It’s “Nightmare Night” (The Equestrian equivalent of Halloween) in Ponyville. The holiday is built up around the legend of Nightmare Moon, who, naturally, has become a monstrous and evil entity in Equestrian culture for hundreds of years. The ponies dress in costumes so that Nightmare Moon won’t find ponies to “gobble up”, and collect candy from door to door so they can leave some as an offering for her so she eats that instead of them. It’s also a time for scares, pranks, and late-night fun. However, shortly after the festivities begin, the actual Princess Luna shows up, desiring to use the night as a chance to improve her “image” and finally earn the admiration of Equestrians, but her out-of-date mannerisms and the ill reputation leave the citizens terrified of her. Twilight Sparkle make an attempt to get her to adjust to the modern times and get acceptance, but is frequently foiled by Pinkie Pie inciting the kids to scream and run every time she spots her, misinterpreting everything she does as an attempt to eat other ponies. When Luna’s attempt to win at a game terrifies the entire city, she finally grows so fed up she declares Nightmare Night abolished and goes off in tears. To try and make amends, Twilight Sparkle personally introduces Pinkie Pie to Princess Luna, and finds out she’s not actually scared of Luna…she was acting scared because being scared during Nightmare Night is part of the “fun”. Taking a hint from that, and against her skepticism, Twilight Sparkle persuades Princess Luna to take on the likeness of Nightmare Moon and intentionally scare the kids during the annual candy offering. Much to Luna’s surprise, the kids actually find this so fun they ask her to scare them again next year. This motivates Luna to bring Nightmare Night back, and she finally earns the affection of the younger generation of Equestria. As Luna enjoys the rest of Nightmare Night with the townsfolk, Twilight writes to Celestia that one of the great things about friendship is being able to share it with others, and cautions that even if some ponies appear scary on the outside, it’s important to try and look at them “underneath”.
Yet another fantastic episode. This was my introduction to the whole series.
A lot of people think this is just opinion…but it’s about as close as it can be to fact: Princess Luna is “best pony”. Seriously…she is. She’s the most dynamic character on the show. She’s had the most inner turmoil and demons to overcome. And over the course of the series, we’ve seen her go from the younger sister living in the shadow of the elder to corrupted by jealousy to become a vile villain to penitent and haunted by the specter of her past and her sins to finally winning the admiration she longed for to, at long last, “maturing” into the goddess that Equestrians can look to and admire. Her personality seems slightly different in each episode, but it always “fits together”. Unlike Celestia, Luna is far more “relatable” and takes a more personal interest in the problems plaguing her subjects. There’s really no episode that features her “predominantly” that isn’t a great one. This episode gets to a lot of her emotion…even in brief scenes where we see her lying with her head bowed literally in the “shadow” of a statue of Nightmare Moon, where she admits to Twilight that “they always hated (me)…and they always shall”, and even where after giving her bold proclamation ending Nightmare Night…we see her crying as she begins to think things are just as “hopeless” as they were a thousand years ago. It makes the ending a lot more rewarding.
I get the impression that while Celestia is still the primary deity for the adult ponies…Luna has become the one for the children. They definitely seem to gravitate to her. In Season Three and Season Four, when she makes an appearance she’s not met with fear at all by the children no matter how powerful and mysterious she appears, but rather is a source of comfort.
This episode has a lot of great things in it and overall I think it’s one of the best in the series…and yet it still has its flaws.
The smaller one is with Rainbow Dash. The important thing in “Griffon the Brush-Off” was that the pranks she played were good-natured ones and harmless. But in this one…she starts crossing the line into where she’s only having fun at other’s expense and ruining some things. Hence, why the ending is more “satisfying” when Luna turns the tables on her.
But Pinkie Pie is absolutely intolerable in this episode. I raised a bit of a stink about “Party of One”…but here she’s downright repulsive. Assuming she really was smart enough all along to know that her screaming, yelling, and (most importantly) inciting of the kids was just to try and have fun…then that makes her more terrible because she was having fun at the expense of someone else and causing them a great deal of trouble, even pain, so that she could “enjoy being scared”. She ended up terrifying a lot of adults and kids too in a rather stupid and beligerant way. I love Luna in this episode…but I have nothing but hate for Pinkie in it.
So, if you can overlook that, it’s a great episode, and one of my picks for the best of the entire series even if it doesn’t have as much humor as a lot of them.
Strangely enough, the only member of the Mane Six who doesn’t appear in this episode is Rarity. Odd considering Tabitha St. Germain does the voice of both Rarity and Princess Luna. Perhaps they were afraid she’d sound too much like her?
Obviously, Nightmare Night is a takeoff of Halloween…the first of several real holidays that would get an Equestrian twist this season…with a bit of religious implications. Would the adults normally just come and take the candy away? Or is Princess Luna’s job now to eat all of it herself? …I want that job.
Twilight Sparkle’s costume is that of Starswirl the Bearded…and this is the first episode where he was mentioned. Although he never appeared in an episode, his “legacy” left an impression on the series. For example, Clover the Clever, one of the key players in founding Equestria, was his student. And the spell Twilight Sparkle completes that turns her into an alicorn was started by him. However, in this episode, even Twilight admits he’s an “obscure unicorn”, and most of his achievements don’t sound too “Equestria-shaking”.
Pipsqueak appears for the first time in this episode. It’s mentioned he’s from “Trottingham”, which can only be assumed to be the pony equivalent of Great Britain based on his accent and the fact that he sounds like he immigrated to Equestria. Oddly enough, in spite of all the fillies in this episode, the CMCs never show up.
Rainbow Dash is going as a Shadowbolt, one of the “fake Wonderbolts” that Nightmare Moon conjured up in the pilot episode. Sort of ironic…
This is one of Derpy’s best appearances ever. That paper bag costume… XD
Zecora has really come a long way since being an outcast herself in Season One. Now she actually heads some of the Nightmare Night festivities. Her costume isn’t bad either. She even seems to be in on Twilight’s “big plan” at the end.
Nightmare Moon’s appearance has changed to where she now has sharp teeth as well. Also, Princess Luna appears to be able to “turn her on and off” at will.
Princess Luna’s chariot pullers are actually threshals from Harry Potter.
After being absent for 27 episodes…Princess Luna finally makes another appearance. Her look has changed, incorporating the “better” elements of Nightmare Moon such as a flowing mane that looks like a starry sky, darker colors, and a “bolder” appearance. For the most part, Tabitha St. Germain has managed to give her her “own voice” now, although she sounds a bit like Rarity when she turns her nose and says: “Be that way”. At the end, she gives her own “signature” move: a wink.
Luna uses the “royal we”, but the “royal we” refers to the tendancy of kings hundreds of years ago claiming any decision they made was as a result of Divine Influence, hence anything they said was supposed to be their word plus God’s. Since Luna is a god… Maybe she’s referring to herself and Celestia…
“Huzzah! The fun has been doubled!” became the first Season Two meme.
Pipsqueak falls into the apple-bobbing tank twice?
The last time chicken-costumed Pinkie Pie screams “Nightmare Moon!” and runs…she actually lays an egg.
The pony whose costume is a Viking with a shark eating him… XD
4 Stars out of 5