Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Bats!" and the Freed Belle

Things have been popping in Ponyville (well, at least that sounds a little better than heads rolling in Toupay) during the past two weeks.  Hot on the hooves of the "Mane 6"'s turn as superheroes in "Power Ponies" came another nod to comics' Silver Age, so to speak, as "Bats!" included both several homages to Batman and another "unexpected transformation" of a main character.  Then, in "Rarity Takes Manehattan," Rarity got her first featured role in over two years, which would have been significant enough (especially in these precincts), but the "stinger" at ep's end may have laid down the first clue as to how the story arc introduced in "Princess Twilight Sparkle" may be resolved.


Well, um, I guess there was no need to hang up a *SPOILER* regarding which character got turned into a bat... "Flutterbat" comes to be when Twilight Sparkle's spell to neutralize a bunch of "vampire fruit bats" that are devastating Applejack's apple farm does what most "change a creature's nature" spells have done on this show.  Namely, it backfires.  Oh, it "convinces" the bats to stop eating fruit, but, for reasons more or less convincing, the spell also strikes Fluttershy (who, true to her kind and pro-animal nature, had been defending the bats against the others, who simply wanted to get rid of the destructive creatures by any means necessary) and gives her vampiric attributes.  You can probably imagine the fan art that flowed out of this.  "Flutterbat" is ultimately brought back to normal... so we think.  Mwah hah hah!

"Bats!" is fun but kinda contrived and gimmicky, as many of the Season 4 episodes have been.  With "Rarity Takes Manehattan," the show returns to first principles with a vengeance.  It's not surprising that a lot of people, myself included, are calling it the best ep of the new season thus far.  When you're working with the best pony character to begin with, it's hard to miss the mark, but this one definitely strikes the bullseye.  Having entered a fashion contest in the Equestrian metropolis, Rarity is betrayed by an old Ponyville colleague who swipes her design ideas, rationalizing the dishonesty away with the argument that "it's everypony for herself" in the big city.

It is especially difficult for Rarity to accept this behavior because she's spent most of the ep up until this point making lavish displays of her generosity: getting the rest of the "Mane 6" tickets to a hot Bridleway (I disavow any advance knowledge of these puns) musical, giving tips of gems to service ponies, etc.  It's almost as if writer Dave Polsky, recognizing how long it had been since Rarity had been in the spotlight, felt the need to hammer home the "Rarity's Element is Generosity!" meme for the forgetful among us.

After being betrayed, Rarity skips up and down the entire scale of emotions that we have come to expect from her.  We get the obligatory "overdramatic drama queen breakdown scene" (I guess that several of Rarity's friends look uninterested here because they have seen this song and dance all too many times before)...

... and the intelligent comeback, as Rarity gets the idea of using curtains and other hotel items to create a brand new "Hotel Chic" fashion line.  This requires assistance from the rest of the "Mane 6," and Rarity winds up turning manipulative when she "guilts" the gang into finishing the rush job and thereby missing their musical date.  This, in turn, leads to a "repentance scene" that is even more affecting than the one seen at the end of "Sweet and Elite."  That is entirely understandable, because Rarity fears that her lack of generosity may have dealt a fatal blow to her friendship with the others.

I'm not going to tell you who won the contest, because it's not really relevant.  The upshot is that Rarity's apology to her friends motivates the cheat's "lowly assistant," who is inspired by Rarity's generosity of character as well as material goods, to abandon her boss and strike out on her own.  She then gives Rarity a gift...

... and this "rainbow spool of thread" is what started the "story arc speculation ball" rolling.  Apparently, there are images floating around the Internet of the "Mane 6" with rainbow-colored manes and tails and other style changes reflecting something called "Rainbow Power."  It didn't take long for people to hypothesize that Rarity's spool might be the first of six "keys" to unlock a mysterious box that was introduced in "Princess Twilight Sparkle" after the gang had surrendered their original Elements of Harmony to the "Tree of Harmony."  Presumably, our friends would then undergo some sort of transformation (hopefully, one with consequences less traumatic than those that "The Golden Goose" would have unleashed on the world) and, presumably, enter this "Rainbow State."  "Rarity Takes Manehattan," in which Rarity, in a sense, met her "thematic opposite" and had the nature of her Element tested, would seem to be a logical guess for the first "reveal" of a key.  I certainly wasn't the first to come up with this theory, but LET THE RECORD SHOW that I may have been the first to extend it, speculating on what future, announced episodes might mark the moments at which Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie obtain their "keys."  If you want to read my comments, you can find them on Equestria Daily here.  Look for "kimba_1962."

Actually, I'm not as sure about Fluttershy as I was when I originally wrote the comments.  Since Fluttershy unaccountably kept her vampire fang at the end of "Bats!"... 

... it seemed pretty logical to speculate that the fang might be her "key," but I don't recall any "rainbow" being associated with it.  Or perhaps the "rainbow connections" will only fully manifest themselves later in the season.  We still have plenty of eps left to go.

No comments: