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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Season 1, Episodes 11 and 12

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 8:30 AM

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Whose little pony is it, anyway? We get our first title shout-out, and the show's mythos expands.

Episode 11: "Winter Wrap Up"

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It's the last day of winter, and Twilight's up bright and early, all excited to assist the Ponyvillians in their annual winter clean-up.

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Spike asks the logical question, assuming that one's conception of logic includes using magic to change the seasons.

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But, no. Ponyville was founded by the Earth ponies -- the non-flying, non-magical-horned kinds like Applejack and Pinkie Pie -- and in spite of the unicorn population, the changing of the seasons has always been done without magic, and Twilight Sparkle is more than happy to help them do it the old-fashioned way.

Even if she has to wait a few hours for everypony else to wake up.

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But wake up they do, and congregate in the town square, including Proto-Derpy's return in this episode's Derpywatch.

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There are three teams, all wearing Rarity-designed colored vests to designate their duties: blue for the weather team (Pegasi, who still get to fly even though they didn't found Ponyville), green for the plant team, and tan for the animal team.

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But nobody bothers to assign Twilight to a team, and she's not sure where to go.

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The show's musical team has displayed its virtuosity before, doing homages to Bob Wills and Lalo Schifrin, but thus far actual songs have been the provenance of Pinkie Pie's manic personality. No longer -- Twilight's lament leads us into the title song "Winter Wrap Up," a full-blown, multipart Broadway showstopper.

For you chiptuners, here's the 8-bit version.

The song presents an idealized version of how the wrapping up of winter goes, but it was all in Twilight Sparkle's head, and in reality, things are just getting started. Twilight asks Rainbow Dash if she can help with clearing out the clouds, and Rainbow points out the obvious problem.

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She goes to Rarity, who's building nests for the returning birds -- in Equestria, ponies have domain over not just the weather but all the animals, or at least all the smaller ones -- and makes the offer Twilight's been waiting for: to let her help.

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Because Twilight doesn't actually know what she's doing, it does not go well.

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She moves on to Pinkie Pie, who's skating on the frozen lake so that when it melts, it'll melt along the lines and be easier to break. Something like that. I was raised in Fresno and moved from there to San Francisco, so things like "snow" and "frozen lakes" are mysterious to me. And Twilight's attempt to help goes about as well as my own attempts to ice skate ever have.

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Pandemonium reigns when Twilight tries to help Fluttershy awaken the animals, because Fluttershy assigns Twilight to the less-cute animals. Like snakes.

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She also encounters the business end of bats, bees, and skunks. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has never shied away from physical comedy, but this kind of broad slapstick is a bit jarring, especially after the sublime song. Or, wait, was such a contrast the point? Yeah, I'm going with that being the point.

Anyway, as she's recovering, Spike continues to be the devil-dragon on her shoulder.

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But, no, Twilight's going to help, without magic, no matter what. She persuades a skeptical Applejack to let her push a plow to clean up the snow covering the farm.

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Pushing a plow is hard work, so Twilight gives in and uses magic to move the plow. Faster than you can start humming "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," it gets out of control and causes an avalanche. Applejack is doubly pissed off.

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Not only is magic not allowed during the Winter Wrap Up, it's especially not allowed on Applejack's farm. All of the Earth ponies, Applejack is the earthiest.

Twilight later overhears Applejack and Rarity arguing in the town square about whether the weather team should melt the snow quickly (so planting can commence) or slowly (so the animals won't get flooded out).

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Consensus is not reached, and the mayor angrily points out this kind of thing is why winter hasn't been wrapped on time in years.

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In fact, in spite of how the song made it look, the whole process has been disastrous and is way behind schedule. The mayor ruminates that if they could just be more organiz-ized ...

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Twilight Sparkle takes over -- not with her magic, but with her OCD. Spring is saved!

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In the Shoehorn, we're reminded that everyone has hidden talents, and anything is possible with teamwork. Still, think about this: In a show called My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the protagonist gets in trouble for using magic, and learns that her hidden talent is being a one-pony bureaucracy. Kids shows aren't what they used to be, huh?

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Sherilyn Connelly

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