What is this? TWO Rarity episodes in a row? Has Hasbro been getting my letters!? Well we’ll find out if that’s true if the next episode has Luna and Celestia teaming up with Fiona and Cake to take down Sephiroth. ANYWAY, with last week’s episode being a mild disappointment for me, I’m happy that they’re giving Rarity another chance so soon to make up for it and this one might just do so what with its premise being that Rarity is going to play the part of the detective in some sort of crime or mystery! Will this be a return to form for everyone’s favorite fashionable unicorn, or are the writers still having trouble getting back into the swing of things after the mid-season hiatus? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins as Rarity is introducing her new line of clothing to the shop which is based on a fictional bad ass female spy named Peggy Carter. No wait, I got that wrong. What was it? Shadow Spade? Okay, let’s go with that.
The geeking out is cut short though because Rainbow Dash enters the boutique like a bull in a china shop (or a Rainbow Dash in a library) and knocks EVERYTHING IN THE ENTIRE STORE OVER! It’s not really her fault though because all she did was slam the door. It’s not like she flew around the room and crashed into everything to knock stuff to the ground, so it begs the question as to why exactly Rarity made everything so top heavy and precariously placed in a way that made it all fall over so easily. The reason Rainbow Dash is there is not just to disrupt Rarity’s business but to confirm their plans that night to go to some royal banquet to precede an upcoming garden party where Rainbow is an understudy for the Wonderbolts and Rarity is going because she’s Rarity. After Rainbow Dash has left (nearly knocking things down again) a delivery pony comes by and… knocks everything down again. You see Rarity? THE PROBLEM IS YOUR DISPLAY! NOT THE PEOPLE TRYING TO OPEN THE DOOR! So what was so important that Rarity’s new works of art have to be toppled once again? New rhinestones of course! Of course, the rhinestones delivered are not the correct ones which were supposed to be dragon cut (which dragons are cutting stones for ponies?) and Rarity insists that the right gems be delivered to her later that day. The deliver pony is hesitant to disrupt his deliver schedule over the mistake, but then Rarity turns on the charm and the gets all up in his head.
I actually like that the show isn’t getting all moralistic about Rarity’s impeccable skills at manipulation. Too often a woman’s sexuality is used against her by judgmental and entitled jerks who are just begging for an excuse to tear a woman down for no discernible reason (*cough* Fake Geek Girls *cough*) and it’s refreshing that something like this doesn’t try to give fuel to that notion. So what if she can use her charm effectively? It doesn’t make her a bad person (or pony I guess). Sassy Saddles is quite impressed with Rarities Maximum Charisma stats in getting the poor sap to redeliver her order and assists with picking out the perfect dress for the banquet that night. When Rainbow and Rarity get to the party, they run into a former Wonderbolt named Wind Rider who Rainbow Dash has neglected to gush about until now but is quickly correcting that mistake. Apparently he holds a record for fastest long distance flyer (I think) but Spitfire shows up to assure him that Rainbow Dash is on her way to beating his record. Wait a minute. I SAW THAT!! YOU CAN’T FOOL ME!! He paused for EXACTLY one second too long after being told that his record might get broken. Whatever investigation is happening later, he is RIGHT AT THE TOP OF MY LIST!!!
The party goes well and we cut to the next day where Rainbow Dash and Rarity are watching the Wonderbolts practice their special routine. After some platonic female bonding betweent the two, Soarin from the Wonderbolts comes over to tell Rainbow Dash that Spitfire had to leave due to a family emergency (her mother is sick) so she’ll be replacing her in the show they’ll be performing later with none other than Wind Rider leading the procession. With all the dignity she can muster (which isn’t a lot) Rainbow Dash graciously accepts her position on the team by busting into a five minute dance sequence in midair. Her jubilation is cut short however because Spitfire’s mother arrives for the practice and it’s clear that Spitfire was led away on a ruse. Now WHO could POSSIBLY be responsible? Well other than that one guy who definitely did it, the entire team turns on Rainbow Dash and Soarin says that she will have to prove her innocence or be ousted from the Wonderbolts forever. So without a proper investigation, they’re going to jump right to banishment!? Is this really how the Equestrian military chain of command works? Shouldn’t they at least get Pony NCIS involved!? Of course not! Rainbow Dash has someone MUCH better to help her clear her name!!
Wow! Okay, this may be the best thing ever! Not only has Rarity gone full Philip Marlowe on us, she begins to monologue and the attention to detail in her lines and actions as well as the transition to black and white animation makes for a superb viewing experience and something that will make this episode stand out as one of the best! The investigation itself isn’t all that involved (it’s obvious that Wind Rider is guilty as hell), but these scenes are so damn enjoyable to sit through that the relative simplicity of the mystery aren’t getting in the way of my enjoyment of these old school detective tropes. In Spitfire’s room they find the envelope the letter was in and it contains bits of Rainbow Dash’s mane. Not just one or two strands, a whole tuft of it that’s too obvious to NOT be a set up. The investigation continues as the duo start to interrogate the guards that obviously didn’t see anything and were distracted at one point by a delicious cake. Take a guess how she got that information.
Needless to say that Rainbow Dash has been losing her mind since this whole thing started and is constantly questioning Rarity’s methods that she feels aren’t helping the situation. You know, maybe situations like this can be avoided if the Wonderbolts didn’t force the one being accused of proving their own innocence. Just a thought. Wait a minute… IS THAT A CUMBERBATCH PONY!?!? HOLY CRAP, THAT’S A CUMBERBATCH PONY!!!!
I don’t know how much more I can take! There’s no way this can get any better, right? Well yeah, that’s about the peak right there. Still, everything about the investigation itself is an absolute joy to sit through if you like old school film noir (or at least the aesthetics of it) and it’s an interesting direction for them to take this episode. I mean it’s not the most ORIGINAL concept for a show to do a noir spoof (The Venture Bros is probably the best example of that), but this is definitely a concept I would like to be explored in later episodes or the comic book series because of how well this part suits Rarity’s personality. She always came off to me like an old Hollywood starlet which is probably why she fits right in with a story that borrows so much from the dominant genre of the time. Also, it’s a great example of how the show has evolved over the years with this episode’s closest comparison being MMMystery on the Friendship Express from season two. That was a good episode, but it’s also very broad in its humor and what it’s parodying. I mean that one had an OUTRAGEOUSLY accented French dude, deer stalker caps, and bubble pipes while this one has internal monologues straight out of a G rated Sin City and references to a BBC adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. It doesn’t feel as gimmicky here because the investigative elements and Rarity’s commitment to the role invest you in the stylistic choices while MMMystery on the Friendship Express just wanted you to laugh at the trappings for being so out of place.
By now Rarity has enough information to figure out who the bad guy is (spoiler alert: It’s Wind Rider) and she gathers everyone… backstage? Where the hell are they? Anyway, they all gather together to hear Rarity’s summation which is that… are you ready for it? WIND RIDER DID IT!!! I know; HUGE shock. They don’t explain how he got Rainbow Dash’s mane, but he wrote the letter and stuffed it inside an envelope which he was able to sneak into Spitfire’s room. How did he sneak past the guards? He left the cake of course which he got from a local bakery and… HOLY CRAP THAT’S A MORIARTY PONY!!!
The damning piece of evidence turns out to be that Wind Rider accidentally stained his scarf with icing from the cake and sure enough they find it once the scarf is unfurled. Case closed!! Wind Rider actually admits to doing it (why do the bad guys NEVER lawyer up in these scenes!?) and reveals that he not only sent Spitfire the message, but also told her that her mother’s illness could only be cured by some MacGuffin that’s really REALLY far away.
This means they have no choice but to use Rainbow Dash in the performance (is no one going to mention that Wind Rider should no longer be in it?) because there isn’t a pony fast enough to get Spitfire back in time!! Oh wait, Rainbow Dash is Rainbow Dash and therefore gets Spitfire back just in time! Aw… I wanted to see the exotic far away location that Spitfire was scouring for a cure from! Oh well, it means we get another minute or so of Rarity monologuing which is a worthy consolation prize! Spitfire kicks Wind Rider out of the Wonderbolts (leaving Dash a spot in the performance) and Rainbow apologizes for being so antagonistic earlier. And so the episode ends with Rarity watching the performance while giving one last speech. For some reason she has trouble keeping it to herself and I’m pretty sure is something Homer Simpson does all the time.
This episode was an absolute treat. While it does lack a bit in the story (which is disappointing), the jokes throughout and the references to detectives old and new was a great excursion for what we normally see from the series. It reminds me of Over a Barrel which had a great homage to Blazing Saddles in the second half of the episode what with Pinkie Pie’s Lili Von Shtupp outfit and the pie fight to cap off the third act. Once the second half of this episode rolls around though, it just immerses you in the world of hard boiled (for a kids show at least) noir and gumshoe detectives! A very enjoyable episode overall because of this and while the mystery is a breeze to solve, it takes away very little from what makes this episode work so well. We’ll probably head back to Ponyville soon enough (getting a third Rarity episode in a row is a bit of a long shot) but I really do like that we’ve spent two episodes in a completely different city with a much more concentrated cast. There have been episodes here and there that followed a similar premise (The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone springs to mind) but with Rarity doing her thing in Canterlot, we might just see the other characters expand in similar ways. I mean Rainbow Dash is already a Wonderbolt and Twilight has plenty of new responsibilities as the Princess of Friendship. Maybe Applejack starts managing farms in other towns? Maybe Pinkie Pie starts working for a high end bakery? Maybe Fluttershy… okay she’s probably going to stay put, but I still hope that the rest of the cast get a chance to grow outside of their current situations the same way Rarity did. Until then, this is easily one of the better episodes of the fifth season and is definitely worth consideration as one of the best of the series.
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