While writing for Toonzone I wrote 24 recaps for ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’. However, I’ve already reposted four recaps for ‘Dan VS.’ and I don’t feel like reposting anymore recaps, so instead I’m going to repost the one other article I wrote about ‘MLP: FIM’. This one is a comparison article focusing on the first season two-part premiere and the second season two-part premiere episodes. This is also the first article I wrote for Toonzone and was published on September 26, 2011. Enjoy:
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic – Episodes of Harmony
Well it’s finally here. Season two of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It starts with ‘The Return of Harmony Parts 1-2’. I can’t help but to be reminded that season one also began with a two part episode. That’s when an idea occurred to me that just felt right. Instead of merely writing a recap for the second season’s beginning, why not also compare it with the first seasons beginning. So that’s what I’m doing! First let’s go over the premises. Season one began with “The Elements of Harmony Parts 1-2″. The premise for that episode (in my own words) is: When the evil Nightmare Moon escapes from the moon it’s up to Twilight Sparkle and her new friends to find and use the Elements of Harmony, which are the only things capable of stopping Nightmare Moon. The premise for season two’s ‘The Return of Harmony’ is: The spirit of chaos, Discord, escapes from his stone prison, so Twilight and friends must once again wield the Elements of Harmony to stop him.
What makes a great story are the characters. Characters should weave together the plot. Even if the plot is weak well done characters can still make it work. But the greatest of plots can be ruined by bad characters. So I believe it’s important to go over the characters in depth. However, I assume most people reading this already know who the six main characters are. So instead I’ll focus on the other important characters from these two episodes. And that would be the villains. What makes a great villain? Same three things that make any character great. Past, the characters back story and why are they the way they are today. Present, what the character is currently doing and the like. And future, what is the characters goal and ambitions. For a great character those three Elements must flow together in harmony. If they don’t flow together that’s usually a sign of a bad character. I’ve went over the makings of a character. So now let’s examine the villains.
Season one begins with the villain Luna AKA Nightmare Moon. Past: Luna is Princess Celestia’s younger sister. Once they ruled together. Celestia over the day and Luna over the night. Unfortunately Luna grew to resent her sister out of jealously. She mistakenly believed that the ponies of the world were shunning her night. While in reality they were taking advantage of its peace to rest. She most likely kept it bottled up, it’s always the quiet ones, until she couldn’t take it anymore. She turned against her sister and tried to plunge the world into eternal night. So she was banished to the moon for a thousand years (harsh). Present: Once free from the moon she’s out for revenge. And continues where she left off before being stopped, by once more plunging the world into eternal night. Future: Her goal is simple enough. Keep it night eternally and make sure no one stops her. No further plans of hers, if there are any, are revealed. My opinion: I love Luna. She is such a great and well thought out character. She’s not evil. Just bitter, sad, lonely, and lashing out. It’s quite unique considering all the villains I’ve seen.
For season two the villain is Discord AKA The Spirit of Chaos. Past: Not much is known about his personal past. However it is known that he filled the world with discord and was sealed away in stone for doing so by Celestia and Luna. Present: He’s evil due to selfishness, while also quite intelligent and prepared. He comes off as a bit playful and definitely enjoys it when things go his way. But he’s not a goofy villain. Future: His goal is to drown the world in his element and destroy harmony. My opinion: Discord is a totally different villain than Luna. A fact which I greatly enjoy. I don’t want another villain who’s same as the last. And this villain is actually evil. Fueled by his selfish desire to fill the whole world with his element. Yes, discord is an element. After all the seasons change and the weather isn’t always the same, that’s a form of discord.
Now it’s time to to go over the episodes. ‘Elements of Harmony Part 1′ begins by introducing viewers to some lore of Equestria. It’s done in a unique and interesting style that I love, involving a book being read aloud. The lore ends before it’s gets dragged on for too long. Next the episode shows the first main character, Twilight Sparkle, as she discovers that soon everything will align and Nightmare Moon will be able to escape. So she immediately sends word to the Princess who tells her to get her head out of books and make some friends. And so Twilight is sent to Ponyville with the assignment to check on the preparations for some event (Summer Sun Celebration) and make some friends. Twilight doesn’t really care and promptly decides to finish her chores as quickly as possible so she can find some proof that she’s right. The preparations take longer than first thought and the other five main characters are all introduced along the way. Each introduction is unique and entertaining. Ultimately it’s too late and Nightmare Moon escapes. The episode ends there in suspense. Questions left unanswered, like where is Princess Celestia? This one left me in suspense when I first saw it.
‘Elements of Harmony Part 2′ continues right where Part 1 left off. Twilight flees and quickly returns home to study and learn more about the Elements of Harmony so she can stop the villain. Soon however the other five main characters demand to know what’s going on, since she seems to know. So Twilight tells them and soon off the six go on a quest to obtain the Elements. As they travel each of the six face a trial sent by Nightmare Moon to stop them. It may seem a bit overly balanced that each character gets a trial. But this is their first adventure, so it’s to be expected. Plus I like how it adds to the epic quest vibe of the episode. Each trial is well constructed and unique. All leading up to the final confrontation with Nightmare Moon. I won’t spoil what happens, but I loved it. All the emotions were just right and it was beautifully done. To those who don’t like the ending do try to remember that Luna (Nightmare Moon) was never actually evil. She was in a lot of pain and lashing out.
When both part of “Elements of Harmony” are put together you get something that is truly is an epic quest! It’s incredible how much they were able to put into the episode. Plus everything is so well thought out with plenty of depth. It feels longer than it is, like a whole movie. Yet despite everything packed into it nothing feels shortchanged or rushed. A true testament to the skill of those involved in making it. If I hadn’t already known I would’ve never guessed that this is the first episode. A perfect start to the season and the whole series.
Now let’s see how well season two begins. ‘The Return of Harmony’ begins with a school field trip at a sculpture garden. Upon seeing a statue of discord and asked what it means a certain group of three ponies get into an argument. It quickly turns into a fight. The fight is a bit intense, but it doesn’t feel odd. It’s obvious that the three friends are having a bad day. It happens. And the argument is realistic enough. The only odd part is that the fighting is enough to awaken Discord. However, later that is explained in a satisfactory manner. After that we’re shown Discord’s effect beginning to touch the world and the six main characters reaction to that. Soon they’re called in by Princess Celestia and more of the worlds history is explained. I love that fact and this time it’s done with stain glass windows. Brilliant! Point is only the Elements of Harmony can stop Discord, but they’ve been stolen by him. Discord gives them a riddle. They interpret it one way and it leads them to a giant hedge maze where they search for the elements. They get separated and face trials from the bad guy. That might sound annoying since the show has already done something like that. But it’s not so bad. Partly because the main characters are losing. Once they fail Discord is able to exert his power over them. Thus changing them for the worst and turning them gray. Ultimately Twilight is the only one left who can save her friends. Which doesn’t leave me in suspense. I’m fully aware that she’s capable of finding a solution.
There’s something else which really annoys me about this episode. Twilight doesn’t face a trial, and I can easily imagine what her trial would’ve been. I don’t think she would’ve won. But Fluttershy actually beat her trial only to lose…? What happened, that’s totally unfair! It seems to me that the writers chose the direction to take and began to write the script. Then at a certain point the story wanted to flow in another direction. And they forced it not to. That was wrong! As a writer it’s of the utmost importance to know when to compel the story and when to let it flow naturally. The flaw makes the ending not as suspenseful and takes Part 1 down a notch. But it can still be saved by part two.
Unfortunately Part 2 of ‘Return of Harmony’ is worse. I don’t even want to go over its plot, but if I must… Discord has succeeded at his plan and ruined the ponies friendship. Without their friendship the Elements of Harmony no longer work. Twilight gives up hope only to regain it and to restore her friends one by one. Then they band together to defeat Discord. What’s wrong with this plot? It’s just so incredibly predictable. I know this show sometimes uses concepts that we’ve all seen before, but even then it makes the idea its own. Adding plenty of its own originality and style. But this one doesn’t do that. It only follows the most predictable route. I wasn’t even surprised or interested by how Twilight restored her friends. It was the least creative solution they could’ve used. So what do you get when you put both halves of “Return of Harmony” together? A great episode that trips and fall onto its face midway through without recovering. It’s sad. I was expecting so much better. I’ve seen the show do so much better.
Well it was certainly interesting comparing the two season premieres. I didn’t expect them to be such opposites when I started, as I hadn’t seen part two of “Return of Harmony” yet. The premiere of season one is the clear winner. Even though this was never meant to be a competition. Still ‘Return of Harmony’ doesn’t quell my excitement to see more of season two. Even the best of shows have episodes that aren’t worth bragging about. Besides, with a premiere like that the second season has almost nowhere to go but up. And I’m looking forward to that.