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Synopsis:

Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash are out with their respective “little sisters”, namely Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo, on another camping trip to Winsome Falls. Unfortunately, their campground is attacked by a group of ravenous “flyders”, forcing them to take shelter in a cave and eventually getting trapped there. As the CMCs consider the trip a disaster, the older girls tell them three campfire stories to cheer them up. Applejack tells her favorite legend of an earth pony named Rockhoof, who by strength of will and determination single-hoovedly saved his home village from a volcanic eruption. Rarity tells her favorite legend of a unicorn named Mistmane, who sacrificed her physical beauty for the sake of restoring her own friend’s lost beauty and the ability to spread it throughout Equestria. Rainbow Dash tells her favorite legend of a pegasus named Flash Magnus, who bravely risked his own life to act as a diversion for dragons to save his comrades. When the stories are done, the girls are unable to get out the way they came in and instead find a new exit through the rear of the cave that leads straight to Winsome Falls. Encouraged by the stories, in spite of having lost their original campground the girls decide to make the most of their trip anyway.

Review:

And with this episode, we got the kickoff of probably the strangest thing the series has done so far. Keying off of the IDW Comic’s high popularity, Hasbro actually worked hand-in-hand with them this season not only to produce the various movie prequels but to create the “Legends of Magic” arc that introduced and elaborated on the Pillars of Old Equestria. For several months, both the TV series and the comic ran with parallel stories, gradually building up to the Season Seven finale. The comic arc ran a continuous story of Sunburst investigating the ancient library of Starswirl the Bearded and discovering stories about the Pillars of Old Equestria. In turn, the show would debut an episode featuring that character having been introduced in the comic.

From a personal standpoint? It sounded like something that should have been pretty awesome. In reality, I didn’t find it too intriguing. I’ll be honest…none of the Pillars of Old Equestria are that noteworthy to me. A huge problem was made with them that drags them down throughout this entire arc, and it boils down to forgetting what the show was all about.

Applejack embodies Honesty. That means she always tells the truth, and it also means that she can be pushy and mean because she always gives her opinion and says it’s the right one. Rarity embodies Inspiration and Generosity. That means she is always willing to share beauty with others, but it also means she fixates too much on external beauty at times and lets herself get taken advantage of. Rainbow Dash embodies Loyalty. That means she always sticks up for her friends, but in sticking up for them she’s learned to love the nature of a competition as well as winning and has gotten an ego.

By comparison, Rockhoof embodies Strength and that’s it. Mistmane embodies Beauty and that’s it. Flash Magnus embodies Bravery and that’s it. None of them have any negative characteristics, and because of that…they’re legends on a page, not real characters like the rest of those in the series are. What made the girls so great was because they were so well developed and rounded, to the point where their own virtues could be flaws in the right situation, that you could admire them no matter what situation or plot they were in. The Pillars of Equestria only get one “good side” and that’s it. The only one who would eventually be shown to have a negative side would have that be his only side, and the same problem but in the opposite direction. More on this later, but…it’s a general complaint for now.

This episode in particular, though?

It’s got more than a few flaws. For the overarching narrative, it’s not too bad although there is one huge one. Scootaloo has been Flanderized from how she appeared in “Sleepless in Ponyville”, now being scared of everything even in broad daylight. Scootaloo wasn’t even scared in that episode until she heard her first scary story. Yet aside from that, the six girls don’t do much this episode other than set up reasons to hear the other stories.

As for the stories themselves…none of them were terribly great to me. Honestly, I found the best part of all of them was the art design. It looks like the animators really had a chance to be creative with the Pillars of Equestria and the associated worlds they are from.

In terms of the content, though, they didn’t really grab me. Rockhoof’s was considered the worst by at least a few fans and…I’m kind of one of them. It’s basically perpetuating the immortal myth that so long as you just simply “believe in your dreams” and “be determined” you’ll always succeed. In reality you usually need to put in a ton of effort and hard work to reach your goals, and even then there’s a good amount of talent that needs to be there usually. Bottom line, you’re not going to just get the best possible outcome handed to you because you believed in it.

Flash Magnus’ was better, but still nothing too wonderful. In his case, bravery in the face of almost certain destruction was emphasized, and it’s a story that has happened many times in history from many brave men and women. Situations where they knew they were likely doomed to die but they had a chance to save others if they risked their lives. Yet in real life, you usually don’t get magic shields to help, and many of those stories end up with people making the supreme sacrifice rather than achieving eternal glory. Still, many times people do survive and get Medals of Honor, and so this one was better at least, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen characters we like more and understand better having done before.

Mistmane’s was the best of the set, as it featured, a bit surprisingly, a character making a permanent sacrifice. That’s actually a little surprising for the show, and it was a decent lesson to show kids that true beauty comes from within and not all stories have a perfect ending. It had more interpersonal drama than the other two stories as well, which were more tales of one lone hero standing up against forces of nature when everyone else was ready to give up. The design was nice too. Yet in spite of all of that…I dunno. Something seemed so “bare bones” about all of it. Maybe if we would have had more of a chance to get into the characters and the setting it would have left more of an impact.

It’s not a bad episode by any means. But with something mixing the IDW Comic, which is prone to taking more content risks than the show does, in a grand arc with the actual show, I expected something with a bit more punch. Instead, to me, it was something that was more, like most of the second half of Season Seven, solidly average.

Fun Facts:

This episode continues the new tradition started way back in Season Three’s “Sleepless in Ponyville”.

I’m sorry…because Equestria actually has swarms of flying spiders, it is the most terrifying place in existence, friendship or not. 😦

Sweetie Belle has mastered how to use magic shields.

Rainbow Dash can carry fire. O_o

As mentioned in the review, this episode marked the start of the build up not only to the Season Seven finale but was part of an arc that tied into the IDW Comic’s “Legends of Magic” series. The first issue of the “Legends of Magic” series was put out on April 12, 2017, several months before this episode would air. However, this arc officially kicked off with Friendship is Magic #50, the first issue in the “Chaos Theory” storyline, that was published on February 1, 2017, which introduced Shadow Lock who would later turn out to be a descendant of Stygian. At the time the episode debuted, only four issues had been published introducing four of the Pillars of Equestria: Starswirl the Bearded (in his appearance he would take on the show in spite of earlier renditions), Rockhoof, Mistmane, and Flash Magnus.

Each of the Pillars of Equestria corresponds to a different nationality. Rockhoof is Norwegian-based. Mistmane is Chinese-based. Flash Magnus is Roman-based.

In spite of being tied in with the IDW Comic, fans of both were quick to notice a discrepancy. Rockhoof’s story in “Legends of Magic” #2 indicated that he gained his incredible power through hard work, determination, and sticking to his routine no matter what. In this episode, however…he just sort of gets it magically bestowed on him for plot convenience. :/

Rockhoof does not get any lines in his story. It wouldn’t be until “Shadow Play” that we would hear his voice.

Interestingly enough, in this episode Rainbow Dash mentions how it would be impossible even for her to dig the trench in time, yet in “Shadow Play” there would be an allusion that Applejack herself might actually be physically a match for Rockhoof. 😛

Rarity somehow makes shadow puppets with her hooves… Not only that, they’re of “Ballerina Twilight” from “A Royal Problem”.

Both Mistmane and the other Chinese-inspired unicorns in her story have somewhat unique physical features, in that their ears are more pointed and their horns are recurved. It’s possible that she and the other Chinese-inspired unicorns are supposed to be “Kirins”, the Chinese unicorn, although those are usually depicted with long necks.

Mistmane has the unusual and unique design choice of having two-toned legs, ear tips, and a horn that blend into another color rather than having a clear demarcation.

It’s entirely possible that one of the dragons in Flash Magnus’ tale was Dragonlord Torch, not just in appearance but actual identity.

Rating:

2.5 Stars out of 5