MLP, Amending Fences – Review and Food for Thought

Welcome back to another Review here at PonyThinkTank! Before I start I wanted to give a big shout out to ManeFrameRadio (Mane-Frame.Com) who are helping me promote myself a bit more and I the same for them! Great line of relaxing music both for hardcore and casual fans! Check them out when you can!

Now, this week we’ve got “Amending Fences” which upon reading the summary, you’d think would be a small filler episode. You’d be wrong in this case as was I, this is one of the better episodes I’ve ever seen! Why you ask? Well, lets take it slow.

Opening with our teaser, we see Twilight relaxing from the recent events of the last few episodes. I like that we have a sense of time flowing more then we did previous seasons, it adds an element of reality to the setting when you feel invested. Spike comes on and makes mention of having to do the dishes..though why he’s doing the dishes I have no idea. The reason being that all the other Princesses seem to have a compliment of guards and housekeepers for them, while it seems Twilight got the proverbial short end of the stick. Six chairs, a blinking map, and a new castle is apparently all that comes in the Princess Starter Kit.

NeverGetAGoodEpisode
“Well according to this script…I don’t get much to do…AGAIN..”

Through quick explanation, Spike reminds Twilight that it’s rather ironic she’s the Princess of Friendship (which sounds like a bad B-Movie from the 80’s) due to the fact she wasn’t exactly the best friend to have back in Canterlot. This of course reminds Twilight she needs to go apologize to her friends because apparently the moment she learned about Nightmare Moon she ended up just leaving town without so much as saying goodbye to anyone. It also serves to remind the hardcore fans about the pilot episode and the VERY brief moment we saw Twilight’s friends in it and Canterlot Wedding.

We return from our intro song (ya ever wonder if Celestia and Luna get tired of the same picture each week instead of a letter? :P) to a rather…suspiciously inappropriate tower.

FishyAboutThatTower
For a show with a TV-Y, that tower seems…rather suspicious. 😛

Those of you who saw the original cover to Disney’s The Little Mermaid will understand what I mean. Though inside we see the first of many nostalgic shots, the library-tower that was in the pilot, still in it’s state of disarray and even the box that Spike drops is still there! It made me smile that they went to such length to recreate the smaller details, even though as Spike picks up the gift for Moondancer’s party (stay with me there’s more on that later) and it turned out to be a bear, he makes mention that the “rest is still there” in the box. This line prevents the ending from being a cheat, and I admire that.

After Spike makes a list for Twilight (there’s a shock) of her friends since she can’t even remember their NAMES…they make their way to door #1! Behind it we find Minutte, a rather energetic unicorn who has obviously not forgotten Twilight nor bears any ill will In fact she immediately embraces her and asks for a picture with her as no one at work believes she knows her.

Selfie
Spike can’t take a picture well it seems…

Aside from the fact the camera she has Spike use seems..DIGITAL…in the viewer but analog in the exterior, most of this is simply setting up for the next scenes, though I will return to this and other dialogue settings in a moment to expand a point.

A familiar setting of the donut shop from Grand Galloping Gala (The first one) is our next stop down flashback lane, where Minutte, Twinkleshine, and Lemon Hearts (good grief these names are almost oooozing with happy) and Twilight catch up, while Spike has a conversation in the background. Thankfully for all of us, none of the girls seem to take Twilight’s leaving too hard and all laugh at her apology, or the fact she thought she needed to make one. The reason makes me chuckle a bit as they explain they just kind of expected it based on the level of friendship she’d displayed beforehand. Apparently Twilight was so self-engrossed with her studies she wasn’t very attentive to any of her friends. Probably why Celestia sent her to learn about friendship in the first place, same as Sunset Shimmer. (Though we all know how that turned out)

allunicorns
“So yeah…turns out this scene, I don’t even get to face the camera…”

A stroll down memory lane leads them all to Professor Xavier’s er Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. The scene with Twilight talking with Moondancer instantly pulled dusty memories of Bubbles Utonium’s voice (Also done by Tara Strong) since she had to pitch it higher since she was younger. The main draw to me is the fact we see a globe..representing the world no doubt. We see at least two separate land masses, one representing the small Equestria landmass we’ve seen (which resembles the United States I might add) and the other one / ones are still but a mystery! It makes me happy to just postulate over the idea of the other lands!

Globe
A Globe! More geographical references! YAY!

The scene reverts and we learn there was a final missing member (Save Lyra, who we know is in Ponyville from her semi-romantic scene in Slice of Life and other small cameos) and her name is…Moondancer! The girls all try to remember where she is but quickly mention that as things went along, they just lost touch. A very important lesson to anyone growing up with the series..sometimes..you lose touch and lose friends. They make a journey to Moondancer’s last known location.

Upon knocking and striking a pin up pose, it’s quickly discovered that Moondancer is a shut in, and has no friends, instead, committing to a rigorous life of studying..well…EVERYTHING.

Manesixalmost
Just think..somewhere..THIS is our Mane Cast…

As the reality of what her actions caused, Twilight’s guilt overcomes her and after looking at what SHE could have turned out to be (lets be honest, she was nearly there) she makes it a mission to fix her mistake!

So of course the first thing to make things right is to..spy on her for three days. Which along with Spike and Minutte, they do. During the intel gathering, it’s finally revealed to Twilight what happened that day she ran off to go warn Celestia about Nightmare Moon. That small line, that throw away sentence no one thought was anything but filler. Moondancer’s Party. Minutte explains that despite the rest of the girls showing up, Twilight’s absence and subsequent vanishing sent Moondancer down a lonely road of self hating to the point she became the very hermit-pony she is today.

FLASHBACK
Betcha never thought this throw away scene would come back and haunt us, did you?

Now lets pause for a moment as I’d like to discuss something that not everyone would notice of this episode. The dialogue specifically. The lines feel REAL for once, not forced like a lot of the time. It feels like Twilight is actually just talking with her old friends, like Lemonhearts is actually just trying to be helpful when she recalls where Moondancer might be living now. All of it from the construction to the lines to the delivery of them by the voice actresses make this entire episode feel ALIVE. Even later on with Moondancers’s finale, it’s gripping compared to what we’ve been having, and I for one hope it’s going to continue.

Now, the big scene that everyone SHOULD be pondering and thankfully, many of you have, is what I noticed during the scene in the restaurant. While the girls are all trying desperate to relate to Moondancer and try to bridge the friendship they lost, there is an ominous foreshadow in the background. Careful viewers can notice that holding a menu, for a period of time that’s far far beyond normal, is a pony who resembles Starlight Glimmer! IF this is her, this of course is wonderful for a few reasons.

yesthereshis
Upper Left corner. No one looks at a menu that long!

Now..stay with me on this..

One reason is that, as I stated in the premiere this season, Starlight is the best villain we’ve had so far. She didn’t back down, even when her way was shown to be wrong. She tried to outright kill people based on the energy level of the spell Twilight shielded the villagers from. Finally, unlike Sunset, Discord, and every other ‘villain’ we’ve had, (Sirens excluded) she didn’t immediately turn to the light and redeem her self when defeated. Starlight did what any proper card carrying villain should have done..she ran in order to regroup and strike again.

Secondly, it reinforces the evolution the writing is taking. You would never have seen a story-arc that stretched an entire season like this one so far has in say..season 2. I for one, can’t wait to see where this all goes, it’s hopefully moving forward to a more mature audience base. Now back to our episode!

So after several attempts to try and force a fix of the situation, Twilight takes a different approach and calls in Pinkie Pie, who sets into action a plan for a party (Because a party seems to fix everything for some reason, still working on that.) while Twilight starts her end of the plan, namely a re-hash of how Peter Griffen lures James Woods into a trap. “Ooo! A book! Oooo! A Book! Ooo! A Book!” and so on and so fourth.

Oooo candy
Ooo! A Book! ooo! A Book!

The finale of the entire situation begins as all the girls surround Moondancer and try to throw her a party like some sort of forced intervention. Naturally she resists, but for once, it feels real to me for a few reasons. Main reason is the dialogue that is exchanged between Twilight and Moondancer..who explains that when her best friend didn’t show up to the party she threw, a party that she had to get so much courage to throw, it hit her right in the emotional breadbasket. Devastating as that was, the subsequent abandonment she felt when Twilight went off to save the world for four seasons without so much as saying goodbye devastated what was left of her confidence, resulting in what she was today, and why she felt worthless for so long.

breakdown
The emotion that actually is shown in the last act, is remarkable.

Hit with this startling realization, Twilight apologizes again, and accepts the fact that they may never be friends. Pinkie nudges in a few extra helping hooves to show Moondancer that there are a lot of folks that consider her a friend. Moondancer comes to realize she can still have a somewhat normal relationship with her previous and new friends, though it feels a bit rushed. (Granted we were running out of time, maybe we need hour long episodes now?) and we get a final payoff of the very first episode. Spike gives her the present he’s almost five seasons late with. We pull back and realize it’s a picture of all of them together before Twilight left.

There’s some hidden subtext that I honestly think I might be the only one who notices with Twilight and Moondancer. I’m not one to ship characters together, but the emotional outburst and how dramatically and deeply she was scarred makes me feel that Moondancer may be in love, or at least was in love, with Twilight. It’s kind of hard to put into words, it’s more something you see as she interacts with her over the episode. Subtle scornful tones and resentment mixed with hope. Again, my thoughts, love to hear counter arguments or supportive statements.

pictureframespike
Notice the way Moondancer seems far far more interested in Twilight. Not even the book. Twilight.

I’d like to point out something interesting about Twilight’s final solution. She lets go of the idea of forcing the friendship. Which is honestly is rather refreshing since Twilight has this tenancy of using “BE MY FRIEND” far far too aggressively. It shows character growth. People ask me why I like this so called girly series, that’s one of the reasons. You wouldn’t see this kind of emotional and character growth on anything else that’s playing.

Overall I give this an 8 out of 10. It’s dialogue is far superior to what we’re used to, the actual breakdown of Moondancer shows real emotion for once and the possible foreshadow of Starlight Glimmer were more then enough to make this enjoyable. Topped off with an episode that goes back and shows you things you remember seeing but didn’t quite understand the importance of ALWAYS get my attention, usually because I’m the only one noticing them I feel.

Again, love to hear back from everyone, I post this on three areas at the moment, get a lot of hits, but not so many comments. Agree, disagree, say Hi, it makes me feel I might be making a small contribution to the fandom!

I leave you all with a game of Pin the Tail on the Deity!

celestia
Gotta wonder what it says psychologically when you pin a tail on your deity?

-Watchfire

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