Premise: Twilight Sparkle and Cadance plan on spending an ordinary day together without Equestria’s fate in the balance, but Discord gets in the way of their times by purporting to be ill.
This episode starts with Twilight Sparkle getting exciting news: a letter from Cadance confirming that the two will get to spend some quality time together as sisters-in-law this weekend. Then Fluttershy barges in sharing some exciting news: she’s been given a chance to observe these tiny creatures called Breezies, which serves both as leadup to It Ain’t Easy Being Breezies a few episodes later and as a reason for her to be absent from most of this episode, since Fluttershy is normally the one who keeps Discord’s eccentric ways in check. It’s interesting that the Breezies are being teased ahead of time, but it also makes sense since those creatures originated from one of the older MLP cartoons, and some fans would no doubt be excited to see them return. And finally, Pinkie Pie barges in sharing some exciting news: she got a flyer for a sale for used, broken patio furniture. This is nothing more than her being comically zany, breaking up the pace a little before this episode’s plot begins.
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.
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.
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:
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.
One season down, eight to go!!! Well, more like seven and a half seasons, because season 3 of MLP:FiM is half the length of other seasons.
Season 1 took me about two months to go through, which is pretty good by my standards! Season 2 will likely take a bit longer depending on how I split the episodes and if I procrastinate enough that I’ll have to miss a week. As for later seasons, we’ll just have to see what happens, but expect the level of detail to ramp up considerably once I get to season 5 and onwards… which is over half the show, but whatever.
Season 2 Episode 1: The Return of Harmony, Part 1
This review contains spoilers for season 3! Even those who haven’t seen MLP may know Discord is a recurring character after his debut, but they aren’t as likely to know what he does after this episode. So, um, read at your own discretion.
In five words: Introducing everyone’s favorite villain, Discord.
Premise: A new villain named Discord arises from his frozen state and steals the Elements of Harmony, playing all sorts of mind games on the Mane 6 in the process.
The very beginning of season 2 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic demonstrates that the show’s cast has solidified quite a bit over its first season. Cheerilee is taking the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ class on a field trip to the Canterlot sculpture garden, and the class now has a good eight members who are actual characters and not just generic extras: an inseparable trio, two inseparable duos, and Twist. As the show’s cast of named characters expands, so does the show’s attention to detail, and you know how much I love some good attention to detail.
This scene features the memetic line directed at Sweetie Belle, “what are you, a dictionary?” Why is Sweetie Belle by far the smartest of the Cutie Mark Crusaders???
When Cheerilee presents the statue of Discord, the Cutie Mark Crusaders get into an argument and demonstrate (and had already been demonstrating) the concept of—you guessed it—discord. And let me tell you, between Discord the MLP character and Discord the chat client, it’s INCREDIBLY weird typing “discord” as a lowercase word. I suppose the Crusaders’ live demonstration was meant to teach viewers what “discord” means through example, which is especially useful for young viewers today who know Discord as the name of a chat client. This benign opening ends with the statue of Discord cracking and the draconequus himself deeply laughing, setting the stage for this two-part episode.