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Old 11-09-2014, 11:02 AM   #1957
Talon87
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Season 4 Episode 04:

Spoiler: show
This episode would have made for an amazing fanfic. It was a lot of fun in asking the question, "What if Daring Do were real and the Daring Do books were all autobiographies?" and answering it with, "Well, she is and they are! "

But the thing is ... I HATE that this is canon now.

I feel like it completely ruins Rainbow Dash's interest in the Daring Do books, and I feel like it also completely ruins Daring Do as a character, to have her be real and for her adventures to all be really taking place in Equestria. It was so much, so much, so much better when Daring Do was Rainbow Dash's Indiana Jones. Yes, I did say that this was a fun question and answer that the episode gave to us. But I would've liked it somewhere divorced from the conseequences of series canon. Having it be an actual episode in the television series, and having it all be real rather than being a dream or a campfire story ... it just ruins everything to do with Daring Do for me.

So yeah. I'm really torn on this episode. I both loved it and loathed it. And if I had to pick ... I'm sorry to say, but I'd have to go with loathed. Ugh. This sucks. So conflicted. I really found the episode fun to watch ... but I really, really hated that Daring Do is real now, that the books are all autobiographies, that the villains she faces off against are villains Celestia has absolutely no qualms with letting run amok in Equestria, etc. Part of what makes Indiana Jones amazing is that he does stuff that could maybe happen in real life (and even that's not 100% true; every Jones film has some elements of fantasy in there) but at the same time it's so spectacular, so amazing that you know that no one could do all this in real life except God's gift to tomb raiding. That's what makes him so awesome. But now with Daring Do, we've been shown that she's real and that everything she's ever done could toooooooooooooooootally be done by Twilight and her friends. It transforms Daring from magical to mundane. And I guess that's why I hate it so much.

But I did like it too. Oh man ...

Season 4 Episode 05:

Spoiler: show
This episode was normal-level entertaining/enjoyable. It wasn't boring, it wasn't riveting either. I'd call it good.

This was probably the best Scootaloo episode in memory. Other episodes have done their part to try and lend her some character development but I think they've also annoyed people: Scootaloo's my least favorite of the three Cutie Mark Crusaders myself, and while I don't hate her I've never cared for her as much as Apple Bloom or Sweetie Belle. This episode tries to change that; and while I think Scootaloo remains my least favorite, S4E04 definitely left me with a more favorable and sympathetic view of her overall.

The song was okay. Bronies seem to really go wild over Daniel Ingram's songs, but to me they're all pretty simple both lyrically and musically. This song was no exception -- though there was one lyrical things which stood out to me and that was his decision to use the word "horses." I feel like we never have even heard that word used before in MLP:FiM: everything is always "pony" this and "pony" that, "pony" "pony" "pony"! Sure, they use all manner of synonyms and gender or age-specific terms -- fillies, colts, mares, and so on -- but when was the last time you ever heard someone use the word "horse" in MLP:FiM? Serious question. I can't recall any time before now. Which is partly the reason why it stood out so much to me when Ingram decided to include it.

The lessons for Scootaloo -- and thus indirectly for the children at home watching this on television -- were all pretty good. There were too many and with too many subtleties for me to want to attempt to list them all right now. All I can say is, "Watch the episode and you'll understand what lessons I am referring to."

Season 4 Episode 06:

Spoiler: show
This was the episode I would have wanted the Daring Do episode to be. It combined the fun of "ponies get to meet/be their heroes for a day" along with the satisfaction of "never fear: this has absolutely no bearing on the canon of Equestria or the canon of the fictional universe the ponies visited." Really, really wish the Daring Do episode had been this way. In fact, given the proximity of the episodes (S4E04 and S4E06) and how previous episodes have provided evidence that the writers do at least convene from time to time, I am all but convinced that this is what happened: production decides they want to do a Daring Do episode and takes suggestions during a group brainstorming session. One person offers the ideas that would eventually go into making Episode 04 while another person offers the ideas that would eventually go into making Episode 06. The team is split over which Daring Do episode to go with. In the end, they decide to go with S4E04. But they're fond enough of S4E06's ideas that they don't want to scrap them completely. "How about we invent a new bit of literary fiction for our universe. Have it be some other character's favorite thing to read. And how about we write it into being a their episode where they get character development instead of Rainbow Dash." It's decided that the character will be Spike, that the literature will be a parody of Marvel/DC comic books, and the rest is history. I'm glad that we got to have both, especially since I prefer S4E06 to S4E04 myself. I just wish the roles had been reversed. Especially since I love(d) Daring Do so much more than I do this new comic series of Spike's. *sigh*

Overall, I felt the episode was a lot of great fun for children and adults alike.

It was pretty obvious to adult viewers even before the opening credits rolled that Humdrum was analogous to Spike and that the episode would be all about Spike eventually realizing this, getting depressed about his own role with the ponies, and then coming to realize that he's not worthless, that he isn't Humdrum (despite what many a brony may think of him). But I liked how they made it a solvable mystery even for the youngest of viewers, providing successively greater and more obvious hints before finally, relatively late in the episode, spitting it out.

The crossover between Fluttershy and the Incredible Hulk was pretty great. I only wish they could've had a better trigger for her than what they ended up going with. That small complaint aside, this was easily the most fun "What if the ponies were Marvel/DC superheroes? " question and answer of the episode.

I loved that we've revisited the castle in the Everfree Forest. After Episodes 04 and 05, I was getting worried that the promises of an overarching plot with Princess Twilight that the first three episodes had hinted at was being put aside until way later. I'm glad to see that, no in fact, Twilight hasn't forgotten about the castle nor has anyone else and that, indeed, they're all tidying it up bit by bit to ready it for her use as her new home.

Season 4 Episode 07:

Spoiler: show
I thought that this episode was great fun. I can see some bronies getting their panties in a twist that it was too fantastical, that pony vampires shouldn't be a thing in this universe, that the physical changes to Fluttershy's body went too far, etc. But when I watched it myself, I came at it a) as someone much less invested in this franchise than your typical brony and b) as someone who loves a good "nice girl turns evil" tale. So it was a lot of fun to see Fluttershy become a vampire, especially since it was within the safe confines of the MLP:FiM universe where you knew the transformation would only be temporary and with no long-lasting or permanent side effects. (The fang tooth at the end, while cute in its own way, was the only inappropriate violation of this reassurance.)

I also thought the idea of "vampire fruit bats" was cute.

If you want to approach the episode for its moral lesson instead of its plot, then I'd say that it was a pretty decent environmental episode, neither great nor awful. It explored the concept that we have to be careful when we meddle with Nature because more often than not we don't see far enough ahead to realize what equilibria we may be throwing off when we do it. It wasn't as anti-intellectual as some of the more notorious S1 or S2 episodes were, but rather offered an intellectual answer that was neither super-tree hugger nor super-tree logger. "Yes, the bats should be dealt with. No, they probably shouldn't be completely eradicated."

There was one aspect I didn't feel the episode adequately explored though: the idea that ridding the farm of the bats didn't solve the problem of the rotting fruit. In the end, it's revealed that fruit has continued to rot despite Twilight's spell placed on the bats because the vampirism transferred from the bats to Fluttershy and she was now causing the apples to rot. This doesn't so much suggest that the ponies didn't see far ahead enough environmentalism-wise as it suggests that they didn't see far ahead enough magic-wise. Like, say Fluttershy hadn't become a vampire. Then what would have been the problem for the ponies? The bats' fate would have been ... well, this isn't really explored either. All we see is that they don't like apples anymore. Would they have starved to death? Would they have moved on to a different food source? Would've been nice to have shown them going from eating fruit to now eating meat or architecture or something. But as for the apples, they would've been a-okay. It was a pretty weak argument to say that the bats help the apple tree population out considering that 1) they don't ingest the seeds, therefore they don't add any fecal matter to the seed to aid its development nor gastric juices to break down its casing; and 2) apple seeds come with their own assistance anyway IN THE FORM OF THE FRIGGIN' APPLE MEAT. And so the bats are not only adding nothing positive to the equation but they are taking something positive away from it. No matter how you look at it, they're not helping out. Since the writing team clearly didn't want to explore defecation of seeds, they could've at least opted for a slightly smarter alternative. Rather than just have the bats spit the seeds out right where they're roosting (which is dumb anyway; fruit is evolutionarily successful because animals eat it and carry the seeds far from the site of the parent tree, thus ensuring that parent and child needn't compete for the same resources), the writers could've shown the bats having some unexplained (and it didn't need to be explained) urge to fly out to desolate land and to spit the seeds out there. Something like that. Anything to show that they're helping.
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