Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 54: Crusaders of the Lost Mark

Introduction

< Part 53 | Part 54 | Part 55 >

Season 5, Episode 18


Season 5 Episode 18: Crusaders of the Lost Mark

This review contains spoilers for things that happen up to the season 8 finale, and for things that don’t happen for the entire rest of the show.

In five words: Cutie Mark Crusaders’ ultimate payoff.

Premise: In the show’s third musical episode, the Cutie Mark Crusaders discover a surprising secret about Diamond Tiara’s upbringing after they made her lose a school election. This is definitely the only notable thing that happens in this episode. Totally.

Detailed run-through:

Something unique about this pivotal episode is that it was scored entirely by Daniel Ingram, the usual composer of the musical numbers. I didn’t learn that until I wrote this post, and it explains why the background music transitions so seamlessly to and from the songs. Having the same person handle the background music and songs suits this musical number-heavy episode well, setting it apart from most of the show—not that I’d ever want to discredit William Anderson for his scoring work.

Similarly to Magical Mystery Cure, this episode starts off with a musical number—technically with a few lines from the Crusaders, but set to background music that clearly starts a song. The song is called “We’ll Make Our Mark (Prelude)”, and the Crusaders sing about how they aren’t going to give up on getting their cutie marks. Something I really admire about this episode, at least from what I’ve been told about it, is that the previews and trailers made absolutely no hint at the Crusaders earning their marks, and fans were caught completely by surprise when it happened. This is a MASSIVE contrast against Magical Mystery Cure, whose previews shoved alicorn Twilight Sparkle in fans’ faces.

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

Introduction

< 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.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 45: Tanks for the Memories + Appleoosa’s Most Wanted

Introduction

< Part 44 | Part 45 | Part 46 >

Season 5, Episodes 5-6


Season 5 Episode 5: Tanks for the Memories

In five words: Rainbow Dash sequentially experiences grief.

Premise: When she learns that her pet turtle Tank will hibernate through the winter, Rainbow Dash tries to stop the season from happening so she won’t have to say goodbye. This matches heavily with the five stages of grief.

Detailed run-through:

Season 5 has tons of fun callbacks to early seasons, showing how far the show has come.

The start of this episode provides a snappy little recap of how the seasons work in Equestria, something we learned in two close-by season 1 episodes. Rainbow Dash notices that Cloudsdale is coming to Ponyville, meaning that winter is soon to start, and she’s super excited about this because it’ll be her first winter with Tank by her side. Season 5 has several episodes that take place a year (or maybe two) after episodes in the early seasons, and this one occurs a year after Fall Weather Friends. Or maybe if you’re willing to shuffle around the order of episodes in seasons 1 and 2 (like Winter Wrap Up and Hearth’s Warming Eve), you could argue it’s two years after? Whatever, mulling over numbers isn’t the point of these reviews.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 43: Castle Sweet Castle

Introduction

< Part 42 | Part 43 | Part 44 >

Season 5, Episode 3

This post was originally going to cover both Castle Sweet Castle and Bloom & Gloom. However, my reviews of both episodes ended up much longer than I thought, so I’ve chosen to split the post in half! Hopefully this will make my episode reviews seem less like neverending walls of words.


Season 5 Episode 3: Castle Sweet Castle

In five words: Twilight adapts to another change.

Premise: Twilight Sparkle doesn’t feel quite at home in her new castle and has been doing strange activities with her friends instead of getting used to the place, so her friends try to make the castle feel more like home.

Detailed run-through:

As with The Cutie Map, the beginning of this episode (which consists of Twilight Sparkle helping Fluttershy wash her animals) is an appropriate time to reflect on when I watched it for the first time.

During the six years between watching season 4 and season 5 of MLP, there was one question about the show that my brain would now and then divert to: how in the world is Twilight Sparkle going to be OK with having to live in an extravagant new castle instead of her quaint little library?! It’s a question that I found myself scratching my head over quite a lot, because her house’s destruction was easily the scene I remembered the most from the season 4 finale. I think I even told myself that such merch-driven changes like Twilight being a princess and her new fancy castle are proof that the show wasn’t that great. Because I was left hanging on this question for so long, when I saw the title of this episode on a list of season 5’s episodes, I internally squeed a little. I just KNEW the show was going to address this question in a satisfying and earnest way that matches what I’ve always enjoyed about Twilight Sparkle’s character.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 42: The Cutie Map, Part 1 + 2

Introduction

< Part 41 | Part 42 | Part 43 >

Season 5, Episodes 1-2

After a two-week break from writing MLP posts (was going to be a month, but I wrote this post midway through June starting when a power outage happened), I’m ready to dive into season 5! Since I wrote this post earlier than I planned to, I decided to release it a week earlier than I originally planned to, which still allows me plenty of leeway with my weekly queue.

I may as well explain how season 5 will be divided into posts. Some posts will cover two episodes each, while others will get posts all to themselves. As of this post’s publication, six episodes are planned to get their own posts: Castle Sweet Castle, Bloom & Gloom, Slice of Life, Amending Fences, Brotherhooves Social, and Crusaders of the Lost Mark. I’ve already written the first two of these, and it’s possible they won’t be the only season 5 episodes to get their own posts. It all depends on how long my reviews get!

I’m really excited to start analyzing season 5, partly because it’s my favorite season, and partly because it’s the first one that I didn’t watch until after the show ended. And as you may have guessed from my plans stated above, season 5 is going to have some EXTREMELY detailed reviews. Like the one you’re about to read, for example. Now let’s jump right in!


Season 5 Episode 1: The Cutie Map, Part 1

This review contains spoilers for the season 5 finale, plus a bit of season 9.

In five words: Ponies discover freakish equality village.

Premise: The new map in Twilight Sparkle’s castle points the Mane 6 to their first friendship mission of its kind: a journey to an unsettling village where everyone is equal, led by a new character named Starlight Glimmer.

Detailed run-through:

The very beginning of season 5 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic—a zoom-in on Twilight Sparkle’s big fancy new castle with some everyday residents of Equestria in the background—serves as a good excuse to discuss what it was like watching this show for the first time in six years. Best to get the self-indulgent stuff out of the way before I analyze all the insanely cool content this episode has to offer.

In the days leading up to the show’s tenth anniversary—October 10, 2020—I had been considering getting back into this show that I had told myself for years wasn’t that great, but deep down had the fondest memories of. I had worried that maybe now that I was six years older, I wouldn’t like it anymore. I thought that perhaps my sense of humor or tastes had evolved to the point of no longer being able to like MLP. Or that I would find the show a garish eyesore, or a bunch of tepid hyper-girly nonsense. Or maybe I thought I’d realize the show had no real merit beyond some silly little memes or the absurd idea of grown men watching a show about cute cartoon ponies.

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

Introduction

< Part 40 | Part 41 | Part 42 >

Season 4, Episodes 25-26

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

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

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


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

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

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

Detailed run-through:

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

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

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

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

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

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 38: For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils + Leap of Faith

Introduction

< Part 37 | Part 38 | Part 39 >

Season 4, Episodes 19-20

If you know how much I like Sweetie Belle, you won’t be surprised to know my review of For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils is going to be a long one. Not a record breaker, but it’s up there.

Also, greetings from Spain! As of this post’s publication, I am in there right now, though I had written it a few weeks prior. This is unrelated to MLP, but I have taken it upon myself to learn Spanish since a month before the trip, and I’m having a lot more fun learning it than I would have thought. I may publish a blog post about learning the language in the future.


Season 4 Episode 19: For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils

In five words: Sweetie Belle nearly ruins Rarity.

Premise: Jealous of all the attention her sister Rarity is getting over her, Sweetie Belle destroys the crucial stitch in her sister’s dress for Sapphire Shores, but then she has a dream where Princess Luna shows her what would happen if she doesn’t turn back.

Detailed run-through:

Before I begin, I need to make something loud and clear: This episode is not called “For Whom the Sweetie Bell Toils”. You have no idea how much it drives me crazy when people get the name of this episode wrong. I swear there are some people who know how to spell Sweetie Belle’s name correctly but not the name of this episode, and it annoys me so much.

I love Sweetie Belle so much. She’s just such an appealing character.

Anyway, now that I’m done complaining about something extremely minor that no one cares about, it’s time for me to dive into this episode and pick apart an extremely minor detail that no one cares about!

This episode starts with Glasses Rarity (remember, she’s Rarity but wearing glasses) preparing dresses for Sapphire Shores’ concert, while Sweetie Belle is extremely excited to help out and immediately brings out any materials that Rarity so much as considers using. The second material Rarity mentions is sequins, and Sweetie Belle grabs a bowl of them only to clumsily slip, and some of the sequins land on her tongue. Rarity then uses magic to lift them off, apparently not at all worried that some of them may have Sweetie Belle’s germs due to landing on her tongue. Does she trust that Sweetie Belle keeps proper hygiene? Does she know magic spells that can instantly cleanse any object of others’ germs? There’s lots of possibilities, but it would probably be more relevant to talk about how eager Sweetie Belle is to help with making dresses. She’s so determined to make Rarity proud and be even a fraction as good at making dresses as she is, and her desperation to be in the spotlight reaches a breaking point early into this episode.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 34: Three’s a Crowd + Pinkie Pride

Introduction

< Part 33 | Part 34 | Part 35 >

Season 4, Episodes 11-12


Season 4 Episode 11: Three’s a Crowd

In five words: Discord’s trickery leads to irony.

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.

Detailed run-through:

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.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 32: Bats! + Rarity Takes Manehattan

Introduction

< Part 31 | Part 32 | Part 33 >

Season 4, Episodes 7-8


Season 4 Episode 7: Bats!

In five words: Fluttershy becomes one-off vampire.

(Arguably I could have squeezed one more word in, but if I were to count two words connected by a hyphen as one word, I would be able to cheat very easily.)

Premise: Sweet Apple Acres has been run with an infestation of a certain animal species—I bet you can’t guess which one. Applejack wants to get rid of the bats, but Fluttershy doesn’t. An agreed-upon solution leads to surprising consequences.

Detailed run-through:

She was so excited and proud, and THIS is what she’s met with.

This episode starts with Applejack confidently waiting for apple bucking day to begin. The moment the sun rises, she gets right to it and bucks some apples, basking in their delight for a few seconds until they turn out to all be rotten and mushy. It turns out that the nasty vampire fruit bats have returned. The intro to this episode sets Applejack as the proud traditionalist who likes things the way they are, in contrast to Fluttershy who she gets into a moral debate with.

Applejack rings the bell at her barn, saying this is a code red at Sweet Apple Acres, so the rest of the Mane 6 and Spike come aboard. It’s weird that Applejack’s immediate family aren’t the ones who come, but the episode gives a justification for that later on—a justification that allows this episode to focus on the Mane 6’s dynamics instead of the Apple family.

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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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