We’re finally here! It’s the end of the fifth season of My Little Pony and it has certainly been a rocky one. With some really strong episodes right out of the gate, it looked like this season was going to be the best of the series, but over time it started to wander back into its usually high, but not extraordinary, standards. Still, the season finales have always been a high mark for the series with A Canterlot Wedding being one of my favorite episodes of the series. Will they manage to pull out all the stops so that we can close this season on a high note, or will it just be another example of this season taking things too safe? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with Twilight trying to memorize a speech she’s going to give at Celestia’s School of Magic and progress seems to be slow… despite the speech being barely a paragraph long. Well Twilight being the perfectionist that she is continues to rehearse the speech over and over again to a captive audience of one.
Okay, the speech actually seems to be an entire lecture on Cutie Marks and her theories about them, but you’d hardly be able to tell that from the opening. Oddly enough, she seems to take a non-deterministic stance in that she believes that without Rainbow Dash’s sonic rain boom as a filly, that none of them would have found their marks and be living the lives they do now. I would go along with this theory if she had a single case of somepony NOT getting their Cutie Mark to back up these statements, but whatever. Her audience seems captivated at least, but there appears to be one unexpected guest in the audience that clearly has ill will towards the presenter.
Actually it seems that the unwanted visitor is Starlight Glimmer (Fascism is Magic) but she disappears before Twilight can even confirm it was her. Now she was actually one of the best parts of this season and the two part season premiere is still a highlight for this series. She’s had PLENTY of time to stew in her hatred after what happened and whatever she has up her metaphorical sleeves will hopefully be pretty nasty and just as chilling as what she was doing to that town. Twilight knows all this (and is probably regretting letting her go at the end of those episodes) so she’s starting to feel super paranoid about it. Rather than tell Celestia or her friends about it, she heads back to her empty Doom Fortress and sure enough Starlight Glimmer is waiting for her.
She begins to cast a spell on the Cutie Map which opens up some sort of wormhole and then she tosses away the parchment with the spell on it because THAT’S not going to totally bite her in the ass soon enough. She jumps into the wormhole and it closes behind her. Okay… Spike picks up the paper which apparently is enough to REOPEN it, and so Twilight and Spike are following right behind her. The dimensional rift lands them right into… Cloudsdale Flight Camp. OH COME ON!! Are we REALLY doing the Rewrite History story!? Why is this show cribbing notes off of The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause!?!? Alright, you know what’s going to happen. Twilight and Spike have no idea how she was able to go so far back in time (Twilight’s certain that the only spell can send ponies back a week) but the answer is probably on that piece of paper so they store it away for later. The duo begins to look for Starlight who just ends up keeping Rainbow Dash from performing a Sonic Rainboom. No one gets their marks, Starlight tells Twilight to suck it, and then Twilight and Spike get flung back into the fucked up version of 1985… I mean Ponyville.
Everything is tinted yellow, the Cutie Map is full of dark crystals, and EVERYONE in town is boarded up in their dilapidated houses. You know, it’s one thing if the Mane 6 are miserable now that they never had a chance to live their dreams; it’s another that the ENTIRE world has been decimated by the lack of their friendship. Not only that, but it’s taking Twilight and Spike WAY too long to figure out just how boned the situation is. All I’m saying is that I’m pretty sure she was able to suss out what was going on in Equestria Girls much faster than she’s piecing it together here. She gets to Sweet Apple Acres and is SHOCKED to find out that it’s become a factory farm in this version… because the other Apples forgot how to farm? You know what, I’m gonna say it. It doesn’t make sense for ALL OF THEM to never discover their Cutie Marks because they didn’t find it THAT DAY. I can buy Twilight and Rainbow Dash because what was happening on those days was a one-time event. Everyone else? Rarity was already a fashionista, so she’d obviously continue going forward until she found her muse (which I guess is jewels). Fluttershy knew she liked it on the ground BEFORE she found she could communicate with animals, so she would have plenty of opportunities to discover her talent. Applejack already knew she hated it in Manehattan and would have gone back home AT SOME POINT. Hell, she’s back home already! Shouldn’t she get her cutie mark then too!? Pinkie Pie… okay, that one I MIGHT be able to buy if she never got up the nerve to leave the farm, but I figure she would have a rebellious stage at some point and try to see the rest of the world. Harumph I say to this WHOLE ENTERPRISE!! HARUMPH!! Anyway, they find Applejack (curiously wearing pants so I guess we don’t know if she has her Cutie Mark) and Twilight asks her what the deal is around here. She tells Twilight (who is a complete stranger to her) that everything has turned to hell since King Sombra came back after the resurrection of the Crystal Kingdom. Oh. OHHHHH!!!!!
HOLY CRAP!! THIS IS AMAZING!! I take back what I was saying earlier!! Well… most of it. I STILL think that they would have found their marks at some point (oddly enough, everyone is wearing pants so we can’t see if they DO have them) but this is a great way to justify the over the top destruction of Ponyville that Twilight finds herself in now. Applejack’s exposition about this war sets up a really cool and interesting world that takes some risks that the series has never taken before. The concept of open warfare, the hardships back home, and we even see some serious scars and injuries these characters have had suffered through in this new world.
The only thing that’s throwing me off here is King Sombra. For some reason, he just looks super doofy. Maybe it’s his fangs which at a distance look like the Simpson overbite, or his stiff walking animation, but he just looks ridiculous here and not nearly as threatening as when he was a cloud.
So everything has turned to hell now that Twilight and her friend’s didn’t find the elements of Harmony (and presumably didn’t stop Nightmare Moon, yet she has no presence in this world for some reason) which means they now have to find a way to go back in time and stop Starlight Glimmer from wrecking the past. How exactly will they find a way to go back in time in this war torn Canterlot, especially when Celestia and anyone else with the magical skills to help her are too busy fighting the war? Oh wait, they just pull out Starlight’s piece of paper and go back in time with that. Wait, what?
NO!! DON’T GO!! THIS IS REALLY INTERESTING!! Why aren’t we spending more time here and instead just moving on to the next scenario!? Sure, traveling to different timelines is a premise that has worked in other shows such as the Time and Punishment segment from one the BEST Treehouse of Horror episodes The Simpsons ever did, but that worked because they got the good jokes out quickly before moving on. There’s SO MUCH they can do in this timeline, but it feels like we’ve barely scratched the surface before moving on to the next one!
Anyway, Twilight and Spike go back in time and, sure enough, Starlight Glimmer is waiting for them. Her plan is actually pretty devious and quite contrapasso (I KNOW BIG WORDS). She intentionally left the scroll with the spell behind so that Twilight will try to go back in time. What Twilight DIDN’T know however is that the spell (which I’m guessing is too advanced for even Twilight to fully comprehend) is designed to send STARLIGHT back every time Twilight uses it so that she can stop her from setting things right. Her plan this time is to stop the argument between Fluttershy and the bullies so that Rainbow Dash doesn’t have a reason to race them and therefore do the Sonic Rainboom. Wait! Maybe Twilight can convince her to do it anyway! Yeah… that doesn’t work out to well.
I can’t help but think Twilight’s first idea wouldn’t be to start spouting off about alternate realities and being a time traveler. Maybe she could have just GOADED her into racing? Hassel Rainbow until she’s ready to chase her down? Well she doesn’t have much chance to try other options because she gets sucked back to another alternate future where things are a LITTLE bit different from last time.
And that’s how part one ends. With a much less interesting alternate reality that we know has absolutely no purpose because Twilight can hop back through the time vortex at any time. This episode took a while, but it did eventually grab me once we got to the Sombra dystopian universe and it seemed like that would be what this episode would be about. It’s just too bad that we couldn’t explore that world a bit more before giving Twilight and Spike an excuse to leave it considering how much potential there was for compelling storylines. Now that we know how part two is going to be structured (go to other worlds briefly before going back to the Cloudsdale race), it takes away a lot of the bite in terms of what they show us in these messed up realities. Who cares why everyone in this world is wearing war paint and brandishing spears? It’s just gonna be wiped out of existence once Twilight casts her spell! Maybe they’ll come up with a unique twist in part two. I certainly hope so.
As part two begins (and as was quickly mentioned at the end of part one), we find out that the ponies seem to be refugees from Queen Chrysalis and are very mistrusting of these newcomers. Before they can be skinned alive to see if there’s a Changeling underneath, the leader of the freedom fighters or whatever they are stops them and is revealed to be Zecora.
She has some sort of goop that can identify a Changeling (makes you wonder why the other ponies were so willing to stab them if they had a way to check) and I guess it has other powers because it causes Twilight and Spike to glow for a brief time which lets Zecora immediately deduce that they are actually time travelers from a better time line. I’m sorry, WHAT!?
What the hell would it have meant if they started blinking or glowed blue or something!? WHAT HELL IS IN THAT STUFF!? This revelation at least puts the duo in Zecora’s good graces and instead of them going back through the portal; they decide to go back to Zecora’s secret village. WHY!? Seriously, there is no reason for them to stick around another minute longer. Just get back to the past and start fixing shit!! Oh look! Queen Chrysalis is invading the village! You see!? This is what happens when you procrastinate!
I normally love the hell out of Chrysalis (her appearances in the comic books are spectacular) but I can’t really get invested in this because I know how immaterial this whole scene is and they don’t do anything new or interesting with the character. She’s practically saying the same damn lines she did in Canterlot Wedding and she’s onscreen for less than two minutes. Twilight and Spike run back to the Cutie Map and cast the spell (like they should have done in the first place) and get back to the race where Twilight is getting SUPER pissed! Oh hey! I can make another Simpsons reference!
Twilight’s outburst at Starlight does nothing to help the space time continuum and she’s swiftly sent to yet another alternate future. This one though actually makes the most sense considering that it’s the one where Nightmare Moon is in charge and she was the first one to be stopped the Elements of Harmony. Hell, they even give a legitimate reason for Twilight and Spike to run away from the map because they are immediately besieged by Timer Wolves! Unfortunately, things go downhill from there. She runs to the Castle of Two Sisters which is nice and pretty now, yet she still can’t guess what’s going on (not even the fact that it’s dark outside seems to give her a clue). Once inside, she finds Rarity whose massive bun can’t make up for the fact that the characterization here is shallow and ultimately pointless.
I don’t know why Twilight just runs up to her and starts rambling about her being one of Equestria’s saviors considering that this is no less than the third alternate timeline she’s visited where no one freaking recognizes her!! Not only that, but she starts spouting about her time traveling spell which is not a great idea considering that she’s in the main hall of Nightmare Moon’s castle!!
Just a bit of self-awareness Twilight! That’s all you need! Nightmare Moon is awesome as usual, but like Chrysalis it’s all very perfunctory. She gets a whopping two and a half minutes of screen time before Twilight and Spike escape back to the past where the REAL story is taking place. The episode seems to be aware that these sequences are being repeated to diminishing returns, so they flash to three in quick succession which include Tirek, Discord, and… the Flim Flam brothers? Wait, what?
I’m pretty sure some city ordinances or some sort of environmental protection agency would be enough to stop these two Captain Planet villains, but I’ll give the show props for even remembering to include them. I’d like to have seen a world where Diamond Tiara became mayor of Ponyville and locked up all the blank flanks, but this episode is already overlong and it’s time to wrap this up. Twilight ‘s plan this time is not to outfight or outsmart Starlight (which you’d think wouldn’t be TOO hard for a multiple time savior of Equestria, but whatever) and instead tries to reason with her because showing kindness to someone who’s gone completely off the deep end worked out so well for Frodo. Actually, it might work out here because they reveal two things here. First, that Starlight doesn’t seem to know how important Twilight and her friends are to saving Equestria multiple times, and second, that she hasn’t actually seen the alternate futures. This raises so many questions!! How does ANYONE not know that Twilight and her friends are the elements of harmony!? Hell, shouldn’t Starlight have figured that out when she was shadowing Twilight and even attended her lecture on Cutie Marks!? Also, where the hell does Starlight go when Twilight goes back to the future? Does she just hang around in the past until Twilight goes back which forces Starlight back to right before the time Twilight arrives? I guess we’re dealing with magic so I’ll let that slide, and despite Starlight’s complete ignorance not making sense, it at least gives Twilight a chance to talk her down from her evil schemes.
Starlight isn’t buying this crap about Twilight always going to worse and worse futures due to her actions which… I think she’s technically right about. If there are an INFINITE amount of possible outcomes, doesn’t that mean there are just as many bad futures as good futures that could happen due to Starlight’s actions? Every time she does something, there’s a fifty/fifty chance of the future being a utopia! Well to prove this to Starlight, Twilight grabs her and pulls her into the next vortex with her so that she can see the future for herself. Continently, they’re in a future that sucks, but isn’t dangerous (i.e. distracting) because somehow all life on the planet has been wiped out this time around.
I’m curious who managed to kill off Celestia considering she’s an immortal God being. Maybe she just said Fuck It and flew off to another planet. Anyway, Starlight isn’t convinced that Twilight isn’t pulling her leg and decides to show her once and for all WHY it was that she became Cutie Mark Stalin by using the spell to take them somewhere else in the past. Who wants to guess that the reason will in no way justify her basically being Pony Purple Man (The Purple Mare)?
Damn it! If only Dr. Seuss was around in this world to write the story of the Yellow Bellied Sneetches!! ALL THIS COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED!! So the reason she’s a bad guy is because her friend got a Cutie Mark and abandoned her which led to her becoming a recluse? How does someone who hasn’t had any meaningful social interactions in a decade manage to be charismatic enough to convince a whole town of ponies to give up their Cutie Marks? Did she go into an existential crisis when she got her own? There’s nothing about this backstory that even garners sympathy for her situation. She’s not the only one in Equestria to lose a friend, yet she’s the only one who decided it was enough to enslave a town of ponies and then try to destroy the multi-verse. There’s something much more wrong here that this token explanation doesn’t even scratch the surface of. Starlight has another outburst where she attempts to rip up the scroll with the spell on it so that the next time she stops the race there will be nothing they can do about it, but Twilight ends up convincing her to give Friendship another chance because that’s what the Princess of Friendship does. The Rainboom goes off without a hitch and now the council of Friendship, or the Nights of the Cutie Map, or whatever must decide what to do with her. I’d vote for imprisonment in the Canterlot dungeons, but I doubt that’s what they’ll go for.
There’s no real punishment for her other than I guess to make amends, but I get the feeling that Twilight is angling to have her own Most Faithful Student and found the perfect opportunity to have one in Equestria (Sunset Shimmer is all the way in Canterlot High). If they do go that route though with Starlight being a part of Twilight’s entourage along with Spike and Owlowiscious, that might be something to look forward to in season 6 as it would reflect a game changing shake up which is to be expect with the season finales of this show, at least after season one.
And so we’ve finally come to the end of this two part finale and the season itself. The finale is actually quite apropos as it neatly encompasses my thoughts of season five in a nutshell. It had so much potential and even showed us some glimpses of it here and there, but by the end it couldn’t live up to those lofty expectations. There’s nothing really wrong overall in terms of execution or writing, but it doesn’t feel like it’s enough to JUST be good. That’s not just from what I expect from the show, though admittedly I can’t separate my own hype from my thoughts on this. I feel the show itself was setting stuff up to be explored in greater detail, but wasn’t able to carry it all the way through. Was it a mistake to have the Sombra alternate reality so rich with detail and characterization? Maybe not because I’m SURE the fandom will fill in the details there, but it’s inclusion in this two parter means that the finale peaks rather early and just sort of meanders for the rest of its run time. Similarly, the season started about as well as you could expect with Starlight Glimmer’s episodes, but the Cutie Map never had an overarching presence like the keys did in season four. So final thoughts for this episode and the season in general? Despite all my complaining and humors exaggeration, I did like them overall. Some highlights of the season include The Cutie Map, Rarity Investigates (SQUEEE), Slice of Life, and Crusaders of the Lost Mark with plenty of really solid and entertaining episodes on top of that. I’m genuinely interested to see what Starlight Glimmer’s role in the next season is going to be and if they can give us a bit more depth and complexity to these characters. Then again, I thought they were gonna do that THIS season so maybe I shouldn’t get my hopes up yet. Is this show still great? Of course it is! I was just expecting them to take a few more risks and chances which ultimately didn’t happen. Maybe with my expectations tempered a bit more for season six, I’ll be able to enjoy it more than five. For now, this is a solid end to a solid season that I wish was fantastic, but it just didn’t work out that way. Well that does it for this season of recaps! I hope you all enjoyed them and I’ll see you all again once season 6 rolls around!
If you like this recap and plan on buying the show, then use the Amazon link below! I’ll get a percentage of the order it helps keep things going for me here at The Reviewers Unite! In fact, you don’t even need to buy the item listed! Just use the link, shop normally, and when you check out it will still give us that sweet, sweet, percentage! You can even bookmark the link and use it every time you shop! HOW AWESOME IS THAT!?