Monday, February 28, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode Fourteen

Strangely enough, the girliest episode of this series manages to be the best one yet.  How is this possible?
Suited For Success
Over at her dress shop, Rarity fantasizes about the new gown she's going to make for the Grand Galloping Gala (wait, that hasn't happened yet?), which her snooty kitty, Opalescence, cares nothing about.  But in true pet owner fashion, Rarity interprets Opal's very presence as a desire to help, and loads down the cat with all manner of sewing paraphernalia while she gets to work.  Not too much later, Applejack and Twilight Sparkle arrive for a visit, but try and respect the fact that Rarity's working.  Their whispering in the background kind of defeats the purpose, but Rarity puts on a smile and asks why they've come.  Twilight pulls out a dress and asks Rarity to fix one of the buttons, since it's what she's wearing to the GGG.  Rarity cannot bear to hear that Twilight plans on wearing something old, and offers to make her a brand new outfit right then and there.  Twilight tries to turn her down, not wanting her to go to all that trouble, but Rarity refuses her refusal and then turns her eye to Applejack.  The farm pony may have been all set with her work duds (she does plan to spend the gala selling apples and apple accessories, after all), but not on Rarity's watch!  She gets Applejack to agree to let her "spruce up" the duds, just as Rainbow Dash unceremoniously crashes into her shop.  Rather than be upset by the hole in her roof, Rarity is instead inspired!  She'll make gowns for all her friends and then throw a fashion show to show off her designs.  The ponies present are on board, but Applejack points out that she's got a lot on her plate, making original outfits for six ponies in a relatively short span of time.  Rarity just laughs at her, "You make it sound as if it's going to be hard!"
Little does Applejack know, Rarity has a secret weapon: the Sondheim-inspired montage song!  "Stitch by stitch, stitching it together..."  As she sings about the various ways of making dresses uniquely for each pony, Rarity designs, cuts, sews, irons, and annoys Opal.
"And that's the art of the dress!"
However, when she shows off the finished products to the others, they're not as thrilled as she thought they would be.  Though they try to put her at ease, Rarity can easily tell that something's not quite right, especially when Rainbow Dash out and out tells her she thought it would be cooler.  It turns out each pony was envisioning something different, so Rarity tells them she wants them to be satisfied and offers to redo the dresses, despite the others telling her she really doesn't have to.  But she insists, putting on a brave face that lasts only until the last pony leaves.  "What have I gotten myself into?" she groans.
Rarity gets her first taste of what she's in for when Fluttershy tries on the second gown.  It still isn't quite what she wanted, but being Fluttershy, she tries to convince Rarity that it's perfect.  Rarity, of course, sees right through her, and pretty much badgers Fluttershy into telling her what she really thinks.  Which turns out to be a lot more than Rarity expected, as Fluttershy complains about the fabric, the stitching, and how it isn't really French haute couture, revealing that she really knows quite a bit more about fashion and design than you'd think.
Thus begins Rarity's day of despair, as she once again uses the power of the montage song to struggle through designing outfits to the exact specifications of each pony.  Twilight insists her dress sport accurate constellations, Pinkie Pie wants to pile on anything and everything, Applejack tries to be prepared for any possible weather condition, Fluttershy pleads for true haute couture, and Rainbow Dash just wants her outfit to look 20% cooler.
"Got to overcome intimidation, remember it's all in the presentation!"
By the end of the day she's left totally exhausted, her own dress not even finished, and the dresses that are done are the ugliest ones she's ever made.  But everypony besides her is satisfied, so she puts aside her own feelings in favor of her friends/clients'.  Unfortunately, she forgot that she also planned a fashion show to go along with these dresses, and to her great dismay, Spike took the liberty of inviting Hoity Toity, Canterlot's hottest fashion maven.  Everyone else is excited, certain that she'll be living the dream as soon as Hoity Toity gets a load of their dresses, while Rarity's eye twitches.
That evening, as the crowd gathers for the fashion show, Rarity hyperventilates, her every nerve on edge as she hopes against hope that Hoity Toity will somehow like the dresses as much as her friends do.  DJ Pon-3 gets things started, and Spike once again plays announcer, introducing Rarity's designs.  The ponies strut their stuff, slowly becoming aware that their outfits are not having the anticipated effect.  Hoity Toity in particular is vocal in expressing his distaste for the designs and the time wasted.  Spike, oblivious to the crowd's less-than-stellar reception, calls for Rarity to take a bow, and she dutifully goes out, her head hanging in shame.
After the cringe-inducing fashion show, Rarity takes to her room, refusing to be seen in public, even when her friends come to coax her out.  As her friends try to think of a way to get Rarity to stop wallowing in pity (or whatever it is ponies wallow in), Twilight spots the half-finished gown from the start of the episode.  Rarity continues to muse on her shamed state of life, pondering exile, when she hears the cries of her kitty and rushes to the window, spotting Opal clinging for dear life to the branch of a tree.  She rushes outside to save her pet, only to find Rainbow Dash sitting in the tree, as well.  She reveals this was all a ploy to show Rarity her gown, which they were able to finish up for her, thanks to Fluttershy's knowledge of sewing.  Rarity plays hard to get at first, but is unable to keep her true feelings from her friends: of course she loves it!  Her friends acknowledge that they should have trusted her original designs, and all is forgiven.  But Rarity's reputation and business is still a shambles.  Fortunately, Hoity Toity is still in town, and he allows Rarity to have a do-over fashion show just for him.
Using her unicorn magic, Rarity creates a fashionscape for each pony and her outfit: a celestial terrain for Twilight Sparkle, a perfect farm day for Applejack, a shower of candy for Pinkie Pie, a rainbow storm for Rainbow Dash, and a floral banquet for Fluttershy.  Hoity Toity is completely impressed and calls for the designer, Rarity's cue to appear in her new gown and thank him for his enthusiastic cheers.  At the afterparty, Twilight drafts her letter to Princess Celestia, revealing that there were two lessons to be learned this day.  Rarity learned not to try and please everyone, and Twilight and the others learned not to be overly critical of nice gifts.  Hoity Toity asks to feature Rarity's work in his boutique back in Canterlot, and she accepts, naturally.  Though her eye goes all twitchy again when she hears that he wants a dozen of each dress by next Tuesday...

First off, I was absolutely squeeing over "The Art of the Dress" from the minute I realized it was based on "Putting It Together" from Sunday in the Park With George, but it's a good song in its own right, too.  Beyond that, though, I'm really at a loss for words when it comes to why I love this episode so much.  By all rights, it should have been just a decent episode, but somehow the story was just so much more.  On top of that, there was a ton of great animation and expressions from all the characters, not to mention Rarity's cute glasses.

Misc. Screenshots
That color's too obtrusive
You're putting me in a bind
Working on Dash's outfit
Dash's doesn't look that bad.
Hide me!
Hoity Toity can't believe his eyes

1 comment:

flashfox466 said...

I think they realized the peripheral audience would hate a girly episode, so they pulled all the stops to make it one of the best so anyone would enjoy!