Title: Flight to Cloud Castle
Summary: Heartthrob, Locket, and Twilight help a young elf (gnome, actually) called Garf (said Garth, just to be confusing) rescue his true love Ariel from an enchanted castle, while facing many dangers on the way.
For some reason, I fell behind on this recap. I can’t explain why, because it even pre-dates lockdown, and sure, I did have major anxiety about that, but this should have been done in January and published in February. And then my anxiety should have kicked in in March. [bat: Well, we’re still in March, Dove. It’s just been 30 weeks long this year.]
All I can assume is that I feel behind for some reason, and then lockdown happened, and I’ve been putting this off because I assumed we had billions of episodes left. We don’t. We have six, three each, including the double-episode you’re reading right now.
[bat: Maybe you were accounting for all the future cartoon episodes to recap from the other generations of MLP incarnations, Dove? I dunno. I can say that for a time the opposite happened here and I became ridiculously productive with recaps. That’s kind of ended now, but only because I am facing surgery and counting the days until it finally happens.]
In other news, bat is now called strangebat, due to me mis-reading someone saying, “Doctor Strange, bat” to her and my adopting that as her full name. Though I’ve dropped the Doctor part to make it fit the Batman theme better. (Admit it, you’re humming it.) [bat: Actually, this is now stuck in my head.]
Ok, enough dawdling. Let’s get this done.
We open with Locket, Twilight (the so-soft Pegasus, not the year two Unicorn) [bat: TWILIGHT 2.0!], and Heartthrob kind of water skiing? [bat: Hoof…skiing?] Their feet are just in the water, but they’re using their wings to propel themselves. Physics says no, but y’know, MLP. They then take to the air, laughing helplessly at literally nothing.
I hate the amount of giggling that goes on in this show. [bat: Agreed. Nails on a chalkboard.]
Something flies past the three of them, turning them into easily animated scribbly circles. They stabilise and agree that it was some kind of bird and it was being chased. They wonder what could have chased something so large.
Cut to an ugly humanoid creature with orange hair and a lasso in his hands. I feel certain I will want to shoot him. [bat: Where’s the Jack Bauer Crab Cop when you need him?] He pleads for the bird to come back. He trips over a rock and winds up tangled in his own rope. Heartthrob is moved by his plight and decides they simply must help him.
I don’t know about you, but I’m often moved by the plight of a hunter who is unfairly disadvantaged by their own species type versus what they want to catch. For example, when a lion kills a human hunter, I always feel for the poor human, who is hunting the animal for his own lolz, and the lion cheats by having claws, teeth and a swift run. Totally.
tl;dr: Heartthrob is a complete waste of space.
Heartthrob takes off to help him – maybe she’s motivated by lust, she’s the one who wants a boyfriend, right? – and Twilight and Locket comment that it looks like they’re about to find out what’s going on, whether they want to or not. Well, no, ladies, you could just leave Heartthrob to deal with this alone.
The idiot (I’m assuming Garf, from the summary) is sat on the ground mumbling that it’s hopeless when Heartthrob lands and nudges him to get his attention. [bat: Oh no, it’s Woebegone 2.0!] He asks who she is, and then says it doesn’t matter. She has wings. He grabs her by the neck and tries to drag her along with him.
I honestly don’t know if this is rude or not, given that Megan and co frequently hop on the ponies’ back and give them orders without a hint of manners about the process. I would say yes, but we all know how I feel about manners.
Side note about his name, I’m sure everyone is saying Garth, but the summary says Garf. Maybe the writers can’t spell? Maybe the voice actors got tired of the silly spellings and used a real name? Maybe it’s a typo on the wiki. Who knows?
The other two land as Heartthrob asks who he is and where they’re going. Instead of kicking him in the head and leaving him to die in the forest. He says what’s it to them. One of the other two say they can’t help him unless they know more details.
Dude. He was hunting a flying creature. Then he grabbed your friend by the neck and tried to kidnap her. Sure, I’ve read the summary, but at the moment, you’re kind of giving the vibe of “If someone is trying to kill something, then tries to kidnap you, stick with him. It’ll be fine.” [bat: I kind of want to see the Ponies in an animated version of “Cabin in the Woods”, just to see what the fuck they’ll do.] [Dove: Probably sympathise with the dudes at the control desk. Heartthrob will get a crush on one of them.]
Garf says that he’s true love is in an enchanted slumber in a flying castle and he can’t catch it. Obviously, this hits Heartthrob right in the romance feels and she starts calling him darling. Garf says can they at least get a move on, he’s in a hurry. Which does not explain why he was sulking on the ground a few minutes ago. Garf is rude. And while Heartthrob is gushing over the “poor tragic darling”, Twilight and Locket exchange glances.
Garf explains that his beloved is named Ariel [bat: *snort* Couldn’t use Aurora because that would mean lawsuit but this was pre-Little Mermaid.] and her father is a wizard who put her in the slumber and flying castle. Basically, anyone who goes to the hassle of finding her and non-consensually snogging her comatose body is deserving of marrying her. I don’t really know what normal parents are like, but I get the feeling this is bad parenting.
Locket points out that things would go a lot faster if they flew. In a tremulous voice, Heartthrob asks if he would deign to ride her and tell her all about Ariel. I’m getting the feeling that Garf’s true love is not a dozy princess, but some kind of treasure of magic object, and he’s playing on Heartthrob’s emotions to use her wings.
But, on the other hand, these episodes (aside from Catrina or Midnight Castle) are so badly written, maybe he is a good guy but the writers just don’t know how to write that without making him an asshole?
Of course, we have to have a song, because we have another 6 minutes to fill. “For My True Love” (spoilers: he’d do plenty, like fighting dragons, or going to space or whatever.)
They fly through the clouds and find the most underwhelming flying castle ever (and this is coming from someone who was MASSIVELY disappointed by the steampunk/war is bad adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle), and Garf says that there will be trials once inside.
The scale is laughable in this, as usual. Each pony is roughly the same size as a turret, but there’s no sense of distance to explain it. It’s just badly drawn. As the ponies approach, the castle whizzes away. Both Heartthrob and Locket attempt it and fail. Garf sulkily says that the ponies can’t fly fast or high enough to get it done.
Twilight rightfully points out that they can fly faster and higher than him. I’m liking her. Mostly because she hates Garf.
Heartthrob tells them to make up, they have to work together. The last two words give Garf an idea. I hope the idea is fly really high and drop him, but I suspect not. Garf says if they approach from different sides, one of them should land.
Well, no, there’s three of them, and if we assume that the castle is on a square of concrete (it’s not, it’s a circle, but I’m being generous here), then there are six directions it could go, north, east, south, west, up and down. They can only cover three. Even if they come at it from say, north, south-east and south-west, it could still go up or down.
And they do it exactly as I said in the above paragraph, but the castle obligingly doesn’t shoot upwards or downwards, because the plot says so.
As we’ve seen before: if creative says you’re surrounded, you ARE surrounded. (Sadly, I can’t actually find the WWE meme.)
“Hooray! We DID it!” cries Heartthrob idiotically, as nobody has successfully landed on the castle yet.
As she flies towards the castle, a merperson (possibly) [bat: King Triton? Ursula??] rises up from the teeny moat around the castle. It spits water at them and they whoosh away. Heartthrob tries exactly the same thing, only this time with an imperious demand to be let in, to the exact result, leading Garf to fall off, saved only by clinging to Heartthrob’s tail.
Locket approaches a tower, only to meet a tall orange lizard in a blue beret who spits fire.
Everyone retreats, which gives the castle ample time to remember all the directions it can go that aren’t occupied by ponies.
Garf, little ray of sunshine, immediately says it’s hopeless. You know what, Garf? Fuck off. Just do one. You’re an obnoxious little shit who gives up at the drop of a hat. You don’t deserve Ariel. Let someone better sexually assault her into marriage.
Heartthrob tells him to never give up. Heartthrob’s head is a completely different colour to her body because they were animated separately. This would be more apt if it was Galaxy or Whizzer, because those ponies are absolute devils for the head and bodies fading at different rates over time. [bat: CONTINUITY, HOW DOES IT WORK?]
Twilight comes up with a new plan, this one involving Garf’s rope. It cuts away before she explains, so I have a brief moment of hoping they’re going to tie it around his ankles and hold the rope while flying over very rocky terrain.
They all lasso a turret, which causes the castle to spin (go castle, you get down with your spinny self!), and everyone flies off at high speed.
Fade to black, in the hopes that watchers will forget that everyone can fly (except Garf, but fuck him) and be worried about how this will pan out, even though the episode literally opened with the Pegasus ponies spinning out and then righting themselves.
Everyone continues to tumble towards inevitable splatting against rocks. Garf wiggles his fingers and turns it into something brown and sticky. The ponies ask if he did that and he proudly states he’s a gnome, and they have powers over earth and stone. [bat: OH REALLY. LOOKIT THIS CARTOON TELLING ME SOMEONE KNOWS HOW THEIR MAGIC POWERS WORK!] Then, never one to miss an opportunity to bitch and moan, he adds that they’re back to square one.
Just ditch this tool. He’s a selfish asshole.
Heartthrob then points out the castle is made of stone, so can’t Garf magic it. Yes, Garf, that’s a good point. But no, apparently the magic on it means he can’t use his magic unless he’s in the castle. Really? Sure. Why not? I mean, strangebat will be bashing her head against the wall, but that’s nothing new, magic makes no sense. [bat: *holds ice pack to aching skull*]
Locket says they could catch the castle, if not for the creatures (an undine and a salamander, not a merperson and an orange lizard, apparently). They wish they could put out the salamander’s fire or get the undine out of water, and Heartthrob has the genius plan of setting them against each other. This is such a great idea, even Garf feels the need to be optimistic about their prospects.
Inexplicably, the ponies chase the castle until it bashes against a mountain, then Garf, on Heartthrob, taunts the undine (“Your mother wears galoshes, bwahahaha!” … uh, ok.) Locket and Twilight tell the salamander that he and his fire are not hot.
We cut back to the undine, which is now the size of a house in comparison to our brave heroes (size, context, scaling, it’s all bollocks) [bat: oh my god, the undine is Ant-Man?! Scott, is that you??] just as both creatures take aim. Obviously this works like a charm and everyone cheers. YAY!
This time they manage to get inside. One of them (I can’t really tell the difference between Locket and Twilight’s voices) comments they could get lost real easy in here. And she’s right. The camera pans over the same matte background three times. That is confusing. Is it an identical warren of tunnels, or is it even stranger, are they the same three tunnels repeated, meaning you can’t actually make progress, you’ll just stay on a loop?
But now they’re inside, Garf can use his magic to create a light that leads to Ariel, his true love. And I’m still not believing that’s a person. If he’s a good guy, then this episode was terribly written.
Garf tells them to be careful. Heartthrob arrogantly comments everything will fall into place. And immediately falls down a hole. She’s a fucking Pegasus, so this is no problem. Was that meant to be funny? Am I supposed to hate everyone? [bat: Holes are the new nets.]
Garf tells her off. I don’t think I’ve heard him say thank you for getting him that far, but he’s quick to berate her.
We cut to the undine, who is drinking water and sets off. Presumably to eat Garf. Go undine! Same scene for the salamander too. #TeamFireAndWater
The light leads Team Good Guys upstairs to a bedroom where a blonde girl sleeps. I’m now scanning the room for anything that looks valuable that might be Ariel. Maybe a jug? The bed itself? Maybe that picture on the wall?
But no. Garf heads to the bed and wastes time crooning to her about how at last they’ll be together. As he moves in for a kiss, the undine and the salamander appear, and douse everyone in water.
Heartthrob quickly recaps Team Good Guys’ motivation for no reason. Locket sasses back that she had no idea they needed to stop the bad guys. I like Locket and Twilight. They are sick of Heartthrob’s fucking nonsense.
Twilight’s wings get soaked and she falls to the ground. [bat: I’ve always wondered, are the pegasi wings feathers or furry? THIS HAS NEVER BEEN EXPLAINED TO MY SATISFACTION!] [Dove: I always assumed feathers, but I have no reason for thinking that, beyond their shape on the toy – it could be a very rudimentary feather shape?] The salamander takes aim, but the other two drop a tapestry on him. The undine spins himself into a tornado, sucking in the ponies. Garf finally gets off his arse and draws the salamander’s fire towards the water tornado. This does not result in third degree burns for everyone, but instead the ponies are free and safe.
The fire rages, and Heartthrob tells Garf to shake the castle. He does that… uh, ok. Then Heartthrob flies him over to Ariel, where he plants a kiss on her cheek. When Ariel wakes (she has an irritatingly snooty voice), the undine and the salamander change into two monkeys in knickerbockers. Uh, can you put them back? They were less scary when they were monsters. Especially because they aren’t animated, so they speak without moving a muscle.
They were apparently her suitors but they caused so much trouble that Ariel’s father cursed them into being her protectors. Uh, whut? So I assume they’re noble born, and they’ve just vanished from their lives? Ariel’s father sounds like a right bastard. Also, what trouble did they cause? Are we talking having a few too many bevvies and knocking some bins over, or are we talking the systematic murder of all turquoise ponies for “The Greater Good”? [bat: I’d like to knock over some bins…]
Ariel strides off, she has to be going now. Garf doesn’t take this well.
“Wait! I woke you from the spell. You’re supposed to be mine now!”
Ariel points out that the spell wasn’t her idea, and she’s not ready for love. Good for you, Ariel.
“But it’s not fair!” wails Garf. Just die, you asshole.
Daddy wizard did a fine job on the spell, by the way. As soon as Ariel wakes, the spell starts to break down. Basically, they’re stood in a castle high up in the air, and it’s falling apart. Ariel asks in a very withering tone why he didn’t land the castle before waking her. Garf snaps back that he was busy. Wait, so he knew this would happen, and just skipped that step? God, Ariel is so right not to marry him.
Heartthrob says there’s not enough of them to carry everyone. So everyone just stands there as rocks rain down. It’s much better to do nothing than to try. She tells Garf to do something.
Garf, who has tooled over from absolute shithead to incel waste of space, crosses his arms and says he doesn’t want to any more. That’s right. Everyone here should die because you skipped a step in the plan and you’re not getting laid. Good for you, Garf. And do you know what? Girls love this kind of attitude in a man.
The monkeys beg for help. I see no problem here. If they leave Garf, each pony can carry one person to safety. Let’s do that.
Heartthrob grabs Garf and flies off with him, telling him he must make the ground soft like he did before. He grudgingly does, and Ariel thinks that’s sexy. [bat: What. the. actual. FUCK.]
The castle shatters, and we smash cut to everyone standing on a hill, safe and sound.
Garf asks if Ariel is ok, and she is. He says he supposes she’ll be off to live her new life.
At this point, Heartthrob angrily snaps that Garf’s right. IT’S NOT FAIR. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHETHER ARIEL CONSENTS OR NOT, GARF FUCKING EARNED HER. NOW STOP BEING A TEASING BITCH AND MARRY HIM!
Ariel and Garf walk away holding hands and Ariel says there’s always a possibility that she’ll marry him.
Amusingly, the animators decided to pair the spares, and the monkeys are walking behind them, also holding hands. The monkeys are both boys. So, sorry Bronies, but Lyra/Bon-Bon is not the first same-sex relationship in MLP. We’ve had two so far on this generation. All accidental, I’m sure. But it’s there. Or it’s being progressive and boys can hold hands. I’m good with either. [bat: Wow, someone bravely slipped that in ahead of its time. Good for the animators!]
I assumed that with such a quick ending, there’d be a song, but there isn’t. I guess they just ran a lot of ads in the breaks to make up the time.
Urgh. This was awful. Garf was a hideous character, and I really wanted him to be evil. The way he kept going on about his true love, I kept thinking it would be an object and he’d be the big bad, but actually he was just an incel who got his own way. And that’s why I’m rating it F.
[bat: A big fat fucking F. Again. Because this was a waste of time. And the plot was not only bad, but completely not thought through. You can tell how badly they were scraping the bottom of the barrel in these last few episodes.]