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Synopsis:

Following the events of “Movie Magic”, Juniper Montage is unhappily working at a movie theater job at Canterlot Mall, growing increasingly unhinged and convinced that she could have been Daring Do in the upcoming movie and that the Rainbooms are to blame for all of her problems. While shirking work, she accidentally comes across a hand mirror that has been exposed to loose Equestrian magic, which shows her reflection as a glamorous movie star loved by all. Meanwhile, the girls are excited about the premiere of the film and their chance to see themselves on screen, but Sunset Shimmer is worried about their new powers and what it means for the future. While obsessing and writing to Twilight Sparkle, she realizes she’s almost out of space in her old journal, so Twilight writes for her to return to Equestria to pick up a new one. She does so only to find that the Mane Six have been called off on a friendship problem; leaving Starlight Glimmer behind. On seeing she is both bored and curious about the human world, Sunset decides to take Starlight back with her for a short visit. During this time, the rest of the girls stop by the movie theater as Juniper is growing increasingly obsessed with the mirror. Angry at seeing them, she accidentally says she wishes the girls would disappear; sucking them into a limbo within the mirror and trapping them there. Meanwhile, while Sunset and Starlight are looking for the girls, and Starlight ends up helping Sunset deal with her own worries about the future, they come up to the theater and spot that Juniper has Fluttershy’s hair barrette, which was dropped when she was trapped. Sunset uses her own tactile empathy to learn what happened as well as the fact Juniper wanted to be Daring Do so that people would notice her, yet her attempts to reason with her fall on deaf ears as she traps Sunset too. Unfortunately, uniting the seven geodes in the mirror causes a burst of Equestrian magic to transform Juniper into a giant humanoid monster obsessed with everyone idolizing her. Starlight confronts her and manages to get the mirror away from her, but in doing so accidentally cracks it, and as she struggles to escape Juniper’s wrath the mirror begins to fall apart; correspondingly beginning to destroy the dimension the girls are trapped in. She tries to reason with Juniper as well, saying what she really wants is a friend, causing her to confess that what she really fears is that no one will ever pardon what she’s done. When Starlight assures her the girls will forgive her, Juniper wishes “to make things right”, releasing the girls and restoring herself. Given their own pasts, Sci-Twi, Sunset, and Starlight all accept her apology along with the girls, and Starlight soon gets some good news as the first entry Twilight makes in the new journal is for her to enjoy her stay in the human world a few more days.

Review:

This was the most eagerly anticipated entry in the specials as soon as it was revealed the human version of Starlight Glimmer would be in them. I myself thought it would mean that the next villain would be the human Starlight Glimmer, and knowing how good of a villain she had been in Equestria I expected something astonishing. I eventually got that corrected when more teaser images came out, revealing that this was the Equestrian Starlight Glimmer turned into a human, but by then I was even more excited on seeing that Sunset Shimmer would return to Equestria briefly and we’d get to see her in pony form again.

So if I had to sum this special up in one word for me personally, it would be…disappointment.

I had been waiting on pins and needles ever since “Rainbow Rocks” for Sunset Shimmer to make a return to Equestria. Maybe it would be an episode where the Equestrian Mane Six would need her help. Maybe it would be when she wanted to atone for what she had done. What I was really hoping for was for her to meet up with Princess Celestia again for what I felt would be a heartwarming scene, where Sunset would finally apologize to her and Celestia would say that her original “favorite student” had finally made her proud. I even thought it would have been wild if Sunset would have returned and found herself turned into an alicorn following the events of “Friendship Games”. Heck, I was even looking forward to her reaction on meeting the Equestrian Mane Six.

And what did I end up getting? She pops into the Castle of Friendship to reenact Twilight’s schtick from the original Equestria Girls…and that’s it, mostly. By far, that was the biggest letdown of this episode. So much wasted potential and scenes…for that.

Now on to Starlight Glimmer…

As I’ll touch on when I finally get to Season Seven, when the prospect of Starlight Glimmer actually leaving the cast at the season premiere reared its head…I surprised myself when I realized I didn’t want her to go, meaning I had not only finally accepted Starlight as a cast member but actually liked having her in the cast. That said, I still would have preferred her as a villain in this one. Even if she would have been redeemed, I would have felt it was a chance to do her redemption “right”.

Instead, she comes in to save everyone again. Ok…I’ll accept it somewhat this time because that was pretty much Chekhov’s Gun. They weren’t going to bring Starlight in unless she was going to save everyone, but I’m still unhappy about how it relegates everyone else to the sideline. The one who gets the worst is Sunset Shimmer. She already has the most “useless” power. While one could plausibly make the argument Starlight overheard the few things she said after grabbing Juniper and so her power did end up helping, Starlight is also ingenious enough to deduce these things from the way Juniper was acting, so…Sunset’s already useless power served no useful purpose. Again. :/

Speaking of which, it came as little surprise that Juniper Montage did not end up being most people’s favorite villain. She wasn’t very sympathetic in the previous special, but now even less so. As I said, she got a bigger break than she deserved, yet she blames everyone else for her own bad situation she got herself into. Her job may be menial and not too glamorous but it is something she’s getting out of sympathy rather than something she’s gotten for herself, and she’s not even handling it gratefully. She spends the bulk of this special being rather vain too, obsessing over a glamorous vision of herself. She even outright says she prefers the company of the mirror to anyone else. Now, granted, the episode was trying to say that’s a bad way to live and she might have been influenced partially by the magic at that point, but it’s still pretty high marks in terms of vanity. The audience doesn’t feel quite as good as they should for her at the end as a result, in my opinion.

And, of course, there’s the usual complaint about a lot of Equestria Girls content…all of the girls are side characters to one or two leads. Only this time Sunset and Sci-Twi both end up getting upstaged by Starlight Glimmer. It’s more pronounced in this one because they only had 22 minutes to work with one of their drama based episodes, although with the other two specials taken into account it’s not so bad.

Was there anything outstanding that was good about this episode? Well…

With this episode, I realized something about Starlight Glimmer. While she’s definitely the most magically inclined and powerful out of the girls and possibly out of the characters as a whole, she never actually uses that power to resolve situations like this. Rather, her “other” power comes into play. The same ability that Starlight used to use to manipulate and control others she can use to persuade and convince others of her point of view. Whether for good or evil, Starlight is a master at manipulation and getting others to do what she wants. This helped me to realize that this is the way Starlight prefers to deal with things.

Also, on the second viewing, I realized the resolution was a bit more satisfying that I gave it credit for. As nasty and vain as Juniper was being, it turned out the real reason she wouldn’t accept that she was the one at fault all along was because she felt to admit she had done something wrong would be akin to making her unlovable…that she didn’t deserve to have anyone pay attention to her. That would have been even worse than being ignored to her, so she had to find someone else to blame and keep blaming them. The real reason she ignored Sunset was because releasing the girls would have been admitting she had done something wrong. And the reason Starlight was able to get her to stop where Sunset couldn’t, even after she went nuts, was she said something key: she told Juniper her actions would be something she’d regret forever. That made her realize her anger was really self-hate and regret for her own bad choices and now she’d be stuck with them.

One lesson the show hasn’t really touched on yet was the problem some people have (adults more than kids) in which they believe if anyone knew the truth about their pasts or who they are that they’ll be unlovable, leading them to live fake and ultimate self-destructive lives. This episode…only kind of brushed on it, but it did touch on it a little.

But even then, this special was the most “confused” of the set to me. It looked like it didn’t know if it wanted to expand the bit with Juniper Montage into another film like “Legend of Everfree” or if it wanted to serve as a way to introduce Starlight Glimmer into the Equestria Girls franchise. Aside from her serving as the deus ex machina and a couple scenes with Sunset, the latter plot doesn’t work that well. The funny thing is that Starlight Glimmer was originally accused (and still is to this day) of being the franchise’s main series’ answer to the unexpected popularity of Sunset Shimmer. The two interacting with each other was expected to be a lot wilder or more involved too, perhaps being a rivalry as both are Twilight’s “students”. Instead, the two seem to hit it off pretty readily. That could work too as they do have parallels with one another…but even that was woefully underplayed due to time constraints. There was a lot more potential for character-to-character interaction, but they had to just push it forward to get Starlight into the human world ASAP.

Ultimately I feel this episode could have been great and we ended up with “meh”. Sunset returning to Equestria is something that could have had a whole movie devoted to it. Starlight coming to the human world is something that could have had a whole movie devoted to it. Instead, Juniper, who again is not many people’s favorite Equestria Girls villain, had to take up the bulk of the screen time building to the conclusion and resolution. While I’ve rated all of these specials as average, this one was the closest to getting bumped up to 3 Stars, but it just didn’t take advantage of what it had.

Fun Facts:

Humanized Diamond Tiara and Filthy Rich are at the mall in the background at the beginning. Other humanized versions of character pop up at the mall too.

The mall is running the “Dance Magic” movie video. As near as I can tell, that’s the only real way the special ties into this.

While not a perfect likeness, the movie poster, in keeping with the fact that film is a human version of “Daring Do and the Marked Thief of Marapore”, is a bit of an adaptation of the book cover art.

Rainbow Dash has nicknamed Sunset Shimmer “Sunshim”, something that carried over from the fandom.

Hayburgers are eaten in the human world…for some reason. O_o Humans can’t even digest those. Odd when you remember “Rainbow Rocks” featured pepperoni on a pizza…which is creepy when you realize Twilight Sparkle probably ate some of that.

Sunset Shimmer’s design as a pony seems to have changed from her original appearance, but in her original brief appearance as her eyes were almost continuously narrowed and creased it’s actually hard to compare. At any rate, her own movements in Equestria are a parody of Twilight Sparkle’s own from the original movie, unable to grow accustomed to walking on for legs and not having hands. Her bag seems to “transform” into a saddlebag on crossing over into Equestria, although it could just simply be her new body anchoring it in place.

The new journal’s emblem is a combination of Sunset Shimmer’s Cutie Mark and Twilight Sparkle’s.

The fact that Starlight Glimmer says: “She wants me to learn as much as I can about friendship” indicates that this special might actually be set between Seasons Six and Seven.

Starlight Glimmer’s design is one of the more radically different from her pony version. In addition to being unusually dressed with ripped jeans and her “glimmer beanie, not to mention she gets a watch when crossing over into the human world, her hair style has a number of differences. Her eye style is rather similar to that of Aria Blaze, which might have been a hidden joke as fans were quick to pick up on the fact that Starlight Glimmer’s color palette was almost identical to hers.

There’s a meta joke in this special. At one point, Pinkie Pie grabs “the fourth wall” and says: “Nope! No wall over here!”

When Sci-Twi freezes the chocolate-covered almonds in midair, Pinkie Pie gobbles them up in a parody of Pacman.

Juniper’s transformation is figurative, similar to previous Equestria Girls villain transformations. Her desire is to be noticed, and so she turns into a giant dressed in “loud” clothing that’s impossible to not be seen. Similar to Gloriosa’s transformation, she also has sharp teeth and she becomes delusional, seeing all of the frightened mall patrons as adoring fans.

I happened to notice it didn’t take too long for Starlight to adjust to her human body, even able to perform a flip kick to knock the mirror out of Juniper’s hands. (Stifles “Pony Sue” comment…)

Pinkie Pie also addresses a leading criticism among fans: “Wow…we are a reeeeeeally forgiving group.” Nevertheless, I notice Sunset is the first to forgive Juniper, again indicating her element is Empathy.

Rating:

2.5 Stars out of 5

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