Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 31: Flight to the Finish + Power Ponies

Introduction

< Part 30 | Part 31 | Part 32 >

Season 4, Episodes 5-6


Season 4 Episode 5: Flight to the Finish

In five words: Bullying gets better of Scootaloo.

Premise: The Cutie Mark Crusaders prepare an opening routine for the Equestria Games, but when Diamond Tiara mocks Scootaloo for her inability to fly, they’re discouraged from going further.

Detailed run-through:

Been a while since we last were at the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ school.

To start this episode, Cheerilee brings two special guests to the class she teaches: Ms. Harshwhinny and Rainbow Dash. They announce that the kids may get to take a part in the Equestria Games, specifically through a competition where they each need to come up with a flag-carrying routine, and the winning team gets to perform it in the games. This is the point where I remember that the Equestria Games are the other overarching plot of season 4—the one that doesn’t involve finding the keys for the mysterious chest, that is. But those plots do intersect in Rainbow Falls, which is a few episodes from now.

Ms. Harshwhinny and Rainbow Dash play off each other in fun ways as they explain the rules of the opening routine. Ms. Harshwhinny insists on keeping a reserved, professional attitude, while Rainbow Dash can’t control her excitement and brags about the time she carried the flag as a filly, which Scootaloo of course swoons over. When Ms. Harshwhinny mentions that Rainbow Dash will accompany the winning team to the Crystal Empire, the Crusaders’ faces light up one by one. To them, this is their chance to see the place they got a taste of when Spike wrangled them up in babysitting antics! And opportunities to go such places don’t come easy for them, being fillies and all.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 30: Castle Mane-ia + Daring Don’t

Introduction

< Part 29 | Part 30 | Part 31 >

Season 4, Episodes 3-4


Season 4 Episode 3: Castle Mane-ia

In five words: Ponies incite fears by accident.

Premise: The Mane 6 explore the ruins of Celestia and Luna’s old castle. Spooky shenanigans unwittingly ensue.

Detailed run-through:

Some of the show’s seasons have the third episode directly follow up from the two-part premiere, either to tie some loose ends or to begin the season’s overall arc. This episode does both, showing that Twilight Sparkle has combed through every book in Ponyville and found no information about the chest that came from the Tree of Harmony. It never fully sinks in for Twilight that she can’t learn everything from books; it’s a cute little quirk of her character that she still resorts to books after all this time.

Twilight Sparkle having wings makes it easier to show when she’s hyper-excited.

Twilight Sparkle initially considers checking out the libraries in Canterlot, but then she gets a letter from Celestia saying she should visit the ruins of her and Luna’s old castle in the Everfree Forest. It’s the same castle we previously saw Nightmare Moon ravage in a flashback, which explains why it’s in ruins and makes for some nice attention to continuity. It’s also the same castle the Mane 6 first got the Elements of Harmony from, which I admittedly forgot until Rainbow Dash brings it up about six minutes in, then retroactively added to this paragraph. Spike is creeped out by this place, but Twilight Sparkle is overjoyed.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 29: Princess Twilight Sparkle, Part 1 + 2

Introduction

< Part 28 | Part 29 | Part 30 >

Season 4, Episodes 1-2

Time to begin analyzing season 4 of MLP:FiM! As I’ve said before, this is the only season that I followed live as it was happening, making it distinct from all the others in my mind. My reviews of these episodes therefore may read a little differently from the rest, with more commentary on how it felt watching them for the first time.

If you’re wondering how season 4 will be divided into posts, my tentative plan is to keep things simple and do two episodes per post all the way through, making part 41 the end of season 4. But it’s entirely possible that I’ll have enough to say about a certain episode that I’ll give it a post to itself, and in that case, I would also have to pick another episode to dedicate an entire post to, because there’s no way I’m squeezing three episodes into one post again. My episode reviews have become too detailed and thorough for that to be viable.


Season 4 Episode 1: Princess Twilight Sparkle, Part 1

This review discusses events up to early season 6—modest as far as spoilers go, but spoilers no less.

In five words: Twilight Sparkle adapts to change.

Premise: Now that the dust has settled, Twilight Sparkle must learn all the responsibilities that come with being a princess as a new threat closes in on Equestria.

Detailed run-through:

Season 4 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic immediately kicks off with showing a ramification of Twilight Sparkle becoming an alicorn princess that’s far less peachy and perfect than what we saw in the last few minutes of Magical Mystery Cure. Specifically, Twilight Sparkle clumsily practices flying with Rainbow Dash serving as her coach. This scene sets the tone for season 4’s overarching arc: the challenges Twilight Sparkle faces in her newfound princess role. It’s an arc whose handling thoroughly exceeded my expectations as I watched through season 4’s episodes week by week. I was so worried that the Twilight Sparkle we know and love would be overwritten with merch-driven princess shenanigans, but this opening scene already shows us this won’t be the case. Magical Mystery Cure is done and squared, so now we can go back to regular old MLP:FiM. And let me tell you, few things bring me more consistent joy and delight than regular old MLP:FiM.

To hammer in that this is still going to be the same show that bronies love so much, we get a silly little slapstick sequence where Twilight Sparkle flaps her wings too hard, loses control, and lands on a tree branch with googly eyes. This sequence serves a similar purpose to doors slamming Spike in the face shortly after the expository scene that opens the first episode: it tells viewers that this show will be far more than girly ponies doing girly pony things, and it’ll be filled with tons of slapstick and other such humor. In this case, the scene reinforces that the regular lighthearted tone of this show isn’t going anywhere, which was very reassuring to a random 14-year-old boy who was excitedly watching the premiere of the show’s fourth season and would later become the person who is writing the words you’re reading. And now here I am, not far off from turning 23 years old, analyzing the impact of this scene in far more depth than is probably necessary, all because this show is extremely super special and important to me.

But I probably shouldn’t waste too much time reflecting on memories that feel like a lifetime ago and then some. I probably sound like I’m clouded by childhood nostalgia here, but believe me, I love this show just as much as an adult as I did when I was a young teenager.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 28: Magical Mystery Cure

Introduction

< Part 27 | Part 28 | Part 29 >

Season 3, Episode 13

NOTE: This post was supposed to be released about an hour ago, but it looks like I forgot to schedule it. Sorry about that!

We’ve made it to the season 3 finale now! It’s a huge turning point for the series, as you probably know. Like season 1, this season’s finale is a single one-part episode. But this time, I’m giving the finale a post all to itself, making for my first MLP post that goes through only one episode. It turns out that was a good decision, since Magical Mystery Cure broke the record of my longest MLP episode review to date, surpassing The Best Night Ever by quite a lot! (Yes, I did a word count, not including words quoted from the show.)


Season 3 Episode 13: Magical Mystery Cure

In five words: Twilight gains wings; fans scream.

Premise: In an episode abound with musical numbers, Twilight Sparkle wakes up to find that all her friends’ cutie marks have been swapped. Only she can fix this, using, well you know, the power of friendship.

Detailed run-through:

This episode starts with a joyful, triumphant musical number called “Morning in Ponyville”, where Twilight Sparkle wakes up and sings about how this is a perfect morning where nothing can ever go wrong. The fact that this episode immediately starts with this song already tells us that it’s going to be a little different from other episodes of this show; an episode where most things are told through music.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 27: Just for Sidekicks + Games Ponies Play

Introduction

< Part 26 | Part 27 | Part 28 >

Season 3, Episodes 11-12

I’m almost done with season 3 now! My final season 3 post, covering Magical Mystery Cure, will come out a week from now, and then I’ll take a bit of a break. I think it’ll be fun to release my first season 4 post on (almost) the one-year anniversary of my first season 1 post: March 11, 2022.


Season 3 Episode 11: Just for Sidekicks

In five words: Spike experiences continuous babysitting mishaps.

Premise: While the Mane 6 are out to the Crystal Empire, Spike has to watch over their pets and gets into a huge wrangled mess.

Detailed run-through:

All his pony friends have pets of their own just like he did, but that didn’t stop Spike from doing what he thought was right.

This episode starts with a quick follow-up from the ending of Dragon Quest: a set of photos showing Spike with his pet phoenix named Peewee, ending with him releasing Peewee back to his homeland. As I said at the end of Dragon Quest, this is a selfless gesture on Spike’s part, showing that as much fun as he had with his little pet, he knew the right thing to do was let Peewee live with his own species. I’m going to imagine that Spike traveled there all by himself to drop off his little buddy, much like he traveled to the dragon kingdom by himself in Dragon Quest. It would be a good example of him taking extreme lengths for those he cares about.

I love how Spike is singing along to the background music. He does more of this throughout this episode.

Spike prepares a delicious gem cake, but he can’t control himself from eating all the gems for it in the process. He immediately suspects Owlowiscious of stealing the gems, until the owl shows Spike a spoon that reflects his face, indicating that he ate them. Their one-sided rivalry from Owl’s Well That Ends Well has returned in full light here, cementing this episode as one that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 26: Spike at Your Service + Keep Calm and Flutter On

Introduction

< Part 25 | Part 26 | Part 27 >

Season 3, Episodes 9-10


Season 3 Episode 9: Spike at Your Service

In five words: Spike contradicts all previous logic.

Premise: After Applejack saves his life, Spike insists on acting as Applejack’s servant as payback and constantly messes things up in the process for some reason.

Detailed run-through, I guess:

*sigh*

I’m sorry for sounding so reluctant here. It’s just that this is the least excited I’ve ever been to analyze a MLP episode, because this episode… well, it’s one of very few episodes of the show that I outright dislike. So bear with me here, OK? I’ll try to get back to the good stuff as soon as I can.

No, I am not going to skip this episode, as tempting as it may be.

To start this episode, Twilight Sparkle gives Spike a day off because she has a huge set of books Celestia wanted her to read over the weekend. Spike excitedly goes outside and goes through a long list of things he’s wanted to do… except it’s a very short list of simple tasks like smelling his feet, which he gets through quickly. At this point, Spike probably feels lacking in identity other than being “Twilight Sparkle’s sidekick”, and while plenty of episodes explore this aspect of his character in earnest depth, this one uses it to lead up to a storm of annoying contrivances.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 25: Wonderbolts Academy + Apple Family Reunion

Introduction

< Part 24 | Part 25 | Part 26 >

Season 3, Episodes 7-8


Season 3 Episode 7: Wonderbolts Academy

This review has spoilers discussing the various villains who get redemption arcs; one who gets reformed only a few episodes from now, and several who don’t get reformed until season 5.

In five words: Rainbow Dash’s friend becomes rival.

Premise: Rainbow Dash gets accepted to the Wonderbolts’ training camp and meets a pegasus who matches her evenly… or so it seems at first.

Detailed run-through:

I love how Twilight Sparkle’s friends are right there, and yet she’s still reading a book.

I think I’m noticing a pattern here. If an episode starts with the Mane 6 having a picnic (as is the case here), it’s soon to be followed by a letter announcing something huge. This time, Pinkie Pie is bouncing like crazy and waiting for the letter to come. Yes, for whatever reason, Pinkie Pie is more nervous about the letter than Rainbow Dash is, even though the letter concerns the latter and determines whether she will get into the Wonderbolts. Rainbow Dash being confident she’ll get in makes total sense, but Pinkie Pie’s nervousness is harder to decipher. Perhaps this is an indication that she cares about her friends’ happiness to degrees more extreme than she usually lets on? Or maybe Pinkie just plays a gag role throughout this episode.

Rainbow Dash reveals she got into the Wonderbolts’ training camp in the most Rainbow Dash way possible. She puts on a convincing act of disappointment while saying she didn’t get in, then says “gotcha”. She is a very skilled prankster and knows herself well enough to fool her friends, much like how she often puts on an act of confidence to downplay her fears. However, in this scene she was always confident she would get in the camp.

Continuing her exaggerated role, Pinkie Pie gives Rainbow Dash an absurdly tight and long hug, then screams “don’t forget to write” through a megaphone at the top of her lungs. I can’t decide if it’s a better idea to appreciate the gags for what they are or try to gather serious implications about Pinkie Pie’s character.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 24: Magic Duel + Sleepless in Ponyville

Introduction

< Part 23 | Part 24 | Part 25 >

Season 3, Episodes 5-6

Pointless trivia: I worked on my review of Magic Duel entirely within my own house, whereas I worked on my review of Sleepless in Ponyville entirely within a hotel room at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. Pandemic restrictions or not, I’m happy to report I had a great time at MAGFest 2022 (though as of this post’s publication, it already ended a few weeks ago).


Season 3 Episode 5: Magic Duel

In five words: Boast Busters’ much better sequel.

Premise: After getting brutally owned in Boast Busters, Trixie returns to Ponyville with a desire for revenge and a special magical amulet.

Detailed run-through:

The intro portion of this episode teases viewers with loose hints of a familiar face. A hooded figure goes to a shop to obtain a dangerous magical amulet, and while she’s denied it at first, she gets it after giving the shopkeeper a big bag of money. Trixie is a fan favorite character, so it makes sense that her return would start off subtle.

After this, we get a scene of Twilight Sparkle practicing her magic skills much like she did at the start of Boast Busters, showing that she’s sharpened her magic prowess since then. She uses a magic spell to levitate Fluttershy’s animals in a gentle looping formation, keeping them calm and happy despite Fluttershy’s extreme nervousness. Again like Boast Busters, this scene shows that Twilight takes great pride in her magic skills. Twilight then mentions Celestia hired her for the entertainment in an upcoming special event. She’s clearly referring to magic tricks here, and that was the one thing Trixie thought she was so good at.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 23: Too Many Pinkie Pies + One Bad Apple

Introduction

< Part 22 | Part 23 | Part 24 >

Season 3, Episodes 3-4


Season 3 Episode 3: Too Many Pinkie Pies

In five words: Pinkie’s cloning attempt wreaks havoc.

Premise: Faced with the problem that she can’t spend time with all her friends at once, Pinkie Pie finds a way to make more of herself. This very quickly gets out of hand.

Detailed run-through:

This episode starts with Twilight Sparkle practicing magic, only to be interrupted by a surprise hug from Pinkie Pie. This is yet another scene that I feel indicates these two have a somewhat lopsided friendship. Plenty of times, Pinkie gets on Twilight’s nerves with her zany antics, and their testy dynamic prevails all the way to season 9 in A Trivial Pursuit, but I’m getting way ahead of myself.

Pinkie Pie is bubbling up with her extreme hyperactive energy and didn’t let much of it out in her hug with Twilight. She’s like a bottle of soda that has been shaken up, ready to explode with carbonation when opened, and as such her behavior is more insane than usual. When she sees Rarity made a new fancy dress without having Pinkie Pie around, she panics like crazy about missing out on all her friends’ fun times.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 22: The Crystal Empire, Part 1 + 2

Introduction

< Part 21 | Part 22 | Part 23 >

Season 3, Episodes 1-2

NOTE: I published this post about an hour early so that I could get it out and update the previous MLP post and introduction post before going off to do convention things.

How appropriate for my first MLP post of 2022 to be number 22. Well, I actually wrote this post in 2021, but I held off publishing it until 2022 to give my posting schedule some breathing room. 2022 is a complete open book for me; aside from me attending MAGFest at the start (as of this post’s publication, I’m at the convention right now), only time will tell what experiences I will go through as the year progresses.

Also, here’s how season 3 will be divided up. Season 3 consists of 13 episodes, so each post will take up two episodes, except for Magical Mystery Cure, which will get a post all to itself. Not because I expect my review of that episode to be extremely lengthy, but simply because the season has an odd number of episodes and I had said I wasn’t going to do posts covering three episodes anymore. Because of this, one episode of season 3 has to get a post all to itself, so I went with the obvious choice. On the other hand, when I go through later seasons, there will probably be plenty of times where I decide to give an episode a post to itself solely because I expect its review to be lengthy, like Slice of Life or Amending Fences.

But as much as I adore both of those season 5 episodes, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Instead, it’s time to start season 3!!!


Season 3 Episode 1: The Crystal Empire, Part 1

This review has spoilers for up to the season 4 finale!

In five words: Twilight Sparkle begins unexpected test.

Premise: Celestia puts Twilight Sparkle and her friends to the task of protecting the Crystal Empire, which has returned after a thousand years, from the wrath of King Sombra, who has also returned after a thousand years.

Detailed run-through:

Who is this nerdy-looking unicorn girl and what’s her deal?
(I wouldn’t be surprised if fans have a common consensus on what her deal is.)

Season 3 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic begins with a short scene where a royal guard informs Celestia that “it” has returned. This scene is quite a strange way to begin the third season, but it serves a clear purpose: loosely hinting at a new villain, matching the pattern of every two-part episode so far introducing a new villain. First Nightmare Moon, then Discord, then Queen Chrysalis, and now… it. (I’m talking about King Sombra, of course.)

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