MLP:ER – the Crystal Empire

Ugh, this wasn’t easy.  Netflix kept having problems playing the episode which… I should have taken as a warning.  I’m going to be honest, of the 4 “continuity” 2 parters (5 if you want to count the Grand Galoping Gala as one of that group) this one is the weakest.  But to be positive, let’s do the ‘cons’ of the episode and finish with the ‘pros’ so we’ll go out on a high note.

Cons:

  • The threat is way too nebulous.  What will happen if the mane six fail?  Uh… sales of Zoloft will skyrocket?  Which lead us into…
  • The cast doesn’t reinforce the stakes.  Either Twilight has a real problem with priorities if she’s more worried about “a test” or else the stakes are really that minor.  At least when Nightmare Moon arrived in the premiere, we saw TS forget about the “make friends” assignment and focus on a larger concern.
  • Some dialogue choices were questionable.  Like near the beginning where Shining Knight references “his magic being blocked” in a context that seems to answer why Cadance is so exhausted – even though the time SK actually GOT blocked was a minute earlier.
  • If the shield is such a pain, why doesn’t Cadance just make a bit of a smaller one?  In the episode it looks like there is a lot of extra real estate beyond the empire proper that is being shielded.
  • Twilight is so good at magic she can copy a spell Celestia used just seeing it once, but she doesn’t bother copying Cadance’s spell to give her poor friend a break?  Or excluding that, how about healing her brother so he can take a shift?
  • In previous episodes, it was somewhat understandable why the big powerful Celestia (and/or her sister Luna) couldn’t help solve the problem.  In this one?  No real reason given (which further undercuts the feeling of what’s at stake).
  • The whole… side message of this episode (whereby the crystal ponies need to “be happy”) is kind of contrary to the earlier episode “A Friend in Deed”.  What if one of the crystal ponies didn’t want to be happy at the moment?  Maybe he/she is just naturally surly.  Kind of makes the whole empire seem a little… sinister doesn’t it?
  • I admit to somewhat looking for the “crystal heart” to have been a fraud all along and that it didn’t matter what it was as long as the crystal ponies believed in it.  Somewhat disappointing that didn’t play out.
  • Jousting?  JOUSTING!?!?!?  I mean, the point of jousting was to knock the rider from his horse, how do you do that with ONLY the horses? (save seriously injuring the competition)  Of all the sports they could have done here (such as… polo?) jousting is the one that makes the LEAST amount of sense.

Pros:

  • Spike saving the day was awesome and adorable.
  • The visuals in the episode were top notch.
  • Grats to the show for giving a “regular pony” villain.  That every other antagonist has to be alicorn or demi-god kind of gets predictable.  Would be interesting to see other two-parters with a pegasus and earth pony villains. (How could such be villainous?  Well that’s the challenge!)
  • Uh… we got to see Luna!

Yeah, there was just no saving these parts, really.

Keep in mind that the ranking is relative to the series as a whole (so far).  While these episodes might be better than some kids’ shows, as a MLP:FiM romp, it was one of their worst.

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