Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 59: The Crystalling, Part 1 + 2

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Season 6, Episodes 1-2

How did this blog post come to be, you may ask? Oh, you know… the classic tale of me getting bored out of my mind one evening and thus deciding to bring a personal project out of hiatus.

Until mid-January, my MLP posting schedule may be a little sporadic because I’m preparing to move into a new house. After that, things will ramp up! As with season 5, this season will be a mix of one-episode posts and two-episode posts, probably with an increased portion of one-episode posts.

Season 6 Episode 1: The Crystalling, Part 1

In five words: Baby brings everyone’s lives chaos.

Premise: The Crystal Empire is hosting its the ever crystalling of a baby alicorn princess named Flurry Heart, and Twilight Sparkle uses this visit as an opportunity to teach Starlight Glimmer her first friendship lesson: reconciling with Sunburst.

Detailed run-through:

Every season since the fourth, I’ve REALLY taken my sweet time analyzing the first few minutes of the first episode.

Since I so strongly associate this season with Starlight Glimmer, it’s no surprise that season 6 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic begins with her exploring Twilight’s castle. Starlight tries to find the library in this enormous building and snarks that the castle looked a lot smaller from the outside. Right away, this remark makes it clear what Starlight’s new role in the show will be. She’s going to fill the niche that Twilight Sparkle had in the first few seasons—a snarky student well-versed in magic but inexperienced with friendship who reports to a princess. This role matches very nicely with the middle and late seasons’ theme of passing the torch.

Wait… you expected me to go off about how surprised I am that I’ve already made it to season 6, right? While it’s certainly a nice milestone, I knew from the moment I conceived of this post series* that I’d easily have it in me to make it this far, so it doesn’t feel that huge to me. Perhaps this sounds like I’m bragging about myself, but I am really just putting into perspective how hopelessly obsessed I am with this show instead of normal people things that normal people like. I tried suppressing the fact that I love My Little Pony for six years, and you can see how well that turned out. Eventually, the lid burst, and now I have no choice but to own up to this painfully dorky obsession.

Honestly, the real exciting milestone of season 6 is not the premiere, but rather its sixth episode: No Second Prances. Imagine me popping off Pinkie Pie style about how excited I am to analyze that episode; that’s how much I am looking forward to it.

* I conceived of a video series reviewing every episode back in 2014, but when the idea came back to me in 2021, I decided a blog post series would be more fun.

Can’t forget to mention Starlight Glimmer has a new hairstyle now!
I dig it, honestly. It looks good on her.

After she walks in on Spike brushing his teeth, Starlight Glimmer finds the library and has a little conversation with her mentor.

Twilight Sparkle: Starlight, good morning! Come in!
Starlight Glimmer: Sorry I’m late. I got a little turned around.
Starlight Glimmer: I still can’t believe you’re letting me stay here, as your pupil… after everything I did.
Twilight Sparkle: Well, I’m not one to dwell on the past, and neither should you. The castle is your home now, and as far as being my pupil goes, I was just trying to figure out what your first friendship lesson should be!

The analogy to the first three seasons is perfectly clear: Twilight Sparkle has taken the role of Celestia, and Starlight Glimmer has taken Twilight’s role. I already said at the end of season 5 that I can easily see why Twilight chose to give Starlight a second chance, but I’d like to dig a little deeper.

We saw in Amending Fences that Twilight Sparkle deeply regrets her childhood actions, and she considers herself eternally grateful that Celestia was willing to take her as her star student. As such, to her it’s hardly a question that Starlight Glimmer is worthy of a second chance. Taking Starlight under her wing means that Twilight gets to follow in the footst—I mean hoofsteps of her mentor, following by example to guide another pony through the world of friendship.

I imagine Twilight Sparkle found it a fun little exercise to come up with as many friendship lessons that start with Q, X, and Z as she could.

Despite her big and important princess role, some things about Twilight Sparkle just never change. Her list of potential friendship lessons for Starlight Glimmer turned out to be only those that start with A, and she has huge piles of paper for the rest of the alphabet waiting to be gone through. The right way to develop a character is to keep some of their traits unchanged, and MLP does that with Twilight Sparkle very well.

Oh yeah, Starlight Glimmer is in the theme song now! Matching with the gradual nature of her reformation, Starlight Glimmer looks nervous in the group shot in the season 6 theme song, but that goes away in the season 7 theme song. It tells us that this girl is going to have some incredibly awkward mishaps while mentored by the Princess of Friendship.

Also, in case it wasn’t obvious, I love Starlight Glimmer a lot. Hopefully, my reviews of season 6 will make it clear why.

This episode is meant as a sequel to The Crystal Empire, and Starlight Glimmer talking to the rest of the Mane 6 in the throne room confirms this. They’re all unsure what exactly a crystalling consists of, and they’re awkwardly waiting for an invitation from Shining Armor and Cadance because they aren’t sure when their baby is coming.

… Oh yeah. Flurry Heart is the other new thing about season 6. As for season 6 doing the “hey here’s a new baby character for free merch!” trope… it’s fine, I guess. Not my favorite thing in the world, but it doesn’t prevent this show from being close to my heart.

Spike enters the room, and for the umpteenth time in the show’s history, he brags about how the Crystal Empire views him as a hero. Most of the ponies in the room are unamused, but Rarity’s audible, suppressed chuckling makes it ten times funnier. She can’t help but find Spike’s self-indulgent ways endearingly boyish, and it reminds us that this is a completely believable thing for a male child character to do.

Because MLP clearly didn’t have enough alicorns already.

Spike then uses a crystal urn to provide exposition on what a crystalling consists of, and you know what this will lead to: the Mane 6 improvising on how to hold Flurry Heart’s crystalling, with a crystaller needed to present the baby.

Twilight Sparkle presents three options for Starlight Glimmer’s first friendship lesson, one of which conveniently takes place in the Crystal Empire because that’s where Sunburst lives. Starlight Glimmer enters a storm of regret and trauma upon hearing that name, scored by a dissonant sine wave that crowds out Twilight Sparkle’s explanation of the other two options, which are an adventure in Griffonstone and something about tagging along with the Cutie Mark Crusaders. This is a demonstration of Twilight Sparkle’s insensitive side: it would never occur to her to start her student off with baby steps. Celestia certainly didn’t start Twilight with baby steps either: her first friendship lesson involved making five new friends in Ponyville, then working together with them to defeat Nightmare Moon. A tall order, if you ask me.

Twilight Sparkle: Starlight? Is something wrong?
Starlight Glimmer: What? Oh. No. Those all sound great!
Twilight Sparkle: I know! I guess you were right. It is gonna be hard to choose one!
Starlight Glimmer: (nervously laughs) Yeah.

Starlight Glimmer is sounding an awful lot like Twilight Sparkle with her antsy denial of something she’s nervous about. It makes sense because they’re similar in a lot of ways, which itself makes sense because if they weren’t so similar, Twilight wouldn’t have ever thought to reform her.

Though Starlight Glimmer refuses to tell Twilight she’s so nervous about seeing Sunburst again, she freely admits it to Spike, which is a good example of the dynamic Spike and Starlight Glimmer are going to have. While Starlight wants to put a perfect image to her mentor, she’s more willing to admit her insecurities to Twilight’s less intimidating sidekick.

Starlight Glimmer provides a flashback showing that Sunburst knew everything there is to know about magic, and these flashbacks demonstrate that Sunburst is better at teaching others how magic works than performing magic itself—not that Starlight is aware of this. In the first flashback, Starlight Glimmer struggles to lift a cube, Sunburst shows her a page of a book explaining how to do so, then Starlight performs the spell successfully. The next flashback shows Sunburst teaching Starlight how to clean up spills, and the third is a rehash of the one from the season 5 finale. Spike recaps the nefarious actions Starlight went through in revenge, and it’s easy to see why she’s less than eager to admit all this to her childhood friend. She just assumes Sunburst is now a big important wizard, a presumption reminiscent of Twilight’s way of thinking.

Twilight Sparkle finally gets the invitation to the crystalling, the snowflake foreshadowing the disastrous events soon to come. Her intonation when she says “I’m an aunt” is adorable and hilarious, and it’s probably spawned tons of memes that I’m not aware of. She says it in a ridiculous singsong tone, pronouncing “aunt” like it rhymes with “haunt”, which cracks me up far more than it should.

On the train ride to the Crystal Empire, Twilight Sparkle poorly tries to assuage Starlight Glimmer’s worries about reuniting with Sunburst by presenting a long list of steps to ensure the reunion goes as planned. Twilight has been a bit of a jerk in this episode so far, but if she wasn’t a jerk sometimes, she wouldn’t be such an interesting character.

This episode has gotten some criticism for portraying only Shining Armor as overworked and hazy from having a baby, and not Cadance.
This issue is redeemed in season 7, which portrays both of them as short on sleep.

A crash headfirst into Shining Armor shows that neuroticism runs in the family. He goes off about how wonderful it is being a father, repeatedly saying it’s “amazing” with no self-awareness. This is simply how Twilight Sparkle’s family does things, and by being raised among them, these habits have rubbed off on Spike.

While the Mane 6 set off to see the new baby, Spike and Starlight Glimmer set off to find Sunburst.

Spike: I know you’re a little worried about this reunion, but I’m sure Twilight’s got everything covered.
Starlight Glimmer: Everything, except how I’d rather do absolutely anything else.
Spike: Well, I bet she’s taken that into account too! It’s all part of the lesson.
Starlight Glimmer: (rolls her eyes) Right.

This right here is Twilight Sparkle’s main flaw: she’s so focused on logic and details that she will forget to take others’ feelings into account. Emotions are not at all her strong suit, which helps make her a believable character.

Starlight Glimmer tries to distract Spike by pointing to his statue, expecting him to blabber about how much the Crystal Empire worships him, but he remains undeterred. Spike doesn’t let his self-indulgent bragging outweigh his loyalty to Twilight Sparkle, which I find admirable.

A cult of personality is a dangerous thing. We’re lucky Spike isn’t the ruler of the Crystal Empire.

However, it doesn’t take long for a bunch of crystal ponies to kiss Spike’s feet—metaphorically, that is—leading Starlight to get Spike to explain the entire story of his heroic adventures in the Crystal Empire. With his self-image, Spike simply can’t resist giving in to all the ponies who obsess over him.

This is our first time seeing all five alicorns together.
The princess pile doesn’t stop from getting taller.

And then comes the controversial part, where Flurry Heart is revealed to be born an alicorn. Everyone is shocked at this, and even Celestia claims that the birth of an alicorn is something Equestria has never seen. This led fans to debate endlessly about alicorn lore, which is something that the show and its external media are notoriously inconsistent about. Such is exactly the purpose Flurry Heart serves in the show: making fans scream at each other. I have no opinion one way or another about this topic, because this show frankly has far more interesting things to talk about than merch-driven inconsistencies.

Fans love to joke that Flurry Heart is the villain of season 6, as indicated by her troublesome bursts of magic that would leave ordinary unicorns jealous. I still don’t get why some unicorns, like Flurry Heart and Pumpkin Cake, get to be born with strong magical ability, while Sweetie Belle, Twilight Sparkle, and Starlight Glimmer most certainly weren’t. It makes so much more sense for unicorns to gradually learn magic through the course of their childhood, and the same goes with pegasi and flight. I think this is a much more annoying inconsistency than whether or not a pony can be born as an alicorn.

Apparently step 3 is halfway down the list?
I’m going to guess steps 1 and 2 were divided into 1a, 1b, 1c, and so on.

It turns out that amidst her absurdly detailed instructions, Twilight Sparkle put in some genuine advice for Starlight Glimmer. The third step of the list is for Starlight to face her fears rather than putting them off, which is a lesson Twilight herself has had to learn.

Starlight Glimmer gets ready to knock on Sunburst’s door, but Spike stops her and says the next step is to highlight the importance of the meeting, which he does quite dramatically. He insists on following Twilight’s plan to the letter, and it’s endearing to see how much his upbringing in Twilight’s family influenced him.

Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst’s first conversation since they were foals is exactly as awkward and stilted as you’d expect. There is miscommunication on both ends, and both are left with intimidatingly positive impressions of the other: Starlight Glimmer thinks Sunburst is now a super important wizard, no doubt helped by his wizardly beard, and Sunburst is impressed to learn Starlight Glimmer is a pupil of the Princess of Friendship. The meeting cuts short from there, and Spike has to drag Starlight back so she can explain why she’s come here.

There really is the weirdest imbalance between Shining Armor and Cadance’s degrees of sleeplessness. While Cadance is more than awake enough to present to a crowd in preparation for the crystalling, Shining Armor is extremely ditzy and sleep-deprived. It doesn’t make sense that the mare who just got through pregnancy is by far in better shape… which is exactly why later episodes featuring this couple redeem that issue.

Man, Scootaloo would be so jealous of this baby.

Come on, Pinkie Pie. You’ve taken care of Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake for, what, two years now? Or something like that? This baby is like the Cake twins smushed into one pony, surely it can’t be that hard to take care of her… right? Apparently, this scene proves otherwise. Then again, Pinkie Pie is probably the only one who can come close to matching Flurry Heart’s swath of powers.

Meanwhile, Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst struggle to break the ice, refusing to elaborate on the less than favorable parts of their backstories… or, in this case, forwardstories? Nah, that word sounds clunky. I like “forestories” better.

As Flurry Heart throws a tantrum that shatters the Crystal Heart, I can only think about how awkward it must be when Flurry Heart is all grown up at family gatherings. I think just about everyone has an aunt who loves to tell the most embarrassing stories of when they were a baby, and in Flurry Heart’s case, this aunt is none other than Twilight Sparkle. Flurry Heart is going to have a legendary assortment of baby stories that will make her squirm in discomfort at dinner tables for years to come.

And just like that, the tension has skyrocketed to the point where storm clouds are about to approach the Crystal Empire and bury it forever. I appreciate the massive uptick in tension, and it makes a nice stopping point before the “To be continued…” screen. As is common in season 6, the credits are scored with custom music: in this case, mischievous-sounding background music that is sure to make fans mad at Flurry Heart.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • I almost want to be annoyed that Spike uses “millennia” as a singular noun, but come on. He’s just a dragon boy who doesn’t have a perfectly encyclopedic understanding of vocabulary. You have to cut him a little slack.
  • When Twilight Sparkle mentions that the Crystal Heart prevents the Crystal Empire from being lost to the Frozen North, I am imagining a parallel universe where this show was made in Australia, and the gravest threat to the empire is instead the Frozen South. Australia has produced kids’ shows with an adult fanbase too—perhaps you’ve heard of Bluey? (I’ve only seen one episode of it and I can see why adults like it.)

Season 6 Episode 2: The Crystalling, Part 2

In five words: Heart’s reparation hinges on friendship.

Premise: With the Crystal Heart shattered, a dangerous storm is closing in on the Crystal Empire, and the solution falls into Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst working out their differences and combining their skills.

Detailed run-through:

Compared to other two-part episodes’ recaps, this one is more lighthearted in tone, so much that it even includes Twilight Sparkle’s hilarious singsong “I’m an aunt!” That’s most likely because part 1 itself keeps a light tone until the shocker moment at the end, so it was difficult to make the recap come off as dramatic… well, at least until the crystal heart is shattered. Then things start to get real.

With the crystal heart shattered, Twilight, Celestia, and Luna provide some much-needed clarification on lore—when King Sombra tried to take over the Crystal Empire, the heart was intact but hidden. But now that the heart is broken, a deadly storm is closing in on the empire, which hadn’t happened last time. Rainbow Dash wants to bust the clouds on her own, but Celestia and Luna tell her not to because the weather has a mind of its own. I can imagine grown-up Flurry Heart rolling her eyes as she is told this story for the ten thousandth time.

Why does Sunburst have to be such a lovable nerd? Who decided this?

Sunburst: I know Princess Twilight is keen on the two of us rekindling our friendship, but… it’s been so long. I don’t see how anything on that list is going to help.
Starlight Glimmer: I know, right? It’s not like there’s some spell that would magically compel us to pick up where we left off.
Sunburst: Oh, actually, there’s several.
Sunburst: Mistmane’s Material Amity, Rockhoof’s Rapport, Flash Prance’s Fellow… ship… hm. But I get the feeling the Princess isn’t looking for a spell.
Starlight Glimmer: (chuckles) Definitely not.

Sunburst differs in personality from the show’s other “bookworm well-versed in magic” characters in several ways, one of which is that he lacks the ladies’ tendency to deny things through sarcasm, or to say anything sarcastic at all. His lack of sarcasm makes him a different interpretation of the nerd archetype from Twilight or Starlight, and I enjoy it quite a lot. Sunburst and Starlight’s areas of expertise complement each other well: one is good at researching magic spells while the other is good at performing them, meaning they’d become quite a powerful duo if only they could rekindle their friendship.

Spike: Got it!
Spike: “And if all else fails, ask them to share an embarrassing moment from their past. Maybe even something they regret.”
Sunburst: Uh… I don’t see how that would help.
Starlight Glimmer: Uh… yeah! We should just get out of your mane. It’s pretty obvious this isn’t going how Twilight hoped, and I’m sure you have plenty of important work to do.
Sunburst: What? Oh! Right. Yes, haha! No rest for the wizardly.

I think Sunburst genuinely means it when he says he doesn’t see how revealing embarrassing secrets would help. He fears that his embarrassing secret will make Starlight Glimmer lose all respect for him, and Starlight Glimmer has the same worries, which is why she leaves the house fully convinced that Sunburst has important wizard work to do. It takes a moment for Sunburst to remember to keep up the act, because lying doesn’t come easy for him. As comically absurd as her long lists are, Twilight Sparkle has now figured out how to use them for genuine friendship advice, which I think is cool.

As the others discuss the mystery of how to repair the crystal heart, Celestia and Luna do something that fans found very refreshing: they buy the others some extra time by holding off the malicious weather. Though the princesses normally stood in the sidelines as they let the Mane 6 figure out how to solve Equestria’s latest threat, we’re now at a point where they don’t know all the answers either and are willing to help as needed. It’s a satisfying change that will soon become the norm in two-part episodes.

Twilight Sparkle: I don’t know how long it will take to find the right spell, but you should probably tell the crowd outside to get somewhere warm.
Cadance: And try not to mention the Crystal Heart. We don’t want to start a panic.
Applejack: Yes, ma’am. Come on, girls!

It feels like a bit of a strange rehash for the Mane 6 to be asked to hide the truth about the crystal heart yet again, and for the element of honesty to so quickly agree to it. Maybe Cadance knows that it’s only a matter of time before the truth slips, and she just wants to buy the crystal ponies some extra time?

Twilight Sparkle and Rarity are so polite to conceal their jealousy as they see that newborn Flurry Heart already knows how to teleport. It’s not outright stated that they’re jealous, but come on. There is no way they don’t feel at least a little jealous.

As Starlight Glimmer walks outside, Spike consoles her by saying that he and Twilight both consider her worth being friends with, which does cheer her up. However, a joke about dragon breath makes Starlight Glimmer realize that something bad happened to the crystal heart, making an elegant transition that matches Starlight’s snooty personality.

Three of the Mane 6 try to get the audience to go inside, and Applejack lives up partly to her element of harmony by saying there might not be a crystalling because the baby is an alicorn and her magic needs to be kept in check. Though she’s omitting a crucial detail, she’s not saying anything false. Their words backfire when Flurry Heart releases bursts of magic from the windows of the castle, which the audience mistakes for fireworks.

I can’t blame Rarity for forgetting that Flurry Heart can teleport, because what kind of baby unicorn can?!
An overpowered baby unicorn, that’s who.

The other half of the Mane 6 are struggling to take care of Flurry Heart and to get information about the crystal heart. Come to think of it… would it have made sense to swap Rarity and Fluttershy? Rarity is skilled at convincing others, especially if they find her attractive, while Fluttershy has a good track record in watching over foals. Or maybe Rarity simply prefers to be indoors due to her aversion to nasty weather. I don’t know, I’m just speculating for fun.

Eventually, Twilight Sparkle finds a book that seems to have the answer, until…

This wouldn’t have happened if Twilight hadn’t said she wouldn’t know what they’d do without this book.
It’s all your fault for tempting fate, Twilight Sparkle.

I knew this was going to happen, but I still shouted “no!” when Flurry Heart blasted a fateful laser out of her horn. It bounces off Rarity’s mirror, Shining Armor’s magic shield,* and Starlight Glimmer’s protective aura, then it blasts a hole into the book. The only things Flurry Heart has done in this season premiere cause damage and make everyone’s lives more difficult—can you really look at this mischievous baby in the face and not call her a villain?

* Shining Armor’s shining armor, if you will. (Also, I feel conflicted on whether to put the asterisk before or after the comma.)

As Twilight Sparkle tries to recreate her memory of the spell, Starlight Glimmer asks if there’s anything she can do to help. She’s convinced that Sunburst is an “important wizard”, but Cadance doesn’t recognize his name at all, which says a lot. You’d think she would be acquainted with the residents of the Crystal Empire, but among them, Sunburst must be quite a recluse.

When he receives the news that the crystal heart is broken, Sunburst stutters in his distinctly Sunburst style as he tries to keep up the act that he’s an “important wizard”—a phrase repeated so much in this episode that it hardly feels like words anymore. It’s increasingly obvious that he and Starlight Glimmer are both hiding something, and it’s only a matter of time before the secrets spill.

The guy with the mustache has a voice that sounds a lot like Fancy Pants.
But I checked; it’s not the same voice actor.

The crystal ponies don’t listen to Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy’s urges, but when Shining Armor reveals the crystal heart is broken, that’s when they all evacuate. While the show is sometimes criticized for giving characters outside the main cast a mob mentality, in no location is this effect stronger than in the Crystal Empire. That feels like the crystal ponies’ whole shtick, and I’m using the phrase “crystal ponies” to refer to residents of the Crystal Empire rather than ponies who underwent a crystal effect because it’s fast and convenient.

Sunburst finally confesses that he’s not an important wizard, or any wizard, after all, leading him and Starlight Glimmer to have an interesting heart-to-heart.

Sunburst: I know it’s hard for you to understand, but not all of us end up achieving greatness.
Starlight Glimmer: What? Why wouldn’t I understand that?
Sunburst: Really? You’re the protege of the Princess of Friendship. I don’t think she picks just anypony for that.

Sunburst has a point here. Starlight Glimmer’s passion for magic made her the perfect candidate for Twilight Sparkle to teach about friendship, and there’s no way she would pick just any random pony as her star student. It’s just like how Celestia didn’t pick any random unicorn as her star student either. While the Mane 6 have reformed many villains, Starlight Glimmer is the only one who’s gotten to work directly with one of them as she continuously betters herself.

Spike: Technically, she’s more of a student than a protege.

You’re wrong, Spike. Getting to live in Twilight Sparkle’s castle, constantly protected and provided for, sounds exactly like a protege to me. It’s a huge luxury that Starlight Glimmer is extremely grateful for.

Sunburst: Whatever. I’m sorry I’m not the big, important wizard you were expecting.
Starlight Glimmer: Sunburst, I don’t care if you’re a wizard of not. I’m just surprised. You always knew so much about magic. I mean, look at all these books.
Sunburst: Yeah, well, reading about magic is one thing, but you don’t know what it was like at magic school. To know so much and not be able to do any of it.

I strongly suspect that Sunburst has a disability that hinders his ability to perform magic spells. I don’t think this is a case of struggling with motivation, even though that’s faced by many people who are told they’re smart as a kid. This impairment is more akin to Scootaloo’s inability to fly than Rainbow Dash’s difficulty staying focused. Although Sunburst can at least perform basic magic, this difference in skill greatly sets him apart from other unicorns.

This topic also gets me thinking about Sweetie Belle’s late onset in learning magic. I can’t decide if she has a different kind of disability from Sunburst’s, one that makes her learn magic at a later age than usual, or if she simply never felt a need to learn magic for most of her childhood. Whatever the case, it was an impressive feat for Twilight Sparkle to crack this nut and teach Sweetie Belle magic.

Starlight Glimmer: Well, you don’t know what it was like to be left behind. And then getting so bitter that you steal the cutie marks from an entire village, and then get defeated by Twilight and her friends! So you travel through time to get back at them, but they beat you again and teach you about friendship, but you’re so terrified that ponies will find out what you did that you can’t make any friends!
(Sunburst’s glasses slide off)
Sunburst: Did you really travel through time?

I love Sunburst’s response to Starlight Glimmer’s rant about her hardships so much. This line alone says so much about Sunburst’s character. First off, it shows that he’s difficult at understanding social cues, more interested in what a situation means for magic research than how it makes others feel, which again feels very disability coded. Second, the line shows that he will forgive his childhood best friend for her actions no matter how villainous, which is sweet of him and shows that their friendship hasn’t entirely faded. It’s a gesture of obliviousness and kindness at the same time. This line leads Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst to apologize to each other, showing that Twilight Sparkle was right all along: telling embarrassing secrets of their lives will help two old friends reconcile.

I take it from those potion jars that Sunburst also enjoys performing science experiments.

After Starlight Glimmer tells Sunburst about the problem with the crystal heart, she has to drag him outside, which I find interesting. It shows that Sunburst has become a shut-in reminiscent of Moondancer, who similarly lost touch with her childhood best friend. Even after their respective reconciliations, she and Sunburst remain among the show’s most introverted characters. They both wear glasses, they both live in a house filled with books, they both started wearing an article of clothing after becoming shut-ins… hm. I don’t know about you, but I think Sunburst and Moondancer would make a cute couple.

(And let’s be real. They’d be a much less cliched heterosexual couple than Sunburst and Starlight Glimmer, the boring “male and female childhood friends” ship. I’m just saying.)

Rainbow Dash took a brief shot at busting clouds too, and she came out injured.

Twilight Sparkle and Cadance reconstruct their memory of the spell from the book, and they almost repair the crystal heart… except it collapses again. This leads Sunburst and the rest of the episode’s cast to make a dramatic entrance, where he reveals what he’s useful for.

Sunburst provides a helpful combination of spells that will fix the crystal heart and save the day. It turns out that they don’t just need one reparation spell, but rather have to combine it with the power of love at the crystalling, plus a spell to quell the weather and one to moderate Flurry Heart’s power. In response to this impressive knowledge, Shining Armor appoints Sunburst as the crystaller, giving him a chance to redeem himself after his unfortunate past.

It’s clear that Sunburst’s special talent is providing instructions to help others perform magic spells, which makes it odd that he earned his cutie mark by performing a spell himself. But I’m willing to wave that off as early installment weirdness—Sunburst’s character wasn’t really established in the season 5 finale, and now’s the time for him to get fleshed out. Come to think of it, it’s often hard to draw the line between a retroactive change that fans will forgive as early installment weirdness, or one they’ll deride as a retcon that RUINED and BUTCHERED the PERFECTLY GOOD CONTINUITY of the early seasons. I think it depends on a combination of factors like nostalgia, earliness of the events that are contradicted, and the quality of the post-retcon content.

Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst’s levels of magic skills give them some nice contrast.

It looks like Sunburst and Rarity are among the few ponies who can identify differences between near identical crystals.

And now comes the sequence of magic laser beams and explosions. The royal sisters and the bookish unicorn girls put all their power into repairing their heart, the royal couple puts a spell to moderate Flurry Heart’s power, Sunburst picks the last crystal from Rarity’s selection of gems to repair the crystal heart, and the love from the Crystal Empire generates a magic explosion that brings back the crystal pony designs with some new characters and new looks. The most heartwarming part is when Celestia and Starlight Glimmer express pride in Sunburst afterwards, because all this wouldn’t have been possible without him.

It feels weird that Twilight Sparkle’s parents are grandparents now.
Because they first appeared so early, they lack the middle-aged look that most of the Mane 6’s parents have.

Now that the dust has settled, Flurry Heart’s paternal grandparents speak for the first time in the show. As far as they know, some crazy weather that came out of nowhere delayed their train ride, and their granddaughter is a peaceful little angel. Flurry Heart gets ready for a dramatic sneeze, leading everyone around her to panic… except it’s just an ordinary, harmless sneeze. This is where Shining Armor and Cadance reveal the name for their baby, which is derived from the incidents that happened on the first day of her life. When Flurry Heart is grown up, I’m sure she’ll start to get sick of her relatives telling her the story behind her name over and over again. Maybe she will wish she was remembered for her actions that she’s old enough to remember, not just those on the day of her birth, but it seems that such stories will always be left to the whims of fans.

Sure, there’s a bit of blushing in this scene. That could qualify as ship teasing.
But Starlight and Sunburst both have much more interesting ships they could be a part of.

Starlight Glimmer: Well, I think you’re the Crystal Empire’s big, important wizard. Whether you like it or not.
Sunburst: Well, I don’t know if I’ll have time for any wizarding. I’m a crystaller now, that’s a big responsibility.
Starlight Glimmer: I can’t think of anypony more qualified. Just… promise you’ll stay in touch?
Sunburst: Like I’d ever lose touch with my oldest friend.

I’m glad the show sticks to this promise and gives Sunburst more screen time after this episode, because he’s a fun character to analyze, as well as a fun character in general. He and Starlight Glimmer have both gained new respect for each other after this event, which is very sweet.

And finally, Spike provides a nice little moral for this two-part episode. Twilight Sparkle regrets that she didn’t do a better job putting her student on the right path, and Spike explains that an important part of mentoring someone is letting them make their own decisions, which is exactly what Celestia did with Twilight. There are occasions where Celestia gave her student a special task, but those were generally in big two-part episodes, and the regular ones were spent letting Twilight learn friendship through experience.

This moral is applicable to many aspects of life, not just being a teacher. You can’t push someone into being who you want them to be. Being a supportive friend or family member means trusting them to do what they think is right, and Twilight Sparkle saw how well that paid off. She already entrusted Spike to guide Starlight Glimmer through this lesson, and her arc in season 6 is about giving her pupil similar trust.

The last second of this episode features a very sneaky teaser, with a changeling from the distance approaching the Crystal Empire due to the enticing explosion of love. This arc will get picked up midway through the season and in the finale, sneakily tying together a premiere and finale with seemingly unrelated premises.

The credits are scored with dramatic orchestral music, and I enjoy season 6’s experimentation with unusual credits music, even if it makes me disappointed that the final episode didn’t get any.

Overall thoughts:

This season premiere is set apart from the last few because the characters’ roles are swapped around: now, it’s Twilight Sparkle’s turn to provide someone else a friendship lesson, giving the attention to Starlight Glimmer in a sequel to the season 3 premiere. It’s not as high-stakes as, say, season 4 or 5’s premieres, which is a common pattern with season 6. This season is much more character-oriented than season 5, with a large amount of slice of life episodes that explore dynamics between characters in more casual settings. But I shouldn’t talk about season 6 as a whole too much just yet—that’s better saved for the end of the season.

My favorite thing about this season premiere is without a doubt Sunburst’s introduction. He’s a delightful addition to the show’s cast, serving as a different flavor of bookish nerd from Twilight Sparkle, Moondancer, or Starlight Glimmer, and he’s male for a change, giving fans a nerd character who they may find easier to connect to. He gets to do something cool in a very different way from the show’s other magic-oriented unicorns, using his knowledge and memorization to save the Crystal Empire from the unintentionally destructive actions of Flurry Heart.

Oh yeah. Right. Flurry Heart is born in this episode too. Though most fans probably associate this episode with Flurry Heart, the most striking part of this episode for me is the arc between Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst. Flurry Heart’s role is simply to drive the plot because she’s a baby who can’t have meaningful character interactions.

Grade: B

This is the first two-part episode since season 3 not to get an A, but a B in this post series is still a very high grade.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • This episode features the first mention of three of the Pillars of Equestria in the same line—Mistmane, Rockhoof, and Flash Magnus—except Sunburst gets the name of the last one wrong. Somnambula is mentioned near the end of the episode, meaning that all of the pillars are mentioned at least once before we see what they look like in season 7.
  • Pinkie Pie calls herself “your auntie Pinkie Pie” when addressing Flurry Heart, just like she famously did in season 1. I bet she really enjoys the idea of being an aunt, even—no, especially—in contexts where it makes no logical sense.
  • In the bouncing chain reaction from Flurry Heart’s laser beam, we see that Rarity had pulled a mirror out of thin air. I like to think this is further proof that Pinkie Pie has secretly taught her some of her reality bending powers, and Rarity has merely learned to do so with a small handful of items she finds useful.

Season 6’s stronger focus on slice of life is encapsulated perfectly in the following episode, focused on the gift-giving struggles of the Pie sisters.

See you (possibly) next week for a post dedicated entirely to one of my favorite season 6 episodes, with a delightful character combo of Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Maud Pie.

>> Part 60: The Gift of the Maud Pie

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