Episode [1.26] – “The Best Night Ever”
This week, on My Little Pony…
“I can’t believe we’re finally here! With all that we’ve imagined, the reality of this night is sure to make this the best night ever!”
Aha! I knew it! See, My Little Pony is all about cute pony girls doing cute girly pony things, and this episode is going to prove it: they’re going to put on makeup and wear pretty dresses and go to a big fancy gala and have the ditziest fun ever! Those dragons and mental breakdowns and ursas and near-death encounters and fits of paranoia we saw in previous episodes… they were all just diversions from the true meaning of this show, which is to make young girls buy off-model plastic merchandise! Because those are the only people who would watch such a shallow show called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic that stars six mares who go to parties together and talk about how great their manes look.
… is the attitude the original neighsayers (hah) probably would have had leading up to this episode all those years ago, and perhaps those who have not yet seen the show and are quick to pass judgment on what they do not understand. But if you’ve made it this far, then I suspect you’re not one of those people. You know there’s so much more going on with this show than its predecessor generations might have otherwise led you to believe.
And thus you know full well that there’s no way the Grand Galloping Gala is going to go off without a hitch. >:]
As if to underscore that this night is all about being magical, right off the bat we get Cinderella references of turning produce into carriages (awesome) and mice into… er, mouse horses (wat). I’m glad the awkwardness of that scene was not lost on everypony… though nopony seemed to notice that the four mouse-horses quickly became three, and as far as I can tell they never actually returned. Oh well, I guess?
I think the “getting dressed for the Gala” scene is the only time we see all of the Mane Six being stereotypically girly all at once, insofar as getting made up and dressed for a dance together is stereotypically girly (the fashion show in Suited for Success might be a contender, but somehow that feels different). Not that there’s anything wrong with this: to the contrary, I think it helps to show the bonds these six friends have made with each other over the course of the season. Sure, combating untold horrors of the Everfree can build friendships, but then so can less mortally dangerous niceties of life like having your mane done or shining your hooves or putting on makeup. We even get some fun trivia: Rarity wears false eyelashes, putting clothes on is evidently more embarrassing than the standard state of not wearing clothes at all, and it’s possible to straighten Pinkie’s hair by mechanical (as opposed to psychological) processes, if only for a second or two. That last morsel only furthers the speculation about the inner workings of The Pink One: perhaps the same uncontainable energy that causes her body to change shape and color is the same energy that allows her to consume entire cakes without seeming to gain a single pound? Does her ravenous appetite and apparent hypermetabolism (as cited in one of the official comics) also switch off when she goes into “Pinkamena mode”? Given that she’s probably powered by quasars or something, I’m not sure it would be safe to try and find out.
Also, just gotta reiterate, straight-hair Pinkie is cute.
After getting into their dresses and reassuring Spike that they’d all get to spend some time together, our heroes set off to Canterlot for the Grand Galloping Gala, pulled in their apple-carriage by Rarity’s neighbors (who are either absolute suckers for Rarity’s shameless sex appeal or simply genuinely good neighbors, I can’t decide which). And if this exceptionally detailed establishing shot of their arrival (seriously, well done DHX) is any indication, the night it looks like it’s going to be quite spectacular indeed… so much so that a song is in order! And what an enjoyable and catchy song it is; perhaps not as downright catchy as Winter Wrap Up, but fun nonetheless. I’d say the song is really the culmination of the entire season: in The Ticket Master we saw what everypony wanted to do at the Gala, and then we got a pile of episodes to really get to know the characters and understand why each of those things were so important to them. We even got to see how their dresses got to be the way they are (and I’m not gonna lie, I really do like their dresses). Expectations and excitement levels are through the roof at this point, and except perhaps for the time they saved Equestria from eternal darkness, it’s truly the highest peak of the entire series thus far for the Mane Six. Twilight Sparkle immediately gets to spend time with Princess Celestia. Rarity immediately finds her Prince Charming. Fluttershy immediately finds her animal friends. Applejack immediately
readies the “Soarin Likes Pie” meme for takeoff gets her business underway. Rainbow Dash immediately blasts the “Soarin Likes Pie” meme off the launch pad gets to hang with the Wonderbolts. And Pinkie Pie immediately sees shiny and pretty and dancing and GOES TO SPACE.
And then the wheels begin coming off: Twilight’s time with Princess Celestia is consumed by welcoming everypony to the Gala, Rarity’s Prince Charming turns out to be even snobbier than her, Fluttershy’s animal friends all run away and hide, AJ’s quick sale turns out to be her only sale, Rainbow can’t get a single word in edgewise with her idols, and Pinkie very quickly gets bored of
space the shiny and pretty and dancing. So what do they do?
VOW TO MAKE IT THE BEST NIGHT EVER BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. LIKE ANOTHER SONG. What could possibly go wrong?
Everything, to the surprise of none of the viewing audience!
While I wasn’t really a huge fan of Pinkie’s “Pony Pokey” song, it was very well interwoven with the frighteningly quick escalation of frustration and anger that everypony was inflicting upon themselves. I know I mentioned last time how Pinkie got legit angry, but the amount of metal in those daggers that Rarity was firing from her eyes could have built an aircraft carrier with enough left over for a bicycle or two. And Fluttershy? We saw Pinkie go off the rails over the course of twenty minutes; poor Flutters went off in two. (That’s what happens when you don’t love Fluttershy!) The sheer absurdity of the entire situation and the ensuing destruction of the entire Gala was an absolute joy to watch in a very schadenfreudic kind of way. And the reprise of the Cinderella references with the glass slipper that Rarity summarily annihilates as she and her friends escape the pandemonium on the Princess’s cue? Fantastic.
The closing scene at Pony Joe’s is also fantastic. What does one do when the party is lame and nopony is spending time with you? One bellies up to the
bar doughnut shop, of course! Poor Spike, brushed aside and neglected the entire evening. In the end, though, he was spared being crushed, trampled, or covered in cake amidst to the wanton destruction going on right down the street, and ultimately got to spend quality time with his friends in what must have been some great storytelling over a few rounds doughnuts. Princess Celestia’s surprise visit also added to the fun and firmly cemented her status as the Princess of Trolling.
That the culmination of the entire season turned out to be a big trollface is a wonderful alternative to the otherwise lamesauce “hooray we look pretty and had the best night of our lives” stereotype. Sure, that could be a cute story, but MLP:FiM‘s not about being cute. It’s about taking said stereotypes and covering them in cake and burying them under marble columns and having woodland creatures stampede over them and then smashing their glass slippers. As this episode showed, sometimes the best of times come out not when things go just as expected but when they don’t. That’s exactly what MLP:FiM has done: it took a franchise that had historically operated in a very predictable way and with it spawned a completely unexpected craze that, at least at the time of this writing, seems on track to continue for years to come. And not with an overabundance of swashbuckling stories of high adventure and drama, but with consistent (though at times quite zany) slice-of-life stories about the magic of friendship. Who would have guessed?
To close out this episode, I’d be remiss to not recommend perhaps the best remix of the Gala song out there, At The Gala (20% Cooler Remix) by SimGretina. But this being the final episode of Season 1, something a bit more powerful is in order: a titanic collage of every Season 1 episode titled “Friendship is Magic” by Jiayi. This masterpiece brought tears to my eyes the first time I saw it, and even now it tugs at my heartstrings. Truly a capstone to a capstone episode of Season 1. What a ride.
The ending actually confused me more than anything. Not that it does anything wrong, it just feels sudden. I did expect our leads to band together and salvage the night by having a fun time among themselves, I just didn’t expect it happen outside the party at a donut bar. And then Princess Celestia shows up saying this lively chaos was exactly what she hoped for because the gala is always awful. I’m not sure why this all caught me off guard, and again, nothing wrong with any of it, and it does capture that air of partygoers where some of the most fun can be had after the large, unwieldy crowd breaks up and settles into chunks of solid bonding hangouts. I guess I don’t have a problem with this after all. Actually, a bit clever that. Huh.
Overall, I really enjoyed the episode. I love how it opens in pure Disney fashion, though subverting that majesty right from the very start with the mouse horses (mourses?). Even the prep for the ball is a nice window into all the work it takes prepping and dressing and hoping you don’t forget any detail when you want to look your absolute best, and then we get there and it’s a big Disney musical number, and if I have any criticism, it’s that the lyrics feel rushed and clunky with some lines that just don’t roll together well. Still, it’s great having a reminder of the dream night everyone has spent so long wishing this will be, and I love that they instantly fall into that as a great setup for how quickly it goes wrong.
And all the problems are relatable, that Rainbow can’t get a word in through the crowd, Pinkie can’t get attention through the crowd, Apple can’t get the crowd to buy her treats, Twilight has to hang back as her mentor goes through the crowd one by one. I guess one other small criticism is that everything going wrong is pinned more on formality and the hoity-toitiness of the crowd when, in reality, it’s because the crowd there is just such a big crowd. Every single pony is there to live their dream or pitch their wares or make social connections or just have fun, and that’s why our Mane Six aren’t getting anywhere, because they’re just six among what’s probably a few hundred, and it would have been nice to slide in some acknowledgement of that among the broader crowd instead of just brushing it off whole as formal party snobs. But that’s a minor issue.
It’s a very entertaining, catchy episode, and I like that there’s a lesson in not pinning all of your hopes on something so big and so out of your control, especially at the expense of just enjoying it while you have the chance. And even then, it’s probably not going to be the amazing thing you dreamed it will be. Honestly, that’s what I related to most of all in this episode, that parties seem awesome until I’m actually at one, and then I either just hang off a friend or loom silently in the corner until things whittle down, and am often more relieved to go home than I am surging with the energy of the night.
I do enjoy the episode. I feel it could have dug in a little deeper and it missed some potentially interesting points that I’d rather explore in the place of multiple musical numbers and our leads’ chaos explosion (though I’m still debating which is more hilarious: Rarity’s slipper smash or Fluttershy’s “YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE ME!!!”), but there’s still nothing wrong with what they do, and it’s still chock full of character moments and fun gags and some great visual work. And I ultimately like that it didn’t go where I expected it to and left me thinking for a bit before agreeing to go along. I haven’t been much a fan of her work this season, but kudos to Amy Keating Rogers for this one.
Out of all of the season enders to this point, this has always been my favorite. Sure, there’s no grand adventures being had, nothing to shift the status quo, and no villains to thwart, but that really isn’t what MLP has ever been about for me. That’s not to say that style of finale is something I don’t particularly like (quite the contrary, I think they’re all fantastic), but something about this episode makes such a perfect closing to the season and brings the entire thing home. It’s a calmer, quieter, less eventful close (which given the chaos within this episode is kind of odd saying), but it’s arguably the most in-line in tone with the majority of the series that we’ll ever get. In fact, as the stakes do begin to get higher down the road and baddies start popping up left and right, it’s almost kind of nostalgic to look back at the Gala and marvel at the simplicity of what things used to be for the Six.
This is also the closing to the short arc that we set off on at the start of the season in regards to the Gala, and it’s a great payoff to the setup that The Ticket Master gave us. This is the event they were all looking forward to so much, and we finally get to see it held up against the vastly different expectations each of them had for it.
At The Gala is such a brilliantly used song, as it lets us get a full recap of that third episode without having to resort to a “Previously on” segment for it. It reminds us about what each of the six were looking for at the Gala (and additionally gives us the missing piece of what Twilight wanted from it, as she never said in that episode). Plus it’s just a fun song in general. Daniel Ingram pulled pretty heavily from the song “Ever After” from Into The Woods for inspiration (it’s very obvious listening to the two), but it works really well, and the character injected into each of the parts makes it it’s own thing. On that note, I love that each character’s portion of the song is very much theirs, with the music changing subtly in an appropriate way for each character.
Arguably the winner of the song (at least for me) is Rainbow Dash, with Ashleigh Ball getting to belt out a solo to the much more rock-heavy portion of the song that would seem to be super fitting for the character (although Dashie won’t get another rock solo like this until Awesome As I Wanna Be). I love getting to hear Ashleigh sing, and this is one of the very rare occurrences that Rainbow Dash gets to cut loose (Applejack will eventually get far more songs to herself while the Rainbow well runs a touch dry).
Of course, once they arrive and the Gala starts things start to go awry, as the fantasies about the event that they’ve built up over the course of the season come crashing head-first into the reality of what actually happens. Things start out well enough, with all of the things they wanted seeming to fall into place, but very quickly things start to turn sour.
What I love about the sequence that follows is that the wall that each of the six runs into is basically their foil. Twilight, who typically values structure and organization, can’t get a word in edgewise with Celestia because things are too structured and the princess is tied up with greeting each of the guests as they come in. Applejack’s pride in her handiwork and her business-minded determination runs headfirst into the Canterlot crowd considering her wares beneath their own prideful tastes. Rainbow Dash, who’s used to being able to draw attention to herself and show off winds up lost in the crowd and can’t make herself stand out. Pinkie, party pony extraordinaire, gets scolded for expecting the wrong kind of partying. Rarity’s Prince Charming turns out to be every bit as prissy and regal as she is and then some, without any of her redeeming qualities. And Fluttershy, well…
Let’s face it, Fluttershy is the highlight of this episode. Coming right on the heels of Pinkie’s epic breakdown, Andrea Libman got to voice her other character going completely insane. Fluttershy has to deal with animals actually treating her like they treat just about anyone else, as they’re too timid to allow her to get near them. Fluttershy very quickly snowballs from her usual calm and subdued approach to outright rage as none of her usual tactics with animals appear to work at all. This kind of scene (at least, this early on in the series) could really only happen with animals as her foil, as I have a feeling she’d cave and just accept it happening with other ponies in that situation, but she’s used to animals being there for her, and wanting to befriend her. It’s her thing, it’s what she does, and she can’t handle the concept of it not just working. We don’t really know whether or not she attempted to employ The Stare on them, but likely she couldn’t get close enough to them in the first place to even try. She’s out of her element in what absolutely should be her element, and it doesn’t take long in that situation for her to break completely. I love that (in keeping with the Disney themes that are sprinkled throughout this episode) she descends rather quickly from a dead ringer for a Disney princess (she even sings along with what she thinks is birdsong) to a Disney villain, complete with a villainous “my pretties” speech and maniacal laughter with lightning accenting it. Ironically, while Pinkie’s breakdown was much more self-inflicted and internalized, Fluttershy’s is explosively external, and the reaction to not getting the adoration she expects and desires (even if it’s just from animals) marks her very arguably as a yandere.
We also finally get to meet some of the Wonderbolts for the first time beyond just seeing them do stuff. It’s the first time Soarin and Spitfire get speaking parts, and they don’t particularly do much in this episode, but it’s still nice getting to see them actually talk. Also, uh… Rainbow Dash X Soarin OTP yup (No, not Dash and Spitfire. Spitfire is a total jerkface. See, my ships aren’t all girl/girl).
On background pony watch, this also marks Octavia’s first appearance, performing at the Gala with the rest of her ensemble. Due to her appearance matching pretty closely to one of Pinkie’s sisters in her backstory flashback in Cutie Mark Chronicles, for a while people mused on the possibility of her being the grown-up version of one of the two shown there. This theory hung around for a while, but never really seemed to bear fruit, and eventually later episodes and a chapter book would debunk it anyways since Pinkie’s sisters do all get identified and Octavia isn’t one of them. Eventually somewhere down the line, pairing her up with Vinyl Scratch became popular, and the two became something of an Odd Couple in the fandom.