Monday, 22 June 2015

Episode review: S5E10: "Princess Spike"

Spike doing a "Princess Spike" eye-flutter
Maybe that's Special Agent Not Actually Twist
After last week's general insanity, the 101st episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic returns to whatever passes for normality in Equestria. There's a new writer in Neal Dusedau, while the story itself is credited to Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller. It has to be said that the hit rate of episodes with multiple writing credits is not particularly good, and that neither is that of Spike episodes in general, but maybe "Princess Spike" will be an exception. We'll find out past the break.

The problem with Spike episodes seems often to be that, enjoyable supporting character as he is, the little dragon simply isn't a strong enough character to carry an episode on his own. There's just not enough for the writers to do with him, and that seems to be the problem this time round as well. This ep didn't actively repel me or anything, but it was another in the long line of Spikesodes that brought a "meh" reaction.

There was some enjoyable world-building in the Great Equestrian Pony Summit (GEPS), what with all the delegates from various parts of the world. I'm at a disadvantage to North American viewers in that I have no idea whether the "Whinnyapolis" delegate, say, has an accent that's a good approximation to our world's Minneapolis sound, but never mind. It was nice to see the odd crystal pony and griffon, but almost everyone was a pony.

Fancy Pants gets the mob together
Note Katie Cook's OC on the far right
The only Mane Sixer to be seen this time was Twilight, though she spent a good part of the episode snoring her head off after her exhausting summit preparations. As we saw in "Castle, Sweet Castle", tired!Twi is adorable, and the highlight this time came near the beginning, when she could only sleep properly after cuddling a pile of books close. Once she'd woken up properly later on, she (believably) instantly realised that Spike was up to something.

I thought it was a very good move to make Cadance the princess who had the most to do with Spike this time. We know the dragon has special status in the Crystal Empire, so it makes perfect sense for their ruler to be the one who takes him under her wing. She was clearly suspicious of Spike's motives, but perhaps because she doesn't know him quite as well as Twilight does, she didn't quite have Twi's ability (or confidence?) to call him out on it.

There were some little touches I wasn't that happy with: the chainsaw in particular seemed out of place, especially as there was no magical aura to be seen. (The drill didn't have this problem; after all, one appeared in "Sonic Rainboom" way back in S1!) I also felt Fancy Pants was slightly out of character in terms of his deviousness. On the other hand, it was fun to note Gustav Le Grand's cameo, and the OCs of IDW comic team Katie Cook and Andy Price.

Spike's "By Order of the Princess" picture
A nice callback to "A Dog and Pony Show"
As so often in Equestria, everything was sorted out almost at once when the wrongdoer confessed his "crimes". This is overly convenient of course, but we mustn't forget the target audience here! Still, let's not get carried away: this was indeed another in the long line of mediocre Spike episodes, and the wait goes on for a truly great one. I actually quite like Spike and would love to see one, but this wasn't really it.

Best quote: Twilight: "Just put the hay in the apple and eat the candle, hmm?"

  • Tired Twilight is absurdly cute
  • Some nice little world-building touches
  • Cadance's interactions with Spike
  • Good to see Canterlot for a while again
  • Yet another "Spike does something stupid" episode
  • Fancy Pants wasn't nearly as pleasant as last time round
  • That chainsaw just felt wrong for the setting
  • Why is the place filled with "dragon-sneeze trees" anyway?


  1. Easily the worst episode of season five so far. This episode did nothing for me.

    1. I think Twily saved it to some extent, but sadly it does seem that Spike episodes just never quite work.

    2. I don't think it's the worst episode of season 5 right that episode 22's out...

  2. The Whinnyapolis pony is a nod to the main character in the Coen Brothers movie Fargo. Most of the people in that film have what I'd consider to be a slightly overblown northern accent that is common in the region.

    This episode was like a cup of room temperature water to me. It didn't actively offend, but it wasn't at all enjoyable. At first, I was irritated that they went with 'Spike Get Out of Control And Does Something Stupid' once again, but really, that's their M.O. for most of the characters, actually. When they focus on any one character, that character tends to regress for the sake of progress at the end of the episode. I was okay with that in seasons one or two, but it's wearing a little thin these days. Luckily, the worst offender (Fluttershy) has really had great progress since Keep Calm and Flutter On, so that's satisfying, at least.

    I was also annoyed by the dragon sneeze trees. I mean, couldn't they just be flowering trees that he's allergic to? Why are they actually called dragon sneeze trees? It's the kind of thing that you need to have a more ridiculous episode to justify if you're just going to put it out there like that. I can think of a hundred reasons that they'd have dragon sneeze trees, but I shouldn't have to. I hate it when the only way to make elements of an episode work is by inventing headcanon for it.

    1. Aha. I have seen Fargo, but only once and it was years ago. That pony's accent reminded me a bit of the cows in one of the early S1 episodes ("Applebuck Season", I think) that someone or other suggested might be Canadian. I guess Montana works okay too, though.

      I hate it when the only way to make elements of an episode work is by inventing headcanon for it.

      On the plus side, it can (sometimes) lead to some great fanfics appearing. Whether this one will I don't know, since not many writers are good at Spike stories, but one can but hope.

  3. Heh heh. Montana. Sorry, but that's a Minnesota-style accent. I've never heard anyone from Montana with that kind of vocal flair. Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, etc. all kind of have the Kansas/Nebraska thing going on where their accents are really flat.

    And speaking of, how is it that a country the size of England can have like ten times the number of accents than the US. I mean, sure people were more segregated by in the day, but still. You guys have a crazy amount of them.

    1. We're just more interesting.

    2. I have no idea where I got "Montana" from. I mean, the damn city (the human one) is called Minneapolis. It's a bit of a clue as to what the relevant state might be! I think even I could probably tell the difference between those accents, though I doubt I could tell a Montana accent from an Idaho one.

      As for the other thing: English-speaking England is a lot older than English-speaking America. More time for accents to evolve!