Twilight Sparkle gets a letter from Shining Armor reigniting their old sibling rivalry feud for “Sibling Supreme”; a weekly contest that they participated in as foals for gold stars in their household, in which the winner would be awarded a special tin foil crown for the week. Apparently, the last winner of the contest was Shining Armor, and he’s held the crown for years, but now is hosting an opportunity for Twilight to win it forever by testing out the improved security measures he’s been called in to design by Princess Celestia for Canterlot Castle. Twilight’s task is to somehow break into the castle and steal the crown without getting caught in spite of the enhanced security. To accomplish this, she calls in the rest of the Mane Six and Spike to help and initially crafts a plan designed to play to all of their strengths. Unfortunately, soon after making the plan, Shining Armor sends her a letter outlining how he expects Twilight’s plan perfectly, making her sink into despair. Rarity suggests an alternative: she does nothing while the rest of the girls make their own plans to get in an take the crown. Unfortunately, those end up in disaster and nearly culminate with the girls getting caught. Nevertheless, in spite of the failure, Spike suggests that Twilight try her original plan anyway as no one is better at making plans than her, and the girls manage to successfully infiltrate Canterlot and make it to the throne room. However, before Twilight can claim the crown, Shining Armor and Celestia pop out and catch her in the act. Yet before they can claim victory, Spike, much to everyone’s surprise, produces the crown. It turns out Spike, who always wanted to be considered the “younger brother” of Twilight’s family, decided to participate himself. He ended up collaborating with Princess Luna, who was upset at Celestia for calling in Shining Armor in the first place, to steal the crown for Spike to represent the one threat he hadn’t considered: a threat from within. Celestia (grudgingly) admits Luna’s point, and, on noticing how much Spike wanted to be a member of the family, both Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor declare Spike to be “Sibling Supreme”.
For the 100th episode milestone, we got the spectacle fan-service episode that was “Slice of Life”, which focused on all the background ponies. No one really knew what to expect for episode 200, although I certainly expected something fantastic, grand, wild, and unexpected as that one.
Well…I didn’t get that, but what I did get was something unique but also pretty good and fun.
What makes this episode unique is that the story was the brain-child not of the series’ normal compliment of writers but of the voice actors for the Mane Six and Spike. That makes this episode a rather interesting experience to say the least. In a sense, it sort of ties into the main plot of this episode, which was something unexplored until now. Spike was raised by Twilight and grew up in her house along with Shining Armor, but until now the series has regarded him mostly either as Twilight’s closest friend or even as a servant at some level. It hasn’t really explored the intriguing idea, as well as the sensible one, that Spike would think of himself as a member of the family too, even if Twilight and Shining Armor both neglect to reciprocate those feelings at all times. In the same way, the voice actors breathe a lot of the life into the series, but it’s the writers and animators who are responsible for most of the story and world of MLP:FIM. Perhaps, in a sense, they too felt like they were the “odd sibling out” and longed for a chance to make an input on the world they helped bring into existence. This episode finally provided a way for that to happen.
I’m not sure how much of the episode went through redesign and overhaul between the ideas from the voice actors and the final show version, especially since I’m not sure how much the voice actors had to be aware of the continuity of this season (of which there is quite a bit in this episode), but the end result was some of the better quality the show has to offer. This episode hits all the high marks for a good all-around episode. Even though it splits among the Mane Six, each of them gets a little moment to shine (except maybe Fluttershy…but this season would more than make up for that). It has plenty of nice humor and fun both in terms of the straight content as well as the visuals. And more than that, as mentioned before, it offers some insight into Spike and his character that we’ve not seen before but makes sense. It even had a call back to Maud Pie and Zephyr Breeze. (The latter was never my favorite…but I know a lot of people like him and we got to see Rainbow Dash forced into an uncomfortable and amusing situation with him.)
It has a few bits and piece of it that are a little “off-the-wall”, such as Applejack’s spontaneous fake story about Apple Chord and Luna’s Bond-villain-esque pose toward the end, which at times make the episode feel a tiny bit unconventional and not in the same vein as the rest of the series, but those are nothing too crazy. All in all, this is a nice all-around episode. Cute, fun, and an easy recommendation for a good all-around episode for everyone.
It’s a pity it came so late in the series. We might have been able to use a few more story ideas from the voice actors. 🙂
Since this episode is centered around a heist, its title is a knockoff of “Ocean’s Eleven”.
The 200th episode of the series.
As mentioned in the review, this episode is unique in that the story was not by any of the show’s normal writers but by the primary voice actors for the Mane Six and Spike: Tara Strong (Twilight Sparkle), Ashleigh Ball (Applejack and Rainbow Dash), Andrea Libman (Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie), Tabitha St. Germain (Rarity), and Cathy Weseluck (Spike), although it’s fair to note the actual episode itself was written by Nicole Dubuc and Josh Haber. I don’t know about most of them, but I know Tabitha St. Germain had been writing fan episodes (and performing them at cons) for years. (On a personal note, after attending one of her fan episode readings myself, she seems to be more of a fan of sight gags than the other writers in the series. Hence, I’ll dare to say the bit with Princess Luna petting the goose was all her. :P)
On the second viewing, there’s actually numerous nods throughout the episode to Spike and Princess Luna collaborating on the heist, many of which are rather subtle.
Starlight brings up a bit of a disturbing idea. What if Twilight’s obsessive compulsiveness was partially a result of her parents encouraging her to compete for being the “best kid”? On the second viewing, this actually raises a lot of questions about bad parenting…
One bit of a plot hole… Shining Armor says part of the deal is that the individual who steals the crown also has to get out again. Spike never manages that.
Twilight’s “FOR-EV-ER” calls to mind the same face she makes for “PUD-DING” in “The Best Gift Ever”. (Another one I still need to get to…)
Just as a side note, all of Shining Armor’s security is only good for preventing theft or secretive break-ins into the castle. An outright invasion, on the other hand, would still go on without a hitch…and it did in “The Ending of the End”. 😛
During Pinkie Pie’s part of the “plan”, while panning through space, a small planet is passed with tiny volcanoes that is being overtaken by baobab trees. This is an allusion to “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
When challenged about her story about Apple Chord, Applejack’s face begins to look like her infamous “Applejack lying” expression from “The Return of Harmony”. Honesty indeed, Applejack. 😛
The return of Fluttershy’s ninja costume from “Magic Duel”. Spike has his own version now.
So…Pinkie can exhale helium. Or at least very hot air. 😛
Another episode that doesn’t end with the closing theme. Instead, it plays the music from the “heist”.
4 Stars out of 5