Thursday, 20 June 2019

Text Review Roundup: "The Last Crusade"

Time for today's TRR. Before going any further, I ought to mention that The Railfan Brony quite frequently refers to episodes of Thomas [the Tank Engine] and Friends. I haven't watched that show since the days when Ringo Starr was the narrator, so I never pick out those phrases to include here. If you do know Thomas, you might find it interesting to read TRB's reviews and note those passages yourself.

Anyway, "The Last Crusade" was generally well received, with only one featured reviewer actively disliking the ep – though in all fairness I must say that I know of at least three other people who were distinctly unimpressed. Two were Soge and Griffin, whose thoughts you can read in my review's comments, and a third is someone who as far as I know hasn't mentioned their view publicly and so will remain unnamed here.

Aunts Lofty and Holiday gained widespread praise and were often considered the best things in the episode. However, quite a few reviewers had reservations when it came to the portrayal of Scootaloo's parents. I was irritated by this more than some reviewers, which meant my overall assessment was a little more negative than the average, though still a long way from being damning.

Cuddlepug – very positive (graded A; "emotionally fraught [...] you'd be forgiven for shedding a tear or two [...] During Pride, [Scootaloo's aunts are] especially welcome. [...] You couldn't have asked for a more satisfying end to [the CMCs'] story.")

Dark Qiviut – very positive ("I love Last Crusade! Not my favorite of the series, but my favorite of the season thus far, and I argue (barely) the best of the season, too.")
Not a full review, for reasons outlined here

DrakeyC – positive ("cool they did it [Scoot's aunts] I very much appreciate the episode thoroughly disproves Scootabuse [...] stock CMC comical filly antics")

Dramamaster829 – broadly positive ("[The episode proves] how important [the CMCs'] friendship is to the show [Scoot's parents'] communication skills are lackluster [...] I think [Rainbow Dash] was just thrown in just for appearances [Scoot's aunts] were very engaging characters with awesome chemistry")

JDPrime22 – fairly positive (rated 8/10; Why [Scootaloo] didn't even mention [her parents] once over the past NINE SEASONS is beyond me [...] this message was fairly strong, her parents letting Scootaloo decide for herself [...] Oh, and Diamond Tiara exists again, remember her?")

Lightening McQueen – positive ("very good, but also emotional [...] helped me fully realise that there is nothing wrong with some people being gay, and it is fine to show gay couples in kids' media [...] happy with how everything worked out in the end")

Louder Yay – positive with substantial reservations (rated 3/5; "I'm not sure I can fully reconcile [this and "Parental Glideance"] I liked that little observation [about the CMC's cutie marks] As with one or two other Dubuc episodes, there's a slight lack of coherence to this one [but] the aunts have annoyed a whole bunch of people who needed to be annoyed, and that counts for something :D")

Mike Cartoon Pony – largely positive ("a swansong to the CMC [...] Snap Shutter and Mane Allgood are not presented in the most positive light [...] Holiday and Lofty are wonderful characters, absolute sweethearts [the second act is] mostly just pushing the plot on autopilot [...] has to settle for being "good" rather then the show masterpiece it might have been")

MLEEP Reviews – very positive (rated 9/10; "so great to finally meet Scootaloo's family at last [...] I absolutely love how it's Scootaloo's aunts that are the ones that help the CMC realize the solution to the conflict")

Present Perfect – positive ("I love how much personality they crammed into [Scootaloo's aunts] part of me wants to slam this episode for being nothing but “hey, kids!” moments [but the episode was] done tastefully and with style")

The Railfan Brony – negative (rated Terrible; "It's nice to see [Scoot] hype [her parents] up as cool [and her aunts are] very progressive in a kid's show [but the episode] very much goes for the "Status Quo is God" trope, which is one of the worst [and] the end result is really frustrating")

TheDragonWarlock – positive (rated 9/10; "may arguably be the best Cutie Mark Crusader episode [...] brings some nice closure [though] the way [her parents] try to get Scootaloo to come to terms with the big move is well...cold [...] It really is a great way to end the CMC though")


  1. Must feel odd for you being in the lower camp. Isn't it right Logan? XD

    1. Not really; it's not all that unusual. Actually, I was towards the back of the pack for "Student Counsel".

  2. That is a bit unexpected. This is one of very few times I have to agree with Railfan Brony, such as "Status Quo is God". I don't know if this ep will be the last CMC or not. If it is the conclusion of CMC's story arc, I have to say the writers lack balls in this ep. THis is the last season, what are they going to lose anyway? Just make a ground-breaking ending to say goodbye to the fandom, no need to play safe here. I hope this is NOT the last CMC episode.

    1. The one thing I fret about, and this may just be me, is that given what happened with "The Last Crusade", if we do get another CMC episode they might take the easy way out and have Scootaloo fly.

      That said, Sweetie Belle is the filly who needs a focus episode the most, given that the other two CMCs have now had one this season. So maybe she'll get one.

    2. The Cloptimist21 June 2019 at 13:10

      Conversely, I think this makes it *less* likely she'll fly. I have mixed feelings on that, in that I think there are strong arguments either way (it being a slap in the face for disabled kids, and also crass and needless after all this time, versus it being unnecessarily cruel to deny her her literal dream through eight and a half seasons, her cutie mark having a wing on it etc). But having one of the other longstanding unanswered questions wrap up with a decision to, effectively, "give Scootaloo a win for once" with a happy ending or two, to me actually makes the argument to have her finally fly as a valedictory moment for her character *less* convincing, and so now I hope it isn't ever directly addressed.

    3. The Cloptimist21 June 2019 at 13:17

      (Oh, and as you rightly say, it would be odd to have another Scootaloo episode instead of a Sweetie Belle one, and if she were to fly it surely would be the central plank of an episode.)

  3. It's amazing how much this episode's reputation seems to have changed. Before its official release, those who watched the leaks were largely raving about it. But once it came out proper, enough of a vocal discontent grew with the notion it presents regarding Scootaloo's parenthood, as well as some, like myself, who observed the writing was far more straight-faced then an episode like this deserved.
    Not to say the episode isn't still liked, for it is, but it's general reception has landed lower then anyone would have predicted based both on the concept and on how the fandom usually overpraises episodes with highly-awaited concepts to the extent that they don't properly inspect the content within.

    1. I think Scootaloo's aunts have a lot to do with that. Certainly, that was a bigger topic of conversation on Equestria Daily than her parents. Once we all saw the episode and realised how Scoot's parents were portrayed, doubts crept in for many of us.

      how the fandom usually overpraises episodes with highly-awaited concepts

      That's a fair point, and though some episodes come through it with flying colours ("The Perfect Pear" being an obvious example from the show's modern era) not all do. "Father Knows Beast", though it didn't quite do what it at first seemed, is one I'd say didn't live up to the hype.

    2. The Cloptimist21 June 2019 at 13:14

      I find Crusaders of the Lost Mark interesting in that regard, in that it was initially rapturously received and then met with a backlash through (to me) over correction against the initial overhyped reaction.

      For me it'll always be one of the best episodes in the show's history - I was already putting it near the top of the pile even when it was just The Diamond Tiara Redemption Musical - but I'd be interested to see where it eventually ends up in any kind of final fan survey once all the dust has settled. For sure I'd expect it to be well ahead of this one, awesome aunts notwithstanding.

    3. I still love "Crusaders of the Lost Mark", and I'm always happy to rewatch it. The fact that I really like its songs doesn't hurt. I should think it'll end up in my all-time top ten.

      Admittedly, in my case it's not a straightforward assessment, since it came out during a convention I was at, plus it was one of the few huge moments of recent seasons that wasn't spoiled, leaked or released early in another country.

    4. Well, you say "recent" seasons, but that was almost four years ago now, wasn't it? Sure it's not even in the era of "New Pony", going by the terms you use to split the show up.
      I too adore 'Crusaders of the Lost Mark' and while I'm not sure where it would rank in the show for me, it would defo be in the top 15 (and in a show that'll have 221 episodes, plus two specials, a Movie and an episode's worth of shorts, that's saying a lot).

      As for 'Father Knows Beast', was there any hype for that? I thought most found it obvious from the synopsis, let alone the screenshot, that it was a con, and unlike with this episode, there wasn't overhype from those who watched it's English airing in Australia almost a month before the US release - quite the opposite, word got out quickly that it was sub-par.
      By this point in the show I was experiencing stuff as it was new, so I'm pretty confident about all this. But feel free to correct me.

      As for final fan surveys once the dust has settled, while I wouldn't go as far as saying the bottom chunk of the list would be mostly Seasons 6-9, I am pretty confident that once the euphoria of the latest season passes by (most polls after a seasons has wrapped on the topic of best season have usually had the recent one winning), there will not be all that many around the top chunk. The 'Perfect Pear', 'The Saddle Row Review', 'Sounds of Silence'... almost nothing else leaps to mind as a shoe-in for the top tier (speaking in larger terms then one ghost's opinion, you understand). I'm sure episodes for early seasons would appear around the bottom (especially a lot of early Spike episodes - the fandom as a whole did not seem to like them at the time judging by my research, and to judge from how much Dragon Quest still gets ripped on, that hasn't changed all that much).
      Just my two cents on the matter.

    5. Well, you say "recent" seasons, but that was almost four years ago now, wasn't it?

      That did occur to me after a while, and I was going to come back and mention it. You got there first, though!

      As for 'Father Knows Beast', was there any hype for that?

      Possibly my impression was skewed by the fact that I know several very enthusiastic Spike fans. It wasn't major hype, I will happily concede.

      most polls after a seasons has wrapped on the topic of best season have usually had the recent one winning

      We may well have seen different sets of polls, but I'm not sure I agree there. S6 wasn't especially popular after its finale, and neither was S8.

      The 'Perfect Pear', 'The Saddle Row Review', 'Sounds of Silence'... almost nothing else leaps to mind as a shoe-in for the top tier

      I think "Frenemies" might well make it -- though it may depend to some extent on how that arc ends. Possibly "What Lies Beneath" as well.

    6. The Cloptimist22 June 2019 at 00:10

      Beyond the ones you mentioned, I'd definitely take bets on the s6 finale, No Second Prances, A Royal Problem, All Bottled Up, Stranger Than Fan Fiction and Parental Glideance all ranking well, based on the hype at the time and just a general gut feeling for how they seem to be regarded in retrospect now... but then I love all of those so I'm probably biased. Longer shots, Horse Play might do well just out of a fondness for the show being silly, and for seeing more Celestia; I can never get a bead on how popular Celestial Advice is but it would get my nod too. Also, the revisionism that retrospectively counts Best Gift Ever as an 'episode' therefore pushes it into my own personal top tier, um, tier, too, but that might also have the unintended side effect of lessening affection for A Hearth's Warming Tail, which I still also adore and which I'd otherwise have guessed would rank in the top half of the table.

      "And the reason is to be with your friends!"

      (Actually the run of early-mid s6 episodes from No Second Prances > Newbie Dash > A Hearth's Warming Tail > The Saddle Row Review might be my favourite successive block of 4 episodes in the entire history of the show, but I'm aware I'm likely far from representative. I like Spike At Your Service, for goodness' sake.)

      But as you alluded to, and I think I made a similar point talking about Going to Seed, the show has had such a long run now that the "middle of the pack" is 110th place - which not very long ago was something as, um, well-loved as Princess Spike - and there are plenty of good, solid, unspectacular episodes that will nonetheless turn up in that Second 111 along with the clunkers, just because there are now more than 110 better ones.

    7. Ah, 'Frenemies', yes. And I'll concede 'A Royal Problem' would have a good chance. When I say 'top tier', I'm talking no wider then top 25, bear in mind, so on average that's only just under 3 episodes per season. Every episode would have to fight hard to make itself in (the math changes a little, but not by much, if you consider two-parters as a single episode, which I admit most would, but gives them a leg-up, as it means those episodes have double the content to win fans over with).

      As for the polls thing, I said most, not all. I still remember, during my early days visiting Equestria Daily, that the poll on Best Season had Season 7 (the most recent one at the time) winning by a comfortable margin. Seasons 6 and 8 would be exceptions for sure, of course - the point I was making is that it's easy for viewers to be disposed to recent, new content, probably because the older stuff has been discussed to death. Logan once pointed out that 'Party of One', once a shoe-in for the show's top ten, barely cracked the top 60 in a poll on some UK Pony website not too long ago. I can think of no better proof then that.

      Not really related to the above, but I am reminded that I do sometimes see people who un-ironically feel the later seasons are the show's best, and that the early years' episodes' tones and style rubs them the wrong way quite a bit. I can't agree, but it is a good reminder that different people get different things out of content, and they shouldn't be judged too harshly for that in and of itself (a good similar example is how the animated Disney Alice in Wonderland is a bit cold and chilly and clearly not a character-focused narrative, but as a comedy and animation showcase, it's pretty stellar).

    8. The Cloptimist22 June 2019 at 14:40

      Something else that's interesting - of all the popular post-s5 episodes mentioned as possible contenders for top tier Acclaimed Classic status, almost none of them are centred on the Mane 6, whereas I'd argue almost all of the contenders from seasons 1-5 are.

  4. Myself and the three people you mentioned aside, that wasn't the only set of reservations I found reception-wise. I've read a particularly interesting review on DeviantArt by Scyphi that dug deeper than I did regarding Scootaloo's parents. Feel free to read at your own time:

    In addition, there were comments on the episode's wiki page that didn't speak very positively about the episode either. With those in mind, I was actually surprised that I wasn't the only one who felt something off about the episode when it was leaked. I guess it was kind of fortunate that the leak happened because if it hadn't... who knows what might have happened?

    Kinda unrelated, but I wrote up my reviews for the June episodes last month and scheduled them to be published the day that they officially air in English. I've done my review on Between Dark and Dawn, and there's a very high chance that I'm going to get a lot of people to disagree with what I have to say in regards to the episode. Just thought I'd give you all a heads up about it.