This episode is really three smaller subplots revolving around the Rainbow Falls trader’s exchange:
– Twilight Sparkle is trading a bunch of old books she doesn’t need anymore to make more room in her library. Pinkie Pie decides to use her status as Princess as well as the fact they came from Princess Celestia to “sell” them as the most valuable item at the meet, but overdoes it and soon makes everyone think they’re too valuable. However, it works out as it also helps Twilight see how valuable they are for sentimental reasons and decides not to trade anyway.
– Applejack and Rarity elect to pool their resources to get what they want as they figure even if a trader doesn’t want what one has, they’ll want what the other has. Unfortunately, both individuals find an item they really want but is worthless to the other that will only be theirs if they give up all of their own goods. Both argue and attempt to be the “better friend” by forfeiting their right, yet neither comes to an agreement. In the end, however, both end up trading their own half of the stash for less-valuable items for each other, but they still have value as they are symbols of their friend giving up their happiness for their sake.
– Rainbow Dash wants a signed copy of a first edition of “Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Statue” to complete her collection and Fluttershy offers to help. After many mishaps and trades, they finally manage to get the owner an orthros she wanted, but she changes her mind and thinks the two-headed beast is so savage that she only agrees if Fluttershy is part of the deal to train it to be a house pet, which Fluttershy reluctantly consents to in order to make Rainbow Dash happy. Yet on realizing she’s giving up Fluttershy for an indefinite length of time for the book, Rainbow Dash gets Princess Twilight Sparkle to declare the trade “unfair” (a dear friend for a book) and therefore invalid. Rainbow trades the orthros for a bird call whistle Fluttershy wanted, and Twilight gives Rainbow her own original paperback copy of “Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Statue” instead.
A nice little episode with one of the most clear examples of “fanservice” ever. For the fanservice, check out the “Fun Facts” section.
Really, this episode is very nice. It’s not “ground-breaking” or “really hits you in the feels” like some episodes…but it’s very good. The humor is nice, the character interactions are nice, the animation is nice, the plotline is…mostly nice, and the whole dynamic of telling three little “vignettes” is nice. It shows some real intelligence. I have a feeling this episode might have originally been supposed to be just Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy’s story, but that it wasn’t “enough” to make a whole episode without some songs and that characteristic “padding” I complained about back in Season One. So instead, they whipped up two smaller subplots for Twilight Sparkle/Pinkie Pie and Applejack/Rarity…and I think it worked pretty well.
Rainbow Dash/Fluttershy’s plot is definitely the “biggest” highlight, and it’s a lot of humor with some minor feels toward the end. The nice thing about Rainbow Dash is she’s exuberant and yet believable about everything she does, including when she breaks down and weeps.
Applejack/Rarity’s plot may not have been terribly “exciting”…so much that the viewer can literally get distracted and watch Rainbow Dash/Fluttershy’s plot in the background, but unlike “Look Before You Sleep”, the writers seemed to realize this was one of the episode’s “lower points” and so keeps it brief and concise. It doesn’t seem padded at all. It seems “just right”, and it also gets a bit of an “aw” at how it ends up.
The weakest plotline is Twilight Sparkle/Pinkie Pie’s. I compliment this episode on beginning to “set up” things for the season finale. Something that I pointed out in “Twilight Time” that they really never really got into was the fact Twilight Sparkle doesn’t really care for the “royal treatment” she gets, especially when she doesn’t feel terribly royal in spite of her numerous times she’s “saved the day”. Yet the few times Twilight has shown up in public, it seems the writers have forgotten about that element and she’s still treated more or less like the unicorn she once was. It never really becomes a factor unless it’s made explicit, sort of like in this episode. But as the season finale was nearing, it needed to become more “pronounced”, and in this and “Equestria Games”, it would be. Yet Pinkie…just isn’t really that entertaining. She has some moments with the filly who tries to trade a broken quill, but her whole carnival barker bit isn’t as good. Still, it’s not “terrible” either.
So, all in all…a pretty good episode that might not be monumental but still hits all the points it should with nothing to frown at. And that’s a good trade in my book.
Second appearance of the town Rainbow Falls. It seems the main “utility” of this town is a large fairgrounds, which enables them to do things such as the Trader’s Exchange and the Qualification Trials for the Equestria Games.
Crystal ponies are “mingled in” with the crowd. It’s not usually that a non-Crystal Empire episode features all “four” races.
“Discord Lamps” from “Keep Calm and Flutter On” apparently became a trend. 😛
Another fantasy creature in this one: an orthros. Not to be confused with Cerberus, a three-headed dog as opposed to a two-headed one. It may not be as “intimidating” as the chimera was, but that’s not necessary here as it’s essentially just a big goofy dog with two heads instead of one.
Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy’s “plot” resembles one of those trading games in “The Legend of Zelda” series that started with “Link’s Awakening”.
The lamp trader is rather unique: he’s a pony paralyzed from the waist down. This is actually a bit more “special” than just a random new character. That pony, Stellar Eclipse, is actually the “pony-fied” version of Sylvain Lavasseur Portelance, who also provided the voice. He has a degenerative spinal disease, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted his wish by making him a character in Equestria for this episode. Great job. 🙂
Similar to “Leap of Faith”, they obviously didn’t want to create any more new ponies and so they have “the Dude” selling oatburgers (apparently distinct from hayburgers…maybe they’re the “chicken sandwiches” or “McRibs” of this world).
I think the fact the crystal chalice that Rainbow Dash got broke on touching it means that’s an “unfair trade” they need to consult Princess Twilight about. 😛
Fluttershy is the only one of the Mane Six who gets exactly what she came to the Trader’s Exchange for.
3.5 Stars out of 5