Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Episode Three

After the two-part adventure pilot, the rest of Friendship is Magic takes a turn toward the slice-of-life, and the series kicks this off with one of the most clich├ęd sitcom plots imaginable.  Despite this, the episode has a ton of good lines and some really awesome moments.

The Ticket Master
The episode opens with Twilight Sparkle helping Applejack bring in some apples, with the promise that if they do it by lunchtime, Big Macintosh will have to make good on his bet and walk down the street in one of Granny Smith's girdles.  Spike, meanwhile, searches for the perfect apple while riding on Twilight's back, and burps up a letter from Princess Celestia.  It's an invitation to the Grand Galloping Gala for Twilight and one guest, soon followed by the actual tickets.  Twilight and Applejack start freaking out about it, but Spike wants nothing to do with something as girly as a dance.  Applejack envisions herself setting up a stand there and drumming up enough new business to replace not only the barn's roof and the old plow, but Granny Smith's hip, as well.  That's a good enough reason for Twilight, but before she can formally invite Applejack, the two of them are ambushed by Rainbow Dash, who was napping in a nearby tree and heard the whole thing.  Knowing that the Wonderbolts perform at the gala every year, if Twilight took her, she could interrupt their performance, wow the crowd with her signature moves, and be invited to join the team.  But Applejack jerks Rainbow Dash away from Twilight Sparkle and tells her that she asked first, and when Rainbow doesn't back down, decides to settle this with a "hoof wrestle."  Twilight, however, points out that the tickets are hers, so she'll decide who to take.  Unable to figure out if "money for Granny's new hip" is a better reason than "living the dream," she backs out to get some lunch and make her decision later.  And Applejack and Rainbow Dash go right back to hoof wrestling.
On her way to get some lunch, Twilight is unintentionally tackled by Pinkie Pie, who ends up with the tickets on her face.  She starts freaking out, thinking they're bats(?), until she actually sees them, and then starts freaking out in song because the GGG is the biggest party ever, and she's always wanted to go.  She also assumes that Twilight is going to take her, even though Twilight has not actually said anything yet.  And then Rarity arrives, and when she hears about Pinkie going to the Gala, she starts going on about how wonderful the gala is, and how she's destined to meet "him" there.  Since neither Twilight nor Pinkie have any idea who this "him" is, Rarity spins them her own gala fantasy, a true Cinderella story that ends with her being introduced to, and eventually marrying, Princess Celestia's nephew.  She then fixes Twilight with a "How could you!" since Pinkie is apparently going and not her.  While Twilight sets the record straight, a bunny steals the tickets from Spike and takes them to Fluttershy, who is delighted (and not worried about a thieving rabbit in the slightest).  
Hearing that Twilight hasn't given the ticket away yet, Fluttershy tries to ask for the extra, but in her shy, roundabout way, such that Rarity interrupts her with an incredulous "You want to go to the gala?"  It takes prodding from her bunny friend to get Fluttershy to admit that she does want to go, not for the dance, but for the fancy garden that surrounds the whole place, full of the most beautiful flowers and animals, including "hummingbirds that can really hum, and buzzards who can really buzz."  Twilight seems to be leaning toward Fluttershy, but Rainbow Dash shows up to make sure Twilight doesn't give the ticket to any pony who isn't her.  Applejack, suspecting this, also arrives, to make sure Rainbow Dash doesn't try anything funny.  All five of Twilight's friends start to argue over who should get the ticket, even Fluttershy(!), until Twilight calls for quiet.  She reminds them that the decision is hers and hers alone, and she can't think straight with all that noise, or on an empty stomach.  So she shoos them all away so she can get some lunch for real this time.
Seated at a nearby cafe, Twilight agonizes over who to take, playing "loves me, loves me not," with a centerpiece daisy, then licking up the petals out of hunger.  When asked for her decision, she yells out, "I can't decide!" only to find it was the waiter (male French waiter pony with a mustache!!) asking for her order.  Taken with centerpiece, she orders a daffodil and daisy sandwich, while Spike, unable to get any rubies to eat, goes with the hay fries.  While they wait, Twilight tries to get Spike's advice, but he's very unsympathetic to Twilight's dilemma.  Twilight's specific problem is that she doesn't want to disappoint any of her friends, but even if she gave up her own ticket, three friends would still be upset.  Interestingly, she imagines Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity as the disappointed friends, meaning she's leaning more toward Applejack and Fluttershy at this point.  Her thoughts are interrupted by the arrival of lunch, and she sets up to eat her sandwich, hoping for some clarity with a full stomach.  But suddenly, all the other patrons run off, and the waiter asks if she's going to eat in the rain, much to her confusion.  She looks up to see why it's raining everywhere but where she's sitting, and who should pop out of the hole in the clouds but Rainbow Dash, claiming to have made the hole because they're such good friends.  Twilight easily sees through this, and, refusing to accept any special treatment until she's made her decision, asks Rainbow to close up the hole again.  Too bad she didn't think to eat her now-soggy sandwich before asking for the hole to be closed, but oh well.
Seeing the waterlogged Twilight, Rarity hijacks her friend for a make over at her salon, and the clip previewed on Yahoo ensues.  Twilight is at first quite taken with the outfit that Rarity forced her into (though Spike rejects his and runs off to the library), but when it becomes clear that Rarity is also just trying to get into her good graces and get the ticket, she flings the outfit back at its maker and goes off in search of lunch.  And she finds it immediately outside the door in the form of Applejack with an entire wagon full of apple treats (including apple brown betty, "The dessert, not my aunty").  Though sorely tempted, Twilight rejects the treats, and wails that not only are the favors not helping her decide, they're confusing her even more.  She makes a break for the library, but not even that is safe, as she finds Fluttershy there, singing the original MLP theme tune and cleaning up with her animal friends.  The little bunny, named Angel, even made a salad.  Twilight is certain that Fluttershy is just doing this for the ticket, but the pegasus assures her it's because they're such good friends...until Angel gives her a dirty look, and then she admits, yes, it's just for the ticket.  Twilight nearly gives into Angel's salad, but instead opens the door to kick Fluttershy and the animals out, only to be surprised by a burst of streamers and confetti.
That's right, it's Pinkie Pie's turn to butter up Twilight, which she does by throwing an impromptu party.  As the other partygoers toss Twilight in the air, Pinkie sings her a song that blatantly states the party is her way of getting the ticket, prompting Twilight to state, "At least the other ponies tried to be subtle about the ticket."  Mention of the ticket brings on every pony in Ponyville, it seems, who all try to woo Twilight into giving them the ticket.  Spike arrives on the scene to help Twilight escape the crowd, but unfortunately for him, there's only one thing they can do: a Benny Hill homage.  Yes, it's true, for the next thirty five seconds, Twilight and Spike continually elude the stampede of ponies through hiding, costumes, and just plain running, all while a knock-off of Yakety Sax plays in the background.  
Finally, both Spike and Twilight are cornered with no place to run.  The pressure causes Twilight to let loose a burst of magic that teleports both her and Spike back to the library, much to her own surprise.  They quickly lock all the doors and turn off the lights, but it's too late, her friends are already there!  The sight of them, eager and waiting (plus still not getting anything to eat) makes Twilight let loose a primal yell and word glurge about her indecision, not wanting to disappoint anyone, and the favors just making it worse.  By the end, her friends realize how selfish they've been, and they each apologize in turn, telling her it's okay if she gives the ticket to someone else.  Well, all except Rainbow Dash, who does a victory dance when she realizes everyone else gave up the ticket, making it hers by default.  But everyone else fixes her with a glare so strong, she backtracks and claims that her "signature moves" still need some work, so she doesn't need the ticket yet.  Now knowing what to do, Twilight has Spike take a memo for Princess Celestia, returning the tickets.  Her friends are shocked, but she explains that if they all can't go, she doesn't want to go either.  Spike appears to be sickened by this show of friendship, but it's actually Princess Celestia's rather prompt response: a note saying simply "Why didn't you say so?" and enough tickets for all of them.  To celebrate, the others treat Twilight Sparkle to dinner, a suitable way to make up for how they acted earlier.  As the ponies filter out, Spike notices that there isn't a ticket for him, and though he was adamant before about not wanting to go, he can't help but feel a little left out now.  Fortunately, Princess Celestia comes through, somehow managing to send it when he's alone, and thus only Applejack gets a peek at his joy.
I couldn't really do justice to this episode, since there just a lot of craziness that had to be seen, like the dance Granny Smith does in Applejack's imagination, or Rarity's fantasy courtship, and especially the Benny Hill chase.  But it's good to see that even with a completely predictable plot, the show still managed to surprise me.  Seriously, people were ready to declare the show a failure when the synopsis for this one came out, and the second episode hadn't even aired yet.  So yeah, glad to see Ms. Faust and the team came through with an episode that was not only fun to watch, but fun to rewatch, as well.
Now, the episode ends without us actually seeing the gala itself, leaving one to wonder how the actual thing compared to all the fantasies.  And does Princess Celestia actually have a nephew, or was he a figment of Rarity's imagination?  Considering that the only sister we know she has only just got back from the moon, and the fact that Rarity never mentions his name, I'm leaning toward the latter.  
Considering Celestia's quick response to Twilight's RSVP, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to say she probably set this whole thing up as a test, to see how Twilight would handle such a decision.  I guess when you're over a thousand years old, you get pretty good at Xanatos Gambits.  Also, didn't Rainbow Dash already have a chance to meet the Wonderbolts at the Summer Sun Celebration?  She was planning to show them her stuff there, and while their performance was most likely postponed due to the never-ending night, surely they didn't cancel it altogether?  Then again, maybe they did, and they were already too far from Ponyville to make it back for the Welcome Back, Luna celebration.  Hm.... perhaps an upcoming episode will have Rainbow Dash actually getting to join them and finding out being a Wonderbolt isn't all she thought it was?  Or maybe it will be, but she gives it up to be with her friends anyway.  Only time will tell.

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