Sunday, August 3, 2014

Picking Apart "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", Season 4 Episode 6


WARNING!  From this point onward, the following reviews will consist of using heavy profanity.  It is advised not to proceed past this point unless you are 18 years of age or older.  Profanity will be used to express personal opinions only, so there can be no one responsible if anyone is greatly offended because you have been warned.  If you can handle profanity and you're ready to proceed, by all means do so.

"I used to wonder what friendship could be; until I surpassed those who first showed it to me."

- Russet Burbanks, Fanfiction.net

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*sigh*  Yeah, it's "Power Ponies", everyone.

While I'm not gonna classify this episode as bad, it's not really a good episode either.  But it isn't even ambivalent as a matter of fact.  It's more or less... stupid.  Yeah, "Power Ponies" is more of a stupid episode if anything.  The plot is somewhat generic and cliched, the moral makes no sense...  But to be fair, I give credit to the superhero names because the staff at least tried to make them sound original.  But the villain's evil laugh is one of the worst things in the entire episode.  It's not scary, it's not grabbing and suspenseful, no more than the plot itself I should add, and it's annoying as fuck to listen to.  You'll see what I mean... once I get started on this shit-hole of a review.  Let's take a look.

The first thing we see is Twilight sleeping with a nightcap on.  Now I might be nitpicking here, but since when did Twilight start wearing a nightcap, especially if it doesn't even fully cover the top of her head, but just one ear?!  What's the point of that?  We've seen Twilight sleeping in her bed before in previous episodes (shut up, perverts), so why do we wait until she's a fucking princess before we see this extra-added probably not necessary nighttime accessory?  Is it something to do with the way a princess gets her royal sleep?

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Next thing we know, we're gonna see these ponies sleeping in pajamas.

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Case in point.

Well, Spike is wide awake apparently trying to read a superhero comic book (typical) known as "Power Ponies".


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Yeah, we like to think the title drew inspiration from this awesome classic series, don't we?  So Spike describes what goes on in the comic and reveals the whole plot.  But first...
Spike: Aw, two more minutes, Twilight! I'm just getting to the really good part! The Mane-iac is about to—
Twilight Sparkle: "The Mane-iac"?
Spike: The Power Ponies' most evil nemesis!
Yes, fans.  You heard right.  The Mane-iac.  That's the name of our supervillain.

Twilight Sparkle: "The Mane-iac"?

Yeah... really, staff?  Really?  Is that really the best name you can come up with?  Mane-iac?  What in your right minds gave you the idea to come up with such a bland villain name?

The LEGO Maniac from those old LEGO Mania kids' magazine was a good maniac.
Come to think of it, Todd Marshall from the 90's cartoon Wing Commander Academy was nicknamed 'Maniac'.

So why choose a pun name on that as a villain's name?

Spike: She was the power-mad owner of a hair-care product company. A tragic accident at her shampoo factory in Maretropolis not only gave her mane strange new powers, but also caused her to go completely insane!

*sigh* You know, if it was a 'tragic' accident, you think someone would have died instead of obtaining super powers.  Can you see that working with other supervillains?

Flint Marko from Spider-Man 3 "tragically" fell into a particle accelerator, but on the bright side, he turned into the indestructible shape-shifting Sandman.

Victor Fries is "tragically" struck by those chemicals that lowered his body temperature to the point where he needs that uber-cool cryogenic suit to survive and becomes the villain Mr. Freeze.  But hey, he didn't die!  No tragedy involved here!

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Shut up, Mr. Freeze.


But see what I mean?  Unless these things have actual loss involved, like the death of Dr. Octavius' wife from Spider-Man 2, I don't consider it tragic.  Tragedy is pretty much loss and in the case of Mane-iac's so-called "tragic" back story, there is no real loss involved, unless you count her mental health, which I don't because for all we know, she could have been insane before her accident anyway.  After all, she was mad with power to begin with.  But I'm just rambling on and on now, so let's get on with the rest of the review.

So the next day, the Mane 6 return to the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters to give it a good cleaning and hopefully renovate the place since Twilight said it was practically falling apart three episodes ago.  I swear, I'm totally lacking sympathy if the whole castle just collapses on their sorry heads at this point.
It turns out Spike wants to help, but the others are a tad busy at the moment to give him something to do.  Spike feels left out, but it's all good because Twilight says Spike could use the opportunity to go and finish reading his comic book.  Fair enough, I suppose.
Twilight Sparkle: Aren't you right at the part where Hum Drum was about to stop the villain?
Spike: Hum Drum never stops the villain. He's just there for comic relief.
[splash and clatter] [grunts]
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So Spike goes to finish reading his comic...

Spike: [to himself] Mane-iac breaks into the museum... Okay, here we go. ...Ugh, what a surprise! Hum Drum is in the way again while the Power Ponies do all the work! I guess I know what that feels like...


...or just mope over how useless he believes he is.  You know, to the episode's credit, this is one of the only episodes where Spike himself actually acknowledges being on the receiving end of the infamous Butt Monkey trope, but ironically, he's not really treated as a useless punching bag in this episode.  He just thinks he is.


Anyways, Spike finds that the last page of his comic book is completely blank, save for one sentence in the right-hand corner.

Spike: [reading] "You can return to the place you started when the Mane-iac is... defeated." Huh? "Take a closer look to join the adventure in this book"?


And like a cliche, the phrase "dive into reading" is taken literally, as the Mane 6 and Spike are sucked into the comic book version of The NeverEnding Story and are transported to the world of...

Spike: Maretropolis?


Yeah, that's the name of the city, folks.  Maretropolis.  What's next?  Are the Mane 6 gonna meet Supermare or something?


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And how come these fan artists always dress up in Applejack in these superhero costumes?


Okay, okay, but... you know, besides that.  I thought fans treated her as a background character anyway.


So Spike realizes that they've all been sucked into his comic book somehow and points out that the Mane 6 have become the Power Ponies themselves.

Spike: Holy new personas, ponies! You're the... Masked Matter-Horn!

Fili-Second!

Zapp!

R-Radiance!

Mistress Mare-velous!

Saddle Rager!
You're the... Power Ponies!

And that's when they have their first run-in with the evil seriously-staff-you-couldn't-pick-a-better-less-bland-name Mane-iac.  And like I said before, her evil laugh isn't evil at all.  It's... retarded.  And by that, I mean that's it's just no fun to listen to because it gets old in ten seconds flat.

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And it doesn't exactly help that because she has a bland name, her puns are also just as bland, if not headache-inducing.

Mane-iac: Time for the mane event!

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Ewww...  How did kids ever find that funny?  That's just... creepy.

But yeah...  Mane-iac.  You know, usually superheroes and supervillains get their names based off their superpowers and such.
Superman is called Superman because we all know he can do anything, and... come on, he's Superman!

Okay, I get that Mane-iac went totally mental after her not tragic accident.  Yeah, I get that.  But last I knew, going insane isn't exactly a super power.  It's just caused by a brain malfunction or something.  If we watch Mane-iac in the episode, she uses her mane as a weapon.
That's like Medusa from the Fantastic Four comics.
Hell, she even uses her mane for walking around, like Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man 2!  Okay, I get the pun name, but... it's still bland!  She could have been called "Mare-dusa" or maybe "Mane-dusa".  Either of those names sound a little more interesting and would show that the staff is actually trying to pull off a comic book parody episode.  But no, we get Mane-iac.  Well... back to the episode.


So Spike the comic geek tells the now Power Ponies what their superpowers are.


Pinkie Pie is Fili-Second, who has super speed just like the Flash from DC.


Twilight Sparkle is Masked Matterhorn, who has the ability to shoot particle beams from her horn.  According to Jim Miller, these powers were roughly based off from Cyclops of the X-Men, just having more variations.


Rainbow Dash is Zapp, who can manipulate the forces of nature.  Her lightning powers were obviously based off of Thor from Marvel and her tornado powers were based off of Storm of the X-Men, also from Marvel.


Fluttershy is Saddle Rager, who can... well... Hulk out, like the Incredible Hulk.  The one problem with this super power?  Fluttershy is a total wimp!
Spike: Fluttershy! You're Saddle Rager! Lose your temper, and you'll turn into a huge, super-strong monster!
Fluttershy: Oh, gosh! That wouldn't... be very... polite!
Spike: Ugh!
Why is Fluttershy even in this episode?!


Rarity is Radiance and has the power to create constructs of whatever she thinks of.  Green Lantern, anyone?
Oh look, a teapot!  Now, which of my art school instructors had aversions to these things from 3ds Max again?

And Applejack (save the background character for last, you sick turds) is Mistress Mare-velous, who can manipulate her whip by thought and has gadgets at her disposal.  This was based off the DC superheroes Wonder Woman and Batman.

Stop that!


But of course, because the Mane 6 are playing the roles, they obviously don't know how to use their powers properly, so while they take themselves out, and Applejack has to get all Pecos Bill to save them, Mane-iac obviously escapes.

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Oh, did I forget to mention...  She has an evil plot to destroy Mare-tropolis with that Electro-Orb thing and, you guessed it, take over the world.


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Spike is obviously Hum Drum, who's dressed like Robin for some reason, and thus apparently doesn't have super powers.  But since he read the Power Ponies comic, he knows what's going on and concludes that in order to escape Maretropolis and return to Ponyville, the Mane 6 have to defeat Mane-iac and stop her evil plan.  Doesn't this plot just suck you in?

So the Mane 6 arrive at this... shampoo factory and prepare to confront the evil Mane-iac... and her tedious evil laughter!


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Applejack: Time to Power Pony up!

Pinkie Pie: Ooh! Nice catchphrase!
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But things don't go so well when Mane-iac uses her Hairspray Ray of Doom to freeze the Mane 6 in place and captures them.
Of course, that would probably be because Fluttershy didn't even bother to help her friends, even when they were clearly in peril!  Seriously, just how much of a wimp is she?!

Rainbow Dash: Seriously? You aren't even just a little angry right now? 
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In the episode "Dragonshy", she saw her friends being threatened by that big, scary dragon and stood up to it, ordering it to stand down and stop causing trouble.  She even made the motherfucking thing cry, for crying out loud!

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But here, she see her friends get frozen and again put in peril and she just hides behind a fucking mailbox!

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...Actually, scratch that.  She gets captured too.  But it's still her fault for being a wuss when clearly she's better than this.  Yeah, yeah.  Come at me, fanbots!  Do your worst!


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So the Mane 6 are captured and put in a cliched big metal cage while Spike is spared because Mane-iac thinks that 'Hum Drum' can't do jack-crap and of course Spike is thinking the same thing.

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Mane-iac then reveals her evil plot, which we know what it is because Spike said it already.  She wants to blow up the city and, you guessed it, take over the world, right?


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Mane-iac:  You shall live just long enough to see me fire... the instrument of your destruction! [cackles] Once the Electro-Orb has powered it up completely, this cannon will amplify the power of my mane one million times, expelling an energy blast that will cause everypony in Maretropolis's mane to grow wild! [laughs]


...

...

...

...

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Really, episode?!  Really?!  That is Mane-iac's real ultimate plan?!  To give the denizens of Maretropolis wild mane styles?!


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Yes, this is literally the dumbest evil villain plot I have ever heard in my entire life!  I thought Spike said she was gonna destroy the city!  Now she's using that Electro-Orb to power up a machine that will give ponies wacky manes as if they've been electrocuted in a cartoon?!  I can literally imagine Dr. Doofenshmirtz coming up with a scheme as ridiculous as this.


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But you know what really makes this stupid?!  Mane-iac actually believes that this... dumbass plot is capable of causing doom!  How can a wacky hairstyle possibly kill anybody?!  Okay, an electrocution could get the job done, but that's not the impression I'm getting here!  At least Dr. Doofenshmirtz acknowledges that his ideas aren't anything doom-related and he sure as hell doesn't want to kill anybody in the process of trying to take over the Tri-State Area, so at least he's somewhat humble.  But Mane-iac is so God-fucking insane she actually believes that giving everyone wild mane styles means sending Maretropolis to its doom!  God fucking dammit!


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So... after Mane-iac reveals her plan to not destroy the city, she's apparently confident that Hum Drum isn't capable of saving them, hence why she spared Spike from her Hairspray Ray of Doom.
Mane-iac: Puh-lease. Everypony knows you just keep him around because you [condescending tone] feel sowwy for him. Wah. Wah.
Twilight Sparkle: Maybe in your world. But in our world, Spike— uh, Hum Drum always comes through when we need him! Always!
Okay, it's nice of Twilight to say that, but to be brutally honest, when has this ever happened in the series?  You know, besides 18 episodes from now.  From what I remember, every single Spike episode so far just has the little guy get thrown under the bus!  Hell, the entirety of the episode "Just For Sidekicks" was a fucking tease!  Nothing good came out of that one!  The only time so far that Spike ever got his day in the sun was in "The Crystal Empire, Part 2", where he becomes the hero and even then, first he had to be saved from falling to his death by Cadance.  Spike hasn't done much beyond being Twilight's number one assistant and it's pretty much because the writers obviously have no other uses for him when clearly he deserves better.

Shame on you, writers!  Shame on you!


But in this case, Spike actually does help save his friends... by taking advantage of Mane-iac's monologuing.  It's a stupid reason for being a villain's undoing, but hey... can't look a gift horse in the mouth.  No pun intended.


So the Mane 6 escape and fight back against Mane-iac's henchmen.  But get this.  Fluttershy again attempts to abandon her friends instead of helping them fight.  Good God, that's just horrible!


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Fluttershy: I'm sorry, it's just that nothing is making me mad.


And look.  Mane-iac is taking advantage of this.  While the others are distracted, Mane-iac is about to fire her weapon at both Spike and Fluttershy, but a firefly gets in the way and she swats it aside.  And here's the irony.  For Fluttershy, is the straw that breaks the camel's back.  Yeah, it's not her friends getting harmed that bugs her.  It's a fucking firefly.

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Okay, why wasn't Saddle Rager voiced by Fred Tatasciore?  Heh... I just had to say that.

So Mane-iac is defeated by a recoiling blast from her machine that somehow gets her tied up in her own mane (don't ask why she's still laughing like she's mentally retarded), the Mane 6 are transported back home, and the lesson of the day is...
Twilight Sparkle: We wouldn't have made it without you, Spike. And I hope you realize that just because we don't always need your help, it doesn't mean that we don't think you're helpful.

Spike: And that you don't have to have superpowers to be a super friend.

Main cast: [general agreement]
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Twilight Sparkle: But I do have one question. Where exactly did you get that comic book?
Spike: This one I got in Canterlot at the House of Enchanted Comics. Well, I didn't know it meant they were literally enchanted!
And then...

Spike: Hey, wait up! I'm an important part of this team, remember?!

Good God, that moral was fucking useless!  That little adventure might as well have been a complete waste of time!


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This episode is just stupid.  The superhero plot is bland, the villain doesn't have a good name and she's just annoying to listen to, Fluttershy is a total wuss, Spike is a cynic, and the moral makes no sense.  And by that, I mean it's practically disregarded as soon as it's said.  The problem is that Spike isn't given enough credit for his role in the series and I have to blame the writers for that because in every episode he's featured, things just don't work out for him even in the end.  And even if they do, just deliberately setting him up in a bad situation is old and tedious, so much that's it's just as bad as the Cutie Mark Crusaders getting their undeserved beatings.  I'm not even gonna ponder on this 'House of Enchanted Comics' or even who casts those spells on those comic books.  I don't even care!  The episode was that stupid!


But... at least it wasn't a genuinely bad episode... unlike the next episode, as you'll see in my next review.

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4 comments:

  1. I tried to post a few days ago but it didn't go through for some reason. Oh well.

    Anyway, some of the characters have been Flanderized to all hell since season three. Specifically Pinkie, Fluttershy and Spike.

    Pinkie seems to have turned into fanfic-Pinkie, in that she's crazy and everything else comes second, sometimes even the feelings of her own friends (Filli Vanilli). It does depend on the writer, but S3-4 Pinkie as a whole doesn't seem to be the same as S1-2.

    Fluttershy is supposed to be shy, not a dirty coward. Sure, this was a magic comic book and they were probably never in any real danger, but the ponies didn't know that so it looks like she was fully willing to let her friends die. I mean, really? Spike had more sense and bravery than she did. Spike!

    And as for him, I think the biggest problem is that he just doesn't fit into the grand scheme of things. He's young, not a pony, and male... so the writers don't do anything with him besides making him an idiot. I never thought there would be a worse Spike episode than "Spike At Your Service" until I saw "Equestria Games". Poor, poor guy.

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    1. Well, the one good thing about "Equestria Games" is that he does muster up his courage and save the entire Empire from being crushed by a giant block of ice. So I can't see "Equestria Games" as one of the worst episodes. Just a really, really bad episode. "Just For Sidekicks" is one of the worst because Spike got nowhere in that episode and in "Spike At Your Service", he was trying and he did save Applejack's life in the end, so I give him credit there.

      As for Pinkie, she's still one of my favorite characters and I personally think that even if she was being over the top in "Filli Vanilli", Fluttershy really wasn't any better because for some reason, she interpreted cheers as jeers as if SHE was mentally ill. Apart from "Filli Vanilli", Pinkie is still the lovable party pony I know from Season 1.

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    2. Yeah, Spike got better at the end of that episode but everything else before that was just cringe-worthy. Also, I don't like Equestria Games much because it really wasn't that much about the games, but was a bait-and-switch Spike episode.

      And I did like Pinkie this season, sometimes. Mostly in Pinkie Pride and Maud Pie (though in that case, Maud stole the show).

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    3. I can relate to Maud and her overall stoic and monotome personality... minus the monotome of course.

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