Create your own visitor map!
Been a while since I posted here.
I think I may have mentioned in a previous journal that I would be posting my thoughts on each new season 5 episode of MLP as they came up....
Sorry, that didn't really happen. I told myself I would catch up, as the missed journal entries accumulated, but the truth is I didn't really feel like I had much to say, and so was not motivated to write. I don't want to waste your time with thoughts that are either just as well left unsaid, or which have already been expressed by better and more active commentators/analysts.
However.... this latest 100th episode of MLP has me excited enough that I felt compelled to write. I don't care if I sound original or not. Bear in mind that this is mainly my gushing over what I found to be a very enjoyable episode. I wasn't trying to be too critical. ^^
This episode was brilliant! It felt like the ultimate fulfilment of all the best and most well-known “fanon ideas” that have been produced about the show, brought to life and made canon. It was QUITE gratifying and entertaining to watch.
I've already heard arguments that “too much fan-service ruins an episode”. I get that, and I agree that certain elements, if used too often, would have that negative effect. An example of this would be the blatant fourth wall joke, where the ponyvillians are observing the Mane 6 having a “friendship problem” that will be resolved in about a half an hour.
But most of these blatant nods to the audience and fandom were just “subtle enough” that I was still able to look past that and just revel in the knowing that the fandom has had such a positive and creative impact on the creative team and the show itself.
The main “plotline” of the episode centers around Cranky Doodle Donkey and Mathilda suddenly realizing that they need to rush their wedding plans a day early. This results in a series of hijinks around town that ultimately ends with the wedding happening without a hitch. The story is very simple and straighforward, but this is good because it opens up the episode to explore and flesh out a long list of background characters who will now suddenly receive official VAs and canonized personality traits.
Firstly, Derpy, or I should say “Muffins”, is established as some kind of courier, which is obviously similar to her being a mail-carrier; a very popular fan-concept for this character.
Nextly was an obvious pairing between Muffins and Doc (aka The Doctor). When I first became a brony way back in 2012, one of the first, and best, fan creations I came across was the “Doctor Whooves and Assistant” radio play, by ocarninaplaya on Youtube. It was so endearing, well-written, and respectful to the source material, despite the odd franchise crossover, that it BEGGED to be part of my MLP headcanon.
So seeing this fanon concept sanctioned by the show was extremely nostalgic for me. The writers did a great job of making both “Muffins” and “Doc” pop as interesting and unique characters. I can easily see them serving as recurring B-cast characters in all sorts of entertaining scenarios, and I hope they do. The “Doc” seems unique enough as a kind of mad scientist who seems to shun magic in favor of a more grounded/scientific understanding of things. But the similarities he has to the BBC's “The Doctor” make me wonder if there hadn't been some negotiating between Hasbro and the BBC in order to establish that this level of imitation was ok. XD
Next, we're introduced to BonBon and Lyra. These two have long been paired/shipped by the fandom, and the show seems to be rolling with that. Some of the dialogue that BonBon and Lyra share in their initial scene feels a bit forced. I mean, they talk casually about how they're “such good friends” and they “understand each other so well”. Who talks like that in regular conversation? It felt like forced exposition. : /
But then I felt like maybe it was supposed to be that way; that the real reason these two are emphasizing what “good friends” they are, is because they are veiling the fact that they are actually “more than that”. I'm not normally into shipping, so I don't think this is wishful thinking on my part, but this seems like the best explanation for the forced “friendship” dialogue. I think it works well, and of course I think this is the farthest the show will go toward openly referencing a “lesbian” relationship.
The forced-sounding dialogue also makes for a comical set-up to BonBon's big reveal about herself, that she is some kind of a “secret agent”. This almost instantly makes BonBon the more interesting character, despite Lyra always being portrayed by the fandom as the “wild one” in the relationship. I loved this aspect because it shows that the writers were not just writing out fanon ideas, but also adding their own creative twists on characters. Lyra's “human obsession” was not referenced, despite also being a popular idea, and I think most would agree (at least I do) that that is for the best. We don't want to break too many fourth walls.
It was a little funny that some of the dialogue here was likely above the heads of most of the younger viewers. I mean, “Celestia demanded full deniability”? What 8-year-old child knows what that means? XD;
The bowling scene with Doc was fun, as was the return of Steven Magnet. He really stole that scene with Mathilda.
Octavia and Vinyl Scratch as the “Odd Couple” was brilliant as well. I thoroughly enjoyed their chemistry, DESPITE Vinyl never speaking! That little mini music video of them playing off each other was a delight to watch and listen to. And it culminated in that wonderfully animated rush through town, to get to the wedding.
I feel like Vinyl never speaking will turn into a running joke, like Big Mac only ever saying “Eeyup” or “Nnope”. So she's basically Silent Bob. I kind of like that idea; again, another twist by the writers, which come to think of it, really started in Rainbow Rocks, where I'd just attributed it to the production team lacking a VA for her...
I'm sure we'll hear her speak at some point, but they would have to build it up as this significant thing.
Next, we get an internal voice for Gummy; having a profound internal monologue about the meaning of life and existence. I wonder if they will use that as a recurring joke? And again, probably over the heads of the younger viewers, but only truly funny to older fans. This also gives something for younger fans to “get”, as they eventually grow up and look back on these episodes with more adult awareness. I love it when kids productions do that. ^_^
We also get a funny sisterly exchange between Luna and Celestia. This was a delight to see because so far we've mainly seen these characters only in a kind of idealized light; as mentor figures or benevolent authorities. But here, we get to see them as bickering siblings. It isn't THAT much, but it's certainly more personality than we've seen from them so far. I hope to see more of that too.
Then, as the wedding proceeds, the episode makes a point to LOCK OUT the Mane 6. This to me was rather poignant.
Not only does it emphasize that “this episode belongs to the background characters”, but it seems like the exact opposite to what I found was happening all too much in Season 4, with episodes like Castle-Mania, Daring Don't, and even the season Finale, as examples. These episodes always seemed to focus exclusively on the Mane 6, rather than take advantage of other B-cast characters that might have been on hand to further develop or add something new to the scenario.
Always having ALL of the Mane 6, and ONLY the Mane 6 in each episode made the MLP world feel small and limited. I figured that this was just the way the show was always going to be written to be, and I could never expect it to grow beyond that, due to what the producers apparently think are all the “target audience” can understand.
This latest episode proved to me that this show CAN go to new places. It CAN expand into new characters, and perhaps even new species besides ponies and griffons and donkeys. The whole of season 5 so far, has had the feeling to me that the show creators are finally starting to expand the MLP Universe into something bigger and more complex than was envisioned before. And that excites me.
There may yet be what I feel to be missed opportunities that I might lament, going forward, but I eagerly anticipate what the writers do next, as they seem to be on a roll with new and creative ideas for this fictional world. All I can do is hope that this episode means we will be seeing MORE of these new characters as part of a recurring cast.
Looking forward to the next episode. Kudos to anyone who has read my ramblings this far, and feel free to share your thoughts below. ^_^