Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode Twenty Three

Ah, the long awaited flashback episodes.  This time around, we learn how our favorite ponies got their cutie marks, and Scootaloo goes nuts.
The Cutie Mark Chronicles
In a misguided attempt at cutie-mark-getting, The Cutie Mark Crusaders give ziplining a try, though only Scootaloo's all that into it.  But as with most of their attempts, it was not meant to be, as shoddy equipment leaves them plummeting to the ground, with only sap and pine needles to show for it.  While washing up, Scootaloo bemoans their lack of success at not getting covered with sap, Sweetie Belle suggests pillow-testing, and Apple Bloom points out that ponies who already have cutie marks might have pointers for them.  The rest of the CMC are down with this, and Scootaloo's ready to start with the coolest pony they know: Rainbow Dash!
And so it's off to town, scooting along in Scootaloo's scooter.  But on the way, Scootaloo screeches to a halt to avoid hitting some on-the-run bunnies.  Turns out they're running from Applejack, having stolen some of her apples.  But since she's there, Apple Bloom asks how she got her cutie mark, much to Scootaloo's annoyance.  And so Applejack flashes back to when she was even younger than the CMC, and left farm life behind for the bright lights of the big city.  Staying with her Aunt and Uncle Orange, she got a crash course on how to pass as a Manehattenite, but found herself perplexed by folks with no clue about life outside of the city and left hungry by city-sized portions.  With the dawning of the sun, her homesickness reached its peak, when out of the blue, a rainbow pointing straight to Sweet Apple Acres crossed the sky.  Realizing that the farm was right where she was meant to be, she hightailed it home, and no sooner did she cross its threshold than her cutie mark appeared.
Her story over, Applejack suddenly remembers the rabbits and takes off, leaving the CMC to their journey.  But before they've gone too far, Fluttershy suddenly jumps out of nowhere, causing Scootaloo to veer off, and the whole group takes a tumble, when all Fluttershy wanted was for them not to hit the ducklings.  When she hears that they're looking for Rainbow Dash to hear her cutie mark story, Fluttershy tells them about how she got her cutie mark, thanks to Rainbow Dash.  This one time at summer flight camp, back when she was rather gangly and not a strong flyer, the jerk ponies from "Sonic Rainboom" (in younger form) taunted her and Rainbow Dash came to her defense.  She and the jerks set up a race for Fluttershy's honor, but their starting flight was so quick it knocked poor Fluttershy right off the clouds.  She would have been history if not for a kindly rabble of butterflies mobilizing to catch her.  Instantly charmed by a world she had never seen before (having stayed in her cloud home all these years), she sang its praises.  Until an unexplained (and rather colorful) boom frightened off all her new animal friends.  With steely determination, she went to every single one of them and calmed them down, discovering not only her uncanny ability to communicate with animals, but also her cutie mark.
Scootaloo demands to know what happened with Rainbow Dash and the race, and Fluttershy realizes she never bothered to find out what happened.  Thoroughly annoyed by this, plus two sappy stories, Scootaloo's all for getting out of there.  Sweetie Belle thinks Rarity might know Rainbow Dash's location, but instead they end up getting fitted for dresses.  Hearing the CMC's frustration over the marklessness, Rarity remembers how she couldn't understand why she didn't have her cutie mark back when she was their age.  Even then, she knew that she wanted to be a fashionista, and had even designed all the costumes for the school play, though she felt they lacked something, and still no mark.  But unicorns have a helping hand when it comes to discovering cutie marks: their magic.  So when Rarity's horn suddenly began dragging her (quite literally) across Ponyville, she stuck with it, hoping to discover her destiny.  Which is why she was less than impressed when she finally stopped right in front of a huge rock.  As she cursed at her horn and the rock, there was suddenly a huge boom that split the rock wide open, revealing a treasure trove of gems.  She incorporated the gems into the costumes for the school play, and seeing what that extra sparkle did for the whole production, her cutie mark finally made itself known.
Scootaloo is exasperated at yet another story with too much "finding yourself" and too little action, and pushes the others out the door, only to get roped into hearing Twilight Sparkle's story.  As a young filly, she attended the Canterlot Summer Sun Celebration, and after being wowed by Princess Celestia raising the sun, she dedicated herself to studying all things magic.  Such was her devotion, her parents enrolled her in Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns and she was accepted.  Of course, first she had to pass an entrance exam: using her magic to hatch a dragon egg.  Under pressure, her magic fizzled, but just when she was about to give up, a mysterious boom jolted her powers to life, hatching the egg (with baby Spike inside), but also awakening her latent magic.  Unable to control the aura of magic surrounding her, Twilight accidentally levitated the examiners, turned her parents into potted plants, and made baby Spike huge.  The situation brought Princess Celestia herself to the examination room, and with a mere touch, she brought Twilight Sparkle back to normal.  The magic ended, everyone was changed back, and Twilight expected to be punished, but instead learned that the princess wanted to train her herself, thanks to her incredible raw magical power.  And on top of that, she got her cutie mark!
Remembering the joy she felt on that day, Twilight Sparkle starts to hop around chanting "Yes!" just as she did back then, to the CMC's embarrassment.  They beat a hasty retreat while she's distracted.  But scooting through town reveals no Rainbow Dash, only a surprise stowaway: Pinkie Pie.  Knowing there's no stopping it, Scootaloo reluctantly agrees to hear her cutie mark story, and quite a shocking story it is.  It seems that Pinkie Pie spent her childhood on a rock farm, raised in an austere family that had no time for talk or smiles.  One day, as she was following the rest of her family inside, she was knocked off her socks by a sudden boom, followed by a rainbow.  The force of the explosion left her previously ramrod straight hair in a mass of curls, and the ensuing rainbow made her smile for the first time in her life.  Feeling this joy, she wanted to share it with everyone she knew, but wasn't sure how to go about it.  But one trip to town later, and she had everything she needed.  Beckoning her family into the silo, she showed them the fruits of her labor, something called a "party."  Though initially shocked, the rest of her family soon warmed up to this party concept, and thus Equestria was born!
Or so says Pinkie Pie, leaving the CMC boggled.  But by then they've reached Sugar Cube Corners, where they're sure to find Rainbow Dash, and sure enough, there she is, along with the rest of the mane cast.  Having already been briefed on the CMC's latest quest, she launches right into her story, picking up where Fluttershy left off: her very first race, with Fluttershy's honor on the line.  Having never flown in an actual race before, she discovered just how much fun it was to fly that fast, and even more fun to win.  Striving to beat the remaining jerk (one already crashed and burned), she inadvertently created her first sonic rainboom, something that was thought to be mere legend (though the jerks, both out for the count, missed it completely).  During her victory lap, her cutie mark appeared, icing on an already awesome cake.
Hearing Rainbow Dash's story, the older ponies see the connection between the sonic rainboom (and the subsequent rainbow) and the events of their own cutie mark stories.  Not only did they all get their cutie marks on the same day, it was all due to Rainbow Dash!  Realizing they've been friends even before they knew each other calls for a group hug, which Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom appreciate, but Scootaloo does not, especially when the other two wrap her up in a group hug of their own.  Fluttershy calls for another song, and Scootaloo lets out a big NO!
Later, Twilight Sparkle writes up her report to Princess Celestia, but the group hug left her feeling a little sappy, and what comes out sounds more like an inspirational poster than an actual report (you and your future friends may be looking at the same rainbow), as Spike points out.  "Just write it, Spike," she tells him, and continues to revel in the mysteries of friendship.
The main draw of this episode, of course, is a peek into the pasts of our favorite ponies, and it did not disappoint.  Who would have guessed that Pinkie Pie's full name is Pinkamina Diane Pie, or that Twilight's mom was G1 Twilight?  And I just loved Young Fluttershy's design.  So cute!  I do have one quibble about the song she sang, though:  "If I'd known the ground had so much up its sleeve/I would have come sooner and never leave."  Surely it wouldn't have taken too much more work to come up with something that didn't mix tenses?  Also, while I was watching the episode, the whole "Rainbow Dash's sonic rainboom features in every flashback" thing was kind of annoying, but the pay off at the end made it all right.
Before this episode aired, Hubworld had a "My Little Pony Tales" page where folks could "vote" on Rainbow Dash's cutie mark story, not that their choice had any affect on the episode, since Rainbow Dash had already mentioned how she got her cutie mark in "Call of the Cutie."  That is, it appeared after her first race, and since only one of the choices involved racing, it was pretty obvious which choice was the right one.

Misc. Screenshots
Tearful Granny Smith and Little Macintosh
Welcoming Applejack back home
Pinkamina sees the rainboom

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