Photo Finish:Frootershy! It is time to make — DE MAGICKS!
Written by Meghan McCarthy
Rarity and Fluttershy meet up for their weekly spa day, where Rarity announces that she's doing a fashion shoot with the famous fashion photographer Photo Finish and proceeds to cajole Fluttershy into modelling her outfits. As they help prepare for what Rarity is convinced is her big moment, Spike decides to let Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie in on a secret: he has a crush on Rarity. Twilight is unimpressed, especially when Spike makes them promise to keep his secret, but Pinkie adamantly insists that they agree:
Pinkie Pie: Losing a friend's trust is the fastest way to lose a friend forever! Twilight Sparkle: But... Pinkie Pie:Forever!
Photo Finish arrives for the big shoot and is apparently impressed enough to ask to do another one, but it turns out she's interested in working with Fluttershy, not Rarity. Fluttershy finds herself reluctantly catapulted into the life of a fashion model, while Rarity fights back her envy as best she can.As luck would have it, Fluttershy and Rarity both confide their true feelings to Twilight Sparkle: Rarity is insanely envious of Fluttershy's success but is trying to be supportive and let her friend have "her moment to shine," while the meek and shy Fluttershy hates being the center of attention but doesn't want to let Rarity down after all her support and encouragement. Twilight drives herself up the wall trying to decide between letting her friends suffer and breaking her promise to keep their secrets; she is not helped by Pinkie Pie randomly showing up and reminding her that keeping secrets is Serious Business.Twilight eventually tries sabotaging Fluttershy's latest fashion show with her magic, but Rarity turns the crowd in Fluttershy's favor with her enthusiastic cheering. When Rarity visits Fluttershy afterwards to congratulate her, Twilight drives herself mad trying to keep from blurting out her friends' secrets. Fortunately for her, this becomes a moot point when Fluttershy and Rarity finally confess how they really feel about their situation, make amends for not telling each other sooner, and leave.Unfortunately, the neurotic Twilight finally loses control and blabs about Spike's crush... to Photo Finish. Spike is quick to forgive her this slight lapse and is prepared to write Twilight's letter to Celestia about what she's learned from this experience (that while some things are okay to keep secret, around friends it's usually better to be honest with your feelings)... once he's done fawning over Rarity, that is.
Tropes present in this episode (YMMV tropes can be found here):
Absentee Actor: Applejack and Rainbow Dash each receive one two- or three-second voiceless appearance to advertise a newly-famous Fluttershy, and are not seen otherwise.
Accidental Art: Invoked by Rarity to save Fluttershy's modelling career after Twilight had helped her act unattractive on stage. "She's invented an entirely new kind of modelling!"
Aesop Enforcer: Pinkie appears in increasingly unlikely places throughout the episode to stop Twilight revealing her friends' secrets, even when doing so becomes counterproductive.
Rarity insists earlier on that she wants Fluttershy to become a model. As a result, Fluttershy becomes so famous that Rarity gets very jealous.
Rarity: I'm the one who should be mobbed by strangers wherever I go!
Later on Rarity explains this was her reason for standing up for Fluttershy; in her jealousy, she thought she wanted something embarrassing to happen to Fluttershy on-stage, but she felt extremely guilty when it actually did.
Enforced Method Acting: In-universe. Photo Finish increases Fluttershy's Moe appeal by taking pictures of her natural reactions to harsh criticism.
Even the Girls Want Her: A great many mares start fawning over Fluttershy after she starts her modeling career. It becomes especially obvious after her Paper-Thin Disguise is knocked off by an overenthusiastic Twilight.
Everybody Knew Already: Spike's crush on Rarity is known by everyone. "Secret of My Excess" reveals that Rarity herself always knew.
Eye Scream: Pinkie Pie's "Pinkie swear" includes the line "Stick a cupcake in my eye." When doing the gestures, Twilight accidentally pokes herself in the eye with her hoof. (The proper form is to close the eye first.)
Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die: Photo Finish's pep talk for Fluttershy is anything but encouraging. It's possible that this was intentional, since Fluttershy's natural timidity and Moe appeal is what Photo Finish was trying to play up.
Green-Eyed Monster: Rarity catches herself feeling jealous, and lambastes herself for her "unladylike" behavior.
I Didn't Tell You Because You'd Be Unhappy: The driving force behind the plot. Fluttershy didn't want to make Rarity unhappy by quitting the modeling career she had gotten her, and Rarity didn't want to make Fluttershy unhappy by admitting she was jealous.
Ironic Echo: Rarity tells Fluttershy she must take the opportunity to become famous, repeating the words "You must!" with great emphasis. Later, Fluttershy tells Twilight she's only doing it for Rarity, and repeats the words "I must!" with the same kind of emphasis, except fading to resignation on the last go.
Is This What Anger Feels Like?: Fluttershy's so angry, she could scream! She's so frustrated, she could kick something!... except her scream is barely as loud as a tea kettle, and her "kick" just manages to wobble a vase.
Mythology Gag: If you look closely at the gallery with all of Fluttershy's photos, you can see Lauren Faust's concept illustration of◊ the G1 pony Posey, but edited with wings and Fluttershy's cutie mark.
Offscreen Teleportation: Pinkie shows up in places like a small bucket of sponges, a pile of apples, and inside a mirror to remind Twilight to keep her secrets.
Paparazzi: They hound the newly famous Fluttershy.
One of the photos of Fluttershy in the photo gallery dedicated to her is Lauren Faust's original design of her, minus the bunny and with wings attached.
At one point, Rarity dons a black cloak that looks like the one worn by the Old Hag/Evil Queen in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, jealousy being the corresponding theme. Later on, Pinkie slowly bites on a red apple, pauses as if something is wrong, then declares, "Mmm! Juicy!", parodying the poisoned apple from the same movie.
Pinkie Pie saying "Juicy!" after biting into an apple could also be a Shout-Out to Death Note, where Ryuk does the same thing.
Rarity also says "I want to be alone" in a manner reminiscent of Greta Garbo.
Spinning Paper: Not newspapers, but magazines, each adorned with Fluttershy's visage.
Springtime for Hitler: Twilight comes up with a plan to end Fluttershy's unwanted modeling career by using magic to trip her up on the runway and make her appear as boorish and unattractive as possible. The plan works perfectly until Rarity, in a fit of guilt, applauds Fluttershy's outrageous behavior as "a new style of modeling" and wins the crowd over for Fluttershy again, making her even more popular than before.
Throw the Dog a Bone: Rarity gets a minor one when, after an episode of being overshadowed by Fluttershy's success, a couple of fashionista ponies remark on her obvious fashion sense.
"Yes"/"No" Answer Interpretation: Unsurprisingly, Twilight has to ask for clarification after Pinkie answers her plea not to tell anyone about her plan with a long series of weird miming gestures.