- Author's Saving Throw:
- Discord not being called for aid in times of crisis was addressed here with the heroes actively asking for his help on the first sign of trouble while Discord helps as a Trickster Mentor and being given a proper explanation In-Universe under the logic of Helping Would Be Killstealing.
- After Star Swirl the Bearded's last few appearances relegated him to a Base-Breaking Character at best, this episode eased many of the fandoms opinions on him as hes seen comforting Twilight after the Tree of Harmonys destruction, as well as him teaming up with Celestia and Luna to tame the now wild Everfree forest while the Mane 6 go to confront King Sombra.
- Amongst those who either dont read the comics or dislike his Tragic Villain portrayal altogether and defend his old portrayal, King Sombras Large Ham characterization has been viewed favorably after being criticized in his debut episode for being unremarkable, and appreciate the writers for trying to give some life to the character.
- Base-Breaking Character: King Sombra has proven to be highly controversial within the episode. Those who loved his Tragic Villain portrayal in the comic books disliked the use of Canon Discontinuity on display, believing that they made Sombra less interesting by making him into another Generic Doomsday Villain no different from other villains on the show. Others who either dont read the comics or prefer he be evil dont mind his portrayal here, with many praising the writers for making him a more interesting villain and for giving him more screen time compared to his lukewarm reception from his debut episode, which was criticized for lacking any sort of presence within the plot. Then theres a third camp that didnt mind that Sombras tragic backstory wasnt included given the inconsistencies between whats canon or not regarding the show and the comics, but felt he couldve benefited from being more in tune with his silent, no nonsense portrayal seen in past episodes as opposed to his loud, boastful Large Ham characterization seen here.
- Catharsis Factor: King Sombras second defeat was much more satisfying than his first. Originally, he was more of a terrifying force than a villain we want to see fail. But here, Sombra is shown to be a totally smug and arrogant monster who clearly enjoys mind raping and brainwashing innocent ponies. Thus it was immensely satisfying to watch our 6 heroes disintegrate that arrogant bastard into dust. And Sombras disbelieving shock at how they surpassed his power without the elements only made it so much sweeter.
- Fanfic Fuel:
- When exactly was the reign of Grogar in Equestria and his battle with Gusty the Great? Since even Tirek heard tales of him when he was young, it's implied that he ruled the place when it was just forming after the events of Hearth's Warming or the early years of Celestia and Luna's reign before Discord. Indeed, referring to it at one point as "the land that would become Equestria" implies it was even earlier.
- Where could Gusty the Great have hidden Grogar's bell?
- Just like what happened with the Crystal Empire in Part 1, where were Flash Magnus and Stygian (if he moved to Canterlot)? They weren't shown to be among the mind-controlled mob.
- Obviously, one of Grogar's plans would be to build a new army. What kind of monsters will it have? Would it include goat soldiers as well? Along with criminals, outcasts, mercenaries, and other various sorts of unpleasant refuse from society?
- When Starswirl felt the Tree of Harmony die, did the other Pillars too? If not, did Starswirl contact them too? Is this why Flash Magnus was nowhere to be seen in Canterlot? Were they off in other parts of Equestria fighting threats stirred up by Sombra or were aiding Starswirl and the Princesses in containing the Everfree Forest?
- Zecora lives in the Everfree Forest. What did she do during the events of the episode?
- Fanon Discontinuity: Many fans of King Sombra's arc in the FIENDship Is Magic and Siege of the Crystal Empire comics would rather ignore his role here.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- Remember Celestia's sudden ramble about how she is going to retire in "Horse Play" and is revealed to be joking? Turns out there was more to it than we thought.
- In the comics Siege of the Crystal Empire arc (Made way before this episode premiered) the story likewise showcased Sombra's return and team up of previous villains (In this case, Chrysalis and her pre-reformed army, Lighting Dust, Flim, Flam and Iron Will). However in that story, he was more then willing to work with the others to defeat the Mane 6. Even better he even lived through it when the arc was said and done.
- Informed Wrongness: Twilight's worrying about being handed the mantle of being ruler of Equestria. While all her friends dismiss her complaints and were even excited about running a nation, chalking them up as her usual freakouts to the extent that her name is used as a term for that, she actually raises legitimate concerns about their lack of experience and preparation to rule Equestria that were mostly dismissed by the end of the premiere.
- Like You Would Really Do It: Almost completely subverted: by the end of the two-parter, the only thing that doesn't stick is Celestia and Luna's retirement... and that's only because they decide to delay it for the time being so Twlight can prepare herself for it better. The Tree and the Elements are still gone... only for their remains to reform into a giant crystal clubhouse the very next episode.
- Memetic Loser: King Sombra. Losing twice in a row (although the first was on purpose) in the span of two episodes before being Killed Off for Real really didn't help with his already pitiful reputation among the fandom despite managing to conquer the Crystal Empire and Canterlot in the span of 5 minutes each when the protagonists are not involved. Even his Villainous Legacy of destroying the Tree of Harmony, the one thing that supposedly stuck in the end wound up being undone the very next episode, which practically reduced him to C-List Fodder. And to add insult to injury, the episode makes it abundantly clear that Discord only let him "beat" him so the Mane Six would have the opportunity to stop him themselves and would have otherwise curb-stomped him, meaning he never even was a threat in this episode to begin with.
- Memetic Mutation: Equestria is currently enjoying its longest period of harmony in recent years.note
- Narm: Rarity yelling at King Sombra, "You leave Ponyville alone!" as if she's talking to a playground bully rather than an evil overlord.
- Older Than They Think: Twilight Sparkle succeeding Celestia as ruler of Equestria is something that was intended since Lauren Faust was planning out the series' route.
- Signature Scene: The Mane Six defeating King Sombra without the Elements.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Those who dislike King Sombra's new portrayal have criticized it as out-of-left-field Villain Decay after his distinct seriousness in "The Crystal Empire" and "The Cutie Re-Mark." It doesn't help that this also replaces his Character Development from the FIENDship Is Magic and Siege of the Crystal Empire comics, another controversial decision.
YMMV / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S9 E2 "The Beginning of the End – Part 2"