Analyzing “Lesson Zero”

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SEASON TWO OH SNAP! By the way, if you like my channel, you can support it via Patreon!

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This is it my friends! We’re finally taking on Season 2! I know I’ve covered Return of Harmony twice now, but I’ve always considered Lesson Zero to be the true start of season 2. Partly because Return of Harmony was originally meant to be a part of season one anyways, but mostly because this is the first episode to feature the new, more epic opening song.

The episode itself is practically structured around being the start of a new season, with a storyline that’s heavily steeped in the series meta. In particular, it makes reference to the fact that the one episodic constant in season 1 was Twilight Sparkle writing a letter to Celestia at the end of each episode. The part that makes it really meta is the context that Twilight has in fact been sending one letter a week, to match up with the show’s release schedule.

This episode exists to both transition the structure of the show into the format of season two, as well as advance the storyline in doing so. Return of Harmony proved that Twilight and her friends had a firm grasp on the magic of friendship, so Lesson Zero asks: what’s left to learn? What will happen when Twilight already understands the basic foundation of what it means to be a friend?

The reason Ponyville is running out of friendship problems, is that so many of them have been solved, and the show does not default on its progress. In season one, we resolved the differences between Applejack and Rarity, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, Twilight and Pinkie Pie, and Appledash. Rainbow got her confidence back, Pinkie beat her anxieties, Zecora is a respected member of society, and the Best Night Ever has come and gone. The friends have learned a lot, and their harmony has grown strong enough to alleviate most of their worries.

Of course, there is more for everyone to learn, but they’ve already learned so much that they can’t expect to always have new lessons every week. Not only does this shift in format advance the show’s storyline, it also opens the doors for characters to have more focused individual episodes without involving Twilight. And, as I will explain in future videos, it also leads us into a season where we see more of the friends teaching lessons to one-another, independent of Twilight.

The meta aspect of the storyline is hammered home through frequent breaks in the fourth wall. Spike repeatedly interacts with visual elements that shouldn’t exist in the show’s reality, and there are a few more glance-at-the-audience moments than usual. Studio B clearly took the idea of playing with the show’s structure and ran with it.

Meanwhile, on a character level, this episode portrays a Twilight as having a surprisingly straightforward case of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Seriously, each scene in the first half of the episode goes down a proverbial checklist of symptoms for the disorder. The distinctly psychological slant of the episode likely inspired the design of twilight as a therapist.

What interests me most about Twilight’s cumbersome use of scheduling and organization is how it necessitates the use of Spike. Twilight is constantly trying to keep tabs on and organization over way more things that she can possibly handle. To use an analogy that totally doesn’t work with ponies, she’s trying to fit so much stuff into her hands that a lot of it slips through her fingers, which is why she needs Spike around to pick up whatever she drops.

The episode’s lesson is another fantastic one, relatable for me and, I imagine, a lot of you as well. You’ve probably had a moment wherein something legitimately bothered you, but other people told you it was no big deal, or that you need to get over it, and it probably didn’t help your situation much except to piss you off. The only sad thing about this episode is that it teaches the viewer that they shouldn’t be dismissive of others’ problems, but it doesn’t really show how to respond appropriately, which would’ve been an incredibly relevant lesson for people of all ages.

Nevertheless, it’s still a great lesson, in a great episode, that does a great job of kicking off our journey into the magnificent season two. For those who haven’t been keeping track of all my update videos, I intend to handle season two’s episodes IN ORDER from start to finish, although my next video may be a slight deviation from the main series. Stay tuned~!

In episode three of season 1, Applejack says that she wants to replace her old barn. In episode three of season 2, Rainbow Dash destroys said barn. In episode three of season 3, Applejack is raising a new barn. COINCIDENCE? OR CONSPIRACY?!?!

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