Follow TV Tropes


Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S7 E19 "To Change a Changeling"

Go To
A changeling CAN change, but that doesn't necessarily mean he wants to.

Starlight Glimmer: I thought Ember helped you get more assertive so you could deal with all the renegade changelings who didn't wanna change.
Thorax: Oh, she did. Really helpful. I was able to convince all of them to change, except one of them... My brother.

Written by Kevin Lappin

After receiving more letters from Thorax about issues with Pharynx, Thorax's elder broodmate, Starlight Glimmer takes Trixie to the Changeling kingdom, which has blossomed with plant life since the changelings are no longer drawing love from it. Outside of the hive, they run into Pharynx, who has not yet chosen to take on the new colorful changeling forms, and instead captures the pair. He takes them to Thorax, but Thorax reprimands him. Thorax explains to the ponies that Pharynx used to be the lead guard, helping to protect the hive, but since their transformation, has had little do to and resents the changes that has happened. The only thing that seems to keep Pharnyx interested is the current threat of a giant maulwurf that threatens the hive, but Thorax has planned to lead the creature away via a trail of food.


After showing Starlight and Trixie around the hive, he invites them to join their "feelings forum", one of the changes he implemented to help the reformed changelings express their feelings. It becomes quickly clear that most of the other changelings despise Pharynx since his foul mood gets in the way of enjoying things, but Pharynx overhears this, and continues to express his dislike of what the hive has become. Starlight and Trixie try to appeal to Pharynx's bad side by explaining how they had their own quarrels with the other ponies but since have come around, but Pharynx dismisses this. The ponies think that the only solution is to have Thorax kick Pharynx out of the hive, but when they go to talk to him, they learn from Thorax that ever since they were young, Pharynx had protected Thorax, even if it was to tease and bully him more. Starlight gets an idea to appeal to this side of Pharynx, and has Trixie go locate him while she reverses the trail for the maulwurf to lead back to the hive.


As they wait for the maulwurf to arrive, Trixie reveals she couldn't find Pharynx, as he had already left the hive, and now Starlight's plan will lead the maulwurf right to them. Thorax makes the ponies come with him to find Pharynx since they screwed up the situation, and Starlight tries to encourage the other changelings to come with them, but none of them seem to want to come. The three search outside the hive, and find Pharynx trying to fend off the maulwurf with little luck. They join in but they are too weak to help. As they are fighting, many of the other changelings arrive, having come around to Starlight's encouragement, and help to weaken the maulwurf, though it remains too powerful. Pharynx gets an idea, reminding Thorax of how he teased him in the past, and together they get the maulwurf to beat itself up, eventually forcing the creature to retreat.

As the other changelings celebrate, Thorax thanks Pharynx for his help, which he says is only because he loves the hive. The other changelings apologize for treating Pharynx as they had and welcome him back. Accepting their apologies, Pharynx suddenly transforms and becomes a reformed changeling, agreeing to return to help protect the hive. Starlight and Trixie apologize for making things worse, but agree with Thorax that it has all worked out for the best.


  • An Aesop:
    • You should not give up on friends and family, even if they are difficult or hard to reason with.
    • Being concerned with the safety and welfare of your friends and family is fine and laudable, as long as you're not overly aggressive and overbearing while doing it.
    • Pacifism is not the same as helplessness: choosing to become peaceful does not mean you also have to be a pushover, and peace must often be defended.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
    • While the size and color are far different, the maulwurf is based on the very real star-nosed mole.
    • Among the insect-themed potluck are what look like grubs encased in gelatin. This is based on an unusual (to Americans) but real food called aspic, which is a savory jelly made from meat stock, often used to encase meat, eggs, or vegetables.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: The changeling all cheer when they hear Pharynx has left the hive, tired of putting up with him. Though they soon panic upon hearing that this means they are vulnerable to the maulwurf.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The maulwurf has enormous, rodent-like incisors and feeds on plants. Real moles are not rodents and have much smaller incisors. They are also mostly predatory, feeding mainly on worms and other invertebrates. These discrepancies can be justified by the fact that the maulwurf is a mole-like monster and not any real species of mole.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: Pharynx captures Trixie and Starlight in a big burlap sack and drags them inside the hive.
  • Big Brother Bully: Pharynx was one to Thorax when they were grubs, beating up on Thorax and calling him weak. That being said, he would rather bully Thorax himself than let his fellow changelings bully him.
  • Big Little Brother: Thorax is the younger brother, but now towers over Pharynx. Even after Pharynx transforms, Thorax is still taller.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Maulwurf" simply means "mole" in German. It would be pronounced "mowl-voorf", though; "mowl" rhyming with "howl".
  • Blatant Lies: Trixie claims that she is "unscareable". She is then Instantly Proven Wrong when Pharynx (who had been disguised as a rock) snarls at her.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Thorax is correct that things are better for the changelings after they started sharing love instead of just stealing it, but Pharynx is also correct in trying to defend the hive, even if he takes it too far.
  • Butt-Monkey: Starlight spends much of the episode dealing with both Trixie's antics and some really bad luck.
  • Call-Back:
    • In "Triple Threat", Thorax mentioned that he was having trouble with changelings who preferred Chrysalis's methods of sustaining themselves. He also mentioned that he had a brother as well. Here, we see that his brother is the last remaining renegade changeling. Starlight mentions the events of the episode, namely how Ember helped Thorax be more assertive.
    • When Trixie mentions how they're still so far away from the hive after finally reaching it, Starlight points out how earlier she couldn't have gotten them closer, referencing the way that Chrysalis's magic-absorbing throne kept them from teleporting closer than a certain distance in "To Where and Back Again". Said point they teleported to this time is barely any closer than last time.
    • When trying to relate to Pharynx, both Starlight and Trixie attempt to convince him they're not so different by making references back to their behavior in past episodes.
    • The royal Thorax trying to redeem his brother, Pharynx, with the help of ponies Starlight and Trixie, has strong echoes of what happened between Celestia and Luna/Nightmare Moon in the pilot episode, except it's the younger sibling trying to redeem the older sibling this time.
    • Starlight's plan to get the hive to accept Pharynx by setting him up to defeat a threatening monster is suspiciously similar to the plan Snips and Snails came up with to do the same for Trixie back in Season 1. It's actually a bit amazing that Trixie didn't immediately notice the similarity and realize how things were likely to turn out.
  • Cassandra Truth: Trixie is a bit skeptical about the maulwurf when Starlight mentions it.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: The rest of the changeling hive eventually decides to assist in fighting the maulwurf.
  • Change the Uncomfortable Subject: When Thorax says in disappointment they need to talk about how Starlight and Trixie endangered the hive by getting Pharynx to abandon it and led the maulwurf to it, Starlight quickly accepts Pharynx's offer to hear the story of how "he made Thorax hit himself when they were kids" even though she already heard it from Thorax.
  • Character Development: It seems the lessons in assertiveness Thorax was given by Ember have really stuck; not only did he manage to convince most of the renegade changelings to accept love, but when the other changelings demand he throw Pharynx out, he simply tells them "I can't do that!" in a firm tone. He is quick to call out Starlight for her mistakes as well.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The "stop hitting yourself" routine used by Pharynx when he was younger on Thorax inspires the changeling hive to beat the maulwurf via Deadly Dodging.
    • The giant insect form Pharynx uses to scare the changelings who bullied Thorax is used again to fight the maulwurf.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The maulwurf Starlight mentions to Trixie at the beginning is part of her plan later on.
  • Chirping Crickets: When Thorax asks the other changelings to come with them to stop the maulwurf, the ensuing silence is punctuated by a cricket chirping as the changelings slowly back away.
  • Comically Missing the Point: While several changelings are complaining about how Pharynx is annoying and a disruption, one just shouts that his soup is too hot. When everyone looks at him, he says he thought they were complaining about all their problems.
  • Continuity Nod: Trixie once again attempts to cast a spell while calling its effects out loud. She claims that this is her "process". Her inability to get any kind of result also calls back to Starlight telling her teleportation spells are difficult to use properly.
  • Cool Chair: Thorax is shown to have a throne, which seems to be made out of tree roots. It stands around where Chrysalis's throne was, at the top of the hive (now open to the air thanks to the top of the hive being destroyed when Chrysalis's throne exploded).
  • Cower Power: When scared by Pharynx, Trixie promptly takes cover behind Starlight and cowers there.
  • Culture Chop Suey: Thorax and the new Changelings are currently trying to make an original identity for themselves. Although "original" might be a slight overstatement.
    • Theatrical plays might've been imported from refined places like Canterlot.
    • Swing dancing seems like another activity adopted from Equestria.
    • The feelings forum has a Chinese gong and the changeling who runs it wears a kimono.
  • Deadly Dodging: Thorax and Pharynx defeat the maulwurf by tricking it into hitting and even biting itself.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Pharynx didn't accept Starlight and Thorax's example of sharing love with other changelings and considers the prospect of giving up the beliefs he grew up with under Chrysalis's rule to be unthinkable.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Starlight decides to lure the maulwurf to the changelings so that Pharynx can save the day and be accepted by the hive. She finds out too late that the Pharynx had left, leaving the hive open to attack. Lampshaded at the end where Starlight outright admits that it was a terrible plan after Thorax called her out on it.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Pharynx's behavior can be likened to a soldier that is having trouble adjusting to life outside of war.
    • The changeling who's confused about what color she is sounds a lot like a person with racial or gender identity disorder, and the advice she receives is similar to what people with these disorders get from counselors in Real Life.
  • Exact Words: Pharynx mentions that he could take care of the maulwurf, and Starlight makes a plan for him to be accepted based on this. When he does face the maulwurf, he says he meant he could beat it "with the rest of the swarm."
  • Fast Tunnelling: The maulwurf can dig very fast, being mostly a giant mole, as seen when it finally flees the changeling swarm at the end.
  • Fisher King: Apparently the changeling Horror Hunger under Chrysalis's dominion was part of why the area around their hive was so desolate, in addition to the throne's magic-absorbing properties. Them sharing love under Thorax's rule has led to a new upsurge of plant growth that makes the kingdom much more inviting.
  • Foreshadowing: When the changeling leading the "feelings forum" tries to calm down the changelings from arguing, her peaceful approach fails to quiet the crowd. Frustrated, said changeling yells that the feelings forum is adjourned, and at least succeeds in getting the other changelings to lower their voices. This could hint that Pharynx may be right: they do need to be stronger if they want to get something done, like getting rid of the maulwurf.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • In the flashback to young Thorax, he is playing with homemade toys; the two he is holding are a purple dragon and a green changeling (mirroring Spike and Thorax's current forms), while a third changeling toy, colored like Queen Chrysalis, sits discarded nearby.
    • When showing off their cooking we see the changelings are now omnivores. Among their food are what look to be grubs and a large beetle with a fruit in its mandibles like the classic image of a cooked pig with an apple in its mouth.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Trixie suggests that she and Starlight deal with Pharynx this way, telling Starlight to "yell and blast him with magic", while she uses her "natural charisma" to convince him to see things their way.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Trixie's first attempt at attacking the maulwurf is to throw a hoofful of dirt at its eyes. Which does annoy it — unlike the star-nosed mole it is based upon, this monster seems still somewhat reliant on sight.
  • Hand Gagging: Starlight puts a hoof over Trixie's mouth, cutting her off from saying to Thorax they had something to tell him, since she changed her mind about advising him to cast away Pharynx.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: When they were young, Pharynx would bully Thorax mercilessly, but would not let any of the other changeling children do the same.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Trixie proudly proclaims herself "The Great and Unscareable Trrrrixie!"... just before a nearby rock turns into a hissing changeling, sending her screaming in fright.
  • Invocation: After Starlight and Trixie have been captured by Pharynx, Trixie tries to teleport them out of the bag, calling out "Teleportation spell, go!" Starlight says this isn't necessary and Trixie defends it as a part of her "process".
  • Irony: Thorax was an outcast within the hive during Chrysalis's rule while Pharynx was a pinnacle of what changelings should be. But now that Thorax has made the changelings adapt to a more peaceful way of living, Pharynx is the outcast.
  • It's All About Me: Trixie, as usual.
    Starlight: On a scale of one to ten, how happy do you think Thorax is gonna be about our surprise visit?
    Trixie: Definitely ten. I mean, who wouldn't be happy at the chance to marvel at the overwhelming talent that is the Great and Powerful Trrrrrixie?!
  • Jerkass Has a Point: As rough as Pharynx is, he is right that the changelings have become far too soft ever since Thorax assumed leadership, cowering and being unable to protect themselves from outside threats.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Pharynx is a bully and prefers the old ways of Chrysalis, but he does care about Thorax and the Hive and wants to protect them. He is concerned that their more peaceful lifestyle has made them incapable of fending for themselves.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: For a time, Trixie and Starlight agree that Pharynx is a lost cause, and Thorax should just tell him to leave. They change their minds after hearing about how Pharynx protected Thorax when they were younger.
  • Large and in Charge: Befitting his post-transformation position in charge of the hive's defense, Pharynx is noticeably taller and larger than the other changelings, second only to Thorax.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Pharynx dropping black paint on one of the recolored changelings may be a nod to the dissent in the fanbase about the changelings' new look.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: None of the Mane Six or Spike appear in this episode, and only Twilight gets a mention. The only character from season 1 who appears is Trixie.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": All the Changelings quickly panic when they hear the maulwurf is on its way to the hive.
  • Mighty Roar:
    • In the flashback, young Pharynx turns into an insectoid monster to scare away the changeling pups bullying his brother, using a powerful screech to further make his point.
    • This is the maulwurf's reaction after Starlight blasts it with her magic; it seems to make it more furious than anything else.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The maulwurf is an enormous mole-like monster that's described by Starlight as "half-mole, half-bear, half-raging-pile-of-claws".
  • Mordor: The Changeling Kingdom is no longer this after the throne was destroyed, and they started sharing love instead of constantly hungering for it. Thus, it has lots of plants and bright colors instead of being a brown wasteland.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: The Feelings Forum group leader talks a lot about feelings, sharing and the importance of "affirming" each other. This leader also dresses in a stereotypical manner, such as the robes.
  • Never My Fault: After Pharynx transforms, Starlight says she never doubted him, before Pharynx points out she thought he was a lost cause and was going to tell Thorax to kick him out. Trixie, who agreed with this decision earlier, acts shocked by this.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Starlight comes up with the brilliant idea of luring the maulwurf to the changelings so that Pharynx can save the day and be accepted by the hive, killing two birds with one stone. She finds out too late that Pharynx had left, leaving the hive open to attack.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Before his transformation — and even during Chrysalis's rule — Pharynx had a purple shell and red crest, seemingly the only changeling to do so. Afterwards, he gains another unique design, halfway between Thorax and the other standard changelings in height and antler size.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently Starlight was having some trouble pinning down the hive's location, and kept teleporting herself and Trixie all over Equestria. It's possibly Justified because the last episode had Discord take them over with his magic.
  • Not so Above It All: The peaceful changeling that runs the feelings forum gets upset upon being ignored, and angrily shouts at the other changelings to leave after having had enough of them talking over each other.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Starlight and Trixie try to do this with Pharynx, telling him about their former villainous ways, and how they've managed to change for the better. Pharynx is unimpressed, calling them both "losers".
  • Only Sane Man: Even though he's a Jerkass, Pharynx is the only changeling focused on dealing with the maulwurf. He even starts messing up plants, since they attract the creature.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: The changelings under Thorax have become this, spending their days having fun and talking about their feelings, and being terrified of the very idea of fighting. The ending has them decide that they've taken it a little too far and that there's still need for some warlike values in order to keep the hive safe.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Pharynx, apparently not recognizing them, grabs Starlight and Trixie because he thought that their surprise visit meant that they were intruders.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Thorax has started new cultural activities as part of his reforms, such as theater and handicrafts, because all they did in the past was hunt and patrol. Additionally, a tough and aggressive changeling like Pharynx was formerly their cultural ideal.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Pharynx retains the changelings' original black exoskeleton, has a red dorsal fin and tail, and is the Token Evil Teammate of the changelings under Thorax's leadership. When he transforms, his hide lightens up to a dark teal and is a little nicer, though still rougher than the rest of the changelings.
  • The Remnant: Pharynx is the last of the rogue changelings who won't accept Thorax's reforms to the hive, who in turn were the last changelings who kept to the lifestyle they used to when Chrysalis was in charge.
  • Rousing Speech: Double subverted. Starlight gives one to the changelings to convince them to help Thorax in aiding Pharynx, exhorting them to rise up not because they're being forced to do it, but because they can choose to do it. While none of the changelings come to help them at first, they all still come along afterwards after having had time to think about it.
  • The Scottish Trope: The changelings at the feelings forum are avoiding Pharynx's name, preferring to say "you-know-who" instead.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After Pharynx overhears Starlight and Trixie labeling him as a lost cause and that Thorax should kick him out of the hive, he decides to leave the hive himself since it is clear nobody wants him around. He stops long enough to fight the maulwurf though, believing he couldn't just leave everyone to deal with it, and is convinced to stay when they tell him they still need him.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Despite being brothers, Thorax and Pharynx are at odds with each other over their clashing ideals.
  • Stealth Insult: While Starlight and Trixie are talking to Pharynx about their past as villains and how they are happier now that they've reformed, Starlight mentions that Trixie has accepted she's second best compared to Twilight. This may be payback for Trixie annoying her earlier and giving a similar stealth insult towards her, saying it would be faster to reform Pharynx if only Trixie was there without Starlight.
  • Stop Hitting Yourself: Pharynx used to do this to Thorax when they were grubs, smacking Thorax in the face with the latter's hoof and asking him why he was hitting himself. This later turns out to be the trick to defeating the maulwurf — since the only thing that can hurt it through its thick hide are its own attacks, Thorax and Pharynx goad it into slapping and biting itself by hovering next to it or standing on it and dodging before it can hit them.
  • Super Toughness: The maulwurf has an extremely thick hide, allowing it to withstand a blast of magic dead center without even flinching, and barely reacting when a large boulder is thrown at its head. The only things that do significant damage to it are its own blows and bites.
  • Three... Two... One...: When Starlight tells Thorax that Pharynx is gone and the nearby changelings celebrate, Trixie comments "Wait for it." Once Starlight finishes that the maulwurf is on its way to the hive and all the changelings panic, Trixie notes "Told ya."
  • Token Evil Teammate: After Thorax won over the others, Pharynx is the last of the changelings not on board with sharing love, and is a bit of a jerk, but still cares about his brother and the hive.
  • Tough Love: Pharynx honestly cares for his younger brother: his antagonism towards him, even when they were still grubs, is motivated by the fact that he honestly believes Thorax needs to toughen up for his own good.
  • Uniformity Exception: Much like Thorax, Pharynx is a bit different from the pre-transformation changelings.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Starlight and Trixie spend the entire episode cattily one-upping each other with Stealth Insults, but it's good-natured and they remain firm friends.
  • Weird World, Weird Food: The changelings are seen organizing a lunch consisting of grubs within and without blocks of gelatin, rolls filled with some kind of roe, a snail shell containing some kind of yellow sauce, and a large roasted beetle.
  • We Have Become Complacent: During Chrysalis's rule, every changeling was a proper soldier that could make themselves a danger to an average pony at anytime. But now under Thorax's rule, changelings no longer want to fight and are too out of practice when they need to (Pharynx being the only exception).
  • Wham Line: A minor one, but still pretty surprising coming from a show this optimistic...
    Starlight: I'm gonna say something, but it goes against everything I've been taught as Twilight's student...
    Trixie: OOH! Then by all means say it!
    Starlight:...I think Pharynx is a lost cause.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Thorax calls out Starlight for her plan of trying to lead the mole to the changeling hive so Pharynx could beat it, even after the hive defeats it.
  • Worldbuilding: The entire episode is a showcase of how much the Changeling Kingdom has changed for the better ever since Chrysalis was overthrown. The fashion, cuisine, recreation, and architecture aspects of the new culture are in full bloom and steadily prospering, although there are still some rough spots with its social issues. All in all, the Hive is now an inviting place that's ready to welcome any and all visitors.