Princess Twilight Sparkle is this year’s PC for the annual Ponyville Days, and has decided the theme should be “Moving Forward, Looking Back Together”. Although she has to leave town for Canterlot for a few days, she leaves behind her theme and instructions before leaving. After she does, Mayor Mare announces that the first structure in Ponyville is to get a commemorative plaque honoring it and the youngest member of the associated family is to be the Ponyville Days princess. Unfortunately, a dispute soon arises as to whether Sweet Apple Acres should have been the first building or if Filthy Rich’s grandfather’s original store (where Canterlot Boutique is currently located) should have been the one. The dispute turns into an argument and splits the town in two, with Applejack heading one side and Rarity heading the other, and soon the two are feuding in a combination pie/ugly-dress fight and threatening to secede into two separate towns. When Twilight Sparkle returns, she puts a stop to the fight and appeals to the town, saying how she had been bragging about how the citizens were like family to one another and worked through any problem together; encouraging them to get along. Yet to her surprise, both sides of town refuse to reconcile and, although the fighting stops, everypony refuses to associate with anypony else. To make matters worse, Twilight’s report of the hospitality of the town was so great that record crowds of tourists are coming to Ponyville on Princess Celestia’s suggestion.
With nopony in town willing to work together to make Ponyville Days happen, Twilight gets desperate and, on a suggestion by Fluttershy, goes about town convincing individuals one at a time to contribute. In the end, she gets the entire town to do something out of friendship with her, although everypony refuses to help anypony else with their own parts. The tourists soon arrive, and on doing so the town is completely overrun and everypony is overwhelmed. All of them run to Twilight for guidance, but she’s screams that she’s just one pony and can’t fix this, urging the town again to work together to make things a success. The town agrees, and as a result everything ends up working out and everypony starts talking to one another again. Princess Celestia congratulates Twilight, and she comes up with a solution for the original problem and presents two plaques: one for the first residential building and one for the first commercial building.
To be honest, there’s one untapped idea that I thought bore some potential merit to it for the series. What would happen if one of Twilight Sparkle’s friendship speeches failed to accomplish it’s end? What if, at the point of an episode where she was supposed to say something to fix everything, it didn’t work out? This arc answers that question…assuming the answer was supposed to be: “I don’t know”.
This entire arc has the feel of a one-issue arc that ended up running a bit long. To it’s credit, it doesn’t seem very padded, but it also doesn’t seem to be anything of critical importance that merited having two full issues devoted to it. The plotline itself is nothing new. There was a similar episode on “The Simpsons” although the feud there was over phone number area codes rather than a plaque, and the idea of a feud where neither side would refuse to admit they were guilty of any wrongdoing on contribution to the problem would later be explored in Season Five’s “The Hooffields and McColts”. But like I said, it has the virtue of doing something no episode has done before. When Twilight breaks in, stops the fighting, and then gives her speech to everypony, that’s normally where everyone is supposed to admit they were wrong, make up, and go on to a happy ending. But no, it doesn’t happen that way this time. Everypony still hates each other. They only stop fighting because they think the fight itself was a waste of time, but they still think they’re all justified in their hate of each other. And so, the story isn’t over. Twilight doesn’t get to just say something and fix everything. That’s actually new and original, yet perfectly consistent with the show. So, what happens next?
Well, therein is the problem. The thing is while the plot itself was plausible, I think the comic writers went a bit overboard on the other characters. Applejack may be stubborn, and in Season Five’s “Hearthbreakers”, Pinkie Pie canonically outright called her “mean”. But this is too much for me. I can see her holding onto a grudge, but not only does this seem to go too far, I don’t think she’d be so mean as to spit back what Twilight tried for a reconciliation back in her face. And to imply that Rarity is just as stubborn is borderline OOC. About the only time I’ve ever seen Rarity be stubborn to a nasty degree was when she was being mind-trolled by Discord. Still, these are both things that could be overlooked.
What I personally can’t overlook is how this gets wrapped up. The plotline establishes that there isn’t going to be a quick fix. There isn’t going to be a friendship speech that reminds everypony about how close they are to one another or how they work together to solve everything. So, what will get them back together then? An even weaker friendship speech about working together to make Ponyville Days a success. Seriously, it doesn’t make much sense. Everypony agrees to help each other out simply because nopony can get anything done on their own, but does that mean they’d get back together because of that? Twilight says they all have to work together to fix this, but the problem is nopony wanted to do this anymore. They’re all just doing it for Twilight to begin with, not because they care about it being a success or even in helping the town. So why is it suddenly so important that they make it a success? And was something so simple supposed to make them stop the feud? Everypony was shallow enough to hate everypony else over a plaque and cling stubbornly to that, and this was supposed to fix it? Something so petty causing this much long-lasting trouble indicates it was never about the plaque to begin with but rather more deep-seated hatred that rallied around this. And all of that should still be there when this is done. Not to mention the solution only involved some residents working with others, not everypony working together? It just doesn’t really make sense.
So while the first half of this arc has some merit, the fact that it gets a totally pat resolution that seems to be forced in the first place points out that this arc was a bit too long for one issue so they created a sub-conflict where they were still mad at each other after Twilight’s speech to stretch it farther. As a result, we get something that had potential but never really capitalized on it. The interesting plot device ended up being just a gimmick to stretch things out. And all for a plot that wasn’t terrible original or interesting to begin with.
And because of that, this is one of my least favorite arcs.
Considering the sheer number of background ponies who get “screen time” in this arc, one would think it came after Season Five’s “Slice of Life”. (Right down to highlighting Gummy at one point.) However, the last issue was published three days before that episode premiered.
The idea of Ponyville Days was first visited in Season Four’s “Simple Ways”, although the background for this arc comes from Season Two’s “Family Appreciation Day”.
In one panel, Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara are glaring at each other with electricity going between them, which is a frequent convention used in anime and manga.
Minuette is drawing faces on Granny Smith posters, but doesn’t really seem to know why…
It seems to take a very long time for the crowd flying to Ponyville to get there…
As the show has hinted, Lebowski Pony does indeed appear to be a pony version of the Dude from “The Big Lebowski”, including using his sayings such as “tied the (blank) together” and “this pony abides”. So, technically, IDW beat the show to making it canon by three days. 🙂
At one point, Twilight mentions how the Ponyville Clock Tower didn’t work for a long time after being struck by lightning in an intense storm. This is likely an allusion to “Back to the Future”.
We never do find out what Twilight Sparkle was doing in Canterlot. 😛
1 Star out of 5