Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 65: The Saddle Row Review

Introduction / Navigation

< Part 64 | Part 65 | Part 66 >

Season 6, Episode 9

This episode was originally going to share a post with Applejack’s “Day” Off, but the review turned out long enough that I changed my mind. I’ll do more paired-up posts until I reach an even-numbered episode that’s worth giving its own post—my current candidate is The Times They Are a Changeling.


Season 6 Episode 9: The Saddle Row Review

In five words: Mockumentary tells boutique’s clumsy beginnings.

Premise: Rarity has finally opened her boutique in Manehattan, called Rarity for You, and it gets off to an incredibly bumpy start because her friends all are too concerned with the question: “What would Rarity want?”

Detailed run-through (aka The Saddle Row Review Review):

“The Saddle Row Review Review” is a joke I came up with before I even started this post series.

This episode starts with five of the Mane 6 running in panic, hoping they can stop Rarity from reading the review of her new boutique. Given the highly anachronic order this episode is told in, this is quite amusing. Even after successfully setting up Rarity’s boutique and admitting they screwed things up along the way, they still feel a desire to maintain a perfect image to her friend. Normally, Rarity is the one obsessed with keeping a perfect image, but this time, the rest of her friends take this role while Rarity happily embraces her friends’ quirks.

Rarity looks angered when her friends arrive, but it turns out she was merely exhausted from waiting. Then she squeals in adorable excitement because she wanted them to read the review together.

Rainbow Dash: Um… I have an idea. How about we don’t read it?
Twilight Sparkle: What she means is, before you read it, we should probably tell you about—
Rarity: No, no, darling. Please, no spoilers.

I’ve previously talked about a pattern in Rarity episodes where the rest of her friends are clumsy but well-meaning, always trying a little too hard to make Rarity satisfied. Though I consider it a Rarity episode, this episode plays with the pattern by focusing on the rest of the Mane 6 and what they think of Rarity, rather than on Rarity herself. This episode is all about playing with patterns and unusual storytelling styles, and I enjoy it very much.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 62: Gauntlet of Fire

Introduction / Navigation

< Part 61 | Part 62 | Part 63 >

Season 6, Episode 5

Fun fact: this will be the last MLP post I write before moving out of my parents’ house. I get the keys today, and I’ll spend the weekend moving all my stuff. Exciting, right?


Season 6 Episode 5: Gauntlet of Fire

In five words: Spike’s second chance befriending dragons.

Premise: Spike goes to the dragon kingdom for the second time in his life, this time by force. He’s sent to participate in a competition to inherit the throne from Dragon Lord Torch. He’s reluctant at first, but eventually he gains a supportive ally.

Detailed run-through:

Knowing this episode’s premise, it’s interesting and fitting that it starts with Spike in his comfort zone: exploring a cave with a girl he likes to help her find gems.

Rarity: The last time I was here, I woke them and ended up with a mane full of bats. (sigh) Thanks for being my basket holder, Spike.
Spike: Basket holder? I thought I was your bodyguard.
Rarity: What? Oh, haha. Yes, yes, that of course, too.

I should say right off the bat that I see nothing creepy about Spike’s crush on Rarity. It’s a totally believable thing for a pre-teenage boy to do, and passages like this show that while Rarity has some special affection for Spike, she clearly views him as a kid. There are some episodes where one of them goes far enough to raise an eyebrow, but this isn’t one of them, and the crush in itself isn’t weird to me.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 60: The Gift of the Maud Pie

Introduction / Navigation

< Part 59 | Part 60 | Part 61 >

Season 6, Episode 3

Matching with the content of the episode I’m reviewing, I wrote the middle half of this post during a short trip to a major American city. The city is Chicago, and I went there to get a new German passport—the first German passport I’ve gotten since I was a baby.

(Pointless trivia: Brotherhooves Social is one of few reviews I’ve written entirely away from home, on a little trip to Michigan.)


Season 6 Episode 3: The Gift of the Maud Pie

In five words: Gift exchange reveals Pinkie’s insecurities.

Premise: Pinkie Pie goes on a trip to Manehattan for her family’s annual gift exchange, where she goes to great lengths to find the perfect gift for Maud Pie. Rarity comes with her and helps find a gift while searching for the perfect location to open her newest boutique.

Detailed run-through:

You know how fans of just about any work of media analyze it in excessively rigid and methodical ways? One observation that has arisen from methodical, data-oriented analysis is that throughout the first five seasons, Rarity and Pinkie Pie were the pair of Mane 6 members who interacted the least. While there is nothing to indicate that Rarity and Pinkie Pie are a weak link among the Mane 6’s friendships, like Rose and Jade are in Homestuck (see miscellaneous notes), not until now has an episode paired them together. Season 6 gives us not one, but two episodes pairing Pinkie Pie with Rarity, which is really smart. It redeemed the issue of fans perceiving them as a rarepair, and now I see them as an ordinary pair of friends like any other.

Anyway, this is the third episode where Rarity goes on a trip to Manehattan, and since three is the minimum number of times needed to recognize a pattern, this episode is the perfect time to subvert the pattern of Rarity bursting in excitement about this city. This time, Pinkie Pie is psyched about visiting Manehattan, while Rarity keeps her composure and says this is just a simple business trip. This feels a lot like a brony around the time this episode aired, insisting that new seasons of MLP are just a routine and that they aren’t that excited for season 6 to start…

… but when this metaphorical brony watches the beginning of season 6, they’re swept in excitement all over again, exactly like Rarity is. I think most people who have a dorky obsession have an instinct to downplay how much they like it, until they’re hit in the face with whatever it is they’re obsessed with. Once her eye catches the pony Statue of Liberty, she pops off in adorably goofy joy and ends with saying Manehattan is “everything ever”.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 52: Made in Manehattan

Introduction

< Part 51 | Part 52 | Part 53 >

Season 5, Episode 16


Season 5 Episode 16: Made in Manehattan

In five words: Coco Pommel revitalizes theater play.

Premise: The Cutie Map sends Rarity and Applejack to Manehattan, where they have to help our old friend Coco Pommel garner interest to host a stage play.

Detailed run-through:

Before we begin, I’d like to tell you that Manehattan is NOT spelled “Manehatten”. Maybe it’s because I’m American, but I don’t understand how so many people could possibly make such a simple spelling mistake. And if you think it doesn’t matter how you spell this fictional town name, then clearly you don’t know that every time someone spells Manehattan as Manehatten, Coco Pommel cries. You don’t want to make Coco Pommel cry, do you?

The placement of the ladder on the left makes no sense.
It starts a shelf above the top of the other ladder, so how is Spike supposed to get up there?

This episode starts with Twilight Sparkle being bored out of her mind, until Rarity and Applejack both arrive revealing that their cutie marks are flashing. Twilight is briefly excited to have something to do, then sighs when she realizes hers isn’t flashing. This is the third time an episode has started with Mane 6 members’ cutie marks flashing, and three is the minimum number of times needed to recognize a pattern. As such, it makes sense that this episode starts off in the castle once again, even if it means the only role Twilight serves is as the brunt of boredom.

Rarity is insanely excited to be sent to Manehattan, whereas Applejack is confused. Some people criticize this episode for not bringing up that in her childhood Applejack ran off to Manehattan before getting her cutie mark, but I don’t think a mention of that would have added much to the episode. Since being a filly, Applejack has worked her way up to knowing how to be true to herself. She knows what she likes and stands for, and a huge, bustling city simply isn’t her cup of tea.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 51: Rarity Investigates!

Introduction

< Part 50 | Part 51 | Part 52 >

Season 5, Episode 15


Season 5 Episode 15: Rarity Investigates!

In five words: Mystery reveals celebrity’s nasty truth.

Premise: At a Wonderbolts event, Rainbow Dash is accused of tricking Spitfire into not attending so that she can fly in it instead. Putting on a charming film noir shtick, Rarity gets to the bottom of this mystery.

Detailed run-through:

In the last review, I forgot to mention Sassy Saddles’ fun little shtick of using two fashion terms at a time as interjections.

This episode begins at the same boutique Rarity had set up in the last episode, which is a bit unusual—perhaps a result of the broadcast order being different from production order?

Rarity: Oh, Sassy Saddles, don’t you just love my new Femme Mystique Chic line of gowns?
Sassy Saddles: (gasps) Sequins and sashes, Rarity, they’re exquisite. Where in Equestria did you find the inspiration?
Rarity: Oh, I modeled them after the adventures of Shadow Spade. Her stories are always full of mystery and suspense, and best of all… Fabulous costumes!

I find it admirable that Rarity owns up to what her real favorite thing about these mystery novels is. A lot of fans of this show struggle to admit what they like most about it and throw together complicated reasons to make themselves seem more cultured. While there are certainly tons of subtle things I like about this show, the main draw factors are the good sense of humor and the cute character designs. Simple as that.

Rarity makes a few adjustments to the dresses while talking about Shadow Spade’s attention to detail, then Rainbow Dash ruins the moment with a hasty entrance. While the Mane 6 are a tight-knit group of friends, not all two-way relationships between them are equal. Season 5 has quite a few episodes that pair up Mane 6 members who hadn’t shown up together much, and this scene establishes that we’re going to explore the dynamic between Rarity and Rainbow Dash. There are a total of fifteen pairings between Mane 6 members, which jumps to 21 if you add Spike, making for a succulent variety of untapped character relationships—untapped for now, at least.

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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 40: Inspiration Manifestation + Equestria Games

Introduction

< Part 39 | Part 40 | Part 41 >

Season 4, Episodes 23-24

Random fact: I wrote this entire post during my trip to Spain a few weeks ago. It was one of the main things I did when sitting around at the hotels: that, and practicing speaking Spanish. (And waiting to get a negative COVID-19 test, which I thankfully got in the end, allowing me to fly home.)


Season 4 Episode 23: Inspiration Manifestation

In five words: Rarity goes mad with power.

Premise: Spike tries to help Rarity out of a creative dry spell by finding a book that gives her extraordinarily dangerous powers.

Detailed run-through:

This episode starts with a quick look at an event called the Ponyville Foal and Filly Fair, an event whose name translates to, uh, “Kid and Girl Fair”? Rarity shows us a fanciful puppet stage she lovingly designed with some help from Spike, describing the strenuous hours spent in her typical overdramatic manner but expecting it to be worth it in the end…

Unicorns are probably the only type of pony capable of putting on a puppet show. They have hooves, not hands.

… except the guy hosting the puppet show says the stage is awful and deems it completely unusable. By this point, Rarity has been in such a situation where her customer rejects her art quite a lot of times, and this time she won’t even think of reworking her artwork because that always gets her into more mishaps.

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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 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 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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