Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Episode Two

Picking up where the first episode left off, Night Mare Moon laughs maniacally over her Never Ending Night, as the mayor orders the guards to seize her.  Night Mare Moon is having none of this, and she shoots lightning at the guards before turning to mist and fleeing the scene.  Applejack finally loses her grip on Rainbow Dash, who takes off after the mist, but is unable to catch it.  She does catch sight of Twilight Sparkle taking off with an unconscious Spike in tow, and wonders what she's up to.
At the library, Twilight Sparkle tucks Spike into bed, pointing out that he was up all night and simply doesn't have the stamina for that (being only a baby dragon, after all).  But without her trusty assistant, she has no luck finding any info on the Elements of Harmony.  Rainbow Dash bursts in, accusing her of being a spy, since she actually seems to know what's going on.  Fortunately, Applejack followed Rainbow Dash and manages to get her off Twilight's tail, though she too wants to know what's going on.  So Twilight tells her and the other ponies everything she knows, and how she doesn't know what the Elements of Harmony are.  Just then, Pinkie Pie points out "The Elements of Harmony: A Reference Guide" on the shelf, conveniently under "E."  The book describes the five known elements: laughter, kindness, generosity, honesty, and loyalty, and mentions the mysterious six element, along with the last known location of the elements.  As Twilight reads all this, the misty Night Mare Moon eavesdrops outside, just in time for a cut straight to the Everfree forest.
The ponies hesitate outside the spooky forest (complete with theremin music) for a moment before Pinkie calls for them to get going.  Twilight tries to dissuade them, saying she'd prefer to go alone, but Applejack insists that they can't let a friend face such a creepy place alone, and in they go.  With a resigned sigh, Twilight follows after them.  The forest is unexplored territory for all of them, and rumored to follow different rules than the rest of Equestria.  Rainbow Dash takes advantage of the stories to spook the others, unaware that Night Mare Moon's mist has seeped into the ground beneath them.  As she goes for the big scare, the ground crumbles away, and the two pegasus ponies scramble to save the others.  Rainbow gets Pinkie and Fluttershy grabs Rarity's tail, while Applejack manages to find a root to bite into and stop herself.  But seeing Twilight  still falling and heading for a dropoff, she lets go and slides down to grab the unicorn, barely keeping her from falling over the edge.  She assesses the situation and tells Twilight to let go, which Twilight does not think is good advice.  Applejack assures her that it is, even telling her it's the honest truth.  Convinced by her sincerity, Twilight lets go, falls, and is caught by Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy together.  They lower her to the ground as Applejack jumps down on convenient ledges in the cliffside.  
As the ponies continue on their way, Rainbow relives the experience of saving Twilight, who doesn't appreciate this, though all quibbles are forgotten when a raging manticore appears.  Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash all take a turn fighting, unable to hear Fluttershy's quiet calls for them to wait.  It isn't until all the others gear up for a stampede attack that Fluttershy is able to get them to stop so she can approach the manticore and find the real problem: a thorn in its paw.  With the offending thorn removed, the manticore is as gentle as a kitten and the other ponies are able to get past.  As they leave, Twilight asks Fluttershy how she knew about the thorn, and Fluttershy replies that she didn't, but she knew that kindness would win out in the end.  Unseen by the ponies, the discarded thorn turns back into Night Mare Moon's mist.
As the ponies go deeper into the forest, the trees hide the moon from view, making it almost impossible to see anything.  The mist hides itself in the trees, creating terrifying glowing faces that surround the ponies.  Though the others scream in terror, Pinkie Pie just laughs and makes faces right back at the trees.  When questioned about her strange behavior, Pinkie replies with a jaunty song about laughing at your fears.
Twilight Sparkle: Tell me she's not...
Rarity: She is.
The song works, and soon all of them are laughing along, making the faces disappear and continuing through the forest.  Their quest is once again cut short, though, when they come face to face with a roiling river.  Before they can figure out what to do, the sound of weeping leads them to a nearby sea serpent who appears to be the reason the river is so wild.  He tells them of how his precious mustache was cut off by a "tacky little cloud of purple smoke," and his whole look is ruined.  Few of the ponies are sympathetic to his plight, but Rarity, of course, sees the true tragedy of this situation, and takes it upon herself to correct this "crime against fabulosity."  Using one of the serpent's scales, she slices off her own tail and uses her unicorn powers to graft it onto the serpent's face.  This overjoys the serpent, who doesn't seem to notice that it doesn't match the other half.  Rarity makes light of her sacrificed tail, claiming short tails are "in," but pointing out it will grow back.  With the serpent placated, the river is crossable again, but serpent makes a bridge out of himself for them anyway.
Not too long after, Twilight spots the ruins of the castle where the Elements of Harmony are said to reside and rushes toward it, not noticing that the bridge is out and nearly falling.  Rainbow Dash pulls her back and comments, "What's with you and falling off cliffs today?"  Pinkie wonders how they'll get across, and Rainbow  waggles her wings at her before flying across and picking up the fallen part of the bridge.  Before she can tie it, she hears a voice from the fog calling her name.  She is approached by three pegasi, who ask her to join the Shadowbolts as their captain.  Plying her with flattery, they get her to agree, just as soon as she ties up the bridge.  But the middle pegasus tells her "it's them or us!" and causes the fog to filter out the sound of her friends on the other side.  Rainbow Dash appears to choose the Shadowbolts, but does not, tying up the bridge and flying back to the others.  The Shadowbolts turn back into mist and slink off as the ponies cross the bridge without mishap.
Inside the castle, the Elements of Harmony are right out in the open, on display even.  Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash carefully take them off their pedestals and set them down in front of Twilight Sparkle.  Though there are only five, Twilight read that a spark will cause the sixth to be revealed.  She asks the others to stand back, and starts to use her unicorn powers.  As she concentrates, Night Mare Moon's mist sneaks in and whips up the Elements into a whirlwind.  Twilight leaps in to save the Elements just as the whirlwind collapses and disappears, taking her with it.  The others try to find her and spot a light coming from a tower on the other side of the castle.  This is where Twilight finds herself faced with Night Mare Moon, who has all the Elements in her possession.  She gets ready to charge at the evil alicorn, her horn shining with magic.  Night Mare Moon returns the charge, but before they can butt heads, Twilight teleports to the unprotected elements.  She hurries to create a spark, but Night Mare Moon whirlwinds over and sends the little unicorn flying.  
Despite her efforts, the elements seem to have been ignited, sparking and crackling with energy.  But all too soon they fall dead again, to Twilight's confusion.  With an evil laugh, Night Mare Moon stomps down hard, smashing each element into pieces.  Night Mare Moon berates Twilight for being a fool, declaring that the princess and sun will remain hidden forever.  Suddenly, Twilight hears the voices of the other ponies coming up the stairs, and has a spark of realization.  She tells Night Mare Moon that the Elements of Harmony are not so easily broken, not when their spirit lives on in the other ponies.  Indeed, the shards of the elements suddenly rise up and surround each pony as Twilight explains which element they represent and why:
Kindness - Fluttershy, for showing the manticore a little love
Laughter - Pinkie Pie, for singing a catchy tune
Generosity - Rarity, for sharing her tail with the serpent
Loyalty - Rainbow Dash, for not abandoning her friends for fame and fortune
Night Mare Moon points out that they don't have the six element because Twilight's spark failed, but the fear in her voice is evident.  Twilight tells her that there was a spark, and then turns to address the other ponies.  The spark, she tells them, was inside her, the spark of realization she had when she heard their voices and finally understood that they were now her friends.  With this declaration, the six element appears overhead, shining with a light too bright for Night Mare Moon to withstand.  Twilight tells her that when the five elements are "ignited by the spark that resides in the heart of us all," the sixth element, Magic, is created.  So named, the sixth element flashes bright, and the shards of the other elements reform on each pony.  For most of them, it creates a collar, but Twilight Sparkle gets a crown.  The ponies come together and an enormous rainbow bursts forth, spiraling up toward the ceiling and then swooping down to surround Night Mare Moon, who lets out a Big No.  As the rainbow whirls around Night Mare Moon, Twilight's eyes open, glowing white....
The next thing anyone knows, all the ponies are passed out on the floor.  One by one they come to, and Rarity rejoices to see her tail has grown back.  So intent on her tail is she, she completely misses the fact that she now has a cool collar with a gem in the shape of her cutie mark.  The others find that they do, too, proof that they really did represent the Elements of Harmony.  Now that they're all up, Princess Celestia sees fit to show herself, appearing with the rising sun.  All the other ponies genuflect, but Twilight Sparkle rushes up for a pony hug.  The princess explains to Twilight that she knew about Night Mare Moon's return all along, and that Twlight would be able to unleash the Elements of Harmony, but not without true friendship.  Hence the 'make some friends' order.
With that out of the way, Princess Celestia approaches the defeated Night Mare Moon, who has returned to her true form of a small purple alicorn.  Celestia addresses her as Princess Luna, her younger sister (much to the shock of the ponies, but not the viewers at home).  She implores her sister to put their differences aside and for the two of them to rule together as they once did.  All the ponies lean forward, on the edge of their seats to see what will happen, Pinkie so much so that she falls over.  Princess Luna apologizes and the sisters share a pony hug, tears in their eyes.  The scene is so touching that Pinkie just can't hold back the tears, until, she realizes that a family reunion of such import is the perfect situation for a party!  
And so the Summer Sun Celebration becomes a Welcome Back, Princess Luna! party instead.  Spike and Twilight are reunited, and everything seems happy.  But Twilight is kind of bummed out, since she actually made some friends and now she has to go back to Canterlot.  No worries, though, for Princess Celestia sets forth a royal decree: Twilight Sparkle shall study the magic of friendship in Ponyville and report back to the princess.  And thus all ends happily, setting the stage for the rest of the series.

I gotta say, this ep was worth the wait.  I loved the way everything came together, and especially Pinkie Pie's song in the woods.  I had, in fact, just been wondering earlier that day whether there would be songs or not, and then the music started and I was so happy.  It's slightly disappointing that we're losing Night Mare Moon as a villain so soon (I was kind of hoping that she would just be slightly depowered, but still a threat, hanging out on the fringes of Equestria), but I suspected she would be redeemed.  I wonder how Princess Luna will play as a character, or if she'll just be in the background from now on.  I certainly hope not, what with all this build up.  Maybe there will be some night time adventures where she can act as a mentor in Princess Celestia's place.

Miscellaneous Screenshots:
Happy Dash
"You're kidding, right?"
Princess Luna feels remorse
Luna goggles at the wreath

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