Rarity:I have to keep on trying, for everyone can see, it's got to be... Fluttershy:It's got to be... Pinkie Pie:My destiny... Applejack:My destiny... Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Fluttershy:And it's what my cutie mark... Pinkie Pie and Applejack:It's what my cutie mark... All:Yes, it's what my cutie mark is telling me!
Written by M.A. Larson
Twilight Sparkle wakes up one bright and sunny morning, cheerily singing about how fine everything in Ponyville is...until a deluge of water dumps on her head. She thinks it's Rainbow Dash playing a mean prank, but the reality is far worse: it's Rarity trying and failing to control the weather with her magic—and she has Rainbow Dash's cutie mark!A quick trip (and a musical number) around Ponyville shows that the rest of Twilight's friends have also switched cutie marks and jobs: Rainbow Dash (switched with Fluttershy) is trying in vain to rein in a cottage full of unruly critters; Fluttershy (switched with Pinkie Pie) is hosting a borefest of a party at Sugarcube Corner; Pinkie (switched with Applejack) is literally running Sweet Apple Acres into the ground with her inept farmwork; and Applejack (switched with Rarity) is failing to generate any business at Carousel Boutique with her tacky dresses. The strangest part? All of Twilight's friends think that their lives have always been this way, and are resigned to doing what their new marks are telling them. Needless to say, they're feeling pretty down—and the rest of Ponyville is being dragged down with them.Returning home, Twilight realizes what has happened to her friends. The other night, she received a letter from Princess Celestia along with a journal containing Star Swirl the Bearded's secret, unfinished spell, which Celestia believes Twilight is capable of understanding and rewriting:
From one to another, another to one. A mark of one's destiny singled out alone, fulfilled.
Twilight cast the spell to test it and didn't notice that it caused her Element of Magic to jumble up the other Elements of Harmony, and with them, the cutie marks and destinies of her friends. Because Star Swirl gave up on the spell before he could get it right, there is no counter-spell to fix her mistake!Soon Twilight gets an idea: though she may not be able to remind her friends of who they are, she can show them what they mean to each other. She starts by getting Fluttershy to help Rainbow Dash deal with her unruly animals. As Fluttershy calms the critters down and rediscovers her ability to communicate with animals, Twilight slaps the pegasus' Element around her neck. Its magic reminds her of her destiny and returns her cutie mark to normal. One by one, Twilight guides her friends to where their destinies truly lie so they can help each other through their troubles. Each time she uses the Elements until all five regain their true selves and everyone in Ponyville is happy again. Twilight remembers Star Swirl's spell and, inspired by her experiences, revises the incantation:
From all of us together, together we are friends. With the marks of our destinies made one, there is magic without end.
As soon as Twilight finishes writing the spell, the magic of all her friends' Elements suddenly funnels into her, and she vanishes from the library in a brilliant flash. Twilight finds herself in a vast expanse of space but she's not alone: Princess Celestia is also there, and she proudly tells Twilight that, by accomplishing what even Star Swirl could not do, she is ready to fulfill her own destiny. In another brilliant flash, Twilight reappears before her friends in Ponyville with...wings?!Celestia tells Twilight that, ever since she came to Ponyville, she has displayed the charity, compassion, devotion, integrity, optimism, and leadership of a true princess. Now it is her turn to guide Equestria through the magic of friendship, just as Celestia has done for her. A grand coronation ceremony is held for the newly-minted Princess Twilight Sparkle, where she thanks all her friends for what they've taught her. However, everypony is assured that this does not mean the end of Twilight's lessons in friendship or her adventures with her friends—in Twilight's words as she takes off into the sky with her new wings, everything is going to be just fine.*cue...even HAPPIER credits music than before!!!*
Arc Symbol: Twilight's cutie mark, which also matches the symbol for the Element of Magic. When Twilight has her Eureka Moment figuring out how to help her friends, her eyes flash with her own cutie mark. When the Elements blast Twilight, the burn mark left on the floor is shaped like her cutie mark. After her meeting with Celestia, Twilight returns to Equestria as a mote of light in the shape of her own cutie mark.
Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Temporarily. When Twilight completes the spell it concentrates all of the Elements' power on her, sending her to an astral plane where she meets Celestia. Celestia shows her flashbacks of all the ways she has grown and matured, and tells her she is ready for her next step of her journey. This, incidentally, shows that Celestia can ascend and descend at will.
Aside Glance: Derpy winks at the audience while hidden in the crowd during Twilight's coronation.
Badass in Distress: Rainbow Dash is tied up by her animals, who are planning to cook and eat her.
Ball of Light Transformation: At the end of the episode, Twilight returns to Equestria as a mote of light in the shape of her own cutie mark, before rematerializing as an alicorn.
Because My Cutie Mark Says So: Deconstructed. The reason Twilight's friends are miserable is that they're convinced their destiny is to follow their cutie marks regardless of their talents or what they want to do.
Big Damn Heroes: Twilight and Fluttershy arrive at the cottage just in time to save Dashie's life.
Another one for "The Crystal Empire - Part 2", or rather, the Crystal Empire episode as a whole in tandem with this episode. When Twilight is first informed of her test, Spike reassures her that everything will be fine. At the end of the episode, he tells Twilight that he knew everything was going to be fine. At the end of "Life in Ponyville", Twilight is interrupted when singing that everything in Ponyville is certainly fine, and as a closing line in the season, she flies at the camera and remarks "Everything's going to be just fine." Related, both songs "I Wasn't Prepared for This" (from the opener) and "Life In Canterlot" end with a similar pull-back from Canterlot, the character(s) singing on a parapet at the start.
Not to mention Twilight's reaction when she realizes that the whole thing is entirely her fault.
Brick Joke: During the cutie mark song, Pinkie Pie complains of being unable to fix a busted water chute. During the "A True, True Friend" song, she is still trying to repair it when her friends come to help.
Several nods are made to the Season 3 opener, "The Crystal Empire", following on Princess Celestia preparing Twilight for a greater destiny (as suggested by the writers in various interviews leading to this episode). Princess Luna's mysterious black book returns, revealed to be Star Swirl the Bearded's journal.
Came Back Strong: Twilight's completed version of the destiny spell apparently vaporizes her and she reappears on the celestial plane. After Celestia explains what she's achieved, she's sent back down to the mortal plane as an alicorn princess.
Derpy—absent for most of the season—can be spotted throughout the Cold Open and the final act. At the end she winks to the camera with her derped eyes just before Shining Armor arrives. She is also fully visible during the parade near the end.
Davenport, the owner of "Quills and Sofas" in "Owl's Well That Ends Well", appears in the opening number. His store oddity is even referenced in the lyrics: "here's the sofa clerk selling some quills"
The bear from "Lesson Zero" and many of the pets Fluttershy offers to Rainbow Dash in "May the Best Pet Win" are among the animals rampaging in Fluttershy's cottage.
DJ Pon-3/Vinyl Scratch makes her third appearance, though unlike the last two times she's not DJing, just among the ponies failing to smile at Fluttershy's attempts to make them laugh.
A very obscure one: Sassaflash (the turquoise Pegasus with blonde mane) making an angry (and odd-looking) gesture at Caramel (a brown Earth pony). They were seen nuzzling during "Hearts and Hooves Day", and Scootaloo said they were a couple. Seems they have a little falling-out thanks to Pinkie not doing her job.
Twilight's parents make a brief appearance during her coronation.
Lyra Heartstrings is once again jumping and mugging for the camera during the parade at the end, while Sweetie Drops/Bon Bon stands by the side.
Flitter and Cloudchaser: two twin Pegasi that debuted in "Hurricane Fluttershy" (with the latter also appearing in "Wonderbolts Academy" and "Apple Family Reunion") appear during the Triumphant Reprise at the end.
Cool Crown: Twilight's Element of Magic is re-tooled into her princess tiara.
Cosmic Deadline: The "swapped cutie marks" story is completed in the first two acts, with Twilight figuring out how to fix it at the beginning of the second act. The rest of the episode focuses on Twilight realizing her destiny as an Alicorn Princess.
Crowd Song: Twice; "Everything Is Going To Be Fine" and "A True, True Friend". The latter is a far larger example.
Decon-Recon Switch: The "swapped cutie mark" plot provides a deconstruction of Twilight's friends and how their destinies tie into their personalities. Each friend trades destinies with the friend she's the least like, causing her character traits to clash with her new task—Rarity is too refined to handle weather like the wild Rainbow Dash, who's too rough to care for animals like the gentle Fluttershy, who's too quiet to host parties like the outgoing Pinkie Pie, who's too scatterbrained and weak to do hard work like the organized and tough Applejack, who's too uncouth to make dresses like the elegant Rarity. It then reconstructs them by showing they're still the ponies they always were and are able to save the day simply by being themselves and helping each other.
Determinator: Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack are surprisingly persistent at doing jobs they're absolutely terrible at. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy gave up during the BSOD Song.
Enlightenment Superpower: Twilight gains her alicorn form by completing Star Swirl's unfinished spell, which she realized from just how much her friends mean to her.
Epic Fail: The swapped Manes are attempting to do difficult jobs at a high level of complexity with no talent or experience for the work. It starts out funny. The key word being"starts". Rainbow Dash's try at managing the animals that Fluttershy usually cares for stands out, though: the pegasus ends up tied up in a pot with the critters dancing around it, cannibal-style.
Eureka Moment: How Twilight realizes the solution to the destiny-switch spell.
Fake Memories: The destiny switch results in the ponies with switched destinies getting false memories to go with them that dissuade them from questiong why they are so bad at their 'destiny'. The problem is they didn't recieve the skills to go along with the memories. Exactly how extensive their memory alterations were was not explored.
Feather Fingers: During the song "What My Cutie Mark Is Telling Me", Rainbow Dash tosses Gummy into a birdcage and subsequently slams it shut using her wing.
Foreshadowing: Twilight's Wingding Eyes show her cutie mark, but with one important difference: it's the six-star cutie mark that descends from the sky when she transforms, not her five-star one.
Forgot About His Powers: Unless it's a residual effect of Twilight's spell or Rarity's persistence (which is not without basis in canon), it seems odd that all the other pegasi wouldn't try to fix Rarity's messed-up weather. Rainbow Dash may do the day-to-day work normally, but they're all perfectly capable. The same can be said about the Apples not helping Pinkie Pie on the farm, which is doubly weird because they do help out once Applejack decides to pitch in.
Walled-eyed Derpy and Jumping Lyra Heartstrings, two running background gags that had been absent all seasonnote Derpy has been all but completely gone, while Lyra was doing other things for this trope return during Twilight's Princess Coronation.
Gummy's completely unflappable/clueless nature comes through once again when Rainbow Dash stuffs him in a birdcage.
Heroic BSOD: During Twilight's BSOD Song, Rainbow Dash is shown just sitting in Fluttershy's cottage, having completely given up on trying to control her unruly animals. Similarly, Fluttershy just watches the angry townsponies, knowing she can't help them.
After fixing everyone's Cutie Marks and saving the town, she leads the town in a parade to celebrate. The rest of the Mane Six hoist Twilight up over their heads and she promptly picks them up in her telekenesis to join her.
At the end, the newly crownedPrincess Twilight gives a speech, citing her friends as the reason for her accomplishment and waves them over to join her on the balcony. Twilight Sparkle is among the few who could remain humble about becoming a pseudo-deity
"I Am" Song: Inverted. The point of the song "What My Cutie Mark Is Telling Me" is to show the audience what they're not.
Idiot Ball: Twilight, of all ponies, grabs ahold of it for about 10 seconds when she casts a spell that she knows nothing about except that it is incomplete. This lapse in judgement sets the whole plot in motion.
Averted. Unlike in "The Cutie Pox", where Apple Bloom became instantly talented in all her ill-gotten cutie marks, Twilight's friends don't really know what their new cutie marks even mean (best exemplified by Rarity doing weather control, when her new cutie mark is stated to mean racing).
Played straight with Twilight, who is surprisingly good at flying for someone who cannot have had her wings for longer than a day. This is apparently just an end-of-episode thing, though, since she later expresses difficulty at getting the hang of her wings in My Little Pony Equestria Girls.
Kneel Before Frodo: Princess Celestia and the rest of the Mane Cast do this upon Twilight's transformation into an alicorn.
Literal-Minded: The Elements of Harmony react this way to Star Swirl's last incomplete spell, taking Twilight's friends' cutie marksnote literally "a mark of one's destiny" in this universe and swapping them "from one to another".
The switched cutie mark plot starts out funny, but Twilight's BSOD Song immediately paints it in a much more negative light.
The whiplash can come during the song as well. Even though the tune is jaunty and there's humor in seeing them doing things they have no talent for, it gradually sinks in how absolutely miserable the girls are in their new lives. It's present in all the segments so the realization could happen at any time, but the most blatant is Pinkie Pie.
Musical Episode: With a whopping seven songs, the most songs in any single episode thus far, and more in this one episode than the rest of Season 3 combined.
Musicalis Interruptus: Twilight is suddenly splashed by water from a storm cloud at the end of the "Morning in Ponyville" musical number. Her backup singers even vanish with the splash.
My God, What Have I Done?: Uttered by Twilight to Spike while despairing over the heartache her mistake has caused Ponyville.
Mythology Gag: In the G3 series, Rainbow Dash was the fashionista.note G3 Rarity was a baby unicorn, so she has no real counterpart in Friendship is Magic. In this episode, Rarity has Rainbow Dash's cutie mark and destiny, almost literally making her "the new Rainbow Dash".
Never Forgotten Skill: Throughout the show, they have stated that Cutie Marks represent a pony's special talent and destiny, implying that a pony could never forget the skills associated to that talent. This episode confirms this trope. First, by showing that when five ponies get their Cutie Marks switch, they try to do what the Cutie Mark represents, but they fail miserably. Finally, by showing that when Twilight gets them to remember what they are good at, they get their Cutie Marks back where they should be, and that their skills remain the same regardless of what Cutie Mark they have.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Twilight casts the destiny-switch spell without knowing what it does, or what's wrong with it. Though it is reasonable to know what something does in order to figure out what's wrong with it, such an investigative method also requires knowing what it's supposed to do first.
Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Twilight's transformation into an alicorn and subsequent coronation. However, producers and Tara Strong have stated in interviews that this has no effect on her personality, and has little to no bearing on her role in the series.
No Time to Explain: After Rainbow Dash's cutie mark is fixed, she asks just what happened. Twilight Sparkle tells her that there's no time to explain. This is repeated a few more times during the song.
Obi-Wan Moment: As the other five Elements blast Twilight, she briefly looks confused and slightly panicked. She regains her composure, closes her eyes, and smiles—just before she apparently vaporizes.
Off Model: When Rainbow Dash is putting Gummy in a cage it is briefly apparent that she has her normal cutie mark.
Cadance, who first appears with her Royal Ceremonial Headdress, suddenly changes back to her normal mane in her scene alongside Shining Armor.
Twilight has a moment of this when she sees Rarity with Rainbow Dash's cutie mark.
The rest of the Mane Six have one when Twilight vanishes after getting blasted by the Elements of Harmony. Twilight, on the other hand, is not so panicked.
OOC Is Serious Business: Rarity, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie all have this happen to them after their cutie marks are swapped; Neat Freak Rarity is so distraught that she either doesn't notice or doesn't care that her mane is soaking wet and filthy, rough-and-tumble Rainbow Dash just gives up and Fun Personified Pinkie Pie becomes a dreary Perpetual Frowner who declares that her life is "no fun".
Opening Shout-Out: Twilight's picture of the Mane 6 over her fireplace is the same one that Spike sends to Princess Celestia in the opening.
Palette Swap: The four identical "banner mares" at the coronation are palette swaps of Fluttershy with different tails. (We don't know if they have wings.)
The Plan: Celestia explains that this is the outcome she was hoping for when she sent Twilight to Ponyvile back at the start of season 1. She's been carefully monitoring Twilight's progress in researching the magic of friendship which both developed her character and empowered her as a princess.
When Twilight realizes she has to use the Elements of Harmony to help her friends reclaim their destinies, she glows with an aura matching the gem in her tiara; Spike shields his eyes with his forearm, indicating that the glow is diegetic. Likewise, when her friends realize their true selves, they glow with auras matching the gems in their necklaces.
When Princess Twilight unfolds her wings for the first time, she's surrounded by a white aura.
Rack Focus: Seen when Spike lays his hand on Twilight's shoulder at the beginning of the second act.
Requisite Royal Regalia: The coronation ceremony is the first time we ever see Princesses Celestia and Luna wearing formal dress, Celestia's including an ermine-trimmed Cool Crown. This emphasizes that Celestia still outranks Twilight, since Twilight's new tiara (based on the Element of Magic) looks more elaborate than the one Celestia usually wears.
Running Gag: Defied with Twilight and Cadence's greeting ritual; the middle of a formal event could hardly be considered an appropriate time to do so.
Sequel Hook: Twilight's a princess now and Princess Celestia tells her there are things she has to learn about being one.
Series Fauxnale: On the surface this episode has the makings of the Grand Finale to Friendship is Magic. It rounds off the 65-Episode Cartoon format, it has more Continuity Porn than every other episode combined, it's an epic Musical Episode, and it ends with the main character fulfilling her destiny. Season 4 is on the way with 26 episodes, and head writer Meghan McCarthy has said she considers this episode to be the first of a three-parter.
She's Back: Each of the Mane Six gets a moment of this when Twilight is able to restore their rightful cutie marks and destinies.
Twilight's speech at the end after she is introduced as a princess is reminiscent of Lou Gehrig's 1939 speech at Yankee Stadium:
Twilight: Today I consider myself to be the luckiest pony in Equestria.
The ending, in which the view of Canterlot zooms out with Alicorn Twilight flying at the camera is highly reminiscent of the ending scene from The Matrix. In the same vein, tones of The Architect's scene from The Matrix Reloaded are present when Celestia is showing Twilight her past accomplishments.
Star Swirl the Bearded's unfinished spell is an indirect reference to Fermat's Last Theorem. Both Star Swirl and Fermat left behind a piece of work that was not completed until long after their deaths.
Even taking into account the musical nature of the episode, the "Morning in Ponyville" number starts out with ponies going about a perfectly normal day. By the end of the song, several townsponies have joined Twilight in her dancing.
"A True, True Friend" ends the same way, complete with a parade and several instruments.
When the Ponyvillians complain about Rarity's weather, she asks them if it's "too last season". Also, the checkerboard of clouds she makes could be considered a weather pattern. Not to mention the checkerboard pattern was used by Discord last season.
Pinkie Pie ends up with Applejack's cutie mark after the spell, and we see her attempting to work the farm (and not having a pleasant time of it). No one goes on to say that she could therefore be thought of as Apple Pie, nor the notion that perhaps the reason she doesn't do well in Applejack's role is because Pinkie is a party animal while Applejack is a workhorse.
There's also what happens when Twilight completes the spell. She's sent to a celestial plane, where she meets Celestia.
Rainbow's part of the "What My Cutie Mark is Telling Me" song has "They run around out of control and throw their hissy fits." This line is immediately followed by the "puddy tat" behind her hissing.
Stylistic Suck: Applejack's dresses. They're perfectly serviceable working clothes but, as expected, are a complete bomb as high fashion.
Super OCD: Taken to the extreme with Rarity molding the weather into aesthetically pleasing patterns.
Swapped Roles: A spell Twilight casts switches her friends' cutie marks and destinies—Rarity gets Rainbow Dash's cutie mark and has to control the weathernote even though Rainbow Dash got it for speed, not weather control, Rainbow gets Fluttershy's and has to care for animals, Fluttershy gets Pinkie Pie's and has to make others laugh, Pinkie gets Applejack's and has to do farmwork, and Applejack gets Rarity's and has to make dressesnote even though Rarity got it for her affinity with gemstones, not her fashion sense.
Synchronization: The Mane Six with the Elements of Harmony. When Twilight casts the destiny switch spell, it resonates with her tiara in the nearby display case, which then casts the spell on the other amulets and thus affects their owners.
They've Come So Far Song: "Celestia's Ballad," where Celestia sings about how Twilight has come such a long way in the context of telling her it's time to fulfill her destiny.
Tomboy Princess: Twilight always had the "tomboy" part, this episode just adds the "princess" part. While she's only slightly tomboyish, her focus on her studies is, relatively speaking, not quite as conventionally feminine as Rarity's fashion design, Fluttershy's animal care, or Pinkie Pie's catering, making her more tomboyish than average, at least as far as the main 6 characters go. And she's certainly the most tomboyish of the princesses; Celestia and Cadence are each clearly shown to be acting according to the in-universe traditions of the lands they have authority over, and Luna at least thinks she is.
To The Tune Of: Not an entire song, but the beginnings of Rainbow's and Pinkie's verses in "What My Cutie Mark Is Telling Me" use almost exactly the same tune as one line from The Flim Flam Brothers' song ("Yes sir, yes ma'am, this great machine lets just the very best.") It's hard to see any particular symbolic relevance of this, so there's probably not more to it than the composer thinking the piece of melody deserved a greater role than it had already gotten. It does make some vague degree of sense with Pinkie, as the goal of the Flim Flam brothers was to cause the Apples to lose the farm, something Pinkie very nearly does, though in an entirely different way.
Though the trailers themselves don't outright advertise the fact that Twilight becomes an alicorn princess, they are not subtle with the hints. Other media hasn't even bothered to hide the plot twist, including the title of the event itself. The episode is less about the fact that it happens than the how and why of it.
In the trailers Fluttershy says "Wow, Twilight! You look just like a princess!".
Truck Driver's Gear Change: "A True, True Friend" shifts up a semitone mid-sentence at the end of the chorus before the last verse.
True Companions: Twilight fixes her friends by getting them to help each other out using the talents they are supposed to have instead of following their (incorrect) destinies.
Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: A slightly more plausible explanation is that the spell affected everyone but Twilight into thinking that Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Pinkie were always that way, and the spell broke over them gradually with each Element as it was fixed. It would explain why nopony was helping or fixing the work Rarity and Pinkie were doing, or asking what happened with Applejack and Fluttershy's new occupations or where Rainbow Dash was. Further shown by the fact that everypony glared at Pinkie until her hair poofed back up (ie, the spell breaking over her).
Of course, some job-switching isn't the oddest thing that's happened in this season alone, so Ponyville putting up with that for less than a day isn't too surprising, especially since their default response to something odd is to go to Twilight or the other Manes and ask them to deal with it. It's entirely possible that Rainbow Dash starting doing the weather again before anyone had time to put together an organized response, and the rest of the switches weren't that visible to the townspeople. And people glaring at Pinkie is normal at the best of times. There is no proof of the townspeople having altered memories, and since Spike's memories weren't altered, the implication is that only the Mane Five got new memories.
Visual Pun: When Rarity gets Rainbow's cutie mark, she starts making literal weather patterns, favoring a checkerboard arrangement of clouds that causes the climate to vary wildly from one spot to the next.
Fluttershy: Wow... you look just like a princess! Princess Celestia: That's because she is a princess. Main Cast:Huh? Pinkie Pie: Hold on a second! (pulls glass of water from Hammerspace to perform a Spit Take)
What Does This Button Do?: Upon receiving Star Swirl's book and reading that the last spell doesn't work as intended, Twilight immediately casts it without having any idea of its function.
Wingding Eyes: Twilight's cutie mark appears in her eyes during her Eureka Moment. All her friends have their memories flash inside their eyes as they remember their proper destinies.
You Called Me X, It Must Be Serious: Shining Armor calls his sister by name rather than the diminutive nickname "Twiley" at her ceremony. It is both a show of pride at her accomplishment, and an indication of genuine respect for her new, elevated position.
A true, true friend helps a friend in need A friend will be there to help them see A true, true friend helps a friend in need To see the light that shines from a true, true friend