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Synopsis:

Twilight Sparkle gets a letter from Princess Celestia with two tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala, one of the major annual events in the royal city of Canterlot: one for her and one for a “friend”. Each of the other members of the Mane Six all have reasons for wanting to go with her: Applejack wants to sell a ton of her apple food items and make a load of cash; Rainbow Dash wants to meet her idols, the Wonderbolts, and show off her moves for them so they’ll let her join; Pinkie Pie wants to go because it’s supposed to be the biggest party in Equestria; Rarity wants to meet up with the attractive stallion Prince Blueblood; and Fluttershy wants to hang out in the royal gardens with all of the animals. Twilight is unable to decide and is further tormented when the girls start fighting over who should get to go as well as all trying to butter Twilight up to influence her decision. When it gets out throughout Ponyville that she has an extra ticket and everyone else starts wanting her to take them, it becomes too much and she blows up in frustration at being unable to decide. Realizing how hard they’re making this for Twilight, the girls apologize and renounce their desire for the spare ticket. Twilight Sparkle sends the two tickets back to Princess Celestia with the lesson she learned: that while it’s good to “share your blessings” with your friends, it’s terrible if you don’t have “enough blessings to go around”. In response, Princess Celestia sends back seven tickets so that she, her friends, and Spike (who kept pretending to hate the idea of the Gala but secretly wanted to go all along) can attend.

Review:

Well, here it is…the first regular episode of the series. It’s not too terribly original. The theme of needing to decide between friends is a popular one from the “child cartoon playbook”. Overall, however, it’s executed very well. It has genuinely funny parts and overall is entertaining, able to do a lot with a rather small concept over a small setting. Again, like the first episode, the show wasn’t ambitious enough to go for a lot of things it could have. For example, the “Benny Hill” segment could have actually been produced in Benny-Hill-esque stop-motion. Yet it’s still a nice follow up to the pilot to set the mood for the bulk of the series. It also served as a prelude to two later episodes in the first season: “Suited for Success” and “The Best Night Ever”, the season finale.

The ending to this episode is both the high and low point for me. I like how the other members of the Mane Six realize how much trouble they gave Twilight Sparkle and renounce their claim to the tickets (even if Rainbow Dash needs a bit more prodding), which I think was a good way to end it for their characters. This early in the series, you didn’t want to make any of them too much “types”. One of the things I love about the series is you can sum up any of the characters in a sentence, and yet they’re still well-rounded enough to have times when they’re both good and bad; in this case selfish and considerate.

My one real beef with this episode was the ending. Although it served to sequeway to later episodes in Season One, it had one big problem to me that runs rampant in the series: a “have-it-all” ending. In the end, Twilight Sparkle didn’t really have to go without for the sake of not offending any of her friends and none of her friends had to sacrifice to make any of the others happy; Celestia just gave them enough tickets. While it was a nice sentiment, I would prefer in episodes like this if they didn’t “have-it-all” all the time. The real lesson for this episode was that Twilight would have rather done without her own good fortune if it meant hurting her friends’ feelings, which is a good lesson for character. Put it into context… Say a couple of friends are excited for prom and one of them gets into a bad accident that breaks both legs, and so they’ll have to miss it. If the other friend decided to miss too rather than let her friend spend prom night alone, it’s a mark of good character and a true friend. It works better than some “miracle cure” magically making the friend able to go to the prom or everyone bringing the prom to her. Life doesn’t always give you situations where everyone wins, but it doesn’t make doing the right thing any less important.

That said, not a bad first season episode. Not nearly as good as some of the others even in the first season, but in no way bad and definitely entertaining.

Fun Facts:

This was the last episode Faust contributed directly to in the writing.

The writers conveniently avoided the need for creating month and year nomenclature for Equestria in this episode by having Spike say: “On the 21st day of…yadda, yadda, yadda…” while reading the letter.

Although Season Four is credited for having an overarching plot for the entire season, it’s actually was nothing new. This episode set up the episodes “Suited for Success” and “The Best Night Ever” later in Season One.

Derpy appears in this episode along with the other background ponies, although her eyes are “correct” this episode. Her cross-eyed look hadn’t yet become signature.

One of the more puzzling characters was introduced in this episode: Prince Blueblood. Even going by Faust’s original idea, it’s confusing. Celestia has been alive for a thousand years and presumably only has one sister, Luna, who was sealed away for that same time. How did she get a nephew? Furthermore, Rarity mentions in her fantasy that marrying him would make her a princess. This would later be retconned, as by the end of Season Three it seems the only way to become a princess is to become an alicorn.

This was the first episode to truly introduce ponies-wearing-clothes. For this episode and a few others, some of the clothing items the ponies would wear would be saddles. (In fact, Rarity’s original concept art featured her wearing one.) That would almost vanish by the time the second season started.

Angel Bunny made his first appearance in this episode…and apparently steals the tickets for Fluttershy. O_o It cracks me up how he doesn’t even bother wanting to pretend he’s doing favors out of the goodness of his heart like the others…just for the ticket. 😛

When Twilight shouts for the girls to be quiet, Pinkie is saying: “And then I said ‘Oatmeal? Are you crazy?'” This might be an allusion to the old Rankin-Bass “Frosty the Snowman” cartoon where one of the kids wants to name him: “Oatmeal”.

A great part of the episode is when Twilight and Spike try to flee the hoards of ponies wanting the extra ticket. The whole sequence is a parody of old “Benny Hill” sketches, and even has the right music for it.

As a bit of an error at the end of this episode, each pony is able to make their ticket “hover” in front of them, although only Twilight Sparkle and Rarity should be capable of that.

Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

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