Title: The Ghost of Paradise Estate (Parts 3-4)
Summary: So far: Paradise Estate was haunted, except it wasn’t, it was a shapeshifting bird called Pluma, who’s on orders from Squirk, some kind of evil red squid with a purple lobster sidekick to… I don’t know, do something. Pluma ties up the ponies, and steals/moves/destroys/something Paradise Estate, but the ponies free themselves, and shit’s about to get real, yo.
I will refer to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as FiM, to save typing it all the time.
We open with Pluma spinning until she functions like a drill, and drills a hole in the gap where Paradise Estate used to be. She unearths half the flashstone amulet, and is like, “Yeah, I totes had to destroy your home to get it.”
Clearly, she couldn’t have knocked on the door and said, “Look, I’ve got a tonne of magic, and your house is on my necklace, so I was wondering, can I use my magic to move your house a few feet to the left? If you want me to, I’ll put it back when I’ve dug up my necklace.” [bat: ALWAYS DOING IT THE HARD WAY IN DREAM VALLEY. MAGIC IS JUST FOR DESTROYING AND UNTYING KNOTS.]
Gusty is not impressed by Pluma’s tears and asks what they’re supposed to do now. Understand. That’s Pluma’s suggestion. Then she says she’ll try to use the flashstone amulet to bring back Paradise Estate. The results are… not particularly good. But it’s the best she can do with only half an amulet.
Gosh, if only the ponies had other places to live, like: Dream Castle, Lullaby Nursery, the Grooming Parlour, the School House, the Baby Bonnet School of Dance, etc. I know they’re not all living spaces, but they have walls for now. And besides, didn’t they get Paradise Estate from the Moochick? Just get another one. [bat: I’m pretty sure the Moochick never returns. I’m not even sure he gets name-checked down the line? I could be wrong.]
Pluma says they can find the other half of the amulet using the half they have. But she doesn’t have time, she has to get the amulet back to Squirk asap. Or, you know, she could use it to find the other half and use the full amulet to tell Squirk to fuck off and rescue her grandpa. [bat: But then we’d have only a three-part series… WE’RE DOING THE WRITERS’ JOBS FOR THEM, AFTER THE FACT.]
Then we cut over to Squirk and his purple lobster. Oh wow, Pluma’s grandfather looks like Grandpa Gruff from FiM. Squirk asks how he’s doing, and grandpa starts to make a threat but is too… tired/bored/something to finish it. I guess he just sat through ten episodes of Flutter Valley too. Grandpa tries to use his shapeshifting abilities to escape, but he’s too old. [bat: I guess that fancy pendant gem thing around his neck doesn’t do squat.] [Dove: Even gramps gotta accesorise!]
We cut to Pluma on a hill, sweating bullets with the effort of… something. Are all my sentences about Pluma going to end “… something”? At the bottom of the hill, Spike worries that Squirk won’t see Pluma’s signal, but Buttons is unfailingly optimistic. Further along the river, Fizzy is making big bubbles, which Danny and Molly climb into, and they float. Because fuck physics. Megan then says they’ll need help getting down there. She looks thoughtful, then brandishes a shell and tosses it into the water.
Brilliant. We have a vague, unexplained plan. And it involves those assholes.
Pluma fires a beam of light into the river.
Then we cut to Grandpa again, who tells Squirk that as long as he lives, Squirk will never rule this land. Squirk says when he gets the flashstone, he will rule, and he’s going to flood everything. He starts to complain that Pluma should have signalled by now, and then the signal hits – a kind of bolt of lightning from the sky that causes an earthquake and throws the purple lobster into a tree. Purple lobster says he’ll go right now and then dives beneath the water, and then it cuts to him swimming upwards in the river.
So… the Squirk’s lair is below the water, except for it really isn’t, because it’s mostly on dry land, with a big old lake or river next to it. But Pluma’s signal goes down from her hilltop position, into the river, and then it came from the sky in Squirk’s lair. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into that and the clumsy editing is making it confusing.
Oh, the purple lobster is called Crank. Ok, good to know. Also, he talks in a “British” accent. And by that I mean someone who is not British, who is crap at accents, is taking a wild stab at what they think a British accent is (cockney or Hugh Grant are the only two options), and has landed on an American-Aussie-cockney hybrid, a bit like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, only more scratchy and irritating.
Pluma says if he wants the amulet, come get it, and lays it on the ground. Spike says, “Ready, Buttons? Now!” as if some giant plan is about to kick off. Buttons then uses her Unicorn magic to move the amulet out of Crank’s reach. Wow. That’s a plan and a half. I am in awe. Thank god for Megan. [bat: I guess we did sort of establish in Flutter Valley that Buttons is the only unicorn in the group with a decent power, though she’s shite at using her telekinesis for anything decent. Sigh.]
Speaking of, she and her irritating siblings are inside bubbles being pushed by the baby Sea Ponies deep in the river (how deep is this damned river? – bat and I have so many questions about the water in Ponyland). They see Squirk leave and then make their way to his lair, which they get to by surfacing. So yes, his lair is under the river. I guess it must be an underwater cave system with air pockets. They say they’re friends of Pluma, and they’re here to help Gramps escape.
Back on the ground, Crank is still trying to catch the amulet, and Buttons is moving it. It’s like a cat with a laser pointer, except neither cute nor funny. Then Squirk arrives. Crank actually catches the amulet – why didn’t they just take it away, full stop? Why didn’t they tie him up in one of those nets that are forever falling from trees in Ponyland? It quickly turns into a tug of war over the amulet, with Pluma, Spike and Buttons against Crank and Squirk. I’m amazed that the actual necklace part hasn’t snapped. How do I get a necklace that sturdy? I’m forever snapping or tangling mine.
Squirk grabs them and locks them in a shell and revels over the fact he now has the amulet. He doesn’t immediately try and flood the place though.
Back with Megan and co, she’s harassing Fizzy to bubble faster before Squirk and Crank get back. But too late, they’re back! And Crank is now GIGANTIC. They try to run away, but are thwarted by Squirk’s many legs that they absolutely could not go around or over because reasons.
I hope the gif works to convey this oddness. There are turtles chewing on vines that lead down to a big skull containing the prisoners. Why are there turtles? Why is everyone in a skull? Where was the skull because we haven’t seen it until now? Where did the skull come from? Is the implication that Squirk killed the owner of said skull? *sigh* Naturally, the gif didn’t work, so here, have a tiny clip.
As the turtles chew through the vines, the top half of the skull lowers. This is just fucking weird. [bat: Understatement, in regards to this whole cartoon series.]
They ask Pluma to change shape and get them out of here, but because of unexplained plot reasons, Pluma, who so far has changed shape with ease, cannot do so. Apparently the ropes are too tight. That seems like a weird condition to stop shapeshifting from working. [bat: Well, remember TREES also hinder the Penma, so…]
“Then Ponyland is doomed,” Megan proclaims in her most prissy and passive-aggressive way.
Squirk announces that once he has the other half of the amulet, he’ll rule again. And I was literally just thinking, “No song? Awesome,” as the music keyed up. *sigh* His song is “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”. No. Not that one. This one:
I don’t expect you to watch the song, because it’s fucking awful. During the song, Squirk uses the amulet to fuck with the sea creatures – including turning fish into ducks and bunnies. Those poor drowned animals. It reminds me of a line in Alara J Rogers’ Not the Hero when Discord gives Fluttershy’s pets wings:
She was outdoors, feeding an incredible assortment of unruly and unpleasant-smelling small animals, when I dropped in on her and gave her pets wings, and a compulsion to fly. It was hilarious watching them flit around incompetently (I didn’t magically grant them knowledge of how to fly, just the overwhelming desire to attempt it) [snip]
I feel that this could be a problem when you turn fish into land animals. They’re probably going to die, because they have the urge to do fish things, such as swim and breathe through their gills. Squirk is a colossal prick.
Also, fish-murdering aside, Squirk randomly finds the other half of the amulet just lying on the sea floor. I mean, you’d think he might have noticed that in the many years he’s been in his lair, sulking about how the water pulled back. But no, the one he knew about was on land, several miles above them, underneath a fucking mansion.
bat, why are we doing this again? [bat: Because you thought it would be fun, Dove? Because we grew up with it and it would be nostalgic?] Are we trying to generate a fire-forged friendship? Because, in all honesty, I think we’re pretty good friends already. [bat: Yes, we’ve been through a lot over the years, and suffering through Flutter Valley together proved we’re not fly-by-night chums.] [Dove: Not to mention the forum drama in our fandom days of old!] Oh, wait. I remember why I’m here. bat makes awesome gifs on the recaps. And I do love the Bushwoolies, now that bat has adjusted my thinking on them. [bat: Aww, you’re making me blush. I’m here because Dove is wonderful and invited me to take part in this, because it sounded fun and awesome. And it is, because we can snark all we want about these crap episodes.]
With the amulet whole once more, Squirk sends up a beam of light that causes Ponyland to flood. Uh, gosh, I hope someone told the Grundles this was coming, because otherwise the remaining five are going to be floating corpses in Dream Castle. Also, same for the baby ponies in the nursery. [bat: And the Furbobs, the Stonebacks, and probably all the other creatures we’ve encountered, because surely Dream Valley isn’t contained by dams. That water is gonna flood everything.] It’s gonna be like a really multi-coloured Titanic.
Above ground, we see some land creatures – bunnies, raccoons, etc – trying to get out of the way of the flood and being swept away by the water. Then trees, then a mountain splits and turns into a waterfall.
Oh, thank god, Paradise Estate is on a hill, so the water can’t get to them. Except, no. It’s called Dream Valley. And in bat’s Catrina recap, there’s a picture of Dream Castle next door to the Lullaby Nursery, which is definitely in a valley next to a fucking waterfall. I’m sure we’ve seen the nursery from Paradise Estate in some of the shots in this episode.
So, tl;dr: YOU’RE NOT ON A HILL. FUCK OFF.
“Water coming. I skeeert,” whines Baby Cuddles. Just drown these brats. They all talk like that. I’m afraid Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle have given me very high expectations for young ponies. Gusty reassures her that they’ll stop it. [bat: Death of anypony is a taboo topic in this series, no matter who/what threatens them. So we can all automatically not be worried. Yay.] [Dove: This is why I like fanfic – not because I’m desperate for everyone to die, but because the writers aren’t hampered by a no-death rule, so there is a bit more tension.]
We open with the flood water continuing to rise, and Squirk laughing – and for some reason this time his laughter is really bubbly, as if he’s drowning. It’s never sounded like that before.
The turtles are still continuing to gnaw at the vines holding the skull up. Is this meant to be tense? When it shuts, am I supposed to believe the prisoners will die? Because they won’t. Logic suggests that the skull, like pretty much most skulls, is hollow, and there will be plenty of head room when it closes.
Ah, yes, I am supposed to believe that, because Buttons decides to teleport a shell to put between the jaws to stop them from closing. I don’t know why Squirk’s doing this Bond villain-eque death for them. They’re land animals, they’re going to fucking die when everything is flooded.
Unless Megan commands they build an ark? [bat: Imagine the gathering of two of every creature. THAT MEANS A LOT OF PONIES GONNA DROWN.] [Dove: And the furbobs would constantly disagree that there are two of them.]
Gramps and Pluma decide to work together to get out of the skull. Pluma says that she probably can’t, because she’s all feeble and shit, and then immediately she and Gramps change into some kind of whizzing body with two heads. It’s some fucked up shit. They use the whizzy bit as a saw and cut the ropes – which are apparently so tight nobody can move – without causing any injury to anyone. Unlikely. They escape the skull seconds before it crashes down, and then Megan tells Fizzy to make bubbles to get them out of there.
If I was Fizzy, I’d tell Megan to sod off. Why does she constantly need to tell people what to do? Also, I’m pretty sure they re-used the animation where Fizzy was trying to make bubbles before Squirk and Crank came back and caught them.
Above ground, Squirk continues to flood everything he sees and smack Crank around.
Megan and co manage to escape and are back on dry land. They wonder if Squirk has found the other part of the amulet. Danny says “There’s your answer” as a wave of water knocks down some trees. (That’s the third time that particular animation has been used in this episode.)
Danny says he thinks he has an idea, but they need to go back to Paradise Estate. Once they arrive, Gusty is her usual disagreeable self (♥), but Megan reassures her that Danny has a plan to get the stone away from Squirk. [bat: Danny and his stupid goddamn plans!]
A bunch of Pegasus arrive with Pluma’s nets – see, I told you there were loads of nets just lying around in trees in Ponyland – and they plan to drop it on Squirk and take the stone.
Twilight Sparkle and her friends have much better plans. [bat: Hm, I have 4 new episodes on the DVR. I think I will watch some to wash the taste of this out of my brain.] [Dove: I’ve got the last three of this season, and two of the hour-long Equestria Girls specials. I’m looking forward to a lazy watch of them as a reward for the draft of my next recap!]
Pluma says she knows how to get Squirk and Crank out of the water, and then Megan hops on Buttons, her feet dragging along the ground, and says she knows how to get the flashstone.
I really wish they’d stop hopping on the ponies’ backs. I just think it’s really bad form. The ponies are their equals, they talk, they’re not pets or beasts of burden. It would be the equivalent of me saying, “bat, let’s go to Starbucks,” then me jumping on her back for a piggy-back ride there. [bat: Which, being Dove is probably taller than I, we would crash to the ground and nobody would be getting Starbucks.] [Dove: I’m 5′ on my short leg, or 5’2″ on my tall, but I’m quite heavy, so I’m certain there would be no Starbucks for us.]
For some reason, Megan and Molly ride to the edge of the water (why they couldn’t walk I don’t know), and Pluma and Gramps rock up and say there’s no sign of Squirk, they’ve looked everywhere. Danny says they must be underwater. *cringes* I know what’s coming next.
Wait. No? There’s no “SHOO-BE-DOOO! SHOO-SHOO-BE-DOOOOO!”? Ok. I stand corrected.
Danny tells the Pegasi to keep circling with the net, and Pluma should do her thing.
So… does that mean it didn’t matter that Pluma and Gramps couldn’t find Squirk?
Below the water, Crank begs Squirk to let him zap something with the amulet. Squirk, predictably, twats him with one of his many legs, and Crank flies across the ocean floor. Crank points to something off screen and Squirk says they should check it out.
Above ground, Pluma is beaming a rainbow down on the water. Right, so clearly they didn’t need to know where Squirk was for this plan to work. For fuck’s sake, writers. Make sense.
Squirk and Crank surface and Squirk is furious that they’ve escaped. Pluma calms him down by saying that they actually want him to rule them. While they suck up to Squirk, Danny sneaks off and signals the Pegasi with a mirror. Why didn’t Danny just stay out of sight from the beginning? It’s not as if Squirk took a headcount. And it’s a bit obvious to tip-toe away from a group that is directly in front of the bad guy, and then start waving at the sky.
Crank announces as Squirk’s best friend he just wants to say – yep, you’ve guessed it, Squirk twats him one with a leg and Crank disappears under the water. Then Squirk comments, “I’m so glad you’ve seen the light, so to speak.” And then dissolves into hysterical laughter over this pun. That’s not actually a pun at all.
I used to work with a woman like that. For every client we had, she would take the first syllable of their surname, add “ey”, and then say, “Pardon the pun.” e.g. “Pipey Piper, pardon the pun.” And the room would just blink at her in complete bafflement.
The Pegasi drop the net and Squirk starts blasting things with the stone – why not blast the net? [bat: WHY ANYTHING AT THIS POINT, DOVE.]
Then Buttons is tasked with using her magic to get it out of his hand. For some reason, the net they dropped from above is now completely surrounded Squirk and Crank, and the stone has gotten gigantic. Naturally, Buttons floats it over to Megan’s hands, because only the Great and Powerful Megan can have it.
Megan hops on Wind Whistler’s back and they fly off, while Megan blasts the water with the stone. This causes a whirlpool that sucks Squirk in and lowers the flood water. The good guys cheer that everything’s awesome. But with two minutes of runtime left and no plot, you know what we need?
A SONG, BITCHES!
Megan sings about how great everything will be (and truly mangling the note on “Bees will start to Buuuuuuuu-uuh-uuzzzzzzzzz”), while she blasts the soggy earth and makes it all pretty and flowery again.
So, this stone is a Sunstone variant? Also, do we really want bees to buzz? They’re ruled by a tyrant hopped up on pollen.
At the end of it all, Megan luzzes the stone at a mountain where it explodes – the stone, not the mountain, although given how powerful the stone is, I’d have honestly assumed the mountain would not win that one. Fizzy asks her why she destroyed it, and she says that the stone could be used for evil far too easily.
Time to destroy the Sunstone then, I guess.
Well. That was a thing that happened.
I gave it a C grade because the first episode was actually quite fun, if viewed as it is and not being the first part. The rest was a bit of a jumbled mess. The dialogue tended to rehash itself, and things were said – I’m thinking in particular of Pluma announcing she couldn’t find Squirk – that later turned out to be utterly irrelevant, even though they were delivered with a tone of great importance.
Also, I found it odd that Megan needed to destroy the stone, when it has such similar properties to the sunstone. Although I’m wondering if Lauren Faust took note of these stones and they later became the Elements of Magic in FiM.
Overall, not great, not bad, just a thing that happened, really. At least it was shorter than Flutter Valley. If they’d have dragged it out for ten episodes, I think you’d have a much angrier recap.
[bat: I can’t be as kind. All this crap could have been solved in 20 minutes. But no. The writers dragged it out, add more of those stupid nets, made the pseudo-villain more waffle-ly and weak-minded, and made the actual villain stupidly inept and nothing more than a (literal) big bully. Then instead of Megan solving the problem (this is a show aimed at girls, yo) the writers decided Danny — the only male character — needed to save the day. Granted, he used the female Ponies to help enact his plan but still. And, lastly, who the fuck does Megan think she is in destroying the FLASHSTONE? Who gave her the power to decide what is good and what could be used for evil? REMEMBER WHEN THE PONIES HAD A QUEEN? Boy that got shot right out of the canon, didn’t it. (There’s a whole topic for a podcast: what happened to all the monarchies that used to exist in Ponyland?) So, I’m giving these episodes an over all D grade.]
[Dove: Regarding the ponies having a queen, I cannot recommend this fic highly enough: A Mighty Demon Slayer Grooms Some Ponies. The writer seems to have a real love for the whole of MLP fandom, not just G4 with a touch of G1. They have worked hard to ensure that every bit of cannon – no matter how mish-mashed – lines up. I don’t want to spoil anything at all, but whether you’re a G1 or G4 fan (or both, like bat and me), this is a great fic to read. It covers the queen aspect, it has G1 and G4 going on, it respects every bit of cannon that was available at the time of writing (I believe some G4 has since been jossed). Go forth and read.]