Friday, July 20, 2012

Picking Apart "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", Season 2 Episode 9

What's wrong with this episode?  It's Twilight's birthday and Rarity is the character of focus.  But as it turns out, this episode's not all that bad.  In fact, "Sweet and Elite" seems to be the best episode of the whole season.  Yep, one of the few, the proud, the tolerable...  ...Well, not at first.  So let's get to it.

Sweet and Elite
We start with Rarity staying in Canterlot for a visit and getting a magnificent room in the process, to which she gets overkill on thanking Princess Celestia.

Now here's what's puzzling.  The bellhop is struggling under the weight of Rarity's bags and he's a unicorn.  What's wrong with this picture?  Why can't he just use his magic and lift the bags effortlessly?  Or did Rarity tell him not to?  Or is there any reason why he can't use magic?

Well, no matter, because eventually we have to deal with an old issue that I grudgingly discussed in the Season 1 finale.  That's right.  Aristocracy returns.  Apparently, it's not just featured at every Grand Galloping Gala, but pretty much throughout most of Canterlot.  While Rarity is out on the town for a stroll, she is recognized by a window washer named Hayseed Turnip Truck, who addresses her as a denizen from Ponyville.  Naturally, two aristocrats, Jet Set and his wife Upper Crust, immediately deject her simply for this reason alone.  Ugh...  Good God, do these upper class twits have any respect for those below their hooves?  Apparently not.  Just like a politician.

Disgusted, Rarity decides to put together a totally fancy dress for Twilight Sparkle, which is when we learn that her birthday is arriving.  Now I'm confused as to why because of this, the episode doesn't center more around her, being the most prominent character in the whole damn series.  When other characters have birthdays episodes in various other series, we usually see more of them and fixate around them.  So in a way, this episode kind of breaks the mold at that.

Anyways, after a shopping trip, she accidentally bumps into this upper class stallion and apparently recognizes him by the name of Fancypants.  Now quite honestly, this guy just might be the most charming character in the whole series.  No wonder he's married... or if he isn't, he ought to be.  Rarity apologizes and mentions that she's staying at the castle and this, along with her knowing Celestia, gets his attention and he decides to learn more about her by inviting her to a Wonderbolts derby.  She ultimately decides to go, but it doesn't stop her from feeling torn from deciding between attending fancy matters or Twilight's birthday.  And she sings a song about her own dreams and like her last solo, it's very good.
I'll be the toast of the town, the girl on the go
I'm the type of pony everypony, everypony should know
I'll be the one to watch, the girl in the flow
I'm the type of pony everypony, everypony should know
No doubt that Sweetie Belle somehow inherited Rarity's singing talents.  Oh, and this is the other song that was nominated for "Outstanding Original Song - Children's and Animation" in the 39th Daytime Emmy Awards. 

So when other aristocrats become drawn to Rarity, possibly just because of being influenced by Fancypants, she is invited to attend his garden party.  Having come so far already, Rarity doesn't want to give up this opportunity of a lifetime, so she sends a letter to Twilight, making up an excuse that her cat Opalescence is ill and has to stay in Canterlot a little longer.
And just when she's ready to go, her friends show up right at her front door, surprising her so much that she collapses.  And of course the first thing she sees when she regains consciousness is Pinkie Pie.
Twilight explains that she asked Pinkie Pie to move her party to Canterlot so Rarity could still come, and even thought the dress made for her was technically unfinished, she says that it suits her perfectly, much to Rarity's relief.
Now having the party in Canterlot makes a lot more sense, seeing as Twilight is still technically from Canterlot, but Rarity is still jumpy over what the high society would think of her friends.  In fact, the garden party happens to be just outside the ballroom where Twilight's birthday party is being held.  Now Rarity faces the challenge of trying to be in two places at once.
She's able to keep up, getting exhausted in the process, until she gets caught by Rainbow Dash for somehow holding a croquet mallet in her teeth.  Twilight actually encourages Rarity to continue attending the garden party, which she does, but Rainbow Dash insists that they follow in order to show these stingy aristocrats a thing or two about partying, much to Rarity's horror.
Yeah, good luck with that.
So while Fancypants asks Twilight where she got her dress, she obligingly answers that Rarity made the dress.  So Rarity decides to come clean about what she's been hiding.

Rarity: They may not be as sophisticated as some of you Canterlot ponies, but they are my best friends. And they are without a doubt the most important ponies I know.

But of course, despite this epic statement, Jet Set and Upper Crust are all for scoffing them, until...
Fancypants: I, for one, find them charmingly rustic.
Fancypants: And I think the dress you made for your friend is lovely. Mmhm, I dare say every mare in Canterlot will be wanting one.
...the hell?!  What's this?!  He's...  DIFFERENT!!  FANCYPANTS IS DIFFERENT!!  WOW!!!!  FANCY THAT!! 
This guy seems to totally respect the middle class of Ponyville and even wants to make acquaintances with Rarity's friends!  This scene seriously made my day watching the rest of the episode.  I did say earlier that he's actually the most charming character in the whole series.
And his positive influence leads other sophisticated citizens to agree with him, including Jet Set and Upper Crust, even though Rarity wants nothing to do with them.
So Rarity delivers her friendship report to Celestia in person before she sees her off back to Ponyville and the episode ends.

Wow, I like totally respect this Fancypants guy as of now.  This one guy and his one outlook seriously lightened up the whole episode and made it tolerable, even if it was one of the last scenes, but it made seeing it worth my time and now I might just find this to be the best episode of Season 2 yet, maybe for the whole season.  But seriously, Fancypants has got to be one in a million, the kind of someone you only happen to meet once in a blue moon.  I tell ya... this is something else.  Continuity to these events are definitely in order should Rarity one day return to Canterlot or at some point try her luck in the fashion business there.  Fancypants for one will love and respect her, no questions asked.  So not everyone who's sophisticated is all stuck-up and snooty.  So sue me.

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