Monday, October 31, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode 30

I'll admit, I put off posting this one so I could post it on Halloween.  Fitting, since the subject of this episode is Equestria's equivalent, Night Mare Night.
Luna Eclipsed
Spike (paradoxically dressed as a dragon) paces as he waits for Twilight Sparkle to put the finishing touches on her costume for Night Mare Night, and what a costume it is!  Just not a very recognizable one, as Twilight learns throughout the evening.  She informs Spike that she's dressed as Starswirl the Bearded, but as Spike failed to read the book on unicorn history she gave him, he's completely lost.  Fortunately for him, their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of trick or treaters, including the tiny Pipsqueak, recently moved from Trottingham, celebrating his first ever Night Mare Night.  His exposition is interrupted by Pinkie Pie, dressed a chicken, clamoring for candy.  She also fails to recognize Twilight's costume, and quickly moves on to the next house.  Twilight fumes over this as she and Spike head into town for the annual festival.
So incensed is she, in fact, that she seems to completely miss all the fun going on around her, in the form of hayrides, dances, and of course, free candy, which isn't lost on Spike.  Or Pinkie Pie, who shows up again to show off her haul, only to get spooked by a Shadowbolt-dressed Rainbow Dash.  Twilight attempts to admonish Rainbow Dash, but the pegasus insists there's no better night for pranks, and races off to frighten another group.  Twilight grabs a comatose Spike (either Rainbow Dash or too much candy induced) and moves along to scarecrow Applejack's stall.  Her bob-for-apples game is put on hold after Derpy gets a scene to herself, but it's just as well, as it's time for the mayor's speech.
The mayor invites the young ponies in town to follow Zecora and hear the legend of Night Mare Moon.  Her attempts to be spooky, however, are hampered by her choice of costume, a clown.  Zecora, on the other hand,  has a suitably spooky costume (an evil enchantress?), and she leads a group of children (plus a few adults) to a statue of Night Mare Moon inside the Everfree Forest.  Using some type of smoke magic, she explains the background of Night Mare Night: apparently Night Mare Moon not only wanted to create eternal night, but also to eat ponies.  Thus, the ponies dress up in the hopes that she'll leave them be if she doesn't find any, plus they leave a tribute of candy, just in case.  Her storytelling royally freaks out the kids, plus Pinkie, and they dump their candy out in front of the statue.
No sooner do they do this than the wind kicks up and the clouds part, revealing a mysterious, batwinged pegasi-pulled carriage.  Pinkie Pie declares this must be Night Mare Moon, and she and the kids (and Zecora) make a break for it.  The carriage does not stop, however, until it reaches Ponyville town square.  With a generous dose of lightning for atmosphere, the carriage's occupant, Princess Luna, leaps down to address the villiagers.  The terrified ponyfolk immediately bow in supplication, but Twilight, feeling a familiarity with the princess, attempts to go and greet her, only to be pulled down by Spike.  Princess Luna addresses the crowd using the Royal We and a powerful, booming voice, beckoning the citizens to turn Night Mare Night into a night of joyous feasting, not terror.  Pinkie hears this as "feast on us all," and once again runs off with the kids.  This doesn't go unnoticed by Princess Luna, who drops the booming voice to call them back, and seeing this is no good, instead goes to the mayor for a formal welcome, as befits a princess.  However, all that booming, plus the lightning, didn't really help things, and neither the mayor, nor her aide, is brave enough to take her hoof.  Nor is anyone else in town, so Luna leaves them without even a Royal Farewell.
Twilight finally gets free from Spike and goes to talk to Princess Luna, recognizing her terror-inducing ways as "trouble fitting in."  She finds the princess moping in the shadow of the Night Mare Moon statue, and is pleased that Luna correctly identifies her costume.  Luna commends Twilight for using changing her back, but Twilight points out it sounds like she's upset about it.  Turns out the princess is just using the traditional Royal Voice for addressing those of a lower station.  Twilight recommends she change her methods in order to get a better reception from her subjects, but the princess, lacking in a thousand years of social graces, is unsure she can do that.  But if Twilight has learned anything over the past episodes, it's that anything is possible with the help of her friends.  So, it's off for some help.
First stop, Fluttershy's, for lessons on being demure.  Fluttershy, however, reacts to Night Mare Night much the same way Harmony did to Surprise Day, though when she hears that it's just Twilight, she opens the door.  Until she spots Princess Luna looking severe, and slams it shut again.  It takes some "coercion" by Twilight to get Fluttershy back out, which Luna ruins by using the Royal Voice again.  This time Twilight just magicks Fluttershy into place, and Luna asks for a lesson on speaking quietly.
Fluttershy: okay.
Fluttershy: okay.
Fluttershy: Perfect. Lesson over.
Twilight prevents Fluttershy from retreating yet again, and advises the princess to just tone down the volume a bit.  It takes a little practice, but Princess Luna gets down to a normal speaking voice, and uses her magic to thank Fluttershy against her will.  Which is when Pinkie Pie arrives, kids in tow, looking for a good hiding place from Night Mare Moon.  Of course, the sight of Princess Luna and a nearly-comatose Fluttershy draws all the wrong conclusions and they run away again.  Luna tries to call after them, but neither the Royal Voice or her new, normal voice works, so Twilight calls for Plan B.
Back in town, the festivities have continued on, with ponies partaking of Night Mare Night-themed games, such as Smashing Pumpkins and Spider Toss.  But the return of Princess Luna sends all activity to a halt, bringing back memories of the old days for the princess.  Twilight is optimistic that Applejack can help them up Luna's likability quotient, despite the farmpony falling to the ground the moment the princess shows up.  Twilight asks her to help out the princess, but it takes her own brand of stare to get Applejack to do it.  Applejack tells Princess Luna to have a positive attitude, relax and have some fun.  A foreign concept to the princess, so Twilight and Applejack introduce her to spider toss.  A successful toss makes Luna a convert, and she takes on Smashing Pumpkins.  As her gourds hits the target, she cries out, "The fun has been doubled!" and this new side of the princess seems to loosen up the citizens of Ponyville, too.
The princess declares that all may call her simply "Luna," and goes to bob for apples.  She spots Pipsqueak falling into the water, and fishes him out.  Pinkie Pie, spotting this, insists that Luna was going to gobble him up, and she and the kids, including Pipsqueak, make another break for it.  Luna's ire at this ungrattitude undoes everything she had just done in the villagers eyes, and when they begin to back away in fear, she tries to reclaim it by enchanting all the fake spiders for Spider Toss into real spiders and having them swarm the web (and some Ponyvillians, too).  This creates panic and hysteria in the streets which Luna tries to stop, but cannot until she busts out the ultimate Royal Voice.  When Twilight tries to remind her of Fluttershy's lessons, she tells her that she's using the Royal Voice for a Royal Proclamation.  Bringing forth clouds, Princess Luna decrees that this insulting holiday shall henceforth be cancelled permanently!
As the disappointed ponies take in this information, Twilight decides to go after the princess and do what she does best: lecture ponies!  She spots the dejected princess on a bridge, and though Luna asks to be left alone, Twilight simply tells her that Night Mare Night is one of the most popular holidays in Equestria.  This doesn't cheer her up in the slightest, and so Twilight must think of a new tactic.  She does this by luring Pinkie Pie to a secluded area using a trail of candy, and then forcing the pink pony to promise not to scream.  She introduces her to Princess Luna, and the two make amends, until Rainbow Dash does her cloud prank again, making Luna look scary.  Twilight teleports and tackles the fleeing Pinkie Pie, trying to make her see that Luna =/= Night Mare Moon.  Pinkie reveals that she's known that the whole time and was hamming it up for the kids.  Night Mare Night's supposed to be scary, after all.  This gives Twilight the idea she's needed all night, though Luna is not as enthusiastic this time around.  But she goes with Twilight all the same.
As the little ponies lament the end of Night Mare Night forever, Zecora reminds them that there's still this Night Mare Night, which doesn't end until the official Candy Offering.  So it's back to the Everfree forest to leave their candy by the statue.  But once the last pony, Pipsqueak, offers his candy, the wind picks up and the Royal Voice of Princess Luna addresses them all, expressing pleasure with the offering, and the statue of Night Mare Moon comes to life.  As before, the kids scream in terror and run off, and Night Mare Moon morphs back into Princess Luna, spitting out fake fangs.  She isn't sure Twilight's plan has worked, but Pipsqueak returns, asking if she'll come back and scare them next year, too.  Hearing that being scared can be fun, Princess Luna decrees the return of Night Mare Night, and Pipsqueak declares her his favorite princess.  With the true meaning of Night Mare Night ringing true, Luna rejoices and rejoins the festivities.  With the problem finally solved, Twilight writes her letter to Princess Celestia, all about how she was able to share what she's learned about friendship with Luna, and how Ponyville learned to give scary ponies a chance.  Rainbow Dash sneaks up on Twilight for one last prank, but is pranked by Luna instead.
A very good episode all around.  Not only did we finally get a canon version of Luna's personality, it was great to see all the attention paid to the costumes of the background characters.  While a lot of fun, this episode does raise a lot of questions.  How exactly did the legend of Night Mare Moon evolve that way?  Since it appears to have been at least a year since the first two episodes, how has Luna not acclimated even just a little by now?  Would Celestia have helped her?  And just where was Rarity, a pony known for wearing outrageous costumes any time of the year, during the whole celebration?
That question at least has an answer.  While it's easy to assume that she spent the whole celebration collapsed in exhaustion from making all the costumes for the ponies in town (and there were some really good costumes, to be sure), according to Lauren Faust, the original script had a scene with her, ever the perfectionist, still working on getting her costume just right.
Despite knowing Luna is voiced by Tabitha St. Germain, I swear she sounds just like Mona Marshall when she uses the Royal Voice.

Misc. Screenshots
Mr. and Mrs. Cake as Raggedy Ann and Andy
Luna cracks the ground
E.T. reference?
Another offering
Luna and apple

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