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Synopsis:

Rarity is in the bustling metropolis of Manehattan for “Fashion Week” to compete with other designers to get her style featured by clothing producer Prim Hemline. She’s brought the girls and Spike with her for a week full of fun checking out the highlights of the city, and brings her own generous spirit in helping out random bystanders and showering the ponies who service her with generous tips. At the show, she runs into an old acquaintance from Ponyville and fellow designer, Suri Polomare, and shows off her cinch to win the competition: a new fabric she’s invented. Suri asks for a sample and Rarity, being generous, gives her a few yards. The next day, however, she’s shocked to see Suri has made a whole line based off Rarity’s fabric, and she mocks Rarity’s generosity, saying in Manehattan it’s “every pony for herself”. Rarity is devastated as she returns to the hotel and tells the girls about it, but manages to get an idea for a possibly better design based off of the hotel decor. Unfortunately, she ends up impressing her friends into working all night with her getting the design ready, forcing them to miss out on their own night of fun as well as the musical Rarity gave them tickets for. The next day Rarity gets the barely-completed fashion to the show and wows the crowd…but on seeing that her friends are absent from the audience she realizes the mistake she made and runs out back to the hotel. Finding them gone and assuming they went back to Ponyville without her, Rarity returns to the fashion show to tell Prim she’s dropping out and going home, only to find the girls there who relay the bad news Suri told them: that she lost the competition. Rarity, on her part, apologizes to the girls and manages to get them into a private showing of the musical, but only by agreeing to stay in Manehattan and make all the costumes for the producer’s next show. Yet while breaking the news to the girls, Suri’s assistant, a mare named Coco Pommel, shows up and presents Rarity with the 1st Place trophy from Fashion Week. She confesses she and Suri lied about Rarity losing, as Suri hoped it would make Rarity drop out and she’d win by default, but on seeing Rarity’s own generosity and how her friends were generous with her, she rejected Suri’s “dog-eat-dog” philosophy and quit her job. Coco ends up staying in Rarity’s place to do the costumes, while Rarity returns home to Ponyville and writes in the journal that even if there are those in the world who will take advantage of the generosity of others, it’s important never to do the same to those who care about you and keep your own. As she finishes, she places a rainbow spool of thread Coco gave her as a gift on her shelf, and it shimmers with the color of a rainbow momentarily…

Review:

After the premiere of Season Four, I was fearful about how this season would end up. After this episode…I knew this season was going to end up “better than ok”.

As I’ve said before, I love Rarity episodes. I love how they manage to take “real world problems” and somehow make them work with the character who’s the most “stereotypically girly” one of the Mane Six. Rarity has yet to lose her talent for being able to drift dangerously close to the line of going from sympathetic to repulsive…and always come back. In this episode, however, she’s more sympathetic. In fact, I argue this episode is the first one in a long time that shows “Rarity as she should be”. The fact of the matter is Rarity had been progressively “losing her virtue” over the past two seasons. She’s supposed to embody “generosity”, and yet there were progressively more moments she was self-centered, stingy, and even greedy. I think it hit bottom in Season Three when she offered Spike only a sliver of a gem to watch Opalescence. That’s a marked contrast from this episode, where she continuously is giving the hotel bellboy generous tips for practically nothing. Just like in “Sisterhooves Social”, you really feel for Rarity in the moments where she’s first pleasant and generous, then betrayed and shocked when her own generous nature seemingly ruins her, then losing her temper with her friends and being too demanding, then feeling terrible guilt and remorse, and finally reconciling. All that packed into 22 minutes and all of it believable…that alone would have made the episode great.

Yet this episode is more than that. It didn’t take me long (or most other reasonably intelligent fans) to realize this was part of the “series-long-plot” we heard about. That diamond box had six keyholes…right, so obviously there’s one key for each girl and the keys were going to be found “one by one”. This was the first of the “Keys of Harmony” episodes.

All of them follow roughly the same “blueprint”: the “target pony” for the episode encounters a situation that challenges their “virtue”, it involves a side character who’s not necessarily “bad” but still kind of represents something in opposition to the virtue, they nearly give in to abandoning their virtue, they see something that reminds them of its power (signified by the rainbow shine that appears in their eyes), they atone, their atonement causes the side character to embrace the virtue as well and they give the corresponding Mane Six member a gift in response, and, finally, the gift ends up being “the Key”.

The Keys of Harmony episodes average out to “above good”, in my opinion. Rarity’s, Fluttershy’s, and (naturally) Twilight’s are marvelous. Rainbow’s and Pinkie’s both have gimmicks that kind of “overshadow” the lesson but both make them rather good. Applejack’s…seriously, I don’t know why all Applejack-themed episodes end up being so damn mundane, to the point where even the “gimmick” for the episode doesn’t work… But all in all they’re great to watch, and it starts off great with this episode. Not to mention Coco Pommel is just so cute. Season Four, by now, was churning out a steady stream of fan-favorite memes…and now it had its first new character of the season who would become popular in the fandom (though certainly not the last).

The show is running at “full power” now, and for the first time I was not only happy about more new episodes…I was really starting to look forward to them.

Fun Facts:

Manehattan had been mentioned many times in the series before now, and had appeared in flashbacks, photos, and other segments. This, however, is the first time the episode actually featured the girls going to it. As one might think, it’s a takeoff of New York City, right down to having an Equestrian version of the Statue of Liberty. Before now, the closest look we got at Manehattan was way back in Season One: “The Cutie Mark Chronicles”. In that episode, the city seemed late 1800s. In this one, it seems more early-to-mid-1900s in some areas and modern in others.

Spike is smart enough to bring a wagon for Rarity’s things. Pity she seems to have done him one better this time. 😛

“Bridleway” is obviously a takeoff of Broadway. The show “Hinny of the Hills” is a somewhat more obscure allusion, this one to the play: “Maid of the Mountains”.

Rainbow Dash has a bit of “meta” humor complaining about ponies in musicals bursting into random song at the drop of a hat…right before Rarity goes into the musical number for this episode: “Generosity”.

Season Four was big on Internet memes. During the song, Rarity bumps into a stallion whose Cutie Mark is the “Grumpy Cat” meme.

Spike somehow magically gets his…um…hot carrot(?) back.

Suri Polomare is also voiced by Tabitha St. Germain.

Fancy Pants and Photo Finish are both in the audience. Looks like Photo “recognizes Rarity’s greatness” now. 😛

Rating:

4 Stars out of 5

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