Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Picking Apart "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", Season 2 Episode 4

Luna Eclipsed

This episode introduces us to holidays in Ponyville.  There are three holidays in Season 2, which are in fact equivalents of Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine's Day, and by that I mean that they have different names.  Halloween is known as Nightmare Night, Christmas is known as Hearth's Warming, and Valentine's Day is known as Hearts and Hooves Day.  First up is Nightmare Night, the Halloween equivalent.

"Ha!   At Duel Academy, we dress up in way cooler costumes on what we call Spirit Day!  Check out the Chazz!"

Twilight Sparkle has chosen to dress up as this old unicorn named Star Swirl the Bearded, which doesn't go over too well apparently, not for Spike anyway.

Spike: Huh? Are you that one kooky grandpa from Ponyville Retirement Village?

Spike is dressed up as a dragon.

Don't ask why, he just is.

Well anyway, the ol' 'trick and treat' thing has also been replaced with some kind of chant.

"Nightmare Night! What a fright! Give us something sweet to bite!"

Hey, it rhymes.  Oh, and we're also introduced to a new filly from Trottingham.

Pipsqueak: Pipsqueak the pirate, at your service.

This little guy's name is Pipsqueak and he's dressed as a pirate for his first ever Nightmare Night.  Turns out because of this, he ends up hogging quite a bit of episode time, not that it's a bad thing.  I mean, he seems to have a cool British accent at first.  I kinda like this guy as a matter of fact.
Pinkie Pie is dressed as a chicken and is somehow able to stand on her hind legs for a good portion of the episode.  Turns out she doesn't get Twilight's costume either.

Pinkie Pie: You make a fantastic weirdo clown!

Rainbow Dash for some unknown reason is dressed as a Shadowbolt and goes around giving ponies the heebie-jeebies with her dark lightning cloud.
Applejack is dressed as a scarecrow and of course doesn't get Twilight's costume either.  But she brings up something that I think at least would suit her air very well.

Applejack: With that beard, I reckon you're some sorta country music singer.

Yeah, what I wouldn't give to hear some of that from the best character in the series.

But I never wasted 
A minute of my time 
Every road I ever took 
Led me to your side

The Mayor herself is dressed as a clown and to kick start the festivities, she brings in Zecora to tell a scary ghost story about Night Mare Moon, and try as she might, she just can't seem to be scary enough despite imitating a ghostly voice.

Spike: Spooky voice might work better if she wasn't dressed like that.

So Zecora appears after a long absence.  Turns out she's gonna be a recurring character throughout Season 2 much like the Cutie Mark Crusaders.  And as always, she speaks in rhyme.

Zecora: Follow me and very soon you'll hear the tale of Night Mare Moon.
Listen close my little dears, and I'll tell you where you got your fears of Nightmare Night, so dark and scary. Of Night Mare Moon, who makes you wary.
Zecora: Every year, we put on a disguise, to save ourselves, from her searching eyes.

Zecora: But Night Mare Moon wants just one thing. To gobble up ponies in one quick swing.
Zecora: Hungrily, she soars the sky. If she sees nopony, she passes by.
So if she comes and all is clear, Equestria is safe another year!
Pipsqueak: Uh, Miss Zecora, if we wear costumes to hide from Night Mare Moon, so she won't gobble us up, how come we still need to give her some of our candy? 
Zecora: A perfect question, my little friend. For Night Mare Moon you must not offend. Fill up her belly with a treat or two, so she won't return to come eat you!
Now this is obviously just a ghost story, as during previous Nightmare Nights we all know Night Mare Moon had been sealed away in the moon.  But Pinkie Pie for some odd reason seemingly takes the old folktale a bit too seriously throughout the episode.  And that's not all.
The continuity of the series gets drastically messed up when Princess Luna finally makes a returning appearance to the denizens of Ponyville, but they are freaked out, believing her to still be the evil Night Mare Moon for some crazy reason.

Good question.  Sure, she's got a brand new appearance, as her mane and tail now constantly animate just like Celestia's, her eye color is a slightly more darker blue, she has darker fur, and like always she just wants to be loved.  So why is everyone in Ponyville, save Twilight Sparkle of course, frightened of her?  She's really pretty.

I mean, everyone in Ponyville was there at Pinkie's party to welcome Luna back after a thousand years of imprisonment, right?  So how come only Twilight recognizes her after all this time?
Well, there goes the continuity, right out the window.  And of course, Luna takes everyone's fear as an insult to her desires and leaves in a huff.

Twilight finds her and believes that she's just having trouble adjusting to the new age of Equestria and decides to help her get toned down for the Nightmare Night celebrations.
First they pay a visit to Fluttershy, who isn't out on the streets like everyone else, and she too is freaked out by Luna, mistaking her for Night Mare Moon.  Come on, where has the continuity gone already?  Luna is able to lower her voice to a normal tone gradually and gives Fluttershy all the credit...
...but then who should show up but Pinkie Pie, who again freaks out seeing Luna hugging Fluttershy, saying...

Pinkie Pie: She stole Fluttershy's voice so she can't scream when she GOBBLES HER UP!!!

Ugh.  Second time and already it's appalling to listen to.

Doesn't Pinkie Pie realize she's hurting Luna's feelings?  Just look at her.  She's sad.  Personally, I think she needs a hug.  Besides, did Pinkie just happen to arrive at Fluttershy's cottage while Luna was taking lessons?  Or did she know where Twilight and Luna were going and followed them to get another good scare?  The latter is actually a considerable option, but I'll get to the reason why in time.

Now I'm gonna stop for a moment and discuss a deleted scene from this episode.  Rarity doesn't show up in the final version, but in a deleted scene, she gives Princess Luna a makeover, probably as a means of fitting in with the other civilians.

Wow, look at her.  She's all pretty in pink!  Forget that she has a closer resemblance to her original Season 1 appearance.  How can anyone mistake her for Night Mare Moon now?  Oh, because this scene wasn't even in the episode to begin with.  Poor Rarity ended up on the cutting room floor!

Eh, not quite, I'd say, but yeah, pretty bad.  Anyways, Twilight decides to have Applejack give Luna a few pointers on making herself more comfortable with the civilians.
She suggests fun, so Luna plays a couple of games and enjoys herself.  And the civilians start to warm up to her.

Princess Luna: The fun has been doubled! 

But when she saves Pipsqueak, Pinkie Pie happens to show up looking for him and of course mistakes Luna for eating him, to which he goes along with.
Luna is terribly insulted and although she's probably still scary at that time of month, she really deserves better.

Well, something inside Luna snaps and being sick of everyone around her being terrified of her, decides to take away Nightmare Night permanently, which of course severely disappoints the children.  But Twilight decides to use her specialty to get through to Luna.

Twilight Sparkle: Lecture her!

Yeah, I'm sure that's just what she needs right now.  Look at her.  She's despondent.  Listen to her.

Princess Luna: Leave me be, Twilight Sparkle.

She sounds like she's gonna cry.  She really does need a hug.  Look how sad she is.  Poor Luna.  All she wants is to be loved, but she's getting none of it.  I really think that a lecture is probably the last thing she wants to hear. 
So Twilight decides to confront Pinkie Pie, believing that she's the reason behind the children being afraid of her.  She corners her and orders her not to scream, to which she agrees, looking like she's being held hostage.
Luna is brought to Pinkie, but she still mistakes her for Night Mare Moon and runs off, and somehow lays an egg that looks like Spike's.  It is then revealed that Pinkie is doing all this intentionally because she actually likes getting scared, which is the kind of entertainment one excepts from reading a horror novel or watching a horror flick.
Twilight comes to a revelation and Luna then transforms into the very real Night Mare Moon to deliberately scare the children one last time and of all them...
...our guest character Pipsqueak is the one to approach her and ask for the same time next year.  Hey, whatever happened to his British accent from the beginning of the episode?  He tells her pretty much what Pinkie says, that he and the others enjoy a good scare on Nightmare Night.
Luna is so thrilled that she declares Nightmare Night is back on, accepts it for what it is, and resumes in partaking in its festivities while Twilight writes her new findings on friendship to Princess Celestia.  Turns out it's her last friendship letter for the rest of the season... and as a matter of fact, her last letter in the whole goddamn series.

Hoo boy...  The continuity here got nailed hard, but not nearly as bad as the Season 2 finale, which I'll get to soon.  Bringing Luna back was excellent, but when she needs some attention, the problem is that in this episode she doesn't get it until the end.  And I know she got an appearance change in comparsion to her Season 1 look, but really?  Did everyone in Ponyville really have to think she was still Night Mare Moon?  They knew that alter ego was defeated, they saw Princess Luna back to normal at that party.  Twilight's friends saw her happily reuniting with Celestia!  Was there any reason why they thought Night Mare Moon returned?  What the hell, guys?  So this episode is slightly above mediocre and like "Applebuck Season", it stands out as fairly tolerable, but it's simply exasperating how the continuity goes downhill when Luna is feared and mistaken for Night Mare Moon and only recognized properly by Twilight Sparkle.

I have to wonder if this is how Hasbro created their background characters, to be so simpleminded.  I mean, why?  I know being simpleminded is common for much of the human race, but does that really need to be exemplified in a cartoon?  Maybe it breaks realism otherwise, I dunno.

Anyways, it is said that Luna may become more of a prominent character in Season 3 and get more air time.  And she needs it too!  After everything she's been through, all the sadness and pessimism that reflects the meaning of the moon...  She needs a more active role.  On the other hand, this episode did make me like Luna quite a lot, so in personal opinion, she gets (and deserves) a close second to Applejack as one of the best characters in the whole series.
Well, with this episode done, it's time for me to move on and find out exactly when this season begins to take a tumble.  It may come sooner than I think.

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