Nuggets of Wisdom

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pony Recap: The Cutie Map (Part 1)

Finally! Nearly one year after season four ended, a new season is finally upon us! As for the season five two-part premiere, it was—okay. It wasn’t the worst. It wasn’t the best. It simply was—okay.

I guess what makes this episode so ho-hum for me is how predictable the entire story was. Oh, we have the ponies going to a village controlled by a control-hungry tyrant? Gee, I wonder what’s going to happen? Are they going to get captured and forced to join, only to reveal the crazy leader for the hypocrite that she is and free the town’s people from her oppression? Admit it, the moment you learned the premise of this episode, you knew exactly how it was going to play out.

As for the subject matter, I really find it interesting that the show would tackle it. A town full of people who are obsessed with equality and think that the only way for people to get along is through conformity and the erasure of individuality and free-thought? You either thought that they were communists or social justice warriors. That makes it all the more awesome!

Overall, while the episode wasn’t the best, it did a good job of showcasing the premise for the season, with the Friendship Rainbow Kingdom castle map and the aforementioned nine (or eight) magical items being the obvious focus of this season (magical maguffin quest it is, then!), and it does seem like starlight Glimmer may be a recurring villain, what with us probably seeing her by at least the finale).

As always, I’m interested in what this season has in store, and I hardly can wait. Until then, here are my thoughts on this two-part opener (with my thoughts on the second part coming soon):

Forget the new crystal treehouse palace, where did the waterfall in the background come from? Did Ponyville undergo massive landscaping during the hiatus to accommodate the new palace?

This conversation did raise a fair point. The rainbow power unlocked with the six keys was inevitably used to defeat Tirek and provide Twilight with a new place of residence fitting to her new title as princess, but the crystal box it was stored in had appeared long BEFORE Tirek’s presence was revealed. So we can’t simply assume that it was used merely as a deus ex machina to defeat the big season baddie—can we?

I’d say that Fluttershy agreeing with everyone was simply a cop-out for her, but in a way, all of their points were essentially equally valid, considering we know nothing about the true nature of Twilight’s palace.

It’s here that we finally see a much wider layout of the world of Equestria. We had seen maps from official content, but this seems to be the first time we’ve seen it in the show. One has wonder what the countries to the east and south of Equestria are. Many fans have speculated that there be griffons. Perhaps we’ll be visiting the Griffon Kingdom sometime later this season.

Insert obvious Godzilla reference here.

Admit it: you want Google Map to release a patch that will transform the earth’s map into a crystal texture and use cutie marks as a location pointer.

(Also, from the looks of this map, it seems as the location is only slightly southeast of the Crystal Empire—which will make the rest of the episode not make any sense, as the climate of the village is clearly desert rather than frozen tundra—well actually, there is some frozen tundra nearby, but, well, that makes things even more confusing.)

Confirmed: Spike is best pals with Big Macintosh and they love to talk about sports. (Though now this raises the question of why Spike didn’t go along on the adventure. Clearly it’s not because it was too dangerous—because “Crystal Empire.”)

The train track just ends. There’s no station here. Not even a platform. It just—ends. There’s literally nothing here. Is that normal for trains?

The village is in the shape of an equal sign because it’s obsessed with equality. SYM-BOLISM!

Aw, Pinkie, you’re forgetting to wear your super special awesome ninja spy outfit from “Crystal Empire”! You need that for sneaking.

“I know smiles, and those smiles, they’re just not right.” When the Element of Laughter is the only one not smiling this episode, you know something is wrong.

I know many fans have compared this village to a totalitarian dictatorship, but if anything, it seems more like a cult. What else do you call an isolated compound in the middle of the desert where people live under a charismatic leader who promises them acceptance for the sake of loyal conformity?

“Because fighting a horrific monster would be super awesome.” Prepare to be disappointed, Dashie.

Well, hello there, Megan McCarthy, I didn't know you joined a desert cult.

I’d say I’m getting a “Children of the Corn” vibe from the residents, but they’re not glaring at anyone menacingly. They’re actually acting rather pleasant. I wonder if that makes it scarier?

Okay, the dilapidated compounds and eerily-smiling citizens is bad enough, but do they really need to have people wearing burlap sacks?

Rarity seems to be victim of Party Favor’s male gaze.

Starlight Glimmer? Sunset Shimer? Twilght Sparkle? Are the writers just running out of names?

She even looks like a recolor of Twilight Sparkle! Creative team, why you no creative?

“Let’s just say that we found it on a map.”
“Technically, it’s a tree chest castle map.”

You know something is up where Applejack gives her famous eyebrow raise.

Pony butts for equality.

Not sure what there is to tour. The entire village is a single row of houses.

“No Pony Left Behind.” Subtle.

A bunch of people who are obsessed with everyone being equal, erasing everything that makes other people special or different, and emphasizing conformity and tolerance for the sake of  unity. Let’s just call these people who they are: social justice warriors.

All the mares have to wear pigtails…except the mare running the place, of course. (Because no one is special or superior other than her.)

That mare obviously learned her choreography skills from Kyle Broflovski.

Moar symbolism!

Moar pony butts for equality.

“No pony has ever come to our village and wanted to leave.” Seems like even more evidence that this is a cult rather than a dictatorship. Ponies obviously wanted to come here, and the false promise of a better life without having to compete or be judged by others seemed like it would be tempting for many marginalized souls.

Just in case you were still skeptical about her being the antagonist.

When I’m agreeing with Rarity about everyone’s fashion sense, you know things are messed up.

“If we were sitting at the edge of Equestria, we’d be sitting on a huge ‘A.’” *rimshot*

Sugar Belle? Sweetie Belle? Writers, why you no being creative?

“We have muffins.” I’d say that would be reason enough for Derpy Hooves to move her, but considering how the muffins are served, I doubt she would even eat them.

Pinkie Pie doesn’t like the muffins? Bear in mind that she gleefully woofed down Applejack’s worm-infested garbage muffins in “Applebuck Season”, so these must be far worse.

“I think we’re being watched.”
“You think?”

“Me. Why me?” Gee, I don’t know, is it because you’re the one who ordered those 12 muffins?

“It’s a tra”—no, wait, not yet!

Bad touch. BAD TOUCH! Pinkie needs an adult. (I am an adult!)

Seems like the last time the ponies were barraged by fanboyish questions like this were when their voce actors appeared at a convention.

It’s like a giant slide puzzle. (And look: six empty spaces. That seems awfully convenient!)

Gee, I wonder why we’re focusing on these four cutie marks in particular.

A lot of fans have commented that the staff of sameness is a reference to the “Lance of Longus” from Neon Genesis Evangelion. I’ve never seen the series, so I wouldn’t know. (Also, it’s one of nine enchanted maguffins. Gee, I wonder if this a plot point for this season’s arc?)

“Some ponies were telling us how much they missed their cutie marks…” I know Pinkie Pie isn’t the smartest cookie in the jar, but really? Just really? I doubt she would be this dense.

“It’s a trap!” There we go. Obvious reference is obvious.

Twilight does have the power to teleport herself and other ponies far, far away. So why didn’t she do that here? Obvious answer: because we wouldn’t have this two-parter.

I want you to think about this: Starlight has the power to remove cutie marks. (Yes, it’s attributed to the staff, but when you learn about it’s true nature…) Twilight wasn’t even able to create a fake cutie mark for Apple Bloom. That should show you how much of a powerful adversary Starlight is.

Moar symbolism!