Saturday, 10 May 2014

Episode review: Twilight's Kingdom

It's Magical Mystery Cure done right.

This is it. Now the best episode of not only the whole season, but the entire Friendship is Magic show. Not a single misstep. I mean, when Twilight said everything was gonna be just fine, she was damn right.

So, where to start. This is the most ambitious, gripping, straight-up EPIC episode of the entire show yet. Somehow, they upped the scale of The Crystal Empire, and that episode was already immense. There's so much in this episode, yet it all intertwines and works. The villain may be the most menacing yet. A less vague character than Sombra, but every bit as dangerous and evil. He nearly won, in fact, but it was friendship that saved the day-and that is, ultimately, relevant to the show's main theme.

Also, it's gorgeous. The visuals are brilliant. There's a consistent use of colours to convey mood. Threatening alleyways use shaded greys. Tirek's presence is in black and dark red. Rainbow colours abound for the power of friendship. A rainbow is a series of colours in perfect harmony, and that works perfectly for the Friendship is Magic motif.

The music is also great. Both musical numbers reach soaring heights, though not quite in the same way. You'll Play Your Part is a soaring piece of choral work, utilizing all of the princesses' voices to get beautiful results. Meanwhile, Let the Rainbow Remind You isn't the most interesting song in the show, but it's a very catchy, upbeat piece, with a congratulatory tone that is hard to resist.

Characterization for the mane six was mostly regular, with Twilight experiencing a decent identity crisis as one of the main conflicts. While this didn't give a huge amount of character development, it did work out something that's been an elephant in the room for a little bit now. We'll get to that later. Meanwhile, Discord had a huge leap in characterization. He fully accepts what friendship means to him, and the mane six make their own small jump in accepting him. Now, if this will allow Discord to keep being a prick will remain to be seen, but I'm excited to see what's next.

Twilight's role as a princess has become increasingly problematic since it occured in S3. Some people have noted that nothing really changes, and early spoilers about the finale raised questions about how Twilight's relationship with her friends will continue. The episode deals with all of that and dispels all fears. Twilight gets her box key in this episode, and in doing it reinforces her value. Speaking of which, the recurring motif in this season of reinforced element values becomes important here. Indeed, keeping spoiler-free, it becomes not only key to opening the box, but also to Twilight's own role.

This is an incredible episode. One of the best. Any fears I had about the show's direction are mostly dispelled, and what I'm left with is the MLP team topping itself yet again. I can't wait for season 5.

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