Oh yes Chrysalis. Despite her being woefully underutilized in the show, she has the most potential of all the bad guys we’ve seen. So what is it about the Changeling Queen that makes her so unique and perfect as a villain in the My Little Pony Universe? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s to keep on reading!
So what do we know from canon? The Queen of the Changelings first appeared in disguise in the season 2 episode A Canterlot Wedding part 1, and it wasn’t until the second part that we saw her in her true form.
It’s implied that her title as Queen is because, like ants and bees, she’s the mother of the entire colony. The show isn’t very explicit about it, but she refers to her other changelings as children and the insect inspired design makes it seem likely. In terms of characterization, we don’t learn much about Chrysalis from those two episodes. We’ve seen characters like her before such as the Borg Queen from Star Trek and Kerrigan (AKA Queen of Blades) from Starcraft, and she fits right into the mold; but beyond that we don’t learn much. The IDW comics on the other have plenty of great moments with the beloved queen which, in turn, gives us a better idea of her pathology.
When reading it, there’s a clear sense in jealousy that she has for not only Celestia, but for the rest of pony kind. Whether or not she’s biologically able to feel love, she doesn’t seem to have a clear grasp on why anyone would want to. Despite the obvious (from her perspective) downsides of this emotion, she still remains powerless in the face of Celestia and the Mane 6. Her species still remains on the outskirts of Equestria, while the ponies who continually break each other’s hearts and do stupid things in the name of love, have thrived.
Her pride also gets the best of her because she lets her contempt for Twilight get in the way of her schemes. Rather than ensuring victory by being extra cautious, she takes time out to toy with Twilight and her friends just for the enjoyment of it.
It’s a pretty basic, but well executed set up for the character, and I hope they do more with her in the comic considering how much darker material they’ve been able to give her.
Another great thing about her is that, more so than any other character created for the show, Chrysalis and the changelings have deep roots in classical fantasy. A changeling typically refers to a fairy, troll, or some other sort of fantasy creature, replacing a human baby with one of their offspring. The motivations for this can differ from simply giving the creature a better life, to more sinister motivations like replacing them with a newborn prince or princess in order to ensure future power for their kind.
The design for Chrysalis was done by Rebecca Dart, the lead character designer for season 2, and she has said that when she was designing her, she was inspired by the works of manga artists Junko Mizuno and Hideshi Hino.
So what we have is a character inspired by European folklore and designed with inspiration from Japanese manga. I think that’s a mathematical formula for BEST VILLIAN EVER!
Fan canon is mostly concerned with going into more detail about Changeling society, and about a possible origin for them. A popular theory has been that Chrysalis was once an Alicorn Princess like Celestia and Luna, but something happened to turn her and her people into Changelings.
It’s a good idea that’s fun to explore, but it’s not something that I think should be part of canon, much like DC’s line of Elseworld comics. The reason why is that Chrysalis was the first major villain to threaten Celestia who was a product of the current world. The only two other villains to threaten all of Equestria was Nightmare Moon (her sister) and Discord (their former ruler). These are both villains from a time long ago, which made modern day Equestria seem much weaker by comparison. Even the weapons used to defeat them (the elements of harmony) came from that time, so these battles have essentially been millennia old grudge matches with modern Equestria caught in the middle. It’s like in Godzilla movies where they’re destroying cities unabated with the military essentially being useless. The only thing that can stop the threat is another giant monster, rendering the setting of the fight superfluous and only being used so that we can see buildings crashing down. If Chrysalis was a former Alicorn, it would only further diminish the importance of the time in which these ponies live. Having a modern day threat nearly overcome Celestia is helpful in establishing that Celestia isn’t an all-powerful being that can solve a problem whenever she feels like it. In hindsight, it’s also good that the Elements didn’t end up saving the day, because it lets us know that the Mane 6 aren’t the only ones who can protect Equestria.
As previously stated, the rest of fan canon is about exploring individual aspects about Chrysalis and the Changeling society. It’s interesting how much fans have glommed onto her enough to create such interesting content out there, both painting her in sympathetic lights, and exploring the darker aspects of Changelings.
Not only that, but Chrysalis unique design lends itself to some really fantastic Cosplay.
All this makes it seems clear that the fans really do like Chrysalis as a character, but how does the show treat her? How effective was she as a villain? In Canterlot Wedding, her plan was actually pretty good, but of all the villains in the show her execution was the worst. Think of what she needed to do for her plan to succeed. She had to capture Cadence, take her place, and make the wedding go as planned so she can continue to surreptitiously drain Shining Armor until her Changeling children could break through his shield and take over Canterlot. Putting aside the fact that NO ONE noticed a swarm of Changelings pounding against the shield until two minutes before it broke, this plan had all the potential to work out and leave her victorious. She just made some really simple mistakes, such as ineffectively portraying Cadence, letting Twilight share Cadence’s prison, and leaving them in a place where the only thing preventing their escape was three brainwashed ponies. Not to mention the fact that she scoffs at the very thing that gave her the power to succeed in the first place.
It’s a bothersome aspect of the show that these villains tend to have pretty solid schemes, but never have much of a plan B in case a single aspect of their master strategy goes awry. Discord was able to use his abilities to manipulate the Mane 6 into succumbing to their worst fears and betraying their true selves. Are you telling me he didn’t bother to make sure that the only ones who could have stopped him didn’t make up? Did he really think that just giving them the elements was a good idea? Honestly, the character who had the least holes in his plan was Sombra, but that was because he had so little actually planned out It’s not like he could have done more to prevent Twilight and Spike from getting the Crystal Heart, or broken down Cadence’s shield any faster.
The reason why I feel that, despite her weak execution, she has the most potential is that she is by far the most sympathetic of the villains. This isn’t like Discord who wanted to just fuck around with ponies, or Nightmare Moon whose plan was pretty stupid. She has an entire colony to take care of. If she doesn’t succeed, where are her children gonna get the love they need to survive? In fact, this is probably the most fascinating thing about this character, and I feel it’s somewhat unintentional. If the creators do decide to bring her back to the show, there’s a really difficult question that needs to be answered. Does Celestia, or anyone else, feel that the Changelings have a right to exist? Unless they come up with another way to for Changelings to survive, there are only two outcomes of this conflict; enslavement of the ponies, or the death of a species.
It’s an interesting corner that the writers wrote themselves into. Maybe they never expected fans to care that much about the Changelings, but by leaving out some key details it’s hard to think of another outcome of the conflict. Celestia was willing to give Discord a second chance, but how would she be able to give them one? They are biologically designed to be parasites to all other living creatures, so letting them live can only pose a future threat. They can easily manipulate others and, like traditional Changelings, they could surreptitiously put themselves into seats of power. I don’t doubt that an easy solution can be pulled out of thin air (Tru Love, am I right?), but I’d rather have them either acknowledge the impossible scenario these two species are put into, or try and come up with an interesting solution for how they can coexist. Despite all that, I have a feeling she’ll reappear in the show at some point in a role similar to the one we saw in the comic arc. They aren’t going to go into the issues I’ve described, but it’ll still be fun to see her again. Because of this, reformation seems unlikely which I think is for the best since we need at least ONE villain who can reappear on a regular basis! Whatever they decide to do with her, there’ll always be a soft spot within the fandom for the best evil queen in Equestria.
Earth & Sky by Warren Hutch
I kind of hesitate using this here because it’s an amazing example of almost every character from MLP. It’s a story set about a decade into the future where Twilight, Rarity, and Applebloom develop a flying harness for non-pegasi ponies to fly with. Starting from that premise, it weaves a tale of adventure, discovery, friendship, perseverance, and love. Chrysalis’s role in it is pretty minor, and she doesn’t appear to much later in the story. Considering how long this story is though, we do get plenty of her (mostly opposite Blueblood) and every moment of it is perfectly realized. In this world, she’s been trampled by the Mane 6 several times over the last decade, so what we get is a broken down queen, doing whatever she can to get what she needs for her hive because there’s nothing else she can do. She’s been defeated so many times, and even though it’s taken a lot out of her, she still has a duty to her children and loves it when her plans come together. It’s truly an amazing story that one of the better examples of Chrysalis I’ve seen in a fan fic.
White On Black by TheSexyMenhir
Probably the most sympathetic version of Chrysalis I’ve read, yet still keeping her from being a helpless martyr. The story is about Chrysalis and Celestia getting married, and all the troubles this brings to the both of them. Chrysalis still remains her usual aloof self, but the circumstances that led to the two of them coming together shows us a truly powerful leader who does everything in her power for her people, and yet has so much suffering put upon her. This story asks the hard questions about the Changeling’s incompatibility with the rest of the world that I was talking about earlier. It balances the drama with genuine moments of levity and the craziness that the Mane 6 tends to find themselves in, but the darker aspects is what really make this story special and worth reading. Barring a terrible ending (haven’t finished it yet), I whole heartily recommend you read this if you’re looking for a great Chrysalis story.
This was a good one! Hopefully I’ll somehow make next week’s even better! Think I need my head examined? Only if you’re paying. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
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