Saturday, 5 April 2014

Episode review: Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3

What in Equestria did I just watch?
This episode was strange. From three seasons, I thought I knew what to expect from a pony episode, and it definitely wasn't this. Crammed with jokes, excessively silly, yet still not without its depth. It's a completely different beast from anything else I've seen this season.

While watching, I thought the characterization came off as a little strange, but on reflection it seems to be one of the episode's strengths. Rainbow's fidgety personality is used here for some entertaining contrast with Twilight's overly-serious attitude, which leads to a lot of funny moments. Other characters have their own methods of trying to teach Rainbow, each of which fits very well with their personality and the knowledge that they can be assumed to have about the subject.

The writing is a bit strange. The tone is excessively silly, with an almost constant barrage of gags and a story that seems to border on skit-based. There is so much going on in this episode that the pacing of the episode is forced to be some of the most rapid in the history of the show. It's a rapid barrage of moments that doesn't let you up for air. The story races forward at a rate that causes plenty of excitement. There is a revelation about the Wonderbolts that is completely unexpected, which will surprise many viewers. 

Visuals are energetic and well-animated. If anything, there doesn't seem to be many things in this episode that can just sit still. That creates a sort of hyperactive feeling. There's a number of curious effects thrown in at points for certain effects, and they are effective. The voice acting also adds to that, with the actors clearly enjoying themselves. Musically, the score for this episode includes a hip-hop musical number. Surprisingly, though, it's rather well-made, with decent rhymes, good flow and a catchy beat. 

The ultimate lesson is something that many people can relate to, but it seems more like social commentary than a mere moral. With that, this episode is arguably one of the more ambitious ones. We generally don't expect the show to discuss something like that, but it just did. The ending is one that ultimately not only feels good, but makes a huge advancement in Rainbow's character arc. This is a big episode.

This episode feels very different from most others, but the comedy was more hit than miss, the themes were fantastic, and the pacing was constantly exciting. I didn't know what to make of it at first, but the more I think about it the more I find it's an excellent episode. At the same time, I don't think I'm hoping for more like this. Something like this is really different, and in mostly good ways, but I can't help but feel it's just a bit off somehow. However, I am predicting that it'll only grow on me. Maybe it'll be one of my favourite episodes of the season, maybe not. Who knows? I'll be back next week. 

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