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Synopsis:

The Humane Seven are headed to the Starswirl Music Festival for a camper trip of two days of fun and concerts. Sunset Shimmer and Pinkie Pie are both particularly eager to see a pop duo named Post Crush, who have gotten together for a reunion tour after seemingly breaking up. Day one of the event arrives, and Sunset is eager to get a front row seat with Pinkie. Unfortunately, Pinkie keeps getting too excited about the other events at the festival and keeps dragging Sunset to one distraction after another; culminating in ruining a churro stand that gets both thrown out of the festival completely and miss the Post Crush concert. Angry at Pinkie, Sunset says she wishes she could do the day over again…this time alone. Yet on getting up for the second day, she is stunned to see that the events of the first day are repeating, and she realizes she’s gone back to the festival’s first day.

As Sunset keeps seeing events that have repeated, she confides in Twilight that she’s reliving yesterday. After proving it by predicting the various mishaps that Pinkie’s distractions will cause, Twilight states that Sunset appears to be in a time loop. Concluding that this is the result of Equestrian magic and her wish to redo the previous day for a second chance to see Post Crush, Sunset decides not to mess it up but, unfortunately, in spite of Sunset’s warnings Pinkie again loses control at the churro stand and causes the same accident to get her and Sunset thrown out. However, the next morning Sunset sees that day one of the festival is again repeating itself, which she takes as her third chance. Determined not to waste it, quickly and without any explanation, she ditches Pinkie and gets a spot at the front of the stage. She ends up getting the best place in the festival to see the concert (albeit without Pinkie) and declares it a “perfect day” when she gets K-Lo’s guitar pick.

In spite of enjoying the concert, the girls are upset at Sunset ditching Pinkie while Pinkie herself is emotionally distraught that Sunset abandoned her, but brushing it off she heads to bed…only to wake up the next morning still on day one of the concert. Over two weeks pass, but every day keeps repeating itself exactly the same, much to Sunset’s misery. Finally, she hijacks the RV after everyone goes to sleep in an attempt to escape the time loop by driving away from the concert, but she ends up wrecking it. When explaining her problem to Twilight she repeats how she thought this was the result of a wish to see Post Crush, but when she accidentally shows that she hasn’t asked Pinkie Pie once for advice in all of the loops and she suggests she ask the Equestrian Twilight Sparkle, Twilight suggests that this isn’t just about Sunset’s wish. The “next” day, Sunset writes to Twilight, who returns that the looping is a result of the Time Twirler relic being lost in the human world; but also that the relic can only operate through conscious choice–meaning someone has it and has been using it to repeat the day endlessly. Sunset and the girls are stumped at first as to who it could be, until they realize that the festival has a last-minute addition to its roster of acts: the Dazzlings.

Unfortunately, the girls can’t confront the Dazzlings as their backstage passes don’t take effect until the second day. Pinkie, again ignoring Sunset, attempts to get by the security guard by talking with him, but on bringing up how he was fired from his last job at a pet event by trying to take a kitten home with him she makes him angry enough to get all the girls banned from the festival. Sunset, however, decides to do something different and rather than get upset at Pinkie uses her idea to bribe her way past the security guard with a new kitten matching the description when the day is repeated. Nevertheless, Pinkie messes up again when she’s once more distracted by churros instead of keeping watch while Sunset checks the Dazzlings’ tour “bus” for the Time Twirler. Sunset ends up confronting them, but on grabbing Adagio’s arm she finds out she knows nothing about the Time Twirler, leaving her back at square one. Sunset ends up blowing her stack about Pinkie’s continuous sabotage and being stuck reliving the same day forever, which Pinkie overhears and which causes her to run off in tears, and the Dazzlings, before driving off, mockingly suggest that if every day’s the same perhaps Sunset is the one who needs to change.

On seeing how much she hurt Pinkie Pie’s feelings, Sunset realizes she’s been thinking too much of herself over the repeated days and decides that Pinkie deserves a “perfect day”. When the loop resets, she devotes herself to doing everything Pinkie wants, including going with her to all the things she was previously distracted by and culminating at the end of the day by getting her the churros she wanted. In doing so, the two manage to overhear Puffed Pasty’s deliveryman quit, and end up getting an opportunity to see Post Crush backstage by filling in for him. However, on making the delivery, Su-Z accidentally slips that she was expecting the deliveryman; prompting Sunset into tricking K-Lo into shaking her hand. On doing so, she learns that the two are the ones with the Time Twirler, and in a desire to make their comeback performance perfect they have been resetting every single day in an attempt to remove every tiny defect that keeps arising during the concert, and refuse to stop until the performance is perfect. However, on realizing Sunset is also aware that the days have been reset and will try to stop them, they get her and Pinkie kicked out of the festival once again, and this time plan to notify security on each repeated day to ban them from re-entry.

Sunset and Pinkie nearly try to break in again using a churro, but the security guard ends up relenting after Sunset treated him respectfully earlier that day. The two end up confronting Post Crush backstage before they go on, and, after a wild struggle, the four accidentally set off the lift to get them on stage just as Sunset smashes the Time Twirler. K-Lo laments that their comeback is ruined, until Sunset points out the crowd is still cheering for them to perform and points out how it’s not important that everything goes perfectly; but that they have fun performing together. Realizing their mistake, Post Crush does one more performance and is met with raucous cheers and applause; prompting them to invite Sunset and Pinkie to join them in playing on stage. Following the performance, they toss their guitar pick to them both, but this time Sunset gives it to Pinkie and gets a selfie with the four of them. The next day, a relieved Sunset and Pinkie wake up to find it’s the second day of the music festival and are ready to handle whatever it brings.

Review:

At the time of writing this, the series finale aired two days ago. While at one point I considered the possibility that Equestria Girls might outlive the main series, that was dashed shortly after this special aired on television. When the holiday shorts air as a compilation at the start of November, it will be the final page both of Equestria Girls and the original MLP:FIM franchise as a whole.

Therefore, I’ll consider this episode individually and sum up the series in this review.

Overall, I think this special did better than “Spring Breakdown”. The characters and interactions were far more realistic and the plot flowed better. In many ways, it seems as if the show’s creators realized a lot went wrong with “Spring Breakdown” and so they deferred back to what worked in “Forgotten Friendship” and earlier in the series. The plot again focuses on the original character, Sunset Shimmer, actual villains are present again, it still relies a bit on the Equestrian element with a scene with pony Twilight, and, as a final note, it actually brought back the Dazzlings. Being far and away the most popular villains of the Equestria Girls franchise, and also having a perfect opportunity to reintroduce them during a music festival, seemed like a good way to attract more of the crowd who had been into “Rainbow Rocks”.

Also, while the idea of a “Groundhog Day” scenario, in which a character is stuck endlessly reliving the same day, is widely recognized it has not yet been overdone. That made for an interesting plot with the opportunity to do something new and interesting, and, for at least some of the part, the writers utilized it well at points.

Unfortunately, to me, this seems like too little too late. If Equestria Girls was a normal franchise with regular episodes and relied on those instead of its periodic Youtube shorts, this might have been fine or even good. Since it’s a series that relies on specials, however, this fell victim to many of the same series fallacies of under-utilization of concepts and, most of all, the dreaded “muddled moral”.

I can understand how, given the audience, they wouldn’t want Sunset to spend months or even years reliving the same day. To be honest, to make the plot work out the way it did, the number of repeated days had to be numerous but also of a fairly limited duration. Unfortunately, based on that and time constraints, it didn’t give as much opportunity for things to happen as possible. I still think they did a pretty good job with what they had in this regard, though, so that’s just a minor gripe.

More problematic is that the Dazzlings returned only to pretty much be a glorified cameo. Not only were they one of the series’ only solid villains, in spite of my personal gripes that their personalities were too much the same people seemed to enjoy them quite a bit. So it’s a bit of a letdown that not only are they there pretty much just to pad the runtime, but what makes it worse is that they almost look like they’re in a morally superior position to Sunset at one point.

That leads to the worst part of this special: the infamous muddled moral. The lesson in this one was supposed to be that Sunset was, at worst, being thoughtless and selfish by only caring about having a good time herself or, at best, forgetting that part of the enjoyment was supposed to be sharing the experience with a friend. However, not only is this an odd choice (it’s been clear in the series up until now that Sunset is closer to Sci-Twi rather than Pinkie), but the fact was Pinkie was constantly acting thoughtless and, in many instances, ruined the event for both of them. Not once in any of the daily iterations did she ever show enough self-restraint to not go after the churros, no matter if Sunset warned her or not.

The end result is that this special suffers from what I’ll call the “Mabel Pines Effect”: a faulty storyline in which a minor negative trait about a character is highlighted and confronted at the expense of a different character’s equal-or-worse character trait being upheld. I don’t care much for these because it’s one of the easiest ways to take an otherwise likable character and quickly turn their quirks into negatives, as other characters not only act to call out the flaws but magnify them.

Another flaw is that Post Crush are easily the most lackluster villains of the entire franchise, if you can even call them that. It had been clear at this point in the series we’d be lucky if we ever saw anything else on the level of the villains from the original movies, but I’d argue at least with characters like Vignette Valencia, Juniper Montage, and, standing a bit above either of those too, Wallflower Blush, we at least got into their heads a bit and saw they had something of a personality other than being a plot device for the latest Equestrian MacGuffin. There was none of that here, and adding the Dazzlings as glorified cameos only made that worse by teasing the audience with real villains.

Like with most Equestria Girls entries, there are some cute moments between Sunset and Pinkie Pie, and some of the repetitions Sunset goes through end up being pretty entertaining. I liked how they handled the interactions with the security guard in a somewhat silly way and yet didn’t go over the top like other children’s programs would. Other members of the Mane Six get left by the wayside but, if I had to choose between omitting them and forcefully inserting them as “Spring Breakdown” did, I’ll choose this. In short…it’s a fairly average note to go out on, which is kind of a crime in and of itself for the franchise but it is what it is.

And now that Equestria Girls has come to an end, my final words on the series as a whole…

“Equestria Girls” came out when “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” was at the height of its popularity and more fans seemed to be joining every day. The fact that it got its own toy marketing campaign and was translated into multiple languages over multiple countries while the original series was not makes it pretty clear to me that Hasbro was trying to cash in on the Brony fandom as well as the rush of other “magical girl” series and toy franchises that were popular at the time, such as “Monster High” and Disney’s “Faeries”, by creating something that didn’t have a pony and, therefore, childish stigma attached to it. To this day, the fan community is split between those who hate it and those who…tolerate it. Nevertheless, it has some stand-out aspects to it many fans admired.

While to this day I think the peak of the franchise was shared with “Friendship Games”, it’s almost universally agreed that the franchise hit its high point with “Rainbow Rocks” and, since then, it’s either stagnated or gone downhill from there. That was when the show’s staff was running on all eight cylinders and veterans from the main series were still largely helming it, to say nothing of Daniel Ingram turning in possibly his best songwriting work.

For me personally, I was never as much of a fan of it as I was of the main series, but it was at this time that I felt it had potential. No one was a fan of the original movie, and yet I myself have tried to encourage people who really didn’t like that one to at least give “Rainbow Rocks” a chance because they managed to do what they did with the core series in first episode: made something out of material that was never designed to be more than toy commercials. They took no one’s favorite villain and made her endearing, heroic, and showed that, for as bland as everyone thought she was, there actually was a reason she was once Princess Celestia’s star pupil and she had more in common with Twilight than either of them thought. I thought of it as a potential new beginning. A chance at a fresh start with something new. If the trend kept going, I could actually see the series one day possibly having the longevity of the main one. Perhaps it might even surpass it.

Instead, the series has progressively gotten lazier and lazier, having unremarkable style and even less substance as time has passed. After a brief resurgence with “Forgotten Friendship”, it seems clear to me that the only reason the franchise survived this long was because Hasbro was struggling to make it work.

The primary thing that caused the slow death of Equestria Girls is that it never knew what it wanted to be: a magical girl series or something more in the line with relationship drama like its source series. Because it tried to be both at the same time, it failed at both.

As a magical girl series, it relied too much on almost constant levity. What little drama was around was saved for the specials, and almost always the “villains”, who more often than not were regular folks who stumbled across Equestrian magical artifacts, were uncharismatic, usually unsympathetic, and ultimately uninteresting. To try and keep the silly, light-hearted, and energetic feel, there were progressively less of the serious or more dire moments that would characterize a true magical girl series. Moments where a character’s resolve or fortitude is challenged, or when things looked truly bleak and hopeless not only for the characters but for the world. Those moments mostly vanished completely following “Legend of Everfree”. From then on in, we’d mostly see the girls making pet play dates, working at a mall (malls are still around…?), or doing online videos….in other words, pure fluff. That’s not to say there wasn’t a place for that, but if you’re going for a magical girl series it can’t derail it completely.

Yet the franchise failed even harder as a relationship drama. The true potential that the Equestria Girls franchise had was that it had an opportunity to take the Mane Six and put them in situations that could test them in ways they would never see in Equestria. As teenage human girls, what constrains the girls, what motivates them, what’s important to them, and how society impacts them is vastly different than it would be if they were ponies. I liked “Friendship Games” because it dealt with the very real impact of peer pressure and manipulative power structures within education; something the ponies would never have to deal with. That’s part of the reason I liked it in ways more than “Rainbow Rocks”. As much as people hated Flash Sentry, having Twilight Sparkle get romantically infatuated with someone was actually something new. It was something that forced Twilight to deal with feelings she had never felt before and, if it hadn’t been so cliched and contrived, that too could have had potential.

It never capitalized on this. Instead…we got fluff. All the girls ever do is go on activities where there’s no pressure, no struggles, just them supposed to be relaxing and having fun. While the main series was dealing with topics of tough love, manipulative people, prejudice, and doing the right thing even when no reward will be offered…Equestria Girls sent the Humane Seven to camp, to the movies, to an amusement park, and to a music festival.

This isn’t the Mane Six. The Humane Six is the most stereotypical, sanitized, “tea party” version of the Mane Six you could think of, because none of them are ever pressured to grow. In fact, the way the series is set up, they can’t grow because they need to stay in high school forever. That, in turn, makes them figurative reflections of the true Mane Six. They never do anything new or different. They’re never challenged. All they do is hang out and do activities and occasionally have to deal with some magical object.

Part of the reason Sunset Shimmer became a stand-out character is because she was the only character in this franchise that had to experience growth and change. She’s the only character who we don’t have a better version to compare to. She actually had to go through moments that tested her and pushed her, both in “Rainbow Rocks” and “Forgotten Friendship”. To give credit where credit is due, Sci-Twi is also somewhat more interesting because she’s actually different from the Equestrian Twilight. You know she’s not going to react to a situation the same way that the main series Twilight would. Yet it was all too little and left by the wayside.

The main series had its nine seasons of longevity because, in spite of losing fans and support over the years, the writers continued to push the characters in new directions and continued to expand the universe as the years went by. The final episode itself stressed that change and growth is inevitable but it doesn’t mean you have to give up the relationships you love so long as you’re willing to work at them. It is now four years since “Friendship Games”, and the Humane Seven are still exactly where they were at the end of that movie.  That’s pretty telling.

If the rumor is true that G5 does try to tie some aspects of both the EG universe and the MLP:FIM universe together, I, for one, won’t mind seeing more Sunset Shimmer, as not seeing her show up in the “Portals”-like sequence in the finale of the main series was one of my big regrets. As for the rest of it, this is one franchise I’m not terribly sad to see put out to pasture.

Fun Facts:

The day after the full special aired on Discovery Family Network, the Equestria Girls franchise was canceled and all future projects scrapped–making this the series’ unofficial “final episode”, although the Holiday Shorts would still get aired in a package after the main series finale.

As with most of the longer Equestria Girls specials, there had been a series of Youtube shorts leading up to this for weeks; although the schedule for the release of the shorts was accelerated following the franchise cancellation.

Post Crush’s full titles are Kiwi Lolipop (K-Lo) and Supernova Zap (Su-Z).

Pinkie store all the candies Sunset leaves as bait in her mane…er, hair.

I can’t remember if they named the chef in “Spring Breakdown”, but in this one Pinkie calls her Puffed Pastry. Apparently, she’s gotten a demotion from chef for a luxury cruiser to running a churro stand. 😛 And this is the second time Pinkie’s inability to contain herself around her treats has resulted in misfortune (although in all fairness things went wrong due to Rainbow Dash last time).

One of the big plot holes of this episode is that Sunset is the only one other than Post Crush who notices that time repeats. It’s never really stated or explained why.

The problem Post Crush committed on the day Sunset actually saw the concert was a too-loud cymbal crash.

In a bit of a nod all the way back to Season One’s infamous “Party of One”, Pinkie Pie “replaces” Sunset with a fake Sunset when she ends up ditched. At least Pinkie doesn’t go flat-maned.

“What is the point of throwing shade if no one’s there to catch it?” The way Tabitha St. Germain punctuates the “t” on the end of that sentence is one of my favorite line deliveries by her in the series. 🙂

Obviously, this episode takes a lot of inspiration from an increasingly-more-frequent style of episode modeled after “Groundhog Day”; in which a character is stuck endlessly repeating the same day. Eventually it reaches the point where, as in the original movie, Sunset predicts what’s going to happen. And similar to that movie, the solution ends up being the affected character making the most out of that one day.

Based on how the episode plays out, Sunset spends a grand total of reliving the same day 20 times.

When Sunset breaks the RV, Applejack acts like…a jack. 😛

How are the Dazzlings able to get any crowds? Using vocal processing aside, everyone in the human world knows they’re really monsters from another dimension… Anyway, they can apparently survive off of eating food normally.

Sonata has a taco on her own outfit. Following “Rainbow Rocks”, it became fancanon that Sonata loves tacos following her “taco Tuesday” line.

Technically, Sunset cheated to win the bicycle… :X

Sunset tries to trick Post Crush into shaking her hand, but there’s really no need. One of them shows off the Time Twirler in her hair band as she turns around.

Apparently, Post Crush keeps extra drums and guitars on standby.

Rating:

1.5 Stars out of 5