My Little Pony: The Return of Tambelon – Parts 1-2 (S01E26-27)
Title: The Return of Tambelon – Parts 1-2
Summary: The legendary city of Tambelon returns after 500 years, resulting in missing Unicorns before the villain Grogar invades Dream Valley, bent on revenge against the Ponies. The usual nonsense follows. Enter White Girl Savior Megan, to form search parties and sing sad songs about unicorns.
IS THIS SERIES NOT OVER YET?
Yep, Dove and I are back for yet another recap of what I’m just going to go ahead and predict as a terrible episode (how can something/someone return if you’ve never fucking heard of them before??) but I did realize that this screen cap from Bright Lights is my new favorite representation of the toll this series has taken on Dove and I. Once… once we were happy and excited.
Now? Not so much.
Dove had the honour of recapping episode #25 and suffering through a plot line that left a bad taste in both our mouths. Like, it was bad. I know the bar is set below the crust of the Earth at this point but we still have a generous twenty-five episodes left of season 1.* (Well, okay, we’ve already recapped Rescue from Midnight Castle already, so technically just 23 episodes to go!)
Face it: Dove and I are still traumatized from Flutter fucking Valley. A GoFundMe will be set up for our eventual need for treatment and recovery. [Dove: That’s a good picture. I often do have pink hair. And dead eyes.]
As I mentioned, this episode involves Tambelon (I keep typing Tamberlan? ??? I don’t even know why??) and his/her/its alleged return. We’ve never met him/her/it and fuck knows why he/she/it would want to return to Dream Valley, unless (like every “villain” before him/her/it) he/she/it wants to steal and rule it as some kind of third-world dictator. I literally don’t know what Tambelon is. I’m assuming it’s the villain? Who knows.
You know what I’d rather be watching right now? The 3.5 hour fan edit of David Lynch’s film version of Dune. And I fucking hated Dune because the officially released film version never works / makes sense story-wise for me. Hell, I live an hour away from where Herbert got his inspiration for Arrakis and I still have never actually read the first novel* (bite me) but even the original film makes more sense then these damn cartoons.
(I didn’t run out of Vikings episodes to watch yet; I just need a break. I can only take so much of that, knowing what’s going to happen to Ragnar. And season 5 just ended; talk about a shitty cliff hanger to end on!) [Dove: I ran out of South Park. I’m on Catfish now.]
Okay now that I’ve rambled on and complained myself out, time to lock in and start recapping this clusterfuck. Shall we?
*fast forwards past the title/intro* [Dove: Don’t you love that we get 32 seconds of non-recap time every episode? God bless that lengthy intro song.]
Wow, that pan and scan of Paradise Estate and whatever other buildings on the Ponies’ property (BUY OUR MERCH) is real fast. My eyes can’t track properly. Ouch. So then it’s a zoom in and a cut to a huge group of Ponies in a vast open space. Okay. [Dove: This was a really bad quality episode. It was very pixelated, but it cleared up on the next episode.]
Oh look, it’s Danny. And Molly. We are still not rid of them. Though White Girl Savior Megan is no where to be seen. I was also wrong; there’s Baby Ponies mixed in the group. Paradise is standing in front of Danny, her hindquarters practically in Molly’s face.
(I will note that Paradise was one of my absolute top ten favorite Pony figures. And I totally had an aversion to white Ponies because they always showed the dirt and Paradise was no exception, being not only white and “So-Soft”. But it was the bright neon orange mane and tail and the palm tree cutie mark, on top of being a Pegasis, so I was doomed.) [Dove: My Paradise needs de-flocking. She came to me in a mess with a significant amount of flock missing. I got halfway through removing what was left and my kettle stopped working. I have since replaced the kettle. Twice. But never managed to find time to deflock the poor girl.]
Danny announces that it’s Paradise’s turn to be “IT” (“We all float down here, Georgie!”) so I guess the massive group of Ponies is playing Hide and Seek. We’re treated to Baby Ribbon’s cutesy baby talk explanation of the game (ugh) but Paradise practically snaps back that Unicorns are not allowed to “wink out” because it’s against the rules. [Dove: Please note, they’ve changed the rules again since the previous episode. Not just since the last time they played it in the series. Since the last episode.]
We finally fucking witnessed some rules of magic.
I think I might faint, Dove.
Paradise kneels down and poorly covers her eyes with her forelegs, and everyone around her starts to laugh and giggle and hey look, it’s Spike! Where’s he been the last few episodes?? Anyway, everyone dashes away and “hides” and we get more crappy baby talk bullshit, from Baby LS this time, who believes Paradise won’t find her behind a tree.
Danny begins to climb a tree and Molly sprints past, before we oddly cut to Shady stopping in front of a large boulder. “HIDE WITH ME, SHADY!” Molly pops out from behind it, startling the Pony before grabbing and physically pulling her behind the boulder. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? I THOUGHT WE’D MADE SOME PROGRESS BUT NOPE, THE WRITERS JUST UNDID IT ALL.
Baby Ribbon tries to jump, head-first, into what I thought was an ant hill or maybe a rabbit hole? She’s rudely shoved back out by a massive gopher (what is a standard size measurement in Dream Valley?) who squeal/chirps at her angrily. Baby Ribbon becomes panicked, insisting that Paradise will find her for sure now, since she can’t hide in the gopher’s hole.
Paradise is still kneeling, counting. Please count to infinity, darling, and leave the others to rot and die.
It isn’t to be, as she comes to ten and immediately trots over to the hill, observing Baby Ribbon wink out. Paradise cries foul, and suddenly Danny, Molly, Shady, Baby LS, and Ribbon appear. Wow. WOW. Ribbon is actually parenting! Holy shit! [Dove: You say parenting, but it’s more like she’s a teacher. These ponies do not give mother vibes to their children – probably because they came out of a magic mirror, rather than natural birth. Except for the Knight Shade episode. Then they referred to them as their babies.] [bat: So this is a ‘clones don’t need parenting!’ type of deal.]
Ribbon sniffs (?) the ground and announces loudly that winking is against the rules and demands her daughter wink back in. All that appears is Baby Ribbon’s tail with the white bow, as her disembodied voice states she didn’t mean to.
Ribbon’s tells her it’s okay and to wink fully back, but of course Baby Ribbon only manages her horn. Danny shames and bullies the Baby Pony by pointing out she has a lot of trouble with winking (CAN YOU WINK, DANNY? I DIDN’T THINK SO.) while Baby LS gives her friend encouragement. Even Ribbon is properly parenting, coaxing her daughter to fully return to her corporeal state.
Finally managing to perform the one bit of magic she’s relatively able to do, Baby Ribbon fully returns. Paradise announces they’ll start over again (where are the rest of the Ponies and Spike? Do they know the game paused??) and begins to count once more. Everyone else runs off to hide.
Baby Ribbon runs and slides down the bank, announcing aloud that she’ll hide in the “pool”, which isn’t a fucking pool, it’s a goddamn pond. Jumping in, she’s immediately lifted out of the water by a Baby Sea Pony. (SHOO-BE-DOO!) Sea Shimmer isn’t pleased with the intruder, somehow able to toss Baby Ribbon back on the shore with ease.
PHYSICS. WHAT ARE THEY.
Paradise finishes counting and calls, “Ready or not, here I come!” Baby Ribbon dons her best ‘oh shit!’ expression before hiding, literally, behind a tiny rock. Like, are you kidding me. Paradise even says, “Someone’s hiding behind that rock!” This is just fucking stupid. Writers aren’t even trying.
As soon as Paradise names Baby Ribbon (know a thing’s name, you have power over it) she attempts to hide even more (??) before she winks out for the second time this episode. Paradise is just fucking shocked before complaining about the Baby Pony breaking the rules yet again. Everyone else (???) suddenly wanders into the shot, because apparently they weren’t really hiding that far and/or well. Danny bitches that Baby Ribbon is no fun. Pot, meet kettle, asshat.
Ribbon, talking to thin air, directs her daughter to return. Danny complains some more, Molly clapping back that it’s a baby Pony and to give the kid a break. But Baby Ribbon doesn’t return at all, leading Ribbon to worry. She actually goes to look for her child, winking out. The working theory is that Baby Ribbon winked back in somewhere else. Sure. Go with that.
Apparently some time passes, because the rest of the Ponies are sitting in that field around that stupid tiny rock, waiting for Ribbon to return. Molly voices her worry and anxiety, convinced something has happened to the two Ribbon(ses?) and Danny insists they involve everyone’s favorite White Girl Savior, Megan. Like we’d ever have a four-part episode that didn’t involve Megan showing up. Ponies can build a giant fucking dog house but can’t find their missing sister without involving a human?
Paradise literally lifts the stupid rock, to make sure Ribbon and Baby Ribbon haven’t hidden under it (??!!!) while wondering aloud where they’ve gone.
OOoOo! We get a fancy side swipe fade! Production values just skyrocketed! It’s a rundown looking… okay I guess it’s a bunch of crumbling towers which is supposed to say “CASTLE” but I’m not sure any of the background painters looked at a castle for reference, because you can’t have about 50 towers crammed like that, a castle it does not make.
Where ever the fuck we are, we hear Ribbon calling for Baby Ribbon. The place is basically (seemingly) uninhabitable and there’s mist (smoke? fog??) and I am totally thinking about Tir Asleen. Time to rewatch Willow! (Mmm, Madmartigan. Val Kilmer at his peak 80s hotness.)
We finally see Ribbon, who’s standing on a bridge, wondering where the fuck she just winked to. Suddenly a bunch of shadowy figures start running at her, sending Ribbon running away… though the scenery does not show if she’s running into the town or out of it. Your guess is as good as mine.
DOESN’T MATTER. We’re smash cut back to Paradise Estate. Megan is telling everypony to not jump to conclusions and there’s no way to know if Ribbon and Baby Ribbon are in trouble (is that one of the things on the drinking game? because it should be on there.) Galaxy copies Star Wars and says she has a “bad feeling about it”. Before Megan can stop the unicorn, Galaxy winks out. BAD IDEA.
Megan again tries to tell everyone to stop freaking out over nothing but Paradise reminds her that unicorns have the ability to wink out almost instantaneously, so Galaxy should have winked back in if everything was okay. UM. SO MANY QUESTIONS. HOW DOES MAGIC WORK. WHY ARE YOU MAKING THIS UP AS THIS SERIES PROGRESSES. GIVE ME GODDAMN ANSWERS.
[Dove: Megan’s stank face is epic. If this was fifteen years ago, that would be my default LJ icon. Probably with the caption (in either Silkscreen of 04b font), “Bitch, please.”]
Because plot says so, Paradise is able to convince Megan there’s a problem. Megan immediately takes control, telling everypony to spread the word that winking isn’t allowed until this mystery is solved. And the fucking Ponies just tell her how perfect she is. I… can’t… even…
A big group of Pegasi head over to the Lullabye Nursery (BUY OUR MERCH) to tell the Unicorns they’re not allowed to wink until Megan tells them it’s okay. Yeah, that’s gonna go over well. Inside the nursery, the Baby Ponies have apparently stacked pillows (that look like grain sacks??) into an enormous pile, upon which Baby LS is standing. She’s yelling how she’s queen of the mountain.
OH NO, BABY GUSTY, DO NOT WINK UP TO THE TOP TO “SHOW HER.
Even though Paradise and the rest of the adult Pegasi arrive well within time, A) I don’t understand how they know Baby Gusty is about to wink, since they weren’t in the room when she announced the intention, and B) BECAUSE PLOT SAYS SO, Baby Gusty totally winks out. Wah wah. [Dove: There was literally no indication that Baby Gusty would wink. It was eye-poking.]
Doesn’t matter. Another fancy sideways wipe and we’re in the forest, where Fizzy is chasing a butterfly. Because Fizzy. She follows it to the river’s edge, where a perfect path of stones aligned just so lead across the water. Fizzy stops before she crosses because three Baby Sea Ponies rise from the river. Yep, that’s them, they’re singing SHOO-BE-DOO. Like, you always have to announce your arrival with song? Seriously?
Although there was zero indication of trouble, one asks Fizzy what’s wrong. (I am so confused.) She says she wants to cross the water. Another Baby Sea Pony points out the rocks and says for Fizzy to use them. She says she’s afraid of falling in. My brain hurts. I mean, I totally understand that rocks are slippery and there’s a good chance of falling but what does it matter.
“I THINK I’LL JUST WINK ACROSS,” Fizzy announces, which she promptly does. Only instead of reappearing, Megan, Molly, Danny, Paradise, and Shady run into the frame FROM OUT OF THIN AIR.
OH GOD THE BABY SEA PONIES ARE LEAPING INTO THE AIR IN PANIC AND SINGING SHOO BE DO IN A FAST PACED CLIP I THINK THEY WANT MEGAN’S ATTENTION (this is literally the dumbest thing ever.) [Dove: Is this their new outro? You know how you use different bits of a song for the intro and outro?] [bat: Oh god I hope not.]
“Hi,” Molly says to the Baby Sea Ponies. IGNORING THEIR AGITATED STATE. “Have you seen Fizzy around?”
“She just winked out!” One Baby Sea Pony states, before another says that Fizzy didn’t wink back in. Boy, the Ponies are just shocked.
“I’M AFRAID GUSTY’S GONE, TOO.” Megan announces. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. PROVE IT, YOU BITCH. Oh, are you kidding me???! “She was too impatient to run back here for lunch so she winked out instead.” WORST REASON EVER. POOR GUSTY. YOU DESERVE BETTER.
For no reason (or is there?) Buttons points out she’s the only Unicorn left. (Now, maybe in this episode…) Annnnd there goes Megan with her old standard “SEARCH PARTIES!” Get a new shtick, woman. [Dove: NEW TAG! You’ve earned it Megan.] [bat: Megan has so many tags now. Damn it, she’s stealing the spotlight yet again!]
Side wipe and…. what the hell, where are we? Suddenly there’s like rock walls and stalactites and the sun is setting and WHO MAPPED OUT DREAM VALLEY?? How long have Megan and Co. been walking that they’re suddenly in that kind of setting??
Megan insists they need to return to Paradise Estate. Buttons wants to check around one last rock (??) when Megan YELLS for her to stop, that the rocks look like they might give way. YEAH AND OF COURSE THEY DO BECAUSE MEGAN YELLING AT BUTTONS SETS OFF A LANDSLIDE.
At the very last second before being crushed to death by Megan’s carelessness, Buttons winks out. Gingerbread helpfully announces that she witnessed this. Everyone stares at the rock pile before we smash cut back to Paradise Estate.
Megan, in bed, is dreaming. Or, more accurately, having a nightmare. She’s running through a dark cave in slow-motion, gasping for air, before she rounds a corner. She’s shocked to see Ribbon standing there. Ribbon says, “Tambelon!” before she and Megan are overtaken by a rams-headed figure.
Awake now, Megan has gathered everypony and is recounting her nightmare. Paradise admits the name Tambelon is familiar, tied to the legend of a lost city. Megan points out that Ribbon was obviously trying to reach her telepathically. (HOW DOES UNICORN MAGIC WORK?!?!) (Also, I take issue with this, wouldn’t it be astral projection? A mix?)
LITTLE MISS PESSIMIST 1986, aka Molly, whines they’ll never see the Unicorns again. Gingerbread insists they’ll return. Well, at least someone in this group is an optimist.
OH AND HERE’S THE FUCKING SONG. BECAUSE WE NEED A SONG ABOUT MISSING UNICORNS APPROPRIATELY TITLED, “WHERE HAVE THE UNICORNS GONE?”
Also: when the hell did Queen Rosedust of the Flutter fucking Ponies show up?? [Dove: Further questions: Why was Megan riding Rosedust, when it’s been established Flutter Ponies can’t carry humans, their wings are too delicate? Why were the cloud ponies in the sky not Unicorns? Why aren’t we watching The Last Unicorn instead?] [bat: Because I cry when watching The Last Unicorn, that’s why.]
Molly watches clouds form into shapes of unicorns and all I can say is this is a gigantic rip off of The Last Unicorn. And a very poor one, indeed.
Somehow, because plot says so, we go from everyone wandering around in the dark singing about missing unicorns, to daylight and everypony is back in the same field where they were playing hide and seek the day before. Paradise recounts the story/legend of Tambelon. Let me surmise, because…. ugh….
Tambelon is basically a liminal space, a “realm of darkness” inbetween worlds. Ruled by Grogar, it hasn’t been seen by anyone in over 500 years. (Exactly how long do Ponies live? I HAVE QUESTIONS.) Grogar, of course, attacked and tried to take over Dream Valley / Ponyland, but of course Paradise has zero recollection of how he was stopped and/or defeated. Great. BUT WHO CARES BECAUSE HE SWORE REVENGE AND SAID HE’D RETURN 500 YEARS LATER SO I GUESS IT’S BEEN 500 YEARS NOW.
Megan points out that the story doesn’t explain what happened to the Unicorns. Wow, Megan making a valid point for once. Will wonders never cease.
Paradise posits that if Tambelon is an inbetween place, maybe it takes time for it to reappear, slowly seeping into reality. So, and because this is kind of glossed over in Paradise’s explanation: pockets of Tambelon have joined to reality, so it means that inbetween place where Unicorns wink to between point A and point B have become Tambelon.
IT MAKES SENSE FOR ONCE. OH MY GOD. I CAN’T BELIEVE SOMEONE ON THIS SHOW MADE A VALID THEORY OF SPACE/TIME/RELATIVITY. [Dove: *blinks* Oh, pants. I did not process that. So, um, spoilers. In my recap of the final two parts, I mention I have no clue how all this works together.] [bat: To be fair, you hadn’t read my half yet, so you did not have that insight. Besides, this is literally the first and only time something like this, in this damn series, has ever been written to make sense.]
Molly sums it up best: “YOU MEAN THEY MIGHT BE IN TAMBELON??” Give that girl a prize!
Over in what’s obviously Tambelon, which is looking a lot less crumbly and decrepit and more stable, it’s still night. All the Unicorns have been rounded up and imprisoned in a cave slash tower, where two creatures (that are called Troggle, how original) bring bowls of disgusting-looking food to them. A talking donkey creature, who is with the Troggle, laughs and shuts the door with his tail (pretty sure donkey tails aren’t prehensile but this a talking donkey, so who cares) as the three leave the Unicorns to partake of what could be their last meal in a very long time.
We learn that Unicorns can’t wink through walls (YET GALAXY TOTALLY WINKED OUT OF A ROOM IN PARADISE ESTATE??) and the door is locked. Ribbon reveals she attempted to send a dream message to Megan about where they are being held. See, not exactly telepathy.
The donkey creature approaches a throne, where Grogar sits. Grogar tells Bray to prepare the Troggles for invasion (this is not some sci-fi space invasion, wtf) and then zaps at the donkey creature, telling him not to dawdle. Sigh. Yet again we have a second-in-command who is heavily verbally and physically abused by the head villain. NOTHING EVER CHANGES.
Shit. Megan is at it again, forming more fucking search parties. Like, my god, find another way to solve the mystery, you twat. [Dove: Comments like that are the reason I haven’t abandoned this project. As long as bat amuses me, I’m sticking with this terrible show. No pressure, bat.] [bat: It’s be a SASSWOOLIE or take up binge drinking while recapping. If I was drunk, we’d never get such witty commentary out of me. So SASSWOOLIE it is. Plus having you along for the ride to suffer through this with makes it bearable, Dove.] But, her plans are ruined when the sun is blotted out eclipse-style and the winds kick up and a storm pushes in. Megan comments that it’s odd.
And that’s when a giant thunderhead cloud spews lightning before coalescing into the shape of Tambelon. YOU JUST GOT INVADED, BITCH.
The gate… draw bridge… drops down and the Togals pour out of the city, Bray yelling that they must capture the little Ponies in the name of Grogar. Okay.
OH MY GOD. DOVE. I CAN’T. I JUST CAN’T. THE TOGALS HAVE SPEARS THAT SHOOT ENERGY BOLTS THAT TURN INTO CAGES. WHY IS SHADY STANDING OUTSIDE THE ENERGY BOLT CAGE THOUGH HOW DO CAGES WORK. [Dove: I had the same capslock of confusion reaction when I watched. Stay cool, we’ll get through this.] [bat: HOW DO CAGES WORK will be on our tombstones, Dove.]
The Troggles advance, shooting energy bolts haphazardly, yelling as they attempt to capture the Ponies. We see Megan and Ponies running past Paradise Estate, some Ponies carrying Baby Ponies by the scruffs of their necks (THIS IS PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE, PONIES ARE NOT CATS) and one Troggle manages to fire a bolt off that puts a cage around the trio of Baby Sea Ponies.
We pan across the grounds of Paradise Estate, seeing Ponies trapped in energy beam cages, as the Troggles stand guard. Bray announces their victory as Grogar appears from the mists.
“Today, Dream Valley, tomorrow, ALL OF PONYLAND!” The ram villain dude rasps before the screen fades to black.
*gives up, lets opening credits run*
We rejoin events at night, with Troggles guarding Paradise Estate, which is now situated on a cliff (??) [Dove: That’s in line with any episode/special where there is flooding. But at odds with any other episode.] and everypony that was captured has apparently been moved somewhere for holding.
Tambelon, fully formed and joined to the Dream Valley reality (hey, wait a minute, if this land is known as Pony Land, does that make Ponies the default rulers?? Why are there so many other kings/queens/princesses then, that are trying to overthrow them???) and looks totally different then it did in the previous episode but children wouldn’t notice. Nope. Just adults recapping this series 30-some years later.
Bray approaches Grogar in his throne room, explaining that nearly all the Ponies and their friends have been captured. This displeases Grogar. He demands that every inhabitant of Pony Land be in the dungeons by nightfall.
So… does that mean the Bees? The Flutter Ponies? The pig who fancied herself a princess? The Bushwoolies? Them bird-creature things? The Stone Backs, Hydia & co, the Moochik and the forest creatures, the Grumbles (??), the cousin things to the Bushwoolies, the giant spider, and all the rest of the creatures we’ve encountered in 26 episodes????? THAT’S A TALL ORDER TO FILL, GROGAR.
A Troggle runs in with a dish of what might be hard-boiled eggs to hand-feed to Grogar. Weird. Bray just stands there, awkwardly. Grogar adds that he is especially interested in humans, because “they have hands!” Well, this is taking a potentially sick turn. I should note, being an anthropomorphic ram, Grogar has hooves, thus why the Troggle has to feed him.
“WE NEED MORE SLAVES WITH HANDS!” (DRINK!! DRINK THE WHOLE GODDAMN BOTTLE!) [Dove: *wails* Noooooo! We already had the creepy subtext episode.]
Well, it appears that some of the Ponies escaped, along with Megan, Molly, and Danny. They’re literally sitting around a tiny bonfire in the middle of a huge clearing (way to stay hidden!) while Paradise explains the Baby Ponies are safe in the Moochik’s care. Um. Are you sure he’ll remember they’re there, and to feed them? What if that rabbit died???
Hey! Wait! When did those Bushwoolies show up??
Paradise continues that every Sea Pony except Surf Rider and Sea Lily have been captured. If I remember correctly, those are Baby Sea Ponies and I know I owned Surf Rider. [Dove: This is the last time sea ponies are seen or mentioned. Fuck those SHOO-BE-DOOO bitches.]
Oh shit, there’s more Flutter Ponies, too! Man, the writers are just throwing everything into the pot this episode. According to Honeysuckle, she and Forget-Me-Not are the only Flutter Ponies who escaped the silly energy cages. WHAT HAPPENED TO QUEEN ROSEDUST??
And we’re down to four free Bushwoolies. Man, those Bushwoolies just never escape enslavement, do they. (Which, if you watched this in order, you wouldn’t know they were once Catrina’s slaves underground, because that special doesn’t show up until the end of next season.)
There’s an earthquake (?) and a Grundle pops up from the dirt (oh, right, Grundle not Grumble) and there’s three with him but every other Grundle was captured. Okay, I have to give credit where it’s due: the Troggles work fast and efficiently. Those energy spears really are effective. [Dove: And let’s remove credit where necessary too. Four Grundles are complaining that all other Grundles have been taken? THERE ARE ONLY FIVE FUCKING GRUNDLES LEFT ON THE PLANET AFTER THE SMOOZE! (*hand on heart* “Awww, Grundleland.”) SO BASICALLY, THEIR SIT-REP SHOULD ACTUALLY BE: “One of our party was taken.”] [bat: Just like every thing else, mathematics don’t matter in Pony Land.]
Lickety-Split asks a valid question of Megan: what are they going to do and how will they stop Grogar?
Megan: OH CHEER UP EVERYBODY! AS LONG AS WE’RE FREE THERE’S STILL A CHANCE!
You know what: FUCK OFF, MEGAN. I’m so sick of her.
Danny: “Tell us what to do first, Megan!” OH FUCK YOU, YOU BOOTLICKING ASSHAT.
White Girl Savior decides they need to break into Tambelon and rescue everyone. I can’t. I just can’t. The Grundles suggest they tunnel in from underneath. Problem with that is they leave very obvious disturbances in the topsoil. [Dove: Which is at complete odds from when they pop out of a “hole”, because the animators didn’t draw a hole. So the Grundles just pop out of undisturbed grass.] Which, when the king of the Grundles pops up to the surface, he finds a group of Troggles waiting for him. A chase ensues. Somehow, because plot, the Grundles make it back to Megan & Co. without leading the Troggles directly to them. Sure.
Now the Bushwoolies decide they will sneak into Tambelon masquerading as TUMBLEWEEDS!
I would laugh if this weren’t so sad. How do they even know what a tumbleweed is?
Plan fails, as the faux “tumbleWoolies” approach the Troggles, who announce that tumbleweeds are great for target practice and start firing energy beams at them.
Megan announces they NEED A PLAN. Danny has an idea. Great. We’re all gonna be enslaved and die.
Danny suggests that one can sneak in, instead of many. Well, he can do math. Megan, on the other hand, decides that two is basically one (??) and she and Lofty are going to fly into Tambelon before sunrise. Sigh.
Flying off, because now Tambelon is on a cliff instead of plopped in the middle of the open valley field (?? WHAT IS GEOGRAPHY) and the Troggle guards at the draw bridge don’t see a YELLOW PEGASI WITH A TEENAGE HUMAN GIRL ON HER BACK FLYING RIGHT INTO THE FUCKING CITY.
(“I can show you the world: shining, shimmering, splendid.” NOW IT’S IN YOUR HEAD, TOO.) [Dove: I won’t, I won’t… ♫ Over sideways and under on a magic carpet riiiiiiide! ♫]
Lofty lands and Megan helpfully announces: “Well, now we’re inside. Now all we have to do is find them!” My god. Who wrote this crap.
Down in the dungeon, the Ponies aren’t sitting around waiting for Megan to save their butts. (Though, we all know Megan will take all the credit for the impending rescue, because Megan.) Magic Star and Gingerbread are watching Galaxy working her magic (which, again, is it extremely specific tasks tied to the individual, as has been said in other episodes, or do all unicorns have common abilities?? MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MINDS, WRITERS) where she loosens one of the big stone blocks in the wall. They push it until it falls out of the wall on the other side (that just sounds awkward when written in a sentence) where, amazingly, there’s a fucking tunnel. “I just know it leads to freedom!” crows Gingerbread. Tone down the optimism, girl. [Dove: Don’t dis Gingerbread. She’s in one of our favourite poses. And she’s so pretty.] [bat: I agree, but the cartoon version is v. annoying at times.]
Magic Star announces she, Galaxy, and Heartthrob will explore the tunnel. Everyone else is to stay in the dungeon
where they could be tortured and killed if Grogar is an actual villain. Somehow (because PLOT SAYS SO) the Ponies don’t have to get very far before they come upon a room with a gigantic copper (brass?) bell in it. It’s covered in webs and what I think is supposed to be Spanish moss, but whatever, it’s clearly been unused for, say, 500 years.
Heartthrob forgets she’s trying to escape a fucking prison and is instead going antiquing. Ugh. Galaxy, on the other hand, can sense power in the bell. OKAY SOMEONE TELL ME HOW EACH UNICORN’S POWERS WORK.
That’s when Heartthrob notices a staircase with an open door at the top. Heading towards it, the clop clop sound effects do not match their steps.
We fade back to Megan and Lofty, who are watching a Troggle patrol from their hiding place on that decorative span. For being an ancient city, Tambelon’s builders believed in sewers, because for some reason there’s a giant manhole cover in the middle of that faux cobblestone street. And guess what? The three Ponies push it aside and pop up to the surface, where Megan and Lofty see them. Sure. Whatever.
Heartthrob is absolutely panicked about how she looks after being in a dungeon. Megan says the only worthwhile thing she’s ever said: “Not now, Heartthrob!”
She directs the Ponies to retrace their steps and collect the others, bringing them back to Megan, so she can lead them out of the city gates.
AND TAKE EVERY INCH OF CREDIT FOR HERSELF. [Dove: I hate her.] [bat: If we were to ever sink low enough to make merch to sell, a shirt with Megan’s face and I HATE in a cutesy 80s font above it would be the first thing to get made.]
It’s time to check in with our contestants on Survivor: Pony Land. Molly = still whinging and displaying excessive worry about Megan and Lofty. I swear to god, this poor child is going to need so much therapy to deal with this shit.
Peach Blossom decides to “reconnoiter” and “ascertain” what’s “transpiring”. (I know those words, but does any 4 year old? I would hesitate to say I knew them and what they meant back then but I was also a child with a super above-average vocabulary, so it’s plausible.) I don’t know why Peach Blossom is suddenly a flying thesaurus but there you go.
Lickety-Split sums up the audiences’ reaction: “Huh?”
Peach Blossom uses MOR BEEG WERDS before flying away to go see if she can find Megan and Lofty. Yay. You do that.
Back in the dungeon, all the Ponies and Bushwoolies are staring at the empty hole in the wall in anticipation. Galaxy pokes her head through, her horn glowing with an appropriate sound effect to indicate **MAGIC** She tells everyone Megan’s come to show everyone the way out. UM, SO THE FACT YOU MOVED THE BLOCK AND WALKED THROUGH THE TUNNEL AND UP THE STAIRS AND POPPED THE MANHOLE COVER MEANS ZILCH BECAUSE WHITE GIRL SAVIOR HAS ARRIVED. [Dove: DUDES! YOU SAVED YOURSELVES. MEGAN JUST ARRIVED AS YOU WERE NEARLY FINISHED. FUCK THAT BITCH.]
If I didn’t hate Megan before…
While they traverse the tunnel, etc., etc., Peach Blossom flies over Tambelon without being seen. Weird. Megan is down in the streets, as Ponies pop up through the manhole cover, telling them the gates aren’t far from their location. She intends to get everyone out when there’s a shift change among the guards. Okay.
Peach Blossom finally discovers them (she’s basically Google Maps Street View and a drone rolled into one) but it’s almost too late: a patrol of Troggles led by Bray is coming down another street and the groups are about to collide! Whizzer is running at the mouth about how they’re going to escape, when, because plot says so, they crash into the enemy. [Dove: Much as I dislike the toy, I love Whizzer. Maybe because, like Gusty, she’s one of the few that doesn’t have the default personality.] [bat: The toy was a terrible object, proof that someone didn’t think about complimentary colours when designing her. Which was a shame.]
Immediately the Troggles begin to fire on the Ponies. Whizzer takes charge, instructing Fizzy to make bubbles and (I think) she orders Gusty to blow on the Troggles. Um?
Fizzy says she didn’t know this was a party (??) before she finds a puddle and starts to slowly magic bubbles out of the water. Like, that’s ridiculously slow.
OH. Whizzer meant for Gusty to blow the BUBBLES at the Troggles. Ugh. Because bubbles are going to stop enemies with spears that shoot lasers that turn into cages. Sure. At least the Bushwoolies activate SASS MODE, curling into balls and throwing themselves into the Troggles like fuzzy tumbleweeds, knocking them down. Bray, who was hiding in a trash can, decides he must get Grogar, who is the only character who can stop the Ponies. Huh? I guess this is because he has hooves and can’t fire one of the spears. All comes back to that enslavement trope.
Galloping into the throne room, Bray tells Grogar the Ponies are escaping and for some reason we get a big old zoom in on Grogar’s burning red eyes before SMASH CUTTING to an awkwardly framed shot of the Ponies running/flying/fleeing Tambelon, though how the street is that wide and the buildings are just black cutouts, I call budget shenanigans
OH LOOK. A WALL. THE CITY HAS AN ACTUAL WALL. WHICH WAS NOT REMOTELY CLEAR FROM ALL THE OTHER TIMES IT WAS SHOWN. EVEN THOUGH THERE’S THAT SAME DRAW BRIDGE SLASH DOOR.
Two Troggles guard it but don’t seem to be in any hurry to stop the onslaught of Ponies galloping at break neck speed towards them. Dudes. You have spears that shoot energy bolts. What the actual fuck.
Oh wait, spoke too soon. They start firing at the last minute, missing everything of course. They might as well be Imperial Stormtroopers. Megan yells they have to stop the sentries or they’ll end up back in the dungeon. Heartthrob says something entirely dumb and complains about the nerve of said sentries shooting at them. Um.
Heartthrob grabs one of the spears with her mouth while Lofty swoops in and Megan grabs the other spear, throwing the guard into the other and knocking both down. Both guards flee the scene, screaming. I dunno. I would be afraid of Megan having access to any laser weaponry as well.
With a literal crook of her finger (oh my god, wtf) Megan directs the Ponies to line up and stand on their back hooves and push open the wooden door, which for the record has now become two doors, so it’s doubled in width DURING THIS SCENE.
Just when it looks as though the Ponies and Friends might escape, Grogar appears on a rampart and his horns begin to glow before what looks like pink Force lightning shoots out of the points at the Ponies, Megan, and the Bushwoolies.
HOLY SHIT, THE LIGHTNING JUST FORMED A SOLID METAL CAGE AROUND GALAXY, GINGERBREAD, AND GUSTY! A triple G score!
I don’t…. I… what the fuck? The “cage” that’s formed around Megan, a Bushwoolie, and Lofty has no top or bottom. It’s just metal poles that MEGAN COULD CLEARLY WALK BETWEEN. Ugh. [Dove: Oh no. Not this again.]
OH! LOOK! It’s Peach Blossom, who’s apparently witnessed ALL OF THIS and instead of helping (because that would be stupid and she would have been most certainly imprisoned with the others) she’s now free to fly back and alert the other Ponies, Danny, and Molly. Yay?
Oh, my bad. Peach Blossom, for all her loquaciousness, is too stupid to fly low and under the radar. Nope. She flies DIRECTLY OVERHEAD, where Grogar sees her. He shoots more pink Force lighting at her, bolts zapping all around her, but Peach Blossom totally flies free. I can’t. So stupid.
Giving up entirely too easily, Grogar directs Bray to have the Troggles return the Ponies, Megan, and the Bushwoolies to the dungeon. He also threatens Bray that if the prisoners escape again, Bray will find himself imprisoned as well.
Over at the rebel base, Peach Blossom is recounting her findings and stupid escape. Molly wails that Megan’s now a prisoner as well, though Danny is no comfort: “We gotta do something soon or Grogar will rule Pony Land!”
FADE TO BLACK
Holy crap! I just found the episode that had its song cut from it! I didn’t have to suffer through a second stupid song about planning a rescue! I feel so blessed!
Huh. Well, Tambelon wasn’t what I thought it was. For some reason I thought Grogar was named Tambelon, so for once, the plot twist worked on me? Yay? I honestly have no recollection of this 4-part episode, so everything was actually a surprise.
FWIW, the idea of a city reappearing 500 years after some kind of magical defeat is intriguing. Sadly, how many times has this trope (villain returns after X years to exact revenge on Ponies) been used so far in this show? Too many. The bloom is off that rose.
Grogar and Bray are yet another pair in a long line of villain and cohort, though Grogar’s motives aren’t entirely clear. Yes, he wants revenge, but if that revenge is just because he was (purportedly) defeated (over 500 years ago) what was his original goal? Just to rule Pony Land? Seems kind of stupid and vague. Every fucking villain wants to rule Pony Land, for totally unclear reasons. The Troggles are nothing more then NPC background characters who get to shoot lasers.
After how many episodes of begging and pleading, we were given a bit more insight into how Unicorn magic works. No, I did not get full answers, or any satisfaction, out of what was revealed, because it ends up confusing the issue all the more. The Unicorns clearly have cutie mark-specific powers that only they can use but on a general level, how magic works and what is universal powers is completely unclear.
Physics, relativity, biology, geography, and every other natural law still continue to be violated and misused, so I’ll have that to keep complaining about.
I’m gonna give this one a C-. Why? Because of the progress on explaining magic and its use, the concept of liminal spaces being introduced into a children’s cartoon, and the fact that Grogar has zero motive except Being Teh Evilz. I feel like as much as I hate vagueness, it works in these two episodes.
Sending it over to Dove for the second half.
(*Since writing this, I have purchased an actual copy of Dune. Apparently I need a change of scenery and a book that doesn’t involve vampires, zombies, ritual magic (oh, wait?) and trips to hell.)
[Dove: So far, a C- from me too. I enjoyed these first two parts – although I think at this point they are actively laughing at us with Megan’s Mary Sue behaviour. I like the mystery of a long-vanished city appearing. It had a strong feeling of The City on the Edge of Midnight from the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon. And just like that episode, I think it was much more awesome in the 80s. This episode actually had a sense of menace towards the characters (contextually, at least), and one of the tropes I find most scary is the unknown. Serial killer comes after you, shoot in the head or the heart. Not scary. Get dragged to a mysterious world while doing something you do every day without thinking? Way scary. Let’s see whether it works when we see the next two episodes.]
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