Super Recaps: My Little Pony season 6 (The Crystalling)

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Hasbro.

Episodes directed by Denny Lu and Tim Stuby

It feels like it was just yesterday that this show was still on the air and not living up to it’s potential, doesn’t it?  Season five was overall a disappointment, mainly due to the MacGuffin they introduced being underutilized (the Cutie Map) and the finale not really having the kind of punch and significance that we are used to getting from this show.  There were more than a few important and satisfying episodes throughout the season (The Cutie Map, Slice of Life, Rarity Investigates, Crusaders of the Lost Mark) but taken as a whole it just didn’t do much to advance our main characters or the world that they inhabit.  Fortunately, the best thing Hasbro could have done was to minimize the hiatus between season which means we can move forward right away so that fans (like me) aren’t moping for too long about the mediocrity of the last season.  Can they manage to recapture the magic of this series with a smart and exciting season premiere, or will the mediocrity continue as we slowly realize that the show has reached its peak?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with Starlight Glimmer walking through the halls of Twilight’s Doom Fortress; looking for the library and hanging lampshades along the way.

“It sure is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside!  I wonder if that’s a reference to something… *COUGH* Badwolf *COUGH*  Excuse me.  Must have something in my throat.”

She eventually manages to find Twilight who has summoned her there and has been preparing friendship lesson plans presumably since the season finale and is ready to shove them all on Starlight.  Looks like some pony just realized that they’re a project!  Twilight’s overzealousness to live out her dream as a teacher is not wholly unexpected, but I’m surprised that the show is going there so quickly and with this much ferocity.  I’m not sure HOW far they’ll go (if Twilight will end up being actively toxic or simply misguided), but it’s the right direction to go in after the somewhat fairy tale ending of the season finale.  Starlight manages to make an excuse to leave Twilight to her endless lesson planning and finds the rest of the Mane 6 in the throne room discussing their next mission.

“If I can’t even get mushrooms on at least HALF of a pizza, I’m walking out here RIGHT NOW!”     “You’ll get your mushrooms when Tartarus freezes over!”     “Well I want apples!”     “SHUT UP!!”

The discussion at hand seems to be the proper procedure for dealing with the upcoming birth of Cadence and Shining Armor’s first child and future ruler of the Crystal Empire (barring a coup or an assassination).  It doesn’t seem to be THAT big of an issue as they can find out what they need to do once they get there rather than hemming and hawing about it in the throne room, but no seems to be an expert on Crystallings (a tradition of the Crystal Kingdom) so they’re stuck for the moment.  Fortunately Spike has been looking into this at Twilight’s command (at least he’s doing something helpful) and his research has concluded that a Crystalling basically the opening to The Lion King with the added bonus of the Crystal Heart getting a nice juicy power boost out of it.

“Kali Ma!  KALI MA!!”

Starlight though is still a bit confused about certain aspects of the Crystal Empire and heads back to Twilight to get some answers.  Instead, all she gets is a severe bout of PTSD as Twilight has dug into her past and found her friend Sunburst, who you may recall was Starlight’s friend from long ago and whose leaving was the impetus for her crusade against Cutie Marks.  Gee.  It’s almost like Twilight doesn’t respect her as a person, err… pony, and presumes to know what’s best for her!  You know, I’m pretty sure Celestia didn’t ACTUALLY give Twilight missions about friendship.  The only one I recall is “Make Some Friends” and Starlight already completed that with Twilight and the Mane 6 (and Spike I guess)!  Starlight doesn’t even have that much of a recourse here considering that she needs to stay in Twilight’s good graces for… well EVERYTHING (she’s even living in the castle at this point) so it’s either deal with her issues in the most blunt and traumatizing way possible, or lose the faith of the one pony who’s gonna keep her from… living on the streets I guess?  Maybe she’ll take over another town just so she can get another house.

“Alright, I guess I have to go with Plan B already.  If I can just find a burlap sack big enough…”

Eventually Twilight gets an OFFICIAL invitation to the Crystal Kingdom (after the birth apparently) and the Mane 6 plus Spike and Starlight (are we upgrading to a Mane 7 or 8 at some point?) hop on a train and head straight for the home of Shining Armor and Cadence.  Once they get there though, it’s clear that parenthood has hit the two like a ton of bricks and neither one seem to be ready for the Crystalling, so Twilight and co will head to the castle while Starlight and Spike head to Sunburst’s house.  Despite Spike seemingly understanding Starlight’s plight, he has no intentions of going behind Twilight’s back which means the death march proceeds on schedule.  Actually, it doesn’t because if there’s ONE thing Starlight is really good at, it’s manipulation which is a skill she uses on Spike to get him to regale the tale of his heroic deeds to the citizens of the Crystal Kingdom; all of whom you will notice do not have their trademark crystal-ness.   A hereto unexplained aspect of the lore, or animation cutbacks?  You decide!!

“I’m sure Spike the Brave and Glorious will find a way to restore us to our natural shiny luster!  Right Mr. Hero?”     “Uh… I could TOTALLY look into that… later.  Is it time for my coffee break?”

While Spike continues to enrapture the ponies of the Crystal Empire, the Mane 6 are heading to the nursery to see the new born Queen of Equestria (give her time)  named… actually, I don’t know.  They haven’t told us yet.

“She’s so darn marketable!”     “I know, right!?”

So the big surprise here is that the baby was born an Alicorn which APPARENTLY is something that has never happened.  Then again we’re only aware of TWO non-god Alicorns (and Cadence’s story hasn’t even been told in the series yet), but Luna and Celestia are there as well and confirm this as something significant, so who am I to say otherwise?  The group separates once again, leaving Twilight and Pinkie in charge of taking care of the baby, while everyone else starts preparing for the Crystalling ceremony.

“I smell shenanigans!  And something else!”

Shenanigans do indeed ensue, but before we can get a glimpse of that, we have to go back to Starlight who is about to run out of excuses for dodging the mission that Twilight had sent her and Spike on.  Despite her completely understandable reservations (not helped by Spike’s insistence on following every step on Twilight’s guide that no only presumes to know exactly how Starlight and Sunburst will react but also inexplicably includes a step scare the living hell out of her by stressing the importance of this mission as the linchpin to her success as Twilight’s pupil or not), she walks up to Sunburst’s house, knocks on the door, and the two finally meet again after all this time.  It doesn’t go very well, but what the else would you expect?

“…”     “…”     “So… how’s it going?”     “…Is this a booty call?”     “I think we’re done here.”

Twilight is not one to do things with ill intent or any degree of malice, but she can also be very thoughtless when it comes to her expectations of others.  Hell, just think of the Hooffields and McColts episode from season five to see her completely ignore everyone else in her single minded pursuit to set things right and to do it by the book.  This time though, some pony could REALLY get hurt here if she isn’t careful, and if it wasn’t clear enough by her not even being there to support Starlight, she’s not being careful right now.  The only things we can really gleam from this initial meeting is that neither of them wants to talk about their past or anything in general to be frank.  I’m guessing Sunburst’s past is not too dissimilar from Moon Dancer’s, only his story will probably be a bit sadder as it looks like he’s a total washout; wasting away as a minor sorcerer who already gave up on being more than that.  Well I guess we’ll have to wait until part two to find out more as we need to go back to the Crystalling to wrap up that storyline.  Things seem to have finally fallen into place as everyone is putting the finishing touches on the ceremony.  With the event close at hand, Twilight and Pinkie Pie bring out the baby and return her to Cadence.  Unfortunately, the baby seems to have taken a shine to Pinkie Pie in particular, so when she’s separated from her, she starts to cry very loudly.  In fact, she cries so loud (aided by her very powerful magic) that the Crystal Heart shatters into a million pieces.  That’s right.  The one thing protecting the Crystal Kingdom from… whatever threats there may be (first it was Sombra, now it appears to be the weather itself) is lying in ruin on the ground due to the baby which presumably means the death of everyone who happens to be in the kingdom right now.  Oh hey!  I just figured out the baby’s name!  DAMIEN!!  Little Baby Genocide!

“Did I do that?”

And so ends part one of the season six premiere; with the death of thousands of innocent ponies hanging in the balance!  I like a lot of what is being set up here and can only hope that part two manages to give a satisfying payoff for that.  The more important of the two storylines (or at least the one I worry won’t have a satisfying conclusion) is the one where Starlight and Sunburst are not hitting it off, so hopefully Twilight realizes her mistake in forcing this reunion and she can learn just as much about herself and the way she’s treating Starlight as much as Starlight will about getting over one’s past.  I’m not as worried about the DESTRUCTION OF THE CRYSTAL KIGNDOM storyline as it’ll probably be one big goof considering just how easy it was to destroy the ONE THING protecting everyone from certain doom (crossing my fingers for Benny Hill music).  Hopefully it will have plenty of manic energy and won’t try too hard to sell itself as legitimate drama.  Well there’s no point in putting it off any further!  Let’s get to part two!!

Every one of our heroes at the Crystalling is in full on melt down mode as they can see the rolling black clouds of winter barring down upon the poor kingdom.  Just a thought; If you’re kingdom is going to be decimated within a matter of minutes if just ONE thing fails (that doesn’t rhyme with shmuclear), MAYBE the Gods don’t want you to build your damn castle there King Canute!  Actually, the Gods (or Goddesses) hasn’t had much to say on this as they are metaphorically crapping their royal pants just like everyone else, so things are looking a tad bit bleak.  That’s not the only place that’s looking bleak though as Starlight and Sunburst continue to not have chemistry or even simply moments of non-awkwardness, so eventually the two call it quits before Spike has a panic attack over failing to follow Twilight’s commands, especially when one of them is have them share dark personal stories with each other mere minutes after meeting back up.  WHERE THE HELL IS SHE GETTING THESE IDEAS!?

“How about… strip poker?”     “HOW ABOUT NO!”     “What exactly is the Princess trying to do to us!?”

Before things can get any weirder, Starlight leaves and we cut back to what remains of the Crystal Kingdom’s central government.  The plan for now is to have the combined effort of Luna, Celestia, and Cadence to generate that shield that protected the empire from Sombra which should buy Twilight and her crew enough time to think up a solution.  No wait; that would be a better idea than the one they come up with.  Instead of the shield again (which I’m pretty sure would be SUPER effective right now), Twilight, Shining Armor, Cadence, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie, head to the library with the baby to come up with a plan as Luna and Celestia just start blasting clouds in the hope of staving off mother nature for… maybe twenty minutes at most.  Not much of a plan (especially compared to the super shield) but I guess it will have to do.  Oh, and Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Applejack are sent to disperse the curious masses waiting for the ceremony to begin and to do so without starting a panic.  Because if I was gonna send three ponies to smooth talk a crowd, it would be the compulsively honest one, the hot tempered one, and the one who doesn’t like public speaking.  All I’m saying is that they might have been more useful taking care of the baby as Pinkie Pie CLEARLY proves she’s not ready for that responsibility BY THROWING HER TO THE GROUND!!

Be sure to hit the soft spot!

Oh the baby is fine!  It’s a MAGIC baby, so it’s impervious to slapstick!  The baby manages to teleport its way to the library which just so happens to be where Twilight and the rest were heading so as to find a spell to fix the Crystal Heart.  I would have gone with superglue, but maybe I guess a “fix it” spell will work too.  Spike and Starlight are heading back to the castle, both feeling a bit down, but the pity party doesn’t last long as they realize that something must be wrong because it’s snowing which is what the Crystal Heart is supposed to prevent.  Somehow THESE two know that, but the throng of ponies who actually LIVE there that are gathered around the castle still can’t seem to grasp that they should PROBABLY go back to their houses, even after getting told in no uncertain terms to do so by three of the saviors of Equestria.

“Global Cooling is a myth!  NOW GIVE US THE BABY!!”

Is the research team doing any better?  Nope!  Twilight and Cadence are working through the library’s catalog for a magical MacGuffin spell while everyone else is trying to catch the baby who refuses to not only sit still but to stop casting destructive spells.  I get that baby is a TAD more powerful than most newborn unicorns, but we’re also dealing with some of the most powerful ponies in all of Equestria!  How is it that none of them can manage to put a leash on her!?  Not only does Shining Armor (captain of the Royal Guard before becoming the co-ruler of the Crystal Kingdom), Pinkie Pie, and Rarity (both bearers of Elements of Harmony before becoming Princess Twilight’s personal knights and advisors) fail to keep her under control, but they also fail to stop her from destroying the ONE book that Cadence and Twilight found that had a spell that could potentially fix the Crystal heart!  DAMN YOU BABY DEVIL!  DOES YOUR EVIL KNOW NO BOUNDS!?

“I’m the baby!”     “KILL IT WITH FIRE!!”

Well things are pretty much boned at this point as Twilight and Cadence don’t have a proper reference for the Relic Reconstitution spell they were going to use and Celstia and Luna aren’t making much of an impact on the weather.  Moving the sun and moon is no problem, but stopping a localized weather event is out of their hands apparently.  There’s not much left other than for Twilight to try and reconstruct the spell, so Cadence and Shining Armor will start evacuating the kingdom to be on the safe side.  Gee.  I wonder if there’s a wizard in town who we just saw and might be able to help.  Oh that’s right!  There IS!  Surely Sunburst can save the day, right?

“…be straight with me Starlight.  Is Princess Twilight about to destroy the kingdom just to get us to be friends?”

With this desperate plea from Starlight to have him save the kingdom with his awesome wizard powers, Sunburst finally has to admit that he couldn’t hack it as a practical wizard and instead only learns about spells.  I can’t see this as being a HUGE source of shame considering that SOME PONY needs to research spells and preserve them for posterity (being a librarian doesn’t make you a failed writer) but I’ll go with it as it does at least tie back to Starlight’s villainous origin story where he was SO good at magic that he was whisked away from her.  This also means that she has an opportunity to open up to him about her past which implies that now they are even I guess.  Good thing HE had something he wasn’t proud of, or else she never would have had a reason to talk about being a former dictator!   Anyway, despite Sunburst’s inability to casts spells with a degree of finesse or expertise, the situation does give him an idea on how to fix everything, he and Starlight run straight for the train station to tell everyone to turn back and go to the castle.  Hopefully his plan doesn’t involve sacrificing these citizens to appease the Gods of winter (which I’m guessing are the Windigos) and will instead be something a bit more productive.  So the problem with the Fix Everything spell is that it’s not strong enough to fix a MacGuffin this big.  What they ACTUALLY need to do is move forward with the Cyrstalling so that they can then collect all the good vibes from the citizenry and use that to power boost the Fix Everything spell.  Oh, and they also have to give the heart that energy by jabbing a magic crystal into it because… magic?

“From Tartarus’s heart; I STAB AT THEE!!!”

The ensuing boom-gasm from the Crystalling is enough to fight back the onslaught by Mother Nature (FUCK YOU CLOUDS!!) and turn everyone crystal-y again which SHOULDN’T HAVE TO BE THE CASE FOR THE ACTUAL CRYSTAL PONIES, but whatever.  Crisis averted!  We cut to sometime later where everyone is at the train station to wait for the arrival of Twilight and Shining Armor’s parents; both of whom FINALLY get voices after six season of… not.  They’re voiced by Tara Strong and Andrew Francis who voice Twilight and Shining Armor, so they weren’t really stretching there, but hopefully this means the show is willing to have them actually show up in future episodes instead of just being set dressing.  We also find out that Shining Armor and Cadence have picked out a name for young destroyer of worlds, and they came up with Flurry Heart as a reminder of the disaster she was responsible for.  Okay…  I’m sure that’s a thing that happens.

“It was either that or Hindenburg.”     “WHY WAS IT EVER HINDENBURG!?”

It looks like everything turned out fine!  The baby didn’t kill everyone, Shining Armor and Cadence’s throne is firmly secured for generations, and Sunburst not has a job as a Crystaler, whatever the hell that may be.  There’s just ONE loose end to tie up as the Mane 6 and their roadies (Spike and Starlight) board the train for Ponyville.  Will Twilight finally realize that she was pushing Starlight into doing something that could have been extremely traumatizing and should be more conscious of such issues in the future?  Not really.  She regrets not having any time during the trip to spend with her pupil while she was accomplishing her mission, which is a fair enough point, but it never really addresses what would have gone wrong even if she DID have time to spend with her.  Spike justifies her lack of participation as a good thing by comparing it to how Celestia was very hands off with her friendship lessons.  I would counter that with that Celestia was not only hands off in guiding her through challenges, but by not giving her specific goals either.  The most specific it got was in the first episode where she wanted her to make friends and that’s it.  Sure, Celestia called her in for missions later, but they were ACTUAL missions instead of trying to fix Twilight’s life.  Things ultimately turned out for the best here as Starlight and Sunburst (their official ship name HAS to be Starburst) but that was pure luck on Twilight’s part considering that the two of them were able to bond over their failures in the past rather than have Starlight come up to him like an alcoholic trying to make amends before they’re ready to.  Oh well.  Maybe we’ll head in that direction for future episodes!

“I wonder if her parents know just how twisted she became…”

This was a solid start to the season, and while it didn’t have the gravitas or stakes that usually accompany the season premieres of this show, it served its purpose and even managed to expand the world somewhat.  I’m curious to see just how much of an impact Flurry Heart will have on the series (because people ALWAYS love it when a show introduces a cute kid!) considering how much potential she has for interesting storylines.  Maybe not THIS season though, but if the show ever takes a jump forward in time, we would at least have some pony that can grow into a major presence in the series.  Starlight still feels a bit misused here due to the problems I mentioned above that the show doesn’t address, but having a new member of the crew does open the door for a lot of possibilities.  Maybe this wasn’t the strongest start to the season, but it does lay down some groundwork for the rest of the season that will hopefully be capitalized on, unlucky the Cutie Map from season 5.  We’ll have to see what happens now, but I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.


5 thoughts on “Super Recaps: My Little Pony season 6 (The Crystalling)

  1. I liked this one a lot. The changes in the status quo, the differences in mood and pacing, and the general aversion to the show’s usual formulas made this feel fresher than the show has been in years, at least to me. There’s not really any big things which stand out as especially great, but I found some new small thing that I really liked in this episode every other minute. I liked the realistic view of new parenthood, I liked how Shining Armour got more time and was more fleshed out, I liked Starlight’s character development, I liked Sunburst’s characterization, I liked the pacing, I liked the worldbuilding, and surprisingly, I even liked the baby. Cute little demon child.

    A lot of people come to expect certain things from the season premieres, and to me, the fact that this largely eschewed those is really admirable. I admire the show for doing something different and taking it down a notch, providing something more low-key than the usual. The new dynamic between Twilight and Starlight changes Twilight’s role in the series, and having her newly thrust into the mentor role strikes me as something super interesting to be built upon. I liked the themes, especially in regards to Sunburst struggling in school and yet still coming through in the end, but also regarding the stresses of new parenthood.

    To me, this is maybe the most confident the show has been in years, and even if it’s lacking for stand-out moments, it really has left me more excited for MLP than I have been in a really long time. I think there’s a lot of potential set up here for a really great season, and though that thought has disappointed me before, I think it really might go somewhere this time.


  2. Short Version: It feels weird to say this, but this might be the most light-hearted season premiere since the first one.
    Long Version:
    -First things first: this is for all intents and purposes a Starlight Glimmer episode. Not only is she the character with the most to prove, but she’s also the very first character we see in the episode (and even gets top billing during the credits). The sudden shift with the character (and, by association, the series as a whole) has been polarizing, to say the least. Personally, my sympathy for the character has only grown during the wait for this new season. I was never crazy for her as a villain, but she’s easily one of the most interesting the show has ever conceived (Elsewhere, I’ve commented on how her story in Season 5 is about being dragged kicking and screaming out of a case of arrested development). I also find the prospect of her becoming one of the good guys more appealing than having her as a villain, and I feel the backlash towards her has been worse than what she deserved (I’ve seen some people call her flat-out the worst character in the entire show).
    -Anyway, I think it’s fair to say that right off the bat the episode will be divisive. As for me, I was eager to see Starlight prove herself, and I’m fairly pleased with what we’ve got so far. She’s obviously still struggling with moving on from her past and settling in as Twilight’s student, to the point that she’s worried that it’ll impact pony’s impressions of her. While she doesn’t have much going on by herself, she really shines with the way she plays off other characters.
    -First off, there’s Sunburst. Despite knowing very little about their relationship before this episode other than they were very close as childhood friends (the episode seems to really lean into the possibility they might’ve been THE most important ponies in each other’s lives at that point), the episode highlights just how important the bond is by revealing how much better they would’ve been off if they had stayed in touch. Sunburst wouldn’t be so ashamed of only amounting to what’s basically a scholar and Starlight wouldn’t have gone totally crazy. When they finally bare their past to each other, they’ve taken a big step to not just rekindling their friendship, but also accepting themselves, move on, and even find a way to give Sunburst a better purpose. (What I’m basically trying to say is that I’m full-on StarBurst trash already).
    -Speaking of Sunburst, we unfortunately don’t get to know him all that well outside of his friendship with Starlight (he seems gentle and meek at the very least, and obviously passionate about magic), so I do hope the show doesn’t lose touch with him (I’m assuming being the baby’s crystaller is like being a godparent?). I would’ve loved to see some kind of flashback showing his struggles at Magic School, maybe spending some time with Celestia. I had a thought about how he’s basically like Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc., a guy who knows everything about his chosen profession but isn’t all that gifted in it.
    -Where the episode really shines however is when Starlight is teamed up with Spike. The episode takes advantage of his unique position as an assistant to Twilight to use the experience he has gained from her to guide Starlight in her lesson, and it gets so much mileage out of it, I can say with only a small sense of hyperbole that this could be the best Spike episode ever. I’m genuinely eager to find out whether they’ll keep this dynamic going in future episodes. I got a good laugh at how even though Spike has an ego thing going on with the Crystal Ponies, it’s not going to stop him from making Starlight do her homework.
    -Jokes about how babies are kind of disasters are nothing new, but I appreciate how this episode goes the extra mile by having Flurry Heart more or less be the cause of the Crystal Empire’s potential destruction and even further complicates the arrival to a solution. Also appreciated are the subtle Alien references.
    -I’m glad the episode acknowledges that an alicorn being born, not made, is a pretty big deal, though I feel this topic gets lost amidst the chaos of containing her and saving the Empire, so hopefully the significance of it all gets brought back again in the future.
    -I know I’m throwing a lot of hyperbole around, but this episode might feature the best use of Shining Armor yet, as a sleep deprived worrywart of a rookie dad. The majority of his scenes were the funniest of the whole episode.
    -I think the end of the episode is the first time when it’s verbally acknowledged that Celestia’s method of teaching is by pointing students in the right direction and giving them enough room to figure things out on their own. I’ve seen the fandom have a history of dismissing this as Celestia being a troll, or is just lazy or careless, so I was actually clapping by the time Spike said it.
    -This is just a me thing, but I’m mildly annoyed at how we spent 2 episodes in the Crystal Empire and we didn’t get a cameo for Flash Sentry, mostly to figure out whether people still flip out at the mere sight of him. I’m assuming he was off having trouble wrestling with a particularly dangerous sentient cloud.
    -Overall, I think I enjoy the episode more because of its promise for the future than for its own merits, but I don’t think it’s all that different from how I feel about other season premieres, so it’s fine. It definitely made me excited to still be watching the show and left me wanting more, so that’s definitely good. I look forward to seeing Twilight furthering herself as a teacher and Starlight’s future endeavors into friendship.
    -I suppose I should point out how the show is making it very clear how Starlight is here to stay (they even added her to the intro and established that she’s living in Twilight’s castle). I think regardless of how fans feel about her, it shouldn’t be enough to ruin the show for them. After all, next week the show is returning to a much more familiar formula, featuring Rarity and Pinkie Pie traveling to Manehattan and running into Maud Pie. Should be fun.


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