Thursday, 31 March 2016

Episode review: S6E01&02: "The Crystalling"

Sunburst and Starlight Glimmer
"Is that your hat? The one with WIZZARD on it?"
After a rather shorter hiatus than many of us believed we'd be stuck with this time around, Season Six of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic got under way last Saturday. (As mentioned last week, this review is late as I've been away.) New showrunner Josh Haber, who wrote the S5 finale, was also responsible for the S6 opener. It's fair to say that it produced quite a few talking points, so come with me past the break for a bit more.

Well... that happened. As anyone who saw the trailer would have known, the big event in the premiere was the introduction of Flurry Heart, the alicorn daughter of Cadance and Shining Armor. Unfortunately, she feels shoe-horned in for the sake of selling a new toy. Sure, the entire show is there to sell toys, but usually the creative team manage to accommodate Hasbro's wishes without it feeling awkward and clumsy. I don't think Haber quite managed it this time.

My other problem with this episode is more personal: it's just too much like "Baby Cakes" in some ways, and that's always been one of my least favourite episodes. I'm afraid I'm just not very excited at the thought of an entire opener (much less season) revolving around a baby. Flurry is cutely animated, yes, but her superpowers would have been more interesting if we hadn't seen something similar from the Cake foals in, yes, "Baby Cakes" back in S2.

Flurry Heart spreads her wings
"I was in Over Two Rainbows, you know"
Despite these significant downsides, not to mention Sunburst being chosen as Crystaller despite Cady and Shiny never having met the guy before, "The Crystalling" still has plenty to enjoy. Apart from that one thing, Sunburst turns out to be a much more interesting character than the pony we saw at the end of S5. He's a good foil to Starlight Glimmer (and, okay, "Starburst" is a fabulous ship name) and I wouldn't be surprised if we see more of him later in the seaason.

Talking of Starlight, she also has a good episode. I suspect that many fears about her role as Twilight's newly-reformed student of friendship will have been calmed by this premiere. Since it seems that we'll never see Sunset Shimmer in Friendship is Magic (all together now: boooo!), Starlight makes a solid alternative. She also has some very nice scenes with Spike — who himself enjoys one of his best episodes for ages, though he's rather easily led at times.

There are some really nice little touches in this episode, beyond Shining Armor's "exhausted dad" routine. My favourite is the use of a very Greek-looking vase as a prop for a history lesson: this is a perfect example of how to do Equestrian-style mythology. Some of the crystal ponies are fun, too, though I'm afraid I don't find Moustache!Pony more than faintly amusing. Fluttershy's little pat on the head for an exasperated Rainbow, though, is utterly adorable.

The ponies surround the shattered Crystal Heart
"Um... are you sure you wouldn't like Sombra back for a bit?"
Oh yes, and then there are Celestia and Luna, actually doing something for a change. Apparently more of their stuff was left on the cutting room floor (this seems to happen way too often), but at least we get some of it. And I'm happy for Celestia in particular, since Luna's had plenty of the spotlight in recent times. I still await my Celestia episode, and I really mean it when I say it'll be the series' biggest failure if we never get one, but I'll take this for now.

All in all, I feel "The Crystalling" is a reasonable start to the new season. Its basic premise meant that it was never likely to slot in as one of my all-time favourites, and indeed it doesn't — but I still vastly prefer it to "Baby Cakes". I'm reserving judgement on Josh Haber for now, but I think we'll get at least a solid season. Oh, and yes, I have seen the probably-changeling at the very end. All I'll say is: interesting...

Best quote: Spike (to Starlight): "It's almost like your whole future depends on this moment."

  • Starlight Glimmer's new role is off to a good start
  • Sunburst, for the most part
  • One of the better episodes Spike's had lately
  • Very good to see Celestia (especially) and Luna doing something significant
  • The "history vase" was a really nice touch
  • Flurry Heart just doesn't feel like an organic addition to the universe
  • Too many similarities to "Baby Cakes" for my liking
  • Sunburst being made Crystaller just like that seemed a bit much
  • The Crystal Heart doesn't seem very resilient for a vital artefact


  1. Nice write-up. Shame the 'Baby Cakes' aspect of the episode made it slightly less enjoyable for you, but at least you liked things for the most part. I've seen a few blind reactions already and they all seamed to really like it too.

    Hard to think the Crystal Empire wasn't visited in the whole of season 5, so it was nice to go back there and see the crystal ponies again. Those crystal fillies who were listening to Spike's stories were rather cute.

    I've just had a quick glimpse on the MLP wiki at the future episode titles that have been announed, and it's looking exciting! :)

    1. Thanks; it was written in a hurry thanks to my having less time than usual, so maybe that's the way to go! :P

      As I've said elsewhere, no episode of FiM has ever felt worthless to me. An average ep of this show is still enjoyable. Still, I've not quite made up my mind about Haber yet -- apart from the first 90% of the finale, the only ep of his I've really liked has been "Bloom & Gloom".

      Ah, I wondered whether you'd resist the temptation to look at the titles! I've read the synopses up to episode 7 -- except for 6, which doesn't seem to have one yet. Certainly a couple in there that should provoke interest!