So here we are again with yet another episode. I almost forgot to review this one! I can be such a ditz sometimes.
...Well, let's jump right in! This is my review for "Castle Mane-ia!" (By the way, I did watch the leaked version of the episode, but I decided to rewatch it again on the actual air date. My opinions are still the same, though.)
(Spoiler warning and all that stuff)
The Main 6 (plus Spike) 's role
To kick off the "normal" episodes of season 4, we get yet another episode focused on the Main 6 as a whole. Twilight doesn't really seem to have strayed too far from her character, being the bookworm that she is at all times, and taking charge when she needs to. She's noticeably gotten a lot bolder over the last few episodes. She's a lot more confident in different situations, and she knows how to deal with a problem well.We get to see Rainbow Dash and Applejack once again practicing their rivalry, trying to one-up each other at being the "Most Daring Pony." Funny thing is, Rainbow Dash is being loyal by sticking to their contest even when she is terrified by the castle, but Applejack is actually being dishonest when she says she's not scared. (So much for the Element of Honesty.) What, did returning the elements mean that you no longer have to represent your element? But I'm probably going too deep into this.
Rarity has sort of returned to her "hammy" state, being disgusted at the sight of dirt on her hooves. But she seems to have built up enough of a tolerance for it by this point, as we can see later on when she has sticks and leaves in her hair. She seems to be more annoyed than anything, but she doesn't try to tidy herself up when this happens.
Pinkie Pie is still her crazy, eccentric self, breaking the fourth wall every so often. You know, the usual. I'm starting to see that her humor has gotten a bit better this episode. I personally like her line around the beginning when she says "Numbers don't lie!" and shows a notepad with drawings on it, without tally marks or numbers to be seen anywhere. But that's just my opinion, though. Fluttershy, on the other hand, has stayed relatively the same, still being kind of a wimp when it comes to these kind of situations. She reacts exactly as I would see her reacting, and it feels natural to see her act in the way she does. Spike shares Fluttershy's frightened attitude as well, but I think it fits Fluttershy more than it does Spike. Because, you know, her character was basically established like that from the beginning.
In short, everyone is still in character, with a few added qualities, but some flaws are present. So not perfect, but the good does make up for the bad.
The Main 6 (plus Spike) 's rating: 8/10
Again we get a pretty basic plot. That's not a bad thing, as it definitely works to its benefit here. Twilight and Spike go to Celestia and Luna's old, decrepit castle to find a book that would help Twilight understand more about what happened in the last episode with the Tree of Harmony. In the meantime, Pinkie Pie is overseeing a competition with Rainbow Dash and Applejack competing to be the "Most Daring Pony." With the score tied, Pinkie Pie leaves to go ring the school bell (at which I immediately thought of my OC, who's job is to ring the bell in Ponyville). Rainbow Dash and Applejack then decide to come up with a tiebreaker challenge. Applejack points her in the direction of the Everfree Forest, claiming to have an idea. Meanwhile, Rarity and Fluttershy also happen to be heading toward the castle, as Rarity wants to restore some ancient relics from the castle and needs Fluttershy's help in retrieving them. Fluttershy doesn't see it as a big deal, but is still willing to help Rarity anyway.
When inside the castle, Angel, who had been with Fluttershy, runs off alone into the castle, causing Fluttershy to go after him. Spike and Twilight are still looking around for the books, with Spike being a little bit spooked by the castle and what he finds inside. Applejack, in an attempt to frighten Rainbow Dash, tells her about the legend of the "Pony of Shadows." Rainbow Dash is not amused by the story, and they continue to explore the castle.
Rarity and Fluttershy find a large tapestry, which Rarity tells Fluttershy to pull down off the wall. Fluttershy, being the weak pony she is, has a bit of trouble, and in her struggling to pull it down, unknowingly activates a secret switch, causing the wall to spin around. On the other side, Rainbow Dash and Applejack are discussing ghosts. Rainbow Dash proclaims that she doesn't believe in them, but Applejack, looking at the tapestry seemingly moving by itself, points it out to her and tells her that she might want to consider rethinking her position. They get spooked by the tapestry and run off, getting another fright by seeing a shadowy figure on the ground. The wall moves back around, and Rarity apologizes to Fluttershy, promising to her that they are going to look for a smaller tapestry to restore.
Rarity explains to Fluttershy that she must have set off a mechanism to spin the wall around, which Fluttershy was unaware of in her struggle to pull the tapestry down. She wonders if there are more trap doors in the castle, and her question is immediately answered as Angel activates a pressure plate which causes Rarity and Fluttershy to fall into another trap.
Applejack and Rainbow Dash then discuss the reason they are in the castle. They make a bet with one another: they must stay in the old castle until one of them gets scared and runs out. The one still in the castle wins the title of "Most Daring Pony." Twilight and Spike are in the library of the castle, looking for the book. Angel appears and Spike gets startled, causing him to activate a secret door behind the bookcases, revealing a chamber with Celestia and Luna's diary inside.
Applejack and Rainbow Dash descend a classic spiral staircase (I'm not kidding, every spooky castle has these for some reason) and end up in a hallway with pony legs mounted to the wall holding torches. Meanwhile, Rarity and Fluttershy are still in their small room with seemingly no exit. However, Rarity finds a hole in the wall big enough for her to stick her hoof through. Rainbow Dash who happens to be walking by, feels the hoof wrap around her. She thinks it's Applejack, who is actually standing a few feet away. Rainbow Dash is frightened when she realizes this, and they run out of the hallway. Rarity is also frightened because she felt something alive, and Fluttershy, hoping it was Angel, tries to reach through the hole as well. She pulls on one of the pony-leg wall mounts, and activates another wall-rotating switch. Rarity is just about fed up with the castle and its tricks, while Fluttershy is still worried over Angel.
However, we see that Angel is safe with Twilight and Spike in the room where they found the diary. Twilight reads it, learning about the "hall of hooves" and the trap doors. She finds something about a pipe organ and keeps reading.
A hooded figure is seen playing the pipe organ, with each note causing the castle to change in some way. The noise of the pipe organ being played frightens Applejack and Rainbow Dash, and they run off scared. Spike hears it, but Twilight thinks he is only hearing the sound of pieces of the broken-down castle falling apart. Rarity and Fluttershy have found other tapestries, but Fluttershy doesn't want to help anymore, being too worried about Angel. Rarity stays behind to try to pull down the tapestries.
Applejack and Rainbow Dash find another hallway filled with pony armor (yet another major cliche here) and decide to investigate. As Applejack gets up close to one of the figures of armor, the pipe organ plays, causing Applejack to spin on a secret panel through the wall, separating her from Rainbow Dash. Rarity also spins through the wall, separating her from Fluttershy. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy set off to find Applejack and Rarity, and Applejack and Rarity try to find their way back to Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. After being spooked some more by the castle, they all end up backing into each other, causing all four of them to go into a panic. Twilight hears their shouting and screaming, and decides to calm them down with... Za Warudo... or something. This is probably my favorite scene, with everyone frozen in space but still reacting to the situation. I don't really know what about this scene is so amusing, but it is nonetheless. After calming everyone down, they ask Twilight if she was the one scaring them the whole time. Hearing the organ, she decides to go investigate, with the others following close behind. They reach the organ, and Twilight walks up to see that the organ player is...
Pinkie. Should've seen that coming.
Pinkie explains that she only needed to ring the bell for a few minutes, then saw Rarity and Fluttershy walking into the castle, so she decided to follow them, thinking that they were throwing a party. Back in the room where Twilight found the diary, they reflected on how they let their imaginations take over their thoughts. Twilight says that she wasn't scared because she knew about the switches and trap rooms in the castle from reading the diary. Then they come up with an idea to write a collaborative diary in which they all put their thoughts so that they could learn from each other, and possibly allow other ponies to learn from them as well. Spike then mentions that the "Pony of Shadows" was a ridiculous idea, but then the scene cuts to a shadow with glowing yellow eyes.
(...Zecora? Is that you?)
All in all, this episode is full of different haunted castle cliches, but thankfully the episode was written well. It's not really that hard to mess up this formula anyway, being a completely by-the-book style of writing. We really don't see anything new, but what it did have to offer was done well. Again, another basic episode with a few inconsistencies but an abundance of good moments.
Plot rating: 8/10
Final Score and Last-Minute Thoughts
Well I think it's obvious once again what I scored the episode, but for all you tl;dr people:
Castle Mane-ia Final Score: 8/10
This is an episode I wouldn't really recommend if you're not into obvious cliches. I don't care either way in this case, but I honestly think they made it work here. But as always, this is only my opinion, and I'd like to see what yours is. Don't agree? Feel free to say what you think! I'm up for hearing diverse opinions! But I guess this is it until next week, so see you guys later!
(And stay tuned, because I might have some news about a certain fanfic I've been working on!)