Pinkie Pie's so excited for the Grand Galloping Gala, she can't stop bouncing, though she does have help from a trampoline. All her squeeing is disrupting Twilight Sparkle's studies, and Rarity puts a stop to anything that might cause her dresses to be ruined by sweat. As Applejack and the others arrive, Twilight finishes her preparations and shows off the fruits of her studies: turning an apple into a carriage, and mice into horses, ala Cinderella. Her transformations need a little work, though, as the horses are still mousy enough that Rarity's kitty Opalescence tries to take them down, frightening them all away. Twilight wonders how they'll get to the gala without them, but Rarity simply uses her feminine charm to garner new transport.
While the girls get themselves ready for the gala, Spike demands to be let into the dressing room, but Rarity refuses, since they're all in various states of undress. Applejack points out that they're normally undressed anyway, so Rarity reluctantly lets Spike in. Spike is under the impression that they're all going to be hanging in one big group, despite the fact that all the ponies have their own disparate plans. But Twilight promises they'll find some time to get together. Spike also is under the impression that the ponies will want to leave the gala at some point and see the sights of Canterlot, though he expresses this while driving the coach, so none of the girls hear him. And the ponies roped into pulling the carriage don't appreciate Spike getting overenthusiastic with the reins, since they're only doing this as a favor to Rarity. So it's over the river and through the woods, to the gala they go.
Once they arrive, Spike plays footman, and is awed by the sight of all the girls dressed up (didn't he see them get in the coach?), but the girls don't even hear him, as they are awed by the castle and their hopes for the night to come. Which of course means it's the perfect time for another awesome Sondheim-inspired number!
Backed by a twenty-pony choir, each girl sings of her plans for the night: Fluttershy will see and befriend the animals in the garden, Applejack will sell her wares, Rarity will meet her Prince Charming, Rainbow Dash will get to join the Wonderbolts, Pinkie Pie will fulfill her party destiny, and Twilight Sparkle will get to talk with Princess Celestia one-on-one for the first time in forever. Spike's plans, however, are instantly dashed as each girl runs off in a different direction, leaving him alone.Twilight makes a beeline for the Princess and takes her place at her side. Rarity instantly spots her prince from across the room, and follows him outside, trying to find a balance between keeping him in sight, but not seeming too eager, either. Fluttershy spots a meadowlark, and when she echoes its song, she hears it repeat and follows the sound. Applejack, meanwhile, sets up her cart of apple treats in a prominent spot in the courtyard and instantly makes a sale to one of the Wonderbolts, an entire apple pie. And Rainbow Dash manages to fly in and save that very pie from falling, garnering her an invite into the VIP area, since they remember her from the Best Young Flyers competition. It seems the night is going well for everyone, especially Pinkie Pie, who is in an absolutely euphoric state over the shiny dance floor, pretty party ponies, and fancy band. So euphoric that she can't help singing out her joy ("It's all I ever dreamed!") to the horror of the prim and proper ponies around her, until even she notices their disapproval and sadly tones it down.
Out in the garden, Rarity is approached by her prince, who introduces himself as Prince Blueblood, and proves himself to be a bit of a jerk when he takes the rose Rarity pointed out and, rather than offer it to her with phrase like "not as lovely as you, of course," places it in his own lapel, pointing out how it complements his eyes. Fluttershy catches up with her singing meadowlark, only to find it was actually the old caretaker, whistling. But all is not lost, as she stumbles onto the heart of the garden and spots all the rare and exotic animals therein. Who all run and hide the moment she gets near. Oops. Rainbow Dash is having the opposite problem, as the VIP section is so crowded and noisy that she can barely get near any of the Wonderbolts, and when she does, she can't make herself heard over the crowd. Twilight Sparkle finds it hard to hold a conversation with the princess, due to all the guests who have to be welcomed, Applejack fails to make any sales past her first one, and Pinkie Pie can't get over how unlike her dreams the gala actually is. Though the night got off to a good start, the girls are starting to get disillusioned. But they each refuse to just give up on their hopes! No matter what it takes, they'll make the gala live up to their dreams, or die trying!
She sets up a simple trap (a carrot under a box), but only catches the old caretaker. Back inside, Rainbow Dash plots to get the Wonderbolts to notice her by "spontaneously" saving a guest (whom she put in danger herself), but it fails. Meanwhile, Rarity tries to convince herself that her prince has a chivalrous side until they encounter a spill, which he expects her to cover with her cloak, rather than vice versa (though to be fair, she has a cloak and he doesn't). And Pinkie Pie convinces the band to play a guaranteed party song, The Pony Pokey, which has lyrics that seem to match the predicaments of mane cast pretty exactly: Twilight taking over some of the princess' welcoming duties to clear up the line faster; Applejack intentionally tripping up a guest to try and get him to taste her treats; Rainbow Dash intentionally kicking a drink off the table and catching it with the same leg, momentarily getting the Wonderbolts' attention, before they're pulled away for a photo op; Rarity and Prince Blueblood having a duel over who should open the door for whom; and Fluttershy going absolutely rabid over the animals refusing to come near her.
Once the song is over, Pinkie Pie is informed that the gala is not the kind of party she thinks it is, leading her to come to the absolutely wrong conclusion. Meanwhile, Rarity and Prince Blueblood have a battle of the "ahems" to see who will actually pay for apple fritters at Applejack's cart, though when Rarity gives in, Applejack lets her have them for free. Things get worse, however, when Blueblood actually tastes the fritters and spits them out again immediately when he realizes that they're just "common carnival fair." He stalks off to get some high class hors d'oeuvres inside, with Rarity angrily following. Applejack realizes why no one's been buying her wares: they aren't fancy enough! (Not, say, that the rest of the food at the gala is free.) So she goes off to reinvent her apples, while Fluttershy goes off the deep end in her attempts to get close to the animals, setting up a net to capture whatever animal is hapless enough to wander into it, and laughing maniacally. And then setting it off herself, naturally.
Pinkie Pie sets up a DJ turntable, trying to turn the gala into a "par-tay" and forcing the other guests to groove, whether they like it or not. Applejack arrives, having baked a fancy seven-layer cake with her remaining apples, at exactly the same moment that Pinkie Pie dives from the stage, turning the cake into an unintentional projectile, heading straight for Rarity and Prince Blueblood. Seeing the cake coming, Blueblood uses Rarity as a shield, which is the last straw as far as she's concerned. She calls him out on his unchivalrous behavior, but Blueblood sees only the cake covering her body getting dangerously close to his own. In no mood for this, Rarity shakes the cake onto him, sending him reeling backwards, knocking into a large statue of Princess Celestia. The statue begins to totter, and Rainbow Dash, seeing her chance to finally impress the Wonderbolts, rushes in to catch the statue before it hits the ground. She manages to do so, but can't hold the weight of the statue for very long, and soon starts to teeter around herself, knocking the statue into a set of columns, which of course creates a domino effect, ending with Rainbow Dash surrounded by the broken columns and statue. As if this wasn't bad enough, it's at this moment that Princess Celestia and Twilight Sparkle finally make it to the main ballroom.
Surveying the damage, and her friends apparently in the thick of it, Twilight mumbles, "At least it can't get any worse." Which is Fluttershy's cue to show up with a stampede of fleeing animals, completely deranged by her inability to work her usual charms on them. As the animals run wild in the ballroom, Twilight stands at a loss, until the princess advises her to run. She signals for her friends to follow her, and they all get out of there as fast as they can. In their haste, Rarity loses one of her glass slippers, and Pinkie Pie points out this will allow her prince to find her, which is why Rarity smashes it to little bits.
Down at the donut shop, Spike has been drowning his sorrows in donuts and hot cocoa, though Pony Joe thinks he's had enough by now. Fortunately for both of them, Twilight and the rest of her friends, a rather sorry-looking group by now, show up and fill Spike in on what all went on at the gala. By the time they finish telling it all, they're able to laugh about it, and even Princess Celestia, a surprise customer, declares it the Best Grand Galloping Gala ever! And she should know, having been at all of them since the beginning of time. It seems that the gala is always a very stuffy, boring party, and she invited Twilight and her friends with the hope that they would spice it up. Mission accomplished? Twilight realizes that being with friends can make even a terrible evening pretty great, and the others concur. Spike claims this is what he'd been talking about earlier, and the others humor him, since getting together did make their evening better. Even, you might say, the best night ever.
As for the actual episode, there's not enough ways to say I loved it. It's no surprise that I took more screenshots of this one than any episode all season. It was the perfect season ender, taking everything we've learned about the ponies to put together an amazing story. And Fluttershy's descent into madness was hilarious. Here's looking forward to season two, hopefully debuting in September.
Straight hair Pinkie
Rainbow Dash squees
"Even though your date's a louse"
Secret butt fun?
Fluttershy's got it out for the squirrel