yaks best.  Is fact.  Next question.

    More than anything else, Yona is honest with herself.  She knows exactly who she is and she owns it at all times, both her strengths and her shortcomings.  She knows yaks are supposed to be tough and fearless, but she never tries to hide her own fears.  Look at how many times Gallus tries to crack a joke about how yaks smell, only for Yona to cheerfully agree.  Because what's true is true, regardless of how you may feel about it. Yona best exemplifies honesty not because she particularly values being honest, but because to her telling lies or denying the truth is a waste of time that benefits nobody.

    Ocellus, the Element of Generosity

    From two obvious picks to a more surprising one.  Thanks to her soft voice and timid nature, a lot of fans were quick to associate Ocellus with Fluttershy in early comparisons between the Mane 6 and the Young 6.  But that white aura suggests a link to Rarity, and by association Generosity.

    It's intriguing to think that of all creatures, a changeling would be the one endowed with the spirit of generosity.  After all, up until very recently they were a species exclusively defined by greed.  Under Chrysalis, changelings existed only to take and consume that which wasn't theirs.  Even after their reformation, they had nothing - Barely anything to call a home, no possessions, no wealth, not even a culture or a sense of identity.  So how can one be generous without anything to give?

    Fortunately for Ocellus she does have something to give:  Knowledge.  Far and away the most studious of the Young Six, Ocellus' status as a huge freakin' nerd has been well established.  With that dorkitude comes a wealth of knowledge, which she's eager to share with anyone she can.  Whether it's organizing study groups or using what she's learned to help solve others' problems, Ocellus always gives freely of the only thing she has to her name.  Look at The Hearth's Warming Club, when she recalled bringing the ponies' holiday traditions back to the changeling pack. Even though Ocellus had no idea what she was doing and got most of it totally wrong, just the idea that she could share a gift like that with her people made her happier than anything else.


    Sandbar, the Element of Kindness

    This next one is a little bit harder to pin down.  That familiar shade of pale yellow marks Sandbar as bearing the Element of Kindness, but there's two things about that that make in-depth analysis a bit tricky.  First, out of the six elements kindness is perhaps the least specific and can be interpreted in many different, equally valid ways.  Second, as the only pony in the group Sandbar has unfortunately not gotten as much development or individual focus as his classmates. We don't really know a whole lot about the guy, other than that he's a little bit slow on the uptake and possessed of an antarctic level of chill.

    Dude doesn't know the meaning of the word perturbed.  Figuratively and literally.

    That being said, there's plenty of evidence of Sandbar being a counterpart to Fluttershy when you look a little deeper.  Sandbar is easily the most level-headed of the group, and is usually the first to get in the middle of a budding argument to try to calm things down.  It was also him who sheltered the rest of the group in Ponyville after they ran away in the season premiere.  He's demonstrated a remarkable capacity for empathy.

    One of Sandbar's most defining traits is his faith in others.  Whenever the rest of the students show doubt in their teachers, he's quick to pipe up in their defense.  In that same vein, he was the last to overcome his trial from the tree of harmony because he didn't have it in him to believe (what he thought were) his teachers didn't have his best interests at heart.  It goes all the way up to the finale, where he was the one to suggest they turn to Chancellor Neighsay for help; Even after everything Neighsay had said and done to them, Sandbar still believed they could appeal to his better nature.  Sandbar treats everyone with respect and compassion because he truly believes everyone deserves it.  I don't know about you, but that sounds a lot like Kindness to me.

    Smolder, the Element of Loyalty

    Smolder representing Loyalty might be the one that seems the least likely at first glance.  Thanks to her dragon-ish upbringing, she can easily be the most rude, selfish, and insensitive of the Young Six.  Heck, her self-professed favorite holiday story is about a dragon who betrays her benefactors, steals everything they have, and then laughs in their faces.  Not exactly a model of devotion.

    True, Smolder is definitely the most critical of others out of the group.  She's always the first one to call out others' flaws and failures, and she never minces words when it comes to telling people why they're wrong or talking about unfortunate outcomes. Just look at how blunt she was to Spike in Molt Down when she described all the terrible things he was about to go through.

    "It's gonna be awkward and smelly and uncomfortable for you and everyone you care about and there's nothing you can do to stop it.  Have fun!"

    Ironically enough, a lot of Smolder's behavior matches up with the things that were used against Rainbow Dash back in the earliest days of the fandom and the theories that she didn't truly embody Loyalty either.  Just like then, it's those same behaviors that actually make the strongest case in her favor.  Smolder's nature is a result of her culture, much like Yona.  Dragons value strength and skill above all else, and she wants to see that in her friends too. When she's tough on the others, it isn't to tear them down but rather to build them up.  Smolder knows that her friends have the potential to be the best versions of themselves, and her dragon version of loyalty is making darn sure they're never anything less.

    Gallus, the Element of Magic

    Which brings us to the sixth and final element; The most potent of them all, the thread that ties all the other elements together.  The one chosen to wield the Element of Magic is of course none other than... Gallus?  Really?  I mean, putting aside the fact that with his sarcastic attitude and aversion to studying he couldn't be more of an opposite to Twilight Sparkle, he also can't actually use magic.  So what the hay?

    I suppose that the argument could be made that as the strongest of the elements, Magic would be given to the "leader" of the group by default.  But I've never really gotten the impression of being a leader from Gallus, so I don't know if that's it.  To crack this one, we've got to remember what the element actually is;  Twilight didn't get it because she was good at casting spells, after all.  The Element of Magic symbolizes the power of friendship, and knowing that it suddenly makes a lot more sense why it would appear to Gallus.

    The key to understanding this is in the climax of The Hearth's Warming Club, when Gallus explains why he ruined the Hearth's Warming preparations.  Growing up in Griffonstone, Gallus never got to experience anything even close to friendship.  The griffons only have one day out of the entire year where they even attempt to be nice to each other, but with no family of his own Gallus never even got that.  When he went to the school and met the rest of the students, he got to feel that kind of companionship for the first time and it became something he couldn't bear to lose.  That's why he tried to get everyone punished into staying at school over the holidays: Even if it was only for a short time, he couldn't stand the thought of leaving his friends and going back to that place where nobody cares.  As much as he tries to hide it with sarcasm and acting aloof, Gallus may just be the one who cherishes their friendship most of all.

     Ha ha, you love us!

    Figuring out their respective elements is all well and good, but there's one other important thing to note about these six and the Elements:  The Tree of Harmony spoke to the Young Six directly.  This is actually a pretty big deal, considering that the tree has never spoken to anyone else before.  Not to the Pillars of Equestria when they created it, not to Celestia and Luna when they first discovered the Elements of Harmony growing from it, not even to the Mane Six when they revived the Elements, or when they returned the Elements to it, or when they opened that chest that it gave them.  All of these important figures and events came and went without a word from the Tree's spirit, but these six random kids were deemed important enough to reveal itself to.

    The tree was also notably silent that one time it straight-up murdered six living beings.  That's cold, ToH.  Ice cold.

    So what does all of this mean? I mean, I said as much in the title already, but anyway.  Perhaps this could be a sign that the Young Six are being groomed to become the next bearers of the Elements of Harmony.  By teaching them and guiding them on the path to true friendship, the Mane 6 might in fact be unknowlingly training their own successors.  With the rumor mill positing that the next season might be the last, that wouldn't be a half bad way to bookend the series:  We began with the Mane 6 discovering the Elements of Harmony and taking up the role of Equestria's protectors, and end with them passing the torch to the next generation.

    Start working on your hero poses now, kids.  You're gonna need 'em.

    Of course, I could be wildly off base with all of this, but it's something worth thinking about.  At any rate, we've got at least one more season with the Young Six, and I for one am quite interested to see where this path leads them.

    ~ The Skullivan