My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

Season 3 Episode 1

The Crystal Empire - Part 1

Aired Saturday 10:30 AM Nov 10, 2012 on The Hub

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

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  • It's... it's not the disappointment I once thought it was, but still...

    Do you want to know why the hype for MLP: FIM died even though the fanbase for it is still strong? The biggest reason is probably just because more people lost interest in the show as time went on, but in no way did The Crystal Empire provide a panacea to the alienated feelings of not-so hardcore fans.

    You can probably tell right now that it's my least favorite two-parter special episode, but don't think that the reason is because it felt like a point where interest for the show had drifted away. I am well aware that some people actually really like these episodes, and I do understand that. It is an enjoyable special, but I do have reasons why I don't enjoy this special as much as the first two (The Return of Harmony and A Canterlot Wedding, I like the first two episodes of the show, but I don't count the pilot as a special).

    NOTE: This review will have spoilers, and will cover both parts, so please don't read if you haven't seen the special and you don't like spoilers.

    I could start by describing my thoughts on the plot, but what would be the point? A plot in a My Little Pony special? Surely you jest with me, it's for little kids! There's not going to be some epic story that doesn't involve the day just being a little less sunny than normal in a MLP special, come now. Anyways, the animation looks even better than the animation in the first two seasons, the characters are in character entertaining us with their antics, and the humor and fun is there. Guess that's about it. Not as many problems to discuss as I thought, so see you guys later! Have a good...


    Wait... there IS a plot that attempts to develop into an epic story?! Yeah, that obnoxious prattle Princess Celestia keeps going on about is actually exposition for a story about an empire. Well, the idea sounds promising, I'll give it that. This could turn into something exciting pretty easily, let's listen in!

    So how does the plot go down? Well, this huge crystal empire reappears out of nowhere mysteriously, and it's an antediluvian kingdom that holds knowledge so ancient that even Celestia doesn't know much about it, so she decides to send Shining Armor and Cadance there to defend the empire from a curse the original evil emperor put on it because... their magic is strong enough to defend the empire from his dark magic I guess. Luna offers to help them, but Celestia wants Twilight to go for backup instead because she needs to move on to the next level of her studies by passing a test... a test that she needs to pass by herself because... I guess it's important for her to advance her knowledge on the study of friendship... wait, wouldn't taking on a difficult task such as protecting an empire on her own contradict friend... oh, forget it.

    This is the worst plot that could've been implemented into this special. It barely made any sense. Think about a much easier way this storyline could've been set up. Why couldn't Celestia just tell Twilight that there's a potentially great empire that she and her friends must protect out of their heroic duty? She wants Twilight's friends to mature and gain experience too, so how did this entire plot end up focusing on Twilight and her being pressured into doing all of this? You can tell almost immediately by the way this story is told that they were trying to create a plot that was innovative and ambitious, but just not suitable for a forty-five minute special.

    Anyways, you've most probably guessed that the primary antagonist of this special is not the empire itself, Celestia even assures that the empire just needs to be founded on hope, love, and peace, and it will be good (which is pretty optimistic talk coming from a "princess" who rules over an entire kingdom yet refuses to call herself a queen).

    The villain is the aforementioned emperor, the evil unicorn king Sombra who ruled the crystal empire before his reign ended upon him being turned into a shadow and sealed in ice. But his curse still lives on in the empire, making the citizens feel depressed and hopeless. This guy seems like a good bad guy, the kind of evil that chooses to lurk in the shadows and tries to destroy his victims from the inside rather than rushing into his dastardly deeds of destruction. So how are our heroes going to defeat such a fearsome nemesis?

    Well, while he waits outside the crystal empire (he escaped from the ice along with the mysterious reappearance of the empire with no given explanation) as Cadance is blocking him from entering with her magic, Twilight and friends must go inside the crystal city and restore magic and happiness to the citizens by holding a Crystal fair that will promote love and unity because... it was a historical celebration centered around an ancient artifact, a magical Crystal heart that Twilight goes out to find on her own because... she thinks it's part of Celestia's test... the heart eventually gets found as Sombra finally gets in, but Twilight can't deliver it to the fair and because of the test... Sombra is instead defeated when one of Twilight's allies delivers the heart... wait, why is failing this stupid test the true threat and not Sombra? I thought he was supposed to be the bad guy... forget it.

    This is the worst, most ineffective villain that could've been implemented into this plot. Why did Sombra have to take such an unnecessary backseat? Why don't we get to see his cool powers in action, and how he strikes fear into our heroes? No one cares if Twilight fails this test that we never get insight on, we know from the start that Celestia is going to sympathize with her regardless. Also, while the scenes at the fair are entertaining, it still disappoints me that they have to indirectly defeat Sombra.

    It could be trying to teach some kind of message that love and unity conquers all as long as it... oh wait, it's not the love from the Crystal ponies that defeats Sombra, it's love from a jewel that they have to put their hopes in. Man, this element of artificial love coming from magic sucks. I get that "friendship is magic", but the power of love and friendship should not literally come from a spell, it should come from your own heart that you put your own hope in. Cadance even crushes the heart Twilight originally made to help the cause under her hooves, what kind of symbolism is this supposed to be?

    I'm not trying to be overly critical of the writing, I honestly felt this way when I watched the special for the first time. I couldn't get into the plot, it made less and less sense to me the more I thought about it. I was so disappointed initially, the stories of the first two specials were awesome. They were exciting, had a lot of interaction and conflict between both the main characters and the star villain, and had simple themes (The Return of Harmony's theme was that friendship is worth all the messed up stuff that comes with it and while A Canterlot Wedding's theme was a lot more generic, the theme of the power of love worked with the story).

    With this special, I just could not follow the story at all. I will give it credit for having a fairly consistent and coherent flow, but some things still didn't feel tied together by the end. Why is the "next level" of Twilight's studies so important? What was the point of this "test"? How can Cadance be the princess of an empire that just "mysteriously appeared"? Why are all these inconveniences being created for Twilight and our heroes? Does Celestia plan all this?

    I will admit that this special is not as bad as I first thought. The art is colorful, the characters do have some funny moments, the imagination is inspiring, and the spirit of the show is still there. The story just feels like a confusing mess however, as it feels that too much focus was put on expanding the show's mythological background rather than telling a compelling story. It is completely understandable if you love it, but despite it being enjoyable, I do not consider this special to be a fantastic one. Thank you, and good night.

  • Part 1 of the Season Premier

    After a long time, the premier of the newest season of FiM is finally here. It's been a long road, but the question is, was it worth the wait? Let's take a look. The episode starts out with Princess Celestia being informed that "it" has returned and summons Twilight and her friends to come to Canterlot. At the Ponyville Library, Twilight is getting some studying material out since she believe it's a test and ventures forth with all her friends. In the palace, Princess Celestia informs Twilight about the Crystal Empire, a kingdom in the north that used to be peaceful, but was taken over by a unicorn named King Sombra. Sombra was defeated by Luna and Celestia, but he cured the kingdom to disappear and now that it's returned, Celestia wants Twilight and her friends to protect it from danger. At the northern tip of Equestria, Twilight and the others run into Shining Armor, who informs them that Princess Cadence is keeping the kingdom safe. Before he can say more though, the shadow of King Sombra comes up and chases down the group. They all make it to the Crystal Empire, but Shining Armor's horn has been damaged and can't use magic thanks to King Sombra. In the Empire, the group meets with Princess Cadence and learns that she can't keep her magic up for long, so they all decide to ask the citizens about how the Empire was protected before Sobra took over. The group gets no results though as everypony is depressed and don't remember anything before Sombra took over. They all soon head for a library and Twilight finds a book about the Empire's history. The book shows that there was a festival held every year to make the ponies happy and was meant to protect the land from danger. The group organizes the festival and all things seem to be going right since the Crystal Ponies become happy again and remember things. It isn't until when Rainbow hears about a Crystal Heart used in the festival and things start to go bad. Twilight is informed of this and vows to find the Crystal Heart, but before she can do so, Cadence collapses and her magic fades away. The episode ends with King Sombra approaching to take over. This episode was handled well and it was a great way to start off the season. We got more musical numbers, with Spike singing this time, that were really good and catchy again. Pinkie referencing Splinter Cell was really good, and I liked how Sombra looked really awesome and was so intimidating. It's another start to a great season to the show and hopefully it promises more awesomeness.

    FINAL SCORE: 10/10
  • The darkness is coming

    The moment that every Brony had been waiting for.

    Just like Atlantis an empire comes alive again the frozen north.

    Twilight has a test waiting for her in this episode.

    Stay tuned for spoiler ads and a fantastic second part.
  • Empire Strikes Back!

    After nearly a thousand years, a ancient empire strikes back! The Chrystal Empire far to Equestria's north appears for unknown reasons, and it is up to the "mane six" to save the day, with no help from the Equestrian military. Oh boy!

    For the first part of the episode (which is what this review focuses on, read the second review for part two) we enter the main storyline seeing the major problem at steak with a unknown evil hidden in the midsts of the snowy north. Princess Celestia, and a not so confident Princess Luna send Twilight S. and her pals to meet up with two other contacts in the Chrystal Empire which has fallen under the evils of a ghostly King Sombra.

    Nitpick number one! King Sombra isn't given much drive or character development except for the fact that he wants to keep his evil spell on the empire . . . have them as slaves and stuff. Have the people who magically re-appear in this kingdom live as soulless members of society under and undead rule? What did I even just say? Anyways, the show doesn't go much indepth about King Sombra nor does he say more then three lines . . . and grunts. But he is evil, do know that.

    A nice Stars Wars reference is made when Twilight meets up with her contact, her bro. He risks his life as they move into the empire.

    The mane six now work as hard as they can to save the kingdom by looking up it's past to save it's future. They prepare a big event to unite the ponies together and once and for all stop King Sombra's control . . . except, OH NO King Sombra's weird ghostly body returns with a rather dark presence, which leads us to part two..... where you will have to read my separate review for it there.

    The animation from season 2 is greatly improved in season 3, which I didn't think they could do! It was already so good. It was fluid and smooth. There were many great expressions which they dominated at in this episode.

    A ton of character development as we see characters interact. We see a more aggressive Rainbow Dash, a level headed Applejack in times or trouble, and the darkest fears realized by Twilight and Spike. There are some good laughter bits in part one, but also some darker tenser moments.

    I picked up the show used a faster paced humor, more random, and some more adult gags, as if the writers were embracing their adult fanbase. I would say kids could still enjoy it, including the three great musical numbers where were really well done. Some kids might find the bad guys scenes a little scary, but nothing worse then a Disney bad guy.

    Overall part one was a very good episode, and I was pleased to watch it.