The Times They Are A Changeling
SPOILER ALERT! Those of you who have not seen the show, be warned. This review is going to contain spoilers about the episode. If you have not seen it yet, watch it right now and read my review in 20 minutes, or prepare to have some of the critical plot mentioned before you view it. I am assuming many of you are bronies, or fans of the show, and you are reading this review for an interesting insight on an episode you have seen countless times already (as have I), in which case, continue reading, and enjoy!
I’m going to get to the point with this one because I am tired and want to go to bed. Okay, who am I kidding? This post is going to take forever to write, and I am going to get sidetracked as always. I will try my best to actually keep on topic this time, though.
Twilight, Starlight and Spike (pretending not to be Spike) are all heading to the Crystal Empire. Twilight wants to see her niece, Flurry Heart, and Starlight is sure to learn a friendship lesson along the way. It seems like it’s been a while since I saw Starlight, but that might be due to the hiatus. Update: after getting sidetracked and doing research, the last time Starlight played a major role was in episode eight. “The Times They Are A Changeling) is episode sixteen. It has definitely been a while since Starlight got to be the star.
The trio arrives in the Crystal Empire and it seems deserted. Spike the Brave and Glorious deems it to be safe and takes off the disguise. He is immediately surrounded by crystal ponies who worship him, at least until someone questions whether or not he is the real Spike the Brave and Glorious. The title gives away what is going on, and it becomes apparent that the Changelings are back in the Crystal Empire.
Twilight, Starlight, and Spike the Brave and Glorious (STBAG, seeing as that whole title is quite a lot to type) head to the castle to visit Cadence and Shining Armor. Guards stop them at the entrance and ask to see some ID. Since I am assuming none of them had their ID, this would have been bad. Thankfully, Cadence decides to proof them by doing the “Sunshine, sunshine” chant with Twilight. Since Twilight knows the rhyme and dances along, it must be the real one. It’s not the most foolproof method, but ID isn’t either, as those can be faked.
Speaking of ID, do ponies need to show ID to buy alcoholic beverages in Equestria? Is there a drinking age? Do alcoholic beverages even exist in Equestria? There is cider, but that does not necessarily mean it is hard cider. (I am not doing so good at staying on topic.)
After it is determined that they are not impostors, Sunburst reveals that there is a Changeling somewhere nearby. Cadence explains to Starlight that when she and Shining Armor got married, Queen Chrysalis used her transformation power to take her place and put a mind control spell on her husband. Although all was sorted out, Chrysalis and her Changeling army terrorized the land. Changelings feed off of love, and since Flurry Heart’s Crystalling at the beginning of the season, the Empire has been filled with love.
STBAG is invited to join in the search for the Changeling. STBAG and the Royal Guard head out looking for it. He sends the guards off and is left all alone. STBAG accuses a rock of being a Changeling, kicks it, falls through the snow, and slides down a slippery slope. He nearly goes off the edge of a cliff, but just barely survives. He comes across what he believes to be his reflection. I have no idea why he thought it was his reflection when there is a Changeling nearby, but I guess that’s why he isn’t called Spike the Brilliant and Genius.
The “reflection” slips on the snow and STBAG discovers it is a Changeling. About time. STBAG runs from the Changeling and falls off the cliff, but the Changeling, who can fly, saves STBAG and says he doesn’t want him to get hurt. The Changeling isn’t evil and just wants to have a friend, unlike the others, who just want to be evil. Rather than feeding off of others’ love, this Changeling, Thorax, wants a friend to share love with. After what happened at the wedding, he was unable to be with the rest of his kind, since they do not share his feelings about friendship.
All of the love in the Crystal Empire drew Thorax there, and he is hungry for love. Without a friend, his hunger grows, yet he seems unwilling to give into the hunger and steal love from others. When his hunger manifests, Thorax turns creepy. His nasty Changeling tongue sticks out and he hisses. I know I am not showing love and kindness right now, but it gives me the heebie jeebies when he does that. Despite this, STBAG wants to be his friend, and tells Thorax he’ll use his celebrity influence to convince the rest of the Empire to befriend him as well.
When Spike goes to talk to everypony about Thorax, it doesn’t go well. They think he’s making a joke about befriending him, and Shining Armor tells him the joke isn’t funny because of what happened with the wedding. Spike pretends it was a joke and returns to Thorax.
Plan B involves Thorax taking the form of a pony. STBAG brings him to meet everypony, and introduces him as his friend and pen pal, Crystal Hoof. The two of them attempting to cover up the truth is pretty funny, as it is horrible lying. Twilight believes the lie, somehow, and lets STBAG and Crystal Hoof walk around town. Everyone seems to like Crystal Hoof as a pony.
Upon meeting Flurry Heart, the love is too much for Crystal Hoof to handle, and he turns back into a Changeling. The others warn STBAG to get away from him. I wouldn’t want a hungry Changeling anywhere near me or my baby (if I had one). Sunburst says that the Crystal Hoof disguise was just a way for the Changeling to get close to the baby and steal her love, and ST not so BAG agrees that must be the case. Thorax is devastated and runs away with eyes full of tears. A guard orders STBAG to look for the real Crystal Hoof and make sure he’s okay. STBAG clearly upset his friend, but still wants to help. He knows where to look, and goes to find Thorax.
STBAG apologizes but Thorax doesn’t immediately accept. Even when STBAG is just barely hanging onto the edge of a cliff, it takes a moment for his friend to forgive him and come to his aid. The two make amends and STBAG sets off to do what he should have done in the first place: stand up for the Changeling.
STBAG and Thorax go back and this time, STBAG defends his friend. And finally, we get a solo from him. Let me tell you, the song, “A Changeling Can Change” is amazing and beautiful. I teared up listening to it. It has a similar feel to “Out On My Own” from earlier this season. Both songs are slow, emotional, and incredibly powerful, but listen for yourself.
After STBAG finishes his song, everypony still looks unhappy. Twilight comes from behind them and tells STBAG that she’s very proud of him. He risked all of his fame in the Crystal Empire for his friend.
As proven with STBAG and Thorax, a new friend can come from anywhere. Even Twilight needed to learn that lesson. I love that STBAG taught something to Twilight and that the episode shows that she is not perfect, despite being the Princess of Friendship. She accepts Thorax as a friend, since he is STBAG’s friend. Cadence follows her lead, and the others follow in welcoming Thorax into the Empire as a friend. Thorax is so happy, and hopes to someday teach other Changelings about friendship. Starlight, who also originally doubted Thorax, learned the same lesson as Twilight. Friendship lessons, as well as friends, can come from anywhere. (I think some people in this world could learn that too.)
I enjoyed this episode a lot. Having STBAG as a teacher was a nice touch, and it did show Starlight as a pupil, even if the episode was not focused on her, like I originally thought. Thorax is a likable character, except when hungry for love. With all of his new friends, he should never get hunger crazy again. The highlight of the episode for me was STBAG’s song, which blew my mind and emotions. “The Times They Are A Changeling” is definitely going to join my all time favorite episodes.