Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Episode review: S8E24: "Father Knows Beast"

Happy Twilight with Spike and  unsure-looking Sludge in a castle room containing many books
"Books! The answer is always books! Spike's real dad? A book!"
I have a rather nasty cold at the moment, so this is going to be another of my rather short reviews. Oh well, better to have the cold now than during a convention weekend. Maybe it's a sort of pre-emptive con crud! Back on-topic, the last Josh Haber episode was the fantastically fun "On the Road to Friendship", so I was hoping for something of a similar standard from "Father Knows Beast". In the event...

...that didn't quite happen. I had a sneaky liking for Sludge, the slobby dragon who posed as Spike's father in order to enjoy a cushy life in the castle. While I certainly can't approve of his emotional manipulation of Spike, he did seem to have a bit of the loveable rogue in him – rather like Flim and Flam do. That said, his interest as a character could probably only stretch to one episode; I don't really see any need for him to return and nor do I expect him to.

He did have a really good song, one which reminded me vaguely of "Blank Flanks Forever" back in S7, and not only because of the vaguely similar musical styles. The lyrics fitted better than they sometimes do with songs of this nature, and you could almost hear Daniel Ingram trying to pay homage to the likes of "Bare Necessities". Not that I'm suggesting it lived up to that, but it's achieved "gets stuck in Logan's head" status!

Starlight, still in her bath, is hurled out of the castle
Another ride for the Golden Horseshoe Gals to try...

Over on UK of Equestria, long-standing Spike fan Robshi pointed out several things I think are valid concerns. One is about the continuing mystery of Spike's egg: has Twilight really never thought to ask Celestia where it came from? Even if she doesn't know, we could at least be told that. Spike also seemed curiously uninterested in his "mother", who Sludge claimed had flown away – forever? – to look for a route for the dragon migration, something which passed right over Ponyville in "Dragon Quest".

Spike's interactions with Smolder were really good. I'm not much into shipping so I don't care for the suggestions that there's likely to be anything more between them, but this was an episode where Smolder's different perspectives on dragonness were used quite interestingly. Unlike Spike, she wasn't blinded to Sludge's general dodginess by the family angle, and it was Smolder who helped Spike to see through the older dragon's disguise.

One thing that's been controversial in some parts of the fandom has been Spike's "real parent" barb at Twilight, which – as we saw all too graphically – broke her heart. I don't really agree with those who think it was bad writing and something he would never say. Spike's winged status suggests that he is now a young teen, and it's hardly unheard of for humans that age to say some pretty mean things to their parents that would normally be wildly out of character.

Flashback/imagination of Spike's mother against a rocky backdrop
This is more convincing as Spike's mum than Sludge was as Spike's dad. Hmm...
There are quite a few things in "Father Knows Beast" that hark back to "Dragon Quest" in S2, and overall I think the newer episode is better, if not without some significant flaws of its own. It's not the strongest Spike episode this season – that's "Molt Down" – and it definitely has the feel of the series marking time while it waits for the finale to arrive. For a Josh Haber episode, it doesn't even have many memorable lines away from the song. All in all? Fairly good, I suppose.

Best quote: Sludge: "Spike... I'm your father" (slim pickings this week)

  • Some nice interplay between Spike and Smolder
  • A catchy, fun song
  • Nice Mane Six montage while they care for Sludge
  • A heart-warming ending
  • Sludge's ruse was transparent from early on
  • Some rehashing of "Dragon Quest"
  • Still no real answers about Spike's origins
  • Not many jokes, surprising for a Haber episode

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't even say the "real parent" line was out of character. Spike says dumb crap in his episodes all the time.