This episode features a rare combo: Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy, and Princess Celestia in a glorified cameo (that describes most of her appearances, actually).
Fluttershy spends a typical day tending to the sick, in this case a mouse with a broken leg. But it's not a typical day, as Angel rushes in to remind Fluttershy of a previous engagement. It takes quite a bit of pantomime for Fluttershy to get his meaning, but as the clock chimes four, she remembers: the luncheon with Princess Celestia at Sugar Cube Corner! She rushes off to get there before she's too late, but keeps coming back to thank Angel for reminding her so many times that finally the bunny just locks the door.
Down at Sugar Cube Corner, Rainbow Dash tries to get the royal guards to drop their stony facade, but gets bored before too long. Fluttershy finally arrives, but loses her nerve when the guards bar her from entering. Fortunately, Twilight Sparkle was passing by the door, and she lets the guards know Fluttershy is one of the guests. Inside, things are hopping, as Spike caramelizes a batch of creme brulees, and the Cakes make sure the Princess has everything she needs. Twilight Sparkle tries to hide her nervousness about Princess Celestia meeting her friends, but even Fluttershy can see it. Twilight's fears should be unfounded, as this isn't the first time the Princess has met everyone, not to mention she's already read about everyone week after week. But this is the first prolonged get-together they've had, and it seems to have brought out the worst in everyone. Despite the party being casual, Rarity pulled out her gown for the Grand Galloping Gala, realizing too late that wearing it now ups the chances of something happening to it, and spends her time warning people not to get near her. Applejack becomes paralyzed at the table, unsure of the proper order to eat in, and Pinkie Pie becomes even more hyper than anyone ever thought possible, even going so far as to steal a cupcake from the Princess. Overcome with embarrassment, the Cakes quickly get Pinkie out of there and replace the cupcake, and take pains to make sure the Princess' tea cup is never empty. Princess Celestia takes this all in stride, even faking out the Cakes with a pretend sip.
the birdcage next to her. The source: Celestia's pet Philomena, a rather odd-looking bird. It's at this moment that the Princess is called away on urgent business with the mayor, so she cuts the party short and takes her leave, leaving Philomena behind. As the other ponies exit, Twilight breathes a sigh of...not quite relief, but just gratefulness that nothing all that bad happened, unaware that Fluttershy has made off with Philomena.
Yes, Fluttershy, lover of animals that she is, has taken it upon herself to nurse the sickly bird back to health, assuming the Princess is too busy to do the job. Her efforts, however, prove fruitless time and again, as putting the bird to bed gives her a fever, while trying to lower the fever gives her chills. Philomena refuses a pill, and manages to evade Fluttershy's "hide it in a mound of birdseed" trick, nor will she drink any soup. Fluttershy tries bringing in a feathered friend as testimony to her care, and while Philomena and Hummingway seem to hit it off, Philomena remains uncooperative. A sauna, aromatherapy, a warm bath, ointment, taping feathers back on, nothing appears to be working.
looking worse than ever. Fluttershy tries to justify her actions, but Twilight is having none of it. Good intentions or no, taking something without permission will not fly, especially if that something belongs to the Princess. Fluttershy agrees, and the two ponies quickly get Philomena ready to go, so they can put her back before anyone catches wind of what's happened. Which of course means that the royal guards are standing at the door once they're about to leave. The guards inform them that the royal pet is missing, and Twilight tries to keep cool, coughing (and getting Fluttershy to do the same) to cover Philomena's hacks. She sends the guards on their way, hopefully with them none the wiser.
But now they have an even bigger problem, as they can't just waltz back into town with Philomena now. Twilight freaks out imaging what Princess Celestia will do to Fluttershy for kidnapping her pet: banishment? locked in a dungeon? Banished, then locked in a dungeon? The possibilities are endless! Fluttershy is willing to take her punishment, but would rather just get Philomena better first. So Twilight takes over the healing process, cramming a pill down the bird's throat, applying a cone to keep her from pulling out her feathers, and locking her in a birdcage to make her rest. But when Twilight tries to force the soup on Philomena, the bird makes a run for it, leading to the return of the ersatz Yakkity Sax, last heard in episode three.
drawing a mustache on a "Have you seen me?" poster of her. Things come to a head when Philomena is spotted by both the ponies and the royal guards on top of the fountain, and the bird's very last feather falls off. Philomena has a melodramatic death scene, only to spring up and even more dramatically throw herself off the fountain. Fluttershy rushes to catch her, only for the bird to burst into flames before her very eyes, leaving nothing for her to catch but a pile of ashes. Fluttershy is devastated, and even the royal guards are shocked. Which is exactly when Princess Celestia arrives on the scene.
Twilight Sparkle tries to take all the responsibility for what just happened, but Fluttershy refuses to let her, confessing her deed to the Princess. As she waits for her punishment, Princess Celestia approaches the pile of ashes, and tells it to "stop fooling around." The ashes take to the sky, and in a flash of light, becomes an awesome firebird. You see, as the Princess explains to a confused Fluttershy, Philomena is a phoenix, and has to be reborn from time to time by shedding its feathers and bursting into flame. She also explains that Philomena is a bit of a trickster, and was messing with Fluttershy the whole time. The bird apologizes. Fluttershy escapes discipline this time around, since the runaround she went through, which she could have avoided by just asking the Princess' permission, was punishment enough. Fluttershy promises not to jump to conclusions in the future, and Twilight wonders if she should write up this week's lesson, but Celestia lets her off the hook, as well. Philomena gifts Fluttershy with one of her feathers, which gives Rainbow Dash an idea. The pegasus whispers a plan to the phoenix, and Philomena tickles the noses of the royal guards, finally getting them to laugh.
Angel, keeled over from exhaustion
Twilight's tail stands on end