If it's crap ... We'll tell you
In line with my huge admiration for this animated TV show (to read more about it and its growth in the past year, see my previous blog entry here ) and after a hugely successful opening to its second season, I thought it would be interesting to review the latest episode that aired on The Hub last Saturday morning. Hopefully the critical analysis will be fun for the TV fans, the MLP-fanatics out there, and also to show this isn't merely some frill-frill-girly show to those who haven't given it a try.
This episode centers primarily around the return of a character from the Season One pilot named Nightmare Moon, the sister of Princess Celestia. She had once been in control of the night, but after growing envious of how the World thrived in the Sun that her sister provided, she attempted to cast all of Equestria into eternal night. She was banished to the Moon for a thousand years in solitude, but returned on the night of where the pilot takes place. By the strength of the main character in the show Twilight Sparkle, and her friends, they managed to break her spell and her evil form. She returned to her normal form once again, Princess Luna, but now we get to see what had become of her since then, and discover more about her character.
The new episode takes place on Nightmare Night, a Halloween-esque night event, including similar styled games, costumes, and of course, spooky stories. We see that Twilight has dressed for the event (see above) as has the rest. Applejack as a scarecrow, Rainbow Dash as one of the Wonderbolts, and Pinkie Pie as... well, a chicken. We should have seen that one coming.
In the midst of the fun, we hear Zacora tell a story to the fillies about Nightmare Moon, about how the festivities were actually a yearly tradition where candy was offered in order to stop them being gobbled up by her. Right on cue, Princess Luna lands on carriage to the venue, on a royal visit to their town. Little did she know what it meant.
This is where the main story to the episode begins, Luna attempts to meet the ponies of the town, but they are so fearful of her from the stories that the run in fear. Things are not helped by the fact that Luna has not yet accustomed to the modern times, her thousand years alone means that she still speaks on the old "Canterlot" style. Her loud voice and commanding gestures make the stories of her for the fillies even more believable. Twilight takes it upon herself to try and help Luna in fitting in, as since she saw what happened to her when she was Nightmare Moon; she knows there is nothing to fear.
Twilight enlists the help of her friends to try and teach Luna how to fit in and be liked by the town’s ponies, but on every occasion, things run amiss. Pinkie Pie and a group of fillies run away in screams when they see her, and always run in just at the wrong moment. Luna reaches the end of her patience with the failed attempts, but can Twilight discover how to solve the situation?
I won't provide the synopsis to the very end since that would be spoiling the episode. But this was a genuinely entertaining themed episode, with a great Halloween setting around which Luna's return is set. Its great fun seeing the characters in costume for the festivities, the animators did some excellent and creative work with them. We also see again, the increased detail in backgrounds and shading in this new season, it gives the scenes a much more polished look to them.
Luna's character has changed since we last saw her, both in appearance and personality. She now has a flowing mane in the same style as Celestia and a similar appearance too. She has a very regal accent, high-volume and full of authority. But when she speaks quietly, it's much more subtle. Her loneliness and difficulty to adjusting to the new world have clearly been hard on her, even with Twilight's help she struggles. But, when she does begin to, she's far more relaxed.
Interestingly, it's very like how Twilight originally was in the pilot episode - timid, uncertain, and unable to fit in to the new town. So it was like coming around full-circle for Twilight to see Luna go through what she did.
There wasn't really any second major side-plot; the episode took in the other characters as a whole. Pinkie Pie appeared the most, while Fluttershy got one scene, and Rarity was not in the episode at all. This was explained by Lauren Faust afterwards. But it was a lot of fun to see so many characters in one episode, and a lot of nods to the fans as well. A new young character named Pipsqueak was introduced as well, who will surely be a fan favourite from now on.
Overall, I enjoyed it greatly; it was a successful return for Luna, and a very interesting insight into her character that had only been speculated on since we saw the pilot a year ago. The team packed in a huge amount of animation into the 22 minutes, and despite the minor grumblings of some people, it was as good as any of us could have asked for. The animators looked like they had a lot of fun with the story, while still providing the wit, intelligence, and entertainment that the show has become so famous for. Season 2 looks like it is only gaining in momentum, we have a small break until the next episode, but I already can't wait to see what it will bring.
Thanks for reading! ^_^