I'm back from the dead, with another article! Now, some of you might be asking "Okay faggot, so what is this?" and my answer is: Why it's another episode review article series, where I take a look at bad episo-
HEY ASSHOLE, COME BACK HERE, I SEE YOU SCROLLING PAST ME!
Now that you're back, the answer is in fact that I'll be reviewing episodes generally panned as being bad by the fandom. Now why am I any different from those other over-opinionated asshole on the internet who's spouted the exact same thing since the episodes broadcasted?
Well, for starters, I won't just be examining the bad, I'll take a look at what was arguably done right. I will also be detailing behind-the-scenes info that may have led to a shoddier script and over-all weaker episode.
Now, if you're still with me on this little journey, let's get started with the first article, and we start off with a bang, tackling the elephant in the fandom: Magical Mystery Cure. It's been over a year since this fateful episode, let's take a look back at it now that the dust has finally settles.
|Magical? Yes. Mystery? Absolutely. Cure? Not sure on that one.|
The episode starts off with Twilight hopping out of bed and breaking into song and dance; an apparent common sight in Ponyville it seems. She hops to and fro, singing about the ponies in the town, how she loves her new home, and spouting how everything is just fine; all complete with accompanied dance choreography.
|Dance, minions, dance for my amusement!|
Gee whiz, I wonder if things will be fine?
...Of course they aren't, as she has water dumped on her soon after the spontaneous musical number. She leaps to the conclusion that it's Rainbow Dash's fault, but after calling out to her, Twilight only sees Rarity manipulating the weather. To Twilight's amazement, she's sporting Rainbow Dash's cutie mark, and thus Twilight spouts off how everything isn't going to be just fine. Cue opening sequence!
Afterwards, we see Rarity manipulating the weather. Proving to be absolutely horrid and missing the whole point of having weather to begin with, she manipulates them into a nice checkered pattern across the sky. She clues Twilight into the wrongness of the situation by mentioning "I've been doing this since the day it appeared" in response to her cutie mark, a fact not lost on Twilight as she asks where Rainbow Dash is.
It turns out that she's living at the edge of the forest, in Fluttershy's cottage; a fact further perplexing Twilight as she arrives at the house. As bangs emit from the house, Twilight wonders what could be amiss. Que the next song, a rather catchy montage piece about how each of the rest of the girls have been affected, starting with Dash, who's understandably horrid with animals and unable to handle their shenanigans and tantrums.
Fluttershy herself is afflicted with the talent of Pinkie. Falling short on cheering ponies up and throwing parties, she is unable to move past her natural shy demeanor. Pinkie herself has been granted Applejack's talent, proving to be unsuitable to physical labor, and unable to even fix a busted water spout, or harvest apples with any dignity.
|Exhibit A: Pure Agony|
Applejack herself obtained Rarity's cutie mark. We see her struggling to make even the simplest of dresses and stitches as she laments over her situation. Rarity is still struggling with the weather, causing a tempest of clouds and scorching ponies before dumping snow all over them.
|Must be Rarity's time of the month.|
Rarity decries her situation as all the girls focus into the shot, saying it's their destiny because it's what their cutie mark is telling them.
This sends Twilight into a panic attack, revealing that she had cast a spell from Starswirl's notebook after having recieved it from Celestia the night before. She says she had no idea what it would even do as the note stated it was Starswirl's unfinished masterpiece, and that Twilight alone would be able to finish it.
"From one to another, another to one,A mark of one's destiny, singled out alone to fulfilled."
She didn't believe it even did anything, noting with some curiosity that it didn't even rhyme. However, it is now apparent to her what it did. The spell caused the fates of her friends to switch, somehow putting each other in the others shoes overnight.
She panics in earnest, realizing she has literally ruined her friends lives. Becoming depressed, Twilight brings forth the next song, a rather bland pop song that takes up time until the next scene.
Spike, however, brings her around, saying that they're her friends and that she'll figure out someway to save them. She realizes that she can, as a bright aura surrounds her and draws a comment from Spike before she grabs the elements and runs out the door, and into the town proper. She runs into Fluttershy first, who's given up on making ponies happy and is going to move back to Cloudsdale.
However, Twilight manages to convince her to visit Rainbow Dash, as she leads her into the cottage and encourages her to help calm the animals down, who are in the process of trying to cook Rainbow Dash.
|The natives are restless!|
After some hesitation, Fluttershy takes to the animals. Realizing they were merely hungry, she hands them nuts and vegetables to eat. As the animals gather around her, she's surrouned by a glow, much like Twilight was before. Twilight snaps Flutter's Element on her with dozens of scenes flashing past Fluttershy's eyes.
The next song begins, a song about how the girls are the closest friends they could be. Rainbow Dash helps Rarity. Clearing up the skies in no time, she too gets the near-death experience, with a complementary Element of Harmony. Rarity enters the boutique helping Applejack. She designs several dresses on the fly, and earns her own Element back. Applejack departs to the farm with the girls, stopping Pinkie, who is in the process of destroying the whole farm unwittingly. She too gets the experience. Next the other girls bring Pinkie to the center of town, where ponies are fighting and arguing. With Applejack giving her a nudge, Pinkie realizes what she's suppose to do and gains her own fate back.
All of Ponyville celebrates the girls return to normal, literally dancing through the streets, as the girls reunite and Twilight grabs them in a hug.
|OooOoo~h, Dancing in the Streets!|
Twilight comes to a realization and the girls are running to her house. Twilight grabs the notebook and flips it open to the uncompleted spell, grabbing a quill and filling in the blanks.
"From all of us together, together we are friends,
With the mark of our destinies made one, there is magic without end!"
No sooner does the quill leave the paper, the Elements begin to glow, surrounding Twilight in magic, exploding, and leaving a scorch mark on the floor and her panicked friends behind.
|It could happen, only on The Hub!|
It turns out that Twilight has been transported to some strange dimension. Celestia greets her, stating how proud she is of Twilight. Celestia says she has done something new to Equestria, finishing a spell that not even the greatest unicorn magician could finish. She says her lessons have prepared her, and that she is ready for her true destiny.
Celestia begins to sing a haunting melody about how she's been watching Twilight since the beginning, watching her grow and mature as a pony, how her and her friends have done so much and helped shaped her into the pony she is now, and that it's time for her real destiny to begin.
|It's not creepy, I swear|
She is once again surrounded by a magical glow. As it reaches her back, it causes wings to sprout, transforming her into an Alicorn. At this point, I'm sure a number of you might have turned your TV off like I did, but sure enough, she returns to Ponyville later that night, a huge magical symbol of her cutie mark depositing her in-front of her house, where she reveals her new appendages.
Her friends are shocked and amazed, unable to believe she's become an alicorn. However, they quickly recover, celebrating her new found form. Fluttershy observes that she looks like a princess, as Celestia arrives on the scene and declares, that in fact, she is a princess now.
Celestia tells Twilight that she has changed, that since she has come to Ponyville, she's come to embody all the qualities of her friends, and has become a worthy leader in her mind. Of course, Twilight is taken back, asking her if she will be Celestia's student anymore, to which she replies that she won't, not in the same way. She states that they will all be Twilight's students now, and they have much to learn from her.
With this, Celestia and her friends bow to her. Twilight, in true nerdy fashion, of courses asks if there is a book on being a princess, which is met with hearty chuckles all around. And with that, we cut to Twilight's coronation, as a crowd has gathered for Twilight's rite of passage, as her friends and her parents watch on.
She congratulates her for reuniting her with her sister, and for creating "new magic." Next we get the last song of the episode, "Princess Twilight Cometh." She meets Cadance, Celestia and Luna on the dais as Celestia gives a speech to those gathered in the hall about Twilight's hard work, and she ascends and accepts her crown. Celestia guides Twilight to a balcony outside, telling her to greet her new subjects, who have gathered in celebration of her. Twilight gives her own speech, telling the gathered ponies that she would be nothing without her friends, and that thanks to them, she feels like the luckiest pony in Equestria.
She returns to the hall and is greeted by her brother and her parents. Finally, as Twilight rides through the center of Canterlot, we get a redux of "Ponyville Shines" with "Equestria Shines." Twilight can then be seen taking off into the air and ending the episode with a book end of "Everything is going to be just fine!"
(Editor's note: there is a school of thought that this episode provides an "out" for fans, in that Twilight could have died after casting the spell, and experiences a Harry-Pottter-esque "King's Cross Station" moment with her teacher, as they see her life flash before her eyes, and then being given angel wings and a lifetime of happiness, and everything she could ever want. Larson himself claims to be a Harry Potter fan, and was seen at the end of Ponies: The Anthology 3 as saying "She's dead! The End!" Any events after MMC including Equestria Girls would effectively be considered non-canon)
Now that's out of the way, I'll take a look at what the episode did right, what the episode did wrong, and what prevented the episode from being good, in a wittingly titled section I like to call: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
To begin with, as always, the attention to detail is top-notch and escapes the plot's grasp. From the dancing scene's choreography to just how some action scenes flow, and even Derpy appearing in the crowd at the end.
Whereas some of the songs were just plain awful, "What My Cutie Mark is Telling Me" and "Celestia's Ballad" both stand out as the top songs of the episode, and some of the season's best. "What My Cutie Mark is Telling Me" fits it's fast tempo into plot exposition quite well, touching upon each girls situation just long enough to explain what's wrong, and let it sink in, before moving onto the next character. The tune itself is a multifaceted version of itself, each version suited to each of the girl's individual swapped situation. Personally, it also fits into the same spots that makes me like "Winter Wrap Up" so much, as it filled in the episodes gaps with itself and is catchy to boot.
"Celestia's Ballad" is a much calmer, instrumental and vocals piece, focusing on how much Twilight has grown as a character, and how as her mentor, and part-time mother figure, she's proud to have seen Twilight succeed time and time again, and grown so close to her friends. This is also one of the rarer slower pieces in the show, and the mix of Celestia's singing voice with the piano is quite excellent, proving the show can do a heavier spin to it's music.
And lastly, the concept was a good one, despite the fact some might call it cliche. The swapped situation the girls faced were all compelling, and somewhat believable. As we have several well defined characters, this was a perfect chance to put them in extraneous circumstances and define their personalities even more, while at the same time, showing that they all have a lot in common. However, this idea panned itself out, and leads into the next section.
Now, barring the last 6 1/2 minutes or so of the show, the episode suffers from 3 major flaws:
- The pacing is all over the place.
- There are numerous plot inconsistiencies.
- The plot itself ignores or outright breaks the rules of it's own universe.
One of the first major problems the episode runs into is the fact that given how the spell worked, it's possible that Twilight could have just casted it four more times and they would have swapped back to their original selves. Another thing is that Ponyville seems relatively normal considering that most of the girls talents were changed. This would imply that the spell changed their pasts as well as their present, hence why nobody other than twilight (and Spike for some reason) find it odd. Surely this would have changed how major events and challenges from before would have resolved right? There's also the point that it's not until about a 3rd of the way through the episode that we begin to see how things have been affected truly, with the girls situations. If the girls had each other's talents since a young age, why weren't they any good at them where it was applicable? Why did some of their talents not even apply to whichever of the Mane 6 had it? What was the true intention of Starswirl's spell? Why did it affect the Elements? Why would he have even been working on this spell in the first place if only Luna and Celestia held the elements in his lifetime? There's dozens of these kind of nitpicks littered throughout the plot.
Another thing the episode does is outright just ignores everything said about Cutie Marks, as it's been explained in other episodes that a Cutie Mark doesn't necessarily define one's place in life. But this episode throws that out the window. It even outright applies the hobbies and jobs of the other girls onto the others, ignoring the fact that they aren't the end all be all of the ponies Cutie Mark. Then there's Starswirl's spell, as there's no explanation why it affected the elements, or what it even was supposed to do in the first place. There's also the ascension itself, which may or may not have been caused by the spell, or even what Celestia meant by "new magic".
Speaking of which; the ascension. Many people in the fandom have mixed opinions about. Personally, I dislike it, and I don't like what it signifies for Twilight character. However, it's a toss up between people. I personally think this could of been handled much better, given much more time to leave an impact instead of just 6 1/2 minutes that include a coronation and book end. As stated, this episode would of been much better as a two parter. Now, was this all Larson's fault as he is commonly blamed (or thanked for) or was there more to it?
There's more to this story than what just appeared on the T.V. screen. There's many people who say there is another story behind the scenes, like that Larson didn't pick to write the script himself. Writers on the show are often assigned to write episodes and have to deal with what they're given. It's apparent that originally, this episode was very different, and suffered many, many script rewrites and edits, and it shows in the episode. This became much more visible when Larson was asked what the spell did and he directed the question to McCarthy, who as the head writer, had no answer at all. Sources also state that the ending was suppose to be a big surprise, the big reveal ending for the season, but was overtly spoiled by the advertising and coverage.
Was this episode bad? Yes, let's not kid ourselves here. It was shitty, it kicked us while we were down, and for many, effectively ruined the show. Fact remains though, everyone has a different opinions, so if you liked this, that's on you. Me? I'm just one asshole with too many opinions.