Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Her "Kingdom" Comes... and Her Tree Goes

Well, it's safe to say that the two-part adventure "Twilight's Kingdom" that wrapped up season four of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic didn't leave the show's fan base quite as traumatized as did the transformation of Twilight Sparkle into an Alicorn Princess at the end of season three... which was, as the saying goes, "where I came in."  Not that some people didn't TRY their best to be horrified by the destruction of the Ponyville Library Tree where Twilight had hung out for three seasons.  There's even a petition on Change.org to convince Hasbro to bring back this "beloved part of the show." 

As season finales go, "Twilight's Kingdom" delivers the goods in spades.  Indeed, it would probably have served just fine as a series finale, inasmuch as the threat faced by Equestria is just about as grim as, say, turning the entire world into gold would be.  The centaur-like Tirek, a reboot of a villain who first appeared in the original MLP series, breaks out of the ponies' version of Hell (or Azkaban, take your pick) and proceeds to suck the magic out of all the ponies he can find.  No, it's NOT what you think (and shame on you if you thought of it!); the magic-removal process is more like that used by a dementor.  The effects of the suckage are portrayed in an annoyingly inconsistent manner; pony victims generally fall down in their tracks and their eyes glaze over, but not all ponies appear to be zombified to the same extent.  Still, it's fairly creepy to watch.

Part 1 of the story is split between Princesses Celestia, Luna, and Cadance diligently info-dumping to Twilight about Tirek and the "Mane 6," with a little prod from the "reformed" Discord (who's been tasked with tracking down the magical villain), attempting to solve the longstanding mystery of the Magic Lockbox of Doom.  This makes for fairly dry going, though things do pick up, in a dramatic sense, when Discord has his "meeting of the malevolent" with Tirek and the latter convinces the former to return to the dark side and become his ally.  I can't say that I was all that surprised by Discord's backsliding, since, ever since his participation in the finale had become known, it seemed logical to think that he would ultimately be the source of Twilight's key.  The question was how events would be manipulated so as to get him to do so.  "Noodged" by a reading of the journal that the "Mane 6" have been keeping throughout the season -- think of it as an updated version of the long-gone "letters to Princess Celestia" -- the gang finally discover that the items they've been acquiring during the tests of their various Elements will transform into literal "keys" when they come near the box.  I did find it amusing that the "Mane 6" first realized this after a frustrated Pinkie Pie threw Cheese Sandwich's rubber chicken at the box.  After a season of speculation, the mystery is finally cracked by the magical equivalent of throwing your shoe at the TV set.

 Insert "chicken-choking" joke here.
Celestia tees things up for a memorable (and, in my view, considerably superior) Part 2 when she decides that, with Tirek and Discord running amuck, the best way to preserve alicorn magic is to store it in a single, unsuspected equine receptacle -- Twilight.  The irony is that Twilight, who has hitherto generally regarded her upgraded status as "no biggie," at least in a social sense, has recently been getting antsy about the true nature of her role as a princess.  This may seem like a bit of a character SWERVE, but it actually makes psychological sense; after assuring others (and herself) that she isn't going to change her basic nature, the next step would be to begin to speculate about what alicorn status does, in fact, mean for her.  For the moment, it means that she has the devil of a time controlling her augmented powers, making for what small amount of comedy is to be found in part two.

Finally getting wind of Twilight's existence, Tirek comes a-hunting... but not before he's soul-sucked the rest of the "Mane 6" and Discord, who has, in the ignoble tradition of all would-be turncoats, "served his purpose."  There follows what will undoubtedly become of the series' iconic sequences, a no-holds-barred battle between Tirek and Twilight, complete with anime flashes, lens flares, the whole schmeer.  The fact that some Bronies who had been longing for a grimmer, more "epic" approach to the series went on to criticize this sequence as "filler" can only be received with a chuckle.  You can't have it both ways, guys.

The battle scene is cool enough, but the real high point of the story (and, IMHO, of the series as a whole, at least in an emotional sense) comes when Twilight bravely trades her magic for the release of her friends... including Discord.  This lifts the narrative to a considerably higher plane, one that can even be said to include some Christian elements.  In an era of public "social executions" for verbal offenses both minor and major, the message of mercy, of forgiveness of those who have wronged you, seems like a breath of fresh air.  The grateful Discord gives Twilight the last "key," a medallion that Tirek had (ultimately mockingly) given him for services rendered...

... and, sorry to say, we end with some toy-selling-inspired silliness, as the opening of the box turns the "Mane 6" into "Rainbow Power" monstrosities (I mean, it's as if KISS wandered into an exploding paint factory) and the box itself serves as a "seed" for the new castle home of Twilight, Princess of Friendship.  The latter doesn't bother me much -- the creation of a sort of "Round Table of Friendship" for our friends is a nice touch -- but I sincerely hope that the "Rainbow Power" outfits get packed away with the good china, never to be used except on very rare special occasions.  Bringing these versions of the characters into play every time a "friendship problem" needs to be solved in the future would seem to be overkill in the worst sense.

All in all, this was an excellent season, though I have no clue where the show's creators will take matters from here.  I will be along for the ride, however.

1 comment:

Pan MiluĊ› said...

As much I hated when they reformed Discord after only two apperances (my reaction was "AAAAH! What a waste") I must honeslty say this episode made it worth. I felt so sorry for the guy and yes, that final battle was amazing.

I woudn't call this "BEST EPISODE EVER" but was still incredebly good.