Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 21: A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1 + 2


< Part 20 | Part 21 | Part 22 >

Season 2, Episodes 25-26

Here’s my final MLP season 2 post, as well as my final MLP post of 2021! As I said at the start of the last post, I’ll take a break of indeterminate length before I start season 3 in early 2022. And I’m warning you now: my review of A Canterlot Wedding will be extremely lengthy and detailed. I figured, why not end season 2 with a bang? To be fair, season 2 of MLP already ends with a bang.

Season 2 Episode 25: A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1

In five words: Something is amiss at wedding.

Premise: The Mane 6 and Spike head over to prepare for the wedding of Shining Armor and Princess Cadance, Twilight Sparkle’s brother and childhood babysitter respectively. However, Twilight Sparkle can tell there is something very different about Cadance today.

Detailed run-through:

A Canterlot Wedding opens up with a scene as mundane as can be: the Mane 6 having a calm picnic, surrounded by butterflies and lush trees, with Rarity even sporting a fanciful hat for the sake of it. There is something important to be taken from the mundaneness (mundanity?) of this scene. When an episode starts with something as innocuous and peaceful as the ponies having a picnic, you’ll easily know through contrast that the rest of this episode is going to be an absolute wild ride. The opening scene gives viewers plenty of time to absorb the peaceful atmosphere, even as it’s interspersed with Spike dramatically running to give an announcement.

It’s quite interesting that Spike waits until after he’s arrived at the picnic to burp out the letter. He seemed short on breath and a little queasy, like he was holding in the letter when he could have burped it out before he was walking. Maybe he somehow could sense that he was about to get an especially important letter, and thus didn’t want to risk damaging it on his way to the picnic? There’s tons of ambiguous explanations for this seemingly innocuous scene, and since I’m taking my sweet time with this episode review, you should expect plenty more analysis of inconsequential oddities like this.

Twilight Sparkle reads the letter, correctly assuming it’s from Celestia. The letter is about a wedding, which causes Twilight Sparkle to only briefly pause. She’s surprised but excited that she and her friends are asked to help prepare for a wedding, and they’re all given roles very similar to those they were given for the Summer Sun Celebration in the first episode, like Fluttershy for music and Applejack for the catering. And unlike in the first episode, where the celebration was derailed by the return of Nightmare Moon, the wedding in part 2 of this episode has the Mane 6 perform their assigned roles exactly as planned, serving as the payoff for all the obstacles they faced.

I love the little detail of Pinkie Pie denting the cake with her hooves, and Twilight Sparkle repairing it with her magic.

As Twilight continues going through the roles, Rainbow Dash is initially bored at all this wedding talk: you can count on boyish characters like her, Spike, or Scootaloo to mimic the boredom some viewers are certainly experiencing in scenes like this, making the cutesy girly scenes a little more bearable for them. But when Rainbow Dash learns her duty is to perform a Sonic Rainboom, she leaps in excitement, which again is relatable to bronies who like the show’s moments of awesome the most.

In contrast to Rainbow Dash, Rarity mirrors the show’s originally intended audience when learning what her duties are. She stutters and faints in glee when she realizes she will be designing dresses for a wedding in Canterlot: the perfect combination of things she adores, so perfect that her brain has trouble processing it. Twilight Sparkle is given the most important duty of all: making the sure the wedding goes as planned. And she sticks to this duty so loyally that it almost causes her friends to abandon her, because for better or for worse, Twilight Sparkle never wants to disappoint Celestia.

When Twilight Sparkle realizes she doesn’t know who’s getting married, Spike hands her the other letter, saying he should have handed that one first. And this leads to the punchline: the wedding is between a certain “Princess Mi Amore Cadenza” and Twilight Sparkle’s brother. I must say, this is a surprising way for viewers to learn that she even has a brother!

Before I move on to the part after the theme song, I’d like to say I’m perfectly aware that Cadance and Shining Armor were conceived of for the sake of selling toys, and that the show’s writers had to figure out how to work these new characters into the show’s continuity and make the most of them. From what I can tell, this was quite a strong pattern with the show’s production: the higher-ups demanded a change or addition to the show, and the writers took it into their hands to make these additions exciting and enjoyable for the show’s child audience and adult audience. I actually find it a pretty fun pattern; the same thing from what I know happened with such things as making Starlight Glimmer a major character and the School of Friendship. Starlight Glimmer’s integration into the show’s regular cast ended up a massive success, at least in my eyes. She’s an incredibly fun and rich character, but her debut is still a pretty long time from now, so maybe I shouldn’t go on about her just yet.

Seriously, if anyone tries telling you to stop being interested in MLP because the show is made just to sell toys or something, then don’t listen to them. Why should you let others impede on your interests, especially if it’s a show as wonderful as this?

Look at Twilight Sparkle’s shocked expression. Just look at it.

Applejack: Your brother’s getting married? Congratulations, Twilight. That’s great news!
Twilight Sparkle: Yeah. Great news. That I just got from a wedding invitation. Not from my brother, but from a piece of paper! Thanks a lot, Shining Armor.

Twilight Sparkle is very much right that if you want to tell a loved one news as important as your wedding, it’s kind of rude not to do it in person. There’s simply no good substitute for hearing news from someone face-to-face, or for seeing people in real life in general. This episode interestingly extrapolates from the fact that we had never even heard of Shining Armor until now by demonstrating that Twilight Sparkle regretfully isn’t as close with her brother as she used to be, and is angered that he didn’t even tell her in person that he was getting married.

If you look closely at this image, you can see Canterlot has a force field around it, foreshadowing the bad news that’s soon to come.

Scenes like this show that Tara Strong is a little TOO good at voice acting.

Twilight Sparkle: I mean, really. He couldn’t tell me personally?!
Twilight Sparkle: (imitating Shining Armor) Hey, Twilight. Just thought you should know I’m making a really big decision that changes everything. Oh, never mind. You’ll hear about it when you get the invitation.
Twilight Sparkle: Princess Mi Amore Cadenza? Who in the hoof is that?!

Part of Twilight Sparkle’s aggravation is because as far as she can tell, Shining Armor is getting married to a random princess she has never even heard of. But the fact that she doesn’t know who “Mi Amore Cadenza” is is really a testament to this princess’s humility: she prefers to simply go by “Cadance”, and through all the time she babysat Twilight Sparkle, she never felt a need to reveal her full name.

Twilight Sparkle then reveals how much Shining Armor meant to her as a filly, first through saying he was her B.B.B.F.F. (which confuses her friends until she says it means Big Brother Best Friend Forever), then by singing a song about how close they were when they were young. While we all know Twilight Sparkle was extremely antisocial as a filly, she was also very close with her brother, which is very bittersweet given how much these siblings have drifted apart.

Even though we hadn’t even heard of Shining Armor before this episode, this musical number does a good job showing his and Twilight Sparkle’s once close relationship by reminding us of his sister’s childhood aspirations of studying magic, followed by conveying his childhood aspirations of being part of the Canterlot royal guard.

After thinking back to her moving out of Canterlot in the first episode, Twilight Sparkle starts crying as she realizes she misses her brother more than she had thought. I find this very believable. When you don’t see someone for a long time and stop thinking about them very much, if you start thinking about them at length again you can realize how much you’ve missed them this whole time; how much of a hole in your heart they left behind.

After the musical number ends, the somber mood is lightened up with this exchange:

Applejack: As one of your P.F.F.’s…
(the others stare blankly)
Applejack: Pony Friends Forever.
The other ponies and Spike: Oh!
Applejack: I want to tell you that I think your brother sounds like a real good guy.

This silly moment is a key part of this episode’s pacing. It is important to light the mood up once again after Twilight Sparkle is driven to tears…

… because that just makes the rest of the ponies’ excitement sting even harder. Twilight Sparkle reveals that her brother is captain of the Canterlot royal guard, which causes Rarity to faint yet again. Her friends are all incredibly excited for the wedding, but Twilight is just sitting there, looking bummed out.

It turns out that this whole time throughout the first two seasons, Twilight Sparkle has been holding back how much she misses her brother.
Honestly, I can believe this.

And on the train ride to Canterlot, her melancholy mood continues. The rest of her friends are all pumped for the upcoming ceremony. Spike reveals that he has a duty for the wedding too: hosting the bachelor party, which leads him to blankly ask what that is. Maybe Celestia or Cadance or Shining Armor felt it would be good to teach the little guy firsthand what a bachelor party is. Anyway, as for Twilight Sparkle… just look at her, sitting away from her friends. She feels like an outcast throughout this episode, sensing that something’s wrong while the rest of her friends are preoccupied with wedding excitement. And while it may not seem that way at first, she’s very much right to sense something is amiss.

Applejack: Why the long face, sugarcube?
Twilight Sparkle: I’m just thinking about Shining Armor. Ever since I moved to Ponyville, we’ve been seeing each other less and less.
Twilight Sparkle: And now that he’s starting a new family with this princess Mi Amore Ca-whatsername, we’ll probably never see each other.
Applejack: Come on now. You’re his sister. He’ll always make time for you.
Twilight Sparkle: Couldn’t seem to make time to tell me he was getting married!

Applejack means well with her words of comfort, but they unfortunately aren’t nearly enough. While Twilight Sparkle’s slippery slopes of worries are normally comically absurd, here you can easily feel how disappointed she is that her brother’s life seems to have diverged from hers. It also feels nice and consistent for Applejack to be the one who keeps trying to calm Twilight down. This makes it feel like while the other ponies and Spike are caught up in excitement, Applejack is grounded in reality enough to try cheering up her friend.

When the train enters Canterlot, two royal guards have to clear the way as they pass through the city’s force field. The Mane 6 are surprised to see so many royal guards as they depart the train, which tells us that something isn’t quite right, and yet in the very next scene Pinkie Pie somehow sneezes out confetti, which I find hilarious. So far, this episode has done a very careful and deliberate job balancing the unsettling atmosphere with the show’s typical sense of humor, which arguably makes it even more unsettling.

This little glimpse at Celestia is another hint that something isn’t quite right.
Even the ruler of Equestria has paused her duties to figure out what’s going on.

Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor both have a strong command over leadership skills.
Always nice to see fictional siblings have something in common.

When Twilight Sparkle sees her brother again, she’s at first mad at him, but then the two clear the air. Shining Armor reveals that he couldn’t tell his sister about the wedding in person because Celestia requested extra-high levels of security in Canterlot, and he’s been incredibly preoccupied with leading the royal guards and maintaining the city’s force field. It’s clear that Shining Armor wanted to make his wedding an extra-special surprise…

… because it turns out that “Mi Amore Cadenza” is actually Twilight Sparkle’s foalsitter, Princess Cadance. She is extremely excited about her brother marrying “the greatest foalsitter in all the history of foalsitters” as she puts it, which leads to flashbacks showing how much Twilight Sparkle loved spending time with Cadance. I really like that Shining Armor and Cadance’s first appearances are both in flashbacks; these characters are first shown as part of Twilight Sparkle’s backstory and then where they are today, making their additions to the show more fluid instead of feeling like shoving in new characters out of nowhere. The inclusion of these new characters serves as a nice way to flesh out Twilight’s backstory. We even get the first appearance of her and Cadance’s favorite rhyme, and I bet you know how it goes. “Sunshine, sunshine, ladybugs awake! Clap your hooves and do a little shake!” I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely adorable whenever these two recite the rhyme. They always do it with the exact same enthusiasm they did when they were young.

Twilight Sparkle then talks about Cadance’s unique ability to spread love wherever she goes, shown in a flashback where Cadance uses love powers to defuse an argument between a couple. It’s clear through this whole flashback how much Twilight Sparkle loved Cadance, and back in the present, she adorably bounces around in excitement.

And that’s when she bumps into Princess Cadance… or is it? She does her “sunshine, sunshine, ladybugs awake” dance, but “Cadance” doesn’t recognize it and coldly brushes her off. This fakeout debut of grown-up Cadance is incredibly unsettling in just the right way, and it quickly puts Twilight Sparkle in a sour mood once more.

In the scenes that follow, humor and discomfort mix to extra unsettling effect. Applejack quickly completes the tasks on her checklist one at a time, set to country music that pauses each time a task is checked off. Most of the Mane 6 are having fun preparing for the wedding, oblivious to why Twilight Sparkle is so grumpy.

I love this little scene where Spike plays with the toy versions of Shining Armor and Cadance, meant to be put atop the cake. It playfully pokes fun at the show’s fans; the show knows that some of its male fans can’t resist getting some of the show’s merch and playing with it, and that some of them take a sense of humor in playing with the toys. This is much like Big Macintosh gleefully getting a hold of the doll Smarty Pants in Lesson Zero. Yes, somehow this scene doesn’t come off to me as solely a shoehorned advertisement for toys. It comes off as an advertisement for toys aimed at male viewers!

When the fake Cadance enters the room, she asks to be called Princess Mi Amore Cadenza. Knowing that she is actually Queen Chrysalis, it’s clear that she makes some faulty assumptions about the ways of royalty. She thinks that every queen or princess would demand to be called by her full name as a sign of respect, and most ponies in the room fall for it because aside from Twilight Sparkle, none of them ever knew Cadance personally. The fake Cadance takes a bag of fritters and secretly throws it in the trash, and no one except Twilight Sparkle notices. While the other ponies might be seen as painfully oblivious, I think it’s quite clear that all of this episode’s events are shown from Twilight Sparkle’s perspective. As such, we are shown everything that Twilight notices and picks up on, clearly indicating to the viewer (but not to her friends!) that something isn’t right. As far as the other ponies know, Twilight Sparkle is still merely upset that Shining Armor didn’t tell her about the wedding in person.

Look, Glasses Rarity is back!

“Cadance”: Did I hear someone say my name?
Rarity: Your highness! Let me just start by saying what an honor it is to play a role in such a momentous occasion. (laughs)
“Cadance”: Uh-huh. Is my dress ready?
Rarity: Oh, uh… yes, of course!
Rarity: Um… I’ve been working on it ever since I was given the assignment, and I think you’ll be pleased with the results!
“Cadance”: I was hoping for something with more beading and a longer train.
Rarity: (writes notes) Oh… yes! Of course!
“Cadance”: And those should be a different color.

Here’s where we are reminded once more of the problem with Rarity. She’s all too willing to bend backwards for others at the expense of pleasing herself. If you look at her expression as she’s taking notes:

It’s clear that she’s disappointed with the dress’s initial reception, but fully expected this and keeps convincing herself that it’s right to follow her clients’ demands to the letter. This conveniently keeps Rarity busy, deterred from any insinuation that there’s something different about Cadance. I’d say more, but I would be rehashing my analysis of Suited for Success.

I’m pretty sure this is advertising for Hasbro board games, but it’s worked into the episode well enough that I don’t mind.

Pinkie Pie: I think this reception is gonna be perfect!!! Don’t you?
“Cadance”: Perfect! … If we were celebrating a six-year-old’s birthday party.
Pinkie Pie: Thank you!

Wait… wasn’t this show supposed to be for six-year-old girls to begin with? The existence of the passage above shows how far this show has come at the end of only its second season: by now, it’s fully aware that its audience expands well beyond six-year-old girls. Why else would I be writing the words you are reading right now?

Luna is back, and she’s here to take over for Celestia in the night.
It sounds like she’s getting back in the swing of things.

I love how Spike is sitting on three pillows instead of one.
Also, this is the first two-part episode where he isn’t shafted!

At night, Twilight Sparkle tries to tell her friends that something has changed in Cadance, but none of them believe her. They all either wave it off as typical behavior of a stressed princess bride or are too preoccupied with other matters to back Twilight’s claims. It’s easy to see why this is so frustrating for Twilight: the rest of her friends are all excitedly preparing for the wedding, each doing things they enjoy, and willing to wave off slight mishaps because nothing in life goes perfectly. Applejack even accuses her of being possessive of her brother, like she thinks she knows what’s right for Shining Armor and he doesn’t; it’s clear that everyone else at the table doesn’t know the real side of Cadance (or the real side of the fake Cadance, for that matter). Twilight is the only one at the table whose love for Cadance is strong enough to sense something is amiss and who isn’t being brainwashed by Queen Chrysalis. She angrily claims that there shouldn’t even be a wedding and storms off.

Right when Twilight Sparkle is about to tell her brother something is wrong, the fake Cadance sneaks up on her yet again. Shining Armor and “Cadance” get into an argument in the closet, but since the door is open just a crack, Twilight looks in and sees Shining Armor being brainwashed by his “bride”. He’s becoming weaker by the minute, losing his magic powers and getting increasingly sore headaches as Queen Chrysalis continues to gain power. This is such a terrifying way to reveal that whoever is masquerading as Cadance is downright evil.

The juxtaposition of horror and humor is getting sharper by the minute. Right after she saw Shining Armor get brainwashed into submission, Twilight Sparkle checks up on her friends and sees them excitedly playing dress-up! They’re getting ready to serve as Cadance’s new bridesmaids since, um, something mysterious happened to the old ones. At this point, even the rest of the Mane 6 are brainwashed, leaving Twilight with less and less backup to save the day. It’s quite depressing to see her all on her own once more after having spent two whole seasons with such a tight-knit group of friends. For her, it must feel like she’s back where she started, with no more friends to support her. Well, there’s Spike I guess, but he’s too busy playing with pony dolls right now.

I love how the only two characters we’ve ever seen so far extensively play with pony dolls are BOYS.
(In case you forgot, the other is Big Mac.)

The wedding is just about ready to begin, until…

Twilight Sparkle: I’m here!
Twilight Sparkle: I’m not gonna stand next to her, and neither should you!
Shining Armor: I’m sorry, I… I don’t know why she’s acting like this.

Well, of course Shining Armor doesn’t know. The fake Cadance came in right as Twilight was about to tell him the truth, leaving Shining Armor the most oblivious out of anyone here. The other Mane 6 members at least know Twilight thinks there’s something wrong with Cadance, and here Shining Armor is, not knowing a thing about what’s wrong.

Twilight Sparkle has an interesting tendency to shove others out of the way when she’s aggravated.

Twilight Sparkle: I’ve got something to say.
Twilight Sparkle: (points at “Cadance”) She’s evil!
(everyone else chatters in confusion)
Twilight Sparkle: She’s been horrible to her friends, she’s obviously done something to her bridesmaids… and if that wasn’t enough, I saw her put a spell on my brother that made his eyes go all (makes the face below)

The Mane 6, Spike, Celestia, and presumably Shining Armor all know that Twilight Sparkle has a tendency to get incredibly carried away with her worries. It’s tragic that the one time her worries are true and justified, none of them believe her. They all seem to think the worries either came out of nowhere, or spiraled from disappointment that Shining Armor didn’t tell her about the wedding. And the goofy face she makes doesn’t help matters. It’s unfortunately the only way she can describe the horrors she witnessed with her own eyes.

Pretending to be the kind-hearted bride, Queen Chrysalis runs off in tears, and then Shining Armor gives his sister a piece of his mind. He unknowingly lists the various excuses and lies Chrysalis came up with so she can take over the wedding, and chalks any rudeness on “Cadance’s” part up to wedding stress. He also goes on about how strenuous it has been maintaining the force field around Canterlot, and I’m starting to wonder if Chrysalis pushed him to maintain the bubble harder so that he would strain himself and stay occupied as she makes all the important “wedding decisions”. That would be appropriately villainous of her.

The rest of her friends and even Celestia storm off in disappointment, leaving Twilight Sparkle by herself. Sitting all alone in despair, she starts to think she was worrying about nothing, and sings a melancholy reprise of the song near the start of this episode about how she lost her brother.

And to rub salt in the wound, “Cadance” briefly breaks the fourth wall by stomping on the rendition of Twilight Sparkle from her song, shattering it like glass. Fourth-wall interactions are rare in this show, and while they’re usually played for humor, this one helps portray Queen Chrysalis as villainous.

Twilight Sparkle: I’m sorry.
“Cadance”: You will be.

The very end of this episode goes from heartwrenching straight to horrifying as Queen Chrysalis shows what she will do to anyone who dares disrupt her plans. She makes a circle of green fire around Twilight Sparkle, causing her to sink in anguish as Chrysalis smugly walks away and faces the camera, leading to a “To be continued…” screen. This is a truly terrifying cliffhanger to end this episode on, and the upbeat credits music at the end almost feels like a slap to the face.

(As with The Return of Harmony, I’ll skip the overall thoughts and grade here, and instead save them for part 2.)

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Yes, I purposely reused the phrase “opens up with a [picture/scene] as mundane as can be” from my first Homestuck post. Don’t tell me there’s anything wrong with making callbacks to my own work, OK?
  • It’s some great attention to detail to show Lyra Heartstrings, Twinkleshine, and Minuette in the scene above. They are some of the very same unicorns we see in Canterlot early in Friendship Is Magic, Part 1; the same unicorns who play a major role in Amending Fences, where Twilight Sparkle makes amends with her old Canterlot acquaintances.
  • Shining Armor briefly mentions his favorite uncle in an argument with the fake Cadance, and I’m suddenly wondering how many people have written fanfictions about that uncle of his.
  • Believe me, it took a long time for me to internalize that her name is spelled Cadance, not Cadence. Thankfully, this had long been internalized by the time I started writing this post.

Season 2 Episode 26: A Canterlot Wedding, Part 2

In five words: Love saves the day again.

Premise: Imprisoned in the underworld, Twilight Sparkle meets the real Cadance, and together they must save Equestria from the clutches of Cadance’s nasty impostor.

Detailed run-through:

I’m not going to just skip the recaps. What sort of analyst do you take me for?!

You know the drill by now. “Previously on My Little Pony”. Recap of part 1 setting the highlights to dramatic music. A reminder of the cliffhanger we left off on. This time, the recap focuses entirely on Twilight Sparkle, Shining Armor, and the fake Cadance, which helps keep it focused and cohesive, and efficiently reminds us of what all went down in the first part.

Now we catch up on Twilight Sparkle, who has now been banished to a forgotten cave, where Queen Chrysalis (still impersonating Cadance) claims that no one will ever be able to find her. The creepy factor is off the charts here, and while her friends previously thought she was being possessive of her brother, now she is being fiercely protective of him. She tries using laser beams to shoot Chrysalis, and one of the lasers bounces around the walls and lands next to her…

… but then, her laser beams blast a wall and uncover the real Cadance. This is where it’s made clear that Queen Chrysalis underestimated Twilight Sparkle’s magical capabilities, but more importantly, the power of friendship. At first, the show’s villains refuse to believe in the power of friendship, but in later seasons, they use their conceptions of friendship to manipulate others in surprisingly nasty ways. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Twilight Sparkle attacks Cadance at first, but Cadance proves she’s the real deal by doing the “sunshine, sunshine, ladybugs awake” dance, leading to a heartfelt hug. I don’t know about you, but I find Twilight Sparkle and Cadance’s longtime friendship to be extremely heartwarming. They quickly realize they need to find a way out of here, which leads to a gorgeously haunting musical number called This Day Aria.

This Day Aria is a song all about duality, with verses alternating between the fake Cadance and real Cadance, paralleling each other with slightly different composition. Queen Chrysalis sings about how she’s fooled everyone and wants Shining Armor to herself not out of love, but hunger for power. Cadance, meanwhile, sings about how much she loves Shining Armor and is determined to find him again. This is easily the most dramatic musical number the show has given us so far, and the music perfectly conveys the duality between the nefarious impostor and the banished princess.

These two found this minecart surprisingly fast. Maybe through the power of sheer determination?

If you compare these two passages of lyrics:

“Cadance”: ♫ No, I do not love the groom ♫
♪ In my heart, there is no room ♪
♫ But I still want him to be all mine! ♫

Cadance: ♫ For I oh so love the groom ♫
♪ All my thoughts, he does consume ♪
♫ Oh, Shining Armor, I’ll be there very soon ♫

This is where the musical contrast against Queen Chrysalis and Cadance’s sections reaches a peak. Queen Chrysalis’s lyrics above are in a minor key, while Cadance’s lyrics are in a major key, clearly indicating villainous pride and amorous hope respectively.

Clearly, Queen Chrysalis didn’t account for Twilight Sparkle’s powerful magic or Cadance’s ability to fly.

Aw, look at the Cutie Mark Crusaders bouncing around all happily. They know even less about Cadance than most of the Mane 6 do. Perhaps they eagerly joined in on the wedding because they thought they would get their cutie marks in wedding planning? Or, um, whichever wedding role these three have. It probably shows that I haven’t been to very many weddings.

Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack are up in the front, but Fluttershy isn’t.
Maybe because she’s shy? Just a hunch.

If you look closely, in the front row you can see Twilight Sparkle’s parents (who are also Shining Armor’s parents, obviously). I feel like it’s a safe bet they don’t notice anything different about Cadance either, since the point of a babysitter is to watch over a child while their parents aren’t around. Aside from the groom himself, no one invited to the wedding knows Cadance nearly as well as Twilight Sparkle does. The last few measures of the musical number feature a split screen section where Queen Chrysalis gloats that Shining Armor will be hers.

Twilight Sparkle sees a light up above the caves and teleports herself and Cadance up there, but they’re faced with Minuette, Lyra Heartstrings, and Twinkleshine behaving like zombies… or could they be changelings in disguise? For the first time in this post series’ history, I have a genuine reason to pull out the changeling excuse. It’s not only that we just saw two of these unicorns in the wedding’s audience; Queen Chrysalis is herself a changeling, and the unicorns’ eyes flashing green suggests that they may also be changelings, much like how “Cadance’s” eyes flashed green near the end of part 1.

Celestia: Princess Cadance and Shining Armor, it is my great pleasure to pronounce you—
Twilight Sparkle: STOP!!!

Twilight Sparkle returns once again, interrupting the wedding at the most hilariously cliched* time possible. The entire audience gasps in shock and annoyance, and Rarity even does a facehoof like she knew this was going to happen. This scene fully admits how much of a cliche is it to interrupt a wedding immediately before the people being wed are declared a couple, and rolls with it through this facehoof.

* I keep going back and forth on whether it’s worth the trouble to type the “é” in “cliché”. Sorry about that.

“Cadance”: Ugh. Why does she have to be so possessive of her brother?
(Celestia gives her a strange look)
“Cadance”: Why does she have to ruin my special day? (starts crying)

At this point, Queen Chrysalis knows it won’t be long before her cover is blown. Her last-ditch attempt to pass for Cadance is quickly blown when the real Cadance reveals herself. A flashback then reveals how Twilight Sparkle and Cadance escaped the bridesmaids:

Looks like these three were Cadance’s old bridesmaids.
Fitting choice, because they were three of Twilight Sparkle’s old friends in Canterlot.

Turns out all Cadance had to do was wave a bouquet of flowers, distracting the three unicorns because in this show, brainwashed characters tend to be easily lured using mildly desirable objects. A funny moment that doubles as a stroke of cleverness.

I’m not going to discuss spoilers for later seasons much in this review, since I have so many other things to say about this two-part episode already.
If you’ve seen the whole show, you know how much of this episode comes off as weird in retrospect anyway.

Cadance then reveals the truth about the “Cadance” who was about to marry Shining Armor: she is a changeling who feeds off of love for her own personal gain. In response, Queen Chrysalis reveals herself in a terrifying transformation sequence. She gloats about how she’s been feeding off of all the love in Equestria, the most love-filled place she has ever seen. This reveal underhandedly demonstrates how much Shining Armor loves Cadance, given how thoroughly Queen Chrysalis has brainwashed him: a subtle demonstration of the pure love of this soon-to-be couple.

Celestia and Queen Chrysalis battle head-on with magic beams, and Celestia ends up defeated. Whether you like it or not, this is the purpose Celestia usually serves in two-part episodes: she’s neutralized as a demonstration of how powerful the villain is, leaving the Mane 6 (sometimes also Spike) to save the day. It takes until the late seasons for this pattern to be subverted, as Celestia’s character finally gets fleshed out. Funny that while Luna got fleshed out early in season 2, it takes until the season 7 premiere for Celestia’s character to gain a similar level of depth.

Celestia tells the Mane 6 to find the Elements of Harmony, which at this point seem to be the go-to solution for any villain. This predictable bit of instruction subtly suggests that the solution will be more than just retrieving the Elements of Harmony. Besides, by this point you should know well that magical objects can only take you so far.

And then when the army of changelings destroys Canterlot’s protective barrier, the action REALLY begins. Are you ready for the show’s action to reach heights it’s never seen before? I know I am.

Can I just stop to say how terrifying changelings are? They’re easily one of the most terrifying things about the entire show. I find it incredibly tense and chilling whenever we see something seems noticeably off about a pony, or when there’s a bunch of apparent clones of the same pony (or non-pony character, of course), and a lapse of terror occurs whenever such a changeling reveals its true form. It’s the perfect balance of uncanny factors to scare viewers, and I love that MLP isn’t afraid to be scary. Kids like to be scared when watching shows, and the same holds true for adults.

There’s just something about unicorns blasting lasers out of their horns that never fails to hype me up.
(Or in this case, simultaneously crack me up.)

The ensuing battle between the Mane 6 and their legions of changeling doppelgangers is five parts awesome, one part hilarious; the hilarious part, as you might guess, is Pinkie Pie. This is represented in the tense battle scenes like the one shown above, as well as a montage which alternates at increasing speed between each of the Mane 6, with goofy party sound effects playing every time Pinkie Pie appears.

The Mane 6 go to where the Elements of Harmony are stored, but they’re blocked off by an army of changelings far too huge to deal with, confirming that the elements aren’t the solution this time around. What have I said about magical objects anyway?

Changelings by design are an interesting combination between insects and ponies.

Celestia is kidnapped in a cocoon, a fate that’s unfortunately typical of her in two-part episodes. Being kidnapped in general, I mean, not specifically in a cocoon. I get the reasoning behind shafting her to let the other ponies shine, because with all her alicorn magic, Celestia is a total game-breaker, so I’ll just say this is a creative way to show her being kidnapped.

The Mane 6 arrive back at the place of the wedding reception, and although Shining Armor and Cadance are still there, the reception has been cancelled. This leads Queen Chrysalis to gloat about her victory and sing a short reprise of This Day Aria, and I really like the way her voice harmonizes with itself. This is an effect of how her voice has a dramatic chorus effect, and on a musical level it works very nicely.

Remember when Twilight Sparkle talked about Cadance’s special ability to spread love, which was demonstrated live in a flashback? This wasn’t just brought up for nothing. Cadance uses this ability when it’s needed most, much like firing a Chekhov’s gun. But while she manages to heal Shining Armor, his magic is helpless to protect Canterlot from the changelings.

Shining Armor: My power is useless now. I don’t have the strength to repel them.
Cadance: My love will give you strength.
Queen Chrysalis: (laughs) What a lovely, but absolutely ridiculous sentiment.

Here’s a recurring theme with villains in MLP. They simply refuse to believe in the power of friendship, and it bites back when they least expect it. Call me cheesy, but I think that’s a pretty awesome motif that fits with the show’s overall theme. What is magic if not an inexplicable phenomenon science can’t pin down that causes incredible things to happen? Friendship is, that’s for sure.

A spark generates between Shining Armor and Cadance’s horns, leading to a blinding beam of light that defeats Queen Chrysalis and banishes the rest of the changelings through the power of love. Cheesy? Maybe. Awesome? Absolutely. Queen Chrysalis mentioned earlier that Shining Armor’s love for Cadance is even stronger than she thought, which was villainous gloating back then, but now it bites her back. No, Shining Armor’s love for Cadance is WAY stronger than Queen Chrysalis thought, and the same goes in reverse.

And then comes the catharsis. Upon Celestia’s instruction, the Mane 6 prepare for the real wedding in a quick montage, then the wedding occurs much like it did before, except with the real Cadance. Fluttershy is up on the balcony to conduct the singing birds, not just because she’s shy as I had previously thought… well, OK. Maybe also because she’s shy.

In a cute little scene, Twilight Sparkle demonstrates her obsession with detail by adjusting the label on Shining Armor’s suit, causing their parents to watch with tears in their mother’s eyes. These parents are evidently both thinking about how far their son and daughter have come, but at the same time how she’s still the same old Twilight Sparkle after all this time.

Twilight Sparkle: Seriously, though. I get why the queen of the changelings wanted to be with you, but how did you get someone as amazing as Cadance to marry you?
Shining Armor: I told her she wouldn’t just be gaining a husband… she’d be getting a pretty great sister too.

I’m quoting this exchange because it’s incredibly sweet and shows the love and respect these two siblings have for each other. It also shows that Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor have reconciled once more.

I feel obligated to include the first proper kiss in the show here.

Now that Shining Armor and Princess Cadance are married, Celestia congratulates Twilight Sparkle and her friends, and provides a moral for this two-part episode. Specifically, the moral is that you should trust your instincts, and I think that’s an excellent moral. Your instincts are there for a reason: why do you think most animals quickly back off at the sight of a fire or a loud noise? It’s because their instincts tell them to. Humans have complicated, multilayered thoughts and feelings, but in many cases, your instincts are the way to go. When your brain tells you that something isn’t a good idea, that means it probably isn’t a good idea.

Next up: Rainbow Dash’s sonic rainboom (yet another phrase that I can’t decide whether to capitalize or not).

Let’s stop and appreciate that throughout this two-part episode, Rainbow Dash never grumbled, complained, or waited impatiently as she is known to do. She simply practiced for her rainboom offscreen, then went ahead and did it when Celestia said that’s her cue. I’d almost argue that Rainbow Dash is the true champ in this episode.

To cap things off, Luna arrives in the evening asking “did I miss anything?”, which humorously shows that there was no important role that she could play in this episode. Then, we get one last musical number: an electronic song, more electronic than anything else in the show so far, called Love Is in Bloom. The musical number is hosted by Pinkie Pie and, in a lapse of fanservice, our good friend Vinyl Scratch. I have no shame in admitting that this song is INCREDIBLY catchy and serves as the perfect catharsis for this episode. I’ll comment on the little that’s left of this episode mostly by captioning images, including a few from the song’s photo montage.

Sweetie Belle and Spike is a very random character combination, but not one I’m complaining about. I love both of them.

Nice to see Rainbow Dash doing what she wanted to do in The Best Night Ever: hanging out with the Wonderbolts.

Also nice to see Rarity hang out with Fancy Pants again!
I’m happy for them, even though they’re both fictional horses.

I love that in this heartfelt hug, Twilight Sparkle once more uses the phrase B.B.B.F.F.
It’s adorable seeing such a cumbersome acronym from her of all ponies. Normally, those are more Pinkie Pie’s cup of tea.

These final heartfelt moments were begging for me NOT to analyze them in extreme depth, and I complied with them.

An endearingly awkward lapse of greed from Rarity. Twilight Sparkle expressing satisfaction with the wedding. Spike hyping up the sadly offscreen bachelor party. The Mane 6 all laughing. And finally, heart-shaped fireworks. What a lovely way to end season 2.

Overall thoughts:

This is an awesome finale for season 2. The show’s writers were handed a wedding premise for the sake of selling toys (I think???), and they made the most out of it. This is the first two-part episode that has everything I want a two-part episode to have: moments of awesome, terrifying villain scenes, fun musical numbers, lapses of humor, and a hearty moral to tie it all together. What more could I ask for? Not a whole lot, honestly. Hopefully, I made my positive thoughts on the season 2 finale clear throughout this review.

Grade: A

More often than not, you can expect me to give an A to season finales.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • In the image above, please stop and appreciate that Pinkie Pie is the only one of the Mane 6 who isn’t closing her eyes in response to Shining Armor and Cadance’s blinding light of love. This is an incredibly cool subtle detail that will probably fly over most viewers’ heads, but now that I’ve pointed it out, it won’t fly over yours. Instead, the detail will hit you directly in the head, which is totally a good thing. I promise.

I’m afraid this is the only miscellaneous note I have. Now, time to recap season 2!

Recap of season 2

Season 2 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is about what you’d expect the second season of such a wonderful show to be. It’s more focused than season 1 and has stronger, more cohesive messages. This is largely because the friendship lessons are now narrated by various characters (all of the Mane 6, Spike, and even the Cutie Mark Crusaders) instead of just Twilight Sparkle every time. The show’s cast expands considerably, especially in worldbuilding episodes like Sweet and Elite or Dragon Quest, and quite a few existing characters are fleshed out, most notably Princess Luna. And we get some bits of character development, like Rainbow Dash gaining a new nerdy interest or Twilight Sparkle’s friends being more willing to listen to her problems. Overall, this is a worthy follow-up to the first season that improves upon what we already had.

Best episode: Read It and Weep. I have a special fondness for this incredibly relatable episode, and it massively improves Rainbow Dash’s character.

Worst episode: Putting Your Hoof Down. Everything in it feels extremely contrived and clashes with the friendly, lighthearted nature of the show.

Funniest episode: Lesson Zero. Not just the funniest episode of season 2, but probably the funniest episode of the entire show.

Most emotional episode: Sisterhooves Social. Perhaps an odd pick, but the scene with Sweetie Belle’s drawing tugs right at the heartstrings like nothing else in season 2.

Strongest character: Rainbow Dash. This season greatly fleshes out both her sensitive side and her nerdy side, adding a lot of depth to her character.

Weakest character: Pinkie Pie. Nothing against her as a character, far from it! It’s just that she doesn’t get to do much in the this season compared to the rest of the Mane 6. Note that both the strongest and weakest character categories only apply to major characters.

I’ve now made it through two entire seasons of MLP:FiM! I’m happy that I’ve gotten this far, but it still feels like I’ve barely begun. Perhaps because I’m still on the part of the show that already had come out when I first watched it? In any case, see you next year as I begin my march through season 3, an oddball season because it’s half as long as all the others.

>> Part 22: The Crystal Empire, Part 1 + 2

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