Twilight Sparkle, Zecora, Cattail, and Fluttershy are all at the Castle of Friendship properly categorizing Mage Meadowbrook’s old notes and information on medicine when they unexpectedly find a collection of old notes. When they look over them, they discover that they are love notes that Mage Meadowbrook wrote to an old horticulturalist pony named Aqua Vine but never sent. Further investigation reveals that Meadowbrook was writing to him for help in locating the Magenta Bloom, a fabled flower that had the ability to enhance magical power and supposedly cure any illness. Excited (and obsessed) with the thought of finding the flower, Twilight leads the others on a trip to Fillydelphia to try and pick up the trail that Meadowbrook left as well as to drop off the unsent notes to Aqua Vine’s descendants. On arrival, the group is able to locate one of Aqua Vine’s descendants who happens to have been planning an expedition to acquire the flower during its very short blooming period. As it turns out, Aqua Vine (as well as his relatives) knew the missing clues about finding the bloom and might have been able to tell Meadowbrook if she had ever sent any of her replies, and Twilight eagerly signs them up to go with her. Along the way, Cattail and Aqua Vine’s descendant get to talking and in the course reveal that while Meadowbrook was always persistent and determined to help others, she rarely consulted with them or connected with them. The group finally finds the flower’s location on a set of dangerous oceanside cliffs with sharp winds and biting sprays. Twilight, eager to get the flower, goes for it herself but ends up in trouble between the wind and sprays and barely gets rescued by the others in time. On being rescued, however, she berates herself for being so reckless and endangering herself due to her obsession. Fluttershy, however, suggests she try again doing something Meadowbrook didn’t do any getting her friends to help. The five of them manage to work together to acquire the flower, and Twilight, Fluttershy, and Zecora decide to take it home while Cattail and Aqua’s descendant decide to spend a bit more time together (possibly having hit it off). On heading back, when Twilight is still berating herself for having gotten too obsessed with getting the flower, Fluttershy again reassures her that even if she did she still has friends to keep her “hooves on the ground”.
This one is kind of all over the place. It has lore about Mage Meadowbrook, a lesson about obsession, a bit of an adventure, a side character plus a new character to expand upon, bits with Fluttershy stepping in to lend a hand in numerous ways, and a flashback story that doesn’t seem to have to do anything with anything else. And with so many different threads (some of which don’t end up going anywhere), that equals one mess of a story arc. Especially one that’s only in one issue.
The whole lesson is supposed to be Twilight needed to rely on her friends in order to succeed. However, it also portrays Twilight as being too obsessed with her goal, which itself can be seen as negative, while trying to also make Twilight’s goal seem noble and her reasons selfless, which can be seen as positive, while at the same time having her constantly talking about how this can be a discovery as memorable and history-worthy as Mage Meadowbrook and Princess Celestia’s accomplishments, which can be seen again as selfish and negative.
The story Cattail says has little to do with anything. In my synopsis, I said what I think it’s supposed to do, which was point out by always running away and not accepting thanks that it showed Meadowbrook never connected with others, but they definitely don’t portray it as such in the story. More like simply being selfless and kind. And since the notes she didn’t send back to Aqua Vine were love notes, it seemed more of a case of being shy or embarrassed. As a result, the story never really makes the case that Meadowbrook didn’t rely on friends, which is one of the key parts of the conflict/resolution. That’s a bit too bad, because one of the faults of the Pillars of Old Equestria in the main series is that they were all one dimensional and seemed to just be good and perfect. Showing a “bad side” of them would have made them more realistic. Worse yet that this comic was only relevant for a few episodes of Season Seven, namely the time between when Meadowbrook was introduced (the last of the Pillars of Old Equestria to appear) and “Shadow Play”…a span of five weeks.
Finally, they try to shoehorn in a potential budding romance with Cattail and a character they forgot to even name.
There is a ton of exposition and talking to get to the end of this arc too as well as five different characters to juggle, and yet in the end it still doesn’t feel quite like I arrived at the destination. While I appreciate them trying to get into more of the Pillars (whereas the main series seemed to kind of abandon them following “A Rockhoof and a Hard Place”), this one just didn’t work out that well for me.
Taking place after “A Health of Information”, this was the first main series comic to incorporate the Pillars of Old Equestria (not counting Stygian/the Pony of Shadows). Interestingly enough, this also has to take place prior to “Shadow Play” as the characters clearly refer to Mage Meadowbrook as if she is no longer alive.
In keeping with IDW Comic Lore, Fillydelphia features dragons and ponies living side-by-side as they did in the “Friends Forever” with Spike and Princess Luna.
Although she is a prominent character in this arc, Aqua Vine’s descendant is unnamed.
The case that Twilight stores the Magenta Bloom in resembles the glass case the rose from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” was stored in.
2 Stars out of 5