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Synopsis:

Twilight Sparkle is planning a dinner party with Princess Celestia and Starlight Glimmer to properly introduce her and show off her progress as a student of friendship, but she is also turning it into a lesson by requiring Starlight to make a new friend and bring her to dinner. After an unsuccessful day of trying to make new friends, an exhausted and downcast Starlight heads to the spa where she finally meets up with another pony getting a treatment willing to befriend her: “the Great and Powerful” Trixie. On “introducing” her, Twilight immediately has misgivings about the two being friends, revealing that she still doesn’t trust Trixie after the events with the Alicorn Amulet (in Season Three’s “Magic Duel”). She ends up trying to suggest numerous other friends to Starlight, which not only angers Starlight at her apparent lack of trust in Starlight’s own judgment but also shows that, since she said she had forgiven Trixie but clearly hadn’t, that it could mean she also hasn’t forgiven her either. She ends up electing to skip the dinner all together and instead act as Trixie’s assistant to allow her to survive a life-threatening trick called the Moonbeam Manticore Mouth Dive as part of her apology/comeback tour. Once Twilight realizes she has been stood up, she runs out to confront Starlight and Trixie, at which point Trixie accidentally reveals she only made friends with Starlight so that Starlight would choose her over Twilight and she could boast that she was better than the princess at something. Starlight runs off bitterly in tears, and Trixie herself soon breaks down as well when she realizes she drove off her only friend, and feels so bad she decides to continue the Moonbeam Manticore Mouth Dive trick anyway even though, without Starlight’s help, it will kill her. As she gets ready to perform it, Twilight approaches Starlight and apologizes for not giving her the space to make her own choices. She also says, for what it’s worth, she believes Trixie really did want to be her friend, but also says it’s ultimately up to her to decide whether or not to forgive her. After overhearing Trixie herself apologize right before the trick, Starlight ends up saving Trixie at the last moment and the two become friends. Twilight herself goes backstage to compliment Trixie on her trick, earning the unicorn’s admiration. Princess Celestia is left stood up at the dinner with the three friends Twilight tried to pre-select for Starlight: DJ-Pon-3, Derpy, and Cranky Doodle Donkey.

Review:

After the pilot episode, we get another episode highlighting Starlight Glimmer, and featuring the Great and Powerful Trixie, no less. Obviously, if you’re a Trixie fan, this was good as it was only her third appearance in the series as a whole. How did it do?

To me, this episode had its highs and lows. On the high side, Trixie. Even if you don’t like her that much, she’s such an over-the-top character with such an ego that there’s something oddly entertaining about her even at the worst of times. Her mere presence makes an episode more amusing for her manners, third-person talking, and bravado.

There were a number of funny little scenes interspersed together with Starlight Glimmer’s attempts to make friends as well. The big purpose they served was to create a better concept of the “reformed” Starlight Glimmer. One of the downsides about having Starlight Glimmer’s Heel-Turn-Face be so out-of-left-field is that her character is now somewhat poorly defined. Without a real motive or reason to change, there wasn’t much way to link her to the villain we saw in Season Five. As I said in the season premiere, how the writers of that one tried to deal with this was by turning her into Season 1-3 Twilight Sparkle.

This episode, on the other hand, handles it better and makes Starlight Glimmer more of her own character. There are shades in this episode where she starts showing off her old temper and sternness, especially when she gets at odds with Twilight Sparkle. But even in her good parts, it better defines her character flaws and, in turn, actually helps make her more understandable as a Season Five villain. Starlight Glimmer’s problem is she’s gone so long without friends she only really trusts herself. She doesn’t want to solve problems with the help of others…she wants to just take care of them herself. She doesn’t want to have to work through and understand the flaws of others…she just wants to take charge herself or forcefully remove the flaws of others. She thinks the only way to connect with other people is to show off her power to do everything bigger and better, because that’s all she knows. Rather than embrace and work with differences, she thinks it would be better if everyone just followed her example and did what she said. The fact that she still thinks that way, to a large extent, was a good move. It actually does link her to her old self in Season Five. And while it’s a character flaw, it’s one that not only gives her a quirk but it’s one that can be worked through and grown past. It makes her a character type that hasn’t been exploited: someone trying to become a good friend that’s completely asocial.

That, in my opinion, was by far the best part of this episode and, thus far, of Season Six and Starlight Glimmer’s character development as a whole. It’s episodes like this that moved me from “hating” Starlight to “tolerating” her.

On top of all that, to be honest, she and Trixie play off of each other very well. The scenes with the two of them together are nice and, occasionally, even cute and sweet. Having Starlight on the show is ironically also a good way to have more Trixie on the show, if that’s you’re thing. I just keep smiling at the fact that it means old-school anime voice actors Kelly Sheridan and Kathleen Barr now have an opportunity to be in a show together. It nearly made this episode great…

But remember that “Paradox of Starlight Glimmer” I mentioned?

Twilight Sparkle is pretty bad in this episode. Unfortunately, her behavior doesn’t just come off as not trusting her student to make the right decision, which would have been fairly bad but understandable. The fact that she brings three individuals she pre-selected to the dinner with Princess Celestia and talks about her own status as a teacher makes her look like she’s only interested in this assignment, and possibly Starlight Glimmer as a whole, to make herself look good…which is no better than what Trixie was doing. That’s pretty negative, and combined with the fact that Starlight Glimmer herself is highlighted in this episode, and we had that effect I mentioned earlier about how people hate something just for Starlight being in it. The fact that it looks like Starlight was being praised while Twilight was being cast into the mud not only made this episode disliked by some but outright despised. (Especially if you don’t like Trixie.)

But if you can overlook the paradox and chalk that bit up to poor decisions on writing, this episode is very good and the most solid so far (possibly in all of Season Six) of the episodes that are trying to warm up the audience to the humble-and-penitent Starlight Glimmer. It also helps naturally set up the season finale, and not in a forced way.

So…what the heck. I rate it the highest episode this season so far.

Fun Facts:

The banners that Twilight sets up appear to have Princess Celestia on one and…Starlight Glimmer on the other…for some reason…

Angel Bunny loves Starlight Glimmer. You can pretty much write your own joke for that. :X

Trixie’s initial appearance is pretty well-hidden, right down to not having her wearing the normal green facial for the spa but a pink one instead.

Trixie Lulamoon appears in three episodes this season (this one plus both halves of “To Where and Back Again”), meaning she appears more times in Season Six than in the rest of the series as a whole. (Her only other appearances are in Season One’s “Boast Busters” and Season Three’s “Magic Duel”, although her human counterpart has appeared in all four Equestria Girls movies and had a spoken line in all except “Friendship Games”.)

Trixie’s various titles for herself in this episode include “the Great and Powerful Trixie”, “the Humble and Penitent Trixie”, “the Pathetic and Friendless Trixie”, and “the Pate and Growerful Triskie”. 😛

While it was somewhat hinted at in “Magic Duel”, this episode establishes that, contrary to how she was depicted in “Boast Busters”, Trixie really isn’t that good at magic at all. Rather, her special talent is in “stage magic”; the ability to make herself appear to be great at magic.

Hoofdini is obviously a parody of Harry Houdini, an illusionist and, more famously, an escape artist.

I’m sure the poster that Trixie uses is a parody of a more well-known magician, but…I’m not up on magicians so I have no idea who. 😦

The DJ pony has been fan-named Vinyl Scratch although the name DJ-Pon-3 (pronounced “DJ Pony”) has been thrown around as well. This episode made it canon that her official name is DJ-Pon-3 but, similar to Derpy/Muffins, good luck getting fans to stop calling her Vinyl Scratch.

As another rare appearance, this is only the third time Cranky Doodle Donkey has appeared in an episode.

At the dinner, Derpy is filling up on muffins, naturally.

Fluttershy is terrified of the manticore, which is kind of odd considering how she reacted to one way back in the pilot episode.

Trixie’s attempt to continue the Manticore Moonbeam Mouth Dive without Starlight’s help is the closest the show has ever come to depicting a suicide attempt.

Trixie’s apology to Starlight is the first time in the series she has ever said “please”.

Anyone else notice that Starlight let Trixie spend a couple seconds in the manticore’s stomach before saving her?

While Fluttershy appears in multiple scenes in this episode and Andrea Libman provides the voice of Pinkie Pie, she has no lines.

Princess Celestia has no lines in this episode except for a sigh. 😛

Once again, no normal ending theme.

Rating:

3.5 Stars out of 5

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