Monday, April 24, 2017

MLP:FIM Review - A Flurry of Emotions (S7, E3, P135, OE145)

Twilight Sparkle's niece Flurry Heart did not come as an interesting character in Season 6, and was rather just some plot device was nothing interesting, considering all she really was was a total plot device who was never given a decent amount of focus. But now that Season 6 has given us A Flurry of Emotions, there just may be a small bit of hope for the titular toddler. It seems like the new Baby Cakes to Friendship Is Magic based on the concept of watching over a baby (go figure), and I gotta say Emotions is that said episode done right.

Shining Armor and Princess Cadance appoint Twilight to look after Flurry Heart while they attend a museum courtesy of one of Shining Armor's friends, at the same time Twilight has a packed schedule to cheer up sick foals at a hospital. Twilight takes her niece along while doing her business around Ponyville, only for Flurry Heart to accidentally cause problems everywhere they go. Twilight reaches her limit when Flurry Heart makes the ponies at the hospital levitate while looking for her stuffed snail, scolding and frightening her. Realizing she was too busy to keep Flurry Heart out of trouble, Twilight apologizes to her and they reconcile. Twilight leaves Spike in charge of her hospital duties while she spends quality time alone with Flurry Heart before Shining Armor and Cadance return and explains what happened.

A Flurry of Emotions is what I'd say takes a huge step forward from the regular babysitting-concept of TV episodes, as it's more epic and chaotic to watch via Flurry Heart's wildness and Twilight's struggle to keep her under control. Considering Baby Cakes was one of MLP's worst efforts, it seems I've tended to forget that now that writers Sammie Crawley & Whitney Wetta took all of the flawed elements from Cakes and makes them admirable also for the sake of making it watchable. Twilight was simply back to her old sane self I knew and loved from every season before Season 6, Flurry Heart, whilst being questionable about being a little too wild, was tolerable and one you'd grow on, and Twilight's act of balancing both babysitting for her niece and doing other tasks certainly makes the story more gripping. There are many things that add up to the Emotion's watchability. A few to name are some of the best moments of the season which go from Twilight going into a toy store to take on a specific task while her niece endlessly gets her attention to play with her still. Others also include the Ponyville hospital scene involving the adorable foal searching desperately for her "Whammy" toy - already making for one of Season 7's best moments.

On the other hand, Shining Armor's and Cadance's part isn't really as gripping as Twilight's and Flurry's part, and at times tends to be forgettable since I focus more on how much of a good aunt Twilight tries to be with her cute little niece while balancing some of her other tasks to finish around Ponyville. Another weird thing that doesn't attract me on their part is Spearhead and his bizarre voice. I mean sure, he may have been showing Twilight's older siblings around a museum, but that feels more like keeping their minds off the possible troubles they could imagine Twilight going through rather than a theory or secondhand plot to be desired. Another flaw that comes to me that in the episode on Twilight and her niece's part is how intelligent she is in using her magic. This is a weird theory for me to look at or consider, but if it's just My Little Pony, then maybe I won't question it, but it's really strange to watch a newborn alicorn do more than enough of a usual mess herself than the average baby, but otherwise, it does make for something funny.

Unlike its original season predecessor outing, A Flurry of Emotions is a realistic episode with actual quality one can sit through. Even though Flurry Heart's moments of searching for her own toy as a toddler, and constant shielding herself from her aunt after being turned down when Twilight yells at her can be questionable, it still makes you wonder if she's an actual toddler or a full-grown mare trapped in baby's body. Either way, with fantastic and memorable portrayals from Twilight and her niece, whilst Shining Armor, Cadance, and Pinkie don't really add much to the quality of the episode, plenty of good moments to be had besides the ones where Flurry was being as messy as you're typical toddler, and a much better moral than what Cakes provided, Emotions is an installment you'll find yourself enjoying even if you're not the biggest Twilight fan, nor do you grow on or adore Flurry Heart that much.

MLP:FIM Review - Celestial Advice (S7 Premiere, P133, OE143)

There's no denying that My Little Pony's previous season has often been viewed as hit-or-miss. With Season 7 now on air with, there should be enough potential to help redeem some of Friendship Is Magic's good qualities back into something it once when it first started with Season 1. Celestial Advice has to be prof that MLP seasons can have just as good of a start as any other season minus Season 6's painfully bankrupt premiere The Crystalling. Considering that Starlight from my view has been damaged badly after how poorly her redemption was handled in the Season 5 Finale, I decided to give her that neutral feeling when giving her the hope that she'll be done better in Season 6, but with this new premiere, I feel I've admired her at least a little more... until maybe the following episode (All Bottled Up) aired right after that is.

Starlight Glimmer, Trixie, Thorax, and Discord are awarded medals of honor for defeating Queen Chrysalis and bringing harmony to the Changeling Kingdom. During the celebration reception, Twilight realizes she has nothing left to teach Starlight because of her accomplishment, so she turns to Princess Celestia, her former mentor, for advice. Twilight considers following Celestia's example by sending Starlight to study away from Ponyville, and she becomes fraught with worry as she shows Celestia various scenarios of Starlight's studies that all end in disaster. Celestia breaks into laughter, admitting that she had the same anxieties over sending Twilight away out of fear of growing distant from her student. Comforted knowing they will remain close, Twilight announces Starlight's graduation to the party goers. To Twilight's joy, Starlight decides not to leave Ponyville until she feels ready to do so.

The first thing that sets Season 7's premiere apart from every previous MLP season before is that it's obviously a normal lengther instead of two parter; so how exactly does it fair from every other season premiere before it? Well, I'll say it fairs magnificently for me. Another thing that helps it stand out as a stellar outing from Joanna Lewis & Kristine Songco is that it finally gives Celestia something of a shining role even if it only stands considerably around a little less than half the episode from a particular standpoint. When it comes to good moments on the flipside though, we get plenty of it; particular some of my favorites being Discord's wacky sense of humor when he messes around with Twilight and pushes her stress so much hard as to getting her to prepare her speech and decision with Starlight in a rush. Another bit of greatness provided around the 2/3 of the pacing was Twilight's various predictions of what Starlight's future could end up being if she had to send her away and luckily, they aren't without purpose unlike the various timelines of the differing futures shown everytime Starlight messes up filli Rainbow Dash's race in The Cutie Re-Mark. (The less said about that mess of a finale/two-parter the better)

If I looked at Starlight's part though, I could consider giving her some likability she deserves because of the very ending that helps her to remain a student of Twilight's in Ponyville considering how poorly Season 6 handled her character arc. Trixie still gets annoying and isn't helped by her lack of personality from previous episodes and development, and my views on her haven't changed even with her annoying voice. The bright spots that still stand though are Discord's and Celestia's roles that help to give some of the story a gripping feel to help back some of Celestial Advice's flaws up.

Standing as one of my favorites of the series with the start of a potential season after two that didn't turn up as I'd anticipate them, Celestial Advice is the episode that increases true potential for Starlight Glimmer and helps to give the rest of the characters who play big parts in it good charm - Trixie and the new Thorax not exactly withstanding though. Even if there are some fans in the fandom who hate Starlight nowadays, I think she can viewed as admirable here (at least more than I currently feel neutral towards her). With plenty of good development for Celestia, excellent humor via Discord and his antics, great likability brought back to Twilight after her characterization in Season 6 (that I feel was at times handled just as badly as Starlight's arc), and a superb moral, there's plenty of good fun to be had even if it's not the most entertaining episode by modern standards. And to best describe this normal length premiere, it's simply incredible.