Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 39: Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3 + Trade Ya!


< Part 38 | Part 39 | Part 40 >

Season 4, Episodes 21-22

Greetings from Spain, uh, again! Current mood: badly hoping I’ll get a negative COVID-19 test so I can fly home on Sunday. Also, here’s the post about learning Spanish I said I might make last time.

Season 4 Episode 21: Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3

In five words: Rainbow Dash has difficulty studying.

Premise: As her next step to get into the Wonderbolts, Rainbow Dash needs to study for a test about the Wonderbolts’ history, and she’s reluctant to do so. Her friends all try to help her find a way to absorb the information, which proves difficult.

Detailed run-through:

Like several prior episodes, this one starts with Twilight Sparkle trying to concentrate on a magic spell only to get interrupted by one of her friends, and this time the interruption is the quickest yet. This comical scene establishes that this episode is going to focus on Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash’s dynamic. I’ve noticed that some combinations of Mane 6 members find themselves paired up in episodes far more often than others, and that seasons 5 and 6 are when the show plays mix-and-match with character pairs through all those friendship map missions. Applejack and Rarity are commonly paired because their contrasting interests play off each other in amusing ways but also make it more satisfying to see them happily cooperate. Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash are another common pair, and it’s easy to see why: they’re both huge nerds, but while Twilight completely owns up to being one, Rainbow Dash tries to disguise it by constantly playing it cool. This leads the two to have all sorts of interesting interactions, as we’ll see here.

Rainbow Dash gloats about how easy it was to catch Twilight by surprise, bragging about how sharply she pays attention to everything around her while flying. Twilight Sparkle was indeed muttering to herself about how Rainbow Dash hasn’t been taking her studying for the Wonderbolt history test seriously, using the fairly exotic word “lackadaisical” in the process. I can tell that Twilight considers Rainbow Dash to be very smart, which is why she’s frustrated that her friend doesn’t want to apply her skills in the right way. And Rainbow Dash likewise considers Twilight Sparkle far smarter than her, at the cost of being a dorky goober who’s easy to fool. The friction between these two comes about because of how much they see in each other.

Say what you will about Twilight having wings, but they do allow a new layer of expressiveness for her.

Rainbow Dash: Yeah, yeah. The Wonderbolts history test. No big deal.
Twilight Sparkle: No. Big deal. Really big deal. It’s a test! A test that will determine if you can join the newly formed Wonderbolts reserves. And being part of the Wonderbolts reserves means you’ll have the opportunity to live your dream as a Wonderbolt. This is the most important test OF YOUR LIFE!
Rainbow Dash: Twilight, not everypony gets all freaked out about tests like you.
Twilight Sparkle: I do not get all freaked out about tests!
Rainbow Dash: Uh, seriously?

Twilight Sparkle gives a very good reason Rainbow Dash should take this test seriously. The way she’s brushed off comes across like Rainbow Dash is trying to avoid facing the truth, which is something she does in pretty much every episode focused on her. She’s telling herself that freaking out about tests is something only Twilight does.

How didn’t this occur to Twilight sooner?

Twilight Sparkle gets excited to help Rainbow Dash study for her test, but Rainbow Dash immediately dreads it. The weird thing is that Rainbow Dash is perfectly capable of obsessively memorizing information, as her interest in Daring Do proves. So why isn’t she similarly excited to memorize the history of the athletic team she’s always idolized so much? That question has always bugged me a little, and I can’t say I have a good answer to it.

Rainbow Dash thought she was good at surprise attacks, didn’t she.

After the theme song, Rainbow Dash at first looks cool and sly wearing her sunglasses, but she’s hilariously flummoxed when Twilight Sparkle drops a huge book by her. I’m sure Twilight knows Rainbow Dash is capable of absorbing huge amounts of information from books, which is why she expects this study session to be such a breeze. She isn’t just imparting her own strengths and interests onto others (aside from using her trademark checklists); she truly thinks this will work perfectly. But alas, Rainbow Dash continues being resistant.

The studying montage that ensues is pretty fun, with scene transitions involving school supplies like pencils and highlighters. Rainbow Dash is behaving exactly like a mischievous student who keeps derailing her class, but I do feel part of the problem may be that Twilight got carried away with teaching Rainbow Dash how to study. But seeing Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle play the roles of student and teacher is hilarious either way.

Twilight Sparkle then moves on to a history lecture, which Rainbow Dash spaces out through. She teams up with Owlowiscious and Spike to play some music, completely distracting her from the lecture. However, I know that many fans of the show ate up all this information like delicious candy. While for Rainbow Dash this is completely boring, for fans this is Important Equestria Lore™. It helps that the Wonderbolts’ founding took place a year after Luna’s banishment, adding a piece to the show’s timeline.

I love how excited Twilight Sparkle sounds when bringing up flash cards.

Twilight Sparkle gives us tidbits of Wonderbolt history through flashcards, but Rainbow Dash keeps blowing spit wads onto them while giggling to herself. While Twilight Sparkle is naturally frustrated at this, I imagine that viewers were instead excited to fill in the blanks themselves and write their own fanfiction about all this history. This show has plenty of information that it leaves fans to decide, which wouldn’t make sense to do if it hadn’t garnered such a large fanbase.

Twilight Sparkle quizzes Rainbow Dash on Wonderbolt history, and she gets every question wrong in a way that shows she’s gotten distracted by hunger. This leads Rainbow Dash to finally realize how important the test is and panic, which leads her and Twilight Sparkle to get into a petty argument that shows Twilight’s haughty side and Rainbow Dash’s sensitive side. Twilight Sparkle recites answers to Wonderbolt history questions with ease, and Rainbow Dash is mad at her for rubbing it in. With her supreme smarts and magic skills and princess status, Twilight Sparkle is an enviable figure for many, sometimes even her closest friends.

I think this might be our first time seeing all three winged Mane 6 members flying at once.
Or at least, definitely the first with no one else around.

In a refreshing burst of character development, Fluttershy steps up and stops her friends from arguing any further, then confidently presents her own idea for how to get Rainbow Dash to learn.

And her idea is a cryptic play put on by the Mane 6’s pets, which needs constant explanations and soon goes off the rails. While Twilight Sparkle specializes in learning and teaching, Fluttershy is absolutely imparting her own skills onto Rainbow Dash with this play. It’s sweet that her friends all want to help her this much, but their attempts are all clumsy and only get worse.

I’m imagining some fan quitting this show at this very moment because their headcanon of Vinyl Scratch having bright cyan eyes was proven wrong.
(They probably wouldn’t quit over something THAT small, but you never know.)

Like Pinkie Pie’s rap song about the Wonderbolts, for one. It’s as incomprehensible as it is hilarious, and this show is having a lot of fun making ponifications of just about any type of person under the sun. I can only imagine what fanfiction has been written about these rapper ponies. They’re probably all buddies with Vinyl Scratch at least; I don’t think anyone would contest that.

I could make comparisons to the later existence of the School of Friendship, but I think it’s more enjoyable to analyze this episode as a standalone.

Next in line is Rarity, who holds a fashion show ostensibly to teach Rainbow Dash about the Wonderbolts’ history, but it’s saturated with aside remarks about their questionable fashion decisions. This is completely on-brand for Rarity, another character who doesn’t specialize in teaching. Her attempt at teaching further flops when the silhouettes turn out to be alive and Rainbow Dash freaks out even though they’re just her friends, demonstrating a surprisingly fearful side of her.

Applejack: Now don’t you fret, Rainbow. This fashion show nonsense wouldn’t help me learn nothing either.
Rainbow Dash: Really? Well, what special study trick do you have, AJ?
Applejack: Who, me? Oh, I got nothing.
Rainbow Dash: Ugh.
Applejack: Why, I could tell you every little thing there is to know about the history of apples. But I picked all that up over years in the field, as a labor of love. How much time you got?
Rainbow Dash: Twelve hours.
Applejack: Oh, then you are up a creek.

I find it fitting that Applejack breaks the pattern and doesn’t throw together a whimsical attempt to get Rainbow Dash to learn. It matches how she’s portrayed as the most grounded in reality of the Mane 6; the one who gives Rainbow Dash honest advice that unfortunately isn’t usable here. Her statement about knowing all about apples due to being exposed to them throughout her life makes sense because continuous long-term exposure makes it easy and natural to learn something, like learning a language for one. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible.

A decent portion of this episode has taken place in the sky.

When her friends descend into an argument about how to best teach Rainbow Dash, she feels hopeless and storms off in her recognizable blend of despair and frustration. Twilight Sparkle follows her as they have a heart-to-heart that looks right into Rainbow Dash’s insecure side. Twilight gives her some words of encouragement, saying that she’s very smart but just learns things a little differently. She mentions how enthusiastically Rainbow Dash reads the Daring Do books, which alleviates a criticism bubbling in my head about this episode. She’s acknowledging that there are some books that Rainbow Dash wouldn’t want to read, but the Daring Do books hit the perfect combination of qualities to make them appealing to her.* It’s suggested that Rainbow Dash is capable of hyper-focusing on something, just that her brain makes strange decisions as to what to focus on, or in other words, she might have ADHD. I very much know what it’s like to heavily focus on some things while spacing out just as heavily at other things, and Rainbow Dash’s portrayal of this is pretty accurate if you ask me.

* Just as MLP:FiM hits the perfect combination of qualities to be appealing to me. Why did I EVER tell myself otherwise???

Not many pairs of Mane 6 members complement each other’s traits as well as these two.

Twilight Sparkle continues blabbering about Rainbow Dash’s qualities until Rainbow Dash pushes her out of the way; turns out she almost got hit by a helicopter. This is a great demonstration of Rainbow Dash’s ability to sharply focus, and it leads her to go back to being proud and upbeat. The scene rewinds and she explains how when she flies, she pays close attention to all her surroundings in the air and on the ground, and claims it to be a natural part of flight.

Rainbow Dash: In order to stay safe in the sky, I gotta hear and see everything down to the littlest details. For instance, I saw Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo come out of Sugarcube Corner, and from the looks of it, they had carrot cupcakes with sprinkles.
Rainbow Dash: And I’m thinking Big Mac sold a huge order of apples to Filthy Rich, ’cause I heard him give a very hearty “eeyup”.

I doubt that any old pegasus would focus on their surroundings this sharply or recite them as well as Rainbow Dash does. Perhaps it’s in Rainbow Dash’s nature to focus on intricate details, but she’s also found a way to not get herself too spaced out while flying, which is admirable. This is a skill that it must have taken her lots of practice and slip-ups to get down, likely a much longer time than she’s willing to admit. I sure can’t blame Twilight Sparkle for being so blown away. She storms off in excitement without saying why, leaving Rainbow Dash feeling despondent again.

After the rest of the Mane 6 whisper a secret plan to get Rainbow Dash to learn, which is practically guaranteed through narrative tropes to succeed, Twilight Sparkle joins her again and they make some awkward conversation where Rainbow Dash feels hopeless. It starts with:

Rainbow Dash: Didn’t we just do this?
Twilight Sparkle: Yes, but like you said, I’m such a newbie I need all the practice I can get.
Rainbow Dash: Yeah, well I’m sure you’ll become a great flier in no time. After all, you’re good at everything.

Only in her darkest moments does Rainbow Dash admit how much she looks up to her nerdy friend. As much as she loves to poke at Twilight, she internally views her as a superstar who easily gets through hardships and has no trouble learning anything. And as big as her ego normally is, it’s times like these where we learn how much she sees in her friends. Rainbow Dash’s hopelessness continues as she feels she’s given up on her dreams and glumly lists possibilities for other jobs to work, but Twilight Sparkle continues being encouraging.

And then comes the surprise reveal. Rainbow Dash successfully recites a bunch of Wonderbolt history, first in a depressed tone that gradually transitions to an enthusiastic tone. It turns out that during her this gloomy conversation, Rainbow Dash unconsciously examined all her surroundings in intricate detail, and the rest of Mane 6 figured out how to use that habit to her advantage. The cool thing about this skill of Rainbow Dash’s is that she demonstrated it at the start of this episode, meaning that this episode’s opening foreshadowed its resolution.

Nice to see that Rarity’s original fashion show plan didn’t go to waste.

The scene rewinds once more to reveal various characters putting on a show to help learn the Wonderbolts’ history. It turns out the Mane 6 got a lot of residents of Ponyville to help Rainbow Dash learn, including the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Big Macintosh, and various background ponies, making for a heartwarming demonstration of what all they will do to help their friend.

This episode’s resolution consists of Rainbow Dash realizing that she learned without even thinking about it, then Twilight Sparkle writing a journal entry about how everyone has their own style of learning and one way isn’t better than the other. While humans obviously can’t fly, this moral is still highly applicable to viewers who are in school or otherwise need to learn something. It’s sure to inspire viewers to get creative with how they study or help others study.

This is the very last shot of the episode. Barring the credits, of course.

As Twilight Sparkle narrates the journal entry, the scene transitions to Rainbow Dash taking her Wonderbolts history test and getting 100%, continuing the pattern of her episodes having snappy resolutions.

Overall thoughts:

My biggest criticism with this episode is that I still find it a little weird that Rainbow Dash wouldn’t excitedly absorb everything there is to know about the Wonderbolts’ history. That criticism is fundamental to this episode’s plot, but it’s more a problem of mild inconsistency with other episodes than with the episode itself. In itself, I like pretty much everything about this episode. It’s got a good sense of humor, some nice exploration of Twilight Sparkle’s dynamic with Rainbow Dash, and silly scenes with the rest of the Mane 6 that don’t come off as exaggerated. It’s also a step forward in Rainbow Dash’s character arc, bringing her one step closer to joining the Wonderbolts while giving viewers breadcrumbs about their lengthy history.

Grade: B

For me, grading episodes of this show often comes down to one question: is it flawed enough to get a C instead of a B? In this case, the answer, after some deliberation, is no. I purposely have extremely high standards for giving episodes an A, and it’s not too often that I have enough problems with an episode to give it a D or F.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • I’m obligated to mention that Firefly, the founder of the Wonderbolts according to Twilight’s lecture, shares her name with the pony from the 80’s My Little Pony show who inspired the Rainbow Dash we know today and was Lauren Faust’s favorite. If I remember right, Lauren Faust mostly wasn’t able to reuse characters’ names from 80’s MLP for the new characters, so it’s nice to see that at least one of those names got to be reused for a historical figure. I think that’s thematically fitting anyway, making Rainbow Dash’s boredom at the Wonderbolts’ history parallel many bronies’ disinterest in the old MLP.
  • While Daring Do’s scenes in Read It and Weep are in a wider aspect ratio than the rest of the show, Pinkie Pie’s rap music video is in a narrower aspect ratio, which perfectly matches how it’s a parody of tacky music videos from decades ago.
    • Also on the topic of the rap song, it’s not listed in the credits and thus there’s some ambiguity as to whether it counts as a musical number. It is definitely a song, but it doesn’t consist of the ponies presently in the scene all bursting into song and telling a story through it. I’m imagining some super-fanciful snobby man saying “rap isn’t true musique anyway” while twiddling his mustache and sipping a glass of wine.
      • Also on the topic of French things, Rarity uses the phrase “an historical adventure” wile starting her fashion show as though the letter H is silent; something that I feel only Rarity would do.
  • Applejack mentions that Granny Smith discovered the first Granny Smith in Fillydelphia, and I just realized something. She’s saying that in MLP’s universe, there is such a thing as Granny Smith apples, except they’re named after their discoverer. I’m incredibly surprised I didn’t realize this until now! Unless I had previously realized it and had just forgotten it, which is possible.

Next up is another lower-stakes season 4 episode, one that I currently think of as an “oh yeah, that one” episode.

Season 4 Episode 22: Trade Ya!

In five words: The obligatory trading fair episode.

Premise: The Mane 6 attend a trading fair that gets them into a whole bunch of mishaps.

Detailed run-through:

This episode starts with one of rather few live demonstrations of Twilight Sparkle’s princess role in season 4. The Mane 6 arrive at the Rainbow Falls Traders’ Exchange, an event that has a princess visit each year, and this year the princess is Twilight Sparkle. Twilight heavily underestimates how much attention she will get at the fair, and all this obliviousness and modesty is probably the most natural way possible to tie in this fancy merch-selling princess title with Twilight’s actual character.

Poor Twilight. She isn’t used to getting so much attention.

I think I can go through this episode not by excruciatingly picking apart every detail, but by finding scenes here and there that I have things to say about and skipping scenes that I don’t. Twilight Sparkle being met with attention and misconceptions from every corner leads to a lot of hilarity yet again, partly because she’s a very humorous character in general. Between her snarky remarks, her fits of panic, her storms of excitement over mundane things, and her overall earnest and nerdy nature, my favorite member of the Mane 6 could really never be anyone but her.

Applejack: I guess a pony who’s here on official princess business has to expect a little fussing.
Twilight Sparkle: But all I’m supposed to do is settle disagreements over whether a trade is fair or not. And since the rule is that a trade is fair as long as both ponies get what they want, there’s never been a disagreement.

Twilight Sparkle is tempting fate so hard here. Clearly, she doesn’t know that arguments in trading events can get heated, or that a verdict from a big important authority figure will easily defuse those arguments. Her character arc over this season and the next few focuses on coming to terms with being an authority figure, and she’s still very new to this role.

Each of the Mane 6 and Spike has a different reason for attending the fair, making this an episode where all of the Mane 6 have their own little subplots. Rainbow Dash wants to get a signed copy of the first Daring Do book, which would make her the first pony in Equestria to have a complete signed collection of all the books—an ambitious goal that bronies are sure to relate to. Spike is in a similar boat, hoping to trade his mint copy of a Power Ponies comic book for another mint copy; he and Rainbow Dash have both frequently served as stand-ins for bronies since the show started.

Though Rarity and Applejack seemed like polar opposites in season 1, they team up at the trading fair because they’re both interested in acquiring vintage objects. Their interests happened to intersect at the right time, and I can tell this show has a lot of fun making them play off each other. They have the right degree of contrast to make them bring a lot out of each other, since they’re not entirely dissimilar; both take pride in maintaining a steady, productive workflow and enjoy getting to the bottom of problems. Compare this to Rarity and Rainbow Dash, who don’t have much in common aside from a love for fame and glamour and are thus paired up much less often. Those two are a “rarepair”, you could say.*

* I mean “rare” as in “uncommon”, not a pun on Rarity’s name.

I love these contrasting reactions to a huge two-headed dog.

Now Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, the group’s resident pegasi who are also childhood friends, find themselves paired up quite a lot for obvious reasons. They’re another pair of characters who bring out a lot in each other through contrast. In this episode, Fluttershy, who was hoping to trade animal whistles, agrees to prioritize helping Rainbow Dash with her mission to get that Daring Do book. This soon enough leads them to get into a huge convoluted chain of item trades, like every episode of any show that takes place in a trading fair seems to have. I think I faintly remember an episode of Bob’s Burgers that does that? It’s a simple way to demonstrate how highly a character desires an object while torturing that character in the process, and it’s practically guaranteed to end in failure but with a small silver lining. This episode plays this trope exactly in the manner I just said.

Applejack and Rarity demonstrate some amusing mutual hypocrisy when they reveal what vintage items they want to trade all their items combined for: a rusty pie tin that supposedly cooks pies five seconds faster than her current one for Applejack, and a broach that looks identical to the one she has but she insists is noticeably older for Rarity. Both completely fail to see how similarly ridiculous they’re acting, which is a pattern that these two often fall into.

Amidst Rainbow Dash’s lengthy chain of trades, one thing we see is a guy who sells Discord-shaped lamps, not unlike the one Discord made in Keep Calm and Flutter On. What could the story behind these lamps possibly be? While Rainbow Dash is confused by this stand, all Fluttershy has to say is:

Fluttershy: They really do have everything at the Traders’ Exchange.

I love how unfazed Fluttershy is at weird freaky things. This line implies a lot of hidden depths from her; could it be that she has a ton of experience with trading fairs and has learned to not get freaked out by the bizarre things they sell? She could well be a veteran to trading compared to the rest of the Mane 6, which would mean the experience isn’t too new or exciting to her. Maybe that’s part of why she so quickly agreed to help Rainbow Dash instead of worrying about what she wanted.

And to end the chain of trades, Rainbow Dash finally encounters someone who could use a rusty old horseshoe—the only item she brought to the trading fair. She overestimated how desirable her lucky horseshoe is to anyone other than her, since only to her is it anything more than a random rusty horseshoe. It may seem odd out of context that anyone at a trading fair would want that thing, but Fluttershy had told us there’s no threshold of weirdness at this event.

Through the fair, Twilight Sparkle has stuck with Pinkie Pie, who stops her from trading a huge stack of books she wants to get rid of for a broken quill. These two are another pair of ponies with a heavily explored dynamic, as I’ve discussed since the second episode of the show. The logical-minded bookworm and the plucky free spirit are a pair of characters who tend to clash a lot, but they do have traits in common like ability to store extensive knowledge and a strong desire to stay on top of things. They just express those traits in different ways. It’s amusing to see Pinkie be the one to talk sense into Twilight for once, but given how easily Twilight gets carried away with her problems, someone has to reel her in, and Spike is busy finding comic books to trade.

Hey look, there’s a crystal pony in the crowd?

Pinkie Pie didn’t come to the fair to trade anything: she just came to watch over Twilight Sparkle and make sure she doesn’t do anything stupid. In an effort to help out her friend, she advertises the books as official princess merch, which draws in quite a crowd but predictably annoys Twilight. It’s not far off from how MLP merch works in reality, don’t you think?

I feel bad for Lauren Faust. She wanted to limit the show’s princesses to Celestia and Luna.

Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy proceed back down their long chain of deals, Applejack and Rarity get into a passive-aggressive argument… what’s the next interesting thing that happens?

Pinkie Pie: Did I mention that Princess Twilight got these books from Princess Celestia?
Crystal pony: Whoa, wait. You don’t mean…
Pinkie Pie: Oh, that’s right! Double princess!!!

This is another scene that reminds me of some of the show’s merch decisions. Because princesses make merchandise profitable, the original plan to have Celestia and Luna be the only princesses got derailed further and further with more additions to the pile. Despite everything, there are still little girls who want all the fancy MLP princess merch they can get. It’s weird to think about, honestly. My brain doesn’t even think of this as a little girls’ show anymore.

Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash are almost done with the chain of orders, and all that’s left is to take the Orthros (the two-headed dog who we see here) to the booth with the Daring Do book, but the trading fair is almost over. There are a whole bunch of lines of ponies in the way, so Fluttershy uses her Chekhov’s bear whistle to drive them all away. At long last, the pegasi are ready for the payoff…

“I think she’s more interested in books than friends,” as Twinkleshine would say.
(Rainbow Dash does care about her friends. She just spaced out one moment too long.)

… except there’s an unfortunate twist. The pony selling the Daring Do book doesn’t just want an Orthros, but also wants Fluttershy to stay with her and train the dog for however long it takes. Because she was so distracted by the joy of getting her hooves on an authentic signed copy of the first Daring Do book, Rainbow Dash accidentally traded a book for her friend.

Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle’s part of the fair doesn’t go well either. If you remember the fair’s number one rule—a trade is only fair if both ponies get what they want—Pinkie Pie is taking it extremely seriously, not letting anyone trade items for the books unless they are EXTREMELY valuable, which drives everyone away. She’s doing this because she cares about her friend and doesn’t want Twilight Sparkle to wind up with something useless in place of her excess of books. But it’s no matter because Twilight realizes those books mean something to her after all; each book has some fond memory attached to it, and they all make her who she is. Even though the start of the first episode had Twilight derided for caring so much about her books, the show now freely accepts her obsession with books as part of her identity.

And next up, Rainbow Dash calls Twilight Sparkle to judge whether a trade is fair. Although Twilight deems the trade shown above to be fair, Rainbow Dash says otherwise and gives a little speech about how there’s nothing more valuable than a friend. The pony who wanted the Orthros is briefly angry but then feels touched at this heartfelt moment of friendship.

Spike went through one mishap early in this episode, but Twilight Sparkle bailed him out.

On the train ride home, we get a few nice little moments of catharsis. Spike, who spent most of the episode offscreen, was rewarded for his relentless searching with the comic book that he wanted. Applejack and Rarity playfully trade jabs when revealing what they got each other:

Rarity: I know it’s not the pie tin you were after, but I hope you like it. It’s the rustiest piece of junk I could get.
Applejack: Huh. Well, I took my half of our stash and got you this.
Rarity: Ooh!
Applejack: And I know you’re gonna love it, ’cause you already have a bunch of ones that look exactly the same sitting in a drawer doing nothing.

I like how Rarity and Applejack’s dynamic has evolved to a point where they playfully poke at each other’s ways. I don’t know about you, but I find it oddly sweet that they do that.

The viewer might have forgotten what Fluttershy wanted at the fair, but Rainbow Dash didn’t.

And for a few more sweet moments, Rainbow Dash remembered what Fluttershy wanted and traded the Orthros for a bird whistle, and Twilight Sparkle gives Rainbow Dash her tattered old copy of the first Daring Do book which gets her super jumpy and excited. All this is a nice way to end the trading fair episode on a positive note.

Overall thoughts:

This episode is pretty much what one would expect from MLP:FiM doing a trading fair episode: a whole bunch of mishaps with typical trading fair tropes that lead to heartwarming moments of friendship at the end. But one minor criticism I have with this episode is that it’s rather imbalanced in terms of the Mane 6’s screen time and what all they do in the fair. Applejack and Rarity don’t get a lot of time with their arc, and Spike spends most of this episode offscreen, whereas a generous amount of time is spent with Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash’s sequence of trades. But balancing this many characters in an episode, even when paired up, is difficult anyway, and it’s a miracle that The Best Night Ever pulled it off so well. I shouldn’t focus on character balance problems too much anyway. This episode was a fun little breeze to analyze.

Grade: B

This grade came down to the same question as last time and ended with the same result.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Why does this guy have no cutie mark? There’s a ton of wild explanations you could come up with here, but I’m going to give the most mundane one I can think of. Maybe he painted over his cutie mark with gray because he’s embarrassed by his mark and doesn’t want others to see it.
  • In the background of this image, we have a hilariously lazy palette swap of young Applejack and Aunt Orange from the Cutie Mark Chronicles. This sort of thing would have been commonplace in season 1, but here it’s quite jarring to see. Perhaps the people working on this episode were short on time and needed to quickly fill background space?
  • This episode has so many more oddities with background characters that I could take note of, but that’s not really the point of these reviews. Even in the miscellaneous notes, I only like to point out a few particularly interesting ones, not every little familiar-looking character we see.

In the next episode, Rarity trades her sanity for the ability to conjure anything she can dream of.

See you next week as Spike causes mishaps two episodes in a row. We’re almost done with season 4!

>> Part 40: Inspiration Manifestation + Equestria Games

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