EPISODE REVIEW: Friendship is Magic: The Return of Harmony, Part Two

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Chaos, chocolate rain, and dancing bears? Oh my! Today we look at the conclusion of The Return of Harmony (we reviewed Part One last week.)

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Previously on My Little Pony... for only the second time (the other being part two of the original pilot) we get 'previously' clips instead of a cold open. For the last time we get the original title sequence; a new one will start with season two 'proper' next episode.

As we pick up the story, Discord, the "Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony" is enjoying watching the Mane Six fighting amongst themselves. Twilight calls foul because he took away the maze before they could get to the end and find the Elements of Harmony. Discord reminds her that he said they were going to be 'back where you began.' Twilight thinks that means Ponyville and she decides to return to her library to consult her book on the Elements. Meanwhile, Discord has turned Ponyville into "the Chaos Capitol of the World" and the ponies' journey home is hampered by roads of soap and stampedeing long-legged rabbits.

Arriving at Twilight's library/house, the other ponies grow increasingly desaturated, to the point that they're now gray. Twilight tries to get her reference book on the Elements, but the other ponies start playing keep-away with it, which ends in a full-on brawl. Finally, with Spike's help, she gets hold of it, and discovers the Elements of Harmony are hidden in the book.

Exasperated by what jerks her friends have become, she throws their Elements onto them (with Spike drafted to serve as "the new Rainbow Dash") and demands they follow her to confront Discord, so that they "don't ever have to talk to each other again." That appears to be motivation enough, but Discord is not impressed and their Elemental weapon fails to materialize.

The other ponies give up and storm off, Spike retreats to clean up the library, and Twilight finally starts to succumb to Discord's influence, turning straight to gray. Discord is triumphant and Twilight returns to her home, despondent. Upon arrival, she discovers Spike incapacitated from delivering a slew of letters from the Princess (via his fire breath transporter.) Twilight is confused, because they're all the letters she has sent to the Princess. Upon reading them, and thus reviewing her observations on friendship, she shakes off Discord's influence. Twilight decides that she has to fight for her friendships, and sets off. She finds Applejack on her farm, and uses her clipshow magic to remind AJ of who she really is. They repeat the process on Fluttershy, Rarity, Pinkie, and Rainbow Dash (the latter requiring an extended chase sequence.)

Restored to their fully pastel health/sanity, the Mane Six again confront Discord. They find him in his glory, presiding over dancing bears in tutus in an Alice in Wonderland landscape. Again, Discord is not impressed. But the restored ponies prove to be more than a match (after Pinkie gets a last drink of chocolate rain) and Discord is once again turned to stone. The Mane Six are given a Return of the Jedi hero's welcome in Canterlot.

The past two episodes cover much of the same territory as the original pilot, Friendship is Magic, so comparison is inevitable. On the plus side, Discord is a more engaging villain than Nightmare Moon was, and gets much more screen time. We also avoid the defeat means friendship cliche [WARNING: TVTROPES!] On the minus side, it feels a bit rushed, even as a two-parter. Fluttershy's and Rarity's restoration sequences in particular feel rushed, and inadvertently echo Men in Black's mindwipe sequences.

I liked that the Mane Six (well, Five at that point) got into a brawl that replicated/called back to the Cutie Mark Crusader fracas in the last episode. I felt that Twilight should have progressed to stage one Discord desaturation at that point, instead of going straight to grayscale later on.

I almost wish that Discord stayed on as a recurring villain. Flutterbitch, Shiftyjack et al. are very entertaining. That said, it was a relief to see, e.g., Fluttershy revert to type when attempting to tackle Dash.

Note that there's going to be a gap after this episode (why do channels insist on doing that?) of at least two weeks, so we'll presumably kick off the real season two in mid-October. Le sigh.

Brony notes: Derpy appears once, behind Twilight during the Return of the Jedi walk, at about the 21:00 mark (not counting commercials.) "Tom" (Rarity's boulder) joins the increasing pantheon of named inanimate objects, and has already attracted fan attention such as the above pairing with season one's Bloomberg (by Reddit's AdamBombTV.) Those wishing to keep up with the fandom should watch the streams/reposts with the commercials included. Just as "churros" caught on last week, "Winning, winning, winning!" is being referenced this week.

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You can watch Friendship is Magic Saturdays on The Hub's cable TV channel and on Hubworld.

You can tell Church why he's wrong at church@republibot.com

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