Analyzing “Power Ponies”

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What stuck out to me in Power Ponies is how most of the super powers the mane six are portrayed with are things that they could already do. Rainbow Dash controls the weather, Twilight can use all kinds of crazy magic, Pinkie can travel at unusual speeds, Applejack can lasso anything, and Fluttershy becomes extra powerful when she’s mad. Arguably Rarity also is great at making things from her imagination, though in her case the power becomes a few magnitudes more literal.

As a result of this, the narrative is really not so much about the mane six gaining new powers, as it is about emphasizing how much more useful all of them are compared to Spike already. It’s meant to show you how the mane six essentially are superheroes, and Spike doesn’t really do much of anything.

However, just like in Daring Don’t, I feel like this would’ve been delivered better if it really had just been Spike drawing a parallel between the comic book and reality, just as Rainbow Dash did in Read It and Weep. It might’ve seemed like reusing a plotline, but we wouldn’t have the issue of this episode’s set up taking so long. More than half of the episode is spent setting up and introducing concepts that are supposed to pay off in the remaining less than ten minutes. We end up with a location, a villain, six superpowers, and magical objects that all feel critically underdeveloped and leave little lasting impact.

Spike draws the parallel between himself and the comic pretty early on, so the middle section of the episode just feels like so much waiting around for him to get on with saving the day, and the situations that play out come across stilted and rushed. The episode pays homage to a ton of comic super heroes, so you can kinda have fun recognizing all the shoutouts, but if you’re not that into comics then it probably won’t feel that special.

The one thing which did pay off big time was Flutterhulk, and a big part of that was how they clearly paid homage not only to the idea of the Hulk, but to the way that the Hulk’s arc is actually portrayed in the Avengers. It has the same build up, and contention from the Banner character over their lack of desire to actually transform. Plus, following through on having Fluttershy hulk out was a big payoff.

Other than that, I enjoyed seeing that Rarity’s castle restoration project wasn’t just a silly one-off joke in Castle Mane-ia, and I’m suspecting that this castle will continue to make important appearances across the season. I also thought it was clever how Mane-iac’s hair allowed her to move in a way similar to Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man. The Pinkie Pie cupcakes joke was funny, some of Rarity’s projections were clever, and… that’s it.┬áThat’s all I’ve got to say about it. It’s a Spike episode. Whad’ja expect. If you think I missed something important, let me know in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Analyzing “Power Ponies”

  1. I liked that the ponies grew into their powers (save for Pinkie who has a natural affinity towards speed when chase-stalking ponies around Ponyville.) Twilight started small then with each use of her power got better with it, Rarity became more creative with her power, and so on.

    Speaking of Rarity, I love how her power was used. It was one that could easily become OP, but the things she came up with to help her were fun to watch.

    I agree with you in that I liked the essence of her power and the way she manipulated her mane and the way in which she did it.

    My main problem with this episode, though, is the pacing. It felt so rushed, the best example being pinkie’s line near the end when she was asked where she got the cupcakes, and she replied that they had half a second before the portal sucked them through and the pastry shop was only 67 blocks away. A lot was just dumped in, and the sequence felt more like a brainstorm. Interesting, really, since this is a McCarthy episode who wrote some of my favorites (wow I’m paying attention to writers. I never do that! O.o)

    I was kinda meh shmeh on the designs. Some looked really good, like Applejack and Twilight’s costume design. But Hulkerfly looked like that spoof commercial on youtube for McDonald’s with the giraffe. And the villain had about two too many mane jokes >_>

    This one is definitely more aimed at the older bronies considering all of the references to superheros would be picked up by people older than the target demographic or boys (not to be sexist but most little girls I know aren’t interested in X-Men.)

    I think Spike underestimates himself- he IS the one that helped them realize their powers and identity in the comic book world.

  2. Perhaps the writers are intently trying to place the Main 6 into unfamiliar context, or into another world, so that their problems and relationships with one another can be handled through such a lens. That is the general theme connecting “Daring Don’t” and “Power Ponies”, after all.

    The old castle is definetly going to play a major part in the general plotline of s4. My guess is that it’s going to serve as Twilight’s new castle (a Princess needs to have her own castle, after all). That would make sense at least in the symbolical level, for Twilight represents the reconciliment between the Sisters, and the old castle is the gorund zero of their great schism.

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