Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep? Review
This is an episode I have been waiting for awhile now. Luna becomes a Blade Runner!
Sadly no, but I must say I go into this episode my back breaking from baggage. If I had to pick a favorite character in MLP, it'd be Princess Luna. I was excited to hear she was coming out of the box in Season 5. We haven't had a Luna centric episode since Season 2. I am happy the show has used her scarcely (save for Canterlot Wedding which her cameo made me livid as a donut in a vegan store.) I am not a certified member of the New Lunar Republic (though I watch the group on DA for episode links), but I have a Luna Is Best Princess shirt. Luna Eclipsed is my favorite episode because of 'demmmmmmmmmm feels! Luna had her soul crushed because of her past sins leaving her in a sense of hopelessness that she could never bridge the gap that she herself created. No wonder she has a hero complex and constantly works to prove herself.
However! I do not want that bias to blind me from critiquing the episode if necessary. It does mean I will probably overlook faults in it. I seek entertainment in this show before deconstructive critiquing. If I enjoy the episode regardless of continuity or content I find it a worthy entry. Otherwise, why watch anything? I certainly don't go out of my way to torture myself with something I don't like unless I lose a bet. Now I'm rambling.
We start off the episode pretty strong though slightly cliché with Luna becoming Nightmare Moon (NMM) again apparently returning thanks to something called the Tantabus. I just say cliché because the constant revisiting to the Nightmare Moon change and lack of something else for Luna to do. It's an understandable fear and the animation was awesome but does this nightmare play every night of the past year or so the same way or no? It can't because the SUPER CUTIE SAYIANS is new.
I digress because I take a slight issue with the scene because becoming NMM again isn’t the root of Luna’s fear. Her true fear is seeing others hurt and knowing its her fault.How about this for an alternative?
The ceiling collapses as Luna falls through it. She rises from the rubble slowly and takes a quick glance around panting from exhaustion. She recognized this place as the old Castle of Two Sisters, and she recognized the shadow over her. Once, it was her reflection. The slitted eyes of Nightmare Moon stared down at Luna with guile. Luna gasped in terror at the sight of her sister’s crown underneath her enemy’s hoof.
Nightmare Moon let out a spine chilling laugh, “Fool, you cannot defeat me nor could your pathetic sister. Equestria will be mine!”
Tears come to Luna’s face, “No! Not if I have anything to say about it!”
She fires a mighty blast, and Nightmare Moon fires her own. Dust and rubble flies back from the power of the impact. However, Luna was too weak to stand against Nightmare Moon for long. She is blasted backwards in defeat. Nightmare Moon crushes Celestia’s crown in triumph. “Pathetic. Soon, the world will know eternal night!”
Just then, when all hope had faded, the Mane Six arrives and takes on their super friendship forms, and seems to vanquish the threat. However, a sliver of Nightmare Moon escapes from the dream. The heroes group hug then Luna awakes realizing her happy dream would end Equestria. Either way, Luna wakes up startled as we are by the display. Let me take a moment to say I do like the design of Luna's room. I find it funny she too dresses in her full regalia, probably too tired to change after a hard night work I guess, but leaving the boots on? That’s still a bit… is it too much to ask to see Luna or any of the princesses without clothes… aaand I just now realized how that sounds. Moving on, she has the cutest little slippers. Luna seems a little old for a nightlight though.
One intro later, I am surprised that Rarity let her friends and their dirty pets in her boutique. Can't Twilight spare the room or Fluttershy? Twilight sure is getting used to sleepless nights lately. Well, she always seems to be pretty familiar with them with the studying and MONITERING EVERYTHING. Is there such thing as a tired Pinkie or is she one of those two speeds type ponies- dead stop or full blast! They realize they all had a shared Nightmare and Twilight has Spike send a letter to Luna, and it’s the first Spike fire mail in some time. I bet he put in all the yawns. Luna rushes to… wait how did she know where they were at that time? Does Twilight have a tracking chip in her wing the other Princesses can see? We get some exposition on the Tantabus though it leaves out the important details. Ha, there is nothing Celestia can do in the realm of dreams. Why doesn't that surprise me?
I love Luna's resolve to find the Tantabus herself. You know that she is probably going to fail since we have a dozen or so minutes to fill, but it foreshadows the coming conflict very nicely. Hardly the one to wallow in weak and helplessness, Luna will gladly shoulder burdens to solve conflicts she caused instead of deferring them to others.
And we get a massive dream link, *cue Inception music the dream is collapsing* so many Inception jokes to be made. Share your favorite in the comments! And If I see any I must be dreaming. Anywho, Luna goes to each dream in turn chasing the Tantabus as it perverts the Mane Six's dreams. Go get ‘em Luna! It's interesting too to rewatch and notice the foreshadowing that the Tantabus grows when Luna guilt trips her.
Really, all the Tantabus seems to do is make things into monster version of itself. On the other hand, each dream though is unique and stood out in its own way. I was surprised to see Rarity fight; then she redeemed herself with lamenting the destruction of dresses. Pinkie was funny with postcard tour of Equestria. No teases to new places, but still fitting her personality. Fluttershy… dreams that she is Angel's pet? That's rather interesting, and then the Tantabus makes Angel reveal his true form. I knew it! Also, more foreshadowing that Luna’s blind pursuit against the Tantabus keeps her from actually helping the Mane Six as she leaves them alone to fight impossible odds. Ha, AJ's apple worship, I wish she opened up the Church of Apple Latter Day Saints. Sadly, no such luck as she revisits Bats and hte Tantabus destroys all of her apples. At least it didn't make all of the apples evil or something or the trees attack her like the ones from Wizard of Oz. AJ migh be scarred for life.
Then HOLY CRAP ! Rainbow fighting Changelings, let’s stay here a bit more since it’s been awhile since we've seen changelings in action to such a degree. And then… Rainbow's nightmare… This Dream is just perfect, the kind of hell straight from Teletubbies! And it makes her go into the fetal position. I feel you Rainbow. Finally, Twilight gets to be the Pagemaster. We end on Pinkie infecting everyone in town. Wow, great job Pinkie, God only knows what we'd be without you.
Luna has no choice but to make a mass collective dream! Cool! And we see Mayor Mare for the first time in forever too! Next have some good ol’ fashioned pandering with Berry Punch, the resident cloppers Lyra and Bon Bon go Cat-Dog on us, and Derpy and the Doctor ItDoesn'tMatterWho both make an appearance. And Big Macicorn? Huh, nice. I bet that Luna wishes Twilight shouldered some of the burden, but the redemption complex strikes again. The tantabus strikes to ruin all the fun with scary monster houses! And Filthy Rich returns? Huh, never missed him but who am I to complain, same with Flutterbat. Wait, why Filthy Rich in someone else’s house? That isn’t his house. It raises too many questions with uncomfortable answers. Quick, distract with Triffids and callbacks are real.
Then, oh and then, we get the thing that this episode will be remembered for forever. Something some people literally dreamed of and others didn’t know that they wanted. Princess? Prince? Well Alicorn Big Mac fabulously changing Sailor Moon style. The only thing missing is "In the name of the Moon I finish you Eeyup!" I would say he better be happy that Cheerilee didn't see him like that, but then again my diluted adult mind reminds me she’d probably like it. Does this make Cheerilee Tuxedo Mask? Missed opportunity is missed opportunity. AJ's face is priceless as her image of BM is shattered forever. Go get ‘em Princess Big Mac!
So Spike dreams bigger too and summons a Street Sweeper Grenade Launcher… I mean goes into his dream image of himself and YAY Spike does a thing! Same for Ponyville it’s cool to see them get in on the action for once. Although, I don’t know why Filthy Rich of all ponies get the spotlight but literally using the power of money would make Scrooge McDuck proud. Scootaloo does a thing too! Then we get a Power Ponies call back? Never thought I’d see that again. Twilight also dreams back up her old library to unleash book minions, man that's gotta burn her at least a little. Fluttershy uses Angel's passive aggressiveness in her favor for once as well. While this scene is fun, it does bring to mind that if they can literally do anything in the dream-world why don't the Mane Six try to unleash the full range of the visible spectrum on the sucker? I wouldn't say anything if they tried it and it didn't work.
Either way they soon realize as the Tantabus grows bigger and stronger it is tied to Luna's guilt. You know, now that I think about it at least from the G rated version we see Equestria doesn't suffer that much from what we see. Celestia beats Luna nearly immediately and upon her return she has power for like twenty minutes. I digress though as the Mane Six and Andriod 16 help Luna to pull an Elsa and let it go. Go get yourself Luna! She does and reabsorbs the Tantabus back to herself which again makes sense. Luna dissolves the massive collective dream and gets some well earned rest.
My overall thoughts?
The insight that Luna traps herself in a personal nightmare as a sort of self mutilation for penitence is an interesting idea and does sort of explain her change in demeanor from Luna Ecplised. She changed from a bombastic theatrical pony who just wanted people to not wet their pants when they saw her to a more subdued theatrical pony who seeks to help others in their dreams. I like how they don't specify when she made the Tantabus because it gives us fans some room to theorize. One could argue that after Luna Eclipsed with the constant reminder of her guilt lingering still she accepted the love of Tantabus into her heart.
When Luna cried in this episode, I like how it seems to me she was crying for many reasons: self pity, guilt, and unbearable strain. You see, I have a theory that I am amazed that ponies have so far not disproved to my knowledge. With Equestrian magic nearly anything conceivable is possible, so it comes to an individual’s knowledge, focus, and capacity or K.F.C. if you will. A pony needs the knowledge of a spell, the focus to cast it, and the capacity to maintain it. Luna's massive dream that incorporated all of Ponyville for several minutes had to cause unbelievable strain on herself not to mention she may have felt either the blows on the Tantabus or each time it broke her barrier. It's easily one of the most impressive displays of power from a reoccurring character. This combined with the guilt attacking her focus had to cause Luna more strain than anything she has done since her return. I find that truly spectacular, same with the Mane Six and Ponyville uniting against a common enemy revisiting the theme of season 5 with other characters helping to resolve problems not just the Mane Six.
I don't like to belittle Luna in Luna Eclipsed but it’s one of my favorite episodes because it made me feel for Luna and her struggle for identity and acceptance. Few characters in this show have similar doubts about themselves. Twilight Sparkle doubts herself, but she didn’t commit treason (mostly). Luna's lone wolf attitude fits as well. She seems to have trouble speaking for herself and asking for help. A lot of people have criticized Celestia for not noticing Luna's problems, but Luna also shows that she is not vocal about them. She would rather fight her own battles with both confidence in herself and the desire to keep other from being hurt even if it is folly. It was nice character development for her for her to truly forgive herself and cleanse her soul of these dark-side thoughts. There are many problems that sheer force of arms cannot stop. We can be our own worst enemies regardless of our good intentions. These are good lessons to learn and I love how the episode does not end with a silly lesson of the day epilogue, it just ends with Luna having a peaceful sleep for what is implied the first time in countless nights.