Monday, October 2, 2017

MLP Episode 702: All Bottled Up

So Celestial Advice actually went down very well; heck, better than I thought it'd be! But how does its sister episode, All Bottled Up, stack up?

Honestly? Not that well. For me, the majority of the problems lie with Trixie. I don't like her at all; she constantly brags about how "great and powerful" she is, when she's simply just a real pain in the ass. And the Trixie we see in this episode practically backpedaled in terms of development from season six (much as I don't like it all that much) and reverted to being a one-note annoyance that it makes you wonder why Starlight puts up with her in the first place.

Speaking of whom, yes, I do actually relate to her in this episode. I constantly put up with stupid people online, and with the Thomas fandom being as toxic as it is right now, I certainly relate to Starlight more than I initially realized. However, her friendship with Trixie made me realize the problem with her backstory; Sunburst barely has any character to speak of, and he has little to no effect on Starlight as a character. It's further emphasized by the fact that Starlight seems to see Trixie, a pony she's met some months ago (in universe, at least), to be her best friend over a character who barely had substance from the get go that she's known for years.

I mean, if you got rid of Sunburst altogether and that Starlight became resentful that she didn't get her cutie mark in her youth (and ponies constantly bullied her for it) and when she eventually got hers and hated herself for getting it so late, perhaps her motivations in season five would've made sense to a degree. Sure, you'd still have problems, but at least she wouldn't have suffered during season six.

By now, you're thinking that I haven't talked about the story yet. Well, it's a story of two parts - the A-plot is fairly good for the most part. Much as Trixie was annoying as hell, Starlight's frustration was, again, relatable for me personally, and it got to the point where Granny Smith, Bulk Biceps, and... the jeweler mare (I don't know her name either; let's go with that, shall we?) end up being controlled by Starlight's anger. We'll come back to that in a bit.

And that brings me onto the B-plot with the Mane Six. It's pointless. It feels like a half-baked excuse to get them away from Ponyville to allow the A-plot to take place. Not only that, they feel like one-note stereotypes of themselves.

Forgive me for a second digression, but that's also the biggest problem the Human Five have. More often than not, they have very few distinct traits and often act alike, neglecting anything that made their pony counterparts complex and individual. Rainbow Dash is an over the top jerk, Rarity constantly preaches fashion, Pinkie becomes a joke that gets tired after the third time, and Applejack and Fluttershy are just... there. And don't get me started on Sci-Twi.

And to end my thoughts on the B-plot, the song is downright terrible. We got the message after The Cutie Re-Mark; the Mane Six have an unbreakable best friendship. We don't need a song to shove it down our throats. Hell, even newcomers of the show will understand that they're best friends, and it just treats fans as if they're stupid. And no, lamp-shading it doesn't make it any less preachy.

The best thing about the episode (other than Starlight actually feeling relatable for the audience) was the moral - bottling anger can actually do more hurt than good. I think it's a lesson kids and older fans should take to heart, especially if their friends act like Trixie. That being said, the moral does write Trixie's character to suit it, which isn't exactly the best way to teach lessons for children.

Final Thoughts
I'm not a fan of this episode. The pacing felt rather slow at points (Celestial Advice had a similar problem, but it did try making up for that), Trixie was a nuisance in the first two acts, and the B-plot feels like it was there to pad out the episode to 22 minutes. However, it did feel like the first step for Starlight to get some character development (gotta start somewhere, I suppose), and the moral - despite writing Trixie's character in order to teach it - is a strong lesson to learn, so it's only fair I give All Bottled Up a rating based on those factors.

Rating: 3 out of 10

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