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April 26, 2012
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"A Canterlot Wedding, Part 2"

An Overthought Review of MLP:FIM Season 2, Episode 26.

Note 1: This episode is packed with opinions and spoilers.  If you don't want to hear the spoilers, come back after the episode.  If you don't want opinions, why are you reading a review?

Note 2:  Because the youtube video I'm using to rewatch the episode combined the two episodes into one big one, the timestamps are going to be a bit wonky.

21:25- 23:43: Cave Story


The second half of the story kicks off very mysteriously.  Despite the intense revelation that Cadence is totally evil, we have no idea what her plan is or what the heck she just did to Twilight.  It's more than a little symbolic that Twilight literally starts the episode in the dark, with barely enough light to see her own hooves let alone figure out where she actually is.  Her little panic at the start of the scene pretty much perfectly sums up her feelings.  But really, the episode is just picking up where it left off: screwing with Twilight.  She's just alienated all her friends and family, and now she's been teleported to who knows where, and is now getting taunted by somepony that may or may not be her childhood friend.  She's not having a good day.

The entire taunting sequence is pretty epic.  The aesthetics of the scene are great, the crystalline design of the cave looks really cool in conjunction with Cadence's epic light show.  The whole "taunting with dozens of 'screens'" thing brings to mind an almost Bond-villianish, or maybe Disney-villainesque feel to the scene.  Aside from giving us a better feel for evil!Cadence, it's stylish and just fun to look at.  It helps that the animation and acting behind Cadence's villainous gloating are great; she's incredibly expressive and seems downright gleeful at how she's dealt with Twilight.  It might not be the most intelligent call, but there's so much energy that it's hard to care.  There's just a level of joyful maliciousness behind it that probably rivals Discord in terms of energetic evil.

I have to admit, her decision to taunt Twilight and goad her into attacking is kinda questionable.  I mean, the number one rule of villainy is "don't gloat until after you win, and even then you still probably shouldn't".  It even more bizarre when you realize that the real Cadence is down there as well, and you'd think that evil!Cadence would want to keep the real Cadence and Twilight apart at all costs.  The best explanation I can think of is that evil!Cadence was hoping to make Twilight so mad that she'd attack the real Cadence, which to be fair, very nearly happens.  That kind of plan fits with what we know of fake!Cadence's modus operandi, which seems to be to make Twilight as miserable as possible.  Tricking her into injuring or possibly killing her childhood friend would be icing on the evil cake.

Now we finally get to meet the real Cadence.  Now, there have been a lot of allegations of Mary-Sueism thrown around regarding the character.  And they aren't entirely baseless.  She seemingly exists because the execs at Hasbro wanted another princess to sell, and as a result another alicorn got shoehorned into the show when it was previously implied that there were only two: Celestia and Luna.  Add in the fact that she's pink, and you have a recipe for getting ire from the fanbase.  Fortunately, I think she largely avoids that here.  The fact that she gets introduced in the state of having been defeated and imprisoned by the villain does a lot to evaporate the idea that Cadence is somehow too perfect.  She's unambiguously good, but she's definitely not the overly-perfect self-insert kind of character that everyone assumed.

The way she's introduced is quite nice.  It calls back to Twilight's fond memories of her and it's a good signal to the audience that this is the real deal.  The little reunion here is entirely adorable.  After all the crap that Twilight got put through in the previous episode, it's heartwarming to see something finally going in her favor.  Not to mention that she must have an incredible sense of validation in knowing that Cadence really is as nice as she remembered.  She finally gets her reunion with her favorite foalsitter.  That said, it's kind of problematic that Cadence gets introduced so late in the storyline, but it isn't a tremendous issue as Twilight's flashback gave us a decent feel for the character.

The great thing is that Cadence is active.  Now that Twilight busted her out of her little room, the two of them waste no time in going to save the day.  It definitely bumps Cadence out of the "damsel in distress" role a bit; she has her work cut out for her escaping it, given that she's introduced in that capacity..  As a matter of fact, the episode as a whole even inverts the idea.  But we'll get to that later.  At the moment, it's great to see them being proactive about their situation.

23:43-25:55: About time we got a proper Villain Song

Seriously, ever since the first season people have been hoping for a villain to get a good song (the Flim Flam song doesn't count; they aren't quite villainous enough), and the fact that Discord didn't get one only increased the demand.  And I have to say that they delivered.  A few parts of the lyrics are...oddly structured for the sake of rhyme ("I do not love the groom/in my heart there is no room" is a bit awkward no matter how you slice it), but the song itself is sung very well and it's structured beautifully.  There's a great contrast between the good and evil Cadences that really characterizes them both.  In particular, the singer does a great job of the giving the characters separate voices even though they technically have the same voice; there's a lot of good acting in the song.  

I will admit that we don't learn a great deal about evil Cadence during the song (her half of it is largely just gloating about how awesome and evil her plan is), but the animation carries the plot along really well.  As the wedding actually begins, there's a real sense of rising tension as Twilight and Cadence attempt to get there in time.  It's rather a foregone conclusion that they will, but to say they cut it close is an understatement.  It also really drives in the fact that Shining Armor is totally brainwashed at this point, as well as the fact that everyone, Celestia included, is totally unaware that anything is wrong.  The entire sequence is very much Disney-esque, and it fits a lot into a small space.  Most of Twilight and Cadence's escape is covered (with style) and evil Cadence's plan (which we don't yet know the details of) has nearly come to fruition.  

25:55-26:24 It's a good thing that Celestia's speech was apparently pretty long.

The only part of Twilight and Cadence's escape that's shown in detail is the tail end of it, which is good because showing everything would only slow the episode.  It's good that they show Twilight using her teleport to get herself and Cadence to the ledge, as it means that the writers didn't forget Twilight could do that.  I've heard a few complaints that Twilight didn't just teleport out of the cave, but I really don't think that's an issue.  There are any number of possible reasons why it wouldn't work (too far, Twilight doesn't know where she is, the surface is out of range, she wants to conserve energy, the shield might mess up the teleport, etc.), and I don't think the show needs to really spell it out.  We know that Twilight remembers she has that ability, and as such we can assume she has a reason why she didn't use it.  

I love the way the bridesmaids show up. It actually ties up a bit of a loose end, as we now know what happened to Cadence's original bridesmaids.  There's also a great joke in how they get defeated, but for now, we get a bit of a cliffhanger.

26:24-30:14: What, no "Speak now or forever hold your peace"?

I suppose that it would have been cliched for Twilight to bust in during the traditional line, and besides, this cuts it closer and is therefore more dramatic.  There's also a really great moment right after Twilight busts in but before Cadence shows up when you can see everyone else's reactions.  You can just tell that they think she's crazy and are sort of embarrassed that she's still dead set on ruining the wedding.  Especially as  evil!Cadence keeps up the act.  It's a huge relief when the real Cadence finally shows up and gives Twilight some vindication.  

And despite the tension of the scene, there are still some good jokes.  The brief flashback to how Cadence defeats the bridesmaids could probably have just been placed chronologically, but the fact that they saved it for this scene was probably a good call.  It adds a bit of humor to a sequence that otherwise is largely serious.  Which is good, because pretty much everything from here to the finale is utterly packed.  Evil!Cadence drops the act and things get serious.

The true villain is finally revealed: Chrysalis, Queen of the Changelings.  Her plan is to feed her army by draining Equestria of love.  She's been leeching off Shining Armor's love for Cadence and powering herself up, and now she plans to do the same thing to the country as a whole.  The fact that she's been stealing his energy is going to bust down his shield, and let in her army.  The whole "sucking up love" thing sounds a bit cliché, but it's been confirmed from day one that this series does stuff like that, so anybody who's surprised at the idea doesn't seem to have been paying attention to earlier episodes.

Chrysalis' design is pretty freaking cool; she's some sort of insect/pony/zombie hybrid creature that seems to have a twisty knife for a horn.  It's pretty crazy look, but it's manages to look freaky while still fitting into the shows art style really well.  She's just the right amount of coolness and menacing.  The only complaints here are that she doesn't exactly get an enormous amount of time in character as herself, and that there are a lot of unanswered questions about her plan.  We never really figure out exactly how she ended up taking Cadence's place, or exactly how the love devouring works.  Which might have actually been a good move on the writer's points.  The more details the audience gets, the more conspicuous the holes become.  When the vast majority of the plan isn't described, there's more freedom to fill in the gaps in any way that makes sense.

It doesn't exactly make a lot of sense for Chrysalis to just sort of go on her villainous exposition rant in this situation, but she's shown herself to be quite a gloaty type of villain, so even though it probably isn't the best strategic call, it's not exactly out of character for her.  Given that her plan is about 5 seconds from succeeding, she's obviously pretty hyped up, so we can forgive her for going on a bit of a side bar.  It's also rather odd that Celestia just sort of sits there, but in retrospect it kinda makes sense that she'd want to hear the whole plan before charging in.

I have to say, it's pretty awesome to see Celestia take matters into her own hooves.  It's the first time in the series that we actually see her take an active role in protecting her subjects.  It's like seriousness from the Discord episodes taken up a level.  It's great to see her actually getting involved in the action of the episode rather than just facilitating the action.  Of course it ends pretty badly.

I'm pretty sure that absolutely everyone watching the episode had a single massive "oh CRAP" moment when Chrysalis actually manages to overpower Celestia.  It's the only time in the entire series that Celestia has been straight up defeated.  She's been worried before (due to Discord), but seeing her explicitly defeated onscreen is a huge shock to the system; if there was any character in the whole show that you wouldn't expect to see lose like that, it's her.  

There have been a few complaints about how she could get defeated like that, but I think there area few interesting subtleties in the animation that make it a bit clearer exactly what happened in those few seconds.  Celestia looks pretty confidence when she initiates the encounter, but Chrysalis actually looks a bit worried, especially when the Modern Equestrian Laser Beams start up.  When she wins, she almost has a moment of shock that she actually won.  It implies to me at least that the match up was just about even.  

My personal theory is that Celestia is actually more powerful than Chrysalis, but the latter got a boost from Shining Armor that gave her an edge.  In any case, the fact that she actually takes out Celestia is a twist that sends the episode into territory that no other episode has dared to touch.  Celestia's whole role in the show is to be the reliable, knowledgeable character; seeing her get taken out is something just about noone saw coming.  That alone gives it a lot of points in my book.   Not to mention that the villain using the Power of Love to take out the good guy is a pretty awesome subversion of the usual set up, so that gets it some points as well.  You generally don't see stuff like that happening, especially not in a show like this.

With Celestia down, it falls on the mane cast to save the day (well, the show is about them, after all), which is good because the story has revolved entirely around Twilight so far.  And let's face is, the Elements of Harmony are the go-to item in times like these.  It worked pretty well against Discord, after all, so it really shouldn't be a surprise that Celestia sends them to get the EOH.  It also sets up another twist in the episode, but we'll talk about that when we come to it.

The scene ends with a nice little gag from Rarity catching all the dresses.  It's cute and serves much the same purpose as the bridesmaids joke: adding a bit of levity to the show after an incredibly intense event.  The entire second half of the episode is incredibly intense, and this gives the the audience a few seconds to leave before jumping into the next batch of craziness.  

30:14-33:03: Of course you realize, this means war

It would be far too easy for the cast if all they have to do is run to another building, so the changelings finally wreck Shining Armor's shield and invade Canterlot.  Seeing the drones smashing into the city, bomb-style has a really similar effect to seeing Celestia get defeated.  We've seen Ponyville get wrecked on a regular basis, but Canterlot was always sort of above it all and untouchable.  Even when Discord did his thing, Canterlot didn't really get hit all that badly.  I have no doubt that it did, but we didn't really see any of that.  This is the first time that Canterlot has gotten screwed up so badly.

This action sequence is basically just straight-up "okay, we're going to have an epic fight scene".  The drones all have a pretty cool design, and the fact that they can shapeshift into the forms of the mane cast makes the fight a lot more interesting than just the ponies and changelings kicking each other.  It really takes a rather serious, tense scene and turns it into a comedic goldmine.  It's also quite evident that the shapechanging isn't just a last minute addition to the scene; the writers really take the possibilities of such a thing and milks them for all they're worth.

The best aspect is probably the fact that it adds some actual strategy to the fight and shows some real intelligence on the part of the cast.  A good example of that is the way that the ponies turn the changelings' own efforts against them; Fluttershy bluffs a group of fake Fluttershys so they don't attack her, Rainbow Dash pretends to be a fake so she can get a sneak attack, etc.  It's not a total blowout by the ponies, though.  The changelings use their abilities to get the drop on AJ, and Twilight has to come up with a spell to keep from getting beaten up by herself.  The gag where Pinkie asks one of the drones to turn into her is endlessly amusing; the best part is that the drone just sighs and goes with it.  We also get the great sight gag of Pinkie using Twilight like a gatling gun.  The rest of the sequences is a very Powerpuff Girls-esque fight, complete with a final callback to Pinkie's party cannon finally getting weaponized (with it's own sound effect).  

Of course, that would be too easy, so even more drones show up.  Despite that, the mane six make it to the room where the Elements of Harmony are held....only for it to be utterly full of enemies.    It's another nice twist in the episode that the elements end up not saving the day, because after the two season openers they're basically the go-to items for fixing whatever major problem threatens Equestria.    The fact that they're no longer a viable option after this scene plays out ratchets up the tension a bit because we have no idea what they're going to pull to solve the problem.  

33:03-36:35: The Power of Love is a curious thing...

I have to say that Celestia's "WTF is going on?" face at the beginning of this scene is probably my favorite expression in the episode.  Seeing her stuck in that cocoon thing really drives home how screwed the protagonists are.  It also has entirely perfect timing, dragging the cast in just as Cadence claims they'll save the day.  Pretty much everything is at rock bottom, and Chrysalis takes the opportunity to gloat about it.

There's a really brief scene in here between AJ and Twilight where AJ apologizes for not taking Twilight's worries seriously.  I really really wish this scene were a bit longer, because the whole issue doesn't really get addressed at length.  I mean, I know and you know that Twilight was right all along, but as I noted in my last review, I didn't really think that they were all that out of line given how Twilight's actions looked from their perspective.  Not that an apology is out of line, but I just wish that we'd maybe have seen a bit more interaction between Twilight and the other cast members.  As it is, only AJ really brings it up, and I think the episode would have been well served by bringing all the other ponies (and Spike) in on it just to give the matter a sense of closure.  Although it does underscore that Chrysalis really did fool everybody.  

She takes this opportunity to gloat even more with a reprise of her song.  The cool thing here isn't the song (well, the song is cool too), but the visuals.  By showing all the random ponies being attacked by the changelings, the show emphasizes just how much is at stake here, and what the rest of Equestria is going to end up looking like if Chrysalis isn't stopped.  Fortunately, this also means that she's too distracted to realize that Twilight is sneaking over to free Cadence.  It doesn't exactly make Chrysalis look like the sharpest knife in the drawer, but from what we've seen of her, it's totally in character for her to get caught up in the moment and not quite think things through because the alternative is just evilly cool.  Dumping Twilight in a cave with the real Cadence is a good example of that.  So while it's technically a bad idea to leave the prisoners unattended, it's also totally consistent with the characterization we have.

What happens next is easily the most controversial scene in the entire finale.  There are lots of complaints about this, and addressing them all is impossible, so I'll just hit the high points.  The first is the fact that Chrysalis seems like a real idiot for leaving Cadence and SA together, as well as being skeptical that the Power of Love will work when she's just used it to take out Celestia.  And at first, yeah, it seems a bit weird.  I mean, Chrysalis was using the Power of Love before, right?  Well, if you think about it, that's the reason she lets it go.  She's draining Love Power off of Shining Armor, so it's entirely possible that she assumes that if Cadence and SA somehow generate more love, she can just absorb that as well.  It fails, obviously (she was only able to steal SA's love power because he thought she was Cadence), but you can kinda see her logic there, especially as she didn't see Cadence bust him out of the mind control.  She assumes "more love = more power for me", so she figures she might as well let them get together.  It's all conjecture on my part, of course, but I think it makes sense.  

The other issue people bring up is now cliché the whole "Power of Love saves the day" resolution is, and that it's just unforgivably cheesy and comes out of nowhere.  First off, I do have to admit that it is a bit cliché and a bit cheesy.  I mean it's almost impossible to use The Power Of Love seriously without being a little ridiculous, and the way they start floating and making heart shapes and whatnot is pretty over the top.  So I can kinda understand those complaints, although I don't think it's nearly as a bad as people make it out to be.  It's a bit hokey, but I don't think it's bad enough to really damage the episode as a whole.  Seriously, you're watching a show called "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic"; something like this is really par for the course.

The thing I really don't get is the complaints that it comes out of nowhere and is a Deus Ex Machina.  In the strictest sense of the terms, it totally isn't.  As noted, Chrysalis is explicitly feeding off of the Love Power from Shining Armor, so it's already established that yeah, love can do stuff like that.  Not to mention that in this universe, friendship is magic.  It's right there in the title.  And I don't think anybody but the most nitpicky grammarians are going to try to argue that there's no relationship between friendship and love.  It's not exactly difficult to say that "love" falls under the same blanket that "friendship" does and assume that love can power up magic in the same way that Friendship does.  So in that, I don't think that the way Cadence powers up Shining Armor's spell really comes out of nowhere; it's something that honestly fits into the setting pretty well.  Yes, I'll admit that it's cheesy, but it's certainly no worse than Twilight and her friends using The Power of Friendship against Nightmare Moon or Discord.  

The other thing I want to point out is that even if you remove the Power of Love from the equation, the scene makes perfect sense on its own.  Individually, Cadence and Shining Armor are too weakened to do anything, but if Cadence uses her magic to power up SA, he can cast his shield spell to boot the changelings out of Canterlot.  The whole scene makes sense anyway; even if SA and Cadence weren't in love, you could still make the scene work by just saying that she was just giving him a magical boost.  So yes, the scene is cheesy, but honestly, a lot of the show is cheesy, and I really don't think that it's so cheesy that it damages the integrity of the episode as a whole.  And even if it is cliché, it's a justified cliché; it definitely isn't a Deus Ex Machina.  

What's interesting here is that Chrysalis' defeat isn't exactly definite.  Nightmare Moon and Discord were explicitly defeated; NM turned back into Luna, and Discord got statuified, but Chrysalis is still out there someplace.  It makes me wonder if they're planning on bringing her back later.  It certainly makes the remainder of the episode seem odd, as they seem to totally ignore the fact that a powerful adversary is still at large.  

But in any case, now that the climax is past, the denouement begins. Celestia jumps straight to telling Twilight to get the wedding set up, which is a bit sudden, but there's only so much that can be crammed into the episode, and we were promised a wedding, and we're going to get one.  

36:35-39:22: Okay, let's try this again.

This scene is largely the "falling action" segment of the episode.  Pretty much every major conflict has been resolved, so the last five minutes or so of the episode is largely cleaning up a handful of loose ends just so we can get the wedding that the promos told up we were going to get.  Although despite that, it isn't solely fluff.  Even though it's after the fact of the actual plot, it's good to see Cadence being more or less normal.  It draws a contrast with the first episode now that we finally get to see how Cadence would have actually acted in the situations where her doppelganger was a jerk.  It's really sweet to just see everything going along according to plan for once, and see that she gets along with everyone.  And seeing her dancing with Pinkie is funnier than it really should be.

The wedding itself is largely a standard affair, but there are a couple little moments that make it interesting, like Twilight fixing her brother's belt thing, or Applejack sneaking her hat on.  But the real nice thing about this scene is Twilight and SA's little interaction as Cadences comes down the aisle.  It sort of passively addresses their issues from the first episode and establishes that they're on good terms again, as we hadn't seen them really make up after Twilight's accusations.  I would have liked to see them address it with something a bit more substantive, but it's a nice little scene that reinforces not just Twilight and SA's relationship, but her relationship with Cadence as well.

The actual ceremony is incredibly brief, which is perfectly fine, because if it were any longer it would probably be boring.  I have to admit that putting the rings on their horns struck me as a bit odd (yes I know it was established back in The Ticket Master, that they do that), mainly because what the heck do non-unicorn ponies do in that situation?  Also, at 38:36, Cadence's horn has a mustache.  You cannot unsee it.

The little brief cutaway with Celestia giving her little "trust your instincts" lesson to the ponies is a bit odd, for two reasons. The first is that it's kinda out of place; it feels like the writers just went "oh right, we need a moral" and sort of stuck it in there even though it draws the focus away from the main action (the wedding) to give a lesson.  The other problem is that the lesson she gives doesn't exactly make a lot of sense; she talks about trusting one's instincts which doesn't really have a lot to do with what happened.  Yeah, Twilight was right about Cadence, but the manner in which Twilight handled it wasn't exactly optimal, what with the complete and total lack of evidence.  She was right, but she presented her concerns in probably the worst way possible, and unlike in say, Lesson Zero or It's About Time, the rest of the cast had very good reason to react the way they did.  I mean, the entire first half of that episode was dedicated to Twilight's jealousy issues, so it seems kinda weird that Celestia would spin her as being more or less justified when it obviously wasn't that clear cut of an issue.

39:22-41:11: Party Time

Okay, the reception stuff is almost entirely filler, but as far as filler goes, it's really well done, and considering the density of the episode, it's really not a problem to have a couple of minutes worth of stuff that we can just sit back and enjoy watching without worrying about any of the subtleties or implications of what's going on.  It's just supposed to be fun.  First off, it's kind funny to see the ponies try to do a serious dance, and we finally get some sort of reference to the fact that Luna was totally absent during the whole debacle (She was totally sleeping.  I mean, she was probably up all night after all.)  And of course, Pinkie just happens to have Vinyl Scratch stored under the turntable, presumably in case she needs to throw an emergency rave.

And then we get another Twilight song, which doesn't quite have the punch or plot relevance of the first two songs, but it's still pretty good and provides a nice outro to  the episode. The best part of the whole sequence is probably watching Celestia and Luna headbobbing along to the music.  The little photo montage is a nice touch as well, although it's kinda weird that Fluttershy inexplicably gets shafted.  Also, there are going to be all sorts of shipfics generated by those pictures, especially the ones with Spike, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity.  

There's one last little character scene at the tail end with SA and Twilight having a final reconciliation.  It's nice, if a bit afterthought-ish.  Again, its good to see them reconciling, but I kinda wish their interaction would have been a bit more detailed.  After all the interaction they had in the first  episode, they really don't have nearly as many moments together this time around.  That said, at the very least it does address the fact that Twilight has come to terms with her brother getting married, so it's not a total loss.

The final moments in the episode are typical wedding style humor.  We all knew that there was going to be a bouquet throwing joke, and it really isn't a surprise that Rarity goes a bit crazy over it.  The last scene also finally gives Spike something to do: call back to a joke from the first half of the episode.  Spike obviously doesn't understand the point of the bachelor party.  

Other Stuff:

Oh man, there is a ton of stuff to say about this episode (and the finale as a whole), but on the whole the entire thing was AWESOME.  Not to say that it wasn't without its flaws, of course.  The episode is packed rather densely and would have benefited from being maybe 5-10 minutes longer, especially if it would have given Cadence and Chrysalis more screen time.  The Power of Love thing is also a bit hokey, even for this show.  I would have also liked to see a bit more detailed interaction between Twilight and her friends and brother about the events of the first episode.  And the moral is kinda shoehorned in and doesn't really match up all that well with the episode as a whole.  So yeah, there are definitely some issues.  I mean, there's really no such thing as a perfect episode.  You look at anything closely enough and you'll find something to complain about.  The thing is that I think the issues in the episode are far outweighed by the good parts.

As I was watching the episode, I wasn't giving a crap about most of those issues.  I was too busy thinking about how cool of a villain Chrysalis was, how awesome the fight was, how the animators fit so many jokes into the fight sequences, the villain song, gasping in shock that "Holy Crap she actually beat Celestia!", and generally just basking in the quality aspects of the episode.  So in the end, I can't really say that the episode was "bad" in any way.  Were there aspects that could be improved?  Absolutely, there always are.  But none of the aspects that merit improvement were so bad that they really inhibited my enjoyment of the episode.  There's just so much cool stuff going on that while you're watching it, you don't really think too much about the problem areas.  The issues are subtle enough that most of them aren't that evident unless you sit down and think about it.  And the more evident issues (like the cheesiness of the Love Power) really comes with the My Little Pony territory.

Another thing about this episode that really bears mentioning is the hype.  The hub has really been hyping this thing like no tomorrow; they released more preview clips and frames and whatnot than for any other episode.  They bulked up the commercials and had all sorts of special events and stuff to get people worked up about it.  I can't be the only person who was kinda petrified as the actual airdate approached; after all the hype there was a real danger that the episode would fall flat and the audience would go "we got all worked up for this?".  And yet, the episode avoided that.  And the reason that I think they managed to pull it off is because they didn't actually reveal anything about the episode in the myriad previews.  

Almost all of the clips are from the last 5 minutes of the second episode, after all the conflict has been resolved.  None of the clips even remotely hint at the whole deal with the changeling attack.  The one action-y scene we got, the clones, was almost universally interpreted differently; almost no one theorized that it was some sort of legitimate enemy to blame.  Most people tended to either claim it was a Twilight spell gone wrong or that it was a prankster or something.  The closest guess was maybe that Discord escaped, but even that wasn't really close.

The reason the episode managed to live up to the hype is that it wasn't hyped for what it was.  All the commercials and preview material was priming us for typical slice of life wedding shenanigans.  It told us to expect something relatively mundane and then sucker punched us with a bunch of evil machinations and action sequences that we weren't expecting.  The entire preview was a big joke on the audience; you can easily imagine the people editing the trailers together snickering to themselves about how the audience has no idea what they're in for.  It's impressive that after all the hype the show didn't fall flat on its face.  It's borderline miraculous that it built up absurd expectations for itself and then surpassed those expectations completely.  The previews totally were screwing with us.

Finally, I feel compelled to point out the utter absurdity of everything the finale represents, and just how the quality has affected us.  I mean, think about it for a minute.  The thing we watched has an official title:

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

A Canterlot Wedding


It should not be possible for a show with that title to be that good.  That title is so saccharine that just reading those words should give your teeth diabetes.  Just look at it.  "My Little Pony".  Ever since the franchise was created, it's basically a byword for "stereotypically girly, pink, frilly, and so sickeningly sweet that you can't even look at it".  Then we have "Friendship is Magic".  It's just such a bizarrely optimistic and happy sentiment that it's hard to even believe that the people who came up with it were being serious.  And "A Canterlot Wedding".  Aside from the fact that the use of "Canterlot" in conjunction with "My Little Pony" should be enough to trigger the gag reflex, a wedding is probably the most stereotypically frilly and girly subject matter that they could have possibly gone with (aside from maybe having a fashion show or shopping spree).  When you put all the elements together, the result should really be entirely unbearable.

And yet it utterly surpassed all expectations and blew almost all the fans out of the water.  I can't think of any greater testament to the ability of the show's writers, animators, composers, and whatever, than the fact that they took something that should have been completely unwatchable and turned it into one of the best episodes of something that I've watched all year.  Even the complaints are evidence of that level of quality.  Rather than people responding with the customary revulsion for something of this type, the complaints are about pacing, characterization, plot points; people are taking it seriously.  People are watching My Little Pony and taking it seriously.  That alone is the best indicator of how good the show is.  Heck, the mere fact that I'm here writing this massive 6000+ word review shows that this show has an incredible amount of depth.

So ultimately, yeah, the finale has some problems, but in just about all respects, the positives outweigh the negatives.  I'm sure that a bunch of people will disagree with me about a lot of this, but the mere fact that we're discussing it says a lot.  The finale, as a whole, isn't perfect, but it's probably one of the best things I've watched in a long time, and it's definitely one of the best episodes of the show thus far.

Summary:

Pros:

- Villain Song!
- Chrysalis is a very well-designed and entertaining villain; you don't see many villains who feed off of love, especially in a show like this
- The action sequences are amazing
- The entire plot of the episode has some great twists and WHAM moments
- The sequence of Cadence taunting Twilight in the cave is very well designed
- There are some great jokes spread throughout the episode to cut the tension
- As usual, the animation is amazing.

Cons:
- The episode is very dense and could stand to be paced out a bit more, especially in regard to the character interaction between Twilight and her friends and brother
- The moral was kind of shoehorned in
- The Power of Love thing was a bit cheesy


Baaaaahhhhh finally finished! It's the longest review yet. TL;DR I loved the episode, there are problems, but they're outweighed by the good.

I still don't know if I'm going to do season 1 reviews or not. I'll probably at least do a season overview or something yet, but this is it for the second season. It sure was fun.

:iconfluttershyyayplz:
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:iconrkerekes13:
rkerekes13 Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2013
On the other hand, though, it's quite safe to assume that Twilight's peers (brother, friends, and mentor) all forgave her offscreen.
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:iconrkerekes13:
rkerekes13 Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2013
Again, I don't follow the views of Twilight's peers in this story; I follow the views of Twilight herself, being that she was absolutely 100% right to be suspicious of the fake Cadence's behavior, no matter how poorly you say she delivered her accusations.
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:iconjapaneseteeth:
JapaneseTeeth Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
She was right to be suspicious, but she utterly failed to explain why she had any right to be suspicious. She certainly has her reasons, but she never tells any of her friends. Saying Twilight was right and that her friends were right aren't mutually exclusive views given what each group has to work with.

Put yourself in say, Applejack's shoes. Twilight's first reaction upon finding out her brother was getting married was to be angry that he didn't tell her. She's completely put out about this for the entire trip to Canterlot. Upon arriving, she runs off to confront her brother, and you don't see her again until she comes to the kitchen to check on the food. Cadance, as far as you know, is a bit tight-wound, but seems otherwise fine. She never tells you to change anything, so you figure it's fine.

The next time you see Twilight she shows up at the dinner table and promptly starts to complain about how much of a jerk Cadance is, even though neither you nor any of your other friends have observed this. Then later that night, Cadance comes to see you and your friends (minus Twilight) and asks you to be her bridesmaids even though you've only just met.

So you go to the rehearsal, and everything is going fine when Twilight busts in and starts accusing the bride of being EVIL for no real reason, and the bride runs off in tears. It's kind of hard to believe that her friends wouldn't be upset with her in that circumstance because again, they have no reason to believe that anything is wrong with Cadance herself, only that Twilight has been angry at her all day.
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:iconrkerekes13:
rkerekes13 Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2013
I think you contradicted yourself. She explained her reasons out loud towards the end of part 1 which is enough for me, and the fact that Twilight still turned out to be right is the bottom line.

I'm sorry, but I can't put myself in Applejack's shoes. If Cadence ever acted like that toward me, I wouldn't just idly stand by; I'd talk to somebody, either her or somebody else.

That doesn't make any sense. If I was one of Twilight's friends, I'd sooner or later take her word, even before the accusation part.

Twilight DID have a good reason to accuse her for being evil due to the spell she cast on her brother. Now you can argue that it's "hard to believe that her friends wouldn't be upset with her in that circumstance because again, they have no reason to believe that anything is wrong with Cadance herself, only that Twilight has been angry at her all day", but if I had been in that situation, I would have at least comforted Twilight, being that I do seek to be an understanding soul.
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:iconjapaneseteeth:
JapaneseTeeth Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'm not disputing that Twilight had a good reason, I'm disputing that her friends had a good reason to believe her when she didn't present any hard evidence.

Yes, Twilight was right, but none of her friends had access to the same information she did, and she never made any real effort to explain herself. You're judging the rest of the cast on information they didn't have. They were wrong, yes, but under the circumstances there was no possible way for them to know that.
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:iconrkerekes13:
rkerekes13 Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2013
I must reiterate that she had no possible way of presenting hard evidence, which I even added to TV Tropes.

She did make a real effort to explain herself, but the only reason it was foiled was because the fake Cadence pulled a Wounded Gazelle Gambit* to alienate her from her peers. Plus, there were plenty of ways for them to know about it, but as Twilight and Queen Chrysalis both pointed out, they were too caught up in the wedding plans to give Twilight's suspicions any considerations. To me, it makes their blindness clearly unjustified beyond a shadow of a doubt.
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:iconjapaneseteeth:
JapaneseTeeth Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
That's my exact point. The fact that Twilight was right doesn't in any way explain why her friends would believe her when she fails to explain herself.

She presented 3 points of evidence:

1. Cadance was mean to her friends.

2. Cadance did something to her bridesmaids

3. Cadance cast a spell on Shining.

All three of these pieces of "evidence" are counteracted:

1. None of her other friends think Cadance ever acted out of line, nor did they ever see any of it.

2. Shining himself explains why the bridesmaids were given the boot

3. Shining also explains that the spell was a headache remedy.

Add to this that it wouldn't be the first time Twilight has utterly gone off the deep end, and there's no good in-universe reason why they should believe her that Cadance is evil. None of her "evidence" holds up under examination and she'd previously demonstrated possessiveness and anger towards her brother.

I'm not saying her friends were correct; they obviously weren't. But you're expecting them to agree with Twilight even though there's no reason they would. They made a mistake in not believing Twilight, but that mistake is justifiable under the circumstances. They made the most logical decision based on the information that was available to them. They got it wrong, but they got it wrong because they didn't know the whole story, not because they were bad friends.
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:iconrkerekes13:
rkerekes13 Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2013
Again, she more or less did explain herself, but the only reason she didn't appear to do a good job at it was because the fake Cadence pulled a Wounded Gazelle Gambit*. Thus, the counteractions you pointed out are just bull. There are plenty of good in-universe reasons why they should have believed Twilight. If you wanna know a little bit more about that, I suggest you check out this fanfiction: [link] I don't care if she previously demonstrated possessiveness and anger towards her brother; her peers were just being total morons for not giving her evidence, which may I remind you she was clearly INCAPABLE of showing, any consideration.

There's plenty good reasons why they should. The mistake they made is NOT justifiable by any means. The information that was available to them was petty bull, and now, our conversation is over!
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:iconjapaneseteeth:
JapaneseTeeth Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
How are they supposed to know that Cadance and Shining Armor's rebuttals to Twilight's reasoning are false? That's what doesn't make any sense. We as viewers know that yes, Twilight is correct. BUT THE OTHER CAST MEMBERS DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO THAT INFORMATION.

So the question is this: "What in-story reasons do the other five mane cast members have to believe that the information was bull?"

So far, you haven't given me any reason why they should believe Twilight's statements over Shining Armor and Cadance's other than "they should trust Twilight", despite the fact that they have good reason to believe that she's wrong.
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:iconcommanderex:
CommanderEX Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2013
In your over-thinking you forgot to mention about lack of guards, I mean, there were tons of guards all over the place to defend again possible threat, but when evil Cadance sing, none guards hear her singing her evil plan, when Chrysalis show up her true form, guards who always guard Celestia or throne room are gone, when Changeling invade, entire army is not even there, and in the end out of army of guards, we just see 2 guards captured, and considering that 6 teenage mares took out like 100 changelings on they own without weapons and training, why guards failed to do anything, furthermore, why there were no guards defending room with EoH, would not this place be guarded the most ?
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