Title: Bright Lights (Parts 1-2)
Summary: When a trio of Baby Ponies become enamored of a singer called Knight Shade, things take a turn for the worse when it becomes clear he’s just a front for an evil wizard bent on gaining power through magical means.
…whoa, déjà vu! Wasn’t I just here, recapping about a giant puppy? These back to back recaps are brutal.
Okay. Welcome, once again, to the masochistic recapping series where Dove and I rewatch My Little Pony and Friends cartoons and question our memories and choices, a lot. We’re only four episodes away from the halfway point of Season 1 (Dove gets the honor of recapping that episode, #25/50) which means we have hit BRIGHT LIGHTS.
(Sadly, no, it is not Bright Lights, Big City, which I could be watching right now. Alas. This also has MUCH LESS cocaine use then that movie, but the clothes in this could very easily be worn by any character in the film. Weird.)
Out of… well, the series as a whole, this four-parter is one of the ones I have concrete memories of. Mainly because of Knight Shade and the plot twist, which I’ll get into during the recap. Things in this episode clearly date it to mid-1980s (oh what a time to be alive!) bu they don’t hold up well. I was made in the 1980s and I’m not holding up well, either.
[Dove: I have more memories of this, because I’ve watched this one several times. Not deliberately. I misread our schedule and thought I was doing parts 1 and 2, I set them going just to remind myself which story this was, but got involved in coding something, and background-watched them. Then I realised what I’d done, and started over. Just in time I checked the schedule and realised that I was doing 3 and 4. But then my brain went: “Watch them again, so you can start parts 3 and 4 now.” So I did. But I didn’t start my half of the recap because life. Then I watched them again when bat made the draft page for her recap – I assumed she’d finished it, but she hadn’t. So I only watched part 1. I still haven’t retained much though.]
This will all eventually make sense, so, let’s just get to the recap.
Hark, the title song is playing once again. *lies on the floor, gaze vacant, drooling*
We open on a long panning shot of Dream Valley, which takes us past Paradise Estate (which is now on a plateau of some sort, wtf) and continues on until we see the top shell (roof?) of the Baby Bonnet School of Dance.
Yes. This was an actual play set for the G1 Ponies. (BUY OUR MERCH) I’m about 98% sure I never owned it. I think my friend Paula did; one of my friends did. I thought it was fugly as sin, to be perfectly honest. It had little “stages” you could set a baby pony on and rotate them, to pretend they were “dancing”. Look, for all of five seconds in my life, I wanted to be a ballerina. I went to a couple ballet class sessions when I was ~5 but as soon as I watched the skinny long-haired blonde girl in front of me I realized chubby, short-haired blonde me wasn’t ever going to be accepted in the ballet world so I quit. I can still manage the five basic positions from memory (only God knows why) and I can still (sort of) demi-plié but my knees will not forgive me for attempting a grand plié a few years ago. I fucking swear all this matters to the story, because there will be dancing involved! (Although the Ponies do not perform ballet. At least I don’t think so?) [Dove: I actually did own the Baby Bonnet School of Dance, and the pink handle came off twice. It was the playset equivalent of the Flutter Ponies. Thankfully, my mother is a pro at taking stuff back, but by the third time, just like the Flutter Ponies, we gave up and realised it was a design flaw. I’m not sure if the ponies do ballet, but they do a dance routine in the movie.]
ANYWAY. Stupid play set.
There’s a large crowd sitting on split logs in front of the BBSoD, which looks barely like the play set, beyond the bonnet shell. Although the sign spells his name “Night Shade”, there is debate whether it is “Night” or “Knight”. I will be going with Knight for the duration of my half of the recap.
Knight Shade and the Shadowettes are performing. This is where I point out that the writers/designers totally stole Adam Ant’s look for Knight Shade, with a pinch of Robert Smith of The Cure for good measure. Toned down, of course, for small children. Ironic, since Adam Ant’s Goodie Two Shoes had been a hit four years prior but that wave went for a long time, if I remember correctly. All I know is I thought Adam Ant’s look was fucking hot when first saw it as a child. (I have a serious soft spot for all New Wave music.)
We zoom in on Knight Shade and his band. I can only liken it to Adam Ant/Prince/Bowie/Robert Smith in looks, the band’s costumes/makeup. Knight Shade sings in a high voice, not exactly a falsetto, but very Michael Jackson-like. The way the band is set up on stage reminds me of the Stray Cats. Geez, way to mash all this up so you look cool, writers. [Dove: Also, the lyrics are terrible. The writers went the way of “here’s a song explaining that I’m a talking pony”, despite the fact he’s singing to talking ponies.]
Out in the crowd, which doesn’t move because 90% of it is a background painting, Baby Ponies Lofty, Heartthrob and Half-Note (WHO CAME WITH THE PLAY SET) (BUY OUR FUCKING MERCH) have been accompanied to the concert by Megan, Molly, and Lickety-Split. Ugh. Baby Heartthrob is jumping up and down so much Megan tells her to knock it off.
Baby Heartthrob screams for Knight Shade, who’s still singing away, while Lickety-Split bitches she can neither hear nor see the concert. Huh, she’s been struck deaf and blind? If only.
Megan tells Lickety-Split she’ll handle it, then yells at Baby Heartthrob again to sit down and be quiet. Of course it doesn’t work. What the fuck, Megan? Seriously? [Dove: But isn’t it satisfying when Megan looks at Lickety-Split and just shrugs? Like, “Usually everyone does what I tell them to. I’ve literally got nothing else in my arsenal.”]
Meanwhile, Knight Shade is telling the Ponies to “do the Moonwalk”. Wow. So dated. Lickety-Split, unhappy with Megan’s poor attempt at parenting, knocks Megan’s ice cream cone into the air, which lands with a splat all over Baby Heartthrob. Lickety-Split laughs and says “I guess that cooled her down!” How fucking awful these Ponies are to each other. Seriously. They are the Mean Girls. [Dove: I guess that explains why Lickety-Split’s baby is such an entitled brat in the movie. These ponies – and the humans – are the worst.]
Also, where did all the background audience go? Continuity is already dead and we’re barely 10 mins into the episode.
We transition to the concert apparently being over (??) and Lickety-Split bitching she wasted a “perfectly good” ice cream cone on Baby Heartthrob. Um, what? This is what Lickety-Split complains about? These Ponies have one-track minds. Baby Heartthrob decides to get another ice cream cone for Lickety-Split (yes, please reward your tormentor!) The other baby Ponies want to go, too.
“But I promised your mothers I’d bring you right back!” Megan whines. OKAY WAIT. SO WE’RE FINALLY ACKNOWLEDGING THE PONIES ARE MOTHERS. Wow, will wonders never cease? [Dove: There is no adult Half-Note. Ponder that for a moment.] [bat: There’s another thing to discuss on a potential podcast.]
Molly tells Megan to step off, so Megan checks her giant wrist watch and tells the baby Ponies to “come right back!” Fuck. Like yes, let the Baby Ponies wander off to find ice cream BEHIND THE BBSoD because THAT’S TOTALLY WHERE THE CONCESSION STANDS ARE. And what’s with the incredibly jerky and poorly animated sequence of the Baby Ponies walking away? Good grief.
Behind the BBSoD, an anthropomorphic zebra dude (who looks like he dressed part of himself in 1972 and the rest of himself in 1985) is leaning on a truck and bossing roadies around. I think he’s wearing mom jeans? Wow. What a combo.
He looks over and sees the three Baby Ponies round the back of the BBSoD and immediately is interested. STRANGER DANGER, KIDDIES. Also, WHO THE FUCK DIDN’T STOP THREE BABY PONIES FROM GOING INTO AN AREA THEY OBVIOUSLY DO NOT BELONG?? WHERE’S SECURITY?? [Dove: His voice sounds like Gladmane’s from FiM. Or, I guess if we’re going to be accurate, Gladmane sounds like him. Or to be completely accurate, both are doing an Elvis impersonation.]
Because plot says so, they walk right up to creepy zebra dude, who says hello. Baby Heartthrob giggles (oh my god, she IS that one chick at concerts, ugh!) He introduces himself as Zeb (real original) and asks their names. WHICH THEY, OF COURSE, GIVE HIM. Ugh. Megan you are a fucking failure. The Baby Ponies bat their lashes and act real coy and now I’m like OH MY GOD SERIOUSLY WHO WROTE THIS because I’ve hung out post-concerts at loading docks and backstage gates and WATCHED THIS EXACT SAME THING PLAY OUT OVER AND OVER.
This is disturbingly creepy. [Dove: I came up with a dozen responses here, all far too flippant, so I’ll just go with: yes, yes it is.]
“Are you workin’ show??” Baby Heartthrob asks, her head dipped and body language super coy. OH MY GOD.
Zeb informs her “not really”, that he’s Knight Shade’s “personal manager” and the Baby Ponies squeal Knight Shade’s name. “My my, you must be fans.” THANKS, CAPTAIN OBVIOUS. Zeb offers to introduce three underage children to the singer. We see his trailer, with his name painted as KNIGHT SHADE (see. I was right.) Knight Shade is saying it’s a pleasure to meet three underage children (??!) while Baby Half-Note wants to know if they can come back and see him again tomorrow. I don’t have children and this is creeping me out.
Knight Shade shakes his head and says the band is decamping right away to the next town. If I remember this… no, wait, that would be considered a spoiler. The Baby Ponies whine and want to know why they have to leave. “We have to play in a village called Rosedale,” Knight Shade explains rather sketchily, as Zeb leans into the frame and gives him a look. SUSPICIOUS MUCH?
Zeb intercedes, suggesting Knight Shade give their “new friends” a tour of the camp ground. WHAT THE FUCK. What parent watched this in 1986 and THOUGHT THIS WAS OKAY?? Zeb says he can’t come along, he has “business” to attend to (and literally winks at Knight Shade) and Knight Shade agrees, saying they won’t take long. And I think he winks back at Zeb but the animation is terrible, so who can tell. [Dove: Also, why do the baby ponies need a tour? IT’S THEIR FUCKING HOME.]
Back in front of the BBSoD, Molly is tapping her foot and Megan is checking her huge wrist watch. It looks like Magic Star has joined them?? Why?? Megan announces they’re going to have to go get the Baby Ponies and tells the rest to wait there. How did we go from one adult Pony being with them to… a group of them?? CONTINUITY. WHAT IT IS.
In the trailer, Zeb is counting stacks of gold coins, which seems hard when you have hooves and not fingers. A knock comes on the door, so he stashes them and gets up to answer. It’s everyone’s favorite white girl savior, Megan. She doesn’t introduce herself, she just kicks right in. “We’re looking for three baby Ponies,” raising her arms and holding her hands apart in a bad pseudo measurement of their size. [Dove: WHERE IS HER WATCH?] [bat: That sounds like a Nancy Drew Mystery!]
Zeb admits to having seen the Baby Ponies (killing his alibi) but then lies and says he sent them home to their mothers. “You did?? OH GOOD! Thanks for your help!” MEGAN YOU TWAT YOU BOUGHT THAT LIE?? OH SO HELP ME, I DIDN’T THINK IT POSSIBLE BUT MEGAN GOT MORE STUPID. She and Molly take off and apparently cannot hear Zeb’s super creepy chuckling.
Suddenly Molly and Megan are back in front of the BBSoD, where Lickety-Split has been joined by Buttons and Shady but Magic Star has disappeared. NONE OF WHICH ARE THE MOTHERS OF SAID BABY PONIES THAT ARE CURRENTLY IN JEOPARDY. [Dove: Especially because Half Note doesn’t have a mother.] [bat: Hey, come to think of it, neither does Baby Tiddily-Winks.] Megan announces the babies have gone back to Paradise Estate. “What?! Where’s my ice cream cone!?” Lickety-Split snaps. Wow. Now I remember why I ended up hating Lickety-Split so much.
“Let’s go make sure the Babies got home alright.” Megan announces and the group troops off to Paradise Estate. FAIL. SO. MUCH. FUCKING. FAIL!
Meanwhile, the trio of Baby Ponies and Knight Shade return to his trailer, where Zeb is chillin’. He asks if they like the setup, then proceeds to inquire if they have any musical talent. WHAT IS THIS, DREAM VALLEY’S GOT TALENT: BABY PONY EDITION???
Baby Heartthrob immediately informs Zeb she totally does have talent and wants to be a backup singer for Knight Shade (I am ignoring the not-cute baby talk and reframing the answer with clear and concise sentence structure. Dove and I have had it with that bullshit.) Behind her, Baby Half-Note and Baby Lofty giggle.
“No kidding!” Zeb is a fucking super creep. Knight Shade says he’s flattered. That’s when the claws come out and Baby Half-Note says she sings better then Baby HT (I have finally given up typing hyphenated names out. Took me longer this time.) then she promptly stands on her back legs and twirls around, singing “Do-Re-Me” until Baby Lofty pushes her down then hovers around singing the rest of the musical scales.
Knight Shade imparts TEAM WORK and gets the Baby Ponies to sing together in harmony. Which, of course, they do, complete with creepy, jerky head motions. Kill me. Please.
Pleased with their performance, Zeb tells them to make up their minds quickly because the tour has to move on. Well, duh, of course the Baby Ponies agree! Complete with screaming and squealing. THEY’RE UNSUPERVISED CHILDREN.
At Paradise Estate, Megan and Molly have discovered no, the Baby Ponies DID NOT return home, because they’re not in the Estate and not in the Lullabye Nursery (BUY OUR MERCH) but OH NOES THEIR MOTHERS JUST WALKED UP AND WE HAVE TO TELL THEM WE LET THEIR DAUGHTERS GO GET ICE CREAM UNSUPERVISED!
Instead of explaining the situation, Megan just tells Lofty and Heartthrob that “THE BABIES ARE GONE.” Like, what the actual fuck. And where’s Baby HN’s mom? Huh? Heartthrob immediately panics and screams but Lofty tells her to take it easy (??) before turning on Megan and Molly and yelling something about “you lost them at the concert??”
“LET ME EXPLAIN!” Megan cries, shaking her head like an automaton. But she doesn’t, because it fades to them returning to the scene of the crime. By the time they arrive, the BBSoD is empty, or at least the area behind it is. All I see is a big blue rock. And the animators have helpfully added some blowing leaves and white lines that are supposed to be wind, to indicate the area has been abandoned. Sure.
“Where are our babies!?” Heartthrob is real upset. This is a shock for me.
“DO YOU THINK THEY WERE KIDNAPPED BY KNIGHT SHADE?” Megan, you fucking failure of a human being, who let the baby Ponies go off by themselves, and are wholly responsible for every lapse in judgement and responsibility. That’s exactly what she says to the Baby Ponies’ mothers. My god.
“That monster!” Lofty screams. “I’m going to go after him right now!”
“NO LOFTY!” Megan stops her. “We’ll have a better chance of finding them if we go back to Paradise Estate and organize search parties.”
OH. MY. FUCKING. GOD. WHO. FUCKING. WROTE. THIS.
I hope they were fired and never worked in animation ever again. Because this is a terrible message to send to kids and incompetent parents. I know there’s no police force in Dream Valley, but my god, after all of Megan’s fuckups, you’d think the Ponies would KNOW BETTER then to let her tell them what to do, especially after she fucking lost three of their children!
Nope. They go right back to Paradise Estate and Megan tells more of the adults “The baby ponies are missing but we’re going to find them!” Doesn’t take ANY responsibility for this fucking mess. Megan immediately starts delegating, telling Lofty she can lead the main search party and Whizzer can “carry messages”. She sends Galaxy with Lofty’s party and commandeers Fizzy to come with her and I assume Molly. [Dove: I used to just hate Megan because she was a Mary Sue, but by now I have legitimate reasons to hate her. She’s such an awful person.]
I am seriously irrationally angry with this cartoon right now.
But who cares, because Knight Shade’s tour has set up in the new town (WHAT IS TIME) and they have a big fake yellow circus tent to perform in. There’s all kinds of weirdly drawn trucks outside and what looks like a ghost moving on the tent wall, but no, it’s the Baby Ponies, performing on a cramped stage inside a tent that’s been drawn by someone who’s A) never seen/been inside a circus tent and B) has zero knowledge of PROPORTIONS.
OF COURSE IT’S TIME FOR A FUCKING SONG. [Dove: Oh, hey, another person videoing their TV. Awesome.]
While the Baby Ponies sing and perform, lit by a fuck ton of spotlights, Zeb opens a bag that’s hidden behind the low wall of the seating platform. Inside the bag is a huge stick shift lever and some dials and whatever the fuck else the animators thought would convey its purpose (which is evil, duh) and Zeb soon turns it on. A magical, sparkling green gas flows out and, totally unseen by the Baby Ponies EVEN THOUGH IT’S RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM, surrounds their shadows on the wall of the tent. Shortly thereafter, the Baby Ponies’ shadows are sucked into the green gas and disappear. This is like Peter Pan and his shadow, only way shittier. And there’s no soap to reattach it with. (Will anybody get that reference?) [Dove: Loads of people. It’s the joy of a nostalgia site. We’re all around the same age.]
After their shadows are stolen, the Baby Ponies begin to tire easily and their eyes are half-masked, which is supposed to convey what to children? That your shadows are sources of energy? WTF?
We see the three shadows sucked into Zeb’s magic suitcase as the Baby Ponies finish their song. He and Knight Shade examine the contents and boy is Zeb excited about their catch. At this point, the Baby Ponies are literally laying on the stage, they’re so tired. They’re panting and gasping for air as Knight Shade tells them they were great but they should take a break.
(At this point, I will state I remember shadows being stolen but not the why, which is frustrating. It’s probably stupid and simple but that memory is lost to me.)
Baby HF falls off the stage and crash lands in the dirt. She says she feels dizzy, when Knight Shade rushes over to check on her. From Zeb’s reaction, it’s clear Knight Shade is being just as manipulated by the zebra con-man, although with the ambiguity the animators have thrown in, it would be hard to tell this for certain.
The Baby Ponies wander off to take a nap (where?) and stop in front of mirrors, examining their reflections and seeing they look sick. One says “pale!” and the other says, “GROSS!” (I was so hoping they wouldn’t have reflections or would have fading out of existence, so I could yell “BABY LOFTY, YOU GODDAMN SINGING VAMPIRE PONY! YOU WAIT TILL YOUR MOTHER FINDS OUT!” but that ended up coming out way more awkward and very uncool then it sounded in my head. SIGH.) (Also, PALE IS NOT GROSS, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE WRITERS.)
Outside the tent, Baby Lofty announces she’s too sick to fly, then starts to hover. (??!) That’s when Baby HF screams “your shadow!” as, clearly, Baby Lofty casts zero shadow below her. Although, I have to ask: HOW THE FUCK DOES TIME WORK IN DREAM VALLEY? IS IT THE NEXT DAY? BECAUSE THE SUN HAS TO CHANGE POSITION IN THE SKY AT SOME POINT! IS IT SUDDENLY HIGH NOON?
Then it becomes clear, or if it didn’t, Baby HF screams and whines that ALL SHADOWS GONE. Which isn’t remotely true because SOMEONE painted in the shadow under that trailer and under the edge of the circus tent. SO HA, LIAR.
Back to the White Savior and her search party. They have entered a town. Something I wasn’t sure existed in Dream Valley, but here we are. The buildings are all the same color of an orange-ish yellow and I guess it’s on purpose because this is Munsterville. As in Munster cheese. And it’s fucking populated by giant anthropomorphic mice/rats. Uh huh. For no reason, they are greeted by the Mayor, Cam M Bert. (The t is silent. It’s supposed to sound like Cam M. Bear.)
I ASKED YOU TO KILL ME AND NO ONE DID SO NOW I HAVE TO SIT THOUGH CHEESY PUNS. DAMN IT.
some a lot of questions. How far is Paradise Estate from Munsterville? How come the Ponies have never yet before encountered these anthropomorphic rats/mice persons? Did they know they existed before randomly showing up in their town? How are inter-species relations? Good? Bad?
Oh shit, spoke too soon.
Megan immediately tells the Mayor (without fucking introducing herself, how rude) that they’re looking for a musician named Knight Shade. Nothing about three missing Baby Ponies, or how Megan is a giant irresponsible fuck up. Nope. The Mayor mutters to himself before making a small gesture for Megan, Molly, and the Ponies to follow him. Which they do, no questions asked. IDIOTS.
The Mayor leads them up a weird set of steps to what the audience can clearly see is a GIANT FUCKING MOUSE TRAP. It’s not shocking that Megan, Molly, or the Ponies do not question the metal spring that’s clearly visible or the level with the red handle.
Telling them it’s possible the villagers of Munsterville have seen and/or know of the musician Knight Shade, the Mayor steps over the spring and announces that they’re NOT GOING TO FIND OUT before pulling the lever and springing the trap.
The bar immediately comes down on the Ponies, Megan, and Molly, and somehow they all end up on their backs, even though they were clearly standing in such a way that this is FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE. [Dove: In theory, we should be looking at some snapped spines here.]
Also: if you’ve ever seen a mousetrap work, you know that this should have fucking killed all of the Ponies and the two humans near-instantly. I wonder how many awkward conversations were had after children attempted to crush their Pony toys in mousetraps.
Amazingly, Heartthrob has enough breath left in her body and her rib cage hasn’t been crushed so badly that she’s able to scream and ask Lofty how will they ever find their babies now?!
A magic wipe and we’re back at the fairgrounds (??) where the three Baby Ponies are staring at the ground, trying to find their shadows. Uh huh. Knight Shade and Zeb walk out of the tent, Knight Shade inquires what’s wrong. (Bad idea, dude.) The Baby Ponies are crying but none of their mouths are moving, they’re heads are bobbing and oh my god who failed to animate this scene properly? Also, did Baby Lofty have a sudden growth spurt? She’s huge!
Uhhhhhgggggg. Once again subjected to baby talk (kill me) where Baby Lofty answers that they know Knight Shade and Zeb stole their shadows, sickened and tricked them, and are not their friends. She demands their shadows back. Okay, good for Baby Lofty having a spine and being angry.
Of course, Baby Heartthrob is a fucking buzzkill and defends Knight Shade, saying he’s not a thief. Someone’s blind to their abuser. Knight Shade stammers a bit but Zeb just laughs his creepy laugh and says the Baby Ponies are joking about their stolen shadows.
So the Baby Ponies try to run away back to Paradise Estate. Um. They also suddenly are missing their cutie marks, did Zeb steal those too? (BLANK FLANKS!)
They don’t get far because a giant anthropomorphic rat with a ginger mohawk comes out from behind one of the trailers and blocks them. Another giant rat, this one with a ginger pompadour and sunglasses comes in to block them from behind. Geez, guess what, I have a GIANT SUSPICION that the villagers of Munsterville are IN ON THIS BULLSHIT.
Somehow the Baby Ponies get free (??) but just as they bolt for an exit, YET ANOTHER GINGER-HAIRED RAT appears. (This is insulting to gingers, of which I am one.)
OH GOD ANOTHER NET! WHAT THE FUCK! THE WRITERS HAVE A SERIOUS NET FETISH! [Dove: I’d say more of an addiction. They went through a brief phase where they used cages. I think they were going cold turkey. And it didn’t take.]
Huh. Instead of showing the Baby Ponies poorly trapped in a net, the screen goes black and we smash cut to them in a cage with bars that are the proper width apart to keep them contained. Will wonders never cease?? Tw of the rats guards them, as the Baby Ponies sob, and the screen properly fades to black…
One of the depressing aspects of this being split into parts is I have to sit through the intro/theme YET AGAIN.
Please kill me. [Dove: bat, try thinking of it this way: for every theme you have to sit through (32 seconds at the start, 55 seconds at the end), that’s time you’re not recapping. It helps.]
We pick up where we left off, only less crying. (Actually, the only crying is from me, from having to sit through the theme song again.) Baby Lofty, Baby HN, and Baby HT are in the cage, their heads partially stuck through the bars, which are spaced at an appropriate width, in which to keep the prisoners inside the cage. I guess someone spoke to the artists about “accuracy” and its importance.
Baby HT is wailing about never seeing the other Ponies again but Baby Lofty holds out hope (while her eye color changes from blue to magenta, wtf) saying maybe someponies are looking for them.
Speaking of, we move back to Megan, Molly, and the adult Ponies, who are now in some kind of trap but are no longer on their backs? WTF, I give up. Heartthrob wails about seeing her baby again (like mother like daughter?) but Megan tells her to “save her breath” (wow, compassion much?) Molly whines that they didn’t do anything to deserve this horrendous treatment (while her arms magically disappear for a frame and none of her limbs align properly, a pretty major issue!) [Dove: Looking at the screen cap below, my first thought is: “Cool, they’re on a roller coaster.” My second is: “Why is Molly’s middle invisible?”]
Suddenly Mayor Cam M Bert (ugh, how many more cheese-related jokes will I have to sit through this time?) is yelling about how two white girls and the Ponies have done everything but then changes that to everything being Knight Shade’s fault. (??) The Mayor literally says: “We don’t know what’s wrong but we’re not going to let you do that to the rest of us!”
I…I-I have so many comparisons I could make about this statement and they’re all overwhelming my brain at the moment. Basically, this boils down to instead of investigating to figure out the truth, we’re going to burn the suspected witches!
Or, snap them in an oversized mouse trap, I guess. (Do the writers/animators not know how mouse traps work?)
Megan yells back that Knight Shade isn’t their friend, just as some Munsterville residents wander into the frame, all wearing what look like knock-off pseudo Germanic costume. Megan continues to yell, saying LOOK AT THE SICK CHILDREN (How does she know they’re A: children and B: that they’re sick??) AND SHE KNOWS WHAT’S WRONG THEY’RE MISSING THEIR SHADOWS!
Plot. Plot is why. There is no other explanation how Megan solved this fucking mystery so fast.
“That’s the reason they’re sick, Knight Shade must have stolen their shadows!” Megan surmises. Okay, is shadow stealing a COMMON OCCURRENCE in Dream Valley?? Like, I am stumped. I guess I’m going to have to chalk this up to a “magic exists” plot device, ala “Pony Magic is in their Manes” and the fact that Unicorns can only do one magic trick based on their names/cutie marks. Whatever. THERE ARE NO DEFINED RULES FOR THIS UNIVERSE.
[Dove: Galaxy says “that makes sense”. No, Galaxy, it doesn’t. The plot told you to say that.]
Galaxy, who for a frame looks like someone in a fake horse costume (wtf) continues to surmise saying that someone with a stolen shadow would feel “empty and incomplete” (HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS??) because the loss of their shadows is an outward sign of some “loss of substance”!
Is this just a fancy way of saying Knight Shade and Zeb are STEALING SOULS???
Lofty makes a tearful plea for the Mayor to free them, to save the Baby Ponies from the same fate as the rat children. The Mayor considers it, the Ponies cheer, but the Mayor adds that they have to take him and Sheriff Ricotta (oh my god stop) along with them so they can get past the rats’ nasty cousins: the… what? I can’t understand the Mayor.
From what I can find online, someone thinks it’s “the Roudies”. I’m going to guess it’s “the Rudies” or “the Roadies” or some combo of that, and take it to mean all the ginger-haired rats working for Zeb and Knight Shade. I can’t think of a cheese by that name…
Over in what appears to be a trailer or a train box car, the iron bars at one end, the Baby Ponies are all sobbing and Baby HT insists that “nobody coming to save us!” I guess she assumes that since it’s dark now. At least Baby Lofty and Baby HN are still holding out hope, Baby HN suggesting they sing. (No, please. Don’t.)
Well, they don’t sing, they just sob. Ugh. [Dove: How could you tell the difference?]
Across the camp grounds, a string of poorly drawn shapes sneak through the camp and hide under a large tractor trailer. Megan is wondering where the Baby Ponies are being kept. Somehow (PLOT SAYS SO) they hear the Baby Ponies sobbing and instantly know which trailer they’re being held captive in. Making a break for it, they run right over and enter the trailer, where Lofty does her impression of G4 Applejack and kicks the lock with her back legs, snapping it off.
Gee. Did any of the other Ponies ever stop and think of this tactic before? I mean, granted, before hand the bars were always spaced so far apart they could walk through them.
Oh my god. Megan is “so glad” they found the Baby Ponies but “you’re so pale!” OH MY GOD STOP PALE SHAMING, MEGAN. I RESENT THAT. [Dove: Also, it’s not like Megan is the Princess of Pigmentation. She couldn’t be any more white, could she? Fuck off, Megan.]
The Baby Ponies inform Megan that they’re sick because of their missing shadows. Now, I have to ask, since Galaxy made the pointed statement about shadows being a physical representation of missing substance: does this mean the Baby Ponies have lost their souls??
My, my, what an idea for a fan fiction piece. (No, I will not be writing it. Just tossing that out there for others to pick up.) [Dove: Pleeeeeease? We could do some kind of Lost Boys/vampire thing with it? Come on, bat. Let’s play!] [bat: …didn’t somebody already do that? I mean, I know it was G4 and yes, you sent me the link, Dove, but G1 Ponies? David would be so pissed off all the time he’d just slaughter them all to teach Megan a lesson.]
Megan declares that Knight Shade will be stopped and their shadows will be returned. Molly, standing on a conveniently placed trunk, sees Knight Shade headed to his trailer. Lofty leads the charge and yet again we’re subjected to poorly drawn “shadows” creeping across a camp ground and no one notices. PLOT SAYS SO.
Sneaking up to Knight Shade’s trailer, Megan & co. peer into the window to find Zeb and Knight Shade sitting in front of a large oval mirror with round light bulbs ringing the frame. In the mirror there’s a dark… I’m not sure if that’s a cloud or fog or what.
One of the Ponies says that the “looking glass” could use a good cleaning, sounding EVER SO MUCH LIKE RARITY. You hear it too, right, Dove? [Dove: I do. Rarity is probably my favourite of the Mane 6 – a spot she shares with Pinkie.] The smoke/fog/whatever disappears, Zeb closes his magic case, and leaves the trailer — FAILING TO NOTICE THE LARGE COLLECTION OF HUMANS, PONIES, AND TWO RATS STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO IT — leaving Knight Shade to be surprised when a huge rescue/revenge party storms into his trailer.
Heartthrob and Lofty threaten Knight Shade, followed by the Mayor and Sheriff rats adding their own threats. Knight Shade, backed into a corner and visibly sweating, turns around and kicks both rats into the group of Ponies and humans. Then Megan and the Ponies are running out of the trailer, saying they have to catch Knight Shade. Um, HE WAS NEVER SEEN LEAVING THE TRAILER. FAIL.
Knight Shade is bolting across the camp ground with Lofty and Heartthrob flying overhead, hot on his trail. Lofty points out a rope laying on the ground. There is no sequence shown on HOW those two Pegasi picked that rope up, but suddenly it is twisting and tying itself around Knight Shade, who falls to the ground, as Lofty and Heartthrob swoop in with one end of the rope each in their mouths. WHO CARES ABOUT CONTINUITY!
Because PLOT (oh my god, that’s the theme for this part, isn’t it) Knight Shade has been trussed up tighter than a mummy. He falls down at Megan and Molly’s feet, surrounded by the Ponies and the rats. Immediately he starts… well, it sounds like panting, because how wouldn’t his chest be constricted by the ropes? But then it morphs into crying, followed by sobbing. Everyone just cries in this episode. Even me because I have to watch it and write about it.
Knight Shade cries that he didn’t want to steal shadows, resulting in Megan getting up in his face and yelling at him, wanting to know why he did. Knight Shade names Arabus as the villain. Say what? Apparently Arabus is a “wizard” who looks like a “big grey storm cloud”. (It sounds like one of the writers was really fucking drunk and thought, “HEY let’s take Gandalf the Grey, make him evil but ALSO pretend he’s a big fucking CLOUD that eats shadows!”) Megan deduces that’s what they saw in the mirror. Uh huh.
Apparently the mirror is how Arabus communicates with Knight Shade. Uh huh. Didn’t we just have magic two-way mirror conversations two episodes ago? Here, I will just summarize this, because it’s way too fucking long and drawn out: Arabus sends orders for more shadows, which give him power, through a mirror, using Knight Shade as the bait/cover man, while Zeb steals the shadows using that “satchel”. (THAT IS NOT A SATCHEL, HAVE THE WRITERS EVER SEEN AN ACTUAL SATCHEL??)
That’s when Megan realizes they LET ZEB GET AWAY WITH THE SATCHEL FULL OF SHADOWS.
AND THAT’S WHEN WE GET A FUCKING FLASHBACK.
We see a large town that looks suspiciously like a European village, complete with clock tower, known as Bright Valley. But now it’s called Gray Vale. I wonder why. Knight Shade was a hack singer who couldn’t fill a theatre (with ponies that are wearing human clothing? wtf?) [Dove: And in one shot, proportioned like real horses, rather than cartoon ponies. It doesn’t last for longer than a couple of frames.] so he was about to give up on his singing career when Arabus shows up with Zeb in tow. I don’t know how to describe Arabus. I’m literally at a loss for words. It’s like a faceless gray humanoid, with three-fingered hands, but there’s only a giant pair of lips showing under the hood. Ugh.
Anyway, Arabus promises to make Knight Shade famous, for “cooperation” in return. CLEARLY KNIGHT SHADE IS CLUELESS AND NAIVE. The first concert Arabus “promotes” is a “smash”. “Everyone in town was there!” That’s when we see a particularly older female horse, with a big pink heart around her neck. Everyone’s cheering and it literally looks like Knight Shade is singing to a Senior Night Event. (wtf) But while Knight Shade sings, Zeb opens his SATCHEL and steals everyone’s shadow. WAH WAH.
INCLUDING THE SHADOW OF KNIGHT SHADE’S MOTHER.
Immediately everyone in the audience is incredibly aged and sickly looking. Knight Shade, upon seeing this and realizing what’s happened, threatens to quit. But Arabus (and Zeb) threaten to steal Knight Shade’s shadow and laugh at him. And now Arabus has a face? WTF?? So the stolen shadows give Arabus power to change shape into a large cloud. I’m sorry, this almost sounds like a stolen Care Bears plot line.
But however shadows = magic energy, Knight Shade doesn’t know how that works. We’re treated to a huge cloud-shaped Arabus floating over Gray Vale, looking like fucking Thanos, as ordinary coloured horses run away.
OKAY. HOW DO THE LITTLE PONIES NOT KNOW ABOUT REGULAR HORSES LIVING IN A DIFFERENT PART OF DREAM VALLEY?? LIKE CLEARLY THEY DON’T HAVE MAGIC BUT THEY TALK AND WEAR HUMAN-STYLE CLOTHING. I would kill for a show bible, you have no idea. [Dove: I personally feel like every writer made the same request. And it was denied. Hard.]
Anyway, Knight Shade is ordered to hit the road and take his act all over Dream Valley, with Zeb accompanying him and stealing all the attendees’ shadows. Which, in turn, makes Arabus more and more powerful. If Knight Shade doesn’t help, his shadow will be stolen and his career ended. Horrors.
At least, at the end of the flashback, Knight Shade admits that if he turns against Arabus he won’t be able to restore Gray Vale to Bright Valley and, oh yeah, get his mother’s
soul shadow back. I guess those are noble intentions… [Dove: No. Not for me. He could, theoretically, empty the world of souls before he figures out how to get the shadows back. It’s not as if he’s doing anything about it. He’s just going along with Arabus’ plan and hoping the answer will fall into his lap (thank god for Megan, I guess). Fuck off, Knight Shade. Fall on your fucking sword.]
BACK TO REALITY. And what the… where did Gusty come from?? WHY IS SHE STANDING OVER KNIGHT SHADE?? WHO WAS IN CHARGE OF CONTINUITY?? [Dove: I had exactly the same reaction. Although Gusty is always a win. She’s the only win in this series… well, maybe Whizzer too. I don’t like the toy, but she’s the only other pony with any character.]
Finished with his tale of woe and failing to accept his responsibility in this mess, Baby Heartthrob steps up and loudly whine/begs for Megan and all to let Knight Shade go. Lofty consults with Heartthrob, who says Knight Shade had no choice (??) and immediately unties him without waiting for anyone else’s input.
Freed, Knight Shade (sobbing) walks up to the trio of Baby Ponies (also sobbing) and thanks Baby HT. He tells them they’re lucky they have someone who cares about them. (THEY LET THEM GO TO THE CONCERT WITH MEGAN, WHO LOST THEM!) He continues on that he has a wonderful mother who has to live with the “terrible shame” of what Knight Shade has done.
Wow, took a real deep, dark turn there. [Dove: Is this storyline just a metaphor for all the sexual assualt and molestation that goes on in the entertainment industry?] [bat: Holy crap I think you called it, Dove.]
LITERALLY EVERYPONY IS WAILING AND SOBBING OH MY GOD STOP IT
Megan announces she thinks they should help Knight Shade. Molly immediately questions this notion, unsure they can fight Arabus. (Molly, the unlikely voice of reason!) Megan insists they must, because that’s the only way to get the Baby Ponies’ shadows back. UM, HOW ABOUT ALL THE HUNDREDS OF OTHERS’ SHADOWS THAT HAVE BEEN STOLEN, MEGAN.
Not that I didn’t before, but, man, I really hate Megan. [Dove: New tag: WE HATE MEGAN.] [bat: LOVE IT.]
Rat Mayor yells that this includes their “children’s shadows” (I am still more than weirded out by the rats being called children, when they were the same size as their parents and gave no indication of being remotely children) and wait a minute, why is the rat next to him not the sheriff anymore? Why is it a skinny rat in lederhosen? WHO DIDN’T PAY ATTENTION?? THE SAME ANIMATOR WHO PUT GUSTY IN A SCENE WHEN SHE WASN’T EVEN IN THIS EPISODE??
Knight Shade adds in his mother’s shadow and the rest of Gray Vale’s. Like, I think he meant the citizens of Gray Vale but whatever. Megan orders Knight Shade to “show them the way” to Gray Vale. Everyone else starts cheering (??) and Gusty turns into Galaxy and that skinny rat is still in place of Sheriff Ricotta. I give up.
TIME AND DISTANCE MEAN NOTHING as we’re suddenly in Gray Vale. It’s run down and broken, although there is a giant cross on that one building. Huh. The clock tower is missing. And yet again we have poorly drawn shadows creeping across the street. Lord.
Megan asks where everybody is and Knight Shade answers they must be in hiding. Dude looks so stoned. Instead of “bad guy POV”, we get a scruffy looking horse who appears in front of a window, who hisses “Knight Shade!”
Suddenly, and without explanation, Knight Shade, Megan, and Molly, and the rest are crossing a stone bridge over a river. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?? From under it appears a blond male horse, who grumbles “Knight Shade!” Please look at the screencap to the left and explain to me how he is wearing an outfit with a bow and a white collar that is a fraction of a shade different than his body color. Like, is it some sort of pony leisure suit? So confused. [Dove: Why do these ponies look like cartoon shire horses, when Knight Shade, who is from there, does not? Nopony has a cutie mark/symbol in this town. I’m guessing this had some kind of inspiration in Starlight Glimmer’s town?] [bat: Maybe we stumbled on a real deep Easter Egg the FiM series writers thought no one would find.]
Now there’s some sort of broken iron fencing that looks like it belongs in a cemetery, where another wretched horse appears. Literally all of them keep saying Knight Shade’s name like it’s a curse. And this is starting to feel like a cross between Thriller and one of those Hammer Horror films involving Dracula. The horse under the bridge comes up the side of the bank but instead of, y’know, drawing a different horse, the animators just looped it so THE SAME DAMN HORSE RUNS UP THE BANK A DOZEN TIMES. WAY TO BE CHEAP.
Yet again, as is a common theme in this series, everyone is oblivious to being surrounded UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE. A loud whinny and everyone gasps, finally noticing the decrepit and sickly horses, some too sad, others too mad, filling the streets and blocking Megan, Knight Shade, Molly, and the rest of the Ponies from escaping.
A couple of them approach and tell Knight Shade he has a lot of nerve coming back to Gray Vale, and he’ll be “sorry” he did. Okay. I can see where that second pony’s growling, deep voice would possibly terrify small children watching this.
AS IF ON CUE, IT’S TIME FOR THE SECOND SONG OF THIS FOUR-PART EPISODE:
Please note, yet again, no one was doing their supervising job, and the goddamn rat with the Mayor is now tall and stout, and wearing a felt hat with a feather and green lederhosen. Also, there is much emphasis on Megan, Molly, and the rest having shadows. Just throwing that out there.
The angry townsfolk… townshorses?… townsponies?… [Dove: townsherd?] chase Knight Shade, Megan, Molly, the damn rats who keep changing appearance, and the Ponies through the town until they are trapped in what looks like a quarry. Which is a weird thing to have in a small town, but at this point, nothing makes sense. They vow to make Knight Shade “sorry”, as the camera zooms in to show Megan and Molly (whose faces are melted? wtf) as well as Knight Shade looking terrified. The rest of the Ponies just look angry. Remember Mr Potatohead’s “angry eyes”? That’s totally what it reminds me of.
FADE TO BLACK, CLIFFHANGER ENDING YET AGAIN.
[Dove: Also, I’m pretty sure the danger score they use has been used in Dungeons & Dragons. I could be wrong, but I feel sure I’ve heard it in something other than this, and I don’t watch a lot of 80s cartoons. I know they’ve used the (generic) teleport sound effect from D&D, so maybe that’s why I’m thinking this.]
God, that was terrible. Why did I give it a C-?
On the one hand, this seems to be one of those episodes that’s super dark at the core — stealing
souls shadows to fuel an evil wizard — that reminds me a lot of the initial MLP special “Escape From Midnight Castle” in terms of wow this bizarrely affected my childhood in some fashion. Although, honestly, EFMC was far more effective in terrorizing then “Bright Lights” was/is.
On the other? To go from an episode with a clear message at its heart — “Pony Puppy” — to one that’s rather ambivalent so far… I think it’s trying to be clear that standing up against evil is the “right thing to do” but we’re half way through and Knight Shade hasn’t done anything except cry about shit and Megan has fucked up everything (as usual) and the Ponies are still awful mothers…
For much as I remembered about Knight Shade and the shadow stealing, I totally forgot everything about Arabus and he just reminds me of the stupid villains in the Care Bears film. The second one. That’s in the book. Or is that the first film? Didn’t that thing turn into a spooky cloud, too? I think I can say that at least it’s not another “villain of the week” situation like the others have been, this has more layers, but still, the substance is lacking. Maybe they get into it deeper in the last two parts. We’ll find out together.
Until Dove recaps Parts 3 & 4 of “Bright Lights”, I wish you a very happy holiday and a merry new year . Thanks for sticking out this epic series of My Little Pony recaps with Dove and I during 2018. I can’t promise you that the episodes will get better but at least we’ll laugh (and cry) through them together.
See you in 2019!
[Dove: I’m going to be controversial and give this a B-. All of bat’s points have merit, but I feel like this episode is getting somewhere. So far we’ve had the movie, which did tell a story (unfortunately the story was “if your parents love you, you’ll get Paradise Estate for Christmas”), the ten-part Flutter Valley story, which was just painful. I swear, if it was further in the series, bat and I might have quit out of sheer frustration, but because it was at the start, we were wide-eyed, naïve and enthusiastic, so we stuck with it. All the other episodes since then have been meandering dirge, and we’ve been very harsh in our grading.
This episode seems to be moving along at a clip. There’s not much filler. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of nonsense and “just because” moments, but when you cast your mind back to Flutter Valley, where there were endless scenes of nothing happening, or Rainbow Caper, which was just pointless from beginning to end, there’s something a bit more going on here. Also, I’m really enjoying seeing Megan be useless. And bat’s reaction to it.
I may change my mind at the end of the episode. The next two could well eradicate all my good feeling towards this. But cross your fingers and wish for a Hearthswarming miracle.]