And here we are. The Finale of Season 7. With this season finale, a lot of things come full circle.
Since Summer, we have been introduced to six ancient heroes of Equestria, including Starswirl the Bearded, and how they became the heroes that equestrian ponies know from their history and legend books.
And with this season finale, we saw their biggest heroic deed for Equestria and while we did, got a lot of questions answered.
First off, and to begin with one of the most important reveals, we finally found out what became of Starswirl the Bearded! For years, since we heard of him for the first time in Season 2, he was a complete mystery. And even the "Reflections" arc of the official comics had only shone a bit of light on him and only on one thing he did. And of course, we could not hear his voice and we did not see him move.
But this time, we finally got to see AND hear him in all his glory and in the present to boot!
I had my own theory why he disappeared and was thinking that he had become evil, got defeated, but was destined to return one day and that the big hourglass in the Starswirl the Bearded wing of the Canterlot Castle library predicts and counts down to his return. I was wrong with this, but I'm still quite happy with his return.
And I have to say, I like his attitude and personality a lot. He is very hardened, very serious and quite emotionless, like a soldier, when he approaches fighting a threat. He stays calm and collected, focused on the threat and is methodically working to get rid of it until he had success. I hate how he hurt Starlight by giving her the feeling she doesn't deserve forgiveness with the way he talked about Stygian, but aside from that, I love his personality.
Twilight herself has already a quite hardened stance when it's about fighting threats for Equestria and isn't very forgiving to enemies (Starlight is the only exception and even with her, Twilight assumed the worst and treated her simply like a threat that has to be wiped out before she found out about her past), but Starswirl surpasses her with ease. He has this "Shoot first, ask questions later. Or don't ask any questions and just shoot until there's nothing left of your enemies than a pile of smoldering ashes anymore." attitude and I like this a lot.
We saw him being very serious when it was needed in the official comics years ago already, but in this episode, we saw the full spectrum of that! It really showed that Starswirl comes from a different era of Equestria, one in which Equestria was even more dangerous than it is today.
I wonder if he still has this attitude now, after Twilight taught him a lesson there or if he tries to change it. But I definitely hope to see him go at another villain with this attitude or maybe even fighting one himself. His serious and cold demeanor adds a whole different layer to the show and it adds much more maturity to it where there is already a lot of it, so I hope he will stay that way of being so merciless with villains.
Another thing we found out, although with a much shorter time to ask that question, is what happened to Mage Meadowbrook and what was the reason for her disappearance. I somehow imagined something very grim, that there was somepony with very dark motives who, for some reason, didn't like how she travelled through Equestria and helped so many ponies by healing them and so, killed her one day. How Cattail said that she mysteriously disappeared one day without a trace gave me a strong vibe of this. I was wrong about this too and so, it came very surprising for me to find out that all of the Pillars had disappeared together as they were sacrificing themselves to banish the Pony of Shadows.
And I find myself very interested in the Shadow that tempted Stygian with power..... Who (or what) is it? Where did it come from? And what about the Pony of Shadows in the old castle of Celestia and Luna? Did this story simply originate because the Pillars resided there once and had to witness there how Stygian turned into the Pony of Shadows? Or is the Pony of Shadows in the castle yet another entity we don't know about yet?
There's this one interesting sentence the Pony of Shadows said in the magical recording that Twilight and her friends found together with Starlight, Sunburst and Spike:
"Once I defeat all of you, this realm will embrace the darkness as I did so long ago!"
If we consider that it was Stygian who said this, then it wouldn't make much sense. Even though Starswirl and the other Pillars probably didn't immediately know how to stop the Pony of Shadows, they surely didn't wait for years to do something about it after Stygian was taken by the Shadow. So, this can only mean that the Shadow itself spoke that sentence, which brings up more interesting questions.
How could the Shadow embrace the darkness if it was always a dark, evil entity to begin with? Could it be that the Shadow was a pony once and became like this one day?
I have the theory here that ponies who got taken by the Shadow eventually dissolve and fade completely, which is when their souls become part of the Shadow and the Shadow can then search for another pony to take. And the more often it does that, the more powerful it gets and also the more knowledge it acquires, because it absorbs the memory of ponies it takes.
Maybe, the voice who said that was the voice of a very old pony who lived in an even more distant past and whose consciousness survived inside the Shadow? I hope we will get answers on the Shadow's origin eventually.
And, finally, we now have an answer on how the Tree of Harmony was created! Starswirl and the other pillars planted it shortly before they sacrificed themselves and banished the Pony of Shadows into Limbo, to give Equestria a means of protection once they would be gone. I always had the feeling that ancient ponies from the past created it and now, this turned out right!
This also answers a few questions about the timeline of ancient Equestria. We already knew that Luna became Nightmare Moon after Starswirl was gone, but now this confirms that Discord's defeat by Celestia and Luna and the defeat of King Sombra by them happened after Starswirl vanished, too.
The Tree of Harmony definitely needed at least a few years to grow from the crystal seeds, so, we can now tell that all of the occasions where Luna and/or Celestia used the Elements of Harmony happened a few years after Starswirl disappeared!
A minor question we got answered was where Hollow Shades is located and how the town looks. I always suspected that Hollow Shades might be the town we saw at the end of "Somepony to Watch Over Me", since it appeared to te rather dark, like the name indicated. But what it turned out as instead is a lot better!
It is just as I imagined it, a dark, scary town in the depths of nowhere. It even has a red moon in the sky! And, apparently, this is where the Shadow came from, too, since this was the place where Stygian met it.
And we know that the town was populated once, but left long ago, when Applejack spoke about a branch of the Apple Family living there and Sunburst corrected her and said that the town was abandoned aeons ago..... It makes you wonder, if it could be that the Pony of Shadows was responsible for wiping out the town's population. This becomes more likely considering how Mistmane said that the Pony of Shadows twisted Hollow Shades to its purposes.
Something that I didn't expect at all from this episode was the return of Petunia Paleo! I was strongly expecting that we wouldn't see her again in the show, but here she is again!
She's apparently busy following her special talent, but sadly, her parents still confuse her profession with archeology, so they sent her to an archeological dig site. Petunia doesn't seem to mind, though and still has fun digging up old relics.
I wonder if she has a dual special talent, because she's simply good at digging up ancient things, and therefore equally good at archeology and paleontology? Maybe Petunia can choose whatever she wants to do of those two professions.
Overall, I love this episode, because it opens up so many more opportunities! Now that Starswirl and the Pillars are back, MLP: FiM has a bunch of new amazing characters that provide so much potential for a lot more episodes.
I hope we get to see them a lot in Season 8 and how they adapt to the changes in the world a thousand years after they got banished into the Limbo! Here's to an epic Season 8!