Title: Bright Lights (Parts 3-4)
Summary: A pony called Knight Shade, who is not based on The Symbol Formerly Known As Prince at all, has enticed the baby ponies to become his groupies (just keep pushing past the squick), and his manager Zeb has stolen their shadows for Arabus, a giant cloud monster. Megan is functionally useless and WE HATE HER. Our intrepid heroes have gone back to Grayvale (Knight Shade’s home town) to… do something… but of course, Grayvale are going to burn them as witches, because Knight Shade helped STEAL THEIR SHADOWS. So… things are kinda tense.
Oh, and there’s some mice/rates which punny cheese names that nearly gave bat a migraine. Let’s not talk about them.
In other news, I rated this as B- and bat gave it a C-. So read to the end to see if we stuck to our grades.
I will refer to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as FiM, to save typing it all the time.
I have an uncomfortable feeling that this is a metaphor for sexual assault in the entertainment industry. So, it’s very awkward that Knight Shade is forgiven for his enabling of all this.
I actually enjoyed the previous two episodes – more than bat, definitely – so I’m hopeful that this will continue to be an adventurous romp. I like the dark subject matter – especially when bat pointed out that one interpretation of Galaxy’s assessment of the situation is that the shadows represent the ponies’ souls.
[bat: I had zero intention of actually watching the episodes, but now that Dove’s made the connection to the super dark suggestion that this plot is a semi-expose on the abuses of the music business, I totally just put them on. So help me, I want to see how this ends.]
As the townsherd (that’s a thing. I’m making “fetch” happen) surround our heroes and things look dire, a pony appears on the cliff above and tells them not to burn the witches. It’s Knight Shade’s mother. She hugs him and says he’s her son, and no matter what he let adult males do to baby girls, she will always love him. Everyone is moved to tears over this, and all is forgiven, the townsherd mosey off, their bloodlust completely chilled by mom’s acceptance. [bat: THESE EPISODES ARE ALL JUST CRYING. MAKE IT STOP. Also, is it just me or does Knight Shade’s mother totally look like one of those cheap Chinese knock-off ponies you find in toy aisles of like grocery stores and the like? And how has she got so much pull among the Gray Vale community that she can tell them to stop chasing her son and they do??] [Dove: bat’s nailed it. The GV ponies look like Lanard fakies.]
Knight Shade is shocked to death that they hate him. Mom tells him that he hasn’t earned their trust. Y’know, what with him letting their shadows get stolen, just so he could have a breakaway pop hit. Oh, and Arabus took their “courage and spirit”. My feeling? That’s why they couldn’t be bothered to kill him. [bat: Face it. Stolen
souls shadows is going to require a lot of therapy and counseling. Some are not going to get over it.]
Knight Shade says “Not for long, he doesn’t!” which barely makes sense, but I don’t know why I’m hoping it would. [bat: If only Knight Shade had started talking about himself in the third person.]
We cut to Arabus laughing his head off at a mirror showing the choppily-animated ponies approaching. Zeb suggests they “roll out the red carpet and give them a welcome they’ll never forget.” What? No net? No cage? What the fuck am I watching? Those ponies have walked past many a tree that could easily hold a net.
Arabus then breaks out into a cheery/folky song about shadows for his satchel. I know that you can juxtapose evil intent with cheery words/music, but only when you have talent. This is just shit. Especially since most of the lyrics are “ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom-ba-boom-ba-boom”. [bat: Also, how does Zeb know about humans? Does the whole of Dream Valley know about humans??]
They meet the ponies outside, and Knight Shade announces that he’s good now [bat: Sure, Justin Bieber], and done with letting Arabus steal shadows. Arabus – who sounds like Iron Will from FiM – doesn’t like that idea, and blows a gust of wind that knocks them all backwards. Molly, Megan and Knight Shade land in a fountain for no reason at all, other than we have to have our quota of PONY + WATER = LOLZ.
Zeb steps out from behind a tree (which may or may not hold a net or a cage, probably both, even if they’re not needed in this episode), and says it’s time for them to pay.
Knight Shade headbutts Zeb, and the satchel goes flying. What follows next is a minute or two of faffing. Imagine two clumsy toddlers who can’t work out of they want to steal the other’s toy, or knock them to the ground. Lots of knocking into each other, grabbing things, dropping things, and it’s all so tedious. [bat: Look, it’s all that filler crap they left out of the first two episodes!]
The satchel flies into the house as Zeb pins Knight Shade. Knight Shade says, from under Zeb, that he’ll take care of Zeb if Megan finds the satchel. Zeb obligingly stays where he is while Megan runs straight past him. Only once she’s past does he get up, even though he was the one pinning Knight Shade. And it’s round two for the toddler bash. Zeb throws Knight Shade into a wall, where he inexplicably knocks into a painting of a human woman. I know this world has lots of humans in it, but it’s just so jarring when you’re used to FiM, which is all about creatures, not humans. [bat: YET the ONLY humans we see are literally imported by the Ponies. Scorpan totally disappeared after he was reverted to his human form. What gives??] [Dove: Isn’t there a later episode with humans? I can’t really say more without spoilers, because they’re not exactly from Ponyland.]
For some reason, Megan and Molly are searching down a hallway for the satchel. It should be in the foyer you stupid waste of humanity. You probably tripped over it on your way in. Nonetheless, Megan says it should be in one of the rooms off the endless hallway. I don’t know why. I bet the plot told her to say that. I bet the plot even put the satchel in one of those rooms. [bat: PLOT SAYS SO.]
Outside, the mice, Baby Shady (what the fuck are you doing here) and two Baby Lickety-Splits, Baby Galaxy (hi, when did you get here?) and Baby Heartthrob are running away.
In the next frame, Lofty and a Lickety-Split dive into a bush, followed by North Star and Hearththrob. In the next frame, it’s Lickety-Split, Lofty and Hearththrob. Not sure if it’s adults or babies.
I am so fucking confused right now. I don’t even drink, and I’m wishing I had a Baileys. I know it’s not a cool drink, but I was never very good at drinking. I don’t like the taste.
Arabus notices the fallen leaves by the bush and whooshes it away, revealing Lickety-Split (adult and baby – they’re different sizes this time, so you can tell), Lofty (mom and baby), North Star, Galaxy and Hearththrob (mom and baby), along with the irrelevant mice. The mice suggest they split up and hide.
Cut back to Megan who has inexplicably found the satchel in a darkened room, where it’s handily the only thing visible. Perhaps it’s floating in a darkened void. They grab the bag with no issues, but as Megan’s walking out of the room, Zeb trips her, which also knocks Molly over.
No idea how Zeb got free of Knight Shade, but whatevs. He then saunters off. Molly and Megan spring to their feet and run after him… and don’t catch him as they run down the hall. Did you notice how I used the word “saunter” in reference to Zeb’s gait? That was deliberate.
Instead they crash into Hearththrob (no idea if baby or adult) as they round a corner and land in a heap of broken limbs. It’s now apparent it’s adult Hearththrob, as she calls them “darlings” and uses full sentences to apologise. Megan asks if they’ve seen Arabus. What? You were chasing Zeb for the satchel you stupid fuckwit. Hearththrob uses far too many words to explain she’s running away from him. Also, her eye is really fucked up. You need some acrylic paint to fix that.
And then down the hall appears North Star, Lofty, Baby-something-pink (could be Lickety-Split or Hearththrob) and the irrelevant mice, being chased by Arabus.
They run straight past and in this shot the crew is: Knight Shade, Lofty, North Star, Lickety-Split and Baby Lickety-Split. Plus mice. They never forget the mice. Not sure what that says about the animators. Oh, and then Galaxy runs past but falls over.
Megan tells Galaxy to use her light. Is that a thing? bat, do we know that’s a power, or is it just an ass-pull? [bat: I don’t know? I don’t think Galaxy’s power(s) were ever established before this episode.] It’s hard to tell, because there are no rules. Also, surely that’s a bad idea. A light would sharpen the shadows and make it easier for Arabus to steal them. Unless he needs the satchel? Where is Zeb and the satchel anyway? God this is a hot mess.
(I’m having a hard time. Flula Borg makes everything better.)
Arabus decides that light is bad and karate chops the floor between Megan and Galaxy. He summons Zeb, who was hiding in a room. Zeb opens the satchel and it steals Galaxy’s shadow. [bat: Actually, her shadow was still on the ground post-sparkly satchel cloud, someone fucked up!] Arabus demands more, so Zeb zaps Arabus with the satchel and he feels better. That’s not more, dickhead. That’s what you’ve already got.
And we cut, with no warning or explanation, to Megan in what looks to be an underground cave, explaining the situation to: North Star, Knight Shade and his mom, Lickety-Split (mom and baby), Baby Ribbon (what the fuck?), Galaxy (who is baby-sized), and Hearththrob (who I think is adult sized. It’s hard to tell). So, that means that Lofty, Baby Hearththrob and the mice are missing, right?
Megan expertly informs them that the power is in the satchel. Thank you, White Saviour. What would we do without you? Molly adds that the more power Arabus used to chase them, the smaller he became. I hate giving credit to her, but that’s actually useful. It wasn’t easily visible, since this is animated by drunks who are not allowed to read the script (it’s kind of like blind mad-libs, in my mind), but it’s useful. Megan quickly adds that if they keep him occupied, they’ll be able to beat him. Knight Shade says they’ll need an army for that. Megan says that’s what she had in mind. [bat: Megan just wants more horses/creatures/etc to order around.]
Cut to outside Arabus’ pleasant-looking pastel-coloured estate, where via voice-over he’s yelling that he needs more power. I guess they couldn’t afford to animate him the whole time. Cut inside and Zeb says there’s no more power.
Uh, there would have been if you hadn’t let Megan and co go. I have no idea why you did. It just oddly cut that way. You could’ve taken their shadows and then the world. I really don’t understand this at all.
Arabus says if Zeb doesn’t come up with more shadows, he’ll take Zeb’s. [bat: Literally they could let Arabus die and it would be over, granted no one would get their shadows back, but this is not a well-thought-out villain.]
Then we cut to Molly on Lofty’s back (who’s there? Knight Shade and mom, Lofty, North Star, Galaxy, Hearththrob, Baby Ribbon. We are lacking mice and baby ponies.) and Megan telling her to stay low until the last minute, because otherwise Arabus will see. They immediately fly over the tree line, (because fuck Megan and her stupid rules?) until Molly says Lofty should stay lower. God, everyone is so stupid. Lofty then drops to a few inches above the ground and complains it’s hard to fly like this. Then just fucking walk/trot/canter on the ground you dumbass.
We cut to two rats in the trees, who drop a rope each [bat: What?! I thought those were their tails, oh my god], which snags around the top of each of Molly’s arms in a highly improbable way. But this is a side-step from a net dropping from a tree, so you’ll already know that bat and I have questions. So many questions.
Molly cries for Lofty’s help, but Zeb steps forward and opens the satchel. We close on Molly’s completely unanimated face. [bat: It totally looks like Molly mouths, “fuck!” That was weird.]
Between parts, the rope on Molly has shifted. There are no longer two ropes, one around the top of each arm, instead there is one rope around her waist. I’m certain this is important, foreshadowing the fact that Molly has been diligently studying escapism in her non-pony time. Or it’s yet another continuity error. [bat: I would say the animation supervisor for the prior episode quit and whomever was instantly promoted to the position didn’t bother to check what was going on, just said, “tie that stupid rope around Molly and get back to work!”]
Zeb steps forward and opens the satchel (for the second time, for those paying attention), laughing a Bad Guy Laugh™. Lofty dives in, yelling “No!” and the rats leap on her back. Zeb announces he intends to take her shadow. Just fucking do it. Stop expositioning. My in-utero nice/nephew could follow this storyline and I’m not even sure if his/her braincells are formed yet.
Lofty proves that she’s at least part Shetland pony, by zooming under a low tree branch and knocking her riders off. (If you have never experienced this, then I don’t consider you a rider. Everyone who calls themselves a rider should have been concussed at least once by a contrary Shetland. There’s a reason Thelwell became an icon thanks to his wry observations of ponies. OMG, I can get my favourite image on a mug!) [bat: Holy cripes. Will it blow your mind to learn that I have several of Thelwell’s books, Dove? BECAUSE I DO. They came into my hands by random happenstance when I was a child and I never knew how popular he was until now.] [Dove: *blinks* Wing told me that Americans don’t bother with ponies, even toddlers immediately mount a 16.3hh horse. How on earth did books about the contrary nature of ponies land in ‘Murica?] [bat: I have a mother who is a total Anglophile and I grew up with a lot of random British stuff. I also love Jacob the Cat and I have all the seasons of Danger Mouse, and that first one of Count Duckula, I wish the rest had been released on DVD here.]
Lofty dithers in the air, while Zeb walks in slow-mo towards Molly – even though I’m pretty sure the satchel will work from where he is – and then Lofty dives at him. A rat jumps off a branch, which causes Molly to fall from the rope (I don’t even…) [bat: The rope IS his tail I was right!!] [Dove: Oh. That sort of makes a bit more sense.], and Lofty catches her and they take to the sky again, with Molly saying they’ve got a long way to go.
Remember how in the last recap I said that this story was filled with boring filler? I’m sorry. I was wrong. [bat: All that filler had to end up somewhere!]
Over with Megan, she stands on a cliff and speaks to people of Grayvale (calling them “Grayvalians”), imploring them to help get their shadows back. They Grayvalians take that about as well as you’d expect, being rather unthrilled at the idea of working with the enabler who let their shadows get taken.
Also, didn’t Knight Shade’s mom say that when Arabus took their shadows, it took all their fire and feistiness? So, how are they going to fight? Anyway, the GVs (I can’t keep typing “Grayvalians”) tell them to get fucked, they’re not fighting. The last time they did anything with Knight Shade, they lost their shadows. At least this makes sense. You know in the movie when they ask the Flutter Ponies for help, and they’re all, “Oh, we can’t help you… because… well, we don’t have reasons, but the plot says so, so just fuck off and get Smoozed, ok?” This is what they lacked. Actual motivation.
(And just like the Flutter Ponies, the GVs are going to arrive at the last moment, aren’t they?)
A pan up from Grayvale shows that at the top of another cliff (not the one Megan was talking from) is the estate where Arabus lives. Ok, so I’ve got a vague sense of where everything is. Not so much what’s going on, but where things are location-wise.
Anyway, Arabus is throwing a tantrum because he wants more shadows.
Back with Megan, she’s informing the mice they need to get the satchel. How many fucking times are we going to hear her tell us what we already know? The mice say that since they’re the only ones left with shadows, Arabus will look for them, so they can lay a trap when he does.
Provided, of course, that he doesn’t head off to Flutter Valley? Or to steal the Sea Ponies shadows? Or hell, even tango with Hydia and her kids. They’ve all got shadows. Oh, wait, the rest of the ponies back at Paradise Estate/Dream Castle/Lullaby Nursery/all the other playsets all have shadows too.
With all that on offer, sure I bet they’ll go chasing after some mice and an ever-changing array of ponies.
Megan says she’ll stay here with Lickety-Split and Knight Shade, and try to get them from behind, while the mice go out into the woods. “I’m gonna stay here in this building (no idea where it is), you go out and face the monster. I’m your White Saviour. Fall on your fucking knees and thank me.” [bat: I HATE MEGAN.]
Then someone yells, “We’d better do something! They’re here!” Except nobody’s mouth was animated. I’m so fucking confused right now.
The mice run out to the woods, just as Arabus and Zeb come into view. I guess that was an omniscient narrator that announced that “They’re here!”?
Now we’re in a really dumb standoff, where Arabus wants Knight Shade to come back, Knight Shade says no, Zeb has the satchel and is threatening them with it, and I really don’t get why he just doesn’t open it, grab their shadows and take over the world. Nightmare Moon would not pull this shit. Queen Chrysalis wouldn’t pull this shit. G4 Tirek fucking decimated Ponyville without stopping for breath (and to be fair, G1 Tirek was pretty damned go-get-‘em in his attitude). Discord… well, Discord might, but only if it was funny. And I mean actually funny, not just G1 “funny”.
Finally he opens the satchel and steals Lickety-Split’s shadow (unknown if mom or baby), and he gives the shadow to Arabus. Why not take them all? If you take the shadows first, they won’t have the energy to fight back? I’m not saying that because I’m evil, I do actually want the good guys to win (though not as much as I want them to actually be good, instead of designated good), I’m saying that because there shouldn’t be this many holes in the plot.
Arabus rains down lightning bolts on Knight Shade and Megan (it’s not as cool as it sounds), who split up and run for it. Knight Shade falls over and his mother throws herself over him, crying “Spare him!” [bat: Please note: Knight Shade’s mom TOTALLY JUST CAST A SHADOW ON THE GROUND.]
The rats return with the mice – I honestly don’t care – and they grab Knight Shade and his mom too.
Arabus tells Zeb to steal Megan’s shadow, but Knight Shade takes a run at the satchel… and nothing happens. Arabus blames Megan for turning Knight Shade against him. Then we hear a twinkling sound, and SHIFT TO UTTER FLUTTER, BITCHES! ASS-PULL HAS ARRIVED TO WIN!
In a montage of CTRL C, CTRL V, hoards of identical ponies loop past the screen. With a song!
You know bat and I love the songs. *beats head against desk* [bat: *sticks fingers in her ears and runs away*] Oh, and this one starts with the lyric, “We are the Flutter Ponies, better run and hide”. Because you know how much I love songs that explain who the singer is. [bat: Did you notice them draw a net out of chemtrails (clouds?) and drop it on Arabus? NETS NETS NETS!] [Dove: I did. I was just repressing. Really hard.]
UTTER FLUTTER (BITCHES) causes all the shadows to escape and find their owners. And, just as I called it, the Grayvale ponies rock up.
And Knight Shade gets his shadow back. Which is interesting, because I honestly didn’t know he’d lost it. bat, did I miss it or is this yet another error? [bat: As far as the prior episodes stated, he’d only ever been threatened with that. And he’s cast a shadow in several scenes, plus when Zeb allegedly “stole it”, we never saw it happen on screen. It’s a bullshit error. ]
Arabus shrinks to a teeny size, and is picked up by the mayor mouse, and Zeb is clapped in handcuffs.
“To think that those pathetic creatures caused such problems,” Knight Shade’s still-unnamed mom comments, cheerfully ignoring the fact her son is a solid part of the problems caused.
A GV pony comments that it will never happen again, thanks to Knight Shade. Uh, no. He was just there. You want to thank the Flutter Ponies, dickheads. Knight Shade is still the gormless asshat that enabled all this non-consensual shadow-ripping.
Everyone cheers, because THIS IS A NO-FAULT EPISODE!
Knight Shade acknowledges that he doesn’t deserve their cheers, and he hopes they can forgive him. Do what Ben Affleck did: defend Arabus and post some pictures on twitter of you playing with puppies. That’ll sort it. I’m sure Dinah’s around here somewhere.
“Knight Shade wonderfullest, bravest hero evah!” Baby Hearththrob baby-talks happily.
Everyone involved in this needs to die by fire. [bat: Agreed. I’ll get the matches.]
We cut to Knight Shade giving another concert and the Baby Bonnet School of Dance is packed to the rafters with screaming fans, with Babies Lickety-Split, Lofty and Half-Note singing backup.
And that’s that.
Uh. Well, I’m going to have to rescind my B-. I’m going to bump it down to a C, because that was a lot of incoherent drek.
It really should have lost more for the fact they let Megan and co go when they could have easily stolen their shadows and bad guys win, but overall I just liked this better than a lot of the episodes that preceded it. It’s not better, I just enjoyed it more.
They could have done a lot more with this, but they simply didn’t. It was cheap and feeble. And relying on UTTER FLUTTER (BITCHES) again was just stupid. Knight Shade should have saved the day. He should have come up with something to genuinely atone for his crimes, instead the Flutter Ponies stepped in, and he got all the credit. He didn’t even do anything. If you skim mine and bat’s recaps, you’ll see he did nothing. He was absolutely passive throughout.
On reflection, maybe that’s why Rosedust didn’t want to help with the Smooze in the movie. She knew that she and her crew would be the constant ass-pull resolve to all problems when Megan forgot the Rainbow of Light existed.
The highest point of this for me will be finding out what bat thought of it all.
Also, I barely screencapped. It’s weird. I’m usually so heavy on the screencapping that I discard about 20. This time around, barely anything. So while the story interested me, the visuals did not.
[bat: My turn! Hoo boy this was atrocious. Everything fell apart: the storyline, the characters (and how they were cloned suddenly?), how the evil plot device worked, credit given to the wrong horse, silly non-explanations, the involvement of the fucking Flutter Ponies… I feel like the first half was so much better but everyone just gave up when it came to the conclusion. This had a lot of potential and started off pretty dark but intriguing. Then we get slapstick comedy filler that makes no sense, a conclusion that truly results in nothing more than everything being “status quo” again, and Megan looks just as good as Knight Shade, when BOTH ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS MESS AND NEITHER OF THEM PERSONALLY DID ANYTHING TO REMOTELY RESOLVE IT. Thinking on it, using the Flutter Ponies — who have a known weakness: anything hinders their wings, they’re fucked — is a cop-out. The song makes them sound like they’re invincible but Dove and I know that’s not true. Giving this half an F means I think I’m at a D- for the over all grade. (I don’t know how to calculate grades, whatever.) Either way, time has not been kind to this episode and for all its metaphorical interpretation of the darkness, it doesn’t pan out.]