So, this is gonna suck. The Equestria Games has been hyped up bigger than Best Night Ever. Yeah, it was only a single episode, but it didn't need to be long. Here, we have potentially hundreds of events that can take place, as well as whatever side stories are going on with our main characters. So to say that it can work to fit it all in one episode is foolish already. Now, instead of focusing on the events, imagine that this already too-squished plot features...Spike? Also, remember that the writers can't really write a good Spike episode. This just happened. Spike works better as a side character. I feel I said this already because I have. So is it really that bad? Let's see.
We start with the train, because why not. First thing we hear, Dash saying another "humanism" as I'll call them. Not that the line "this just got real" doesn't work in the context of the pony universe, but it doesn't fit in the context of the characters, and it feels very forced, like they're just trying to stuff memes into the show. So, we see all the Ponyvillians getting some last-minute exercises in, as well as Spike...checking the luggage. Of course. He's just a bag whore after all. Just there to tow away the bags, even when they're twice as tall as him. I feel I've said this before, because I have. Spike still needs to be treated with a little respect for once. That is totally not foreshadowing the rest of the episode either. Oh, and the Crusaders are there, including Scootaloo, who apparently creates the Ponyville quote. I like this interaction. I like the fact that the CMC can come out of their shell of just being around themselves, and actually hang out, in a way, with the adults. I also like the fact that this means we might be getting what I hoped this episode would be: a shit ton of character making appearances, whether big or small, as long as it's contributing. This totally isn't foreshadowing anything either.
Spike's calm-down method totally doesn't work. It takes more than ten seconds for me to forget that things around me are...well, never mind that. Let's just end it at "doesn't work". Spike gets ushered off by a couple of crystal ponies to Cadence and Twilight, who oddly enough are just hanging out on a random street. You'd figure that he would be carried to the throne room or something, and Twilight wouldn't be shocked to see him. "Hoof-Ponies". I'm trying to figure out what that translates to, but I can't figure it out. Servants I assume, but that's not a proper translation. I mean, "hoof" is "hand" likely, and "pony" would be "person", so...the hell. Turns out Spike is a hero to the Crystal Empire, which..wait. Ok, forgetting for a second that Spike didn't really do that much as opposed to Twilight. He's a hero, fine. We see his image on the stained glass at the castle. All good, whatever. Here's what I don't get. Spike is hailed as a hero and treated like royalty (or perhaps better, given the scenes we see), because he saved the empire. So, then, what about that thing we've been complaining about all damn series? Twilight and the gang have saved the entire freaking world multiple times over, but everywhere they go, they're treated like rubbish. Can't even get people outside Ponyville to recognize them. Hell, no one apparently even notices that Twilight has wings. This bothers me, a lot. I would love to go back and find every example of the Mane 6 being treated like commoners when they ought to at least be recognized as heroes. But I don't have that kind of time. Ugh. So Spike admires himself with his statue. Another thing I'm not so sure I get. I guess Spike has some arrogance about him, and he usually shows it in those kind of one-liners. But, I still don't think it'd be the kind of thing he'd say here. Then again, he's already getting used to being treated like a hero. I guess it's already released that part of him. Rather quickly I'd say.
All right, Spike gets to light the Olympic torch. Or...you know. Another positive use for his fire breath. Kind of sad that the only good characterization we get from him is the physical ability of his fire breath to actually make some kind of use. That sentence is probably not structured correctly. I don't care. Just like I don't care about Shining Armor. Talk about a character being treated as the dull nothing he was already assumed to be. He gets to do some announcing here, for whatever reason. You know, I guess being king and all means nothing. Hell, I didn't even realize it was him. Probably the shock that he would be doing something so trivial. Probably also the fact it doesn't quite sound like him. Also probably the fact we've seen him for like five minutes total all season and a half, and I'm pretty sure this is his first appearance in season 4. Ok, so here is an important scene. Twilight shows up with the other princesses, and bows to Celestia. Then, she is pointed to her royal seat or whatever. She looks obviously disgusted as she makes her way to it. Then looks down to see her not-competing friends cheering and having a good time. I feel this is the most important scene of this episode. As we've seen all season, Twilight still rejects the idea of being a princess in the formality of it all. She just wants to be with her friends. This is probably going to end up as some kind of major plot point in season 5. Twilight at some point is going to have to choose her royal duty over her friends, and not in some kind of trivial way. It's going to be a life-changing decision, and it may be a very bad decision, for her and the show's future. Twilight cannot turn into another Celestia. Even Luna seems to approach her "subjects" (what a terrible word) in dreams. Celestia is an absentee landlord at its best, most times.
Rant over. Oh, look, Ms. Harshwhinny. I don't care about her. Get Spike to the torch already. Nervous, nervous, finally. Oh wait, no, go back. I'm sure I'm not going to be the only one bitching about this. "Mr. The Dragon". Ok, I'm gonna try here. Mr. Dragon. Nah, doesn't really work. Mr. Spike. Ha, there we go. You know, for the sake of a REAL shock, you could have called him Mr. Sparkle. I mean, he's basically adopted, so he would take the last name, right? But there ya go. Mr. The Dragon is stupid. It's stupid the first time, and it's stupid the every other time she says it. Mr. Spike works just fine.
Oh, we got a lot of things happening in quick succession here. More Shining announcing. You know, how? I assume magic. Except it isn't allowed in the stadium (oh, then there's probably not any magic events. There goes that idea). But there really isn't any indication that magic is being used to have some kind of microphone effect. And we've seen mics before. Hell, I think we saw an earpiece. So, a visual reason why the announcing voices are so loud would be a nice touch here. I don't see one. Then, we got the CMC doing their thing, except we don't see it all. Again, would have been a nice touch. The Ponyville relay team comes out, and each one gives a shout. Except Derpy, who is there for some reason. Oh, I forgot to mention she was there. She's just a replacement, right? As it stands, there's no reason for her to be there. But I knew she was going to come out of the tunnel, and I was waiting for her to give some kind of "yay". I was not surprised to hear her not say anything, but I was a little disappointed. Despite not really caring about her as a character in the foreground.
Ok, NOW we have nervous Spike. You know, she could have called Spike by his new formal title too. Whatever. Spike's fire breath...doesn't work? It's ok, dude, all guys have a little performance anxiety and...wait. Um, forget that. Oh hey, look, Spike's counting thing doesn't work. Told ya. "Three two one. One two three. What the heck, is wrong with me?" Bonus points for getting the reference, as always. So, as everything intensifies, Spike tries to...light himself? Ok, so I like this gag. A nice visual gag, during a trying scene. But, on second thought, this...might not be the best thing to put into a kids' show. I mean, yes, lighters are used for many different things. But I bet you 90% of lighter fluid is used to light cigarettes. I know, it's probably something that the younger audience won't put together, but remember that the audience for the show is a little older now that the initial viewers are a few years older since the show started. The 10-12 year olds will probably get the reference. Don't worry, I'm not gonna get on a soapbox or whatever and rant about cigarettes ("drugs are bad, mmmmkay?").
So, Twilight finally gets the idea to light the torch herself. All is well. Cut to a scene outside, with the sisters congratulating their younger siblings (yeah, yeah, I know, Dash and Scootaloo aren't siblings, it's just easier to phrase). Getting worried now. Why isn't Dash back in the stadium, prepping for the relay race? Why is she outside? Is it over already? Did we really only get to see the opening ceremony? Who cares, this is about Spike! And Twilight is going to spend the rest of the episode not telling Spike she lit the torch. That's how these things go. Oh, here we go again. Another "humanism", and this time I realize that word is close to an album by a favorite band of mine. Anyway, it's funny at least. Dash throws on her shades, which we haven't seen in awhile. It makes sense for her to be holding on to em anywhere she goes though. And it's...oddly in character of her. I just like the fact no one else really changes their outward appearance to go along with the "act casual" thing. Also, another reference. Season 10, episode 1 of Friends. Yes, it's sad I know the exact episode. Rachel tells Joey to act nonchalant, and he makes a superhero-like pose. Claiming he doesn't really know what that means, they instead decide to hide him. Back to this show I guess. Spike makes another lighter reference when he snaps his fingers. Again, well...you know. Spike comes to the conclusion that he can light fire with his mind. I...actually believe he believes this. Remember, he's the comic book geek here. So it would be fitting for him to actually think that. I mean, in a world full of spellcasting unicorns, it would make more logical sense that someone else did it, but hey, it's Spike. He IS a kid after all. So a couple fans ask for Spike's autograph, and he steals their pencil I think and gives them one. Not before he embarrasses himself by trying to light the paper on fire with his mind. Twilight takes him aside to...tell him the truth? That didn't take long. I was wrong, yet again. But hey, another reference. Not a direct one, just a "hey, that reminds me of". And Spike's "delayed reaction comment" reminds me of Dragon Ball Z. Hey...Dragon. Anyway, Hercule's failed attempts to prove he's stronger than the Z fighters, culminates at the tournament with him versus 18, and her not really feeling like playing along. She blackmails him, basically, but the final blow is a punch she barely feels so she has to act like it hurt. I'm not gonna pretend I know what Hercule called it, but there was some form of "delayed reaction" in the description. Anyway, back to this show again.
Oh crap, they actually ARE going to show an event! Well, I mean the relay race. Of course. Is that the only important one or something? The medal count doesn't change, so my initial idea of different events being "worth" more doesn't really hold up. Oh wait, ANOTHER reference! Rarity going though the thing that removed her magic. I got a weird neurolyzer vibe from it. Not the ones that were actually used in the Men in Black movies. The one that was used in World of Warcraft in Area 52. When you passed through the entrance, a bright light flashes, and the "buff" says something that basically directly references the neurolyzers. So, this is a reference of a reference. At least to me. Anyway, BACK to the show...again. The Wonderbolts barely win the relay race, because apparently Rainbow Dash is just that fast. Really, if she were that close to winning, either Soarin was still playing hurt, or Dash is about twice as fast as anypony else. Spike gets the stupid idea of singing the Cloudsdale anthem, because he thought it was the..Ponyville anthem? Crystal Empire anthem? It doesn't say. Anyway, he improvises and fails miserably. I...couldn't watch. But it was still funny. Actually, it was nothing compared to Pinkie screaming "NAILED IT", which isn't a reference to anything but it reminded me of Dan from Game Grumps, who uses the phrase often.
Spike skips the rest of the games, as do the writers, and the viewers, so we skip to the last event, ice archery. Which, is an interesting take on archery. Instead of just going for the bullseye every shot, they have to cover the whole thing in ice. That's gotta be challenging. So, Ponyville has one more medal than Cloudsdale. I wonder how. My guess is, like I actually said before, Cloudsdale isn't competing in enough events. Because, you see, they're exclusively pegasi. So the more physical events might be out of their zone. Ponyville is a good mish-mosh of pony types, so they got everything covered. I still wanted to see some unicorn events. Oh, Pinkie Pie stole Rainbow Dash's "omgoshomgoshomgosh".
Twilight gets the super embarrassed Spike to leave and watch the games by giving him a mother speech. He's doing it, NOW. It's...weird. I just don't see Twilight acting like that towards Spike. Especially after witnessing what he did. I figured she'd be, I don't know, less firm with him. She tries to reason with him by saying "I've totally let others down". I don't have a memory of that happening. She always comes through in the end. "Since when does Twilight Sparkle ever fail?". So, the pony who couldn't even concentrate and not watch the other contestants, trips, and shoots an ice arrow straight into the sky, only for the keese to freeze and...um, wrong...thing. It hits a cloud which turns into a giant iceberg looking thing that starts to fall toward the stadium. I'm not really sure that's meteorologically accurate, but ok. The pegasi all go to help, but it keeps coming down. Spike sees it and turns brave again, using all the pegasi as platforms, because he's apparently Mario now, with fire brea...oh. So he IS Mario. Actually, green fire, so Luigi it is. Spike saves the day. And reacts to it with total apathy. Now, I can see why I see myself as Spike a little bit even more. He's not modest. It's not modesty. It's just apathy. It works well, though it bothers me a little that his arrogance doesn't really supersede his apathy. He gets a chance to fix his pride by lighting some fireworks for the closing ceremony. Cadence says "we can't reverse time to fix the opening ceremony..." and that's when I was like, "oh, hell no, you CAN reverse time". Twilight's standing right freaking there. It wouldn't work for the whole paradox time travel thing, but come on. You can reverse time.
I don't fully get the overall lesson here, and Spike's journal entry, but what I do get, I really associate with it. I think, though, no matter how much you think you have to be proud of yourself inside, outside factors will always play into how you feel. I experience this constantly, and for those who pay really good attention to me, might see that. Oh, and the Pinkie Factor was superb. Of course she's gonna be all screamy and giggly during a sporting event. She can't help it.
Overall, it was a decent episode, with good gags. It's hard to love, because it was Equestria Games. But it wasn't the games. So, if you look at it as a separate episode, you can appreciate it for what it is. But if you look at is as the hyped-up event that barely took place behind a Spike episode, it's hard to enjoy, because you know that that was it. It works like that the same way Pinkie Pride did to me. I liked it as a standalone episode, but as a "key" episode, it didn't fit or make total sense (Pinkie sense). But, Spike was written...well, I won't say he was written well, but he was written better. He's getting there. Oh, the whole "lots of characters making appearances" thing never really panned out. We saw Spitfire, but only for a second, and that was about it. Oh, we saw some griffons too. For a second. You can't pack what is essentially the entire Olympic games into a single episode. But, looking at it as a standalone episode, not...bad.