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 Pony Sister, Sister which means it’s a CMC episode! Those always turn out great… right? Okay, so maybe I’m a bit too cynical whenever Applejack, Scootaloo, and most prominently this time Sweetie Belle are a major focus of the episode, but it’s not like I don’t have my reasons for feeling that way! Compared to the Mane6, their episodes tend to be a lot simpler and have far less of an impact which tend to make them feel like filler to pad out the season. Still, they have managed to step up their game on a few occasions such as Crusaders of the Lost Mark and Appleoosa’s Most Wanted, so maybe they can pull it off again here; especially considering this is ALSO the first Rarity episode of the season as well! Can the younger ponies show up their older counterparts with an episode that stands out in an already well regarded season, or are we just killing time for the better episodes to be finished? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with… um… hold on, it’ll come to me… her name is… okay, I’ve got nothing. One moment!
Sassy Saddles! Okay, the episode begins with Sassy Saddles (who we haven’t seen since Rarity Investigates) frantically running around the Canterlot Carousel Boutique in an effort to completely overhaul their inventory for the upcoming Spring Season. All this worrying is for naught however as Rarity proves once again that she’s the HPIC (Head Pony In Charge) and has made all the necessary preparations and orders to ensure a smooth transition! Three cheers for effective quarterly planning!! But wait! There is a disturbance in force (the Friendship force I guess) as Rarity suddenly becomes quite sullen despite handling her business like a boss. Apparently she hasn’t spent enough time with Sweetie Belle recently which causes her to have a meltdown; probably less due to that one thing than the collection of stress she’s built up over the past few days finally bursting.
I really like Sassy Saddles in this scene who is trying to find a way to comfort Rarity despite her clear uneasiness with having to deal with all these “emotions” in a professional environment; especially from her boss who I’m pretty sure already fired her once. Okay, I’m making it sound more overt than it actually is, but where most other characters would be tripping over themselves to make her feel better, Sassy is standing a firm meter away from the fainting couch with the occasional shoulder pat to prove she’s NOT thinking about which designs to put in the windows to maximize profits… even though she’s totally thinking about that right now.
Thankfully, Sassy manages to kill two birds with one stone by suggesting Rarity go visit Sweetie Belle; effectively solving her problem and getting her out of there so she can get back to work! Rarity LOVES the idea and boards the next train to Ponyville to see her little sister! Speaking of whom, what is she and the CMC up to today? Oh! It looks like they’re trying to murder several ponies by surfing a perfectly shaped and gigantic stone rectangle down the mountain right behind Ponyville (since when has that been there!?) to deliver to a pony in town. They couldn’t get a cart? They had to do it the one way that will maximize the property damage and body count? Well despite the INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS WAY THEY’RE DELIVERING IT, it DOES serve a purpose as they believe it’s the key to bringing out somepony’s cutie mark!
Of course the kid figures it out and gets his Cutie Mark which is yet another success story that the CMC can put on their wall of satisfied clients! Considering how busy they are, I’m starting to wonder what the heck ponies did BEFORE they had Cutie Mark Personal Trainers at their beck and call. Is this what it’s like being an old fuddy-duddy complaining about the kids these days with their Minecraft Let’s Players and their kale? I NEVER HEARD OF KALE UNTIL THREE YEARS AGO!! Wait, what was I talking about? Anyway, the CMC are SO busy that they have a client meeting with them in just a few minutes (boy was it fortuitous that the last client got their Cutie Mark so quickly!) and it turns to be Zipporwhill from all the way back in the season four episode Filli Vanilli. Now she already has her Cutie Mark which means that, like with Bulk Biceps, the mission is to get them back in tune with their Cutie Mark than discovering their super special talent altogether. It seems a bit odd that a pony who can’t be any older than eleven is already having a mid-life crisis, but whatever. I’ve also been informed that she speaks with a Latin American accent, but I still think it’s more Russian than anything else. The CMC are on the case… that is until Rarity storms in and declares her intentions of spending the day with Sweetie Belle! Oh no! See, this is the kind of scheduling conflict that doesn’t occur when your society invests in new technologies rather than magic. If we only had an Alexander Graham Buck to develop a freaking telephone, NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED!!
Well, I guess a simple Cutie Mark tune up doesn’t require THREE ponies, so Applebloom and Scootaloo are off to help Zipporwhill while Sweetie Belle humors Rarity sudden desire for familial contact. So here’s where we get into the main conflict of the episode and where the cracks start to form in the initial premise. Rarity is taking Sweetie Belle to do all the things she USED to like doing, but Sweetie Belle is clearly not having a good time at these places. She’s putting on a brave face, but it’s not gonna last forever as Rarity, either out of lack of creativity or a burning need to forget about the inexorable forces of time and decay that will eventually turn them all into dust in the wind (maybe she found a gray hair in her mane) hasn’t come up with a single original idea and is simply taking her to THE SAME puppet show and taking her out for THE SAME ice cream dish. Can’t choose something ELSE from the menu! Oh no! That would shatter the façade that Rarity has carefully constructed around her relationship with Sweetie Belle!
Now on the one hand, that’s a perfectly fine story to tell, especially for a show that’s been going on for this long, and they manage to parallel it rather well with the CMC story that involves Zipporwhill’s grown up puppy no longer wanting to play with their puppy toys. The problem though is that it doesn’t quite have the impact it should for two reasons. First Rarity is WAY too over the top in her selective blindness which I assume is the case so that the message isn’t lost on younger viewers, but the degree to which she lacks self-awareness here is a bit too much to take seriously. The other problem is… well it’s kinda hard to empathize with Rarity at all on this, and I think the problem is that these CLASSIC TRADITIONS that Rarity is so intent on preserving are brand new things introduced in this episode which means the audience doesn’t have any real connection to them. Maybe if this was say… the Sisterhoof Social and Sweetie Belle now wants nothing to do with it, then that would be one thing as it’s a tangible connection to a past that the audience would be aware of. Instead it all feels needlessly infantilizing and ends up dragging on for way too long.
Sweetie Belle eventually blows up, Rarity is BEYOND shocked by this revelation, and the two split to grouse over the other’s perceived transgressions. Sweetie Belle manages to run into Zipporwhill who has given up on finding a solution to her Cutie Mark problem. In fact, let’s back up a bit. While Rarity was treating Sweetie Belle like a baby, Applejack and Scootaloo were helping Zipporwhill reconnect with her dog as that seems to be super special talent (getting along with dogs… I guess). The dog is no longer interested in the toys and games Zipporwhill wished to play, and so she ran off thinking that the dog hated her. Gee… I wonder if this situation is in any way a reflection of Sweetie Belles. She seems to think so at least and drags Zipporwhill back to her dog Ripley (first name Ellen I hope) to solve this problem once and for all! Rarity, who’s ready to give Sweetie Belle a piece of her mind stops just short of doing that once she realizes that Sweetie Belle is giving the moral of the episode.
She explains the message the message of the episode (we will all grow old and die one day) and Rarity is moved enough by it that she forgives Sweetie Belle for running off like that! Ripley and Zipporwhill find new things to do (perhaps one of them will be destroying aliens) and the two sisters try to salvage what is left of this day. Finally they’ll do something that Sweetie Belle will enjoy, which is… eating ice cream. Seriously? All she’s doing is getting a larger portion now? It feels like this would have been a REALLY good point to have them actually do something “grown up” as it were (Sweetie Belle mentions Black Box theater which would have fit PERFECTLY here), but instead it’s just… ice cream. See what I mean about this episode not really living up to all it could be? Oh well. And so the episode ends with the two sisters becoming closer than ever and Rarity getting a new picture to put in her Canterlot store!
Yeah, not much of a surprise that a CMC episode turned to be rather ho-hum, and while it’s disappointing that we’re getting what is essentially filler episodes this early into the season, it’s not a particularly EGREGIOUS example of it. We haven’t had a full Rarity/Sweetie Belle episode since The Cart Before the Ponies, and we haven’t had a GOOD one since For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils all the way back in season four. We were clearly due for another one at some point and this was not only a solid idea for an episode but a brilliant way of acknowledging how little these two are paired up (i.e. the opening where Rarity misses Sweetie Belle). Still, there were a few missteps along the way that failed to take full advantage of everything they had to work with which leads to an okay but nonetheless unimpressive episode. I’m sure we’ll be getting plenty of CMC episodes this season as we do with EVERY season of this show, so hopefully they will have a bit more going for them than this one did. Heck, if this turns out to be the low point for CMC episodes this season, then I’d end up calling season 7 a RESOUNDING success for them!