Monday, 15 April 2013

Classic episode review: "Friendship is Magic, part 2" (S1E02)

The Mane Six use the Elements of Harmony
Bright eyes, burning like fire
Gosh, I bet this choice of episode was a surprise to you after last time. We left our heroes at the mercy of Nightmare Moon, and the series itself at the mercy of Lauren Faust. (Actually, at this point it was probably mostly at the mercy of Hasbro, so I suppose we're back where we started, but still...) I can't claim to have found that first episode to be a classic, even knowing what we do now, but if you'll be kind enough to come with me past the jump, we can assess episode 2 — and the story as a whole.

This time the adventure aspect of the tale is front and centre, since we don't have to spend time introducing characters. That's a little bit misleading, given the majority of the season's reliance on slice-of-life stories, but then Faust was originally hoping for a more adventure-centric show. It's sacrilege to say this, I know, but I'm not absolutely certain it would have been better than what we actually ended up with.

Rarity comforts Steven Magnet
The two Elements of Fabulosity bond
Still, this episode allows the Mane Six to strut (or trot) their funky stuff. Rarity gets two chances to shine: first, she kicks a manticore in the face you know, as you do — and later she does a good deed for the sea serpent the fandom has come to know (thanks to a dodgy YouTube caption!) as Steven Magnet. It's Fluttershy who actually sorts out the manticore, albeit through the rather unoriginal "thorn in paw" setup.

Applejack's main role is to tell Twilight to fall off a cliff. Okay, okay, I know AJ knew the pegasi would be waiting to catch Twi, but it's still amusing. Rainbow Dash is the pony who comes closest to breaking the fellowship — and not for the last time, either. It's rather a shame we haven't seen the Shadowbolts again, other than in Rainbow's Nightmare Night costume in "Luna Eclipsed". A Wonderbolts v Shadowbolts storyline could be very interesting.

Pinkie and Dash giggling at the ghostly
Which is more terrifying here: the tree or Pinkie's neck?
And then there's Pinkie Pie. She introduces something extremely important, though at this point we weren't to know: a party! song! It's apparently officially called "Laughter Song", but that's so dull that I'll stick with the more-used "Giggle at the Ghostly". It's quite a fun song, though nowhere near as good as some that come later. Quite who "Granny Pie" might be is still unknown: she doesn't sound like one of the rock farmers.

The climax of this episode is dramatic and exciting — though it has its flaws, most notably when Nightmare Moon just stands around and does nothing while Twilight rambles on about her friends representing the Elements of Harmony. The moment when the six Elements are finally used for the first time is wonderful, though not quite as wonderful as the moment when Twilight is told she can stay with her new friends in Ponyville.

Celestia and Luna are reunited
"Oh Luna, of course I'll make sure we're always the only alicorns in Equestria"
"Friendship is Magic, part 2" benefits noticeably from being able to spend its whole running time on the actual story, and I certainly consider it a rather better episode than its predecessor. All the Mane Six get their time in the sun, though Spike is marginalised. There's music, danger, comedy and emotion, all of which we'll see many times again. It helps to make the two-part pilot well worth seeing, though I can understand why some turn off before getting to E02.

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