My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Hasbro
Episode directed by Denny Lu and Tim Stuby
We’re back with another episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and it feels like an ETERTINTY since I last said that! Then again, the show has taken MUCH longer to start a new season in the past, particularly between seasons four and five when they were being switched over from The Hub to Discovery Family, but that doesn’t mean it was any easier to go without my weekly fix of Pony Magic! Now the new season is actually doing something very different right off the bat as the show USUALLY starts off with a two-parter to open the season with yet decided to forgo that for the first time since the series began to instead have to separate episodes to start us off with. Does a less bombastic opening salvo for the season still manage to bring the excitement needed to bring the fans back on board, or does this first episode drop the ball right off the bat? Let’s find out!!
The episode picks up not too long after the events of the season 6 finale where everyone is getting ready for the award ceremony to honor Starlight Glimmer, Trixie, Thorax, and Discord, for their brave efforts to thwart Queen Chrysalis’s latest scheme. They didn’t CAPTURE her so she’s still out there probably scheming something else, but her power has at least been diminished since all the Changelings turned on her and became beautiful florescent colored bug horses for their troubles and installed Thorax as their new king. Probably less to do with his role in overthrowing the monarch than the fact that he now has BAD ASS ANTLERS!
The party proceeds as you’d expect, cameos by meme-able ponies included, but things take a turn once Discord starts talking to Twilight (what a shock) and asks her the big question; WHAT NOW!? I mean if you think about it, what the hell else can Twilight teach Starlight now that she’s not only a skilled magic user but ALSO a master of friendship? Okay, MAYBE that’s overstating it a bit (infiltrating an enemy nation and good interpersonal skills aren’t what I’d call mutual skills) but there’s still very little doubt that the First Time Teacher’s very first student is probably not gonna get much more from said teacher’s teachings. Princess Celestia or Luna, sure. They’ve at least been around long enough to still have some wisdom to impart, but Twilight’s just barely finished her education and has been a princess for what, three years maybe? That’s not even long enough to get a bachelor’s degree in education; never mind being an effective teacher!! Speaking of Celestia, wasn’t SHE in the same position about seven seasons ago when she sent Twilight off to Ponyville? Well… no because that was BEFORE Twilight got her friendship lessons and we’re talking about someone who’s already completed theirs, but any reason to put more Celestia in this show is fine by me. Both of them (along with Spike because why not) leave the party to talk in the Friendship Map room about what Twilight should do now, and the answer comes rather quickly as Twilight realizes the only thing left to do is to send her away. She needs to spread her wings and fly free like a magic pony bird!
The question is… where to? Now I brought up the fact that this ISN’T exactly the same situation as when Celestia sent Twilight to Ponyville for reasons other than just being snarky and glib. While I’m willing to go along with the episode because it IS an interesting premise (and more Celestia is always a good thing), it just seems a bit odd that at THIS point, Twilight feels the need (with Celestia’s tacit agreement) to still manage Starlight’s life in some way. You know who should be deciding where she goes? I don’t know, maybe HER!? Sure, it can be a conversation they all have, but she should REALLY have a voice in this. Maybe that’s where all this is going which would render my little complaint there moot, but it is something that threw me off when we got to this scene. So what’s the one thing that could possibly go wrong now that Twilight’s trying to figure out the best place for Starlight to go? Well as you’d expect from the same pony that nearly destroyed a town when her book report was almost late, she starts to overthink everything and imagines some outlandish worst case scenarios. In fact, let’s go over those right now, shall we? So first of all, Twilight apparently has learned a spell to basically recreate the Holodeck from Star Trek as she visualizes her WHAT IF scenarios whenever she thinks of a place where Starlight would be a good fit. The first idea is to send her to the Changeling hive to help Thorax rehabilitate these former love suckers into respectable members of society. Not a bad idea even if I feel her talents could be better used elsewhere, but Twilight rejects the idea not five minutes after bringing it up because… SOMETHING BAD COULD HAPPEN! In this case, one of the Changelings would go evil, pretend to be Starlight, and then frame her for some sort of crime.
Alright, so the Changeling kingdom is out, but if not there, then where? What about the DRAGON kingdom!? Yeah that seems like… a really bad idea. Why does Twilight want to send her there? I mean sure, their new leader Ember is WAY more amenable to ponies than any they’ve had in a while, but what the hell is she gonna do there? Kick dirt around like everyone else? Maybe if she had a degree in engineering and was going to help them build some infrastructure, but all Twilight can think of is her blowing shit up and fist bumping which doesn’t seem to be a productive use of her time either. At least her worst case scenario in here makes sense as that one jerk-ass dragon punk grabs her by the neck and throws her head first into a pit of lava. A reasonable concern if you ask me, and I’m also pretty sure this is how World War I started.
We’ll go ahead and scratch that one off the list (good call), so that just leaves us with one last idea which is to send her to the Crystal Kingdom. Actually… yeah, that would be PERFECT! It’s probably the fastest growing region of Celestia’s Empire so it could use all the brainy people it can to boost their GDP and stuff! In fact, she’d also get to do magic/science experiments with Sunburst to make new discoveries to benefit all of pony kind! Oh wait, apparently Twilight has seen Fullmetal Alchemist (no seriously, they draw a Transmutation Circle) and assumes that they’ll both end up killing themselves in some scientific catastrophe.
Now while Twilight is having her little panic attacks over letting Starlight Glimmer go places all by herself, Celestia is there in the background doing her usual “let them learn on their own” shtick and has been staying quiet the whole time. At this point though, she’s not able to hold it in any longer and starts laughing her Royal Sun Butt off right in front of her.
Before Twilight can have a complete emotional breakdown, Celestia composes herself and quickly comes up with an excuse for getting a bad case of the giggles. Celestia tells Twilight the story of how she herself had similar concerns when trying to decide what to do with her most precious student, and we get to see all this in flashbacks. I have some nit-picks about this, but the best part of whole thing is that Celestia apparently has a Thinking Mountain where she goes to clear her head and ponder the universe.
Alright, so what works about this flashback is that it does a decent job of humanizing (or pony-izing I guess) Celestia in ways that we don’t get very often as she expresses doubt, concern, and uncertainty about what to do with Twilight. That having been said, the timeline of the flashbacks is a LITTLE bit screwy as we see Twilight as a young filly when Celestia first gets these concerns… but she doesn’t send Twilight to Ponyville until what, five to ten years later? I’d actually be okay with that as another indication of Celestia having her own flaws (she REALLY didn’t want Twilight to go, did she?), but they don’t really acknowledge the amount of time that passes in the flashback; nor do they mention Moon Dancer which seems like a bit of a missed opportunity and could have even helped justify the huge gap in time. After all, she DID have friends for at least a while even if she was still rather closed off from them. Oh, and let’s not forget that it’s a HUGE coincidence that Celestia was planning to send Twilight to Ponyville for some time BEFORE she started asking questions about Nightmare Moon and the Elements of Harmony. Like… did she get that letter from Twilight prophesizing impending doom and go “now is the time to send her away and good thing I already had this planned out”? Quibble with flashbacks aside, it at least gives the writers a chance to examine the relationship between Twilight and Celestia which I feel is one of the more interesting dynamics in the show that stays relatively unexplored. I mean it’s not the MOST unexplored relationship in the series, but still!
Twilight returns to the part after finally deciding what to do, but in the meantime Discord was doing his jerk magic on the crowd and now EVERYONE is expecting to hear Twilight make a big formal announcement about what Starlight is going to do now. It turns out… that she took my advice! Twilight formally announces Starlight’s graduation (I’m sure that will look good on her Résumé) and to do whatever the hell she wants! What does she want to do? Well, she decides to stay right the hell here of course! WHEW! Dodged THAT bullet! And so the episode ends with the status quo staying exactly the same and everyone being happier for it!
This is a perfectly fine episode for the series to come back to as it wraps up the story that we ended season six on in a rather interesting and satisfying way. Really, the only complain I have with this other than some small nitpicks here and there is in comparison to the OTHER season premieres. Then again, this isn’t making any compunctions about being a grand and epic return like the rest of them have been and that’s honestly what made the season six premiere suffer a bit as it wasn’t nearly as big of a shakeup or even all that epic in its scale that we got from prior seasons. I have no doubt that we’ll get our big adventure episodes eventually (and we’re also getting the movie in a few months as well), so while I probably would have preferred another BIG episode to start out with (possibly one that resolved the Chrysalis cliffhanger from the finale), I won’t hold it against this episode. It still feels like Twilight’s growth as a character is being reset in order to serve the plot so she can learn a new lesson every episode (what happened to those breathing exercises Cadence taught her?) and I still wish we’d get MORE Celestia even in episodes that feature her in a somewhat prominent role, but everything else has me excited to see where the series will be going next.