Reviews: My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic S 2 E 23 Ponyville Confidential
Slow News Day
(SIGH) One of the flaws of Season 2 has is the increase of the episodes centering on the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Previous CMC episodes did not lit Equestria on fire in terms of quality. There are a total of four episodes focused on them, that's more than any of the main characters who either have 2 or 3 each. This makes them into something of a Spotlight Stealing Squad. The only one that did make it past Meh ranking on my tier list is Hearts & Hooves Day due to its 2nd half shenanigans. After Hurricane Fluttershy, I had low expectations for this. And it went as I expected would be, a stock plot played straight with only a few moments that are good but not worth watching it in its entirety. And this is pretty much my problem for the CMC episodes. The show put up such a high standard that stuff like this feels like a downgrade, like it was mandated by executives & the writers didn't put the same effort. I did like two things...
- The continuity nods were nice like Trixie getting name dropped, & Big Mac still having Smarty Pants made me LOL.
- Speaking of Big Mac, his Silent Bob style speech was brilliant. And the fact it was juxtaposed with Applejack borrowing Big Mac's catchphrases.
- First, & this is really bugged me since she's my fave, why didn't Fluttershy say anything? She's a main character & should have a say in the matter! She could easily chimed in & agree with Twilight. Her crying does not count as dialogue since it was obviously recycled. Unless Andrea Libman was unavailable & could only do a couple of lines for Pinkie Pie, I'm taking points off.
- For that matter, what was Applejack doing at the spa? Isn't she's supposed to reject that kind of fru-fruey stuff?
- Diamond Tiara is 1-note again, seriously what is her deal? For a show that tries to add depth, it seems the antagonists get the short end of the stick.
- The fact this plot is the same story I've seen in several shows & didn't add any twist. Even worse considering MA Larson wrote & is the show's best writer in my opinion. The closest I can think of is the CMC writing a letter of apology when they could've just do an article portraying Diamond Tiara in a bad light. But still, it's just bleh and was a chore to watch because of it.
The positives of this episode far outweigh the negatives. Continuity nods, character development, a nice Aesop, etc. The one negative I find in the episode, though, is a rather large one. The ponies' treatment of the CMC after they're exposed as Gabby Gums crosses the line into outright assholery. It's justified among those who wouldn't know the CMC, and Fluttershy, sensitive as she is, can't be expected to take it well. But the rest of the Mane 6, Applejack and Twilight in particular, could have behaved better. Why is it that Rarity, who has a complicated, sometimes antagonistic relationship with her sister, is the only one willing to have a heart-to-heart talk with Sweetie Belle, or any of the fillies? Applejack should be able to see that this is more the ignorance and desperation to fit in common to young children than anything else, and given how their relationship was portrayed in "Sisterhooves Social", that she would just blow Applebloom off borders on OOC. Twilight is to the CMC as Princess Celestia is to her; she's shown mentoring and advising them in several episodes, and interacts with them directly more than most of the other adults. Now she can't even be bothered? Rainbow Dash, of course, is just downright mean to them, and in disproportion to how damaging the column on her really was. This doesn't excuse the vitriol of most of the gossip columns shown, but the CMC are kids, and that the more mature and understanding of the mane 6 aren't able to understand that kind of bugs me. A good, deep episode, but I disliked that one bit.
One glaring fault - but once overlooked, otherwise enjoyable
Overall - visuals, gags, timing, a surprise resolution, characterization, and everything else were fine. The problem is that it relies on a contrivance: specifically that the Mane & Supporting Cast shun the CMC after being discovered as Gabby Gums, and then proceed to do nothing. I would think that while publicly humiliating those that spread the gossip might be one reaction, the more logical and expected would be to address the one that published that gossip without impunity. Meaning that the Mane Cast should have been seen approaching Cheerilee at one point and complaining about what her paper (the one she was supposedly advising) was saying. This would then have required some scene with Cheerilee admonishing DT about Gabby Gums, followed with DT outright ignoring her as an Alpha Bitch would likely do, and blackmailing the CMC into another GG columns. The rest of the ep, then, played out, would have been a lot more satisfying, with the CMC getting their happy resolution and DT what's coming to her. Without any scene where the Mane Cast even question anyone else beyond the CMC about the paper regarding the gossip, it all makes them feel aloof and hypocritical, and puts a very negative spin on the episode. Heck, even altering the ending, where, as, after GG's finale column, DT decides to publish it anyway, to have Cheerilee along with Twilight and some others of the Mane Cast with angry looks on their faces barge in and put a stop to here, giving at least the impression that there was complaints about the GG columns. That would given the adult Mane Cast some responsibility for their own actions.
An all round solid episode, with a very impressive Aseop
I enjoyed Ponyville Confidential very much. The plot was basic, but solid. The Cutie Mark Crusaders were shown with conflicted feelings and approached the issue from several angles with real thought and feelings. While we didn't get to see much of the Mane Cast they were all there and had some enjoyable interactions and debate with Rarity's drama queen tendencies probably being the highlight. Nobody had to grab the conflict ball. The shout outs and continuity nods were fun, and it was awesome seeing Big Macintosh and Applejack reverse their normal speaking styles. Yet what impressed me the most was the choice of Aesop. This Aesop worked on two levels for the two demographics of the show and it did it masterfully. On the first level we get a simple Aesop along the lines of "don't spread nasty gossip", it is simple and appropriate for the young demographic My Little Pony targets. At the same time we get a criticism of gossip journalism that criticises both the writers and the readers with a fair and even hand. Both the motives and consequences for readers and authors were shown realistically, nobody is turned into a strawman or made obviously obnoxious to drive the point home. In the end lessons are learnt by all, and if the lesson learned by Gabby Gums' readers was implied as part of the Cutie Mark Crusaders' more explicit Aesop this is only appropriate for it's older target audience. I hope we continue to see Aesops targeted at adults dealt with fairly and with subtly, in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and elsewhere.
Worst possible thing
Worst episode ever. Just an April Fools Day joke. Well, the CMC returns in style in this episode. A new school paper is out and with Diamond Tiara as boss. It's no good and everypony is hurt by this. Applejack think the newspaper is fun just until the hurtful articles comes along. The farmer pony ends up depressed as Twilight creates a huge clear globe around her house after the bad gosspis. There is a load of highlights like Applejack in the spa, Princess Celestia on front of the school paper, Snips and Snails returns and more. I can only recommend you to watch this episode.
Honest defense of the Cutie Mark Crusaders
In "Call of the Cutie", three little fillies joined forces in a quest to earn their cutie marks. On this quest they have made Fluttershy's life a living hell, remained ignorant of their real talents in the face of obvious evidence, resurrected an ancient plague, brainwashed two ponies very close to them, and alienated themselves from the entire town. But... I refuse to believe they are as bad as everyone makes them out to be. Not that I like them most of the time, in fact "Hearts and Hooves Day" and "Ponyville Confidential" are the only episodes in which I can stand the little buggers. In most of their episodes they display na´vetÚ on levels I never knew existed, and their manic attitudes on behaviors they are clearly not intended for come off as extremely annoying. This is exemplified in one of my least favored episodes "The Show Stoppers". But I believe something has recently changed in their group. "Hearts and Hooves Day" had them face the consequences of their actions without anypony else's assistance. Sure they made one of their biggest mistakes yet, but the fact that they acknowledged it, fixed it themselves, and learned from it was a giant leap forward from previous outings. Technically they learned something in "The Stare Master" too, but Fluttershy was the pony who solved the problem. "Ponyville Confidential" has them make arguably their biggest blunder yet, by slandering most of Ponyville. (Though this is only the biggest in the sense that it affects the most ponies; by default their actions are never permanent.) By this point they seem to be getting desperate on their cutie mark crusade, so much that they continue writing gossip despite mounting guilt and hurt feelings from ponies around them. They are clearly in the wrong here, and they know it. Finally, when they are put in a situation they cannot escape without being unethical, they make the right choice by apologizing in their final column. I believe the attitudes and choices of the CMC in this episode were far better than previous episodes. Of course, the episode isn't perfect. Diamond Tiara is even more of a psychopath and the citizens of Ponyville overreact, but that's par for the course at this point. I liked "Ponyville Confidential" and hope to see the CMC develop further, though that doesn't mean I want their episodes in any greater frequency.