Monday, 14 August 2017

Episode review: S7E14: "Fame and Misfortune"

Ponies arguing about who the Best Pony is
Not having the internet, Equestrians have to live the EqD comments section
Aaaand we're back! Everyone's back on the same page as far as schedule is concerned, and we're returning with a bang in the shape of an episode written by none other than M. A. Larson. Well, sort of. Maybe. The man himself seems distinctly unhappy about being credited, though I do wonder how much of that is because of this episode and how much other experiences. As far as this blog is concerned, the name on the screen is the name that gets tagged, so Larson it is. Beyond the cut!

This is a tremendously entertaining episode, although not one I'd like to see become a template for too many others. We get a callback to S4's Friendship Journal – though sadly not to the Elements of Harmony – but the big talking point in the fandom has been the somewhat meta nature of the episode's plot, to an extent not seen since "Slice of Life" (by Larson). To put it more bluntly: "Are they talking about us?"

Yes. Yes, they are. I mean, when you get a character saying, "Twilight was better before she got wings!" and another attacking Fluttershy for repeatedly learning the same lesson, that ain't no accident. The latter scene gives Flutters a truly cheer-worthy comeback in which she points out (quite assertively) that most ponies don't just learn a lesson once and then become perfect at it. You tell 'em, 'Shy!

"New" members of the Apple Family in the orchard
Someone at UK PonyCon needs to cosplay as a Fake Apple Family Member :D
The Mane Six are celebrities, which easily explains why they're able to get their book on every shelf in Equestria without any sort of editing, pre-reading, etc. Rarity, rather surprisingly for a fashion designer though not for this fashion designer, seems the most unprepared of all of them to cope with criticism, which leads to... well, mostly it leads to a great scene where she wears "my emotions, darling".

We get our second song in two episodes, and it's one I think is reasonably catchy as these things go. It's not a brilliant song, though it has an excellent message and in any case its being flawless would be entirely inappropriate. (In fact, listen near the end and you can hear that even the in-universe singing isn't flawless!) This does mean we only have one song awaiting us in the last 12 eps, though.

There's a lot more here to enjoy: the CMC, the "Sweet Apple Admirers", a solid and satisfying role for Starlight Glimmer, Rarity's "Right away, pony who still likes me!", the more mature Rainbow Dash reacting to fame in a rather different way than she did in her Mare-Do-Well phase, and so on. But I really must spend a moment yaying at Toola Roola's introduction to G4. Yay!

Toola Roola as a G4 filly
#And Toola Roola will be fighting all day...#
"Fame and Misfortune" is imperfect, and as with the song that seems appropriate. For a start, where's Spike? Is even that a commentary on how some of we fans tend to forget about him? The episode ends rather awkwardly, without a proper resolution. The World's Greatest Book Nerd doesn't seem to take much care of the original Friendship Journal, though better that than the "mint, never read" attitude of certain others!

On the whole, though, I think it has many more highs than lows. I don't see it as being mean-spirited, any more than I did the convention scenes in the opening act of "Stranger Than Fan Fiction". I hope Larson isn't partly avoiding talking about this because he's worried he might be seen as attacking the fans, because I don't think this episode does that. I think it's a one-off (like "STFF") that just has some fun, and that's fine by me.

Best quote: Applejack: "I'm popular and I don't like it one bit!"

Yays
  • Immensely amusing almost throughout
  • Jabs at a lot of targets that frankly could do with being jabbed
  • Starlight's role feels natural and appropriate
  • Fluttershy is excellent in her small role
  • The song has a solid message
Neighs
  • The episode is a bit unstructured in places
  • That song isn't among the classics
  • What did happen to Spike?
★★★★

6 comments:

  1. This episode is like a middle-finger to my face and i licked it in the most lewd ways that i could think of *lick lick lick*
    I love this episode for several reason:
    - I love meta humor in any series
    - I like Starlight supportive act in this episode, i thought she would use magics to shut those people up or sth, but no, she bring two fillies who appreciate mane 6's lesson to make them happy.
    - Songs are not solutions, what i dont like about 'A Time'
    - This episode ended with bitter sweet ending, and bitter sweet ending always the best end to me.
    - I take the lesson of this ep, i dont dismiss it and take it as offensive

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    1. Yeah, Starlight had a really good episode. :)

      I like meta humour in this show, as long as it's kept minimal. If the show did it every episode, I'd get bored very fast.

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  2. On Second viewing, I have mellowed on the episode, I dont think it was as harsh as I first did, but I still think it is a bit. (the last line "what are we going to do about THEM still rankles me) but on the 3/4's I liked it
    + Starlight glimmer (I want a copy of that manifesto)
    + the putdown of fluttershys lessons
    + Fluttershys excellent reply
    + I could Gif the whole eppisode
    + Twilight invents book piracy (and then sells loads of books!)
    + The song (was like a friendship lesson, how It should have been)

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    1. The last line is not flawless. I'd love to believe that was also deliberate! :D

      I suspect we've actually seen the manifesto – I think it's that book full of equals signs that Pinkie was reading while the Mane Six were being brainwashed.

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  3. I laughed so hard at Rarity's "My emotions!" that I had to run the video back to catch what I missed!

    I did not start off liking Starlight as a good guy, but she's grown on me, and this episode really made her shine!

    Also; Toola Roola Rules! Now we just need Minty and Grogar and I can die happy.

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    1. We've had a mention of Grogar this season, in the story Spike told in the Flurry Heart episode. I have been wondering whether that was a bit of gentle foreshadowing.

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