/mlp/ Fanfic Reviews

Changing Expectations

FimFiction Link - Short ID: 480268/changing-expectations

Published: Oct '20May '21

Review in No. 37017394
(As of Chapter 53, the last chapter of Act 4)

Someone recommended this fic ITT, but as best I can tell, its primary virtue is its update schedule (every other day).

The premise: some human guy dies, and later wakes up in Equestria in the form of a freshly-hatched royal changeling larva. He grows up as a Prince Phasmatodea of the changeling hive, learning changeling magic, investigating the history that Chrysalis keeps hidden, and plotting against her for the good of the hive. Eventually he's put in charge of the invasion of Equestria, which is scheduled to conclude on the longest day of the thousandth year.

So much of this fic is just utterly uninspired. The freaky alien bug-horses barely feel alien at all; they're just funny-looking ponies that happen to eat emotions and have some very limited short-range telepathy. Combat magic consists of lasers, shields, and the standard fireball, lightning bolt, and ice spear spells. Phasma wants to overthrow Chrysalis and bring his people freedom and democracy, apparently just because that's what's stereotypically "good", even though what his people need most at the moment is a reliable food supply.

A big chunk of the story is about Phasma's cloak-and-dagger scheming as he works to undermine Chrysalis and plans a coup. But the author totally fails to sell his supposed competence in this regard. Every time, Phasma makes a token (but laughably insufficient) attempt at being sneaky, and it works because he has spycraft plot armor.

I'm honestly trying to think of something nice to say, or to explain why I haven't dropped this fic yet, and I'm having a hard time of it. There were a couple of mysteries set up near the start (the identity of Phasma's father and the fate of his siblings) that worked well enough, I suppose. The cloak-and-dagger bits were okay too, until I realized that the author won't allow him to get caught, no matter how much of an idiot this requires Chrysalis to be. Overall, I guess the fic is thoroughly bland but not offensively bad.
Review in No. 37026865
Followup bitching since I finished Arc/Act 5.

The second half of this act is more adventure focused and is actually kind of decent. That is, aside from the part where Phasma turns into a carnifex from 40k because he literally cannot stop making references to IRL media. The first half sucks though. First because it's boring, and second because I absolutely despise the way this fic handles Princess Luna.

The rest of this post is actual spoilers, 'cause I guess the site doesn't mark those properly.

Phasma is a natural dreamwalker and makes contact with Nightmare Moon pretty early in the fic. Around the fourth time they meet, she proposes marriage. This is a bit rushed IMO but otherwise fine. Half the reason is as a political alliance, which makes some amount of sense, and also Psycho Moonbutt thinks it's kinda hot that Phasma is plotting to kill his own mother and stage a coup.

S1E2 happens as in canon, except instead of a party afterwards, everyone rushes to Canterlot because some freaky bug-horses are invading. Phasma runs into Luna and the M6 there. He quickly determines that Luna is of no use to him in her current state, so he fights her and wins, easily.

The thing is, after all this, Luna is still into him. It's like she didn't even notice that murder isn't one of her turn-ons any more, or that Phasma beat the shit out of her the very first time they met IRL. You'd think that talking to NMM's boyfriend would bring up some bad memories for Luna, but it's never even mentioned. Phasma does eventually ask why she still wants to marry him, and she gives him the standard generic shit-tier answer: he treats her like a normal pony and doesn't get hung up on her title; he's a dreamwalker, like she is; he's immortal, like she is; and she has no other friends since she's the boo-hoo neglected foreveralone second-favorite princess ^:'(

It actually gets worse. "Oh Prince Phasma, with your vast expertise in spy movies and your months of real-world experience and your impenetrable spycraft plot armor, please teach me, the hapless millennia-old demigoddess who has done everything under the sun (and moon) yet is somehow utterly clueless in this regard, how to into entry-level cloak-and-dagger." After that there's a scene where he teaches her how to be more popular with the Night Court petitioners (he worked in customer service, you see, so he's an expert) and also tells her about the words "I" and "you". (This works, which is absurd, but it's honestly a blessing for the reader. I can understand if your conjugations are wack or if you don't want to bother with the T-V distinction, but if you're regularly using "thou" in place of "thy" then GTFO you fucking casual.) And finally, there's another scene or two where Phasma bestows a small portion of his plot armor upon Luna, by giving her some absolutely brain-dead obvious advice on being sneaky.