I saw this episode earlier today with my mom. I liked it... though that might me because my mom was there with me and we both made glib observations about the episode as we watch it. I think it's here that I realize that watching these kinds of things, even if you don't like them, is always better when there are more people watching with you. This is why I typically only go to see movies in theaters with someone else.
The downside is that since I watched it with me mom and since we both kept talking during the whole thing that I didn't pay as close attention to some things, and thus I don't know about how critical I can be. Maybe to some of you that's a good thing, since maybe some of you think I'm being too harsh on episodes lately, but I feel like I'm a disappointment to myself by not being as analytical. Though on the bright side for both me and everyone, it'll hopefully mean this post will be shorter then normal. So, let's get rolling...
Oh, and by the way, in addition to spoilers about this episode, this also contains some spoilers from Adventure Time as well, so... watch out.
There's some kind of fair going on in Ponyville, I didn't catch what kind of fair it was, but Pinkie Pie's being adorable. Rarity wants to leave her mark on the fair, and she does so by... building a puppet show stage? Interesting... choice? Spike, of course, praises it, but the puppeteer hates it. What's funny is that I could already tell he wasn't going to like it before he even said it was awful; like the window for where the puppets are supposed to be was way too small, AND it had freaking vases on there! What the heck was Rarity thinking? Spike still says it's great regardless, and thus we get our foreshadowing for the episode; my mom picked up on it immediately, and since I wasn't sure if that wasn't going to be the case or not, I guess that means the moral was handled in a way that wasn't painfully obvious.
Rarity wallows her sorrows away in ice cream as Spike goes to the old castle library to find a book to help Rarity (BTW, my mom wasn't caught up on everything that had happened in season 4, so I had to bring her up to speed for a lot of it, such as what the castle was and the fact that Twilight didn't move there... even though I said it would have made sense). Owloycious is there, and for Heaven's gate writers, just how much longer are you going to milk that stupid "who?" joke?! It got immediately old in Owl's Well That Ends Well, and really, you'd THINK by now Spike would be smart enough not to mistake every "hoo" Owloycious says for a "who?" Anyway, he finds a book that doesn't at all look totally ominous, and takes it, and for some reason doesn't notice the place falling around him. Look, I don't care how absorbed into a book he was, if I fall, even for a few inches or a foot, I'm going to feel that fall and the sudden stop at the end!
He returns to Rarity with the book, she read it out loud, and I forget a lot of what she says, though I DID pick up on the word "truth", so I kept that in mind. Then she suddenly changes the stone book into a hard cover book, just by thinking about it! And her fainting couch into a much fancier couch! She then goes and fixes the puppeteer's puppet stage and makes it to his liking! Spike is about to reveal that she used a spell to fix it so fast, but Rarity keeps him quiet about it. Then Rarity changes Applejack's apple cart into a much fancier one, and decides to secretly change ALL of their carts into fancier ones. She then makes Spike swear to keep this new power between "the three of them"... that's him, her, and the book... Yeah, Spike definitely notices how freaking creepy this is and that he should probably say or do something about it, but because he doesn't want to upset Rarity, he agrees to this.
You know what's weird, aside from the beginning and at some points during this episode, Spike's crush on Rarity is barely brought up. It's a good motivation for keeping Spike quiet about this, but the episode seems to emphasis his more general friendship with Rarity then his love for her. I should also add that this is probably one of the few Spiek episodes where Spike's character is balanced out, and while he does make a mistake, it's a completely understandable mistake and he does come around and learn his lesson in the end! Yeah, I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is probably the best Spike's been characterized this season... until the end, anyway, but I'll get to that, well, at the end.
Anyway, Rarity continues to "improve" things, only to make things worse for everyone around her, including giving Rainbow Dash a dress, turning a kids party into a fancy party (and somehow transformed a bunch of ponies into completely different ponies... hell, I THINK a male pony was changed into Octavia!), and given Spike a crystal/gem outfit! All the whole, she doesn't seem to notice or care that she's making things worse, not to mention the episode seems to keep emphasizing that all she cares about is Spike's approval... in retrospect, it feels like a no so subtle way of making the answer obvious... it's weird, though, the episode keeps making Rarity sound like she REALLY wants Spike's approval on all that she's doing, only for her to immediately dismiss him and go about her "business". Of course, Spike can't bring himself to say that Rarity's going too fair; even lightly trying to bring her down, he still can't say anything negative about what Rarity's doing. In addition, Rarity's shenanigans have caught Twilight's attention, and someone pointed out how Twilight seems to be the "hero of another adventure" here, in that there could very well be an episode base don her perspective on all of this, but instead we get Spike's perspective, not to mention she really does seem to be the go-to pony for disasters these days, especially since now she's a princess.
Spike and Owloycious talk, and Spike gets the idea that if he can take that book away from Rarity, she'll stop acting crazy. Sure enough, Rarity is done "Fabulizing" Ponyville and proclaims to Spike how she intends to move on to all of Equestria. With Owloycious's help, Spike manages to take the book from Rarity and... eat it?! I thought that would lead to some horrible repercussions, but it doesn't, really... Maybe in the future? End, doubt it. Spike feels assured that Rarity can't do a thing now and keeps praising her... only to be shocked when he sees she doesn't need the book to keep doing what she's doing. Just when it looks like she's about to go off the wall crazy, Spike finally comes out and says his honest opinion: that her "improvements" are only making things worse for the ponies she's doing this to. This ends up breaking the spell... Okay, there are some really nitpicky things about this ending that I feel like talking about.
One, I don't like how Rarity had no memory at all about what she was doing. It feels like a cliche, and you'd think she'd at least have SOME input over what she was doing, given that a lot of the spells she cast had her own personal flair to it. Hell, even with the Ice King, who is actually a normal human named Simon Petrikov, made crazy by the crown he wears; at least with him, Simon at least has vague memories and "impressions" on what he's doing as the Ice King, and knows who Finn and Jake are even after being briefly turned back to normal in the episode "Betty".
Two, the message, while good, gets a LITTLE too repetitive, especially given all the foreshadowing we got before we eventually got our message. Regardless, it IS a good message to have: a white lie is okay so long as no one gets hurt, and sometimes, you just have to be honest with them...
Which makes what happens at the very end INCREDIBLY insulting. Twilight comes in, CLEARLY frazzled about the whole situation, telling Spike NEVER to take another book from the library (assuming she's referring both to the treehouse library and the old castle library) without her permission. Spike response... by saying she she doesn't look good. Yeah, screw you, too, Spike. Being honest is one thing, but being deliberately asshole-ish and insulting is another.
That covers the basic overview, but a few other things I wanted to lightly touch on:
-The scene where Rarity apparently made a whole bunch of cloths over the night was pretty funny; I'm willing to bet a lot of creative people and/or artists are like that, they have a lot of ideas and they just want to get them all down. I'm kind of like that too, I have a lot of ideas and I want to get to them... too bad I'm such a procrastinator, as you can clearly tell.
-Twilight mentions that both Cadance AND Luna were there to fix up Ponyville... No Celestia, huh? Thing is, I was already spoiled about this ending by how many parody comics were made regarding it, ALL of them pointing out the exact same thing.
-So... did Spike tell Twilight what happened? I figured they'd try to keep that a secret, that way they wouldn't know Rarity was the one who did it all. But then again, I suppose Spike DID learn about being honest, and besides, Rarity is back to normal, so it's all good.
-The episode was written by Corey Powell and Meghan McCarthy. You know, for all I crap I give Meghan McCarthy, I will say this, she seems to be the best when it comes to writing Spike (MOST of the time), so it's nice to see that that aspect shines through here. As for Corey... really hard to get a good grasp on her writing style. It's weird I point that out, seeing as with a lot of other shows I watch, I don't seem to notice THAT much of a difference in style between writers (at least, not that much), so it says a lot when it comes to MLP that an episode is written by someone and I can not only IMMEDIATELY tell who it is, but also how jarring the difference feels from episode to episode.
And that's all I got. Definitely a lot shorter then Trade Ya (thank goodness). Next few days is "Equestria Games", and... really, for all the hype they're putting into this event, I really don't see what they're going to do with it or how they're going to cram such a major event into one episode...