What If Wednesday
28

Sorry for skipping “What If Wednesday” last week. I bit off more than I could chew by trying to finish the “Yin and Yang” post, chapter two of my fanfic, and this post around the same time. Hopefully, I can get back on track now.

Today’s “What If” question: “What if Specialists and Paladins could have advanced forms like fairies do?”

What do I mean by “advanced forms?” I don’t mean transformations, per se, but that depends on the class. Specialists and Paladins are different from each other — at least they’re supposed to be. Rainbow hasn’t clearly shown the difference between them, so their development could be a way to distinguish them from each other.

Specialists

Almost eight years ago (yes, it’s been that long), I wrote a post asking what in Magix Specialists are. Griffin calls them “wizards” in “A Friendship Sundered” (1X08), and the season two website called Codatorta a “magician.” Those terms don’t make sense because Specialists don’t have magic powers. (Helia does, but they probably run in the family.)

Specialists just seem to be all-purpose heroes. They fight monsters, save princesses, carry out secret missions, etc. We can guess Redfountain isn’t the only place that trains them, since in season five, Roy wore a different uniform designed for underwater missions.

Is that all there is to them? Maybe not. The word specialist means “a person highly skilled in a specific and restricted field.” In some Winx dubs, the Specialists are called Experts. Same idea.

The first time I remember hearing “Specialist” in this sense is in season six. In “A Monster Crush” (6X21), Tecna’s mother Magnethia asks Timmy what field he specializes in. Aisha says he’s “a pro at mechanic design, navigation, and all-around problem solving.” I’d add strategy to that list, too. He’s used all of those skills in missions over the years.

What about the other Specialists? Do they have specific skills other than fighting? I can’t think of any. Riven was good at picking locks, but he probably learned that growing up. (The season two website said he was “skilled as a thief.”) Maybe Timmy’s the special one. 😛

Thirteen years and seven seasons later, it’s still not clear what Specialists are. That doesn’t mean they’re worthless, though. The Magic Universe needs non-magic beings, too. Magic fails sometimes and isn’t appropriate for every situation. Plus, the Specialists have always known more about magic creatures and how to handle them.

What would an advanced Specialist form look like? Maybe we’ve seen it already. Since Sky’s squad got new outfits and weapons in season six, maybe they graduated. If so, what will their futures be like? How will they use what they’ve learned?

Paladins

Nex and Thoren may be new to the Boys Club, but Paladins aren’t new to the series. Rainbow first used the term “Paladin” in the original Winx season two. In “The Mysterious Stone” (2X07), when Avalon takes off his hood and reveals himself, Bloom, Stella, and Aisha yell, “It’s the Paladin who rescued us from the Trix!”

When they met Avalon in “Magic Bonding” (2X05), he was wearing armor and a pair of angel wings. Some fans think that Avalon was the impostor sent by Darkar. Here’s a question, though: how did those three know he was a Paladin? He didn’t tell them. They said it like it was common knowledge — or it was the first term that popped into their heads.

4Kids tried to expand on the concept of Paladins. In “Professor Avalon’s Secret” (2X09) — a.k.a. “The Angel of Doom” — Avalon says, “There are 10,000 Paladins with the same wings I have.” Yes, I know the 4Kids dub doesn’t count, but why couldn’t Rainbow keep this idea?

The word paladin means a “knightly or heroic champion.” That sounds like the Specialists, but here’s an interesting detail: it has a religious background. Medieval legends talk about an order of Paladins called The Twelve Peers who served Charlemagne, a devout Christian emperor of Rome. (I’m not condoning his actions; I’m just stating historical facts.)

Fantasy games like Dungeons & Dragons and World of Warcraft have adapted this by making Paladins “holy warriors.” They embody chivalry, purity, and light, and they have magic abilities like healing. That sounds like Avalon, doesn’t it? His wings radiated a powerful light, and he was able to restore the Winx’s energy.

No one would describe Nex and Thoren as “chivalrous” and “pure,” though. (Maybe Thoren, but not Nex.) That’s fine, though, because it means they have room for character development. I’d love to see them become holy warriors.

Rainbow could easily make Avalon’s winged form an advanced Paladin form. How would they earn it? A year at Light Rock Monastery? A character arc where they have to confront their inner darkness? Imagine the possibilities!

That’s it for today’s “What If Wednesday.” I’m not sure what I’ll talk about next time, but I have a list of topics already. Stay tuned.

What If Wednesday
81

I guess I shot myself in the foot by calling this What If Wednesday.” A lot of fans thought I meant, “What if [insert major event] didn’t happen?” or “What if So-and-So had been [insert different role] instead of…?” Nope. That’s not what this is about.

I’m not trying to make fodder for alternate universe fanfics (but you can use it if you want to). What I’m gonna talk about are things that can still logically happen in the show. Remember how I said this will be focused on the future, not the past? The “What if” isn’t, “What if this had happened instead?” It’s, “What if this happens in a future season?”

Just a warning: this will set us up for disappointment. It’s inevitable. The ideas we come up with may never happen; in fact, chances are they won’t.

But do we ever know what was gonna happen in a season? Guessing, theorizing, and wondering are part of the fun of watching a series. Even if the end result is different than we hoped, we don’t have to change things to make something out of it. New possibilities and new angles are still hiding in the story, waiting to be discovered.

Maybe this first post will clear things up. Why am I starting with Helia? I was talking about him with a friend on Instagram recently, and I realized he has a lot of loose ends in his back story. If Rainbow tied these up, he could become a more interesting — and more powerful — character.

What if…Helia followed his dream of becoming an artist?

A lot of fans were happy to see Bloom drawing again in World of Winx, but it’s been a long time since our other artist has picked up a sketchbook. Bet you never realized Bloom and Helia had that in common — or at least, you never thought of it as a shared talent. That’s not the only similarity between them. I get to that later.

In comics #35 and #36, “The Trial” and “New Challenges,” Helia leaves Redfountain — like he almost did in the show — and tries to sell paintings for a living. Of course, it doesn’t work out because the comics always reset everything back to how they are in the show. But it begs the question, “Could he have become a famous artist instead of a Specialist?”

But since season two, we’ve barely seen him draw at all. His only artistic talent seems to be making origami. (That started in season two, too.) Did he give it all up to become a Specialist again? Why did he have to do? He can be a Specialist and an artist, right?

Or can he? Would his love of art conflict with his job? After all, he can’t paint while he’s battling monsters, and Specialists have to be on call at all times. How would he handle it?

I’d love to see this internal conflict in him in a future season. Should he stick with what he’s been training for for years (and keeps him close to his girlfriend), or should he follow his dream? Which one is he better at? How would leaving Redfountain affect his relationship with Flora? Read the rest of this post

What If Wednesday
87

The fanbase is obsessed with Winx Club‘s past, but like I said last November, I don’t wanna keep reminiscing. I wanna look toward the future. I don’t care what happened or could have happened — I wanna focus on what could happen. That’s what “What If Wednesday” is about.

In this new feature, I’ll look at the potential in the show as it is now. I’ll talk about ideas that haven’t been explored; think of ways Rainbow could develop certain characters, concepts, etc.; and try to come up new interpretations of old topics. Like with Thursday Your Say, you can suggest things for me to talk about, if you want to.

What will I not talk about? Any of the dead horses the fanbase loves to beat. You know what I mean:

  • What if [insert super-popular character] comes back?
  • What if the Winx have to fight [insert super-popular villain(s)] again?
  • What if the Winx revert to [insert the most popular transformation]?

Those topics may sound like they’re about the future, but they’re really part of the fanbase’s pining for the past. I don’t treat any time in Winx Club‘s history as ideal or the status quo. The show doesn’t need to regress. Rainbow just needs to use what’s in it now as well as possible. My posts will have ideas for how they could do that.

The first post will be about my favorite Specialist: Helia. He’s Flora’s boyfriend, he’s handsome and romantic — and he could become more powerful than anyone realizes. Stay tuned!

Winx Club 525 - Helia

Episode Reviews
46

capture_013_04062016_161810_671

I keep wanting to call this episode “Back to the Middle Ages.” Don’t ask me why. It doesn’t make sense. 😕

Last episode, Miele saved the Winx from death by poison — at least it looked like they were gonna die — and Flora let her join them on their mission. Together, they restored the mutated forest to normal and freed the Magiwolves from the fungi traps. Now the Winx have a second Fairy Animal friend: Amarok. But he won’t obey Flora’s commands, and he and Squonk don’t like each other.

EPISODE BREAKDOWN

1. Against their boyfriends’ advice, Aisha and Flora try to force Squonk and Amarok to become friends. It doesn’t work. Nex gets angry and says Squonk shouldn’t be there anyway. When Aisha snaps at him for not welcoming the little guy, either, he calls him the “u” word: “ugly.” Cue tear shower. Helia and Nex get drenched, and Squonk laughs at their misery.

That excites Amarok, and he dashes through the dorm, knocking over glasses, books, and chairs everywhere he goes. Flora finally loses it and calls him a “bad Magiwolf.” Helia tries to tell her he was “just playing,” but she doesn’t care. She just gets mad at him, too! A few moments later, the other Winx come in to grab her and Aisha for a mission.

I’ve read other reviews of this episode. The response to Nex calling Squonk “ugly” was about what I expected. He’s so mean! He’s such a jerk! He deserved to be cried on for saying mean things! This proves he’s bad for Aisha! (Wait…what? Oh, please. :roll:)

No, I’m not gonna defend him. Was what he said mean? Yes. Did he deserve to get soaked? Yes. (I don’t think Helia did, but oh well.) Was it a problem for Aisha that he didn’t like Squonk? Of course it was, or she wouldn’t have brought it up.

Did this “prove” he’s not the right guy for her? Um, no. 😑 I think that’s another case of fans looking for any reason to say they shouldn’t be together. No matter how strong their bond was, her time with Squonk was temporary. Her relationship with Nex is gonna last longer — maybe much longer.

Let’s look at this scene from his point of view. He was right about one thing (well, two things, but I’m only gonna talk about one of them): Aisha and Flora shouldn’t have tried to force Squonk and Amarok to be friends. Quoting what he said at the beginning of the episode: “I think you just need to give it time.” A couple episodes later, the two animals had already grown closer. They warmed up to each other on their own, without the Winx’s interference.

capture_012_04022016_215557_310

But something hit me as I was writing this review: Aisha was trying to force Nex to like Squonk, too! It doesn’t matter if he’s her boyfriend. Yes, I’m sure it hurt for the guy closest to her to hate her new pet, too. But even though she and Nex are alike, they aren’t the same person. He didn’t have the same connection to Squonk.

If anything, he should have kept his feelings to himself. But Aisha was still rushing things — as she’s been known to do — instead of letting them happen gradually. Nex warmed up to Squonk without her help in “Winx Trapped!” (7X10). (It’s funny how no one talks about that episode, even though it showed us a new side of his personality.)

Flora was rushing things, too. Not only was she trying to force Amarok to like Squonk, but she was also trying to force him to act tame. He was a wild animal! She just took him out of the forest! What did she expect?

She was right to be mad when he tore the dorm apart, but Helia was also right to try and calm her down. Of course, he was more polite than Nex was. He’s more mild-mannered, after all. But the result was the same: glares from an angry girlfriend.

capture_031_04022016_220152_308

If you ask me, the facade of Flora and Helia being the “perfect” couple is falling apart. Their relationship’s going nowhere! They’ve been together almost as long as the other couples (except Aisha and Nex, of course). Yet they’re not engaged, we rarely see them date, and they haven’t met each other’s parents (though to be fair, we just met Flora’s parents).

That’s why I don’t mind seeing them fight if it develops their relationship. But this felt as pointless as their plant care “fight” in season six. If you pretend Amarok’s their son, you could say they disagreed on how to discipline him, but that’s stretching it a little. I want them to fight about something important, something that makes them question if they really belong together.

No, I don’t think the love triangle in season five counts. That was silly. Flora should have known better than to think a random girl from his past was gonna steal him away. But if anything, it proved they still need to work on communication and trust.

I’ve got more to say about Flora, but I’ll save it for another post. It’s about how she acted overall this season and how the fanbase felt about it. I think it’s not just about her.

capture_010_04062016_161606_591

2. Roxy sends the Winx to Earth in the Middle Ages to find the Quillcat, a Fairy Animal with magic fur. When they arrive, they see its image on a wanted poster. Suddenly the fugitive feline appears, being chased by three (very stupid) guards. The girls transform and follow them.

Turns out the cat’s good at protecting itself, but the Winx still cast a few spells to help her out. Unfortunately, this puts them on the wanted list, too. The guards have orders to capture all users of magic! The girls scare them away (peacefully, of course), but while everyone’s distracted, the Quillcat escapes!

I don’t have much to say about this part. Nothing stood out to me, good or bad. I could complain about how dumb the guards were, but stupid guards are such a cliché, it’s not worth talking about.

There’s one thing I loved, though: the guards being scared of magic, even something as harmless as Flora turning their spears into trees. Wherever the Winx go, their sparkly wings and mind-blowing powers earn them hundreds of admirers. Not here. Here, people fear them.

I wish Rainbow had taken this further. What if the guards had branded them “witches?” (One of them called their magic “witchcraft.”) Imagine the Winx having to explain the difference between dark magic and fairy magic. Would the people have believed them?

Instead, the Winx just stopped using magic — at least around a lot of people. Oh, well.
Read the rest of this post

Musings & Rants
18

IMG_4856
Nex is not “the new Riven.” Got it? Good. 😛

Why did I write that post before this one? I mentioned why at the beginning of it. Whenever Nex says or does anything, the first thing people say, “He’s ‘the new Riven'” or, “He replaced Riven” or, “He’s just Riven except —,” or something like that. The fanbase keeps trying to force Nex into a role he wasn’t created for.

We’ll never understand his character until we stop comparing him to Riven. The truth is we still don’t know him well. He’s only been around for two seasons.

Here’s what I’ve been hinting at since the ep. 7X04 review. In season six, Rainbow began his love story with Aisha. This season, they focused on his relationships with the Specialists. In most of the episodes he was in, he interacted with one or two of them at a time:

  • “First Color of the Universe” (7X04) — Brandon, brief moment with Helia
  • “Back in the Middle Ages” (7X08) — Helia
  • “Winx Trapped!” (7X10) — Timmy
  • “Mission in the Jungle” (7X11) — Sky
  • “Back to Paradise Bay” (7X16) — Sky, brief moment with Brandon
  • “Lost in a Droplet” (7X17) — Timmy
  • “Baby Winx” (7X20) — Helia
  • “New Magic Harmony” (7X25) — Helia, Sky
  • “The Power of the Fairy Animals” (7X26) — Timmy, brief moment with Helia

The types of interactions varied. Sometimes he talked to them, sometimes he raced them, and sometimes he just exchanged glances with them. You could always tell who the chosen guy was for each episode. He and Nex would be isolated from the others, or Nex would be beside him in almost every scene. For example, in “Baby Winx” (7X20), he was almost always next to Helia:

This is nothing new for TV. For example, when Zuko joined the Gaang in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang, Katara, and Sokka each got an episode (or two) alone with him. When it was Toph’s turn, she lampshaded what the writers were up to: “Everyone else went on a life-changing field trip with Zuko.” (It didn’t work out for her, though. 😛 )

The guys’ moments with Nex didn’t change their lives, but they did reveal his real role in the Boys Club. (Hint: it has nothing to do with Riven.)

Read the rest of this post