MLP - Sleepless in Ponyville - Review

Once again, this review will contain spoilers. Those of you who haven't watched the episode yet, you have been warned.

So our episode begins with Scootaloo riding her scooter through the streets of Ponyville. She performs a few stunts and impresses Rainbow Dash before flying headlong into a bunch of hay, leading to the title sequence.

After the opening sequence we find Scootaloo boasting to Applebloom and Sweetie Bell about Rainbow's comments. She say she wants to spend more time with Rainbow, and Applebloom suggest an upcoming camping trip she and her family are going on. After Sweetie Bell convinces Rarity that the two of them should join in, all five head to the woods. Once at the campsite, Rainbow arrives and Scootaloo attempt to impress her, with mixed success.

Once everyone's established their respective tents, Scootaloo fetches some firewood and they get a fire going. Rainbow then begins to tell the group some scary stories. The story scares all three of the CMC, but Scootaloo pretend to not be affected in order to stay in Rainbow's good books. When everyone goes to bed, Scootaloo follows, still clearly terrified by Rainbow's story. Disturbed by strange noises, Scootaloo goes out to investigate. She sees many strange things, such as the image of scary tree, or an unknown pony in the distance. She's soon shocked by the sight of an elderly pony like from Rainbow's story, which frightens her back into the tent. She soon wakes up to find that her experience was a nightmare.

The next morning it seems that Scootaloo stayed up all night out of fear, which makes the following trek more difficult for her. Worried that they might still be walking by nightfall, Scootaloo goes ahead, claiming it's for the benefit of her friends rather than herself. In her sleep-deprived state however, she finds herself going in circles and arriving back at the group. In the following stretch of road, every singe sudden sounds makes her jump, much to the suspicion of the other ponies. They eventually arrive at a cave where they plan to stop for the night, much to Scootaloo's terror. Rainbow says she has another scary a story in mind, which the young Pegasus is in no mood to hear, so she volunteers to go and get firewood. Her fear prevent her from taking two steps forward however and soon is only able to gather a few twigs.

In an attempt to prevent Rainbow from telling another scary a story, Scootaloo says she'll tell one. However, her story proves less that intimidating so Rainbow takes over once more. Her story proves much scarier and once more has Scootaloo terrified. Rarity suggests that it's time to sleep but Scootaloo, no doubt trying to avoid another nightmare, suggests that they sing campfire songs instead. Sweetie Belle volunteers of that with "100 buckets of oats on the wall", which inevitably takes up quite some time. But the song eventually ends and despite Scootaloo's continued efforts, everyone goes to sleep.

Eventually, Scootaloo falls asleep herself and begins to dream again. In her dream, she's walking through a forest and begins hearing approaching hoof-steps. Fearful, Scootaloo begins running away, but soon trips over a root and falls. The creature following her is about to get her, when out of nowhere, Princess Luna arrives and blasts it away. When asked why she's there, Luna explains that as princess of the night, ponies dreams come under her jurisdiction. Luna explains that even though this is a dream, Scootaloo's fear will remain after she wakes. Scootaloo confesses that the thing which is really bothering her is not being as cool as she think Rainbow wants her to be. Luna says that everyone has fears and that they must be faced.

Scootaloo wakes up from her dream, but is soon frightened to remain in the cave after hearing strange noises. Her panic leads her to eventually fall into a river, where she's taken downstream and over a waterfall. Fortunately, Rainbow Dash saves her from falling. Rainbow is clearly distressed that she risked her life like that, and remembering Luna's advice, Scootaloo finally confesses to Rainbow about her problems. Seeing how upset Scootaloo is, Rainbow herself confesses to having been scared of those stories when she first heard them. With that resolved, Rainbow decides to take Scootaloo under her wing, much to the latter's delight.

And so our episode ends with The group reaching their final camp destination, and with Scootaloo no longer bothered by her dreams, with Luna watching over them.

So then, Scootaloo's first focus episode. How did it do?

Well, first of all, let me just say, as a fan of this series, that regardless of how well I thought the episode did, it really is great to finally get an episode devoted to this character. Of all the regularly featured characters on this show, Scootaloo has had perhaps the least amount of attention and development. Oh sure she's had plenty to do in other CMC episodes, but we've never focused on her personally. We've never fo8und out what she does when others aren't around, what her home life is like, or really how much her character differs from the other crusaders apart from her obvious admiration for Rainbow Dash. So if nothing else, this episode delivers on something I've been wanting to see for a long time.

This episode deals with a very realistic issue, that of a fear of how others perceive you. Many times a person will try to do things to uphold how they feel they should appear to others, regardless of whether or not it's a good thing for them to do. Scootaloo is in a position I think many children have been in at some point, not wanting to let others know that they're scared of something. I myself have been in her shoes when I was younger and I know from personal experience how hard it can be to admit to my own fears and worries. This episode handled that subject matter very delicately, for which I do salute it.

However, and this is no fault of the episode itself, but I think this story suffered by being aired the week after "Magic duel". That episode was so good and provided such a good amount of character development that this one feel like it doesn't even reach the same league. I know it's not fair to judge an episode based on how well another episode did, but all the while I was watching this episode I kept thinking to myself, "this seems like a step-down from last week". Disagree if you like but this episode, in my eyes at least, suffered by following that previous episode.

As this is Scootaloo's first real focus episode let's talk about her chacater here. This is the first time we've ever really been given a good look at her character and personality, providing probably more development in one episode than she's been given in all of her previous appearances combined. Here the show makes it clear to all what kind of person Scootaloo is. She's the tomboy, the rough and tough member of the CMC. And more importantly, she's self-conscious. She hold an image of herself as being "the tough one" among her friends, and she's worried throughout this story about the possibility of tarnishing that image.

This does two things. One, it clearly defines her character as being less secure than she might have appeared in past episodes. And two, it makes us wonder whether her confident nature in those other episodes was truly bravery and confidence, or merely her trying to prop up that image in order to keep her friends thinking less of her. That's the kind of development I like in show like this, the kind that makes you think about what you thought you knew about a person.

The one big issue with her character in this episode is something which shadows the entire story, and once more shows that the CMC just don't learn their lessons. Earlier this season, in "One bad apple", she and the others refused to talk to others about something which was causing them some grief. Here, a very similar situation happens and yet Scootaloo remains completely silent on the matter, never going to anyone about it. Now you may argue that these are two very different situations, that Scootaloo's problem in this episode is not the same as the last. But the issue still stands. She's bothered by something and simply suffers in silence.

Her idolization of Rainbow Dash, only hinted in past episodes, comes into it's own here, and we truly see just how important Rainbow's approval is to her. I'm sure every one of us has, at some point, had someone in our lives that we looked up to who we wanted to be happy with us in some way, and as such this was a very relatable aspect of her character development in this episode. Fear of disappointing someone leading to doing crazy things is something I can personally vouch for. I won't go into the details but needless to say I know just how much it can affect a person.

As for the other characters, there's a lot of good stuff in here. With Sweetie Belle and Rarity for example, you can tell that their relationship has continued to improve since the events of "Sisterhooves social", with Rarity going out of her way to spend more time with her younger sister, and the latter able to use that to convince Rarity to come in the first place I must admit was a nice little devious act by the young unicorn. Rainbow Dash is rather hit-and-miss for me. One the one hand she does her usual thing here and does it well, but still, it feels odd that she, and all the other ponies for that matter, wouldn't realise that there was something bothering Scootaloo, especially given how overt her extreme reactions to sudden noises were. Still, I suppose they were simply tasking her at her word, which is fair enough.

But by far the best other piece of character development here was, of course, Princess Luna. Her arrival in this episode was not something I ever expected. But it was nice to see her in an episode where she wasn't attached to Celestia for once. Her advice and help towards Scootaloo was a really nice moment between the two characters. It does several things. Firstly, it shows that Princess Luna is out there, looking out for the ponies of Equestria just like her sister, which does a lot to wash away some of the fears I've been having that her character doesn't do anything in this world. Secondly, it's nice to see a moment of a princess giving advice to a pony that doesn't involve Twilight or Celestia for once. Every pony in this world needs help at some point and it's good to know that the princesses don't just focus on Twilight's small group of friends.

And then there's the fact that Luna can go into people's dreams. This actually makes sense given her role as a guardian of the night. If ponies by and large don't get that active in the night-time, venturing into people's dreams would be the most significant interaction Luna would have with her subjects. Though one has to wonder, if she was able to do this all the time, how she was able to feel isolated from the rest of her people all those years ago to lead her to become corrupted? Still, this was a nice touch to the episode overall and finally removes the worries I've been having about whether or not the writers actually have things for Luna to do in this show apart from show up for cameos.

In terms of the visuals in this episode, there's some very impressive stuff here. I mentioned back in my review of the season three premiere that the animation quality has improved greatly since the last season, and this episode is a prime example of that. Moment when we go into Scootaloo's nightmares show some really creative animation and design work. I've always had a soft spot for dream stories because of the kind of interesting visuals they can give us. This episode delivers on that, in a rather unexpectedly intimidating way I must add. There were many moments that shocked me over how dark this must seem, both to Scootaloo and the child audience this show is intended for. But then, I've always been a supporter of showing dark stuff to kids.

There was a great deal of humour in this episode, far more so than the more serious tone of last week's episode. Seeing the characters of Applejack, Rarity and Rainbow interacting with each other over the camp site was hilarious to watch, and there were many small gags here and there to allow for a great deal of levity, such as the mislead regarding Sweetie Bell carrying Rarity's luggage. Scootaloo's failed attempts to impress Rainbow were also funny, but in that "I know this person's going through an embarrassing moment and I shouldn't laugh but I will anyway" kind of way. So overall, I'd say that the humour in this episode was both well-executed and entertaining.

No song this week, unless you count Sweetie Belle's campfire song. But I won't count it since it was more of a joke than anything else.

Time to talk about the moral of the week now and in this episode it seems that it is to face one's fears. Now granted this is a much better attempt at a moral lesson than last' week's attempt. And it truth I have nothing against facing fears as a concept. After all, it does no-one nay good to spend their whole lives fearful of something we all know doesn't exist. But at the same time there's a chance that some might misinterpret that message as to not feel fearful towards anything. Many in the past have gone on to face things that are truly dangerous and been put at serious risk to it. So while I praise the episode for trying to get kids to be less scared of stuff, I think there's always a danger that the usefulness of fear can be overlooked.

Overall, despite my mixed feelings about it, this was an enjoyable episode. Scootaloo getting an episode of her own was justification enough for this episode to be made, but even if it didn't have that in it's favour, it would still be worth watching. We get an understandable situation for the main character to be put in and even though I may have had some issue with the moral in the end, the episode holds up, and manages to provide a decent amount of development for a character who was in desperate need of some.

Join me next week when Rainbow Dash discovers how difficult it can be to have your dreams come true in "Wonderbolt Academy".

Spoilers! Spoilers everywhere!
Like dude! You can spoil about the current episode, but don't go off and spoil the next episode? That's dickish and you shouldn't do it.

As for the episode. It's the best of season 3. Some good quality writing, story telling, comedy, great moral, and just that pure "Season 1" type quality that we don't see so much in this series anymore. I've always hated the CMC because they are shit characters when they are together, but when it's about focusing on one of the CMC. e.g. (Call of the cutie or Sister hoof social) or when they are the spectators or the minor focus of an episode e.g. (Cutie mark chronicles). This episode made Scootaloo my favorite out of the CMC just because they made her act like a normal kid character. Also it is nice to see the a brand new writer did this episode instead of a current writer. I hope to see more of his work on this series sometime soon. So overall the episode to me is a straight 9/10. From all the shit episodes and "good episodes that could have been better" of this dull season, I think this one so far stands out the most and I hope that Studio B gets their act together and make more top notch episodes.

The definition of meh, this season hasn't been great. I don't know why I am still watching.

I LOVED this episode..

I agree, it was great to see Scootaloo with her very own centre character episode.. In fact, she even is one of my favorite characters now.. And the fact that she wants Rainbow to be like her big sister, seems like the most touching part of the episode, in my opinion..

It was also cool, seeing Luna by herself for basically the first time, since the Halloween episode, witch mostly was focused on her character.. And ya, being a dream master, seems a good role for her..

All in all, I have no complaints about this episode, I enjoyed the most out of season three, so far...

I'm gonna run contrary to the fans and say this was the best episode of season 3. It introduces a lot of elements that deserved exploring (like what exactly Luna's job involved, besides just "watching the night"), and it finally brings us some development with Scootaloo. She's long idolized RD, and wanted to be like her, and we finally got to see legitimate development of a sisterly relationship between them. Rainbow Dash has been increasingly portrayed as more of a loner than the other characters in the Mane Six (moreso than even Fluttershy), thus her antics and bragging to get people's attention. So it was actually really sweet to see her lower her guard a bit like that, and it's nice to finally see some resolution in the Scootaloo-RD relationship when it had basically been one-sided since the beginning of the show.

I'm also gonna run contrary to the fans and say that "Magic Duel" wasn't at all as strong as you claim it was. Why? The answer is actually rather simple: the episode was built purely out of a desire to shut the fans up about wanting more Trixie, and the ending is purposely designed so that the writers can say "Trixie's redeemed, so there's no reason to bring her back" whenever the fans ask for another Trixie episode. I didn't like it, honestly. I think it's lazy writing. And I think that people have vastly overrated it as some sort of super-amazing episode when it really doesn't even hold itself up under its own weight, much less truly shine amongst the best the show has to offer.

Despite the quality of Sleepless in Ponyville, "Magic Duel" and the two-part season opener actually have me significantly worried about this season. I'm actually starting to think that this may end up being the weakest season of the show yet. And mind, it's okay for them to have a bad season, it's just a bit earlier than I'd hoped, so I am holding out hope that they haven't already run out of ideas and things to do.

CriticKitten:
I'm gonna run contrary to the fans and say this was the best episode of season 3. It introduces a lot of elements that deserved exploring (like what exactly Luna's job involved, besides just "watching the night"), and it finally brings us some development with Scootaloo. She's long idolized RD, and wanted to be like her, and we finally got to see legitimate development of a sisterly relationship between them. Rainbow Dash has been increasingly portrayed as more of a loner than the other characters in the Mane Six (moreso than even Fluttershy), thus her antics and bragging to get people's attention. So it was actually really sweet to see her lower her guard a bit like that, and it's nice to finally see some resolution in the Scootaloo-RD relationship when it had basically been one-sided since the beginning of the show.

I'm also gonna run contrary to the fans and say that "Magic Duel" wasn't at all as strong as you claim it was. Why? The answer is actually rather simple: the episode was built purely out of a desire to shut the fans up about wanting more Trixie, and the ending is purposely designed so that the writers can say "Trixie's redeemed, so there's no reason to bring her back" whenever the fans ask for another Trixie episode. I didn't like it, honestly. I think it's lazy writing. And I think that people have vastly overrated it as some sort of super-amazing episode when it really doesn't even hold itself up under its own weight, much less truly shine amongst the best the show has to offer.

Despite the quality of Sleepless in Ponyville, "Magic Duel" and the two-part season opener actually have me significantly worried about this season. I'm actually starting to think that this may end up being the weakest season of the show yet. And mind, it's okay for them to have a bad season, it's just a bit earlier than I'd hoped, so I am holding out hope that they haven't already run out of ideas and things to do.

I dunno if I agree with your analysis of Magic Duel. I though it was a well-structured adventure and did a lot of world building and character development and had a moral in tune to the very core of the show. It really didn't feel like fan-pandering so much as the show maturing and building a bigger more-continuous world.

But I agree, Sleepless in Ponyville was the best episode this season by far.

 

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