Title: The Return of Tambelon (Parts 3-4)
Summary: So, the Unicorns were winking because that’s how they roll, except that when they winked out, they never winked back in. A city called Tambelon disappeared 500 years ago, and somehow when they winked, they ended up there. It might have been explained, but I’ve been recapping this series for nearly a year now, and very rarely is anything explained.
Then Grogar, a pissed-off goat who lived in the city of Tambelon, rocked up and pony-napped a load of ponies. Megan had a psychic dream. The ponies saved themselves, and Megan rocked up at the last minute to take credit for it. Just as they were about to leave through the city gates, Grogar showed up again to capture them once more.
Peach Blossom (I think), a Flutter Pony who acts exactly like Wind Whistler, saw everything and told the rest of the ponies. And Danny and Molly.
In a shocking turn of events, there was no song in Part 2. My gast is well and truly flabbered. [bat: It was (allegedly) cut. It was supposed to be between where Megan was sitting around the fire with her siblings and the Ponies and then she’s suddenly standing and talking to Danny.]
Finally, I think Tambelon sounds like a sanitary product. The kind that helps you wear white jeans and go roller skating with a cute boy and a dog, while some very now pop music plays. (I may have just had a flashback to the Dr Alban ‘It’s My Life’ tampax advert here.)
I will refer to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as FiM, to save typing it all the time.
I don’t really have any. bat tweeted that Tambelon was not what she thought it was. So I’m intrigued. At this point, I haven’t watched any of the four episodes (I’m going to batch watch them), but I’m guessing this won’t be as good as the FiM Crystal Empire plot.
First of all, did Grogar ever introduce himself, because Team Good Guy keep using his name, but I don’t think he told them. He might have done and I didn’t catch it. [bat: As far as I know, he didn’t, but Bray yelled ‘In the name of Grogar, blah blah blah!’ when the Troggles started their attack in episode 1.]
We open with the un-captured half of Team Good discussing the situation. Peach Blossom and Wind Whistler are sharing a scene. They both use too many words. I love language. I do. I think it can be a brilliant tool. But when you apply the “right-click, synonyms” method to dialogue, it’s painful.
Peach Blossom notes that when Grogar uses magic, the bell around his neck glows. Wind Whistler wonders if that’s where his power comes from. Except they’re not that straightforward, and have to translate into dummy-speak for Danny.
Molly then comes up with the frankly odd plan of recording Bray’s voice and using it to lure Grogar outside (Bray is Grogar’s donkey lackey), where they can snatch the bell. Not sure why Danny has a Dictaphone on him in Ponyland. Perhaps he’s a lawyer. Every lawyer I know treats theirs as if it’s a delicate vessel that holds the entire world’s evil and one jolt could end the world, or like it’s their snuggy blankey they can’t sleep without. [bat: Oh my god. Danny grew up to be Louis Litt??!] [Dove: I can’t live with that idea. I love Louis Litt. But I could really live with the idea of him being one of Louis’ associates.] [bat: Fair enough.]
Danny reveals that he left his backpack at Paradise Estate. Surprise says they’ll get it back. Then gives a massive belly laugh, as if something funny happened or has been said. Surprise is a fucking moron. Then she shrieks that they’ll take the Troggles by surprise. I’m sure it would be surprising, if she hadn’t yelled at the top of her lungs.
We cut to the Troggle camp around Paradise Estate, which I hadn’t even realised was a thing. Surprise improbably leaps out of a wooden barrel right next to the front gate, which has never been there before, but is now because the plot says so. She blows raspberries and generally irritates the Troggles into chasing her. All of them.
Danny then rides Cherries Jubilee into Paradise Estate, whooping like a moron, and snags his bag, which is not a backpack, but a messenger bag. And you’re right, now I’m just being a dick with the nit-picks. The Troggles block their exit, so Danny says, “The window!” and Cherries Jubilee bolts for it. Oddly, the ground is at the same level as the windowsill, which is just plain weird. [bat: What does size and relativity matter in Pony Land!]
Paradise Estate constantly moves around. In some shows it’s in a valley, next to a waterfall (and thus, could believably be cut into the land, and a window would be on level with the ground), but on most it’s at the top of a hill, saving it from flooding and Smooze and so forth, which makes this window setup very unlikely.
We cut to Danny holding the cassette recorder and saying it still works. Then we cut again to them hiding between tents outside Tambelon, and Danny warning everyone to be careful as they were nearly spotted when they flew in. I guess they left good old Cherries Jubilee home then, since she’s an Earth Pony.
They spot Bray and he starts yelling at the Troggles, while Danny records him. As Danny hits the stop button, everyone spots him. They manage to escape with no problem. And I put about as much effort into those two sentences as the creators did with the tension and length of that scene. It really wasn’t anything special.
We cut to Danny, who has inexplicably been able to “splice the tape together” to create Bray yelling to Grogar this is his last chance to capture the ponies. I don’t know how he did that with a single cassette recorder/player. Who’s a cute little Danny Sue? You are. You are!
Masquerade then enters the scene in a Bray costume. Even FiM’s Rarity can’t pull costumes together that quickly.
And then we cut to the plan in action. Grogar looks down from his battlements, and sees what he thinks is Bray, saying it’s his last chance to capture the ponies. Then Team Good runs away and he follows them into a clearing.
Danny calls, “Give up, Grogar, we’ve got you surrounded!” which puts me in mind of the wrestling meme “If creative says you’re surrounded, you’re surrounded.” (Three people surround a four-sided ring. There is clearly a way out. It even leads backstage. But the plot says you are surrounded.)
Grogar has even less comprehension of the word “surrounded” than either Danny or WWE Creative, and retorts, “No, I’ve got you surrounded!”
Let me tell you a story. A few months ago, Raven and I were sitting in our living room and we smelled smoke. We checked the house and ensured our house was not ablaze. We heard shouting out the back. We went out the back door and next door had set fire to some flammable junk in their yard, which shared a wall with our house. Some of our neighbours were out the back. One called to my next-door neighbour (in a pleasant and non-confrontational tone), “Here, mate! Your house is on fire!”
Next-door neighbour leant out of his back door, seemingly oblivious to the fire tickling his chin, and retorted, “Fuck off! Your house is on fire!”
Same thing. Bad people are stupid. [bat: I have to say, that is one of the most British stories I have ever heard. Things would have happened so very differently in the States.]
Grogar charges at Danny, and the entire circle (well, horse shoe) of ponies flee. He then charges at clumps of other ponies. This is still not “surrounding”. You can’t surround a group of people if you’re only one. [bat: PLOT SAYS YOU CAN, DOVE.]
Grogar runs straight into a tree and gets stuck. Spike attempts to take the bell off Grogar, but doesn’t get far. Grogar manages to capture Paradise and Forget-Me-Not.
We cut to later and Molly’s crying and hoping Megan’s ok. I’m not that fussed, to be honest.
And cut to Megan in the dungeon, where Paradise and Forget-Me-Not are thrown in. Megan reassures them that somehow they will find a way out. It’s at this point she starts looking for a way out. Apparently she’s just been stood there looking resolute for the past day or so.
And of course, this needs a song. Yay.
And cut to them sitting on the ground looking hopeless. Ah, the 80s. We females had such a vast array of strong females characters to look up to, didn’t we? [bat: She-Ra > Megan] [Dove: Good point. And even though I’ve only seen one episode, I’m pretty sure Jem was fairly badass too.] [bat: I had the Jem doll that had light up earrings. So, yes, Jem > Megan]
Galaxy says the antique bell she saw (in part 2) probably is important. Paradise says there was something about the bell in the legend, but she can’t remember. King Grundle says there’s plenty of time for her to remember. [bat: My god, they all “remember” the stupid and vague bits of the legend but the important shit? Nope. Collective amnesia!]
Outside, Danny and co have captured a Troggle. And Cherries Jubilee and Sundance are there, so I wonder how they managed to “fly” to just outside Tambelon. They plan to interrogate the Troggle, but he identifies himself as Drog, and he’s a deserter and wants to join them, so no need to keep him hanging from a tree. Drog explains that the Troggles were conquered by Grogar and they don’t like it. I’m calling bullshit. In any other fandom, there is hope for redemption, but not this one. Everyone is always evil. (Except for Catrina. But even then the ponies were dicks about it.)
Once freed, Drog tells them that Grogar’s going to exile the ponies to the Realm of Darkness at midnight tonight. Drog offers to lead them into the city by a secret way he knows. After night falls, he shows them a secret passageway, and they head inside.
Yep. Of course Drog didn’t have a face turn. He was playing them.
And we end with a very abrupt fade to black after Grogar announces they will all be banished to the Realm of Darkness.
*raises hand* Uh, why? Is it literally for teh evulz? It doesn’t power anything, it’s not because they’re in the way, it’s not for… any reason? It’s just because they’re good, he’s evil and therefore EVIL MUST BE DONE. [bat: For once we have a villain doing it for no reason but just evil. I don’t know whether to applaud or cry.]
For some reason, the female Grundle is in the scene that opens in the dungeon. She wasn’t before.
Danny blames himself for trusting Drog. Nobody else speaks up and says, “No, we believed him too,” or “We didn’t believe him, but we didn’t speak up, this isn’t just on you.” Megan says it was a risk worth taking.
Paradise says that midnight is approaching, and Galaxy reiterates that she’s sure that bell from Part 2 is the source of his power. Not sure what’s caused her to upscale her theory, but if I’m being generous, perhaps they could have shared info off screen.
The door opens and Bray shoves Drog in and calls him a traitor. Drog explains that he was a good guy, but some of the Troggles told on him, so they betrayed him.
OMG, WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS THAT THING NEXT TO FIZZY? IS IT A GRUNDLE? WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE A WASP NEST? WHY IS ITS FACE FALLING AWAY FROM ITS EYES? THAT IS FUCKING NIGHTMARE FUEL.
[bat: Um, where did Lickety-Split go?? DID SHE TURN INTO THAT THING??]
Drog says most of the Troggles will side with them if they offer a place to live in Ponyland. Well, the Grundles (all five of them) were given Dream Castle after the Smooze. I bet they’ve got a few spare bedrooms.
Over with Bray, he proudly announces that the Moochick and the baby ponies have been captured. [bat: No. Surprise. I told you, that rabbit that was in charge of shit is dead!] [Dove: I can’t believe you called it. How can you predict this randomness?] [bat: IT’S A GIFT. AND A CURSE.] Grogar says it’s time to party, and any Troggle not celebrating this victory will be banished with the ponies. Grogar starts the spell to banish the ponies. And by this I mean he fires a bolt of magic at a thing and gleefully looks at a clock.
The prisoners hear the sounds of celebration and Danny wonders what they’re so happy about. Drog explains the situation.
Forget-Me-Not follows the sounds of celebration to the top of the dungeon and where the sounds are the loudest, she finds a crack with fresh air coming through. Conveniently, Danny is munching on some gruel, which Megan says they can use to fill the crack and make it bubble to expand. Megan oversells the structural integrity of bubbles.
Two Flutter Ponies take the bucket up to the crack, Buttons teleports the slop into the crack, and Fizzy makes it bubble. Somehow this breaks open the crack.
Megan hops on North Star’s back and invites Forget-Me-Not to come with them. She doesn’t ask North Star or tell her the plan, because that’s how Megan rolls.
They fly down a passageway and find Bray on some stairs. Forget-Me-Not flies around his head until his neck is twisted multiple times, and he falls down the stairs. Kind of like how Burke Dennings died in The Exorcist, except I don’t care at all.
They steal his keys and fly back to the dungeon. Bray is too dizzy to follow.
Megan sets everyone free, and Grogar throws a magic bolt tantrum at Bray. Grogar rages that if they get out of the city, Bray will be banished instead of them. But there’s still five minutes left, and a song will only take up 1-2, so something else is bound to happen. Sigh.
The Troggles are having a repetitive gif party, where their animations loop endlessly, in the streets outside. Megan tells them to join them, and they can be free too. Everyone races towards the city gates.
Grogar moseys along with no sense of urgency at all to his balcony, where he fires bolts of magic at the fleeing creatures.
I will say – with the context being the other episodes – the animation here is brilliant. They’ve managed to make it look really foggy on the close-ups. The long shots still look like small scribbles on backdrops.
With Grogar constantly firing magic down on them, they can’t reach the gates. Someone yells to think of something, and Spike complains that he’s trying, but nothing rings a bell. That’s… not how that saying works, writers. But the job is done, Paradise has suddenly figured everything out.
And instead of letting her action her own plan, Megan and North Star take off to do it for her. Just fuck off you attention-seeking brat.
And, double sigh, it’s time for a song as well.
Wow. Just think, this whole adventure could have been avoided if Galaxy had just rung the bell out of curiosity when she first encountered it in Part 2.
As the bell rings and midnight chimes, all the ponies (and presumably the Troggles, Grundles and Bushwoolies, though they weren’t animated) run free from the city, and it starts to fade.
There’s a minor fake-out that Megan and North Start didn’t make it, but that would literally never happen. White Girl Wins!
As Danny and Molly run in for a hug, Molly says, “You did it, Megan!” and I would just like to point out that:
- Megan did not prevent any Unicorns from winking out
- She did not save them in Part 2, she rocked up and took credit for them saving themselves.
- She didn’t find a way out of the dungeon, she just stood around looking pissy.
- Forget-Me-Not found a way out of the dungeon, and Buttons and Fizzy actioned that plan.
- Paradise came up with a way to save everyone, and Megan took credit for it again.
So what exactly did Megan do? [bat: She was Megan. That’s all she ever has to do.]
And then we have a wrap up scene where Megan says she hopes the Troggles like Ponyland, and Drog says he thinks Grogar isn’t completely gone. Megan says it took him 500 years to get back last time, so it’s totes not their problem. Gen 3 at the earliest, maybe even Gen 4 or 5.
We get a shot of what looks like Grogar’s silhouette on the horizon, and Spike panics. It turns out to be two Unicorns sitting in an odd position. Apparently projecting their outline on the sky…? Wut? But IT’S FUCKING FUNNY, SO LAUGH, BITCHES.
Ok, so that was a thing. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I think I’ll give it a B-. It was more interesting than I thought it would be, but so much weaker than it could be.
Megan was particularly obnoxious. She took credit for everything and literally contributed nothing.
The animation in the final scenes in the streets of Grogar were good, the fog looked really eerie. I feel like the entire animation budget and energy went into those few scenes, and it explains why the rest of the show looks so bad.
Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. I think a B- is high, and probably it should be a C+, but I’m so tired of grading low that it felt about time to step up. Maybe if bat and I give out a nice grade, we’ll be rewarded by something nice to watch?
[bat: I think, honestly, we were generous with this 4-parter, Dove. The writers kind of gave us more (but unclear) understanding into Unicorn magic and the villain was just evil instead of having a super lame motive. Yeah, they fell back on their tried and true “enslave the Ponies!” trope, but there was the part where Grogar was really more interested in capturing creatures that had hands. So that meant humans and Bushwoolies and Grundles, really. Imagine if the writers had really worked on that side of things. That meant the Ponies would have really had to work to save their friends. But, nope, Megan had to be the heroine, AGAIN. Ugh. This one had a lot of wasted potential, and some of the better parts outweighed the bad. I’m kind of shocked. Maybe we really are going to get rewarded?]
[Dove: Damn. bat’s nearly talking me out of my kind grade. I’ll stick, as an offering to the 80s gods, but bat makes some really good points here.]