Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 50: Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep? + Canterlot Boutique


< Part 49 | Part 50 | Part 51 >

Season 5, Episodes 13-14

Just like with my Homestuck posts, 50 is a fun number to reach because I’m halfway to 100 posts. It’s also a nice point to reflect on how much bigger this project became than I first envisioned, because of a little something called Cookiefonster’s Law: It always becomes more ambitious than you expect, even when you take into account Cookiefonster’s Law.

(Yeah, this law is just a riff on Hofstadter’s Law. Still, it heavily applies to every creative project I ever do.)

Season 5 Episode 13: Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?

In five words: Luna’s self-blame infects dreams.

Premise: The Mane 6 have to help fight a monster who has been haunting Luna’s dreams called the Tantabus. Callbacks and dream shenanigans ensue.

Detailed run-through:

This episode starts off right away with anime battle shenanigans that turn out to be one of Luna’s dreams. A blob of grayish darkness called the Tantabus turns Luna into Nightmare Moon, the Mane 6 defeat her with magic rainbow beams, and Luna wakes up in a panic.

Unlike the others, Pinkie Pie is hyperactive as ever this morning.
Maybe the dreams only depleted 1% of her hyperactivity?

The Mane 6 have a grooming session with their pets the next morning, and most of them are drowsy and didn’t sleep well. They’re surprised to find that they all dreamed about the same blue smoke monster—though Spike repeatedly points out he didn’t, much to the others’ annoyance. Twilight Sparkle gets Spike to write a letter to Luna, who arrives surprisingly quickly and explains that the Tantabus, which has been haunting her dreams, has now wormed its way into the Mane 6’s dreams and is at risk of entering the waking world. Still hung up on his irrelevance to this whole affair, Spike is bummed out to hear that Luna dreamed about his pony friends and not him. Luckily, this episode gives Spike some time to shine instead of making him mere comic relief throughout, unlike a certain episode that was supposed to focus on him.

You know something strange? I have had almost nothing to say about the first six minutes of this episode, including the Mane 6 and Spike all getting into bed in preparation for Luna to explore their dreams and hunt down the Tantabus. This is so much unlike any other episode of season 5 so far, and I wonder if the episode’s scenes before the Mane 6’s dreams had to be padded out to fill 22 minutes. Seriously, it does not feel right to have so little to say here! Sometimes I anticipate my review of a MLP episode to be short and modest, but it blows up to enormous proportions; so far, this episode is the opposite. Let’s hope I have more to say about the dream sequences that follow.

Nice to see Rarity demonstrate some fighting prowess.
She doesn’t do it quite as often as Twilight Sparkle.

OK, now we’re at the good stuff. We look into the Mane 6’s dreams one by one, and they each have a clear pattern: they start out wacky and harmless until the Tantabus infects it and it goes to horror, then Luna enters the dream, and the Tantabus escapes to another one. This episode has a distinctive style of dreams a little different from others, where it starts with bizarre scenarios that the characters find delightful and don’t question at all. In this case, Rarity is delighted by a bunch of dancing and swimming dresses until they turn into freaky monsters and destroy one of the dresses much to her dismay. It’s on-brand for Rarity to be set off by the strangest things, in this case a dress in her dream being ravaged.

What’s more surprising, however, is the self-blame Luna expresses in this episode, like in this passage:

Rarity: What kind of monster would do this?!
Luna: The Tantabus.
Rarity: Then let’s stop it!
Luna: No! Please. I don’t want you to suffer any more because of me. I will catch it.

Luna having a lot of guilt about her actions as Nightmare Moon that she’s bottled up since her return to Equestria? I can believe it, honestly. She probably doesn’t see many others who she can let out this guilt to; certainly not Celestia, who’s always busy with her daytime affairs and has no power in the dreaming world. So instead, Luna’s self-blame has built up in the form of an amorphous monster that can no longer be contained, a metaphor for what happens when you bottle up traumatic feelings for too long. That also might explain why she’s still sometimes absent from events Celestia attends, like the Grand Galloping Gala.

Pinkie Pie’s dream starts with her merrily galloping through various scenery we’ve seen in prior episodes, like the pond she cloned herself in and the temple Daring Do explored and many more. This brings me to a criticism with this episode: as fun as it is to have such an insane storm of callbacks, they aren’t very relevant to the story and are more just there for the sake of it. This heavily contrasts against Amending Fences, the previous episode, whose callbacks feel fluid and are integral to the episode’s plot.

There’s not much else of note in Pinkie Pie’s dream, other than that the residents of Ponyville* all appear into her dream in response to ice cream. This will be important later.

* OK, Minuette technically isn’t one.

Fluttershy having her mane brushed by a giant Angel is way more hilarious than it should be. Especially because of her nonchalant statement that it’s nice being the pet for once. There are a lot of interesting implications to ponder from this—does Fluttershy deep down wish to live the simple life of an animal? Or is she still more interested in being a tree? Oh yeah. The giant Angel turns evil and freaks Fluttershy out, and the Tantabus moves to the next dream.

In my review of Bats!, I said I thought for sure the bats had sucked all the juice out of the giant apple.
I think my brain was confusing it with this scene.

Applejack’s dream is oddly mundane: she grows a giant apple only slightly larger than the one she grew in Bats! until her trees all get infected and moldy. Maybe it makes sense for the most down-to-earth pony to dream about a scenario close to what she’s experienced in reality? But let’s be real, it’s much funnier to bash her for being an uncreative dreamer.

We haven’t seen changelings in a while besides the cameo in Slice of Life, so this scene reminds us that ponies still see them as evil pests.
This is in preparation for what we later see of changelings in season 6.

And then, Rainbow Dash breaks the pattern with a dream where she fights a bunch of changelings. For her, this is an ordinary good dream, so the Tantabus needs to do something a little different.

How amusing for MLP:FiM to contain what many people who haven’t seen it think it is like.

I, too, want to scream in peril when people assume this show is for babies.

Here it is once again: characters in this show being disturbed by something 100% sugary and cutesy. Rainbow Dash loves sappy and cute things deep down, as shown by her relationship with Tank, but it’s got to have some meaning and soul behind it. Not a bunch of flowers singing a nursery rhyme in a cotton candy land. Now, if the flowers had varying designs and learned meaningful lessons about friendship with a sense of humor and weren’t afraid to get into some action… nah, that would be ridiculous.

Based on the various dreams I’ve had that take place in tall buildings, I’m going to guess that the library in Twilight Sparkle’s dream is at least 50 floors high, has ceilings that are always either huge or cramped, and is a pastiche of about ten different buildings she’s been inside. Maybe it has a dizzyingly long elevator,* but I’m not sure if there’s such a thing as elevators in MLP. There definitely are in Equestria Girls, and I like how I barely ever bring up Equestria Girls except in my most pointless diversions.

* You know, like from the Undertale soundtrack.

I like how the earth ponies, unicorns, and pegasi are sort of aligned side by side.

After Luna freezes the Tantabus in Twilight Sparkle’s dream only for it to crack open, the Mane 6 all wake up in peril. Luna blames herself for all the trouble once again, foreshadowing the true story behind that creature, and then she reveals that the Tantabus spreads to the dreams of anyone who appears in a dream the Tantabus has affected. Because of Pinkie Pie’s dream, all the residents of Ponyville are now going to dream about that gruesome thing.

This next scene nicely expands on an ability Luna demonstrated in Bloom & Gloom, which is allowing multiple ponies to share dreams. With some encouragement from Twilight Sparkle, she uses magic powers to bring everyone in Ponyville into the same dream so they can all fight the Tantabus. And that’s when the dream shenanigans kick into high gear.

For this monstrous version of Derpy, eating regular-sized muffins must be like eating muffin crumbs.
But maybe she’s OK with that.

When it comes to Lyra and Bon Bon, I can’t imagine one without the other.
And neither can they.

And that’s when the dream shenanigans kick into high gear. For a few examples, Derpy is as huge as her popularity among fans, Lyra and Bon Bon are delighted to be together in one body, and Big Macintosh is a unicorn which feels like a playful jab at fans who fantasize about being cool and powerful ponies. Big Mac may be a hard-working farmer, but he’s also a gigantic nerd like most fans of this show. Since Luna is using all her strength to hold the dream together, everyone else has to fight the Tantabus head-on using all sorts of dreamed-up powers.

I’ll be honest, most of this review has had me going, “hmm, is there anything interesting to say about this callback/dream moment?” Here’s something I find mildly interesting about this brief return of Flutterbat: this episode references Bats! in two unrelated instances.

When Applejack tells Big Macintosh he can do anything in a dream, he goes through an anime-style transformation sequence into an alicorn super form. Isn’t this what every brony wants deep down? To be a mighty anime warrior prince/princess who flies around zapping enemies?

In case you forgot, this is the same muscular version of Spike he imagined himself as in A Dog and Pony Show.

The fight against the Tantabus continues as it tears holes to enter the waking world, and characters dream up all sorts of super forms to hold it off. This makes a perfect setting for characters to realize their wildest fantasies: Spike becomes the big lance-wielding noble warrior he likes to fantasize himself as, and Scootaloo dreams up enormous, fully functional wings. Rainbow Dash and Applejack call back to the Power Ponies too, and there’s a bunch of other stuff I didn’t mention.

We all miss the Golden Oak Library.
Even though the transition to a castle was handled well, it’s still the result of merch decisions.

Fluttershy commanding the monstrous version of Angel from her earlier dream is a smart move that shows her natural way with animals extends to her dreams. They all get close to defeating the Tantabus, but then…

Luna: I cannot hold this dream together much longer. Equestria will fall because of me!

At this point, a pattern has become clear: the more Luna expresses self-guilt, the more the Tantabus expands. It’s a metaphor for what happens when you beat yourself up about something too much, and this leads to the contested part about this episode. Many fans find the implications of Luna’s guilt extremely grim, and the resolution to it unrealistically quick. But some think that the episode succeeds in its goal of conveying self-guilt, and argue that fans are frustrated just because they can’t interpret the episode any other way. But my issues with this episode have more to do with its pacing, which I’ll get to in the overall thoughts.

For a demonic glob of black magic, the Tantabus’s final form is walking weirdly slow.

Luna reveals that she created the Tantabus as a way to never forgive herself for her actions as Nightmare Moon, and the other ponies try to give words of encouragement. Then Twilight Sparkle gives a speech saying that Luna’s hard work trying to stop the Tantabus proves that she’s not the same pony she was back then. This scene is clearly meant to tell viewers not to let their actions in the past be such a source of misery, and while this scene in itself does that well, I’ve always remembered this episode more for its storm of dream callbacks, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

Only by forgiving herself does Luna finally defeat the Tantabus. Is it realistic for her to get past this guilt so quickly? I’m honestly not sure. As I said, my issues with this episode are for completely separate reasons from this.

To end this episode, the Mane 6 and Spike all wake up while Luna finally gets a nice, peaceful sleep. I don’t think this means Luna will never have nightmares about her prior villainous actions again; just that she now knows better how to control them.

Overall thoughts:

This episode is strange because the wild, off-the-wall nature of season 5 gets in the way of what it’s trying to convey. The numerous callbacks and wacky dream shenanigans are distracting from this episode’s premise, making it easy to forget that it’s supposed to be about Luna’s trauma and guilt. Luna doesn’t get as much screen time in this episode as she probably should, perhaps because she spends most of it holding a giant dream together. Having a storm of callbacks is fun and all, but it’s a lot better if they all tie in with the episode’s premise. The show has plenty of great episodes with a plot built around callbacks, like Amending Fences and so many others in season 5, and this one unfortunately doesn’t do it as well. It’s a shame, because there are things I really like about this episode. The message about moving past cycles of guilt and self-blame is a powerful one, and unlike what some fans argue, I’d say it’s the best thing about this episode.

Grade: C

For once, I came into an episode review expecting to give it a higher grade than I gave it.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Before the dream sequences start, Pinkie Pie shares a bed with Applejack, leaving one bed empty. While their genetic relationship is distant at most, Pinkie Pie strongly views Applejack as a cousin, so I find it weird to interpret this scene as shippy. I wonder if during Pinkie Pie’s childhood, she regularly shared beds with her sisters and found that to be comfy and normal?
  • I should probably mention that Fluttershy riding the demonic version of Angel is reminiscent of Pokemon, but I honestly never cared about that franchise at all. I’m sure there’s some MLP reviewer who goes on tangents about the character arcs of gym leaders and trainers and that sort of stuff, but I’m afraid that person isn’t me.

While this review was a little short, I promise you the next one will return to my unhinged walls of text for one reason: Rarity episode.

Season 5 Episode 14: Canterlot Boutique

In five words: Suited for Success’s spiritual successor.

Premise: Rarity gets a new boutique in Canterlot, which at first seems like fulfilling her dreams until she wears herself out making the same dress over and over upon Sassy Saddles’ command.

Detailed run-through:

We’ve finally made it to season 5’s first Rarity episode! You know how excited I get whenever I start analyzing one of her episodes, and this one’s no different. However, there’s something unusual about the show’s broadcast order: it has three episodes in a row—Canterlot Boutique, Rarity Investigates!, and Made in Manehattan—whose names sound like Rarity episodes. I noticed this on the episode list when I first watched season 5, but I soon realized these aren’t quite three Rarity episodes in a row. The second and third, despite their names, are better classified as dual character episodes: a Rainbow Dash/Rarity* episode and a Rarity/Applejack** episode. Still, a sequence of three episodes that focus at least partly on Rarity means that if you’re reading these posts in order, you better buckle up and prepare yourself for walls of text about the second-best Mane 6 member. (Sorry, Pinkie Pie, but you’ve been dethroned.)

* I put Rainbow Dash’s name first because that episode ties heavily into her Wonderbolts arc.

** Though the main reason fans got excited for that one was for the lovely and precious Coco Pommel.

Rarity looks at least 50% cuter with glasses on.

OK, I should probably start the actual episode. It begins with our good friend Glasses Rarity, who impatiently waits for a letter to come when the clock strikes. It turns out the mailman got sick from a bizarro flavor of cupcakes that Pinkie Pie gave him, so she delivers the letter instead. Rarity reads the letter and displays her gushy flavor of excitement when she learns she finally got a boutique location in Canterlot.

When the rest of the main cast enters Rarity’s new boutique, they’re all very impressed with it. Rarity excitedly reveals who she hired as a manager: a supposed expert in marketing and mass appeal named Sassy Saddles, who promptly introduces herself.

Rarity: I knew I needed a manager for Canterlot Carousel, so when Sassy showed me her resumé, and I saw that she worked in all of the finest boutiques in Canterlot, I hired her right on the spot.

This passage gives a lot of insight into Rarity’s shortcomings if you remember how the episode goes down. She’s rather impulsive with her hiring choices, choosing Sassy Saddles as the perfect manager without knowing much about her prior experience, or how she’ll meet Rarity’s vision and creative standards. This is because Rarity is at this point new to the world of business, and she has a bumpy road to go through as her fashion businesses expand. Sassy Saddles goes on to describe her business plan for the boutique:

Whoa, Sassy Saddles thinks Twilight is hot?!
(She probably didn’t mean it THAT way. Probably.)

Sassy Saddles: I’ve already put a pin in the first piece of the pattern: beautify the boutique!
Sassy Saddles: But next was the very crucial pattern piece: marketing to the mares! Turns out that everypony here loves royalty!
Rarity: So, I created a collection that beautifully revolves around the royal element of Canterlot.
Sassy Saddles: And it just so happens there’s a hot new princess in Equestria.
Rarity: In every poll Sassy Saddles took, you were the most popular princess!

Like so many characters in season 4, Sassy Saddles has fallen into the mindset of “Twilight Sparkle’s princess status = money”. We’ve seen the mishaps and greed that result from this mentality, but Rarity doesn’t think too hard about this. She’s so sure this boutique will be a smashing success no matter what she does, and Sassy Saddles comes off as a little skeevy with all this princess talk. This episode builds up Sassy Saddles as its antagonist, someone who exploits Rarity’s good will like Suri Polomare, but after some proper communication, the two manage to work things out.

Rarity reveals a dress she made inspired by Twilight Sparkle’s coronation, then says it isn’t fully up to her TLC standards—an acronym that stands for Time, Love, and Couture. However, Sassy Saddles has pushed Rarity to put the dress on the market anyway, which subtly shows Rarity’s natural habit of bending backwards for others. She can withstand a lot of self-bending before she starts to strain herself, and this episode takes her to a breaking point.

Twilight Sparkle is similarly pushed into helping with the marketing through the tried-and-true power of celebrity endorsement, and she agrees to in the name of helping her friend. She’s gotten used to her authority status by now, which in the next season starts to bite her back.

Rarity gets ready to fulfill a dream she’s had since she was a filly and welcome a huge crowd of ponies to Canterlot Carousel, but it turns out that’s too good to be true. Sassy Saddles cuts in front of Rarity, and she’s the one to welcome everyone aboard. Think about it: for Sassy Saddles, this is just as much of a golden opportunity. As selfless as Rarity is known for being, she also loves to be the one in the spotlight, and that often causes her not to think ahead.

Applejack and Rainbow Dash suspect that Sassy Saddles is using Rarity’s generosity for her own gain, which makes sense because they’ve seen Rarity fall victim to this sort of thing before. But the truth is that Rarity and Sassy Saddles have an unknowing conflict of interest for who gets to run the show. Rarity is visibly thrown off when Sassy Saddles welcomes the crowd herself or swipes the dresses off the stage to show them around, because unlike Sassy Saddles, she has never been good at keeping her cool.

I feel like Rarity’s style of dressmaking has evolved quite a lot since season 1.
That naturally happens when you continually pursue an art form.

Most of the fashion show goes as planned, with Rarity excitedly describing what each dress was inspired by. Excitedly going off about your recent creative work is something I can easily relate to, much like I had talked about in Suited for Success, and it feels amazing to get the chance to do that.

What does not feel good, however, is when someone else tramples upon your creative work without even asking for your input. Rarity gives the name “The Reign in Stain” for the final dress of the show—a pun on stained glass windows, which Rarity is excited to see that Fashion Plate (the stallion shown above) catches. But Sassy Saddles has her own idea.

Man, look how nervous Twilight Sparkle is yet again.

Sassy Saddles: Well, I think “The Reign in Stain” is too difficult to explain! Especially for the signature piece of a collection.
Rarity: But I rather like the—
Sassy Saddles: Fillies and gentlecolts, I, Sassy Saddles, am pleased to introduce the grand finale of the grand opening of Rarity’s Royal Regalia: the Princess Dress.

“The Princess Dress” is the polar opposite of Rarity’s name for the dress, both in creativity and presentability. It sounds like Rarity and Sassy Saddles didn’t think to talk things out before the show, because they wanted to dive right in and earn glamour and money respectively. If they did, perhaps Sassy Saddles could have helped Rarity choose a more appealing name for the dress instead of giving it the least creative name possible. I could easily imagine someone mishearing “The Reign in Stain” as something unappealing like “The Rain and Stain”. I ask you again: how many six-year-old girls do you think know the difference between “reign” and “rain”, let alone “rein”? I mean this both in real life and in-universe.

This is way more than what 100 sheets of paper looks like.
Ever seen a book with 200 pages? There’s about 100 sheets inside that.

Sassy Saddles encourages everyone in the room to order the Princess Dress, leading a whopping 100 orders of it to be dumped on Rarity. Both are being short-sighted for believable reasons: they’re both not quite as experienced in business as the other led them to think.

Rarity: First of all, Sassy Saddles, I would appreciate getting to name the final gown from my collection myself.
Sassy Saddles: My research shows that your “Reign in Stain” name was a play on words that was both very confusing and quite unappealing.
Rarity: While I see your point, we should have discussed it prior to the grand opening, Sassy.
Sassy Saddles: My only goal is for Canterlot Carousel to succeed. That’s why I changed the name, and that is why I took all those orders for the Princess Dress.
Rarity: But the– but receiving orders for one hundred dresses in one day, it… it’s just too much, too soon!
Sassy Saddles: Are you actually saying we should… CANCEL these orders?
Rarity: Wh… but… no, no, Sassy. Promises were made, and… and I shall sew my very best to provide each and every pony a Princess Dress full of TLC.
Sassy Saddles: Oh, thank you, Rarity. Thank you!

Rarity does not feel good about this at all, but like in other episodes of hers, she thinks she has no choice but to comply. When she’s in a situation like this, she keeps convincing herself that no matter how much she hates it, unpleasant suffering is an inevitable part of art. This makes her unique among the Mane 6: she’s the only one who will put herself through experiences this dreadful to satisfy others. All the others would either refuse or find a way to make it fun and pleasant, and Rarity isn’t having any of that.

Sassy Saddles: Oh, satin and silk, Rarity. Are you sure you don’t want your friends to help you make the dresses?
Rarity: No, Sassy. These orders are my responsibility. All I have to do is stick to my plan so I can deliver each and every Princess Dress in keeping with my Rules of Rarity.

I feel like part of why Rarity didn’t want her friends to help with the dresses is because she felt awful about the last time she made them do all her work when they went to Manehattan. She’s so selfless that she would rather put herself through all the strenuous torture than give any of her friends even a fraction of it. This is Rarity’s problem once again: pleasing others at the cost of her own happiness.

Man, Glasses Rarity is such a blessing.

In the fantasy, Rarity alone is presenting the dress, with Sassy Saddles nowhere to be seen.

After eight episodes in a row without musical numbers, it’s finally time for a new one: Rules of Rarity. It starts as an upbeat song about the joy she finds in creative work, with passages such as this:

Rarity: ♪ My favorite moment’s when a pony sees it ♪
Rarity: ♫ That special gown that she just adores ♫
Rarity: ♪ That pony’s now in style, my hard work so worthwhile ♪
Rarity: ♫ Oh yes, it makes my heart, my heart just soar ♫

While Rarity sings these lyrics, she imagines a pony being pleased with the Princess Dress, but not just any generic pony—a specific one who she saw in the boutique earlier. Perhaps she thinks this pony in particular would rock the Princess Dress, and she has different dress in mind for a different pony she saw. We saw in Suited for Success how much she enjoys making unique dresses for one pony at a time, but this time, Sassy Saddles is impeding her wishes.

It’s hard not to see Sassy Saddles’ actions as being inspired by the executives at Hasbro.

An instrumental break in the song shows Sassy Saddles shoving Rarity’s other dresses aside in favor of the Princess Dress. Rarity takes this to mean she can’t be distracted by doing what she wants to do instead of what the customers want. Just like in Suited for Success, she feels pressured to comply with others’ ridiculous demands, because she wasn’t the one who learned a friendship lesson in it—Twilight Sparkle was. I imagine if Suited for Success wasn’t in season 1, Rarity would learn a lesson instead… oh wait, I don’t have to imagine, because this episode exists! It’s actually cool to put the premise of Rarity making dresses to meet others’ demands in an episode without season 1’s constraints.

While the reprise of Art of the Dress kept a lighthearted tone as the others swarmed Rarity with requests, this song goes straight into a gloomy section as Rarity keeps making copies of the same dress. I think that as the show progresses, it gradually does a better job using its musical numbers to convey tone.

Sassy Saddles’ shortsightedness is shown once again when Rarity imagines everyone around her wearing the same Princess Dress, making the outfit lose its charm. It’s a lot like how creeped out she was by the uniform and rigid design of Our Town, but this time her mood is more of despair.

The last portion of the song is upbeat once more as Rarity gets a new burst of inspiration and displays some incredibly adorable (and relatable) excitement. I know what it’s like for a cool creative idea to pop into my head and get me jumpy and excited, and Rarity is similarly eager to present her modified Princess Dress.

After the song ends, a new customer arrives who Rarity wants to show this new dress.

Rarity: Is that the customer who ordered this Princess Dress?
Sassy Saddles: I’ll take care of her. You keep working.
Rarity: Uh… actually, I’d love to see her reaction to this particular dress.
Sassy Saddles: Paisley and poplin, Rarity, look at all the orders you still have to finish! And you want to take a break? Now?
Rarity: Well… it’s just… I made some really lovely changes to this dress.
Sassy Saddles: You did what?! But every Princess Dress is supposed to be exactly the same.
Rarity: Yes, yes, I know… but these gems just spoke to me, and…
Sassy Saddles: Fine. Go see her reaction.

As I’ve said pretty much every other time I’ve analyzed one of her episodes, Rarity is a character all about subtlety. Little things like expecting everyone to know what she means by things like “the gems spoke to me” make her just so insanely lovable in a very different way from, say, Fluttershy’s meek and humble nature or Pinkie Pie’s hyperactive good cheer.

Considering how big of a deal executives in real life and in-universe make about Twilight Sparkle’s wings, I’m surprised this image hides them.

Rarity says the very same thing about the gems speaking to her when she presents the customer with her upgraded Princess Dress, and she doesn’t care at all. All she wants is a dress exactly like the one Twilight wore in a magazine, so Rarity once again finds herself in a situation where her demands don’t match her creative visions. The main difference is that this time, she’s making dresses for the general public instead of her closest friends, which must be even more frustrating for her.

Rarity throws the new dress in the trash and goes back to her repetitive routine, which is heartbreaking if I say so myself. I’ve seen it all too often, someone scrapping a creative work completely when it doesn’t get the joyed reaction from one person they hoped for. The background music seamlessly transitions to the second part of Rules of Rarity. It’s a despondent reprise of the chorus, with different lyrics ending with “makes my heart just break” instead of “soar”.

Oops, I almost mistyped Sassy Saddles as Sapphire Shores.
I hope there aren’t prior times when I mixed them up.

I love the musical scoring in the confrontation between Rarity and Sassy Saddles, where Rarity just finished making 200 princess dresses and gets an order for a hundred more. Rarity’s lines are scored with dissonant orchestral music, while Sassy Saddles’ are with excitable pop-sounding music.

And before long, Rarity finally snaps. She’s had enough exploitation of her generosity, and now she gives Sassy Saddles a piece of her mind.

Rarity: STOP! This is not your boutique! And if this is what success in Canterlot looks like, I want no part of it.
Rarity: Now, make up flyers for a going out of business sale! I’m closing Canterlot Carousel!
Sassy Saddles: What? No! Oh, you can’t, Rarity. I’ve worked too hard to make this a success. I can’t be a part of another failed boutique!

The reveal that Sassy Saddles managed multiple failed boutiques changes everything—it’s something she conveniently omitted from her resumé since she hoped to be hired by someone unsuspecting. I imagine her pushy business practices are what caused all those prior stores to collapse. But her rocky history running boutiques is what allows Sassy Saddles and Rarity to form a good connection in the end: they’re helping each other learn the ways of business by combining what they’re good at and smoothing out what they’re not as good at.

For her going out of business sale, Rarity puts away all the Princess Dresses and gets out the sprawling variety of dresses she had initially made. This time, she’s the one to welcome everyone in, and they all rush inside to each find their own dress that suits them. Now this is what Rarity always dreamed of doing, and she admirably remembered that all on her own instead of needing the rest of the Mane 6 to remind her.

I think a staff member confirmed that the ponies wearing the Celestia and Luna-inspired dresses are sisters.

Rarity sings the chorus of Rules of Rarity one more time in a triumphant reprise, seeing a bunch of ponies being pleased with their new unique dresses in person instead of in her imagination. She announces that Canterlot Carousel is back in business, which is a big win for both her and Sassy Saddles.

Sassy Saddles: Oh, Rarity, I’m so sorry. I focused on that one dress, and the rest of Rarity’s Royal Regalia paid the price.
Rarity: Well, so did the Princess Dress. The more I sewed, the more each dress lost its time, love, and couture, becoming terrible, lackluster, and common.
Sassy Saddles: I think I finally understand the Rules of Rarity, and will apply them at my next job.
Rarity: I beg your pardon? The Rules of Rarity are only to be applied at Canterlot Carousel. Which is why you must continue to manage the boutique while I’m in Ponyville.
Sassy Saddles: Ponyville?
Rarity: Oh, yes, I’ll come to Canterlot with new designs and to see the customers, of course. But Ponyville was always going to be my home base.
Sassy Saddles: (gasp) Bobbins and bodkins, Rarity! Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! And I promise to run everything following your rules.
Rarity: I would expect nothing less.

Much like with Coco Pommel, Rarity is helping a pony with a rough work history find her place in the world of fashion, which is rather sweet of her. She knows that others wouldn’t be so willing to give Sassy Saddles a chance, so she’s helping Sassy out and giving her a workplace where she’ll be treated with respect. Rarity took something away from this too: you can’t lose sight of your passion no matter how successful you get.

The episode ends with giving fans a new character to meme about: a strangely obese mare who missed the memo about the princess dress, then shrugs even though ponies don’t normally have shoulders. What is the deal with this pony??? That’s left for fans to decide.

I can’t believe the fat pony at the end was voiced by a man.

Also left for fans to decide is the name of the pony at the end, unless you think her name really is “Incidental Pony”. The credits listing all the unnamed characters as [adjective] Pony is weird, but again, maybe the show chose to let fans decide on their names.

Overall thoughts:

What can I say about this episode that isn’t repeating my positive thoughts on prior Rarity episodes? To be honest, I’m kind of stumped because I’ve poured out what I enjoy about Rarity episodes plenty of times before. But in case you stumbled upon this post and it’s your first time reading one of my MLP episode reviews, I may as well quickly recap.

Rarity’s episodes explore her character by having her play off some new additions to the cast, typically fellow members of the fashion industry that are sometimes nice to her but sometimes roll all over her generosity. She is put through tough experiences that are easily relatable if you’re the creative type, but she makes it out of them with a valuable lesson, a new friend, and some great heartfelt moments. Sassy Saddles plays with this pattern by first exploiting Rarity’s generosity but then learning a lesson from her, which is commonplace in this season: the Mane 6 teaching other ponies friendship lessons to show their development. I also enjoy the musical numbers that Rarity episodes have to offer, since those greatly explore her character too and show us what she’s all about.

Grade: A

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I really enjoy Rarity episodes.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Given the username I am reviewing these posts under, I would be remiss not to mention that this background pony has cookies as a cutie mark, shown above. I have no idea if she has a name or what her deal is, but I do think she has a cute design.
  • I have to admit, even today there are some contexts where I’m not sure if “reign” or “rein” is the correct word. Maybe I should have free rain to use whichever word I want, even if it makes no logical sense.
  • To show that we’re no longer in the early seasons, the only mainstay background ponies to appear in this episode are the ones it makes sense to: the unicorns who live in or regularly visit Canterlot like Minuette and Lyra Heartstrings.

Though the next episode has Rarity’s name in its title, to me it’s much more of a Rainbow Dash episode. It still has plenty of good Rarity moments though!

See you next week for a Rainbow Dash episode that masquerades as a Rarity episode.

>> Part 51: Rarity Investigates!

2 thoughts on “Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 50: Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep? + Canterlot Boutique

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