There is often a discussion about which pony is the worst. I have come to put all debate to rest once and for all. Is it Trixie? She does have a massive ego, enslaved a town, but her biggest crime is becoming friends with another candidate. Is it Starlight, said friend of Trixie? She also enslaved a town, tried to wipe out ponies from time, failed to deliver an interesting backstory, nearly gave up on two different friendship missions, labeled someone a lost cause, only to guilt trip the entire cast because of labeling someone as a lost cause. Perhaps it is a curveball and one of the mane six just doesn’t do it for you. Twilight promoted the erasure of the entire pony culture, failed to redeem a child on two occasions, and was a more powerful and intelligent character before getting wings. Perhaps Rainbow Dash or Pinkie Pie are too annoying or Rarity, Fluttershy, or Applejack just don’t work well in the show, resetting personality whenever needed. Or even a one off character that was a terrible joke attached to a horrible moral like Mudbriar.
You may put your minds at ease as all of the above options are wrong. There exists a character so deplorable, so unlikable, purely evil, that no terrible character writing or even a villain the show can imagine will ever beat. For there is a puppet of darkness whose power is so vast and endless that to this day his presence has deceived nearly all through an arcane inversion of reality. People and ponies alike behold his form and despite his terrible works upon Equestria, he is loved, adored, and all without raising a single hoof. He did nothing to deserve this admiration. His crimes include theft, attempting to gain power for himself, attempting to control, domineer, and conquer others and eventually all of Equestria, and embraced a dark power willingly to try to kill those that dared to question his plans. Who is this worker of iniquity, this wielder of shadow? His name is Stygian, the one that lurks in darkness and death.
Let’s have a quick breakdown of Stygian to understand just what we are dealing with before I get into the specifics, just like the show does at the beginning of the episode. He shows up in the season 7 finale and has quite the story to him along with an endless slew of retcons. He gathered together ponies of interest into a group to fight evil siren sorceresses.
Stygian becomes their strategist because he is smart. I guess we have to take that at face value. He doesn’t ever display this intelligence in canon, but I can buy it. He isn’t content though. All of the others are getting the recognition. That isn’t fair! I want to help!
Ok, this warrants it’s own mini breakdown for the actual headache it is generating for me. What the fuck? You are disappointed people don’t respect you as much as the ponies risking their lives by being the targets of monsters and magic? They could die as you sit on the sidelines. This glory chaser then decides off of this that he needs an even playing field. I guess don’t talk about it at all and…. what is he doing? THE FUCK! He is stealing the magical artifacts that give power to the dudes he recruited! Did he ask for them? Did he talk about his desire to be a more active participant on the battlefield? No? He is just going to yoink their shit and perform some fucking spell on them…
Wait wait wait… what? How does he know how to do this? He is the recruiter. He even states in this finale “I didn’t have magic or strength”. How the fuck does he get to just cast a copy artifact spell and a “give me your magic” spell? According to the supplemental comic material, which is not canon, but does reflect on the pure writing implosion that is this fucking character, Stygian believes all of the ponies he recruited were only legends, only coming to realize they might actually exist because the sirens exist. So, if this guy was so isolated from these ponies that exist in the same damn land as he does, how does he know how to siphon legendary artifacts to gain power? Furthermore, does he know that this will only be a partial power suck? Will all of his friends be rendered powerless without their artifacts? Does he care? All of these questions and more will never be considered because he is kicked out of their club for the crime of theft and attempting to steal their fucking powers, like a villain might do.
So, naturally, what is the first thing you do when there is a misunderstanding? Do you attempt to return to reason with the people that feel wronged? Maybe use your recruiting skills to gather some others to send in your place to convince a temporary pardon to make your case heard? Do you maybe write it off as a lost cause and live your life? Do you decide to brood in a random ass ruin and when you fall into this well you found you embrace the evil spirit lurking within to return to those that wronged you in assuming that you stealing was offensive and decide to kill them and then move on to kill all life in the world? Definitely that one, am I right?
So, Stygian embraces the darkness, becomes known as the Pony of Shadows, and opens up a ton of fucking questions about the lore. First, the Pony of Shadows is referred to in season 4 when Applejack tells the story Granny told her about the Pony of Shadows, the remains of Nightmare Moon that survived and still roam Equestria after her banishment. Obviously, if this is the Pony of Shadows that can’t be the remains of Nightmare Moon. Perhaps we can chalk it up to legends getting misremembered and combined over a thousand years. Don’t worry, there are many more holes this finale opens in the lore.