Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Series 19: Best Engine Ever

Here are my thoughts on the penultimate episode of Start Your Engines!, Best Engine Ever!

You know those episodes that a show produces that are basically a direct response to critics? Well, I see this one as a direct response to those who say the show is "sexist". These episodes usually end up being terribly misguided, leading to an extremely flawed argument from producers and writers who either can't, or refuse to, see where the complaints are coming from (see several episodes from Teen Titans Go!). This one, however?

I love it. It's an episode that actually feels like a natural story rather than one that's trying to stick it to the critics who say the show is "sexist". It's also an excellent way to display how great Thomas' female cast, for its size, truly is. I've always believed in quality over quantity when it comes to female characters being featured in shows aimed at boys and men - and vice versa - and this is a prime example as to why.

But forget all of that, this is the biggest talking point: Streamlined Emily. I really don't care about it. If anything, I really like it. Yeah, she does look weird, especially since her face sticks out that far, but it's a great way to show how much her insecurities are getting to her and how much she really wants to be like Caitlin, unlike in an episode like Dream On which sees Thomas literally trying to be like Spencer step by step.

Moving on, the tension when they run down the hill at Ulfstead is fantastic. I'm glad that the animators have realised that they don't need to lean the characters to get as much suspense from the scene as possible; the right reactions and camera angles work perfectly well, too. The tension does drop slightly when they reach the grassy area, but that's really a nitpick.

One quote I picked up on was James saying he was going to Arlesburgh. Considering this was set before Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure (apparently), and he was seen at the construction yard in one shot, could this quote have been foreshadowing it?

Also, as random as Marion's appearance was (and it really was), I still really liked it. Her speech was really uplifting, even though it did little to lift Emily's mood.

The only real issue the episode has is that Connor's appearance is rather pointless. It's only really there to appease the racing theme of the DVD and this year, which is a shame.

Fan Reaction

Final Thoughts
The moral's been done, but it's still really relevant. The characters are fantastic, there's quite a bit of tension and there's a ton of heart. It's, for me, near perfect. If Connor had been cut and they'd have just focused on Caitlin's speed and streamlining rather than racing, I think it would've been Andrew's best episode. Which is funny considering it comes after his worst..!

Episode Ratings

Series Rating (so far)

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