I intended to write this review last week after the premiere, but you know, school and stuff. Anyway, let’s talk about the premiere two-parter, “The Crystal Empire”, and last Saturday’s “Two Many Pinkie Pies”! In the former, the Mane Six have to help Shining Armor and Cadence save a city from an ancient curse, and Twilight faces an important test. In the latter, Pinkie Pie clones herself because she wants to be able to spend more time with her friends, but hijinks quite obviously ensue.
“The Crystal Empire” had big shoes to fill. Although the first season’s premiere episodes are denigrated as the worst of the series, Season Two had both the premiere with Discord and the finale with Queen Chrysalis and the Changelings, and I think this one suffered living up to it. For a series that has given us a lot of interesting and complex villains throughout the show, I found King Sombra frankly boring.
I also was a little annoyed by Twilight Sparkle’s characterization in this episode. She is an obsessive braniac, yes, but where her panickyness was funny and played for laughs in “Lesson Zero”, it sort of flattened her character in this one for me. (Although I was amused by her bad dream from Sombra’s magic door, because it seemed like a tribute to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where Hermione faces the boggart in her DADA final exams and it turns into Professor McGonagall, who tells Hermione she’s failed all her tests.)
I also thought that there were a lot of plot holes in the way Twi got to the Crystal Heart—I spent most of the end of the episode yelling at the screen “YOU CAN TELEPORT!” Why did she waste time running down that huge spiral ramp when she could have just poofed down? Why did she try to run up that other huge spiral ramp when she could have teleported to the top? She didn’t try to teleport until she was stuck and it was too late. And, mostly because we didn’t see her studying gravity magic earlier in the episode, the “Oh, let me just flip the gravity and slide down the other way!” thing seemed less like Twilight figuring out a tricky problem and more like an ass-pull on the parts of the writers.
Don’t get me wrong—I did enjoy the premiere. It had some great songs, fun action, funny scenes, and a lot of screentime for everypony. I liked that Twilight learned that saving people is more important than her pride, and I look forward to wherever the ‘next level of training’ business is going. It was nice to see Cadance and Shining Armor again, and I really love that Cadance is both the Princess who is basically in charge of love AND a badass. I just felt like this episode didn’t live up to the legacy of the two-parters before it.
Now. What can be said about “Too Many Pinkie Pies”?
Well, first of all, I hope you like Pinkie. This would have been a terrible episode for someone who thinks Pinkie is the worst pony. I thought this episode was pretty good, and pretty standard fare for a regular mid-season episode.
There were a lot of great fandom in-jokes in this episode, especially regarding Pinkie’s total disregard of how physics works. Even Rainbow Dash was baffled when Pinkie Pie somehow turned off gravity while falling into that pond, and I think the “I bet you can’t make a weirder face than this!” scene will live in infamy.
I did think, though, that this was a missed opportunity to bring back flat-haired depressed Pinkie from the first season (although that would have made it easy to pick out the real Pinkie, I guess). I also thought it was overkill to have the right book with the counterspell in a secret compartment hidden behind the regular books. I guess they put it there so it would make sense as to why Twilight hadn’t read it before, but I thought it was just unnecessary.
But that’s just my opinion, dear readers. What did you think about the return of MLP?