Monday, 9 October 2017

Episode review: S7E22: "Once Upon a Zeppelin"

Shining Armor is airsick in the tiny boat
That was about my reaction too to that mask, Shiny
For what it's worth, I will now be sticking to the Discovery Family schedule for episode reviews as much as UK PonyCon allows. This week we had "Once Upon a Zeppelin", by a new writer to the show, Brittany Jo Flores. It really had been quite a while since we'd got a Twilight-focused episode where she didn't share the spotlight with Starlight (so many lights!), and I was interested to see what we'd get out of it.

The main thing we got out of it, as it turned out, was a tremendous amount of fun! I love episodes where I can just sit back and enjoy ponies doing entertaining things for 22 minutes, and this ticked that box almost as well as Twilight herself would have done. It had good characterisation, too, plus a refreshingly different canvas on which to paint the plot. And of course...

...the return of Iron Will! Considering the massive amount of leaks that FiM has endured this year, it's tremendously impressive that everyone was startled by the minotaur's reappearance. He did seem to be a slightly harsher character than he was in "Putting Your Hoof Down", and in certain ways more like Flim and Flam, but he fitted the story well enough that it didn't really cause any damage.

Iron Will looking happy and Twilight looking... less so
I turn shy little ponies into balls of rage!
Twilight's relations were all given something to do, and once I'd got used to Velvet's not-Tara-Strong voice they held my attention throughout. From Shining Armor's attempts to cover up his airsickness to Night Light's obsession with playing bingo, the results were usually at least amusing and sometimes hilarious. (See Flurry Heart's introduction to Equestria of Pony Stacking...)

Cadance played a notable role as the most thoughtful of the family, something explicitly linked in-story with her still newish status as a mother. She came into her own late on, when she provided the moral of the episode: you can't always please everyone else, sometimes you need to make some time for yourself too. It's similar to that of "A Health of Information" but still solid.

Twilight herself was a delight, though I did yearn to see her just once fire off a spell at Iron Will for the way he manhandled (minhandled?) a princess. Her growing despondency as she was forced to run more and more activities was tough to watch, and her tears at missing the Northern Stars were genuinely heart-wrenching. I just don't believe Twi'd say "astrological" when she meant "astronomical", though.

Twilight and her family aboard the zeppelin
The Inner Party, Airship One
Star Tracker, the winner of the contest to spend a day with Twilight, was a slightly odd character and yet another representation in the show of the over-the-top fan. It was nice that he was presented as just being starstruck rather than a slightly tiresome romantic crush angle, but I never found him all that interesting. Perhaps he was forgiven just slightly too quickly, but let's remember which show we're watching here.

A word now about the setting. We got an airship! These have been canon since... well, at least "Sweet and Elite", but it may even be longer than that. But this was the first time we spent an episode aboard one. We never really got to see how it worked (I guess those flippers were the propulsion unit) but the semi-confined space was beneficial to an episode like this.

The only real complaint I have about "Once Upon a Zeppelin" is that surely one of Twilight's family would have come to get her when the Northern Stars were due. Probably Cadance – it did feel slightly off that she didn't, given her level-headed manner for most of the running time. Nevertheless, this was about as good as filler gets, and it's definitely an episode that I enjoyed greatly.

Star Tracker getting too close to Twilight
Always going forward 'cause he can't find the reverse
Best quote: Iron Will: "On our route north, we will pass the spires of the Crystal Empire, where Princess Cadance rescued her alicorn baby, Spike, from a monster made of fire!"

  • A whole heap of fun to watch
  • Twilight being put through the emotional wringer
  • Iron Will's surprise return
  • Twilight's family, every one of them
  • We're on an airship!
  • It's not nice seeing Twi miserable
  • "Astrological"???


  1. I let "astrological" slide... it's a magical world after all. But yeah, seeing Twi cry (for a very good reason) really hurt!

    1. It didn't hurt the rating, though it was slightly irritating given the fact we've known Twi draws clear boundaries between science and superstition from as long ago as "Bridle Gossip" and her detailed astronomical observations in "Owl's Well...".

      I'm now trying to remember when I last saw Twilight that upset in the show. Maybe not since "Magical Mystery Cure".

  2. Over two years for another Twilight episode to the levels of Lesson Zero, Amending Fences and the various S2 to 5 premieres/finales (unless we count Top Bolt but... that wasn't a proper 100% pure Twilight episode).