Celestial Crevasse by =saturnspace

DHN Season Reviews

Episodes S3e01 (54) & S3e02 (55)

Original Air Date: November 10th, 2012

Written by Meghan McCarthy

Storyboard by Tom Sales & Johnny Castuciano (Part 1) & Raven Molisee & Nicole Wang (Part 2)

Rating: 7 / 10

And so Season 3 has begun, and with mixed feelings. I didn’t prepare my own review, though two of our writers (Wonderwing94 and Doc91) wrote their own. In general though I listen to various groups during episode day and see what other people think and the general consensus I got was the episodes were alright, many giving it a 7 out of 10 rating, but of course fell flat in the villain department. I overheard several individuals give some good points on old King “Donut Steel” Sombra, that basically he was nothing more than just a plot device, something we’ve never really had when it came to villains. The episode was mainly focused on the task given to Twilight and the Crystal Kingdom itself, previously our villain episodes have been somewhat centered around the villain. Nightmare Moon coming back after a thousand years to claim Equestria for herself, Discord looking to rule over the world with chaos, even Crystalis basically wanted to drain Equestria of its love for her own agenda and people. So in short its something the fans of the show are not use to. Outside of that the only complaints I heard were the typical things we’ve heard about these two parter episodes, story pacing, etc.

All and all it was an alright episode, as many also said keep in mind most people found the Season 1 premiere to be just “alright” too, so don’t let this set your judgement for the rest of the season. But of course feel free to argue in the comments, though keep it civil.

And now, the reviews (after the page break):

Review by Wonderwing94

MLP Season 3! by Jiayi

It’s finally here everyone! Season 2 left us feeling even more interested in which direction the show will be heading into next, well, for most bronies anyway, and season 3’s premiere definitely carried on the coattails of season 2’s energy. The episode practically begins by dropping us into the action of a once fallen empire now reemerging from a 1,000 year curse. This curse was put upon by a once evil ruler named King Sombra, who seems to have no personality as some will notice as the episode goes on. Twilight, Shining Armor, and her friends must aid Princess Cadance in finding a way to protect it from falling again. A missing Crystal Heart seems to be the solution, and Twilight and Spike set out to find it while the others stall for time.

Everyone will hopefully notice off the bat that the animation is looking wonderful again and that the backgrounds and the Crystal Empire itself are very atmospheric. The jokes are also in full swing and are definitely some of the funniest ones yet for the show; with Pinkie Pie and her spy work, Rarity’s insane amount of love for the Crystal Empire, Fluttershy’s reaction to Pinkie Pie’s fake Fluttershy disguise, Twilight freaking out again, etc. The plot itself is quite interesting as well and does a good job in prolonging the inevitable for more jokes and some touching moments (i.e. Twilight being trapped in the dark crystals and asking Spike to continue the mission without her.) Excellent writing Meghan, excellent writing.

The thing I always look forward to in MLP episodes are the songs, and this episode had three great songs, the “Failure Song”, “Ballad of the Crystal Empire”, and the “Success Song.” All three were great and catchy with lyrics to the “Success Song” provided by Meghan McCarthy herself. “Ballad of the Crystal Empire” truly show’s the effort the musical staff is going towards in this season as I can hear so many different instruments thrown in, all of which blend together nicely. Did I mention it is catchy as hell too? I can’t wait to see what other songs come out of season three!

Usually my reviews are a bit longer when there’s problems with an episode, but this episode only had one problem, King Sombra. Don’t get me wrong, King Sombra is an excellent looking villain, but he didn’t have much of a personality or impact as previous villains had. Only saying a few lines, supposedly read by Jim Miller, storyboard supervisor of the show, King Sombra just seemed to vanish as fast as he appeared. However, all us have to see this villain from a child’s perspective, in which would be a villain for the sake of being a villain. No backstory or getting into the villains head is needed, Sombra is only there to be the evil bad guy for a kid. Obviously for us adults, we would demand more, but we’re demanding stuff from a kids show! Everyone needs to understand this!

Season 3 definitely began on the good foot, or hoof if you will, and I see it continuing that awesomeness throughout the season. If you bronies haven’t seen those spoiler filled commercials the Hub aired during the airing and not those stupid as **** GAK commercials then, well I’d see them, they’re commercials, they were meant to be seen! They basically lay out future episode jokes and plots, and they all seem beyond awesome! I hope everyone enjoyed the premiere! Feel free to post what you thought about the episode in the comments below, also if I forgot anything to add in my review, I’ll be sure to update it.

– Review By: Wonderwing94 –

Review by Doc91

Rather than boring you with what I thought of the episode as a whole (most of you reading this have probably already seen the episodes and are just looking for curiosity’s sake, no?) I’ll just talk a bit about a couple of points I thought were interesting.

The first thing would be the Crystal Empire itself, which in a word could be described as ‘Conservative’. In fact, that word could be used to describe the episode as a whole. I actually lost count of the number of times ‘traditional’ was said. Heck, the “traditional” Cystal Faire literally keeps evil out of the Crystal Empire. With lines like, “We’ll save the Crystal Ponies with their history,” I’m actually baffled what Meghan McCarthy was trying to imply here, if anything.

I mean, replace the flag here with an American one and this wouldn’t be out of place in a ‘God Bless the U.S.A.’ PMV.

King Sombra is probably the most conservative thing here, to an extent. With all of five lines of dialog (I think one of them was “Blah blah blah Slaves”) and a frankly pathetic way of going out, it was clear that this villain was more of a plot device than a character unto himself. And I do mean ‘plot device’ literally: If you’ll notice, his horn survives the blast that kills him (that actually was one thing very non-conservative about these episodes), presumably to set something else up in a future episode. He does serve his purpose adequately, though; that is, to serve as a credible threat to Equestria, and to teach Twilight Sparkle about self-sacrifice through his crystal cage trap and eventual defeat.

The humor in these episodes, however, is anything but conservative. None of the jokes fell flat, even on a second viewing (shoutouts to the Utah bronies on that second view). Pinkie especially brings the laughs; her wearing the Fluttershy suit followed by Fluttershy’s reaction had me in stitches. Shining Armor literally throwing his wife at a problem was also very amusing, on a meta sort of level.

One last specific point of discussion would be the door in the second episode. I find it interesting that even after all this time, all the friends she’s made and bonded with, Twilight Sparkle’s greatest fear is still letting down Princess Celestia.

I suppose I lied about not talking about the episodes as a whole. With only 44 minutes to work with in a season premiere, it seems they refrained from telling a fully developed (in terms of the villain, at least), self-contained adventure in favor of a setup for things to come. Celestia mentions Twilight’s test determining whether or not she is ‘ready’ for something; Luna seemed miffed at not being allowed to assist Twilight. Though the interesting thing about this test is the lesson learned: self-sacrifice. We’ve seen the power of philia (the Elements of Harmony), and eros (Cadence’s love for Shining Armor powering the shield spell in the Season 2 finale) in this show. Perhaps we’ll see something of agape (whose nature is self-sacrifice)? Either way, as a setup, these episodes have made me very curious where this show will go in the future. As an insular storyline, the humor and very solid animation (DHX’s best so far) made up for a relatively weak villain.

  • Fiendofthet

    Yeah, I agree that there was more that could have been done, like expanding on King Sombra’s character, but I guess that’s what fan fic writers are for.

  • Anonymous

    I say every minute potentially spent developing the villain is one less minute spent on Twilight and Spike’s touching Frodo/Samwise dynamic or the hilarious interludes at the Crystal Faire.

    I mean, if the writers had the time to flesh out a swirling cloud of corrupting smoke (like the entire sixth season of Lost did), then that’s more of a problem. But it shouldn’t be like A Canterlot Wedding pt 2, where the main characters are shoved out of their own show to cram in a new villain. There’s precious little time as it is, and Meghan McCarthy made the right call in focusing on the heroine and her adventure.

  • Applepie

    Epic way to start S3.

    S3 looks good so far.

  • Anonymous

    I disagree with the whole “Sombra was a plot device” thing. I believe him to be more of the “silent” protagonist like Sauron was to LOTR. Also, I agree with the anon above. If they did have more time, he could get some more character development. Sadly, they only get 44 minutes to do anything.

    I still put Sombra as number 2 on my favorite villains list in MLP. I thought this episode was MUCH better than “A Canterlot Wedding”.

    I give it a solid 8.5/10.

  • Supertide

    I found the season opening underwhelming.
    They spent too much time on boring stuff like the Crystal fair, the main six stalling and showing us Cadence being tired for the millionth time. In turn, ridiculously little time was spent on interesting concepts like Twilight’s trials. The most intriguing thing in the episode was the door but the whole sequence involving it lasted about 2 minutes.
    44 minutes should have been more than enough to tell a satisfying adventure story if they’d cut down on the unnecessary padding.

  • Anonymous

    In the Season 2 opener they developed Discord enough that he had a personality we can remember. In that opener we had plenty of time for the Main Six and they didn’t make a side show of everyone but Twi/Spike. So, I don’t buy the “they didn’t have time” arguments. This was just poorly written.

    • Anonymous

      “The Return of Harmony” and “The Crystal Empire” had two entirely different story structures, necessitating two different approaches to how they were written.

      The Return of Harmony was a summation of the first season. They could give Discord such a prominent role because they didn’t have to introduce anything but him. All the relationships were already in play, and Discord’s role was to drive a wedge between the main characters.

      The Crystal Empire, on the other hand, had to introduce and expand on the metaphysics behind unicorn magic and the Manichean (Ponichean?) worldview of the corrupting darkness and the unifying light, and they did it mostly through incidence and example, which takes time to construct. And the other main characters weren’t a “sideshow”, they were instrumental to saving the day. It’s made explicitly clear that the Crystal Heart just focuses the love the Crystal Ponies have in their hearts. As Above, So Below.