My Little Pony Season Finale Introduces New Mythology

The seventh season finale of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is everything that the movie should have been. Like in the movie, Twilight Sparkle must come to terms with a mistake she made, but this time, it was one that makes perfect sense for her character. After obsessively studying the journal of her idol, Starswirl the Bearded, Twilight finds a way to bring him back from Limbo along with five other legendary ponies who had mysteriously disappeared with him a thousand years ago. In her neurotically endearing eagerness to try a new spell, Twilight wastes no time in bringing back all six legendary ponies without considering the consequences. Instead of the of the happy interaction she was hoping for, Starswirl has a very low opinion of Twilight upon learning that she inadvertently brought back the dangerous Pony of Shadows who he had banished a thousand years earlier along with himself and his friends.

"Shadow Play," the two-part season finale, is a cautionary tale about meeting your idols. Twilight is so eager to please Starswirl with her knowledge magic that she doesn't even consider the fact that she might let him down. It takes each one of her friends standing up for her to make Starswirl consider giving her a chance at all. Starswirl the Bearded's holier-than-thou attitude is just what one would expect from a famous old wizard who created legendary spells. It's not too surprising that he would be so set in his ways if he is really thousands of years old. He sees everything as black and white without acknowledging that good people can ever do bad things, which is why he is so judgemental of Twilight for her mistake. It takes a lot of help from Starlight Glimmer to convince him to have an open mind about forgiveness and friendship.

Starswirl and the five "pillars" are complementary characters to the mane six. Their essences of Strength, Bravery, Beauty, Healing, Hope, and Sorcery were supposedly used to create the Elements of Harmony and were later converted to Honesty, Loyalty, Generosity, Kindness, Laughter, and Magic when they were discovered by the six leading ponies in the series pilot. We will be entering the eighth season next year, so it makes sense that they are continuing to introduce new characters and mythology to prevent the show from getting stale. It was clever that the new six new ponies had been alluded to in and storytelling sequences from previous episodes so it would not feel like they were shoehorned into the story. Since the pillars' essences eventually became the Elements of Harmony that eventually bonded with the mane six, it is very possible that they are all distant relatives. I'm sure this will be explored in the next season.

Starlight Glimmer, Twilight's rival from who later became her pupil in the sixth season, also finds a kindred spirit in one of the ponies who was brought back from Limbo. She sees herself in Stygian, Starswirl's former friend who became the villainous Pony of Shadows that he banished to Limbo until Twilight undid his spell. Starlight, having learned from her past, convinces everyone to give Stygian a chance to redeem himself instead of just banishing him again. It takes a lot of work for her to get through to Twilight and even more for Starswirl, but eventually, the ponies found another unlikely ally in the Pony of Shadows. Stygian has a similar role to that of Tempest Shadow in the My Little Pony movie, but the movie had more screen time to get to know Tempest along with a fantastic song. If the plot of "Shadow Play" had been used for the movie with Tempest taking the place of Sygian, it would have been perfection. I assume they needed to make this story part of the show in order to build the plot of the next season, which is why they used a throw-away plot for the movie.

"Shadow Play" teaches a lot about the ever-growing mythology behind My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, such as the origins of the Elements of Harmony and the tree that later became Twilight's castle. It also gives us a glimpse at the legendary Starswirl the Bearded who was always mentioned but never seen. Starswirl had trained Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, who are probably as old as time itself since they control the sun and the moon, they're probably. He told Celestia that she'd grown since he saw her last, explaining the size difference between Princess Celestia and the other ponies. Apparently, it takes thousands of years for them to get bigger, which would be why Twilight stayed the same size when she turned into an alicorn.

The seventh season finale maintains all of the established themes in My Little Pony while enhancing the backstory of Equestria. It is brilliantly executed. I never would have guessed that the ponies from the stories told in "Campfire Tales" would appear again later in the show, assuming it was merely a filler episode. Their scattered legends throughout the season adds re-watch value to the season. Twilight's eye-opening experience upon meeting Starswirl the Bearded shows us that everyone is human and it's not healthy to place people (or ponies) on pedestals. We now have seven new ponies to get to know next season who share a special connection with the ones we already know and love.


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