Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 49: Amending Fences

Introduction

< Part 48 | Part 49 | Part 50 >

Season 5, Episode 12

We have quite a spicy lineup of episodes for the next month and a half, most of which will get their own individual, lovingly crafted posts: Amending Fences, Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?, Canterlot Boutique, Rarity Investigates!, Made in Manehattan, Brotherhooves Social, and Crusaders of the Lost Mark. All seven of these episodes have something cool and special about them, whether it be the Cutie Mark Crusaders accomplishing something huge, Twilight Sparkle’s backstory getting fleshed way out, or Coco Pommel being heart-meltingly adorable. The rest of season 5 will be the usual paired episodes, and when I finish the season, I will decide if I want to make single-episode posts the rule instead of the exception.


Season 5 Episode 12: Amending Fences

In five words: Series’ first few minutes revisited.

Premise: Twilight Sparkle reconnects with her old friends from Canterlot who we saw in the first few minutes of the first episode. Most of them are eager to hang out with her, but there’s one who bitterly swore off friendship after Twilight moved out: Moondancer.

Detailed run-through (aka the tangent about this episode from this Homestuck post but much longer and completely unrestrained):

Imagine you’re making a TV show that has become wildly popular among a far older audience than expected and need to come up with episode ideas for its fifth season. By now, you’ve gone through all the simple and obvious ideas for a show about friendship, so what can you do? One such thing is look back on the first episode with all its early installment weirdness, take something that was never elaborated upon, and flesh it WAY out. I find this sort of thing to be extremely delightful and cool and fun, especially in a show that I find extremely delightful and cool and fun.

This episode starts on an un-season-1-like note with Twilight Sparkle sitting on a fancy crystal couch, needing some time to relax after attending three events as a princess in one week. This makes an appropriate time for her and Spike to reflect on how much she’s been through since she moved to Ponyville. Spike remarks that back when she lived in Canterlot, Twilight wasn’t a very good friend to others. While Spike intended only to reflect on how far she’s come, Twilight panics when she realizes how much she’s been neglecting her friends from Canterlot. This leads her to leap into action and go on a journey to reunite with her friends whose names she doesn’t remember and expects Spike to remember for some reason.

Actually, I can sort of buy Twilight expecting Spike to remember names she can’t. She puts a lot of duties onto her dragon sidekick, like the dishes he complained about at the start of this episode, and she sometimes forgets which ones he can feasibly do. (Though Spike does later recite all her friends’ names.)

Spike: Come on, Twilight. You’re getting worked up about nothing.
Twilight Sparkle: The only logical place to start is at the beginning.

One thing this episode has in common with Slice of Life is that it leans on the fourth wall at times. An example is when Twilight Sparkle says to start at the beginning, referring to her old house in Canterlot. While this is obviously a reference to where the show began, I’d also like to think of it in in-universe terms. The day Twilight Sparkle moved to Ponyville is clearly an important day for her, because it started the current chapter of her life. Although her first onscreen moment in the show was right outside this castle, the day presumably started with her waking up inside it.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 48: Princess Spike + Party Pooped

Introduction

< Part 47 | Part 48 | Part 49 >

Season 5, Episodes 10-11


Season 5 Episode 10: Princess Spike

In five words: Spike does absolutely everything wrong.

Premise: While Twilight Sparkle is asleep in Canterlot for the day, Spike fills in for her event organization duties and gets carried away with his newfound freedom and authority. He starts doing some incredibly foolish things.

Detailed run-through:

Oh, boy. We’re at yet another controversial Spike episode now. When going through the show’s most controversial episodes, I usually dread going through them at first, but in the end I have quite a bit of fun picking them apart and giving honest criticism. So maybe this episode will be similar!

The very start of this episode has something I never noticed before: it takes place in the same building where the Grand Galloping Gala is hosted. I actually really like this location reuse. It’s logical and realistic, reminiscent of convention centers where different events are hosted throughout the year.

Note the bags under Twilight Sparkle’s eyes. She clearly worked herself a little too hard.

The event is called the Grand Equestria Pony Summit, and it features ponies from all around Equestria plus some griffons here and there. The princesses on stage present a statue made of gemstones from the cities where all the attendees live. Twilight Sparkle gives a little speech at the summit and mentions that organizing it has led to quite a few sleepless nights, which the guests in the audience don’t seem to think hard about even though she looks and sounds drowsy. Perhaps they think “sleepless nights” was a figure of speech, not something to take literally? Or do they think alicorns have a special power to remain wide awake as long as they like?

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 46: Make New Friends but Keep Discord + The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone

Introduction

< Part 45 | Part 46 | Part 47 >

Season 5, Episodes 7-8

Make New Friends but Keep Discord is another season 5 review that turned out much longer than I expected! It ended up being my second longest episode review so far, surpassed only by Magical Mystery Cure but surely soon to be beaten by Slice of Life. On the other hand, my review of The Lost Treasure of Grifffonstone is short enough that I felt comfortable having both episodes share a post.


Season 5 Episode 7: Make New Friends but Keep Discord

In five words: Jealousy leads to attempted banishment.

Premise: When Fluttershy invites a new friend of hers named Tree Hugger to the Grand Galloping Gala, Discord gets jealous and brings a dangerous creature of his own.

Ultra-detailed run-through:

This review is going to be another hefty one. Just letting you know.

This episode starts on a very peaceful note, with Fluttershy and Discord in the middle of trading humorous stories while having tea together. While they became friends two seasons ago, this is the first episode since then where their friendship is the primary focus. This opening scene cements that their friendship has settled down, and we get about 20 seconds of cutesy fun times until the episode’s conflict is revealed.

Fluttershy: Oh, I do love our Tuesday teas. And I can’t wait for you to meet my friend Tree Hugger! She’s going to love you too.
Discord: Tree… Hugger? (laughs)

Discord looks shocked for a moment when Fluttershy brings up Tree Hugger, but he laughs it off when his brain chooses to assume it’s a joke. But given what Tree Hugger turns out to be like, Fluttershy has reason to believe she and Discord would get along well. Not everyone enjoys Discord’s wild antics and sense of humor, but Tree Hugger is spectacularly unfazed by freaky shenanigans. Though Fluttershy doesn’t mean any harm to Discord with this new friend, his simplistic understanding of friendship leads to immense jealousy.

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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 39: Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3 + Trade Ya!

Introduction

< Part 38 | Part 39 | Part 40 >

Season 4, Episodes 21-22

Greetings from Spain, uh, again! Current mood: badly hoping I’ll get a negative COVID-19 test so I can fly home on Sunday. Also, here’s the post about learning Spanish I said I might make last time.


Season 4 Episode 21: Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3

In five words: Rainbow Dash has difficulty studying.

Premise: As her next step to get into the Wonderbolts, Rainbow Dash needs to study for a test about the Wonderbolts’ history, and she’s reluctant to do so. Her friends all try to help her find a way to absorb the information, which proves difficult.

Detailed run-through:

Like several prior episodes, this one starts with Twilight Sparkle trying to concentrate on a magic spell only to get interrupted by one of her friends, and this time the interruption is the quickest yet. This comical scene establishes that this episode is going to focus on Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash’s dynamic. I’ve noticed that some combinations of Mane 6 members find themselves paired up in episodes far more often than others, and that seasons 5 and 6 are when the show plays mix-and-match with character pairs through all those friendship map missions. Applejack and Rarity are commonly paired because their contrasting interests play off each other in amusing ways but also make it more satisfying to see them happily cooperate. Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash are another common pair, and it’s easy to see why: they’re both huge nerds, but while Twilight completely owns up to being one, Rainbow Dash tries to disguise it by constantly playing it cool. This leads the two to have all sorts of interesting interactions, as we’ll see here.

Rainbow Dash gloats about how easy it was to catch Twilight by surprise, bragging about how sharply she pays attention to everything around her while flying. Twilight Sparkle was indeed muttering to herself about how Rainbow Dash hasn’t been taking her studying for the Wonderbolt history test seriously, using the fairly exotic word “lackadaisical” in the process. I can tell that Twilight considers Rainbow Dash to be very smart, which is why she’s frustrated that her friend doesn’t want to apply her skills in the right way. And Rainbow Dash likewise considers Twilight Sparkle far smarter than her, at the cost of being a dorky goober who’s easy to fool. The friction between these two comes about because of how much they see in each other.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 37: Somepony to Watch Over Me + Maud Pie

Introduction

< Part 36 | Part 37 | Part 38 >

Season 4, Episodes 17-18


Season 4 Episode 17: Somepony to Watch Over Me

In five words: Apple Bloom struggles with trust.

Premise: Apple Bloom is left to watch over Sweet Apple Acres while the rest of her family is gone, but Applejack frustratingly won’t stop being overprotective. Apple Bloom thus sets out on her own to prove herself capable of being on her own.

Detailed run-through:

To start the episode, Apple Bloom and her fellow Cutie Mark Crusaders listen in on an unintelligible conversation between her immediate family, then Granny Smith breaks the good news: Apple Bloom has been deemed old enough to watch over Sweet Apple Acres on her own for the afternoon. Apple Bloom keeps up a serious image through this big decision, but as soon as she thinks her family can’t hear her, she and the other two Crusaders break into excitement. This scene establishes the episode as one focused on the difficulties of growing up and gaining your family’s trust, an experience that’s familiar to many viewers of the show. To younger viewers, this episode is likely to be immediately relatable; to older viewers, it’ll more likely bring back older memories, or maybe even remind them of their own children or younger family members.

While the other Apples prepare for their journey to deliver pies to some dangerous places, Applejack gives her sister a long, detailed list of chores and instructions to take care of. Here’s where I’ll address probably the most common criticism of this episode: Applejack being extremely overbearing.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 35: Simple Ways + Filli Vanilli

Introduction

< Part 34 | Part 35 | Part 36 >

Season 4, Episodes 13-14

I had said in an announcement post that I would probably go on a decently long hiatus after finishing my review of Simple Ways. And I did go on a hiatus for nine days (several of which I spent extremely sick), but it was short enough that it didn’t interrupt my post series’ weekly queue.


Season 4 Episode 13: Simple Ways

In five words: Rarity bends herself for love.

Premise: A travel writer named Trenderhoof who Rarity has a crush on visits Ponyville, but when he ends up obsessing over Applejack, Rarity tries to overhaul her personality in response.

Detailed run-through:

This episode starts with a Ponyville town meeting where it is announced who will get to be the master of ceremonies for a festival celebrating the town’s founding, and Rarity wins. This sets up the premise for the episode and gives Rarity a reason to meet her celebrity crush face-to-face.

You know what? I’m going to skip to the part where Rarity reveals her crush on Trenderhoof, a travel writer who she hopes to impress during the Ponyville Days Festival.

I’ve heard that some people criticize this episode for focusing on romance, supposedly because Lauren Faust didn’t want the show to have any, which is total nonsense because Rarity has had crushes since the start of the show. I think the real reason this episode’s focus on romance gets flack is one of two things: (1) Twilight Sparkle’s romance arc with Flash Sentry in Equestria Girls left a sour taste in fans’ mouths, and they doubted the show’s potential to have good romance arcs in the future, or (2) fans don’t want canon material to intervene with their favorite ships. After Prince Blueblood turned out to be a disappointment, it makes sense that Rarity would set her eyes on a new love interest, who she’s revealing at long last. I really don’t see the issue with Rarity having a crush in this episode. It’s not like Trenderhoof was an already existing character; he’s introduced as Rarity’s love interest, and he’s, well… not much more than that. Rarity gives some exciting descriptions of the guy, saying that he’s good at predicting trends and wrote an article about Las Pegasus before the place got popular, but once we see him in person, he doesn’t get much of a personality. But I’ll get to that.

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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 33: Pinkie Apple Pie + Rainbow Falls

Introduction

< Part 32 | Part 33 | Part 34 >

Season 4, Episodes 9-10

I may as well say here that since writing my review of Rarity Takes Manehattan which came out last week, I have kind of maybe gotten obsessed with Coco Pommel and how adorable she is. She hits a sweet spot of character cuteness by being meek and cutesy but not a full-out exaggerated smushy baby. After so many years, I finally know what it’s like to fixate on a minor character in MLP, like so many fans are prone to do. Maybe it’s weird for me to say, but I think part of the charm of this show is that every character, no matter how minor or trivial, has some set of fans out there who think they’re the coolest thing ever. Slice of Life a season from now is a celebration of that fact, and I plan on going as hard as I possibly can when reviewing it.


Season 4 Episode 9: Pinkie Apple Pie

In five words: Genetic relationship cemented as ambiguous.

Premise: Pinkie Pie discovers evidence that she may be distantly related to Applejack, and she sets out on a journey with Applejack’s family to discover if she really is.

Detailed run-through:

You know what I find incredibly satisfying? When the very first scene of a MLP episode has something I can pick apart in depth, so that I don’t need to start with some empty fluff. This episode is a good example thereof.

Pinkie Pie: Whatcha doin’?
Twilight Sparkle: AAA!
Pinkie Pie: “AAA!” yourself! But that doesn’t answer my question, silly.
Twilight Sparkle: Just some genealogical research.
Pinkie Pie: Ohhhhh. (falls out of bookcase)
Pinkie Pie: (whispers to Spike) I don’t know what that is.
Spike: Genealogy is the study of family history! You know, where ponies come from, and who they’re related to.

While Rarity Takes Manehattan is one of the most adult-oriented episodes so far, by which I mean one more easily digestible for adults than for children, this one feels like a blast from the past with the strong amounts of slapstick humor and Pinkie Pie not knowing what a complex word means, leading Spike to explain it as though this were an educational TV series. By which I mean a show that was always unambiguously educational and didn’t just have an educational mandate of some sorts marked by an “e/i” symbol that was dropped after season 1. Not that this is a bad thing at all—it’s nice for MLP to vary the pace with its episodes.

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