When Spike is put in charge of making sure nothing disturbs princess Twilight, the power soon goes to his head and he begins making decisions in her name.When Spike is put in charge of making sure nothing disturbs princess Twilight, the power soon goes to his head and he begins making decisions in her name.When Spike is put in charge of making sure nothing disturbs princess Twilight, the power soon goes to his head and he begins making decisions in her name.
After such a brilliant previous episode ("Slice of Life"), it is really quite disheartening to see the season go several steps backwards in quality with one of its bottom 3 episodes and one that is among 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic's' worst as well. There may be some debate as to what is the worst Spike-centric episodes, as of all the previous episodes with him as the main focus only "Secret of My Excess" was above average. Despite disliking "Owl's Well that Ends Well", "Spike at Your Service" and "Dragon Quest", "Princess Spike" is a strong contender for his worst episode (either that or "Dragon Quest"). It was not an appealing premise, the execution was even more unappealing. While not terrible, it is not hard to see why it is near-universally panned amongst fans.
"Princess Spike" has compensations. The animation is vibrant, beautifully drawn, meticulously backgrounded and doesn't try to do too much while making the visuals interesting. The music is not overused or overbearing and fits the atmosphere well. The voice acting is fine and that is including Cathy Weseluck, despite disliking Spike here.
Did enjoy Cadance's role here, easily the most likeable character in the entire episode, and completely understood and related to her anger which happened for a legitimate reason. The episode did start off quite promisingly.
Once Spike took over royal duties however, "Princess Spike" went drastically downhill and didn't improve. A major problem is Spike himself. He started off with good intentions and his resolving was admirable, but his personality is screwed up royally in the middle act. This was another prime example of a Spike-centric episode that exaggerated Spike's flaws to the point where he becomes insufferable. For much of the episode, initial good intentions were spoilt by his selfish decision making and that he came over as not just selfish but also greedy and dishonest. Only Cadance is likeable here or interesting as a character and the delegates' and subjects' disrespect was quite hard to take, especially because of how demeaning it got actually. Despite not being written well as a character, Spike did not deserve such excessively bad treatment and blame when there were others that were just as much at fault.
Story-wise "Princess Spike" started off very well, but then became rather contrived, mean-spirited and over-stretched. The moral on paper was great and very inspiring, but the execution of it in the episode felt muddled and would have resonated a lot more if the middle act hadn't made one hate Spike so much and hate equally much, or actually even more so, how badly he's treated. The ending as a result felt rather glib and shoehorned. A couple of characters served no point to the story, especially Celestia and Luna. The dialogue is throughout forced, cheesy and unsympathetic, with too many wince-worthy parts.
Concluding, very lacklustre and one of Season 5's worst. Not quite as terrible as many make out, but on the most part the negative reception amongst fans to me is justifiable. 4/10
- Dec 17, 2020