Starlight Glimmer has been excelling in her magic lessons with Princess Twilight Sparkle, but now is nerve-wracked again when Twilight leaves for a lecture in Canterlot for the day and leaves her behind to have a friendship lesson of her own. In spite of intentionally avoiding these lessons, she decides to show herself off as a pro by handling five of them, one with each of the other members of the Mane Six, at once. However, shortly into trying to organize it, she becomes frustrated with the differences in personalities and requirements, and ends up resorting to using a spell to turn the five into mindless drones obedient to her will. Unfortunately, she ends up not thinking carefully about the directions she’s giving them, which they now mindlessly execute, and soon the entire Castle of Friendship is a disaster area…right as Twilight comes home. After undoing the spell and sending everyone else home, Twilight confronts Starlight and explains how the lesson wasn’t supposed to be about how skillfully she could handle doing tasks with the five of them but about building a relationship with them by doing things they liked to do, and says her next friendship lesson is an “advanced” one: apologizing. Starlight meets with the sore and upset Mane Five and gives a sincere apology; enough to where they agree to lend a hand with the cleanup around the Castle of Friendship. Once done, Twilight congratulates her on accomplishing her friendship lessons, and she realizes that by participating individually with each girl in cleaning up parts of the castle, she’s actually built relationships with them. The episode ends with Starlight, Twilight, and the others “chillax”ing on the roof.
This is just my opinion…but I think this episode is the ultimate “litmus test” for Starlight Glimmer. If you can get through this episode and still, oddly enough, see some interest and, dare I say it, positive qualities to her character…then you’ll be able to handle her for however long she’s in the series. I never thought I’d say that about an episode like this, but hopefully this will show you why.
If you dislike Starlight Glimmer and you go into this episode intending to continue to dislike her, that’s a shame because you’ll never get past the surface of this episode. Externally, it merely looks like an episode where Starlight Glimmer does something rather (admittedly) bad to almost all of the Mane Six and is able to get away with it at the end. But there’s really a lot more to it than that.
First of all, if you’re able to look past the action itself and toward the humor in it, this episode is one of the funniest this season. The reactions of the brainwashed Mane Five are genuinely amusing, especially with the eyeballs drifting and the mechanical way of responding to everything. On the second viewing, I first realized that Applejack’s scrapbook memories are all knockoffs of movies, and the one with “Predator” was hilarious.
Second of all, and, again, I can’t believe I’m saying this…but…I actually sympathize with Starlight Glimmer in this episode. I’m an Aspie myself. When it comes to social situations, I shy away from them as best I can. When I do go to them, I tend to focus only on the things I know because I don’t know how to react or what to do with things I don’t know about. I rattle on about science, programming, old video games, and even my MLP:FIM fandom because that’s all I know, and if no one else knows about those things it quickly gets awkward. There are times I’ve wished, deep down inside, that I could somehow get everyone to talk about the things I wanted to talk about. And yes, I often “miss the point” in things like this myself.
Third, and even more surprising than my last point, but…this episode is the first in Season Six to finally “nail” Starlight Glimmer. You’ve heard my complaints about other episodes this season; about how Starlight has been turned into Twilight to make her more appealing rather than trying to make a connection between her villainous self in Season Five and the character we see now. This episode treats her character as something I could never see done with her at the end of Season Five: believably.
In the beginning of this episode, Starlight has that residual “smugness” about her when she’s showing off her magic in front of Twilight. It carries over into when she’s doing her lessons; masking her own fears and inadequacies with an air of superiority and false confidence. When she meets with the five girls, she makes her same old mistakes: refuses to listen to them or their individual personality needs and instead tries to handle everything the way she thinks is best, ultimately culminating in the spell. And when all is said and done, where does she think she screwed up? With the spell…not with what she actually did. It’s not until Twilight spells it out to her that she realizes her problem. And even when she does and does “the right thing”, she still doesn’t realize she still fulfilled the friendship goals at the end.
This isn’t perfect and there’s still some gaps, but an episode like this actually serves to make up for some of the deficits of the Season Five finale. No, Starlight isn’t the best character. She isn’t that great of a person. She’s still more flawed than the other characters. But…she’s believably trying. She has a long way to go, but you can now see her walking down the path believably rather than simply already halfway down the road automatically.
People who despise Starlight Glimmer despise this episode, and, admittedly, for good reason. But as for me personally? I dare say, from a certain point of view, it might actually be the best episode of Season Six.
The animators had a LOT of fun animating pony pupils moving around in their eye sockets this episode. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them do it this much.
Starlight Glimmer’s room has a framed picture of an equal sign…crossed out. 😛
Similar to the situation in “The Crystalling” (and, actually, in “The Cutie Re-Mark”), this episode solidifies the idea of “spell-combining”, which Starlight uses to create new spells with new effects.
Applejack’s description of family events correspond to lines and scenes in movies, including “Jaws”, “Predator”, “Braveheart”, and “Spider-Man”.
Ah, the one thing Starlight Glimmer can’t do: bake cake. (Remembers “No Second Prances”) …At least, without using magic. On that note, Pinkie Pie might be the only character in the series who ever held a grudge against Starlight Glimmer…even if only for a few minutes of “show time”.
First appearance of the rooftop pavilion of the Castle of Friendship.
4 Stars out of 5