Frustrated by her current efforts to learn more about the diamond chest, Twilight and Spike go to the old library of the Castle of the Two Sisters to try and find out more information. Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash and Applejack go to the castle to dare each other to stay the longest and determine the “most daring pony” of the two, while Rarity, Fluttershy, and Angel go in to restore tapestries. Soon, the castle’s old booby traps and their own fears cause them to run around wild scaring each other. Eventually, they discover it was Pinkie Pie setting off most of the traps via a pipe organ she found and was playing inside the castle. The girls calm down and find Twilight was the only one not panicking among them due to reading Celestia and Luna’s old journal, and she suggests the girls write one themselves. Feeling better, the girls relax and Spike laughs off their fears of a “pony of shadows” stalking them in the ruins…only for the camera to reveal a shadowy figure is watching them…
I thought nothing could be more clunky than the last episode. (Bleep), was I wrong.
On a second view of this episode, I give it more credit for “trying”. It basically attempted to do another “comedy of errors”, similar to what happened in Season Three with “Games Ponies Play”. Only I don’t feel it worked out in this episode even remotely. It just lacked anything “goofy” or really outrageous to make it seem like anything more than a very bad Scooby-Doo episode. It’s very…boring, to be honest.
They tried to make it work, though. Rarity frequently referring to the castle as a sentient creature…Applejack and Rainbow Dash doing their bit from “Fall Weather Friends” (also Pinkie Pie again being an announcer)…a few scenes that actually worked out…but mostly it’s just “noise”. What really made this episode “bad” was that after the pilot episode, the one “ray of hope” fans like me were holding onto was that things were going to “build” from there. Maybe we’d get a glimpse of who was going to be the new villain… Maybe there’d be a conflict introduced that the chest hinged on… Maybe this would start a season-long “adventure”… And with the name of the episode being “Castle Mane-Ia”, video game aficionados like me were hoping for some video game knockoffs or vampire allusions (we would get that eventually…just not this episode…). We got none of that. We got the girls running around screaming for 20 minutes.
This season saw a lot of new writers and…so far, this one was my least favorite, and he got off to a bad start to this rather boring episode. Other than set up the new dynamic for the “moral of the story” to replace Celestia’s old letters with journal entries, this episode had nothing going for it. I give it a bit more credit for it as a stand-alone episode not viewed in the context of the Season Four premiere, but only a little.
The title of the episode is a takeoff of “Castlevania”, a popular video game franchise.
This episode is actually a bit “odd”. By now, the fans knew that this season was going to be one overarching plotline. However, this episode was the only one prior to the finale that “directly continued” the story. Right in the opening, Twilight Sparkle is researching the chest, and Tirek’s shadow appears at the end. However, from this episode on, the girls don’t mention the chest at all and the season is “business as usual” in regards to the various episodes. In fact, when the season finale DID get here, Twilight acted like she was researching the chest for the first time. The end result makes this entire episode feel like it should be later in the series, but considering the continuity around the Castle of the Two Sisters, that’s impossible. I just found it weird.
As mentioned earlier, the Castle of the Two Sisters has really changed since the Season One opener. Originally the castle was practically nothing. In Season Four, the castle is still mostly intact. The books have even remained in one piece after 1,000 years.
I did find the “bee contest” bit where it turns out both are wearing beekeeper suits to be a little off-the-wall funny.
When Rarity talks to Fluttershy about how she must have activated a secret door underneath the first tapestry, her only reaction is: “Oh…I’m sorry.” It’s a rather weak joke, but…it’s so weak I think it actually works here.
Similar to “The Elements of Harmony: A Reference Guide”, “The Journal of the Two Sisters” was remade into a show-guide book. Why would Celestia and Luna name their diary that, though?
Putting rusted old manacles, chains, and bones is probably too “heavy” for a Y-related show, but there was still an “artist’s note” in this episode that made it look like Rarity and Fluttershy ended up some place a pony was left to die. In the chamber with the trap door, there’s tick marks on the wall indicating the last occupant counted the days they were in there.
When Twilight goes off to find who’s playing the pipe organ, all of the girls plus Spike are “riding her”. 😛
PINKIE: “I always let my imagination run away from me! And then it comes back…with cake!” …Ok, that’s off-the-wall enough to be a little funny too.
Episode that debuted the new “dynamic” for ending an episode. With Twilight Sparkle no longer Celestia’s student, this served to provide a way to have the same thing as the “letter to Celestia” that older episodes did.
The silhouette at the end of the episode is likely Tirek. This would be the first, and only, foreshadowing of the Season Finale villain we would get. However, it’s also odd. If Tirek was present in the castle, why didn’t he feed off the girls there? Or know about Twilight Sparkle being another princess?
This episode is the first mention of the legendary “Pony of Shadows”, a villain who would not appear for three more seasons.
1.5 Stars out of 5