Master... Master... Master of spoilers, I'm plugging your show... or something.
Season eight has been quite the bumpy yet exciting ride, and it winded down earlier today with this little two-parter. One thing I do have to give this season credit for is the fact that the big, featured story arc of the season, the student six and the School of Friendship, actually did feel like an arc. Both got plenty of screentime this season, more than I can say for Starlight Glimmer in season six (she simply needed to appear more often) and even the Pillars in season seven (suddenly arriving just past halfway, with half of them introduced in one episode that was pretty good). Yeah, I said it. There is an aspect of season eight that I do like better than the same aspect in season seven. I'll definitely talk more about that in my season eight wrap-up post, because we're only here to talk about the finale. So, what is Chancellor Neighsay's endgame? How is Cozy Glow involved in all this? There's only one way to find out!
This one starts off with Derpy crashing into the facade of the School of Friendship, and Cozy Glow picking up some of the letters that fell in the process. Cozy then demonstrates how not evil she is by showing a new student where her first class is, helping Silverstream do the weekly crossword, and telling Twilight that she wanted Rainbow Dash to cover for her on a class field trip to Cloudsdale among other things like cataloging the many magical artifacts present at the school (take note of that, folks). In Cloudsdale, Rainbow Dash and Starlight show off the weather factory, with Starlight explaining the spell that makes non-pegasi walk on clouds, and then Yona falls through the cloud everyone is standing on. Turns out, Starlight's magic spontaneously doesn't work any longer, as everyone who can't fly falls through the cloud but everyone who can fly helps them to safety. After remarking about that being the first time a spell has failed on her, Starlight and RD go to Twilight. Turns out, Twilight's magic has spontaneously disappeared as well. So has Rarity's! Cozy suggests that Tirek (still in Tartarus after the season four finale) might be behind this, and then Spike comes in with serious indigestion problems. No, that's just the Spike Mail Service spouting out a letter from Princess Celestia, detailing an emergency meeting in Canterlot. In Canterlot, we find out that ponies throughout Equestria and the Crystal Empire (Cadance is there as well) have been losing their magic. A mailpony comes in delivering a letter from Star Swirl the Bearded. The letter says that in three days, all Equestrian magic will cease to exist. Again, Tirek shows up as the likely suspect, and the mane six volunteer to take a trip to Tartarus to see what he might be up to. Back at the School of Friendship, Twilight leaves Starlight in charge, and Cozy wants to get started "helping" her with her substitute headmare role.
The next time we see Cozy, she's in charge of the school, much to the confusion of Gallus. Cozy says that Starlight had to leave, writing nothing but a note, but, again, there is some confusion here, as Smolder thinks Starlight would've said so herself to the students. Cozy then spouts some of Neighsay's rhetoric (in a somewhat more subtle way than Neighsay would've said) and calls upon the students to help her out (something else you all need to take note of). We then see how the mane six and Spike are coping without magic - AJ relies on old earth pony tricks, RD protects the rest from a storm with a cloud, and so on. Back at the School, the students start talking about how cool Cozy is, and Sandbar rejoins the rest of the student six in the library. They talk about how they don't trust Cozy, and then something goes bang in the library. They peer through a shelf and see Cozy herself coming out of the same catacomb entrance as was featured in "What Lies Beneath", and they decide to see what she's up to. Back with the mane six, we see that they have reached the gates of Tartarus. Unfortunately, said gates need magic to open, and they're still closed, which indicates that Tirek didn't break out. Fortunately, Cozy happened to pack a magical key in Twilight's bags that'll open the gates - and, since the power of all magical artifacts hasn't disappeared yet, it still has use. Twilight uses the key, but then it shatters afterwards and the gates close in on them after they enter. A cockatrice greets them, but it turns out that not only did pony magic disappear, but the magic of every creature in Tartarus has disappeared as well. Back in the school, the student six follow Cozy to her office and discover Neighsay himself in the head chair. Neighsay - not knowing what happened to Starlight - strips Cozy of rank and takes over as the head of the School of Friendship.
In Tartarus, Fluttershy convinces Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog, to point them to Tirek. Tirek himself is surprised at the visit, and Twilight gives him the lowdown. Tirek says that he isn't the one who stole all the magic by saying that if he did, then he wouldn't be in Tartarus. However, Tirek says he might know something about where all that went. Back at the school, Neighsay is convinced that the entity who stole all Equestrian magic is not a pony, which makes the student six, eavesdropping in on his talk with Cozy, mad. Of course, Neighsay catches them and imprisons them in a dorm room, suspecting them as the ones who stole the magic, and makes the school pony-only "as nature intended." Sandbar then comes up with a plan to break himself - and only himself, since he's the only pony in the Student Six - out so he can turn to the CMC for help. He convinces Neighsay to be freed by taking a page out of Cozy's book, and the first place Sandbar goes is Sweet Apple Acres to fetch Applebloom. He thinks that if the CMC can help Cozy distract Neighsay, then his friends can be freed. Back in Tartarus, Tirek reveals that he has a pen pal in Equestria, and, since the mane six are seemingly trapped in Tartarus, he goes ahead and reveals her name:
In the school, Sandbar directs the CMC into the catacombs, and they see Starlight in a magical prison created from the six magical artifacts described in "A Matter of Principals". Oh, and did I mention that Cozy Glow is the actual baddie of this finale yet? We find out literally from the horse's mouth that she is the one who is stealing Equestrian magic, and she wants Neighsay gone so her plans can be fully realized. We also find out where all that magic will go: into another realm (the EqG-verse?), and that Cozy wants to become EMPRESS OF EQUESTRIA. OR FRIENDSHIP. BUT IT SOUNDS LIKE SHE WANTS TO BECOME EMPRESS OF EQUESTRIA. In her mind, friendship is POWER.
Okay, let's stop here for a moment. I first watched this when the Swedish dub started making the rounds at the very end of August (side note - yes, that is how screwed up the airing schedules for this season became - the English version didn't land until September 7 local time for me - Australia, remember, and the finale didn't air in the US until October 13, when you all will be seeing this!), and I wasn't too sure about it. Then the English version dropped a week or so later and whoa, this suddenly got very good. See, this is why I keep on hearing people in, say, Sweden or France refuse to watch the version that's in their native language. It's not necessarily the dubs or voice actors handling said dubs being that bad, it's that the original English version has more nuance, more impact, and voice actors that can clearly provide that nuance and impact. Then again, you could say that for <insert random Japanese anime here> being better in the original Japanese than an English dubbed version. Let's get to the second half now; that was just a thought I felt like throwing out there.
The next thing we see is the mane six's reaction after they find out about Cozy Glow's involvement in the plot to steal all Equestrian magic from Tirek. Their focus shifts to figuring out a way through that pesky gate. Twilight comes up with a plan: By borrowing the remaining magic of the creatures of Tartarus, she might be able to open the gate. Meanwhile, Neighsay is having a talk with Cozy about Twilight's mistakes and how the EEA will handle everything which ends with Cozy reaffirming, after she exits the office, that she wants Neighsay out. The CMC and Sandbar attempt to break Starlight out, but that prison has safeguards straight out of a hentai, as tentacle arms almost drag them within the prison once they reach a certain distance. That leaves the CMC/Sandbar on their own, but then Sandbar comes up with a plan: freeing the rest of the student six. After doing so, Sandbar says that, of all the ponies at the school, Neighsay might be able to help. The next day, Neighsay is busy declaring himself head-stallion of the School of Friendship, and that the school will be run to the EEA's strict doctrine. Then... Cozy Glow happens. She convinces the students to betray Neighsay, which jettisons the student six's old plan.
Cozy then reiterates her FRIENDSHIP IS POWER rhetoric to Neighsay while he is chained up in the principal's office, and... yikes. Neighsay himself looked seriously worried. The CMC then catche up with Cozy, distracting her long enough for the student six to free Neighsay from his chains. Sandbar tells the chancellor of Cozy Glow's plan, and, after coming to the realization that yes, one of his kind is stealing all of Equestria's magic, he uses the remaining magic in his medallion to open a portal straight to Celestia and Luna. Back in Tartarus, Tirek reminds the mane six that all Equestrian magic will soon disappear, but Pinkie annoys Tirek into going through with Twilight's breakout plan of using Tartarus's remaining magic to allow the mane six and Spike to escape. The CMC get thrown in a closet by Cozy, and the student six - in the catacombs - attempt to come up with a plan to use the artifacts to their advantage, possibly at the risk of destroying the school, and then... Cozy Glow happens, and her army of students is about to give the student six a new "friendship" lesson. Back in Tartarus, every creature gives their magic to Twilight, resulting in her able to open the gate, freeing the mane six and Spike, but sunset - and the end of Equestrian magic - is fast approaching.
Cozy continues her streak of manipulation pitting the students against the student six, and a brief battle erupts as the six attempt to free Starlight/use the artifacts to restore Equestrian magic, but every single one of them is thrown into the prison. A portal opens up underneath, and they begin to sink into it while the students begin to poke holes in Cozy Glow's act, and the master of puppets says that the Elements of Harmony only apply to friendship... sometimes. Then the Tree of Harmony comes to the aid of the student six (minus Twilight avatar), freeing them from the prison, and allowing them to restore all Equestrian magic to the world, including transforming the creatures of Tartarus back to normal. The best part: The School of Friendship wasn't destroyed! Back on the surface, Cozy again attempts to go after the student six, but Twilight and the rest of the mane six flash back to the school. Twilight tries to explain to the troubled filly that while friendship is powerful, power alone should not be used to make friends (and, as we've seen here, it can do some pretty damning things). However, Cozy still isn't having it, and she attempts to escape to try her handiwork again elsewhere. She is then blocked off by some of the students she manipulated earlier, the princesses and Neighsay, and the royal guard who promptly arrest her rook ass. The next day, a redeemed Neighsay (yes, that actually happened) thanks the student six for showing him what true friendship is like. Best moment of the episode: The student six is practicing graduating from the School of Friendship because they helped save Equestria, but Twilight reminds them that it'll take more than one semester for them to fully learn the magic of friendship. In Tartarus, Luna and two royal guards deliver Cozy Glow--wait a minute, what?
That did happen, right?
They threw a child into pony hell, right?
Yup. Your eyes did not deceive you. Cozy Glow, in a cage, in Tartarus, next to her pen pal Tirek. Her rook ass deserves it. End of story. Oh, and judging by the final shot of season eight, a very menacing-looking Cozy staring into the camera, we might be seeing her again in season nine.
High note. This season ended on a high note. As I mentioned earlier, I went ahead and watched the Swedish/Norwegian/Danish dubs and thought that the finale was pretty good. Now that I've seen it "proper", I can say that, well... Let's get this out of the way. I've seen people comparing this to "Twilight's Kingdom" and other season finales, and, well, I don't think this was the best finale, but this was still very good. What even should I talk about first? Uhh... Let's go with Neighsay, the most surprising thing about this finale! I think a lot of people expected him to be the big baddie, that he would find a way to disrupt even Cozy Glow's plans. Nope, he was just supremely misguided! Seeing his own kind betray him then seeing a changeling, a griffon, a yak, a hippogriff, and a dragon help him escape... Yeah, that'll do things to the mind of a pony who only looked out for other ponies to begin with. I also gotta admit that seeing him have a soft side was kinda strange. Alright, let's talk about Cozy Glow for a while, because hey, I had to get to her eventually. You know, I always had a soft spot for villains who are experts at puppeteering, if you know what I mean. Manipulation. Deception. Orchestration. The smarts to do all that and not get caught on the wrong side of the road. In my mind, such things are the greatest evils in life, and to see a child - A LITERAL CHILD - be able to do all that... Technically speaking, does that make her the greatest villain in the show's history? Uhh... That's kind of a hard one to answer, especially considering that ending which implies that we might be seeing more of her in the future. But, right now, she's up there as one of my absolute favorites. Heck, I like all of 'em in their own unique ways! Some villains are more flashy than others (looking at you, Tirek and Sombra), but Cozy never needed to be flashy. Her entire practice works on being subtle. If you were to look at a picture of her without having seen her in action, all you'd see is a cute little filly! That's it! What I'm trying to say here is that the look matches how she's evil. I have to mention this as well: There were implications going in that she and Neighsay were in cahoots with some evil plot, but I loved the fact that Cozy and Neighsay in cahoots was a red herring. Also, don't tell me that she already has a plan to break out of Tartarus... and let's not even think about redeeming her. She's the type of character who is absolutely irredeemable, absolutely incapable of understanding friendship. She. Is. A. LITERAL. PSYCHOPATH. Some might have a problem with her not really having a motivation, but that's kinda what psychopaths are. They just... do. Hence, why she deserved a trip to Tartarus. Here's the thing: There are many people like her in the real world. That's why I liked her so much - because she felt real. Seeing her endgame almost play through completely was genuinely tense, which leads me to this: I'm glad that Starlight was the one who needed to be saved this time around. She already saved Equestria - have her be on the other side of the coin for once! I also want to ask this: How would you have reacted if Celestia and Luna were in Starlight's prison? Yeah, that's about what I expected. It would be tropey as hell either way, but... Well, I guess an alternative would be to have Starlight accompany the mane six and Spike on their trip to Tartarus, but would Twilight intentionally leave the school in the hands of a child?
So, how about the finale in general? Like I said already, I don't think it's the best finale, but it was still really good. My biggest complaint is that there seemed to be a little too much going on, especially in the second half. Maybe it was because of how often Tartarus and the mane six were focused on here, and I'll admit, I thought that this might've worked a bit better had some of those scenes been elminated. On the other hand, I doubt that seeing Pinkie annoy Tirek into helping the rest of the mane six will get old any time soon! I mentioned already how tense this one felt. Literally seconds away from every bit of Equestrian magic vanishing into another realm (again, the EqG-verse?), and then the Tree of Harmony had to pull out all the stops to help save those it helped previously - the student six! Going back to characters for a moment, almost NOBODY got shafted. The Student Six played their parts beautifully. The spotlight was firmly on them throughout, and seeing them save the day felt seriously satisfying. The mane six and Spike, for how much time they appeared throughout both parts, were pretty well-handled. Again, I like that Starlight was the one who needed a hoof, not Celestia and/or Luna! Everyone was handled very well, but then there were the CMC, who wound up being a bit disappointing. Like, what did they do? Uhh... Helped distract Cozy one time so the student six could free Neighsay? Had a little moment at the end? Got thrown and locked into a closet? Saw what happened to Starlight and heard about Cozy's plan? Not gonna lie, I was kinda bummed that they weren't a bigger part of this finale and ultimately wound up being kinda... throwaway, if you know what I mean. Again, not a big deal - I wasn't *that* disappointed, since this was clearly the student six's time to shine. Still, you all know how much of a CMC fan I am, and their moments were still pretty good, I suppose. There were some other oddities here, like who was moving the sun and moon if Celestia and Luna were unable to do so? You could argue that without magic, they'd start moving on their own (or the princesses had just enough power left for one more cycle), but that was one I really wish was explained further, especially considering the story relevance. So yeah, this finale was kinda flawed, but I still really liked it. Very good story and execution for the most part, the comedy was well-done whenever such a moment appeared, seeing more of Tartarus was pretty interesting, and hey, it's a proper resolution to the season-long arc about the School of Friendship and the student six! I'll explain more about that in next week's season eight wrap-up, but for now, I'll say that it feels good to put another full season of pony behind me. It was hectic, to be sure, but with possibly one season left on the table... I dunno what else to say outside of "2019 is gonna be a very interesting year for pony".Next week:
It's the season eight wrap-up! All the fun and excitement of me ranking all of these episodes distilled into one wall of text on the Internet!
I am now convinced that Cozy Glow might not even be a metal fan at all, and besides, that running gag was starting to get old.