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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Season 2, Episodes 9 & 10

Posted By on Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 9:30 AM

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Rarity and Spike each struggle with who they are, and who they want to be.

Season 2, Episode 9: "Sweet and Elite"

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Rarity is on a business-related trip to Canterlot, and Twilight Sparkle has arranged for Rarity to stay in Princess Celestia's castle. For her part, Celestia is a bit uncomfortable by how open Rarity is with her gratitude, since Rarity (often described as a spoiled princess) is really, really, really grateful.

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Down in an outdoor Canterlot café, Rarity soaks in the pure joy that is being in Canterlot. She decides to show her gratitude to Twilight by making a dress for Twilight's upcoming birthday.
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Her reverie is interrupted by the arrival of two jet-setting, upper-crust ponies named (appropriately) Jet Set and Upper Crust, who are taken with Rarity's handmade headgear.
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Before she can tell them she made it herself, an acquaintance from Ponyville literally drops in from window-washing above: Hayseed Turniptruck, the one-note polar opposite of Jet Set and Upper Crust.
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With a hickish manner so broad it would get him drummed out of Hooterville, Hayseed's purpose is to move the story along by revealing that Rarity is a Ponyville resident, thus ruining her standing with Jet Set and Upper Crust. Mission accomplished! Please don't come back real soon, 'kay?

The brushoff from the high-class ponies inspires her to make the design for Twilight's birthday dress something extra-awesome, and worthy of Canterlot.

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On her way from getting the fabric for Twilight's dress, she bumps into another high-class unicorn, one she already recognizes: Fancy Pants, the most important pony in Canterlot, just cuz. (His skinny mare companion goes unnamed, but she's no doubt a relation of Princess Cadence, who we'll get to in the finale.)
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When Rarity mentions offhand that she's staying in the castle, Fancy Pants deduces that Rarity is important, and invites her to join them at the Wonderbolts Derby later that day.
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The conundrum: Hanging with the Fancy Pants crowd can do wonders for her status in Canterlot...
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...but it will also cut into the dress-making time for Twilight.
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Rarity decides to err on the side of social climbing and go to the Derby. Opal disapproves of this choice, and when Opal is the moral center, you know Rarity's gone off the rails.
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Rarity's ascent into Canterlot high society leads into this episode's song, "The Kind of Pony Everypony Should Know." Unlike other aspirational songs (like "Winter Wrap Up" or "At the Gala"), it's the first time a song has been placed in the context of a pony doing the wrong thing -- and knowing she's doing the wrong thing ... specifically, not even coming close to finishing Twilight's dress.

It's a fun song otherwise, and turtleneck / beret / bangs is a darned good look for Rarity. (It also includes a Derpywatch, and, hi, Photo Finish!)

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As she's about to return to Ponyville, she receives an invitation from Fancy Pants to the Canterlot Garden Party -- which, for us continuity nerds, is established as the second biggest event after the Grand Galloping Gala. If she doesn't go, she'll lose all her juice! So she lies to Twilight, claiming that Opal is sick and can't make the trip back to Ponyville. Dragging Opal into this is not okay, Rarity.
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And she would have gotten away with it, except that the rest of the Mane Six Minus Spike show up unexpectedly at her suite.
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Seems Pinkie Pie and Twilight relocated Twilight's party to Canterlot so Rarity doesn't have to miss it ... and, much to Rarity's relief, Twilight loves the 95% unfinished dress, what with it being so simple and practical, which is much more appropriate for Twilight than the fancy dress would've been.
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Rarity's relief is short-lived, since Princess Celestia's offered them the Canterlot Castle Ballroom for the birthday party. Normally that would be fine, especially since Pinkie Pie brought her Party Cannon (you Maker's Faire people need to build one of these right now) ...
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... but the Canterlot Garden Party is happening right outside, and the Rules of Farce require Rarity to try to attend both.

The (diegetic!) music playing at Twilight's party is another example of the show's musicians deftly recreating an old-timey style -- in this case, it reminds me of one of my favorite Link Wray songs, the aggressively lo-fi "Friday Night Dance Party."

The two parties converge. Canterlot native Twilight dances like the spazmoid she's become since moving to Ponyville ...
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... and Rarity finally admits that she's from Ponyville, and these oddballs are her friends. Most of the Canterlotians are aghast, but not Fancy Pants, and isn't that what matters?
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For the in-person Shoehorn, Rarity reports that she learned an important lesson (not phrasing it as an important lesson about friendship, significantly): that no matter where you end up, you should always be proud of where you're from.

As a Fresno native who's lived in San Francisco for the last eighteen years, I couldn't agree more.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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