Thursday, 2 May 2019

Text Review Roundup: "The Point of No Return"

Back to ordinary episodes this week, although this one was notable for being G. M. Berrow's final outing as a Friendship is Magic writer. One significant change to my roundup: for now at least, Dark Qiviut has been removed, as I don't feel there's much to go on with just a grade and no explanatory text. This is Text Review Roundup, after all! Happily, there's a newcomer in StarGiantProductions to balance this out.

The reviewers were widely spread this time around, although the average feeling was that it was a pleasant time-passer but not much more; this was where I ended up. Several were less forgiving, with one giving it their vote as the worst episode of the entire series, though that was an outlier. One little point of note is that many reviewers didn't mention Derpy's speaking appearance. It's not quite the novelty now it once was.

Cuddlepug – rather negative (graded C+; "a confusing moral and the episode doesn't seem to know what point it's trying to make.")

DrakeyC – positive ("overall very funny, lots of cute and funny faces from Twilight and a lot of good jokes [though] the story seemed a bit scattershot")

JDPrime22 – very positive (rated 10/10; "Twilight's reactions and anxiety were priceless, Spike is just so done with everything, and we get the return of Moondancer! I also loved the message")

Lightening McQueen – broadly positive ("Dusty Pages was [...] a good character, and the moral was pretty good [but] a few of the scenes were kind of predictable [and] the montages seemed overused")

Louder Yay – mildly positive (rated 3/5; "there wasn't really enough to fill 22 minutes [but] this was the sort of episode I can happily watch in the quieter parts of mid-season")

Mike Cartoon Pony – fairly positive ("a G. M. Berrow episode through and through [...] the episode is padded [but what] makes it largely enjoyable, is the low-key moments along the way.")

MLEEP Reviews – positive (rated 8.5/10; "not quite the full-on recycled rehash of Season 5's "Amending Fences" like I thought it would be, [but] still a great episode in showing how something that isn't perfect can still be something truly worthwhile")

Present Perfect – negative ("I'm just so tired of these episodes where something that never mattered before and never will matter again overtakes a pony's life.")

The Railfan Brony – spectacularly negative (rated Atrocious; "the absolute nadir of the writers ripping off older episodes when they don't have any ideas [...] officially earned the title of the worst ever episode in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.")

StarGiantProductions – mildly positive (rated 85/100; "This episode was nice. But nothing too special. It's more or less a filler episode.")

TheDragonWarlock – rather negative (rated 6.5/10; "feels like a sluggish bore [...] Stick to Amending Fences")


  1. Mm, I noticed the lack of Derpy-related excitement too.

    I was genuinely astonished when she spoke in Slice of Life, having discovered Derpygate was a thing, and having assumed her lack of voice would be a running gag for the rest of the show. Even after that, it felt like perhaps that was a deviation from the norm as a one-off treat for the fans, since she went almost 100 more episodes without speaking, even in scenes where a line or two would have been more natural than her apparently enforced silence.

    But then her speaking role in Best Gift Ever, though highly unexpected by me, was utterly adorable, arguably even my favourite scene in the whole special, and so personally it was much less of a surprise to find her talking again here - not just because so little time has elapsed since the last time, but also because this "fourth" Derpy voice just works so very well for the character. Ironic that they'd finally get it right (for me anyway!), just in time for us possibly never to hear her speak again.


    Anyway, my point (I think I had one somewhere) was that it might not have been much of a surprise, but I personally was still very happy when it happened all the same.

    1. Oh, and since that comment probably fit better on the review post rather than the review roundup post (I meant to say that maybe some reviewers felt the same way, happy to see her rather than surprised enough to note it), I'd add two more things: firstly, that The Railfan Brony's reaction seems like hyperbolic nonsense (I agree this episode had some flaws, even glaring ones, but I can't *fathom* finding it so offensively bad as to rank it 201/201!), and secondly, that it's great you do this! I've discovered some great reviewers this way, most notably Mike Cartoon Pony, so... thanks!

      I'll stop spamming your comment section now.

    2. The Railfan Brony often (though by no means always) has a distinctive slant on episodes. It's one of the reasons I make sure to include them here, actually -- it makes things more interesting. Sometimes I don't agree (as this week) but TRB's reviews are very rarely dull to read.

      I'll stop spamming your comment section now.

      Hey, that's what it's here for!

    3. On Derpy: the big deal at the time wasn't her speaking in "Slice of Life", it was her appearing at all in "Rainbow Falls", especially in a prominent role. At that point, she'd been barely seen since late S2, and there was some evidence that Hasbro were deliberately reducing her appearances to nothing from S3 onwards. "Rainbow Falls" isn't on many people's lists of best episodes, but it'll always get affection for that.

    4. The Cloptimist2 May 2019 at 11:38

      Re: TRB, oh, I definitely agree I'd prefer to read someone's strong opinions, even if they're outliers - especially so, in the case of an exercise like these roundups! - but I was just astounded someone would choose this one as the absolute worst of the worst. I wonder if that hot take will still hold in the cold light of day.

      On Derpy, that's interesting - maybe because I hadn't interacted with any bronies at the time, I honestly hadn't really noticed her disappearance post-Last Roundup until it was pointed out to me later, and so her return wasn't a big deal to me either. For me, hearing her speak again was the big surprise, I guess because I learned about Derpygate between seeing Rainbow Falls and Slice of Life for the first time. I hadn't thought about how people might have gone wild just to see her again.

    5. I think I'd probably have done better to say, "the big deal at the time wasn't so much her speaking in 'Slice of Life'..." -- since yes, the E100 thing did cause waves. However, I think the reaction to Derpy's appearance in "Rainbow Falls" was stronger, since nobody was really expecting to see her at all at that point.

    6. It's always good to have as wide a variety of opinions as possible. I often take delight in reading the opinions of people who watch and enjoy the show in a simpler, less-analytical light then myself. Not to say I can't enjoy them in that light myself - for I can, and do - I just lean to my animation-background style when writing both because it's how I like writing and because it helps me stand out.

      The only other thing I'll add is that, yes, very strong opinions either positive or negative rarely hold up; they're usually more a reflection of disappointment or euphoria then anything, and a reflection of the emotions one experienced on initial viewings then one's deeper thoughtful opinions. Not that they're lying or anything - just that their emotional response suppresses their analytical one to the point that don't even realise they may have a different opinion. Basic enough psychology when it comes to expectations and forming opinions.
      For instance, even without having rewatched it, I'm already suspecting my assessment of Sparkle's Seven as "one of the best post-Season 5 episodes" may have been marginally hyperbolic, at least for one who doesn't think the show went to heck with Season 6 (which I don't, for the record).

      Oh, Derpy? In a similar vein to The Cloptimist, binging most of the show meant the impact of Derpy's departure and subsequent return as Muffins barely had an effect at all on me (also, I binged the show before I started to poke around the fandom, so I was only vaguely aware of her revered status at the time). Heck, I've seen her speaking segments few enough times that I can't (without looking the clips up) sound out her different voices in my head, they all come across the same.
      Rainbow Falls has a mixed opinion? Any particular reason? Didn't strike me as one the fandom felt particular animosity towards, unless it's for Spitfire's continued mildly unappealing characterisation. Then again, I'm always finding out the rough consensus on older episodes isn't what I thought it was (do people love Bats! or hate it? Bugger if I know). Other then the obvious examples, many are often surprises to me even now, as many fans don't actively discuss old episodes they've discussed for year as much, so they're not easy to come across. Which is fair.

    7. Rainbow Falls has a mixed opinion? Any particular reason?

      Not really -- I'm not using "mixed" as a euphemism for "hated" here. Looking back at my own review, I quite enjoyed it but really disliked Fleetfoot (and to a lesser degree Spitfire). I'd put it in the "decent time-passer" category myself. S4 has a number of better episodes, but also worse ones.

  2. I can agree that this is the nadir of the writers reusing episode plots, but the worst in the series? Not by far. This was no exceptional sort of bad.

  3. "I'm just so tired of these episodes where something that never mattered before and never will matter again overtakes a pony's life."

    But... doesn't that happen just as often in the lives of many of the show's target demographic?

    1. ...Does that happen? c.c

      I'll admit it's been a few decades since I was in that demographic myself...

    2. Also see: A significant chunk of people during the early phases of the fandom.

    3. I mean, one doesn't realize at the time that these things will likely never matter again, but personally I do remember everything feeling more dramatic, more critical, when I was in my teen years. (And if I ever need a reminder what that felt like, I have only to crack open my Opendiary and early Livejournal posts.)

      And I don't think it was solely due to the pressure from my parents -- my understanding as I got older was that that's widely accepted as part and parcel of the teenage experience, and that years later we can all look back on it and laugh... but maybe it varies by culture?

    4. Eh, I was completely oblivious to everything before I was like, 26.

      Also, if you were a teenager in the last 20 years, your childhood was significantly different from mine. c.c;

    5. FWIW, I had a LiveJournal... but not until I was (at least nominally!) an adult. I'm part of the last generation to grow up before the internet and mobile phones were everyday facts of life.