Recap: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S2 E20 "It's About Time"

Twilight Sparkle: Who are you? I mean, you're me, but I'm me too. How can there be two "me"s? It's not scientifically possible. You are not scientifically possible!

Written by M.A. Larson

Spike is leading the love of his life, Rarity, through a wonderful world made of ice cream... until he hears the clopping of hooves, whereupon he wakes up to find Twilight nervously pacing at 3:00 am. Turns out she's discomforted because, after planning her schedule for the month, she didn't allocate any time to work on next month's schedule, so now her whole year could be thrown off. Annoyed, Spike returns to bed in hopes of returning to ice cream land.

Later that morning, Twilight is still fixing her various schedules when a burst of purple magic abruptly goes off in the middle of the room. It subsides to reveal a purple unicorn with a torn spy suit, an eye patch, a disheveled mane, a bandaged head, and a scar on her face — Twilight herself! Now there are two Twilights, except one's from the future, and looks like she just walked off the set of Escape from New York. Is she perhaps from some distant time, when Equestria is embroiled in some sort of epic pony war?

Future Twilight: Actually, I'm from next Tuesday morning.

Future!Twilight has an important message to convey, but Present!Twilight is so excited at the prospect of Time Travel that she's full of questions. Future!Twilight has to put a hoof to her mouth to get her past self to shut up, but before she can deliver her message, she disappears in a flash of light. Suddenly realizing that she should have listened to herself, Twilight is charged up to prevent whatever unspecified cataclysm that's about to befall Equestria!

Rushing outside, Twilight warns Ponyville of the impending calamity; everypony laughs at firstnote , but she soon convinces them to take her warning seriously. The pegasi search the skies across Equestria, while everypony else fixes every crack, loose bolt, and stray hair across Ponyville. But even taking every preventive measure doesn't seem enough...

Suddenly, Cerberus, Guardian of the Gates of Tartarus — where all the evil beings of Equestria are kept — appears in the middle of Ponyville! He must be the disaster! Steeling herself, Twilight prepares for battle... until Fluttershy tames the beast by tickling his tummy. Realizing that Tartarus is still unprotected, Twilight borrows a ball from Pinkie Pienote , then lures the big lug home.

Twilight Sparkle returns home the next morning, whereupon Spike burps up a "lost dog" flyer from Princess Celestia, which gives her a paper cut on her cheek — the exact same one her future self had! Since this means the future hasn't changed and the great disaster is still to come, Twilight decides to do nothing at all until Tuesday, not even move. Spike and Rainbow Dash decide to have fun at her expense, with Spike eating ice cream by the tubful and tickling her. Twilight telekinetically tosses Spike away, causing him to accidentally belch fire and scorch Twilight's mane, giving her the same style her future self had! Pony Armageddon is still underway!

Spike suggests a visit to a fortune teller, "Madame Pinkie". With her gypsy magic, Pinkie Pie tells Twilight that… she will get a really awesome birthday present next year. Twilight asks her to use her Pinkie Sense instead, but Pinkie explains that it's only for vague, immediate events — like a flower pot suddenly falling out of the sky onto Twilight's head.

Pinkie Pie visits Twilight the next day, who has an epiphany (as well as a bandage) — disaster can be averted if she monitors everything until Tuesday! But when Pinkie reminds her that Tuesday is actually tomorrow, Twilight gets into a panic, then ends up looking at the sun through a telescope and blinds herself. While Pinkie provides an emergency eye patch from her secret stashes around townnote , Twilight decides there's only one thing left to do: Stop time itself.

Remembering that Future!Twilight said that the time spells were locked away in the Star Swirl the Bearded Wing of the Canterlot Archives, Twilight takes Spike and Pinkie with her to Canterlot. After donning black catsuits, eating ice cream, sneaking past guards, going in a circle, eating more ice cream, and having a helpful guard let them into the wing, the trio begin a frantic search for the time spells — but they're too late! Dawn is breaking, Tuesday morning is here! As Twilight realizes she now looks exactly like her future self, she panics, bracing for the impending disaster...

...and nothing happens. Princess Celestia walks by and says hello. The sun is shining. It's a pretty nice day.

Twilight finally realizes that she's been worrying too much, and pledges to solve problems as they come and let the future handle itself. As Twilight muses that it would have been better if only she had learned this sooner, Pinkie Pie shows a scroll that she found, which can send someone back in time for a few minutes. Twilight decides to use that to warn her past self not to worry about the future.

...oh, so that's where Future Twilight came from! Oh well, it's Past!Twilight's problem now. After a few laughs, the girls head home, especially now that Spike has a stomachache from eating too much ice cream. He had assumed that would be Future!Spike's problem... until he became Future!Spike.


  • An Aesop: An interesting two-fer. Twilight learns not to worry so much about what might happen tomorrow, while Spike (by way of an ice cream stomachache) learns not to just shrug off consequences to the future.
  • Aesop Amnesia: In just the previous episode, Fluttershy learns to stop being so submissive and stand up for herself, make her voice heard. In this episode, she's seen struggling under the weight of dozens of Pinkie Pie's bags while Pinkie Pie has fun with some balloons. We would need to see the scene in which she and Pinkie Pie decide who carries what to decide for sure.
  • The Alcatraz: Implied with the Gates of Tartarus, as it houses all manner of Equestrian monsters.
  • All for Nothing: Played straight, except for the fact that Ponyville's infrastructure got a nice sprucing up with all the preventative maintenance.
  • Amusing Injuries: Twilight is the recipient of all of them this episode, slowly turning her into Future Twilight until she catches up with herself. Both Future and Past Twilight play up the injuries for all they're worth, even mistaking a paper cut for a scar.
  • Anticlimax:
    • Twilight stands ready to face off against Cerberus all by herself with gusto, only for Fluttershy to tame it easily.
    • Twilight also enter full disaster preparedness mode, protecting herself and Spike, as the sun rises on Tuesday, expecting the worst, until Princess Celestia trots by and says hello.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Twilight calming that time travel is not scientifically possible. Twilight, of course, is a magical talking unicorn.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Twilight's checklist for disaster-proofing Equestria includes patching a dam, fixing a bridge, and trimming Pinkie Pie's bangs. That last one could be interpreted as Rarity preventing a "fashion disaster". Or preventing what happens when Pinkie's hair gets messed up.
  • Baby Talk: Fluttershy to Cerberus. "Who's a good boy?"
  • Bad Future: Comically subverted. Future Twilight just wanted to tell Past Twilight not to worry about the future.
  • Bathos: Twilight's dire warning kind of loses its effect with the novelty Groucho glasses.
  • Behind a Stick: Twilight hides behind a tree that clearly should not be able to hide her while sneaking around. Pinkie and Spike don't bother.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Cerberus, once Fluttershy is involved.
  • Breath Weapon: Future Twilight's shaggy haircut is the result of Spike accidentally fire-breathing on Twilight's mane.
  • British Royal Guards: The way Spike and Rainbow Dash act toward Twilight when she decides not to move.
  • Call Back: Star Swirl the Bearded is mentioned once again, and the Star Swirl "wing" in the Canterlot Library that was mentioned is basically just an extra-secured room — which is as big as the entire Ponyville library. A section of the library named after him was alluded to from the start.
  • Cock-a-Doodle Dawn: We don't see the bird, but we do hear it in the distance when the sun comes up on Tuesday.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Pinkie doesn't understand why Twilight has to sneak into the Canterlot Archives (because she thinks Twilight wants to find out about the present she's going to get). An unusual example in that it makes more sense than the real reason, since Twilight has full access and isn't doing anything wrong.
  • Compressed Hair:
    • Pinkie manages to fit her unruly mane into a tight-fitting costume again.
    • In the same vein, Spike's able to get his spikes to lay flat within the costume.
  • Compressed Vice: Spike seems awfully fixated on ice cream this week. Unlike candy in "Luna Eclipsed", there's no real motivation here. He initially does it to tease Twilight, and just because the effects will be someone else's problem — specifically, Future Spike's.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • Pinkie Pie has stashes of balls and eyepatches all over Ponyville in case of ball or eyepatch emergencies.
    • Twilight attempts to be this to avoid the disaster. The town being well-prepared to jump in to help is due to experience from being around the Mane Cast.
  • Dream Sequence: Spike during the Cold Opening.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Averted for once. Twilight doesn't make the best start to explaining to the town that she just got a warning about some unknown disaster from her future self (because of what she was wearing at that time), but once it's clear that she's serious, she's afforded all the respect a pony who saved the world twice deserves. Also, when in Canterlot Castle, a guard recognizes Twilight and lets her into the restricted archive wing she was trying to get into without any grief.
  • E = MC Hammer: Averted. While at first glance, the equations on Twilight's blackboard as she tries to understand how to stop time look like rubbish, they're actually legitimate physics equations on time dilation.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: This episode is about time!
  • Eyepatch After Time Skip: Future Twilight. Turns out it's because she looked into the sun with a telescope.
  • Eye Scream: That eye patch on Future Twilight? She trusted Pinkie to calibrate her telescope so it would be safe to look at the sun. You can connect the dots from there. Though Pinkie did explain that she had no idea whether she did what Twilight asked.
  • Face Palm: Well, Face Hoof — Twilight, upon finally realizing that her time-traveling is what caused her ordeal.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Twilight doesn't notice that the Star Swirl the Bearded Wing is right across the hall from where they came in.
    Twilight: I don't understand; it's supposed to be right here. How are we supposed to find it now?
    Pinkie Pie: Maybe we should ask somepony in the Star Swirl the Bearded Wing.
    Twilight: Huh, how did I miss that?
  • Fangirl: Twilight, of herself, and why Future!Twilight can't get a word in edgewise.
  • Fantastic Light Source: The unicorn guards use a magic glow from their horn just like a flashlight.
  • Flower Pot Drop: When Twilight asks the gypsy Pinkie Pie if she can use her Pinkie Sense to detect what will happen in the future, Pinkie explains that it's only for immediate emergencies. Cue "twitchy tail" and flowerpot to Twilight's head.
    Pinkie: Like that. (pause) Where did that even come from?
  • Fluffy Tamer:
    • Fluttershy has always been one, but this episode makes it comically literal.
    • Also an implied trait of Princess Celestia. She sends out lost dog flyers for Cerberus, meaning he's her pet.
  • Forgot I Could Fly: Twilight could have just teleported through the locked door to the Star Swirl Wing. She's also teleported both Spike and Pinkie before, so she could have brought them with her.
  • Fortune Teller: Pinkie turns out to be working as one.
  • Future Badass: Parodied. Future Twilight comes from only a few days in the future, and she only looks the way she does because of a series of random accidents.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Future Twilight's appearance scares Twilight a bit before she becomes thrilled with the whole Time Travel thing.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Just before Twilight confronts Cerberus, Cerberus has one of his back legs lifted, obviously about to pee.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Twilight drives herself crazy with worry over her future self's vague warning.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Comically subverted. After Twilight tries hard to sneak into a locked library section containing powerful magical artifacts, a guard she bumps into just lets her in... because as Princess Celestia's protégé, she's allowed in there, which Twilight herself forgets.
  • Hammerspace:
    • After finishing her checklist for disaster-proofing Ponyville, Twilight puts her scroll away. The hammerspacing comes in because Twilight doesn't have anything else with her that would store the scroll.
    • Spike's bottomless supply of ice cream, especially when wearing the Spy Catsuit. He keeps topping off his ice cream cone from some unseen source.
  • Hard Work Montage: While everypony is disaster-proofing Ponyville.
  • Hell Hound: Cerberus makes an appearance in this episode and is quickly tamed by Fluttershy before he can do any harm.
  • Help Your Self In The Future: Twilight tries, but quite literally gets in her own way.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: Twilight, Pinkie and Spike aren't quite as sneaky as they think. Downplayed for Twilight, as she does spend most of the sneaking out of sight. The guards spot her anyway.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • When Spike addresses that Twilight's pacing has worn a groove into the floor.
      Twilight: I don't have time for another one of your lectures, Spike! This is serious!
      Spike: My lectures?
    • Meta example: One of the ponies who laugh at Twilight's claim of being warned by her future self is Doctor Whooves.
  • I Hate Past Me: Future Twilight is frustrated by her past self's refusal to calm down and listen to what she has to say.
    Twilight: I can't believe I just did that!
  • Insane Troll Logic: Twilight first assumes that Future Twilight's warning is dire simply because of her appearance, and then goes through four phases to avert the future: Do something to try to stop it, do nothing to cause it happen, use magic to try to figure out what happens, and use science to try to figure out what happens. Finally, she decides the only way to stop the disaster is to stop time itself so Tuesday morning never comes.
  • The Insomniac: Twilight becomes an Obsessive Insomniac, spending one straight week without sleep monitoring everything, trying to catch the big disaster that her future self wanted to warn her about. Even Pinkie Pie is concerned. She also starts the episode as an Obsessive Insomniac, fretting over her schedule.
    Twilight Sparkle: Frankly, I don't know how you can sleep at a time like this!
    Spike: Three A.M.?
  • It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: Twilight pronounces Tartarus as the Greek "Tar-Tar-Os", and not "Tar-tur-us" like is most common in English.
  • It Only Works Once: The time-travel spell is specifically stated to work only once. Hence its temporariness.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Quite a lot in this episode.
  • Madness Makeover: Inverted, as instead of Twilight's looks becoming more wild as she loses it, it's her madness that increases as her appearance approaches that of Future!Twilight.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Why Pinkie Pie's Pinkie Sense isn't useful in Twilight's situation. It works to predict vague and immediate events, nothing else.
  • Mind Screw: Just a little bit, which is for the best since we have the target demographic's sanity to watch out for. At the end of the episode, Twilight just wanted to warn her past self about not worrying the future, a lesson she would have not learned if her future self didn't make her paranoid. Though she was already worried about the future before Future!Twilight showed up. Even worse is how Twilight got the knowledge of where the scrolls are: Future Twilight got it from Past, who got it from Future, who got it from Past, who got it from Future, who got it from Past....
  • Mundane Fantastic: In Princess Celestia's mail to Twilight, she refers to Cerberus having left the gates of Tartarus as a "lost dog" matter.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Unicorn horns can be used as flashlights. It's not the first time we've seen this utility, either.
    • Also, you have one time access to a magic spell that will let you travel back in time and prevent any past event; naturally you use it to tell yourself a week ago to chill out.
  • Mutilation Conga: Twilight's efforts to stop the "impending disaster" result in her looking more and more like her future self as the episode goes on.
  • My Future Self and Me: At the beginning of the episode and the end from the other perspective.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Twilight's incessant questions about time travel cause her not to hear what her future self wants to warn her about. On the other hoof, if Twilight hadn't gone back in time in the first place, none of this would have happened.
    • At the same time, averted: The town has had a thorough maintenance period to be ready for the next major disaster, and Cerberus, the Guardian of the Gates to Tartarus, is back where he belongs. All are unrelated to Twilight's original goal, but they have beneficial side effects.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: Twilight, Pinkie and Spike pose as statues in order to hide from the guards, even though they didn't really need to. The guards probably know it's them.
  • Noodle Incident: Twilight considers trimming Pinkie's mane to be an important part of disaster-proofing the town. Knowing Pinkie, there's quite a story behind that.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Twilight's journey to return Cerberus to the Gates of Tartarus is never shown, but considering how disheveled she is upon her return, it wasn't easy.
  • Ominous Message from the Future: What Twilight initially thinks the aborted message from her future self was. Turns out to not be so ominous after all. Not that Twilight allowed her future self to get a word in edgewise to find out.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Twilight's voice is a bit off in a few scenes, sounding more like Tara Strong's natural voice.
    • Rainbow Dash's is unusually deep in the scene where Twilight is trying not to move.
  • Paranoia Gambit: Future Twilight accidentally doing this is what kickstarts the episode's plot.
  • Parental Bonus:
    • While a certain other wizard has helped the target demographic know about Cerberus, the mythological concept of Tartarus holding back ancient evils is likely a tad above them.
    • Also, When Pinkie, Twilight and Spike are going through to the Starswirl The Bearded Wing, Spike questions "Isn't this where we came in?"
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Averted. Before Twilight can kick some ass, Fluttershy calms the beast down.
    Twilight: Hey Cerberus! You look like you could use some obedience training. Magic obedience training!
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Twilight gets a few, hinting of her mental state.
    Twilight: I. DON'T. KNOW.

    Twilight: Monitor. Everything.
  • Punny Name: This episode gives us two new towns: Las Pegasus and Baltimare.
  • Reality Ensues: Twilight forgets a basic fact about herself when she breaks into the Archives: she is the personal protégé of Princess Celestia herself, who else outside maybe senior government ministers would have more privileged access than her? Though it still bothers her that they aren't so surprised by her sneaking around.
  • Ripple Effect Indicator: Twilight's physical appearance over the week.
  • Running Gag:
    • Spike eating ice cream.
    • Pinkie Pie insists that Twilight is searching for her "really cool birthday present" as opposed to the meaning of her future.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Averted, for the most part. Instead of going with the underworld as the usual Greek stand-in for Hell, they mention Tartarus the actual Greek equivalent. Of course, Cerberus is the one guarding it instead of the underworld, but that can be overlooked; after all, the Hydra is busy marauding Froggy Bottom Bog.
  • Sanity Slippage: Poor Twilight can't catch a break.
  • Schedule Fanatic: While Twilight is known for this sort of thing, this episode kicks it up a notch when, at the start the episode, she's seen obsessing over the fact that, in this month's schedule, she didn't make time to make next month's schedule.
  • Schizo Tech: That hydroelectric (or hydroarcanic) dam is back again.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The episode reveals that there're a bunch of these things sealed away in Tartarus that are guarded by Cerberus.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: All of Twilight's worrying results in her acquiring all the ominous physical differences that Future!Twilight had.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The episode is a week's worth of worry, strife and grief, which all led up to the dramatic reveal of a very pretty sunrise. It was all caused by Twilight using magic to warn herself (unsuccessfully) to not commit a bunch of worry, strife and grief over the next week.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Future Twilight's arrival is reminiscent of Terminator.
      Twilight: Is there some sort of epic pony war in the distant future or something?
    • Future Twilight's outfit is based on Snake Pliskenn's, per Word of God.
    • It also nodes to Solid Snake from the Metal Gear games, including a sneaking mission and posing as a statue. All that's missing is the cardboard box. The Metal Gear explanation doubles as a subtle Actor Allusioninvoked; one of the many characters voiced by Tara Strong is Peace Walker's Paz.
    • Twilight's pacing makes a groove around a statue.
    • The music playing during Twilight's encounter with herself is a rendition of the Doctor Who theme "I am the Doctor". Also, before Future!Twilight materializes, the iconic "house key scraping piano string" sound of the TARDIS can be heard.
    • This episode shares some similarities with the Duckman episode "The Once and Future Duck". In both episodes, the main characters get warnings from future selves, try to avert disaster by not moving, and learn in the end not to stress out about the future.
    • Right before the Stable Time Loop happens, the resident bookworm concludes she has to learn two subjects at once.
    • After arriving back where they started in the Canterlot Archives, Spike asks "isn't this where we came in?"
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Those equations on the blackboard from Time Dilation.
    • From astronomy, Twilight's telescope directions are not Techno Babble, and the Horsehead Nebula really exists.
  • Spider-Sense: The Pinkie Sense makes a comeback.
  • Spy Catsuit: Twilight, Pinkie Pie and Spike all don one each. Lampshaded.
    Spike: I don't know why we have to wear these things, either.
    Pinkie Pie: Aren't we wearing them for fun?
  • Stable Time Loop: The reason Twilight freaks out about the future is because her future self comes back in time in order to tell her not to freak out about the future.
  • Stealth Pun: Spike: "Twilight! It's over!" Said to Twilight when twilight is, um, over.
  • Stock Episode Titles: Two other shows have used this as an episode title: Phineas and Ferb and The Penguins of Madagascar.
  • Super OCD: Twilight obsessing about not scheduling time to schedule her next schedule. She's also so caught up in tracking down the Star Swirl Wing by her calculations that she fails to notice it right at the point they started.
  • Temporal Paradox: Of the "Information Loop" variety: Future Twilight tells her past self where she found the spell to travel in time, which is why Twilight knows where to look for time manipulation spells when she needs one, which is why she ends up sending herself to the past and telling her past self where she found the spell to travel in time, which is why Past Twilight knows where to look for time manipulation spells, oh, no, I've gone cross-eyed...
  • Tempting Fate: Twilight warns Spike that he will get a stomach ache if he eats too much ice cream. Spike blows it off by saying it's Future Spike's problem and it turns out that's exactly what happens to him.
  • Tickle Torture: Spike does this briefly to Twilight when she attempts to avert disaster by not moving at all.
  • Time Stands Still: Invoked, but doesn't happen.
  • Time Travel: The plot kicks off because Twilight travels back in time to tell herself something.
  • Time Travel Tense Trouble: Some of the dialog raises this issue, and Spike's ice cream tummyache is a direct play on that, assuming that it would have been Future Spike's problem.
    Twilight: What a mess she is! Or I am. Or... will be!
  • To Hell and Back: Lampshaded. After disaster-proofing Equestria, Twilight comments that "Future Twilight looked like she'd been through a horrible ordeal." Moments later, she's off on an "epic adventure" to return Cerberus to the gates of Tartarus.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Twilight, who's taken enough levels that she faces Cerberus by herself.
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: Twilight at first thinks her future self is from the distant future. She's from next Tuesday.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Twilight does some while sneaking around the archive.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • Twilight assumes the Canterlot Archives will be heavily guarded and thus she'll need to sneak in, hence the Spy Catsuit. She seems to have completely forgotten that it isn't out of place for Celestia's personal student to be seen there.
    • Additionally, the guard pony and Celestia don't bat an eye at seeing a disheveled Twilight in torn catsuit acting like she is in a spy movie. Celestia even compliments her "new" hairstyle.
    • The guard also doesn't bat an eye at the trio's statue impressions. One might assume that he went "Oh, it's Pinkie Pie" and moved on.
  • Urine Trouble: Narrowly averted when Twilight calls Cerberus away from doing his business on the ice cream store.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Twilight's scheduling conflict is never brought up after she receives the visit from her future self. Likely made worse since "deal with warning from the future" was not on her original schedule. Though seeing no "impending disaster" was going to happen helped her learn to stop worrying about the future.
  • Whole Costume Reference: As mentioned in the Shout-Out section, Twilight ends the episode in Old Snake's getup, complete with end game battle damage.
  • You Already Changed The Past: Everything that Future Twilight tried to warn Twilight about came to pass anyway.
  • You Can Panic Now:
    • Pinkie Pie ask if anyone wants to panic with her when Twilight is telling everyone about the warning from Future Twilight.
    • She also encourages everypony to panic when Cerberus approaches.
      Pinkie Pie: Okay, everypony. Follow my lead: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Twilight attempts to change the future in order to prevent a perceived catastrophe, only as the days progress, signs keep appearing in the form of injuries, leading Twilight to believe the catastrophe is still on its way.