We’re back with another episode of Politics is Magic! Well not so much THIS time considering that Twilight almost started a war last week and a riot the week before, so she’s gonna take some time off from being one of Equestria’s highest ranking officials. Just let the dust settle before she accidentally strains diplomatic relationships with the dragons or whatever. Instead, Twilight is going to tackle some personal problems that she left hanging back in Canterlot and has resolved to fix now that she’s not fighting monsters or putting doubt in the monarchy at the moment. Not a bad idea considering how much time Twilight spent in Canterlot before she moved to Ponyville at the begining of the series! Will we get a fascinating look into her life before coming to Ponyville or will they drop the ball on yet another really interesting idea that was only half thought out? I’m looking at YOU Lost Treasure of Griffonstone! Anyway, Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with us learning that Spike continues to do domestic chores for Twilight despite them living in a GIANT CASTLE which would be impractical to maintain with a single person, let alone a still developing child.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Spike in this show, but it’s amazing how effectively they’ve been able to show me WHY I’ve felt this way in the last couple of episodes. GIVE HIM SOMETHING WORTH DOING!! He’s treated like a second class citizen wherever he goes and is always put down by his mistakes rather than encouraged to do better next time. Let’s hope this episode fixes that considering it’s shaping up to be a Twilight/Spike venture once again. After finishing the dishes, Spike starts to reminisce about their life since leaving Canterlot and how much Twilight has changed since then. Twilight being Twilight of course takes this to mean the WORST. POSSIBLE. THING. and decides that she needs to fix her past now that she’s such a better person now. Apparently she had friends in Canterlot (could have fooled me) who she hasn’t talked to since moving to Ponyville and resolves to go back to Canterlot and make amends to them. Spike complains for a bit and then does her bidding, and so the cycle continues forevermore!
They arrive in Canterlot that very night and we get to see Twilight’s old home from the first episode which is in disrepair due to it being unoccupied for years. They writers are trying to use this as a metaphor for Twilight’s past relationships (which is a solid metaphor to use here), but all I thought of was why no one has used this room since then. Seriously, why is Celestia leaving one of her private domiciles completely abandoned? Shouldn’t she be using it for… OH!! SHOULDN’T SHE BE GETTING A NEW MOST FAITHFUL STUDENT BY NOW!?!? See, THAT’S an episode right there. No, that’s a great SEASON right there!! Speaking of relationships, how is it we still don’t have an episode where she visits her parents? That’s a pretty significant gold mine they haven’t bothered to explore yet. At any rate, after seeing the state of her old place Twilight’s resolve is only that much more steadfast… except for the fact that she can’t remember any of their names. That’s where Spike comes in! Twilight’s Friendship hit list includes Minuette, Twinkleshine, Lemon Hearts, Lyra Heartstrings and Moon Dancer. We all know who Lyra Heartstrings is by now, and Minuette has been a part of the fandom as Colgate for a while, but I’m not too familiar with the remaining three characters outside of being background ponies here and there. Also, chances are that Minuette ISN’T going to be wielding a giant toothbrush, but after Slice of Life, you never know. The next day, Twilight heads for Minuette’s house (her first victim) and we get a VERY telling scene where Twilight starts to ponder what tragedy Minuette’s life must have become ever since her glorious presence was ripped from her life.
Now THIS is an interesting direction to go in! Twilight might be good intentioned, but her goal is ultimately self-serving. She doesn’t want to hang out with them but instead wants to clear a blemish on her sterling career of excellence! As expected, Minuette is living a happy fulfilling life (no toothbrush sadly) and is happy to see an old friend but isn’t lavishing the princess with unending gratitude for deigning to show her presence. In fact, when the two of them go to meet up with Lemon Hearts and Twinkle Shine, she finds herself out of the loop in a significant way. See, Lyra has moved to Ponyville (which was confirmed in Slice of Life) and the group has been chugging along fine without her. Not in a vindictive way, but in a way that kind of undercuts the importance Twilight felt this trip would have. They’re all happy to see her but are perfectly fine without her.
Still, they have a really great time catching up and end up going to some of their old haunts, one of which being their elementary school. While the other three are reminiscing about their time there, Twilight begins to have memories of their other friend who she still hasn’t seen yet on this friendship quest, Moon Dancer.
So they’re obviously drawing a parallel here between Twilight and Moon Dancer which makes me think that she’s not going to be as… well-adjusted as the REST of her friends so that she can be a clear reminder to Twilight of what life could have been like if she never went to Ponyville. SEEMS like they’re putting the focus on Twilight again which I think might be a mistake considering that it might end up validating Twilight’s goals here which as I pointed out earlier are almost entirely selfish. Anyway, they head to her house and find the most horrifying thing of all!!
Okay, it’s not that bad. She’s basically Twilight with a REALLY bad top bun, broken glasses, an unflattering sweater, and a really hostile demeanor. This is good news for Twilight who now has an actual target to aim her feeling of inadequacy at and decides to fix her!
Yeah… Moon Dancer isn’t buying what they’re selling and I don’t blame her. She’s probably on the same page that I am. Twilight though will not give up and starts to follow her around to see what she can find out.
While stalking Moon Dancer, whose crime is wanting to be left alone, Minuette explains that she was getting more friendly a while ago, but then it all kind of went downhill after a party she threw. When was this party? Why, it was the night that Twilight went to Ponyville! You remember from the first episode where she ignores her friends’ invitation to go to Moon Dancer’s party, right? Well actually I didn’t, but thankfully they threw in a little flashback. Sure enough, Twilight takes this to mean that because she didn’t show up, Moon Dancer’s social life was RUINED FOREVER!!! I’m REALLY hoping this is just a red herring, but it’s definitely used as the impetus for Twilight escalating her stalking methods. She follows her around in the library for an afternoon, getting ever more invasive until she forces her way between Moon Dancer and the one thing she treasures most.
Didn’t she learn already NOT to manufacture friendship problems? No wait, didn’t she ALSO tell Pinkie Pie to let it go when someone didn’t want to be her friend!? Well hypocrisy works out in this case because it she eventually convinces Moon Dancer to talk with her (so that she can learn that crazy book trick) and they start talking about various books they’ve read over the years. They even name drop Descartes (in this world, Hayscartes)! I wonder if they have the Cartesian plane in this universe, or should I say… the Mare-tesian plane!? Nyuk-Nyuk-Nyuk! Twilight eventually leads her back to her old room with the massive library and promises to give her the key to it and all its contents if she goes out to dinner with her and the gang. Ah HA!! Bribery is surely the way to win her over! I’m SURE someone forced into a dinner date, determined to hate everything and everypony around them, is going to be a BLAST to hang with!!
The dinner is pretty much a disaster and with very little provocation, Moon Dancer walks out on them. Twilight continues to try and make her see the light of friendship, but Moon Dancer proclaims that she gave it a shot already and it didn’t work out for her. Twilight once again assumes this is because she missed her party (please don’t make that be the reason) and she starts to fantasize about an event she was not there to witness. In it, we see the party that Twilight missed and the utter heartbreak that Moon Dancer goes through when only three of her good friends show up instead of four.
See, this is why I’m hoping that Twilight missing the party wasn’t the reason Moon Dancer gave up on friendship. If this heavily skewed view of the events turns out to be true, not only does it validate Twilight’s feelings of her own self-importance in everyone’s lives (which they spent the first half of the episode dissuading her from), but it also kind of puts Moon Dancer in a bad light as well. Clearly she had more in common with Twilight than her other friends, but if we are to believe the accounts of those other friends, Twilight was barely around. Why would Moon Dancer discard the friends who WERE there for her because of the one friend who had NEVER been there for her? I mean, I guess she could have been LOOKING for an excuse to be lonely, but I don’t think the show about friendship being magic is going to go that deep into somepony’s psychology. Twilight is more determined now than ever to fix things (because of course she does) and comes up with a brilliant idea!
That’s right! Twilight’s secret weapon is the party planner who managed to stem the tide of war with nothing more than confetti and party hats! Surely she can help ONE sad pony, right? When they make it Canterlot, we get another great moment where Twilight tries to introduce Minuette to Pinkie Pie (who they just so happened to run into on the way there), but it turns out they were friends already. This is ESPECIALLY telling considering that these two didn’t become friends until the Royal Wedding from season two, meaning that Twilight (who was well on her way to becoming the authority on friendship) was still out of the loop significantly and still had a lot to learn. I’m seriously loving all these moments where Twilight’s preconceived notions are being challenged, not because I’m rooting for her to fail, but because it provides some realistic complexity to their lives that can only make them that much more relatable. Pinkie Pie and Minuette go off to plan the party while Twilight lays out an INGENIOUS plan to get Moon Dancer there.
As you’d expect, the trail of literary classics leads straight to the party where they ambush her with cake and funny hats! Twilight eventually pushes and pushes Moon Dancer until she finally lashes out and feels all those feels that she refused to acknowledge back when Twilight missed her party, therefore validating Twilight’s theory that Moon Dancer’s sadness is due ENTIRELY to her actions. I don’t like that (and I’m pretty sure backing someone into a corner causes them to shut down, not open up), but Moon Dancer sells the HELL out of it. It’s a GREAT bit of acting on Kazumi Evans part who was originally the singing voice for Rarity and then got a starring role as Adagio Dazzle in Rainbow Rocks before basically becoming a regular background and guest character voice in the show. Her breakdown is full of righteous indignation, furious screaming, and sorrowful bawling as she lets out everything she’s been holding back for the past year or so.
The tearjerk does its job and Moon Dancer finally begins to enjoy the company of others and has fun at her party. Towards the end, Spike presents her with the gift that HE got for her for the original party years ago and it turns out to be a picture of her with all her friends (sans Spike). We transition from the picture being presented at the party to it hanging up on her wall, and so we end the episode on quite yet hopeful note as Moon Dancer is seen having fun with her friends outside.
This was a REALLY great episode and a high mark for the season, but I feel the ending they went with kept it from being one of the best in the series. For almost the entire length of the episode, they seemed to be going down the right path what with Twilight realizing that she isn’t trying to fix OTHER people’s problems that she caused; she’s trying to fix HER OWN problems that have yet to be resolved. She goes into this with the intention of nobly swooping in to fix other people’s problems and hopefully getting a medal out of it being such a great person, and instead gets the reality check she so desperately needed in this instance. It’s just unfortunate that they decided to have her swoop in and fix someone else’s problems within the same episode which kind of runs contrary to the message Twilight was receiving from everyone else. I think Moon Dancer is a really cool addition to the cast and is totally relatable to a big segment of the audience. It’s just a shame that they boiled down her narcosis into something so easily fixable and didn’t instead use the complexity of such characters to once again show Twilight that the world doesn’t revolve around her and her actions. They could have done A LOT of stuff with her to give us reasons why she acts the way she does, but instead just makes her a sort of parallel for Twilight (because it’s ALL about her) if she hadn’t learned the value of friendship. This is also kind of a minor point, but they introduce her sister at the party at the end, and I felt that was a HUGE opportunity wasted. More than anyone else there, she could have been useful for explaining Moon Dancer’s behavior, but instead she’s just kind of in the background and doesn’t get a single line. Even though I think they should’ve used Moon Dancer’s pain as a means for Twilight to learn a lesson, Moon Dancer is still a very well rounded character and her emotional crisis at the end was pitch perfect. The problems in this episode could have easily been fixed with a couple line changes, but it’s still a really great character piece to follow up the wacky adventure of last week’s episode. We’ve gotten two really good episodes in a row that expand the world as we know it and still manage to deliver satisfying stories with the characters we know and love. Slice of Life might have been the kick start this season needed to get into high gear, so let’s hope for the best in the remainder of this season!
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