Thursday, August 14, 2014

Trot Topics, *How Canon Is Expanded Universe?: Reflections

Once again, we find another magic mirror that leads to another world, but this time it's not a variant of our world. The MLP comics decides to go the route of the Mirror, Mirror episode from Star Trek where the Mane 6 go to a parallel universe with evil versions of the good guys, and good versions of the regular rogues gallery. So you know there's gonna be some continuity breaches with alternate realities involved.

The first part has Twilight briefly being visited by a character exclusive to the comics referred to as September who appears as a Joe Friday-type background pony that acts an observer to some events in the comics stories, similar to what Pandora was in the DC Comics' New 52 when it first started up. He tells Twilight that there's more than one of everything, and then quickly disappears from the rest of the story, which makes you wonder what was the point of having him show up, unless they're planning on using him in a future storyline. Luna calls the Mane 6 to Canterlot and informs them that Celestia has been missing for a whole week. She saw Celestia go through a different magical mirror that she and the pony wizard Star Swirl had made centuries ago, apparently sometime just before Luna turned to the dark side. Luna suggests the Mane 6 look for Star Swirl's personal library(not the one named after him in the Canterlot archives)which is located somewhere inside the mountain Canterlot is built on. We already know that there is a crystal cavern below Canterlot where greedy unicorns horded the gems there, but this new revelation breaks open a whole new vault to make you speculate what other history the interior of the Canterlot mountain has yet to explore. Searching through the caves, we see a directory leading to Star Trek-inspired locations like Stellar Cartography and Jeffries Tubes, so did Capt. Picard and crew stop by Equestria after their trip to 21st Century Earth? The Mane 6 find Star Swirl's library, in which there is a giant penny similar to the one in the Batcave, also the Japanese there's a Japan in either Equestria or the parallel universe? We flashback to when Star Swirl and Celestia used the mirror to visit various other universes, including one with dinosaurs with cutie marks, meaning that there's a reality where dinosaurs were the dominate species and not equines(My Little Dino?). Further reading into Star Swirl's notes informs Twilight that the mirror was the prototype for the one from Equestria Girls, but Star Swirl decided to stop research on mirror portals after Celestia was using the prototype one to visit a world that was similar to Equestria. Star Swirl finds out about Celestia's daytrips to the mirror world and closes the door to it. But this didn't stop Celestia from finding a way to reopen it and go back to the mirror world. A battered Celestia finally returns to modern Equestria, and followed by the shadowy form of King Sombra!

The next chapter has Celestia explaining that she had befriended the other world's King Sombra a while ago who in his universe is actually good. Now this is really weird because the evil version we know from the series was cursed into being turned into shadows a thousand years ago by the princesses, only to be brought back partially before being "destroyed" by the Crystal Heart. That means that Sombra was born over a millennium ago, so whether this good Sombra is that old is never revealed, although over a thousand years is pretty good for a non-Alicorn unicorn. Celestia informs the Mane 6 that they must be the ones to travel to this mirror world to assist the good Sombra with an uprising from the Royal Princesses' evil counterparts as they themselves can't go because it would further upset the balance of both realities. To do this, they equip the Elements of Harmony, meaning that this story chronologically takes place sometime prior to the beginning of Season 4 since the Elements were then returned to the Tree of Harmony. Once in the other world, the Mane 6 along with Spike find that their own evil twins are wanted fugitives that we never see throughout the course of the story except for in a backup story, which really seems like a missed opportunity. The Mane 6 are accosted by the royal guards for thinking that they are the bad Mane 6, but escape and peruse the castle to see stain glass windows showing that world's Elements of Harmony: a wise Derpy Hooves for Wisdom, a kind version of Queen Chrysalis for Love, Trixie as none other as an Alicorn Princess for Humility, and both Flim and Flam for Fairness. Now it's strange that their are only four Elements to balance out this world, but the fact that two ponies can make up for one is even odder. We know that both Celestia and Luna were able to each take up the mantle of three of the Elements on their own, but it seems off that they would need two ponies for one Element. The Mane 6 find the good King Sombra who turns out to be a handsome unicorn with a regular looking horn, so its hard to say if the original Sombra's horn was different because of his use of dark magic. The evil Celestia and Luna show up, and a fight ensues between them and the Mane 6, but is cut off when Spike gets a letter revealing for every blow one of the Mane 6 delivers to the evil Royal Princesses, the good ones receive one too. This only seems to effect them when they are being attacked by someone from a parallel world though, otherwise their dopplegangers would get hurt everytime the other would be injured. It's also strange that Spike's fire delivery can work across dimensions too. The evil princesses retreat for the time being, but Sombra confesses his love for the good Celestia.

The third chapter has Evil Celestia sending Evil Luna to spy on our heroes, who are listening to Good Sombra's history of his relationship with Good Celestia, but not before revealing that their version of Discord is a knight working for the forces of good, to which Pinkie believes they don't even need to care about continuity. We flashback to Sombra first meeting Celestia and Star Swirl and introducing them to the concept of coffee, which makes you wonder if ponies in Celestia's universe never would've come across coffee in their own reality prior to that. From then on, Celestia frequently visits the other world, usually behind Star Swirl's back, and when he finds out he uses a spell to close off the mirror. But when Star Swirl went on a trip, Celestia uses some of her own magic to reopen the doorway to see Sombra, so the #1 Lawgiver breaks her own teacher's law just to go see her inter-dimensional love interest! Back to the present, Sombra continues about how since their Luna went to being evil around the same time that the other Luna went good, the two evil princesses have caused the pegasi and earth ponies to stop maintenance over the lands, making this Equestria into real dump. So once again we see how having the ponies have total control over their environment can lead to some serious problems once there's a monkey wrench in the works. Twilight gets the idea to have the evil princesses imprisoned in crystal with the Elements of Harmony like their own evil Sombra, although he was technically first turned into shadows and then disintegrated after being exposed to the Crystal Heart. All this while the hidden evil Luna eavesdrops on their plan. Afterwards, Twilight talks to Sombra about his experiences with Star Swirl, to which Twilight ponders the idea of the old wizard being an alicorn, making the first time the series might have brought up the idea of a male alicorn.

The final chapter has Celestia recollecting to Luna about how after she was banished to the moon, she and Star Swirl would frequently go to the other world where she became good friends with their Luna who was still good in that reality. Meaning instead of trying to work things out with her own sister, Celestia sent her to the moon for a millennium and got all buddy-buddy with her counterpart. The Mane 6 along with Spike and Good Sombra go the castle of the evil princesses and demand that they surrender. Evil Celestia instead blasts her sister, causing Good Luna to be hurt back home and collapses on the magic mirror. With the mirror shattered, the good princesses are catapulted to the other world, and Celestia confronts her evil twin. The Mane 6 charge up the Elements of Harmony to encase Evil Celestia in crystal, but this causes Good Celestia to start being imprisoned in crystal too. So Sombra somehow feeds off the Elements to absorb all the evil off the wicked princesses so that balance can be restored. Now, for there to be real balance, that would mean in one universe the princesses would be good, while in the other they'd be evil. So if Sombra makes the evil ones good, wouldn't that make the original good ones evil? Apparently ignoring the dimensional paradox, by absorbing the negative energy, the evil princesses are now good while sporting an Egyptian look, and Sombra is infused with evil energy. However, just because he has dark magic in him doesn't mean he's supposed to be evil. Celestia and Twilight have used dark magic before, and they didn't go all Voldemort. A portal suddenly opens, sending our heroes back home to their own world. Celestia holds on to a piece of the broken mirror while we see Sombra in his world lamenting his loss. Although this still doesn't mean that he's totally evil, just carrying some bad mojo. The comics ends with a quick backup story of the evil Mane 6 in their world all shacked up together playing cards expressing how glad they were to not get involved in some convoluted storyline.

This made for a pretty epic storyline, being the first 4-part story in the regular comics since the Nightmare Rarity saga, although it mostly seems like a totally out of context plot involving Celestia. This is another one of those, "Now she tells us!" things Celestia pulls mentioning threats like Discord or Sunset Shimmer only when they resurface. The whole concept of alternate worlds isn't new with the Equestria Girls movie plot, but to learn that there was another functioning mirror should've been a whole other bag of fish. Plus, this was the first real time we got to see anything "canon" that has Star Swirl as an active character and not just mentioned in a flashback, so it will be interesting to see how this will play out in future storylines, although its hard to see if he'll be behaving more like Pinkie Pie instead of Gandalf.