I really wanted Discord to look over at Twilight and wink and say “Nope, try again” like he was totally aware of the time manipulation. Part of my headcanon for him is that he’s kind of outside of the flow of time and therefore is not really affected by time manipulation in the same way as everypony else.
Anyway, spoilers and such. Including a kinda minor one for Hard Reset.
So, possible futures from least to worst:
- Being at war with King Sombra
- Forced into hiding in the expanded Everfree Forest by Changelings conquering the kingdom.
- Nightmare Moon’s eternal night (which doesn’t kill everything from lack of sun, apparently).
- Tirek just burning the crap out of everything.
- Flim and Flam’s logging industry.
- Endless, featureless wasteland.
So, apparently Flim and Flam are the second worst villain in the entire show. I’m going to go with… Trixie being the worst. If Twilight hadn’t been there in Ponyville to smack Trixie down, it leads to the entire world turning to dust and ash. Not sure how yet, but it’s the only one that makes sense. Or, even more likely, Rainbow Dash isn’t there to stop Ahuizotl from winning in the Daring Do episode. Wasn’t he trying to gain the power of intense heat or something like that? For a particular valley if memory serves, but easy enough to extrapolate. On the other hand, if we take the Hard Reset reference that could just be a timeline the Elements of Harmony nuked because everything went wrong. I’m still going with that being the future if Trixie wins in Boast Busters.
Actually, looking back on the episode… I’m not sure that it was actually time travel. I mean, sure, the show says so, but things just don’t add up. I think it’s much more likely that it was a really complex illusion or dream state instead. The different futures from the slightest changes have been pointed out by a lot of people. My main question was where was Starlight Glimmer? She said the spell pulled her back anytime Twilight Sparkle used it. Yet she didn’t seem to experience any of the futures Twilight did until she was pulled through the portal by Twilight that last time. Plus it solves the ‘Starlight being as powerful as Twilight’ situation, and her manipulating a time travel spell that even Twilight Sparkle didn’t think was possible to mess with. Though Twilight was a bit rushed when she used the time travel spell and didn’t take a second look at it after.
Plus she casts it on the cutie mark map, with some techno-babble about it being connected to all places in Equestria (with the implication that it includes all times as well). I think it’s much more likely that Starlight Glimmer used her talent with cutie mark affecting magic to torment Twilight with possible alternate timelines. Which also solves the fact that her plan made no sense. She wasn’t actually trying to wreck the timeline. She was simply showing Twilight Sparkle what losing friends because of a cutie mark was like. In a way that rubs Twilight’s nose in how much better Starlight is. The endgame was probably just making Twilight break down crying, just watch her in misery for a while, or to get Twilight to admit that Starlight was right.
Like, the spell had some time magic in it, but only enough to basically catch the reflections of the could-have-beens that Twilight experiences. The actual ‘timelines’ were just lucid dreams Twilight was living through by the spell affecting her cutie mark. Can’t be a co-incidence that the point in time that Starlight Glimmer picked was the moment Twilight got her cutie mark. She’s been stalking Twilight for the entire season and we are supposed to believe that she picked that point based on Twilight’s speech right then? Or is it more likely that the cutie mark moment was how Starlight’s spell was able to latch on to the time magic and she was just waiting for the right moment to pounce on Twilight to make the time travel story believable?
Overall, not a bad finish for the season. In whatever form, I do love alternate timeline shenanigans. Especially ones that involve cyborg Rainbow Dash. Even got a least one little bit of possible Zebra worldbuilding. Zecora had a ointment that could reveal Changelings. Technically it could do more than that, but just sticking to that one aspect it could be used for some interesting worldbuilding involving Zebra and Changelings. Hmm… I’m thinking using it would be a important part of Zebra wedding rituals. Each revealing their true self to the other. Don’t want to be accidentally marrying a Changeling or other impostor after all.