Monday, 15 June 2015

Episode review: S5E09: "Larson!" "Slice of Life"

Vinyl and Octavia in the Wubmobile
Literally jumping the shark
Well then... 100 episodes! How would My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic celebrate this remarkable milestone? By handing the writing reins for "Slice of Life" to one M. A. Larson, that's how! Once that little fact had been announced, most fans were expecting something a bit out of the ordinary. And we got it. Oh, we got it all right. This will be a bit of a mess of a review, not because I'm pushed for time but because I still haven't quite processed everything that went on...

This sort of episode would be a complete disaster for the series if we got it every week. We've had other madcap episodes before, but "Pinkie Pride" (to pick a relatively recent example) was a lot closer in feel to the episodes that preceded it than this one was. However, as a one-off this was an utter triumph. Not flawless by any means, and I think that in one or two ways it could have been improved even for what it was, but certainly immensely entertaining.

The Mane Six battle the Bug-bear
"No, Pinkie, you can't throw it at the fourth wall!"
For a while, it looked as though this was just going to be a string of fan favourites (and fandom nods) mashed together in the most amusing way possible. "Special Agent Sweetie Drops" was probably the pick of these; ta-da! All those voice changes suddenly make sense! We had a brief CheeriMac shot, the return of the Twilicane, Amethyst Star's "Winter Wrap Up" callback and (perhaps less successfully) an extended scene with the Lebowski bowlers. Oh, and Vinyl is Octavia's housemate. With a Wubmobile. Natch.

As things turned out, the Mane Six did feature in this episode, but almost entirely in the background, fighting the "Bug-bear". (Whose resemblance to a panda was not in any way deliberate, no sir.) I was a little disappointed that Twilight and Rainbow spoke – it might have been nice if none of the six had said a word – but it didn't harm the episode's fun factor. I was also pleased to see Spike appear, interrupting the rather hilarious sisterly argument between Celestia and Luna.

Celestia and Luna at the wedding
Spike, demonstrating a reaction shared by few bronies
We also got Derpy. Lots and lots of Derpy. Or "Muffins", as she was listed in the end credits. It's a cute name, though I doubt many will use it. (Mind you, Larson apparently said at the MLP:MSP con that he originally had "Derpy" in the script but was told by Hasbro to change it to "Muffins" even there.) We also got a certain "Doctor" along with her, and their scenes actually worked well. I didn't like the Doc's annoying catchphrase, but otherwise it was fine. They even put him next to Rose in Cranky and Matilda's wedding crowd at the end!

Which is where this episode showed that it hadn't forgotten that, whatever YouTube may think, the power of heart is immensely important. The last few minutes of the episode could have come across as mawkish and overly mushy, but no. Mayor Mare's speech (clearly addressed at us) led up to Twilight's own little tribute to Ponyville, and I suspect most of us cheered along and – just maybe – even got a little teary-eyed ourselves. Though perhaps not too much, given the nearby presence in the hall of that there changeling!

Derpy and "Doctor"
"Want a jelly foal?"
It'll be interesting to see whether "Slice of Life" retains its appeal in a year or two's time, or whether it's so closely tied to this particular moment that it will have lost something when the show and the fandom have moved on. And in the longer term, when the fandom as we know it is no more, will it be worth watching for its own sake, or merely as a piece of nostalgia for what we once had? I'm starting to sound like Gummy here, so this is probably the place to sign off for this "review".

Best quote: Derpy: "Muffin?"

  • Joyous, ridiculous, absurd fun throughout...
  • ...yet kept the heart this show needs
  • Most of the backstories worked very well
  • Derpy/Muffins
  • Special Agent Sweetie Drops
  • Celestia and Luna bickering
  • Some lovely callbacks to the early days
  • The Doctor's irritating catchphrase
  • What, no lines for Twist?
  • Steven Magnet's section went on too long
★★★★... oh, what the hay, have that fifth ★


  1. A fantastic episode, and a great nod to the fans that have helped this amazing show keep running for this long. Season five has been pretty solid so far!

    1. It has -- lots of interest, and I still don't know where they're going with it. Fun!

  2. I agree :) and great review as always

  3. Larson has said at a previous con that he's tried to give Twist lines before, but Twist's voice actress has moved out of Vancouver and isn't available any more, so it seems that Twist sadly won't speak again unless they recast her VA.

    1. I wouldn't have a problem with recasting; Flutterguy has had more than one VA, after all. Besides, all they have to do is to make Twist Special Agent Sweetie Drops' super-intelligent child assistant (eg Penny in Inspector Gadget) -- and bingo! Instant explanation for changing voices. :P