Saturday, November 29, 2014

Picking Apart "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", Season 4 Episode 19

WARNING!  From this point onward, the following reviews will consist of using heavy profanity.  It is advised not to proceed past this point unless you are 18 years of age or older.  Profanity will be used to express personal opinions only, so there can be no one responsible if anyone is greatly offended because you have been warned.  If you can handle profanity and you're ready to proceed, by all means do so.

"I used to wonder what friendship could be; until I surpassed those who first showed it to me."

- Russet Burbanks,

We've seen the somewhat strenuous relationship between Rarity and Sweetie Belle.  In "Sisterhooves Social", Sweetie Belle would go on and on about Rarity being engrossed in cleanliness, high class, and all that shit I don't care for.  Well, in this episode, Sweetie Belle now complains about perfectionism.  It's a feat that's next to impossible to achieve, and when it is, who'd have thought you could complain about it?  Well, Sweetie Belle does and it becomes a problem that she has to solve by learning the hard way just what exactly is the difference between hogging the limelight and maintaining a solidified reputation.  And given what it all amounts to in the end, it's still worth coming back to and complaining about.  So I'm gonna take a trip down memory lane and recall everything I ever learned about survival in art school.  This is "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils".  Fuck it.

We start with Sweetie Belle pleading with Rarity to spruce up some costumes for a school play.  And to make a long story short, we don't see the play for ourselves (just the opening lines) and we learn that the audience seems to have trouble recalling anything interesting about the play aside from the costumes.  And for some reason, this pisses Sweetie Belle off, so she confronts Rarity for making the dresses too outstanding... because no one remembered anything else.

So... the impression we're trying to get is that Sweetie Belle initially thinks Rarity has stolen her thunder.  But let's go back to the audience again.  Did any of the ponies specifically say "Praise Rarity for the costumes because they were so awesome and they're the only things we can remember"?  Did anyone say "Rarity's a wonder" because of the play?  No.  No one did.  From what I gathered, no one knew that Rarity designed the costumes... except Cheerilee, maybe.  And we don't know if Cheerilee went and told the audience after the play.  And yet, Sweetie Belle just assumes she's basking in her fame and maybe intends to go tell the audience to make the costumes instead of interpreting what the audience said as "You looked great in those costumes".
Spike: Wow, you guys! I think your sisters would have loved it!

Apple Bloom: Would have?
Spike: They're sorry, but they had to go help Rarity get Sapphire Shores' wardrobe ready to take to Canterlot in the morning.

Scootaloo: Even Rainbow Dash?
Spike: Yeah. Rarity fell way behind.
Now to be fair, I get the impression that Sweetie Belle didn't appreciate that her older sister had to bend over backwards to make things work and she specifically wanted those costumes to be the cream of the crop or whatever.  And now she goes into a fit of frustration because they were?  What is she playing at anyway?  This makes no sense!  Rarity only did what Sweetie Belle asked for her to do!  Maybe she didn't ask to gain attention for making those dresses and I don't think the audience even knew that she made them.  Ungrateful little whiner.  I'm sure a parent wouldn't stand for that kind of talk.

So Sweetie Belle decides to pay Rarity back in spades... by messing up her big order for Canterlot.  Without us asking how she's now proficient in magic four episodes after "Twilight Time" when she was struggling, Sweetie Belle removes a single stitch from Rarity's prize headdress, which is apparently the thing that holds it together.  Satisfied with her sweet revenge, she drops off to sleep and starts lollygagging in Dreamland.

So for some reason, this Rarity-cloud apparition tries to kill Sweetie Belle with a bolt of lightning, but is saved by Princess Luna because...  Let's face it.  Our brains really don't let us die in our dreams.

Sweetie Belle takes her sweetie time applying all kinds of strange makeup and her guests get bored waiting for her.  So by the time she gets downstairs, Rarity was already entertaining them with streamers and cake.

But Princess Luna gives Sweetie Belle the whole scoop, which of course makes no sense because we don't see if Rarity ever comforted her little sister afterwards or even tried to tell her the truth.  Come to think of it, how come their bond as sisters never stayed severed because of this?  Or maybe this is why Sweetie Belle and her parents live separately from Rarity.  Now that would really be called holding a grudge.  And I can only imagine what you're probably thinking here.  If Sweetie Belle had probably just shouted, she likely would have been noticed... and maybe made fun of for having lipstick smeared over her mouth.

Sweetie Belle: I guess Rarity wasn't trying to steal the spotlight. She was trying to save my party.

Rarity: Ooh... Sapphire Shores is such a big star and such a stickler for details. What if everything's not perfect enough?
Sweetie Belle: Funny, I thought I was the only one who got worried about stuff like that.

It's like Sweetie Belle must have thought that the world revolved around her... like any kid her age, I suppose.  But seriously, worrying about even the tiniest of things happens to all of us, not just kids.  Even she should know this.  Hell, it's like Sweetie Belle doesn't know Rarity at all!  Did she or did she not print that "drama queen" article about her?  Filler indeed.

Luna shows Sweetie Belle a vision of Rarity's future yet to come.  Because she removed that stitch, the headdress falls apart after Sapphire Shores tries it on.  And after that, things go over-the-top downhill.

This happens to be one of Princess Luna's poorer performances.  She just keeps leaving, prompting Sweetie Belle to follow her, she ignores Sweetie Belle calling her, and she forces her to see images that leave her with psychological trauma that no child should have to sit through.  How come no kid who saw this episode was freaked out by that disturbing scene?  And this is the second time Dave Polsky tea-bags the Cutie Mark Crusaders from writing these episodes.

We also learn in this episode that Sapphires Shores from Season 1 is also a pop singer, but like the play, we see little to nothing of her performances.  Come on, you can't even give us even a short musical number with one of her songs?

Hell, we even saw more of Hinny of the Hills in "Rarity Takes Manehattan"!

So Sweetie Belle rallies her friends in an attempt to change Rarity's disturbing future, but all they seem to do is hold her back.  Eventually, they zip line into the room where Rarity is about to present her masterpiece, soon to be master pieces, and they steal the headdress just in time.  So with no time to explain the situation, we have a chase scene because Rarity apparently doesn't just use her magic to get the box back easily for some reason.

Sweetie Belle meets up with Princess Luna, who offers to not only help patch up the headdress, but also improve it as well.  After that fiasco, Rarity confronts her.

Hmm... let's try another one.

Yeah, that sounds a bit better.

So they return the headdress to Sapphire Shores and she loves the... dolphin design.  Why?

Rarity: Wherever did you come up with the idea for a dolphin?
Sweetie Belle: Oh, it just came to me... in a dream.
You know, I still don't know how Sweetie Belle connected seeing dolphins in her dream to Sapphire Shores.  I can understand how Luna knows because it's her "duty", so she maybe she told Sweetie Belle while they were repairing the headdress.  But anyways, Rarity and Sweetie Belle make up in the end...
Rarity: Oh, Sweetie, I forgive you! But I never did get to see your play. Any chance I could catch an encore performance?
Sweetie Belle: Uh, I don't think the play went all that good. To be honest, the costumes were the best part.
Rarity: Awww!

While it's not as bad as "Twilight Time", come to think of it, or nowhere near as God-awful as "Flight to the Finish" and it does give us an interesting new spin on Sweetie Belle and Rarity's relationship, this episode still doesn't hold out in terms of learning lessons or having given something to the series.  And that bad future scene was quite dark, so I don't get why it didn't make any kids shit their pants.  As much as Rarity loves her little sister, we still see that she doesn't seem to be much of a character who is capable of giving condolences when they are needed.  And of course the ending makes no sense whatsoever.  Sweetie Belle should have known from the start that Rarity was only helping and she was just being ungrateful from stewing in her jealousy and we didn't see the play for ourselves, so we don't know if it really sucked or not.  And if it did, I would blame the writers for deliberately humping the CMC in that case for the umpteenth time.  Seriously, what do these people have against little kids?  Do they really think they're stupid?  I sure as fuck don't think that.

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