While relaxing one evening, Twilight Sparkle gets a nasty shock when Spike brings up how it’s funny she’s the Princess of Friendship now when she used to be a terrible friend, especially to her classmates back in Canterlot. Immediately, Twilight believes she caused her former “friends” heartache and pain by abandoning them and sets out to Canterlot to make up with them. She soon meets up with three of them: Minuette, Twinkleshine, and Lemon Hearts, who, while excited to see her and forgiving of her bad friendship, also make it clear how she pretty much forgot they even existed the day she left Canterlot. However, another friend, Moondancer, has become a completely antisocial bookworm recluse; spending all day every day either in her windowless ruin of a house or studying in the library for no purpose other than learning more. Twilight gets a further shock when she realizes Moondancer became a shut-in recluse the day she left for Ponyville; which was the day the quiet introvert first decided to hold a birthday party of which Twilight was the only invited guest (the other three girls having been the ones who suggested it to Moondancer in the first place and being guests by default). Realizing this might be her fault, Twilight launches a series of unsuccessful attempts to get Moondancer to open up to friendship and make things up to her, culminating in remaking the birthday party. Not only is Moondancer unresponsive, she’s flies into an anguished rage at the party and vents her full fury at Twilight; saying how her snubbing of her original birthday party made her feel worthless ever since. Twilight reveals she still has friends with Minuette, Twinkleshine, and Lemon Hearts, as well as the other ponies she interacts with daily, and she apologizes at last for how her actions hurt her. Moondancer realizes she’s been wanting to hear that ever since that day and finally begins to open up. She forgives Twilight and joins the party, “remaking” friends with the others. Before leaving for Ponyville again, Spike gives Moondancer the other half of the birthday present he meant to give her when they left for Ponyville: a picture of all of them.
This entire episode was built off of a hidden joke way back in the first episode of Season One. To try and draw attention to the fact that Twilight Sparkle was initially antisocial and uninterested in friendship, three unicorns asked her to come to Moondancer’s birthday party. The hidden joke was that Twilight Sparkle’s character was inspired by a toy of Moondancer, the main character in the original “My Little Pony” special “Escape from Nightmare Castle”, that Lauren Faust still owned. Surprisingly enough, the writers decided to go back and flesh that backstory out into a full plotline.
How did it do? While I personally feel it’s a decent episode, it’s also the crew once again biting off more than they can chew.
The overall plot is something I like: the idea of having some past mistake that a character needed to atone for. And Twilight was a good candidate, having once been a very different pony before the show began. She once dismissed any pony in her life that wasn’t helping her learn more as irrelevant at best and annoying at worst. That created a lot of opportunities for snubbing others and being rude to them. The thought that she might have hurt somepony through her actions or lack thereof and ended up leaving an impact on them was an interesting topic to explore. The “Princess of Friendship” having ironically once badly mistreating her friends.
The problem is the plot wasn’t executed too well. It seems as if this episode doesn’t know whether to treat the whole thing as something that was indeed serious that she must atone for, or treat it as yet another thing Twilight Sparkle obsesses over nothing about. Spike’s reactions make it seem as if Twilight is overreacting, and, while most of her former classmates make Twilight feel uncomfortable on realizing none of them felt hurt by her old attitude and aloofness simply because they were completely used to it, the bottom line is that most of her old classmates didn’t feel any problem with her old behavior. The only one who did was Moondancer. As a result, rather than looking like Twilight honestly did something wrong, Moondancer looks like the “odd one out” who fixated too much on an irrelevant problem.
The biggest issue is that it’s not entirely justified that Moondancer should have had her life practically ruined by Twilight Sparkle not showing up to a birthday party. As I pointed out, all of Twilight’s other classmates said they were used to it. Presumably, Moondancer should have been the same way. The very fact that Minuette, Twinkleshine, and Lemon Drops went out of their way to encourage Moondancer to throw a birthday party indicated that those three were already trying to be her friends at that point, so there’s not much justification for her feeling worthless for Twilight not coming. If there had been some indication that Twilight and Moondancer had been close before Twilight left, or even gave that impression incorrectly to Moondancer, or that Moondancer respected Twilight enough to really want her as a friend, that might have been something. All we ever see is that Twilight is the one classmate that Moondancer occasionally talked to. If there had been something to indicate that Twilight was an important individual to Moondancer the main climax would feel more poignant. Because she doesn’t, it feels forced.
Finally, the issue was attendance at a birthday party. That’s something that might be important to little kids or foals. Keep in mind that chronologically this happened about a year and a half ago at most, at which point Moondancer was already about as emotionally mature as she is now, presumably, or as much as Twilight Sparkle was at the same time. Also, this is probably the one event Twilight should have snubbed, because she went to save Equestria from Nightmare Moon.
The funny part is that this is only the first of two times this basic plot with an individual being completely warped and twisted from the loss of a single friendship would be done this season. Without getting too ahead of myself…it just barely works out here. This is a standard episode with a friendship lesson so there’s nothing too heavy here. And Moondancer ended up becoming a recluse, not a psychotic domineering sociopath…unlike another character who we shall get to in due time… So while the theme is still more mature, it has enough sense of being a standard episode to tolerate it.
How are the dishes any worse than when Twilight was just a unicorn? Ugh, don’t tell me Spike is forced to do all the dishes for every gathering. That’s harsh.
The biggest inside joke of this episode is that it reveals that background ponies don’t just look the same; they are the same. One of the generic background ponies used in the pilot episode was Lyra Heartstrings, but she later popped up in Ponyville. As a result, the plot was changed that Lyra also moved to Ponyville. Unfortunately, after “Slice of Life”, she doesn’t show up in this episode. (Probably would insist on bringing Bon Bon…)
This is the first time the background pony names Minuette, Twinkleshine, Lemon Hearts, and Lyra Heartstrings have been mentioned aloud. I thought it was a nice touch that the background ponies actually end up being the characters. While later in the series they would have created OCs for all of Twilight’s former classmates, when the pilot debuted they just used any old background pony they had on hand, and I like that they rolled with that.
Kazumi Evans, best known in the series as Adagio Dazzle and the singing voice of Rarity, provides the voice of Moondancer.
Moondancer is the fourth G1 character to make it into “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”. Aside from her color scheme, glasses, big sweater, Cutie Mark, and her tendency to tie up her mane, it was noted by fans that she’s nothing more than a palette swap of Twilight Sparkle. This is intentional; Twilight Sparkle was supposed to be something of a “reincarnation” of Moondancer from the original series when created by Lauren Faust. So as a hidden double meaning, she also represents how Twilight would have ended up if she hadn’t been sent to Ponyville. The only physical difference is Moondancer has thick eyebrows. 😛
The flashback with Twilight avoiding the party is straight from Season One, Episode One.
This is one of two episodes in which Starlight Glimmer was spying on Twilight Sparkle. In the restaurant, she’s sitting at the table to the left of theirs hiding behind a menu.
Pinkie Pie’s propeller tail is similar to Tails in the “Sonic the Hedgehog” franchise.
3 Stars out of 5