Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 41: Twilight’s Kingdom, Part 1 + 2


< Part 40 | Part 41 | Part 42 >

Season 4, Episodes 25-26

Well, this is it. My last post going over season 4, and my last post going over episodes I had seen before my six-year hiatus from being a brony. Once I’ve finished this post, I’ll take a break from making MLP posts for the rest of June to focus on other projects and get some rest before I begin my epic journey through season 5, my favorite season of the show. Besides, it would feel SO weird to jump straight to The Cutie Map when my first time watching it wasn’t until 2020.

I have EXTREMELY fond memories of watching the season 4 finale for the first time: my reaction to it can be summed up as “mind blown”. My reaction to watching the season 5 premiere for the first time wasn’t too different, except it also included a lot of “I can’t believe I kept telling myself I only liked MLP ironically” plus a splash of “I love MLP:FiM so much and I always did”.

(By the way, I accidentally scheduled this post for 9 PM instead of 9 AM, which is why it came out a little late. Sorry about that!)

Season 4 Episode 25: Twilight’s Kingdom, Part 1

In five words: Season 4’s plot comes together.

Premise: While Twilight Sparkle feels doubtful about her princess role, a once-banished villain named Tirek begins a rampage across Equestria and convinces Discord to join his side.

Detailed run-through:

Is it just me, or did Spike’s statue get bigger after the Equestria Games?

Much like the season’s premiere, season 4’s finale begins on an innocuous note addressing Twilight Sparkle’s role as a princess. Spike goes off about how cool it was to have rescued the Crystal Empire and get honored so heavily, and he and Rainbow Dash trade jabs for bragging about themselves. Then Twilight Sparkle reveals her minimal role in this upcoming event:

Twilight Sparkle: I’m glad you all wanted to come, but I don’t think it’s gonna be that exciting. I pretty much just have to smile and wave as the dignitaries arrive.
Rarity: Yes, but you get to smile and wave like a princess.
Applejack: How exactly is that different than smiling and waving like not a princess?
Twilight Sparkle: It isn’t.

At this point, it’s clear that as humble as she is about her new princess role, and as often as she insists she isn’t better than anyone else, there is a part of Twilight Sparkle that wants to do something cool and exciting as a princess, making use of the things she’s good at. Her character has started to develop in a direction where she gets increasingly confident with her role and even a little haughty sometimes. I won’t go on a tangent about the way she treats Starlight Glimmer here, since I’ve already gone on too many tangents about her and she still doesn’t exist yet. But she will soon.

Twilight Sparkle continues discussing with her friends how she feels her princess role doesn’t amount to much, and though they keep telling her otherwise, she still isn’t convinced. There’s only so much that kind words from friends can do for you, and she’s going to prove her worth herself.

While the other three princesses are greeting big important guests at the event, all Twilight does is unfurl a banner and wave her hoof. Spike is surprised that’s all she had to do, and Twilight doesn’t feel great about it. This is the note the episode ends on before the theme song, confirming that it’s going to answer the big, lingering question of season 4: now that Twilight Sparkle is a princess, what exactly will she do with this role? Since we’ve had plenty of time now to absorb that she’s a princess, there’s no better time to answer this.

Hey look, a group shot of all four princesses! And at the end of season four no less.

After learning the meet-and-greet event is over, Twilight Sparkle meets with the other three princesses who all politely tell her that having all four princesses aboard confirms to the guests that their visit is considered important. Much like the rest of the Mane 6, her fellow princesses all politely try to reassure her in a way that doesn’t get through to her; only her lifelong sidekick Spike freely admitted how strange it is that she did so little. Though she treats Celestia, Luna, and Cadance all with massive respect, she feels very disappointed that she has had so little to do as a princess.

In fact, she’s so disappointed about this that she sings a whole song about it, titled “You’ll Play Your Part” and upholding the pattern of each season finale so far having multiple musical numbers. The song isn’t just about disappointment, but also about uncertainty about here to go next in life. Her arc through season 4 has focused on finding a purpose, something that’s easy for the show’s fans young and old to latch onto.

I just want to go ahead and say that I think Cadance is cool.

The other princesses take turns singing this song, and it’s Luna and Cadance’s first time being in a musical number. Luna’s section is interesting because she mentions that she too has struggled through insecurities and getting her own important role—not news at all if you remember her and Celestia’s backstory. But the truth is that no matter how much an authority figure tells Twilight Sparkle she has also struggled, the only way for her to get over her insecurities is to prove herself through anime battles. Celestia, Luna, and Cadance then sing in unison as the song shifts into a more uplifting tone and even has a key change.

Once the musical number ends, things start to get terrifying. Scored with tense, uneasy music, a new villain named Lord Tirek makes his debut. The very first thing he does is suck all the magic out of a random unicorn and wash away his cutie mark, leaving the guy unconscious and allowing himself to gain more power. Every two-part episode villain so far has been scarier than the last—in the season finales especially, this show has a pattern of outdoing itself.

I think this is the first time we see Celestia and Luna interacting with no one else around.

Celestia wakes up not from a bad dream as she thinks, but from a vision as Luna tells her. This leads to an exposition sequence calling back in style to the first episode but this time narrated by Celestia and Luna, the very sisters whose backstory we learned about back then. Now it’s time to learn the backstory of two villainous brothers: Scorpan, who became acquainted with the magic of friendship and abandoned his naughty ways, and Tirek, who remained villainous and got banished to Tartarus but recently found a way to escape. This is quite a juicy lore dump that does a good job giving our new villain some backstory, also tying in with existing characters; Star Swirl the Bearded is mentioned to have been friends with Scorpan. Some villains in this show get a backstory right off the bat, while others only get one in a later episode; it depends on the character which is appropriate.

Celestia: His time in Tartarus left him very weak. He has just now gained enough strength to use his dark powers.
Luna: But with each passing moment, he grows stronger still.
Cadance: And I know just the princess who can stop him.
Twilight Sparkle: Yes. I’ll find him and—
Celestia: No, Twilight. I’m afraid I must call in another to stop Tirek.
Celestia: Discord.
(Luna, Cadance, and Twilight Sparkle gasp)

While Cadance shows some heartwarming confidence in her sister-in-law, knowing that Twilight is brave and will easily step up against a heroic threat, Celestia once more puts a surprising amount of trust in Discord. Celestia’s flavor of morality is somewhat different from the other princesses: she views Discord not as an unpredictable wildcard, but as a valuable asset who Fluttershy has successfully kept on a leash. Perhaps this demonstrates the high degree of trust Celestia puts in the Mane 6: just like how she entrusted them to reform Discord, she thinks now that Discord is reformed, he will never do anything skeevy again.

The rest of the Mane 6 (except Fluttershy of course) are shocked and skeptical about Discord’s new role. Supposedly, Discord will be able to sense when there is an imbalance in magic and track Tirek down. Twilight Sparkle is bummed out about this and decides to do some studying in the Castle of the Two Sisters. She says it’s just to catch up with her reading, but we all know how plot-relevant that location really is. Her friends join her to keep her company, which comes very much in handy.

Discord interrupts the Mane 6 on their journey to the Castle of the Two Sisters and points them to a much more imminently relevant location: the Tree of Harmony with the mysterious chest next to it.

Discord: I- it got me thinking, what if what’s locked inside is something that could help her prove her royal worth. I only bring it up because she said that she’s been feeling like her role as a princess doesn’t equate to much.
Pinkie Pie: Wait a minute! How do YOU know how she was feeling?!
Discord: Oh, my. Is eavesdropping not the way you’re supposed to find out what your best pals are up to? Woe is me. Will I ever learn the intricate nuances of being a good friend?

This passage nicely represents how far Discord’s character development has come. His understanding of friendship still leaves a lot to be desired as evidenced by his eavesdropping, but he’s trying to help the Mane 6 in a way that isn’t too roundabout for once. Meanwhile, most of the Mane 6 still assume the worst from Discord. While he still acts snooty to them, this is the most directly helpful he’s been to our heroes, which makes his later actions in this two-part episode all the more shocking.

Discord gives the Mane 6 their friendship journal, with a few pages helpfully bookmarked, while still being his weird and zany self. This leads Applejack to say something interesting about him:

Applejack: Sometimes I think the “reformed” Discord is more obnoxious than the “before he was reformed” Discord.

This is a bizarre take given that before reformation, Discord ruined Equestria and brainwashed all the Mane 6, and now he’s just needling them while helping advance their journey. But maybe it makes sense that Applejack, a pony all about being straightforward and honest, would think that. Being straightforward is incompatible with Discord’s nature; he just has to make everything into a complicated mind game. The Mane 6 dig through books in the Castle of the Two Sisters for answers about the treasure chest and eventually look through the friendship journal Discord provided them, and then we switch to Tirek and the horror resumes.

Tirek is easily the scariest villain we’ve had so far.
(And sometimes, things are scarier and more foreboding when seen as shadows.)

I forgot Discord had a canon pony persona.

Tirek’s fearsome rampage is interrupted when he chances upon a pony who turns out to be Discord in disguise. It turns out that they knew each other long ago, both having been imprisoned after their mischievous deeds until they managed to escape.

A character in MLP who has actual hands. How rare is that?!

Discord proves himself a worthy rival to Tirek and ally to our heroes when he handcuffs the guy with a snap of his fingers, then avoids a laser beam from Tirek by briefly splitting his head in half.

Tirek: Oh, I should have known you would want to have Equestria all to yourself.
Discord: Oh, I’m not doing this for me. I’m doing it for my friends.
Discord: (Just between the two of us, it’s mostly for Fluttershy.)
Tirek: Fluttershy? You’re not saying you’re friends with… ponies.
Discord: (pops out of a cake) Surprise!
Tirek: I am surprised that someone with your intellect does not see this “friendship” is but a new form of imprisonment. Clearly you’ve had to abandon your true nature to stay in their good graces.

MLP:FiM has come a long way in terms of characterizing villains. While I had discussed back in the first episode how Nightmare Moon’s characterization wasn’t very strong, we’re now at a point where the villains exploit friendship and manipulate others for their own selfish schemes. Tirek is a great example of this: he knows that once someone has fallen into the world of friendship, there’s no turning back for them, as was proven by the case of his brother. Here, he’s convincing Discord to join forces with him only so that he can manipulate the guy for his own schemes. Discord has fallen into the world of friendship, and while he’s mostly only pals with Fluttershy, her friendship alone is extremely valuable to him. The trick here is that Discord wrongly thinks he will become friends with Tirek, which leaves him in contemplation.

The Mane 6 wouldn’t be having his realization if not for Discord.

Back to the Mane 6, Twilight Sparkle picks up on a pattern from the journal pages Discord bookmarked, leading to a recap of the so-called “key episodes” where all besides Twilight had to face a difficult decision with their element of harmony. This recap is drawn out a little, but it does tie this season’s overarching plot together and lead Twilight to realize all the items each of her friends got will in some way help open the chest.

And what is that way, exactly? When Pinkie Pie throws Boneless at the chest hoping to squeeze a key out of it, the squeaky toy chicken transforms into a key. The other four items from the key episodes transform into keys too, leaving one more question: how is Twilight Sparkle going to get her key for the chest? She realizes she hasn’t gone through a difficult situation where she had to perform a magical task to benefit someone else’s life, but before they can solve this problem, Spike burps out a letter sending her to Canterlot at once.

It doesn’t work out, but props to the background ponies for trying to stop Tirek.

Celestia tells Twilight Sparkle that Discord has now joined forces with Tirek: Discord hosted a seemingly innocent magic show, but then he pulled Tirek out of a hat, and he absorbed the magic from everyone in a crowd and grew bigger and stronger than ever. Celestia thinks the problem is that she put too much trust in Discord; she doesn’t know that this shows how dangerous and cunning Tirek is. He managed to manipulate Discord, who’s ordinarily a master of manipulation, into seemingly teaming up with him.

Oh no, not Derpy too.

After absorbing magic from unicorns, Tirek absorbs the flight from pegasi and the strength from earth ponies with Discord’s help. While purported to be “freed” from the clutches of friendship, Discord has fallen for illusions of friendship with Tirek—someone who loves being almighty and powerful just like him. Tirek is a truly monstrous villain, and he’s one of the most well-liked villains of the show. It probably helps that he originated from 80’s MLP and hadn’t appeared since then.

Then Celestia drops the big reveal: since Tirek is probably going to go after alicorn magic next, the princesses must all sacrifice their magic. This shocks Twilight Sparkle, and before we can get the BIG reveal about this sacrifice, this cliffhanger leads to a “To be continued…” screen. This is an excellent stopping point that heightens the tension perfectly before the action truly kicks in.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • I had completely forgotten Flash Sentry had a speaking scene early in this episode. I guess fans didn’t get too distracted by him this time because of all the cool anime battles in part 2? Or because he already appeared in Three’s a Crowd.
  • When singing, Luna’s voice sounds an awful lot like Rarity. I’m not sure how much the similarity is mitigated by the fact that Rarity’s singing voice is done by a different person.
  • I find it interesting that Tirek’s design is the closest we’ve seen to a human in this show. His design is like a centaur but with a monkey head instead of a human head, and I think the proximity to humans adds to his fear factor.

Season 4 Episode 26: Twilight’s Kingdom, Part 2

In five words: Dramatic anime battles conclude season.

Premise: Twilight Sparkle gains the power of the other three princesses and, while hiding it from everyone else, uses it to fight Tirek head-on.

Detailed run-through:

This episode’s recap of part 1 is one of the longer ones, clocking in at one whole minute. It makes sense because a lot of things went on in part 1: Twilight feeling doubtful about her princess role, the Mane 6 figuring out how to open the chest, the introduction of Tirek, Discord being swayed towards Tirek’s side. This entire two-part episode has so many plot threads come together, making for something truly spectacular.

After the recap comes the important reveal: the alicorns’ magic can’t be erased entirely, so instead it will be transferred to Twilight Sparkle. The reason is because Tirek is likely unaware that there is a fourth alicorn princess, which is a logical reason that makes sense to me. It finally gives Twilight an important role as a princess, and after some nervousness, she’s willing to step up and do what it takes.

Twilight Sparkle: Taking on this task will be one of the most difficult things I will ever do. But with the help of my friends—
Celestia: I’m sorry, Princess Twilight. But you must keep your new abilities a secret. I fear that your friends being aware of your new power could put them at great risk. Do you still think you can take on this responsibility?
Twilight Sparkle: This is the role I am meant to play as a princess of Equestria. I will not fail to do my duty.

There we have it: Twilight Sparkle is finally ready to perform a difficult task involving magic, which will complete the pattern and give her the last key. This episode is an awesome way to complete the key episode arc, saving the leader of the group for last.

Not shown: Discord’s body shaking, sensing an imbalance in magic.

Look, she’s a Super Saiyan now!

The princesses transfer their magic to Twilight Sparkle, giving her a superpowered form that’s capable of facing off Tirek. Twilight Sparkle hugs Celestia with tears in her eyes and then heads off. Celestia, Luna, and Cadance no longer have their cutie marks, symbolic of losing their magic.

On a rewatch, seeing Twilight’s house stings hard knowing what will happen to it.

Back home, Twilight Sparkle realizes it’s now her duty to raise and lower the sun, and as is typical of a character in a work of media gaining advanced superpowers, she has difficulty controlling them. What would ordinarily be humorous comes off as dramatic and worthy of panic because we’re in a season finale.

Next up for Tirek to absorb magic from is Canterlot’s royal guard, and Shining Armor is the brunt yet again. Tirek swallows Shining Armor’s attack on him, then sucks in his magic. Poor Shining Armor never has it easy in two-part episodes. For the third time, the episode’s villain has taken away his magic. But you can’t say he didn’t try.

To convey that Tirek and Twilight Sparkle are evenly matched now, both of them smash doors: Tirek on the way to try to absorb the princess’s magic, and Twilight Sparkle by mistake when exiting her house. Twilight Sparkle’s clumsy shenanigans with her powers are stunning to watch, and they leave me internally screaming “be careful!” She clumsily tries to hide her new powers from her friends, then goes to the Everfree Forest while telling her friends to keep everyone in Ponyville indoors.

In this scene, Discord only THINKS he’s a supreme puppeteer.

Tirek: How does it feel… knowing that soon every pegasus, unicon, and earth pony will bow to my will, and that there is NOTHING you can do to stop it?
Celestia: You will not prevail, Tirek.
Tirek: Give my regards to Cerberus.
(Tirek banishes the princesses)
Discord: Y… you meant our will… didn’t you?

At this point, Discord no longer cares for the idea of ruling over Equestria alone, but he’s very much into being a mighty tyrant with a friend by his side. But Tirek doesn’t feel that way, as proven when he lets it slip that he intends to have Equestria all to himself. From Tirek’s perspective, Discord has been permanently corrupted by friendship but still has plenty of mischief inside him, making him an ideal target for devious manipulation.

After giving Discord a medallion that supposedly represents his gratitude—a gesture of pseudo-friendship on his end—Tirek learns through stained glass paintings that there is a fourth alicorn princess. He’s briefly angry that Discord withheld it from him, but not for long. After Discord provides a little bit more information, namely that Twilight Sparkle lives in a library instead of a castle, Tirek sets out to find her.

And next up comes an especially crushing part: Discord captures the rest of Twilight Sparkle’s friends, including Fluttershy. Fluttershy is heartbroken here, showing that it does not feel good to be backstabbed by a friend. But the thing is, Discord is the type of person who’s satisfied with having only one very close friend, and Tirek has superseded Fluttershy for him. Tirek has allowed Discord’s villainous side to resurface, at least until Discord himself is backstabbed.

Tirek saved the best for last.

In a strange way, it’s also heartbreaking to see Tirek betray Discord. After absorbing the powers of Twilight Sparkle’s friends, he consumes Discord’s powers now that he has no more use for the guy. Tirek reveals that the medallion came from his brother, making it truly a symbol of his disregard for friendship. Discord often finds himself in situations where he does something naughty until the same act is inflicted upon him, and this is where he realizes how awful it feels to be betrayed. Discord says the very same words Fluttershy said when she was betrayed: that he truly didn’t see this coming.

And now, Twilight Sparkle and Tirek are ready for their epic showdown. Are you ready for some AWESOME? I know I am.

Look at how tightly she’s clinging to Owlowiscious. He almost got killed!

Remember how important Twilight Sparkle said all her books were to her at the end of the trading fair?

What’s the very first thing Tirek does in this grand showdown? He destroys the Golden Oak Library.

I’ll never forget my first-time reaction to watching this scene. It felt like a full-out blow to the chest and made the ensuing battle feel all the more enthralling. In fact, this is the reaction I have every time I watch this part of the episode, but nothing could ever replicate that first-time feeling of shock.

Twilight Sparkle’s anime battle with Tirek is fucking awesome. It is so awesome, in fact, that I needed to call back to my description of the Twilight Scepter’s hilarity to express how mind-blowing I find it. This is by far the most dramatic battle the show has EVER seen, and every second of it is an adrenaline rush of awesome. It’s something no one would have ever thought this show would do when it first aired, and I know lots of people love to compare this fight to Dragon Ball Z. The main difference is that this is a work of media I actually care about.

Yes. A series of huge explosions and laser beams blasting through mountains. In My Little Pony.

Just look at Twilight Sparkle blasting her way through giant rocks after Tirek slammed her into a mountain. And the explosion at the end, which is just one of many in this battle. This whole battle blew my mind the first time I watched it like few works of media have ever done. If I was told about all this a day before I watched MLP:FiM for the first time, I would have thought it was a joke. (Then again, when I first watched the show, this episode hadn’t come out yet.)

Tirek presents Twilight Sparkle with a deal: releasing her friends at the cost of her alicorn magic. This difficult decision, which her trapped friends urge her against, provides a suitable context for Fluttershy and Discord to have an emotional conversation.

Rainbow Dash: Don’t do it, Twilight!
Fluttershy: We aren’t worth it!
Discord: Oh, but you are, Fluttershy. You’re the pony who taught me that friendship is magic. I had magic and friendship. And now, I don’t have either.

Discord’s mention of half of this show’s title reminds Twilight that yes, friendship is magic. The title drop is a lot more earnest and less begrudging than the last time Discord said “friendship is magic”. This is what leads her to make the surprising decision to release her friends and let Tirek grow stronger. Tirek doesn’t release Discord at first, until Twilight fiercely commands him to do it. As insanely powerful as Tirek has become, he’s not immune to Twilight Sparkle’s commandeering, and it’s clear that he views her as a worthy rival.

Look at how pained Twilight Sparkle is having her magic drained from her.
This really can’t be a pleasant experience.

Discord gives Twilight Sparkle Scorpan’s medallion, as a symbol of the very same gratitude and loyalty that Tirek pretended to have when giving it to Discord. Twilight Sparkle has indeed faced a difficult decision related to magic just as she had hoped she would, and this is her reward.

The medallion flashes with a rainbow, confirming that it’s the last key needed to open the chest. It turns out that the last character to learn something from a Mane 6 member making a difficult decision is none other than Discord, who’s still a novice to concept of friendship. But now somewhat less of one.

As Tirek rampages through Equestria, the Mane 6 finally open the chest together. The chest powers the tree of Harmony and gives the Mane 6 each super forms, which might have been devised for the sake of merch, I don’t really know. In any case, they look like an anime superhero team now, and they’re ready for a grand final showdown.

Tirek is defeated with—you guessed it—the magic of friendship, which Twilight Sparkle announces in a proud, heroic speech. He goes all “what, how can this happen?” as he’s defeated, considering that he did not believe in the power of friendship. And he’s paying the ultimate price. Defeating villains using the power of friendship is a common pattern in this show that never stops being stunning.

Tirek is back to his weak original form now.

This is a handy map of Equestria, useful for fans to pick apart.

Derpy Hooves, we all love you so much.

Tirek is imprisoned, and the Mane 6 let out a rainbow beam across Equestria that restores all the magic and other powers that Tirek had drained. The camera briefly focuses on Derpy when the pegasi’s flight is restored, serving as both a lapse of humor and a shoutout to the fans, which is quite heartwarming to have in a season finale. Oh yeah, the princesses are rescued from prison too.

The next crazy thing to happen is that the chest causes a new residence for Twilight Sparkle to burst from the ground: a giant castle that Tirek was surprised she didn’t have. Much like her becoming a princess, moving to this castle is not an easy transition, and it’ll be addressed early in season 5.

Amusingly enough, Rarity is more excited about this castle than Twilight is.

Celestia: You’ve been wondering what you are meant to do as a princess. Do you know now?
Twilight Sparkle: As Princess, I believe I have the power to spread the magic of friendship across Equestria. That is the role I am meant to have in our world! The role I choose to have.
Twilight Sparkle: But I didn’t defeat Tirek on my own. It took all of us to unlock the chest.
Celestia: Then it is unlikely you are meant to take on this task alone.

This is a very satisfying way to answer the question of what Twilight Sparkle will do as a princess. She answers the question herself instead of having Celestia feed it to her. We’ve seen Twilight and her friends spread friendship across Equestria throughout season 4, and she’s now ready to take this role to greater heights. All this is leading up to the adventures the Mane 6 will have in season 5, and it feels weird that I had initially seen this leadup way back in 2014, but not seen what followed until six years later. Twilight Sparkle is officially given the title “Princess of Friendship”, which is certainly befitting.

Look, there’s a little seat for Spike so he’s not left out!

The Mane 6, Spike, and Discord have a group hug, and Discord is amusingly jealous that he doesn’t get a throne; Fluttershy politely tells him he’s not there yet. She’s willing as ever to forgive Discord while understanding he still has lessons to learn.

What a nice crowd of supporting characters. Derpy gets to be near the front!

To finish this episode, we have an upbeat musical number called “Let the Rainbow Remind You”. I keep thinking this song is from Equestria Girls for some reason, perhaps because of its instrumentation style? In any case, this song serves as a happy conclusion to this episode, showing that our heroes and this show both have a bright future.

Coco Pommel smiling with her eyes closed is as adorable as you’d expect from her.
(I really like Coco Pommel, OK?)

I love how Weird Al gets to be in the season finale. Not with any voiced lines though.

It looks like Silver Shill at least got something good out of his time with the Flim Flam brothers: working with comedic props. Just without deceptive intent this time.

The Mane 6 release one more rainbow that spreads across Equestria, and all the characters who provided them the keys see it and smile. Those characters are shown in the same order as they provided the keys: Coco Pommel, Spitfire (and her fellow Wonderbolts), Cheese Sandwich, Seabreeze, Silver Shill, and Discord.

The song ends with a cute little group picture of the Mane 6 and Spike, which is a simple but effective way to finish off season 4. We get light and hopeful-sounding orchestral music in the credits, as if to tell viewers to be patiently excited for what’s to come.

Overall thoughts:

There is only one criticism I have with this two-part episode: the recap of the Mane 6 getting their keys with the flashbacks feels a little too drawn-out. The rest of this episode is spectacular through and through. I love the way this episode ties plot points together, answers the question of what Twilight Sparkle will do as a princess, and in general doesn’t hold back on being awesome. Tirek is a highly fearsome villain, the first one in the show who really knows how to exploit friendship for his own gain, and also a scary brute in general. Through Tirek’s trickery of Discord and Discord’s realization of what it’s like to be betrayed, it’s cemented that though he still has plenty of lessons to learn, he’s firmly one of the good guys now. The biggest highlight of this episode is easily Twilight Sparkle’s dramatic duel with Tirek, and it’s to this day one of the most memorable and well-liked scenes of the entire show.

Grade: A

This is without a question the best season finale yet.

Miscellaneous notes:

Instead of regular old miscellaneous notes, I’ll use this section to discuss something peculiar: considering how awesome this episode is, why did it take me SIX YEARS after it to get back into MLP?

The answer is Homestuck. Two months after this episode aired (in July 2014), I read Homestuck for the first time, and it quickly supplanted MLP as the number one work of media I was obsessed with. I decided it wasn’t cool for me to like MLP anymore and kept telling myself the show wasn’t that great (even though it absolutely is). By the time season 5 started in April 2015, I didn’t even notice because I was still so absorbed in Homestuck. And in September of that year, I started a blog post series analyzing Homestuck, which is probably the number one most ambitious project I have ever done in my life. That absolute rabbit hole of a webcomic is the only other work of media I have done an entire blog post series about, and after years of being on and off with those posts and going through a long series of various other interests, I eventually found my way back to MLP in October 2020, a year after the show concluded, and it felt like a heartfelt reunion with a long-lost friend. (And I finished the posts about Homestuck almost a year later, meaning those posts are another thing in my life that took me a whole six years.)

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful show that I hold in extremely high regard. But the truth is, I don’t think any work of media can surpass Homestuck in terms of importance to my life and shaping me into who I am today. Still, though, the part about MLP being wonderful holds.

Recap of season 4

Season 4 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is the most consistently good season yet, and the one with the biggest and strongest overarching plot yet. The plot of the Mane 6 obtaining keys through trials in their elements of harmony feels well-done and fluid, and out of the six episodes that are part of that plot, only one I’d say is weak. The other two main focuses of the season are Twilight Sparkle coming to terms with her princess role and the attention she gets, and Discord meddling in the Mane 6’s lives while slowly warming up to them. This season gives us a fair amount of additions to the cast, and the two most notable ones are Cheese Sandwich and Maud Pie, both excellent characters. The premiere and finale are both awesome, and as much as I wish I hadn’t dropped this show after season 4 ended, I’m glad I at least got to experience this one as it happened.

Best episode: Rarity Takes Manehattan. Not just because it introduces us to Coco Pommel, I promise. This episode is very thoroughly infused with Rarity episode magic without having significant flaws to hamper it.

Worst episode: Rainbow Falls. As I said, this is the only key episode that I think is weak, mostly because its plot feels way too predictable.

Funniest episode: Twilight Time. It’s nice to squeeze some humor value out of Twilight Sparkle being a princess before the show starts taking this role more seriously.

Most emotional episode: Flight to the Finish. Scootaloo’s inability to fly is a heavy topic, and this episode portrays her insecurities about it well.

Strongest character: Sweetie Belle. As a change of pace, I feel like giving the awards to supporting characters this time, and Sweetie Belle gets lots of time to shine in this season. She even learns magic!

Weakest character: Trenderhoof. Probably weird putting a one-time character here, but I do think his characterization is weak and I couldn’t think of another non-Mane 6 character to put here.

You probably aren’t surprised to know that it feels very satisfying to finish reviewing season 4. You probably also aren’t surprised to know that I will take a break after finishing this season. During this break, I will work on other projects and focus on real life stuff, which I will have a lot of to deal with through the month of June. When that’s done, see you in July or August as I begin my journey through season 5 with a two-part episode that holds a special place in my heart: The Cutie Map.

>> Part 42: The Cutie Map, Part 1 + 2

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