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Synopsis:

Twilight Sparkle wakes up expecting a great day…and instead finds that the girls’ Cutie Marks and, along with them, their destinies have been swapped. Rarity is making a disaster out of weather. Rainbow Dash can’t corral any animals. Fluttershy can’t make any pony laugh. Pinkie Pie can’t grow anything at Sweet Apple Acres. Applejack is making ugly, misshapen dresses. Twilight realizes this is her fault…Celestia sent her an old unfinished spell by Starswirl the Bearded that she tried out to see what it did, and it switched the Elements of Harmony and the girls’ “true selves” with it. At first she despairs until Spike reminds her of their friendship, and she gets the idea that if the girls, out of friendship, try to help their struggling friends with what should be their task, their true identities will come back to them. The idea works and the girls get back their proper Elements and Cutie Marks. Furthermore, the idea makes Twilight realize the missing part of the spell had to do with the magic of friendship, and she returns to the library with the girls and finishes it. The moment she dots the period on the spell…the Elements of Harmony spontaneously zap her into a cosmic dimension for hours, where she receives visions of her past and a visit by Princess Celestia, who informs her that her time as a student is over and that she’s ready for a “new beginning”. Twilight suddenly returns to Ponyville and the girls…transformed into an alicorn. Celestia appears and announces that Twilight has learned the virtues of generosity, loyalty, kindness, honesty, laughter, and leadership and, as a result, has become a princess. The now Princess Twilight Sparkle is overwhelmed at her new status and what that means she should do now, but for the time being calms down and goes to Canterlot, where she is officially crowned and proclaimed to a gathering of earth ponies, pegasi, unicorns, and crystal ponies as the fourth princess of Equestria. In spite of her confusion and anxiety, Twilight declares “everything is going to be just fine”.

Review:

Pretty much no “real” fan of the show didn’t know this episode was coming in advance. It was actually publicized along with images of Princess Twilight Sparkle in magazines like “Entertainment Weekly” and was buzzed all over the Internet. A number of fans had been suspecting for a while that the real reason Princess Celestia took on Twilight Sparkle as her favorite student was to “train a replacement”. I myself wondered if the spontaneous heel-turn-face at the end of “Magic Duel” was because Twilight was going to become an alicorn and would presumably “move on”…and they’d need a new unicorn to fill the “two earth pony, two pegasi, two unicorn” dynamic of the Mane Six…meaning Trixie would actually move into Twilight’s old role. (She could certainly stand to learn a lot about friendship…and Tara Strong, unlike the other voice actors, does only a single voice on the show: Twilight Sparkle, so she could “leave”.) So the big question with this episode on every fan’s mind was: “After Twilight becomes an alicorn…then what?”

Before I get to that answer, the episode itself.

Again…it’s amazing how an episode can seem to be “crammed together” and “stretched out” at the same time. This is another episode that could have stood to be a two parter. Especially since it was apparently insisted that this episode be a musical. It’s a bit hard to smash seven songs into 21 minutes and still have dialogue. And, frankly…a lot of the songs seem thrown together and are kind of weird. The fact that Princess Twilight Sparkle’s coronation song is just the same lines repeated makes it sound almost like she’s being heralded in a church…which, I suppose, makes sense as Twilight is now a god in a sense. I like “What My Cutie Mark is Telling Me” and “A True, True Friend”, but even the latter of those two is repetitive…it’s mostly the music itself that “sells it”. In retrospect, it fits better than I thought without seeming too “overbearing”…although I really don’t like Twilight “singing the opening” for seemingly no reason.

In terms of the content…the girls with mismatched Cutie Marks are actually funny and entertaining for the few scenes they get. The problem is they don’t get many lines because that part of the episode is rather rushed to hurry and get to Twilight’s transformation. Almost everything that happens with the mismatched girls occurs during songs rather than bits like with Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash and the animals. I thought those parts were actually “cute” and entertaining and even dramatic…and were also glossed over to hurry and get to a song. There was a lot of opportunity there that was essentially blown. They never even get to “talk” to Pinkie Pie and Applejack, just “sing through” their segments.

I get the sense that this was originally supposed to be a separate episode, a result of Twilight miscasting a spell. And I think it would have made a fairly good one for a stand-alone. Instead, it’s reduced by a “third” and squashed into a shorter time period to devote the last third of the episode to making Twilight an alicorn.

However, I can understand it to a degree. The actual turning into an alicorn needed “padding”. In all honesty…the last part of the episode seems “stretched”, and why not? All it really is is Celestia and the cast being proud of Twilight and her getting in a royal dress and waving at ponies. Even those people who thought Twilight would become an alicorn at some point probably expected it to be the result of something far more dramatic or monumental than “finishing a spell”. Similar to the episode with Discord this season, there was something so “rushed” about it that the audience didn’t really “swallow” it. In fact, in a sense, one might argue that this episode and “Keep Calm and Flutter On” were the “first halves” of the Season Four finale.

That brings me back to the first topic. The fans had one big question going into this episode: “Now what?”

At the end of the episode, the question was still: “Now what?”

This episode had a lot of connotation. It was clear at this point that Celestia and Luna were immortal. So what did that mean for Twilight Sparkle? Was she immortal now? Would she watch her friends age and die slowly over the next few decades? Was she a goddess? A goddess of what? Was this really the start of “something new”, or was it just “Hey look! Twilight’s got wings! Buy our toys!”? No one knew…and we got little to no answer from this episode. As it would turn out…we’d get little to no answer from the next season until the finale. As an end result, the “general sensation” that fans like me get from this episode and, indeed, Season Three as a whole is that this is really an “extended part of Season Four”. But we’d have to wait longer for it, and all we got to tide us over was “Equestria Girls”.

The bottom line is that this episode didn’t “wow” fans like me nearly as much as past episodes, and didn’t have a real “epic” feel to it either with the majority of it devoted to what could have been material for a “standard” episode and most of the rest filled with songs and padding that seemed done in a hurry so that the music for “Equestria Girls” could be finalized. An episode that should have been monumental, therefore, came off as yet another “good not great” episode.

In a sense, I feel like Season Four was meant to “build off” of episodes like this in Season Three, but as Season Four was a ways off…the end result for now was, sadly, a fear among many of the fans: that the show was coming dangerously close to “jumping the shark” and the idea well was running dry.

Fun Facts:

Pinkie Pie is flat-maned again for this episode. One would think, however, she should be at least somewhat “competent” at her job since she grew up on a farm.

Vinyl Scratch is one of the background ponies in Sugarcube Corner.

In one of the interesting musical things done in this episode, during “It’s What My Cutie Mark is Telling Me”, as it leads into Applejack making dresses in the boutique, it starts off playing the intro to “Art of the Dress” from way back in Season One. It’s even in time with the stitching.

The book with the unfinished spell that was given to Twilight Sparkle appeared originally at the end of the Season Three finale.

In another sign of being rushed…there really aren’t any verses to “A True, True Friend”…just repeated lines.

This is the first time we’ve seen Princess Celestia wearing any sort of attire, and…er…um…I think it would make Rarity faint. 😛 I understand purple is a royal color as well as Twilight’s color, but still…

Princess Twilight Sparkle’s first crown was the modified Magic Element of Harmony. It wouldn’t last past the Season Four opener.

Twilight Sparkle’s “today I consider myself the luckiest pony in Equestria” is a knockoff of Lou Gehrig’s infamous farewell speech line: “today I consider myself the luckiest man in the world”.

Shazam! Princess Cadance’s hairstyle spontaneously changes between the coronation and when she and Shining Armor congratulate Princess Twilight. XP

This is one of three episodes in this season where Derpy appears (aside from the opening), but it’s almost impossible to spot her. Toward the end when Twilight Sparkle is singing the reprise to the opening song, if you keep your eye on the right side of the screen, she very briefly appears for a couple frames right before the scene transition while the coach is rolling out.

The episode credits end with “A True, True Friend” instead of the normal closing.

Rating:

3 Stars out of 5

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