Season 1, Episodes 25-26
I’m warning you right now: my review of The Best Night Ever is gigantic. It’s my longest episode review yet! My review of Party of One, on the other hand, is fairly short.
Season 1 Episode 25: Party of One
In five words: Pinkie undergoes infamous mental breakdown.
Premise: The day after a birthday celebration for her pet alligator Gummy, Pinkie Pie notices something fishy about her friends and suspects that they don’t like her parties anymore. She doesn’t take this well, to say the least.
This musical sequence is the first time we see Rainbow Dash’s residence, but it’s only the outside.
This episode begins with a musical number where Pinkie Pie visits each of her friends’ houses, giving a singing telegram about Gummy’s upcoming birthday. I love everything about this musical number—Pinkie Pie’s increasingly ridiculous outfits, the scene transitions with Gummy in various poses, her friends’ confused reactions, the song gradually slowing as Pinkie gets tired, and the hot air balloon she rides to visit Rainbow Dash’s place. Not to mention the implication that she sang the song in its entirety to each of her friends individually, leading each of them to have the exact same reaction. The whole thing is so fun and silly, so Pinkie Pie.
After the theme song, Gummy’s birthday party is held with the right amount of humor to be typical for this show while still making it clear that the ponies are all grateful to have Pinkie Pie as a friend.
I love how Twilight Sparkle’s eyes move up and down alongside Pinkie’s bouncing.
The next day, Pinkie Pie comes to each of her friends’ houses and invites them to Gummy’s after-birthday party. They all make up excuses for why they can’t come, and Applejack is the most blatantly lying, which makes a lot of sense. Of course the element of honesty would be bad at lying—only someone as gullible as Pinkie Pie would fall for it! Applejack is often criticized in season 1 for not always being true to her element of harmony, but I think that’s a little silly because on the occasions she does lie, she’s struggling to do so because it’s against her nature.
When Pinkie Pie encounters Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, the two improvise and fabricate a story about how they need to house-sit for a bear named Harry who lives in a cave that feels like a house and is going on a trip to the beach. I love the way the two pegasi make up a story on the spot. Unlike the rest of their friends, these two decided to embrace the spirit of teamwork and come up with something together. They have conflicting ideas for what the bear is doing at the beach, but other than that their excuse goes relatively smoothly.
Not shown: Gummy riding a ball of yarn.
Pinkie Pie starts to suspect her friends are lying, so she spies on them and gets some rather upsetting implications.
Twilight Sparkle: Is Pinkie Pie around?
Mrs. Cake: Oh, I don’t think so!
Twilight Sparkle: Good. I don’t want her to know anything about this.
Mrs. Cake: Yes, of course! I’ll be right back.
Pinkie Pie: (from upstairs) But… we’re friends! What wouldn’t Twilight want me to know anything about?
We all know how much Pinkie Pie loves surprising her friends, so it may be unexpected that she doesn’t think her friends might want to surprise her. Her interpretation of this situation borders on hypocritical because of her penchant for surprises, but hypocrisy is a real thing that happens to real people, so I can see why she’s thinking this.
As Pinkie Pie gathers more information from her friends about their excuses for not attending her party, the scene is scored with lots of haunting jazz music that sounds like it came straight from a spy movie, which I very much appreciate. Music scoring is a powerful tool in animation; you can’t just look at the image above and get a tense, mysterious feel from the music, let alone experience the humorous juxtaposition between the serious music and the ridiculous disguise Pinkie Pie is wearing.
Pinkie Pie then interviews Spike, treating him as a witness who she must press for any and all useful information, again humorously parodying spy movies. Spike has no idea what he’s doing here and casually talks about the weather and then about his friends. When Pinkie Pie tells him to confess, he confesses various embarrassing secrets but none with any relation to the party. How bold of Pinkie Pie to assume that Spike would have any knowledge about his friends’ secret scheme. He’s remained uninvolved in the whole thing, but Pinkie is just that committed to following the typical progression of spy movies.
Spike: What do you want to hear? Tell me what you want me to say and I’ll say it!
Pinkie Pie: Tell me that my friends are all lying to me and avoiding me because they don’t like my parties and they DON’T WANT TO BE MY FRIENDS ANYMORE!!! (pants)
Spike: Your friends are all lying to you and avoiding you ’cause they don’t like your parties and they don’t want to be your friends anymore!
Pinkie Pie: A-HA! I knew it!!!
(her mane deflates)
Pinkie Pie has now gone off the deep end, and let’s take a moment to discuss just how incredibly literal-minded she is. She always interprets the absolute most literal meaning of others’ words, and as such, hearing someone else (in this case Spike) say what she’s worried is the case, even if it was directly prompted from her, is all that’s needed to drive her headfirst into mental breakdown territory. The gloomy version of Pinkie Pie with a straight mane is commonly referred to by fans as “Pinkamena”, which I find a little weird. Pinkamena is nothing more than Pinkie Pie’s unabridged first name, which her mother referred to her by in The Cutie Mark Chronicles, yet fans have permanently attached that name to something far more sinister. Pinkie’s mane deflating is humorous, but immediately after that, she becomes downright horrific, established by her gloomily pushing the plate full of gems towards Spike.
The background in this shot almost looks like blood.
Pinkie Pie throws Gummy’s after-birthday party with inanimate objects as guests. She gives voices, names, and personalities to each of the objects, and makes abrupt jerky movements with freaky facial expressions. She then descends to nightmare imagination land where she perceives the objects to be speaking on their own, and eventually the objects convince Pinkie Pie to permanently cut ties with the ponies she once knew as friends. Some viewers might find this scene hilarious, but I find it genuinely terrifying. Not the kind of terrifying that gives you shivers, but the kind of terrifying where your jaw hangs wide open and you can’t say a word. It’s probably helped by the extremely dissonant music scoring the scene.
Much like how Rainbow Dash got Rarity out of her days-long meltdown in Suited for Success, here she’s faced with the task of getting Pinkie Pie, who her friends are no doubt very concerned about. It’s a fitting choice for Rainbow Dash to be the one who witnesses Pinkie Pie’s mental breakdown firsthand, because if Rainbow Dash of all ponies finds something scary, that’s how you know it’s downright terrifying. Fluttershy would have squeaked and then been all like, “oh goodness, this is, erm… interesting. Not what I expected exactly, but I’m sure there’s a good reason for you to be playing with all these… inanimate objects? Oh, and I, uh… really like your new hairstyle, it’s… nice. I’ll just… get going now, if that’s OK with you.” And Pinkie Pie would have been stuck playing with rocks and turnip buckets forever.
All the ponies are wearing party hats designed like their cutie marks. I’m guessing those hats are Rarity’s doing.
Rainbow Dash drags Pinkie Pie into Sweet Apple Acres, and Pinkie thinks the other ponies are hosting a farewell party for their former friend… at least until Twilight Sparkle shows her her birthday cake. Pinkie Pie finally goes back to normal upon this revelation and realizes she forgot her own birthday. Turns out the surprise birthday party worked a little too well, but Pinkie going back to normal is cathartic no less. Twilight Sparkle remarks that this horrific misunderstanding could have happened to any of them, which perhaps relates to how all of the Mane 6 ponies have gone through mental breakdowns at one point or another.
Rainbow Dash: I’m just glad I haven’t been replaced by a bucket of turnips.
Twilight Sparkle: Huh?
Rainbow Dash: You don’t want to know.
Rainbow Dash may be mischievous, but she has the courtesy not to go into detail about something that she knows is legitimately unsettling. She would rather not share the horrific experience with her friends, or perhaps she just thinks it’s cool for only her to know about it.
Twilight Sparkle narrates the episode’s moral about expecting the best from your friends, which is a logical moral conveyed through an extreme case, as the show tends to do. With that, the episode ends.
This episode is… well, let’s just say it’s a trip. First it’s happy fun times, then it’s a bunch of weird excuses, then it’s a spy movie, then it’s a horror movie, and it ends as happy fun times. It’s certainly not an episode that viewers are likely to forget, which is absolutely a good thing! It’s also worth noting that Pinkie Pie’s mental breakdown has inspired many gruesome fanfictions, but you probably already know this.
This grade doesn’t need much explanation. It’s an incredibly memorable episode rife with humor and horror alike, but nowhere near as memorable as the one that follows.
- During Pinkie’s sequence of after-birthday party invitations, Rarity gives a lengthy description of how bad Spike smells that ends with “dragon perspiration”, which leaves Spike enamored. My guess is that he doesn’t know what perspiration is—for all he knows, it’s a fancy word Rarity made up.
- Since I did a tiny bit of writing Fluttershy in this review, I might as well explain to you how to write Fluttershy. Say “oh goodness” and “oh dear” a lot, regularly apologize, be all-around extremely polite, and boom, instant Fluttershy. It’s not that hard.
Are you ready for me to review the season 1 finale??? I know I am, so let’s dive right in.
Season 1 Episode 26: The Best Night Ever
In five words: Gala occurs, beautifully subverting expectations.
Premise: The Mane 6 ponies finally attend the Grand Galloping Gala that they’ve been so excited about, but it doesn’t go quite as well as they hoped.
Imagine thinking trampolines aren’t one of the most delightful things in existence.
Couldn’t be me!
This episode starts with Pinkie Pie bouncing on a trampoline, talking about how insanely excited she is for the Grand Galloping Gala. It’s a good way to open the episode, humorously showing that we’re going to see the conclusion of season 1’s overarching storyline—I’m referring to the gala, of course.
The rest of the ponies gather around, and Twilight Sparkle uses magic spells first to turn an apple into an apple-shaped carriage, then some mice Fluttershy provided into horses to pull the carriage (which will turn back into mice at midnight). This is one of many references to old fairy tales and Disney movies* in this episode, in this case Cinderella. Most of those references are subverted in this episode, and the mice horses are a good example. Since the horses retain mouse attributes, Opalescence hisses and chases the mice-horses away, leaving the horse spell completely useless. The horses running away before they can be of any use beautifully sets the stage for this episode’s theme: subverting all the common tropes you see in old fairy tales. And that’s only a minute into the episode, before the gala even happens!
I firmly believe that it’s a good thing for media to be inspired by other media—not just a neutral or inevitable thing, but something that’s highly beneficial if done right. You can take what works in an existing work of media and put your own spin on it or even subvert it entirely, which this episode is all about doing. You could argue that no art is 100% original, but that’s a whole different tangent I’d rather not get into.
* Or in most cases, old fairy tales that are now best known as Disney movies. Disney loves adapting old media while refusing to let others do the same to their media.
Rarity at first says “whatever shall we do?” with a stereotypical damsel in distress gesture, but then sweet-talks two stallions into pulling the carriage instead. This is the same subversion of ladylike gender role stereotypes that we saw her do in A Dog and Pony Show, and it’s far from the last subversion of gender roles in this episode. The intro of the episode (everything before the theme song) already had a lot to unpack, but we’re just getting started! Are you ready for my most in-depth analysis of a MLP episode to date? You better be.
Spike: Come on, you guys. Let me in!
Rainbow Dash: Sure thing, Spike!
Rarity: Heavens, no. We’re getting dressed!
Applejack: Dressed? Uh, beg pardon, Rarity, but, uh… we don’t normally wear clothes.
This exchange indicates that Rarity has human Disney princess archetypes ingrained in her mind, lightly touching the fourth wall in the process. Rarity has eagerly signed herself up to be a sweet and innocent prospective princess who can do no wrong, indicated in part by her forgetting that she doesn’t normally wear clothes. This mindset is going to smack her in the face when she meets her fabled prince.
Spike is then let into the room. He expresses an excitement of his own for the gala, which he didn’t do in The Ticket Master: having a good time with friends in his and Twilight Sparkle’s hometown. The ponies say they’re going to be busy with their own matters, but Twilight promises they will have some time together. This nearly the pattern of the seven main cast members each having an excitement for the gala. Spike’s excitement is the simplest but perhaps the most heartfelt, and we’re going to learn Twilight’s excitement a little later.
Worth noting that on the ride, Spike mentions a Chekhov’s donut shop.
(I love that you can expand on the term “Chekhov’s gun” and attach that Russian author’s name to basically anything.)
On the way to the gala, Spike sits outside the carriage eagerly eyeing Canterlot, and the ponies are inside chatting about what all they’re excited about until they arrive, all sporting their gala dresses from Suited for Success, and Spike wearing a little suit. The dresses each complement the ponies’ personalities as the six main characters of this supposed fairy tale, and Spike’s suit indicates he’s their archetypical sidekick of a different species. Rarity is even wearing a glass slipper, which we get an emphasized shot of before the ponies leave the carriage in full view. Could the Cinderella references get any more obvious?
The background ponies at the gala aren’t your usual background ponies. They’re all dressed and stylized fancy for the occasion, and most of them are clearly Canterlot residents.
One by one, the Mane 6 ponies sing a song called “At the Gala” about each of their aspirations and fantasies. The song starts off orchestral, with Fluttershy and Applejack going first, then Rarity with a more romantic-sounding section. In Rainbow Dash’s section, the song switches to more energetic rock music, playing with the episode’s princess movie styling without subverting it entirely. The style switches to a semi-orchestral style that’s commonplace in MLP songs in Pinkie Pie’s section, with orchestral instruments mixed with drums and subtle synths.
This is Twilight Sparkle’s fantasy, just to be clear.
Finally, the song returns to orchestration with a key change in Twilight Sparkle’s section, where we learn what she’s excited for at the gala: quality time to catch up with Princess Celestia.
Twilight Sparkle: ♫ At the gala, with the princess, is where I’m going to be ♫
♪ We will talk all about magic and what I’ve learned and seen ♪
♫ It is going to be so special, and she takes time just for me ♫
Although Twilight Sparkle typically doesn’t think of herself as important, her fantasy here is extremely self-important. She just assumes she will get to spend time with the ruler of Equestria and no one else, just because she’s a longtime student of Celestia’s. She doesn’t stop to consider what other obligations Celestia might have. All the Mane 6’s fantasies are incredibly self-absorbed; only Spike thought to account for the interests of others in his fantasy, when he suggested during the carriage ride to take his friends to specific places in Canterlot that he thinks they will like.
The musical number ends with the ponies quickly recapping what they’re excited for, followed by fireworks surrounding the Canterlot castle, which ends the episode’s first act. This shot is highly reminiscent the intro logo found in Disney movies, cementing that this episode is going to be a subversion of those movies.
Spike: YEAH! This IS gonna be the best night ever. You know why? ‘Cause we’re all gonna spend time at the gala, to—
(Mane 6 storm off all at once, Spike gets dizzy)
Spike: —gether. … or not.
I feel so bad for Spike in this scene. His excitement was hastily thought out, but he clearly loves spending time with his pony friends and was just as excited for the gala as they were. Perhaps he thought he was going to play the typical role of a goofy talking animal sidekick, accompanying the ponies on their adventures, but the poor guy is just left behind instead.
The sun and moon design in the castle perhaps suggests that the castle predates Luna’s banishment a thousand years ago.
Twilight Sparkle: Princess Celestia!
Celestia: Twilight! It is so lovely to see my star student.
Twilight Sparkle: Oh, I’m so excited to be here! We have so much to catch up on.
Celestia: Well, I want you right by my side the entire evening, so we’ll have plenty of time together.
Twilight Sparkle: That’s just what I was hoping you’d say.
Just like all the other ponies’ excitements, Twilight Sparkle’s starts off on a promising note. It seems to her that Celestia does indeed want her full attention during the gala, which she perhaps was slightly worried wouldn’t be the case. It’s just that Twilight doesn’t know why Celestia wants her by her side, nor does she care to know why—not yet, anyway.
Rarity and Fluttershy’s fantasies get off to strong starts, with a handsome prince and the pleasant sound of a bird whistling (or so Fluttershy thinks) respectively, and then comes Applejack’s turn. She kicks her portable apple booth open, contrasting against the gentle mannerisms of the gala’s attendees, which is an early sign that she won’t catch their attention much. But she does get the attention of Soarin’, a member of the Wonderbolts who eagerly purchases one of her big apple pies. This lucky stroke leads her to think she’s going to make tons of profit, but she doesn’t know that there merely happens to be a singular member of the Wonderbolts who eagerly loves pie.
Speaking of the Wonderbolts…
Spitfire’s voice here is nowhere near as brash as it is in later episodes, nor is her general personality.
Even the end of season 1 has its early installment weirdness.
Rainbow Dash swoops into the VIP booth just in time to save Soarin’s apple pie and is invited to hang out with the Wonderbolts, seemingly as a reward. Saving a pie is a very minor feat compared to what Rainbow Dash did in the episode Sonic Rainboom, and it’s not quite the intrusion into the Wonderbolts’ flight show that she expected to do, but she’s extremely excited to hang out with the Wonderbolts anyway. This suggests that the ponies’ fantasies will only go slightly worse than they expected, but they’re very wrong.
And finally, Pinkie Pie exploring the gala brings us the debut of fan favorite musician pony Octavia Melody, who eventually gets a few more background appearances until she becomes voiced in season 5. Octavia’s bandmates aren’t as lucky though. If you don’t mind me diverting into music talk for a moment, I can’t decide if Octavia’s instrument is a cello or a double bass (which is NOT the same thing as a cello). The position of the tuning pegs and size relative to the player suggest it’s a double bass, but the instrument’s shape and tone of the music suggest it’s a cello. It’s also weird that Octavia’s cutie mark is a treble clef when cellos use the bass clef—did she have a stint playing violin before she switched to cello? I’m asking REAL questions here.
“It’s all I ever… dreamed?”
Oh yeah, Pinkie Pie’s gala scene is also when it dawns on her (and the rest of the Mane 6) that things won’t go as well as expected. Unlike the other ponies, it’s immediately clear to Pinkie that the gala is nothing like what she thought it would be.
Now that we’ve established that the gala isn’t going well after all, it’s time to check on Rarity. Prince Blueblood gives us a proper character establishing moment: he picks a rose from a bush, but instead of giving it to Rarity, he attaches it to his own suit. I find Prince Blueblood to be hilariously backwards, but it’s also clear that his character was intended to teach female viewers a message about love that isn’t absurdly idealized like all those princess movies are. Specifically, his character conveys that finding love is about far more than just meeting someone who looks attractive. But putting that aside, I find it side-splitting for an archetypical “prince charming” to do everything in reverse. And yet, you can’t help but feel awful for Rarity. She doesn’t deserve any of this treatment!
Meanwhile from Fluttershy’s perspective, the whistling bird she heard wasn’t a bird at all but rather a gardening pony who loves to whistle while he works. Like the previous scene with Prince Blueblood, this scene is a hilarious fakeout that simultaneously makes you feel bad for the pony in question. Fluttershy goes further and sees a bunch of animals that she recognizes, but they all run away in fear, raising negative implications about how well the residents of Canterlot take care of animals. The animals running away also makes you feel bad for Fluttershy because it’s right after she makes it clear she knows everything about animals… or at least, she thought she did.
Rainbow Dash gets lost in a crowd and struggles to be heard when trying to start conversation with the Wonderbolts. Even the viewer can’t quite make out what she’s saying due to all the chatter, which perfectly shows how overwhelmed Rainbow Dash is in this gigantic crowd. She clearly isn’t used to such boisterous crowds, much unlike the Wonderbolts who regularly attend the gala and know how to keep their cool in crowds.
As for Twilight Sparkle, it quickly dawns on her that she won’t get to converse with Celestia like she hoped because Celestia has to stand in place and greet the gala’s many attendees. What’s interesting is that Twilight didn’t need to stay by Celestia’s side. She could have asked to leave and checked up on one of her friends, perhaps taken some time to cheer them up, especially the lonely and shafted Spike! But she remains standing by Celestia’s side instead, which says a lot about how faithful of a student she is.
After her first sale, Applejack doesn’t make any more and just sits at her booth in disappointment. It’s probably sunk into her that her apple product stand is out of place in the Grand Galloping Gala, which serves plenty of fancy food already, far removed from the food Applejack is familiar with. She remarks that the gala isn’t going how she expected it to at all, which leads to a sequence of the other Mane 6 ponies each remarking the same. The sequence is set to music that isn’t quite what I’d call dissonant, but still sounds very uneasy because it flits between keys through strange variants of common negative-sounding chord progressions. If you don’t know what any of that means, then don’t worry. I just geek out very easily when it comes to analyzing music.
A speech is split between the Mane 6 ponies about how they won’t let the gala that they looked so forward to slip by, leading them all to simultaneously drop the episode’s title. This ends the second act and prepares us to watch the ponies redeem this night… or at least try to.
Hilarity ensues when Fluttershy starts setting up traps for the animals. I can’t decide what’s funnier: Prince Blueblood doing everything backwards or Fluttershy’s desperate attempts to catch animals. Probably Fluttershy’s desperate attempts, because that’s so absurdly unlike her!!! She’s just so used to animals being kind and open to her that she throws away her usual sweet and soft-spoken personality when animals aren’t like that. She very poorly tries to sound as sweet as she usually does when talking to the animals, then sets off the trap when she hears the carrot being munched, only for it to turn out to be the same gardening pony whose whistling she mistook for a bird, much to her annoyance. Even her traps aren’t working out! Probably because Fluttershy would normally never even think of resorting to traps.
Rainbow Dash similarly attempts deception to achieve her dreams. She knocks one of the gala’s attendees over and sends him flying, spilling water in the process, and then “rescues” him in a fruitless attempt to get the Wonderbolts’ attention. This action is far less out of character than Fluttershy’s traps are, showing that Fluttershy was driven the craziest of all by the gala. Normally I’d feel bad for Fluttershy in such a situation, but evil Fluttershy is so hilarious that I can’t help but crack up.
The very same puddle of water that Rainbow Dash created causes first a moment of hope, then even more frustration on Rarity’s side. The Mane 6’s endeavors are no longer screwing up on their own, but rather add on to each other so that they screw up even harder.
Rarity: Just give him a chance, Rarity. His princely side is sure to come out if you’re just patient!
Prince Blueblood: Miss Rarity, stop!
Rarity: Oh! Prince Blueblood, how chivalrous.
Prince Blueblood: One would hate to slip.
Rarity: Yes, one certainly would. (snickers)
Prince Blueblood: One’s cloak should take care of the problem.
Rarity: Oh, of course it will.
(Blueblood covers the puddle with Rarity’s cloak, shown above)
Blueblood unknowingly takes advantage of an ambiguity offered by his formal, pseudo-princely language and does something that is messed up in more ways than one: he grabs his “love interest’s” cloak and uses it to cover a puddle that they could have easily walked around. There isn’t some villain getting in the way of the “damsel” and the “charming prince”—the villain IS the “charming prince”. Not a villain exactly, but still someone who’s obliviously rude in all the worst ways.
In an attempt to liven things up some, Pinkie Pie whispers in the musician ponies’ ears and gets them to liven things up a bit by performing a parody of the Hokey Pokey song called Pony Pokey, which she sings. The song’s lyrics are cleverly synced to her friends struggling to achieve even a fraction of their dreams while making body gestures, bringing about quite a bit of humor without making you feel any less bad for the Mane 6.
Everyone remembers Fluttershy’s mental breakdown in this episode, but no one talks about how Applejack also loses her cool and takes foolishly desperate measures to get guests’ attention. She knocks some apples over and makes a guest trip on them, hoping that will make him notice the stand and want to buy her apple products. The stand already got no attention, but getting deliberately tripped by the stand’s owner just makes you think the owner is a total buffoon. And who would want to buy food from a total buffoon?
“Evil Fluttershy” is USUALLY an oxymoron.
(I do not like doing italic emphasis in italic text by un-italicizing it. It looks so weird.)
The best part of the Pony Pokey song is near the end, where an irritated Fluttershy struggles to befriend the animals as she becomes more and more aggressive. There’s just something hilarious about Fluttershy losing her sanity set to a childish dance song. Probably because Fluttershy losing her sanity is hilarious already and setting it to goofy music makes it even funnier. The musical number ends with Pinkie Pie dancing in oblivious joy. She interprets an attendee’s aggravated response to mean that she simply needs to party even harder.
Another awkward situation occurs when Rarity and Prince Blueblood stop to buy some of Applejack’s food. After Rarity and the prince clear their throats in alternation, this exchange occurs:
Rarity: (sighs) I’m going to have to pay, aren’t I.
Applejack: It’s OK, Rarity. I got you covered.
Rarity: Thank you, Applejack! At least somepony here has good manners.
If you think back to Rarity and Applejack’s arguing that took up most of the episode Look Before You Sleep, this line shows that Rarity’s character has developed since then. Even in season 1, we’re already getting character development, something that occurs more the further seasons progress. Similarly, it’s rather nice of Applejack to let Rarity have two fritters for free. She can tell things aren’t going well with the prince and thus lightens things up by providing a free treat.
When Prince Blueblood takes a bite of the fritter, he is disgusted and goes to the buffet for some hors d’oeuvres, which he doesn’t even pronounce the proper French way like Rarity would. Applejack realizes that her food simply isn’t fancy enough for the gala and resolves to dress up her food a bit so she can finally make some money.
I have no words.
(Just kidding, I have lots of words.)
Fluttershy’s eye twitches as she gloats about finally getting to catch an animal, having just set up another trap. She descends into full-out evil laughter complete with dramatic lightning effects! Normally Fluttershy would be on the absolute bottom of the list of characters who one would expect to play a stereotypical villainous role in this Disney princess movie subversion episode, but Fluttershy ends up playing exactly that role… well, at least until she gets caught in her own trap, after which she doesn’t look frustrated that her plans flopped, just mildly confused like regular old Fluttershy. I think this evil Fluttershy scene is the funniest part of the entire episode.
Note that the musician ponies have stopped playing their instruments to watch Pinkie Pie in confused shock.
I wonder if Prince Blueblood even knows that he can use magic? He probably just thinks his horn is there to look charming.
Having brought turntables seemingly out of nowhere, Pinkie Pie makes a complete fool of herself at the gala, finally convinced things are going like she hoped. But then, a chain reaction of trouble occurs: Applejack comes in presenting an apple cake to better appeal to the fancy guests, and Pinkie Pie does a stage dive and tips over the cake right when Rarity and Prince Blueblood enter the scene. Instead of running away, Prince Blueblood uses Rarity to shield himself from the cake, which stops the dance music and drives Rarity over the edge.
Rarity gives Prince Blueblood a piece of her mind (and of his own medicine) with this speech:
Rarity: You, sir, are the most un-charming prince I have EVER MET! In fact, the only thing royal about you is that you are a ROYAL PAIN!
Prince Blueblood: Ew! Uh, stay back! I just had myself groomed!
Rarity: Afraid to get DIRTY??? (splashes cake all over Blueblood)
Do you ever meet someone who seems like a cool person you have a lot in common with at a glance, but eventually you come to realize how grateful you are to not be like that person? That’s how Rarity now feels about Prince Blueblood. Blueblood reveals that he puts extreme stock into maintaining his mane like Rarity, but Rarity has all the decency, courtesy, and selflessness that Blueblood doesn’t even have a trace of. His face in the image above shows that he has no idea what he did wrong, and he’s paying the ultimate price.
I find Rainbow Dash more relatable than I’m comfortable admitting.
Not because she’s a fictional horse, but because she does all the absolute most embarrassing things!
And the chain reaction continues from here. Prince Blueblood falls backwards and nearly topples the pony statue in the center, until Rainbow Dash’s hubris gets the best of her and she tries to save the statue from falling only to clumsily handle it and cause all the pillars to collapse like dominoes. She’s forgotten that physical prowess isn’t her strong suit, which shows how carried away she’s gotten with trying to do something awesome.
Unlike the rest of her friends, Twilight Sparkle remains uninvolved in all the destruction (unless you could her saying the tempting words “it can’t get any worse”). She just patiently stood by Celestia the whole time, which perfectly shows that she’s a faithful student. It’s quite poignant, really. She didn’t even get much screen time in this episode compared to all her friends! Well, except for Spike, who got even less screen time.
“You’re going to LOVE ME!!!”
And so, Fluttershy completes the chain reaction by causing a rampage of terrified animals, scaring everyone out of the gala. Her contribution to the destruction wasn’t caused by fumbling around in fear like one might expect, but making all the animals fumble around in fear! Twilight Sparkle makes a few awkward noises, perhaps worried that Celestia will punish her for letting all her friends go off the deep end, but Celestia simply says, “run”.
Pinkie Pie: Ooh! Rarity, your glass slipper! Now your prince is sure to find you!
Rarity: AAH! NO! (smashes slipper) Let’s go!
How’s THAT for a subverted Cinderella reference??? Rarity loses her glass slipper, but instead of it remaining as a sign for the prince to find her, the eternally oblivious Pinkie Pie points it out, leading Rarity to break the slipper so she never has to see that awful prince again. This right here is the best possible way to reference a Disney princess movie. Instead of playing along with the reference, you put a new twist on it or subvert it entirely. The fact that a pony so high-strung about fashion would willingly destroy her own glass slipper shows how aggravated she is with Prince Blueblood.
Finally, we cut to Spike at the donut shop that he mentioned on the carriage ride to the gala. Pony Joe (also known as Donut Joe or just Joe) thinks Spike has had enough donuts, but he insists on having another one. What else is Spike supposed to do now that all his friends have deserted him? He probably spent almost the whole night at this shop, eating donut upon donut and washing away his sorrows in a G-rated way.
The Mane 6 arrive in the donut shop and recap the events of the gala offscreen, then share a laugh over how their “best night ever” turned out to be the worst night ever. Spike got part of his wish in the end: he got to hang out with all his friends in at least one of the places he was excited about, specifically the donut shop that he thought Pinkie Pie would like. The gala turned out a complete trainwreck, but exactly the kind of trainwreck that you can bond with friends and share a good laugh over.
Twilight Sparkle: I just hope Princess Celestia isn’t upset with us for ruining the gala.
Celestia: That was the best Grand Galloping Gala ever!
All the Mane 6: Princess Celestia!
Twilight Sparkle: Pardon me, Princess, but tonight was just… awful!
Celestia: Oh, Twilight, the Grand Galloping Gala is always awful!
Twilight Sparkle: It is?
Celestia: That is why I was thrilled you were all attending. I was hoping you could liven things up a bit.
Celestia: And while the evening may not have gone as you planned, I’m sure you’ll agree that in the end, it didn’t turn out so bad for this group of friends.
And here’s where we get this episode’s moral. Even the worst times you’ve gone through can be good for hearty laughter and bonding, which is quite a valuable lesson. Spike gloats that he was right the whole time about what he wanted to do, but that doesn’t come off as arrogant or detract from the episode’s resolution. The Mane 6 and Spike drop the episode’s title simultaneously, and with that, season 1 is complete.
What a fantastic episode. Just, wow. I couldn’t ask for a better way to end season 1. Even though this episode’s official moral is that friends can make even the worst times into good memories, it’s clear that all of the Mane 6 took something of their own away from the gala. To revisit my analysis of their respective motives for attending the gala in The Ticket Master, Applejack and Rainbow Dash learned that you can’t waltz into a high-profile fancy event and expect to steal the show. Rarity learned what not to look for in a love interest. Twilight Sparkle learned that she can’t have Celestia all to herself, and Fluttershy similarly learned that she can’t have Canterlot’s animals all to herself. As for Pinkie Pie, I’m not quite sure what she learned… maybe the difference between fancy parties and her style of partying? In later seasons, she takes the reins on several high-profile events in Canterlot to successful results, and since Celestia said the gala is always a gaudy and terrible event… yeah, I don’t know. I’d say Spike learned the episode’s official moral the most of them all.
For real, though, this episode subverts expectations in all the most awesome ways, with a perfect mix of humor and tragedy that ends on a positive note. Promising starts lead to disappointment, which leads to frustration, which leads to full-out chaos, which finally leads to shared laughter. And to think this is only the first of many more awesome season finales to come… I’ll say it once more: why does My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic have to be so wonderful???
Given how detailed my analysis for this episode was, the grade I gave it probably won’t surprise you. I like going on about things I like much more than going on about things I dislike.
- Before the gala starts, a blow drier turns Pinkie Pie’s hair straight and flat before poofing back to normal. Straight-haired Pinkie Pie has creepy connotations since the last episode, making that scene feel like a lapse of terror.
- Putting aside that season 1 forgets Princess Luna exists after she’s saved from being Nightmare Moon, I can easily guess why she isn’t at the gala with her sister. She’s probably very nervous and not quite used to being in modern Equestria.
- The season 7 episode Secrets and Pies reveals that Rainbow Dash hates pies. I wonder if she and Soarin’ ever got into a squabble about whether pies are delicious or disgusting?
- In the line of ponies to be greeted by Celestia with Twilight Sparkle at her side, we see a light brown stallion with a cherry cutie mark, presumably the same one who delivered Spike’s egg in Twilight’s entrance exam. Is this good attention to detail, because that cherry pony is presumably a resident of Canterlot, or is he just a generic background pony? I don’t even know if he has a canon name.
- As for Celestia’s side of things, the episode’s ending makes it clear why she wanted Twilight Sparkle by her side. She wanted a friend to keep her company through her tedious annual routine of greeting the guests at the gala, which she probably does because she finds that the least annoying thing to do at that gaudy event.
Recap of season 1
Season 1 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic may have its early installment weirdness, but it’s still a very strong start for this show. This is especially remarkable considering that this show is such a massive departure from any prior My Little Pony media. In season 1, we get plenty of humor mixed in with moments of awesome, valuable friendship lessons, and musical numbers abound, with all the episodes tied together through a story arc focusing on the Grand Galloping Gala. All the main characters get off to strong starts, even Applejack with her early installment weirdness. The main thing weighing down season 1 is that Twilight Sparkle gives almost all of the friendship lessons at the end of each episode, making some of them seem a little forced; later seasons remedy this, as I’ve said many times. I can’t say too much more about season 1 as a whole because it’s the show’s early experimental phase, but expect that to change in later seasons. For now, here are some record setters for the season! At least, record setters in my personal opinion.
Best episode: The Best Night Ever. Scroll up to see why I like it so much.
Worst episode: Swarm of the Century. It has a few good moments but the moral doesn’t really make sense, nor does the lack of proper resolution.
Funniest episode: Feeling Pinkie Keen. This one consists almost entirely of slapstick humor, and I eat that stuff right up.
Most emotional episode: Suited for Success. It does such a great job making you feel bad for Rarity, as I had already analyzed at length.
Strongest character: Twilight Sparkle. There’s a reason she was my favorite by far during my initial brony phase—she has so many funny moments and is overall a lovable nerd, and the first season gives her easily the most screen time of the Mane 6. I’ll probably list a different strongest and weakest character for each season.
Weakest character: Applejack. Her character is rather unfocused in season 1 and she doesn’t get a whole lot of episodes to her name. By the season’s finale, however, I think the show has gotten a good grasp on what sort of character she is. I’m not saying Applejack is my least favorite of the Mane 6 (I can’t decide who my least favorite is), just that her characterization in season 1 is the weakest of the bunch.
I can’t believe I’m already done with reviewing season 1! Next time I’ll start season 2 with the introduction of everyone’s favorite chat client… er, villain, Discord. I’ll take a short break before I start working on reviewing season 2, but that probably won’t have an effect on the schedule of these posts because of my queue system.