Recap: MLP: Friendship Is Magic S4 E25 "Twilight's Kingdom - Part 1"

Guess who's back from the depths of the G1 verse? Think it's bad now? This is only the start!

"'Is he friend or is he foe?' the pony wonders. I can assure you — I am no friend. I am Lord Tirek!"

Special Guest Star: John de Lancie as Discord
Written by Meghan McCarthy

The episode begins with the group arriving in the Crystal Empire for Twilight's royal duties in helping to greet dignitaries of Maretonia. The job is pretty simple and hardly worth the trip, making Twilight feel she isn't doing enough as a princess. However Celestia, Luna and Cadance assure her she's just as important as they are.

During all this, a mysterious cloaked being who calls himself Tirek drains the magic out of a unicorn, causing the pony's cutie mark to fade and empowering Tirek himself. Celestia and Luna see this in a vision, and they gather Cadance and Twilight, explaining Tirek's past. Long ago, he and his brother, Scorpan, came to Equestria from a far off land to steal its magic. However, Scorpan came to appreciate the ponies and befriended them. He tried to get Tirek to do the same, but when he refused, Scorpan alerted Luna and Celestia to his scheme. Tirek was stopped and imprisoned in Tartarus, while Scorpan returned to his own land. When Cerberus left his post, Tirek managed to escape. Twilight assumes that this will be her chance to contribute something by stopping Tirek, but Celestia corrects her, saying the one to stop Tirek is to be Discord.

Twilight returns to Ponyville and informs her friends, who are in disbelief of the decision, save Fluttershy. However, Twilight once more feels rejected and heads to the Castle of the Two Princesses to keep herself busy, with the rest of her friends tagging along to keep her company. As they near the castle, Discord meets up with them and somewhat rubs it in Twilight's face. However, he does bring up a point about the Tree of Harmony and the mysterious locked box and how it can help her prove herself as a princess before heading off to find Tirek. Seeing that he's right, Twilight and her friends head to the castle and see if they can find any books to help. When none come up, Twilight refers to the friendship journal which Discord has helpfully bookmarked.

Meanwhile, Discord confronts Tirek and easily captures him. However, Tirek appeals to Discord's former nature as the master of chaos, and offers to share Equestria when they take it over. Discord finds himself tempted by the offer. Back at the castle, Twilight realizes that all the trinkets they gained over the season could be the Keys they need, having been given to each of them by somepony whose life they changed for the better, after sticking with their element despite great temptation. They gather the objects and try to figure out how to activate them. It's only when Pinkie throws Boneless toward the chest in frustration does the rubber chicken suddenly turn into a key and fit into one of the slots. The others do the same, but Twilight's key is still missing and she hasn't received it yet.

Twilight is then summoned to Canterlot by Celestia to inform her of Discord's betrayal. With no one to stop him, Tirek has free reign to drain ponies across the land. Soon, he will come for their alicorn magic, and with it will be unstoppable. To prevent this, Celestia sees there is only one option: the princesses must give up their magic so Tirek can't take it!

TO BE CONTINUED

*cue happy credits music*

Continued in "Twilight's Kingdom - Part 2".


Tropes:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: "I don't think it works that way, Pinkie." While interrogating an inanimate rubber chicken won't get the Key of Laughter, throwing it at the Harmony Box actually does transform Boneless (the rubber chicken) into the Key of Laughter.
  • Adaptational Badass: The original Tirek was no pushover by a long shot, the original Vile Villain, Saccharine Show, but his main threat was being the wielder of the Rainbow of Darkness and having an army whom he mutated with it at his command. Lord Tirek? He has no army and is still such a massive threat that sending Discord after him is considered the best means of defeating him. Somewhat played with, though — he starts out far weaker than G1 Tirek due to his imprisonment, and Discord was sent out because his abilities let him sense Tirek's magic and track him down effortlessly. It's only after he drains enough ponies that he becomes a real threat.
  • Anachronic Order: The order of the acquisition of the Keys in the friendship journal is different from the order of the episodes with the acquisition of the Keys.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: Many people feared that someone may have been able to escape Tartarus, especially when Cerberus was away, for a while now. Cue Tirek to confirm those fears.
  • As You Know: "I can't believe we had to give up the Elements of Harmony."
  • Badass Bystander: During the montage of Tirek and Discord steamrolling over Equestria, quite a few background ponies are shown bravely trying to fight back. Noteworthy is the first to fire off a magical blast at them, while a mob of pegasi (including the Wonderbolts and Derpy) try to swarm them.
  • Big Bad: Lord Tirek, who incidentally is a revamp of the original MLP Big Bad.
  • Blank White Eyes: Tirek's victims have all the color removed from their eyes, leaving only a greyscale pupil.
  • Bling of War: At one point, Discord dons a military uniform decked out with numerous gaudy medals and ribbons and a M1 helmet with four stars on it, which is made funnier in the next shot when Discord is wearing MacArthur's iconic sunglasses and corncob pipe.
  • Bubble Pipe: Discord's corncob pipe blows bubbles instead of smoke.
  • Call Back:
    • Tartarus was first mentioned back in "It's About Time" as a prison for all the evil creatures in Equestria. When Cerberus got loose, Twilight tried bringing him back before any of the monsters could escape. As this episode reveals, she missed one...
    • The mysterious chest from the Tree of Harmony introduced in "Princess Twilight Sparkle - Part 2" once again plays a part, this time having Twilight focusing all her efforts on opening it in the hopes of saving Equestria.
    • Celestia previously mentioned being able to use Discord's magic for good rather than evil as the reason to de-stone him back in "Keep Calm and Flutter On".
    • Discord says he has been doing a little light reading, and the book that he is "lightly reading" happens to be the Friendship Journal. The book has bookmark tabs that represent five of the six colors (excluding Twilight's purple) that have been used to denote the Keys for the box.
    • The five "gifts" given to the Mane Five at the end of their highlight episode — Rarity's spool of thread, Rainbow Dash's Wonderbolts badge, Pinkie Pie's rubber chicken, Fluttershy's flower, and Applejack's coin — become five of the six Keys to the mysterious box.
    • Twilight brings up all the hard decisions her friends had to make to get their Keys. Only Applejack and Fluttershy get flashbacks, though.
  • The Cameo: Flash Sentry makes his second appearance on the series, and this time he gets a line.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Celestia has one when she gets the vision of Tirek returning. Luna then comes in to confirm it wasn't just a nightmare.
  • Cerebus Retcon: In "It's About Time", Cerberus leaves the gates of Tartarus, where the most evil beings in all of Equestria are imprisoned. The whole thing is Played for Laughs when Fluttershy tames him like a cute puppy. Then this episode comes along to reveal that Tirek, the most catastrophic threat Equestria has faced yet, managed to escape while he was gone.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The history sequence shows Scorpan wearing the same medallion that Tirek wears now.
  • The City Narrows: Where Tirek begins stealing magic from unicorns.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Demoted to Dragon: Discord thinks he and Tirek are a Big Bad Duumvirate, but in actuality he's this trope.
  • Dope Slap:
    • AJ does one to Spike when he complains about the simple job Twilight does at the beginning of the episode, then tries to backpedal on his statement.
    • Rainbow Dash tossing Discord's "alicorn princess" crown from his head is also quite close to this.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Since Twilight's Element of Harmony is Magic, both she and Rarity assume that the lesson Twilight would have learned to get her key involved a difficult magical task, and not The Power of Friendship.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: Princess Celestia wears her golden tiara, collar and boots in bed.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Tirek dismisses his brother's befriending ponies so many years ago as a sign of a weak mind. More generally, he considers friendship just another form of imprisonment.
  • Evil Is Burning Hot: Tirek's magic has a fiery aura.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Lord Tirek gains a deep, booming voice as he returns to his original power.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: At first, Lord Tirek's voice is frail and old.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Discord is swayed into helping Tirek in exchange for true freedom.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: Tirek tries to suck the magic out of yet another unicorn bystander, before said unicorn turns out to be a waiting Discord.
    Discord: Tirek, I prrrresume.
  • Floating in a Bubble: Spike is briefly trapped in a bubble by Discord, which pops after lifting him up for a bit. Rainbow Dash catches him before he hits the ground.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • The necklace Tirek wears in the present is the same one Scorpan is shown wearing during their backstory.
    • Discord-as-a-pony's cutie mark resembles a cyclone or tornado. Appropriate for the spirit of chaos.
  • Funny Background Event: When Discord dresses up in a big, silly alicorn horn, wings, and crown, the Mane Cast all give him funny glances... except for Fluttershy, who appears to be giggling to herself.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Since Lord Tirek has the power to drain ponies of their magic (and in effect take away their cutie marks), local Mad God Discord is tasked with catching him. Discord's ability to sense magical disruptions makes him the only one capable of finding Tirek before his power grows too great, in addition to being so powerful that Tirek does not yet have the strength to drain him as he does ponies.
  • Hannibal Lecture: How Tirek seduces Discord to his side, complete with We Can Rule Together, as seen below.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Tirek's magic drain is accompanied by a rather chilling screeching sound.
  • Huddle Shot: When Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity, Spike and Twilight are examining the objects that will become the Keys, the point of view is from the floor.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Rainbow Dash points out that Spike had bragged during the train ride about how he'd saved the Crystal Empire the last time they were there. Rarity reminds Rainbow Dash that she's fond of boasting about her own exploits.
  • Informed Attribute: Deconstructed. Twilight Sparkle's princesshood serving only a minor role throughout the season leads her to question why she even is a princess.
  • "I Want" Song: Twilight laments that she doesn't have any actual duties in her first song.
  • Jumping Out of a Cake: Discord bursts out of a huge cake he just materialized by himself while talking with Tirek.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Lord Tirek takes the cake out of all the previous Knights in the show, considering he's literally stealing everypony's destiny by robbing them of their magic and cutie marks.
  • Last-Second Chance: According to Tirek's back story, his brother Scorpan tried this after having a Heel-Face Turn, trying to convince him to abandon their plans. Tirek wouldn't listen, so Scorpan had no choice but to arrange for him to be imprisoned in Tartarus.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Spike says he remembers the events of "Equestria Games" like it was yesterday. It was the previous episode.
  • Like a Badass out of Hell: A classical mythology variant, since Lord Tirek escaped from Tartarus.
  • Literal Metaphor: Discord's ears are burning because Applejack mentions "a certain 'friend' of ours" just before his Big Entrance. Yes, literally.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: A very specific "your role is based on your talent" variant is featured heavily in the refrain of "You'll Play Your Part". As Princesses of the Day and Night, Celestia and Luna's magics are tied to their roles in raising and lowering the sun and moon, respectively, and Cadance's love magic is what helps her protect the Crystal Empire; the clear implication is that Twilight's role as Princess will be tied to her Element of Magic in the Elements of Harmony.
  • Mana Drain: Lord Tirek can drain pony magic to increase his own power, which not only takes their regular magic but also their cutie mark and eye color. As his power grows, he is able to steal pegasi flight and the natural strength of earth ponies, with his ultimate goal being the magic of the alicorn princesses.
  • Morphic Resonance: Discord's alternate shapes, like the bird one, still reflect his Fashionable Asymmetry colors. Downplayed when turned into a stallion, as it would give him away, but he still keeps the overall color scheme of his head (including that of his blue goat horn for the unicorn horn).
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Discord is tasked with tracking down Tirek because he has the ability to sense the magical disruptions that come with Tirek draining a pony.
  • Mythology Gag: Tirek was originally the villain in the first My Little Pony TV Special. Scorpan is mentioned in Lord Tirek's backstory, and both have designs very reminiscent of their original forms. In a larger sense, this two-parter is a celebration of the 30th anniversary (late by one month) of My Little Pony as a cartoon franchise.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: In his first scene in the episode, the Big Bad introduces himself as Lord Tirek.
  • Obnoxious Snarker: Discord when he admits to eavesdropping on Twilight. The Mane Six are either not amused or simply don't get it.
    Discord: Woe is me! Will I ever learn the intricate nuances of being a good friend?
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: Tirek, probably the most humanoid of the show so far.
  • Parental Bonus: "My ears were burning" means the person realizes someone was talking about him behind his back. Apparently this expression has fallen out of favor among younger viewers.
  • Pep Talk Song: Princesses Celestia, Luna, and Cadance sing to Twilight to assure her that she has a place in helping Equestria.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Discussed. Twilight spends much of the episode lamenting that her role as a princess is largely ceremonial.
    Rainbow Dash: So what are you supposed to do in the meantime?
    Princess Twilight: Nothing. Unless, of course, one of you needs me to smile and wave.
  • Plot Parallel: Twilight's disappointment with not having been given much responsibility as a princess in the year since she became an alicorn is understandable, but in the Pep Talk Song, Luna alludes to how she had lost her own role during her 1000 year imprisonment as Nightmare Moon and the years after her reform before everypony accepted her back as Princess of the Night.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: And real Draconequi too, apparently, if Discord's "pretty alicorn princess" gear is anything to go by.
    Discord: We're still on for tea, aren't we?
  • Recruiting the Criminal: Princess Celestia sends Discord to track down the magic-stealing Lord Tirek. This backfires badly once Tirek coaxes Discord into returning to his villainous roots.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Deconstructed. Twilight spends most of the episode lamenting how she hasn't been given much to do as a princess other than "smile and wave" and unfurl a banner for some visiting dignitaries, and is especially distraught when Celestia tasks Discord over her with tracking down the escapee from Tartarus. Twilight is finally given a role at the end of the episode when the other princesses inform her that they must rid themselves of their magic to protect it from Tirek.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Lord Tirek was imprisoned in Tartarus and has escaped.
  • Ship Tease: A few of Fluttershy and Discord's moments show them being very close, plus the passing mention of the two having a get-together for tea. When confronting Tirek, Discord tells him he's only capturing him for Fluttershy's sake. He also has a photo of him and Fluttershy together.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Pinkie Pie is quite possibly the one member of the Mane Six with the least amount of speaking parts throughout the whole two-parter, presumably to keep the mood serious.
  • Shout-Out:
    • For a long time, the villain is reduced to a weakened form, shadow of his former self, and then he sustains himself by preying on unicorns... wait, are we talking about Lord Tirek, or Lord Voldemort?
    • When Tirek first steals power from the unicorn stallion, the barrel of oranges he was carrying spills out onto the street.
    • Discord makes his entrance la Mary Poppins.
    • He performs the typical shout-out to Patton when addressing the Mane Six while in a highly decorated military uniform (while wearing Douglas MacArthur's corncob pipe, ironically enough).
    • He also takes off on Blythe Baxter's electric scooter from Littlest Pet Shop.
    • The way he avoids Tirek's attack is by splitting his head in two, much like the T-1000.
    • Tirek refers to Discord's role as friend to the Mane Six as "pony errand boy."
    • When Discord hauls in some captured ponies with a fishing line, he is dressed exactly like Quint from Jaws.
    • The screechy sound of Tirek's devouring power is the shriek of the Aliens' queen.
    • The flag of Maretonia looks like the artificial Palm Islands in Dubai.
  • Stealth Pun: Discord appears in a Four-Star Badass costume. You could say he's... General Chaos.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Of the "immediately bites you in the ass" variety. Discord gets sent to deal with Tirek, but it backfires when Tirek talks him into switching sides.
  • Trickster Mentor: Discord seems up to this again, manipulating Twilight towards trying to open the chest from the Tree of Harmony.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • Tirek. Considering Hasbro lost the rights to a lot of their G1 properties, a revamp of the original G1 villain (or at least a character based off him) certainly counts.
    • Scorpan, here re-imagined as Tirek's brother, also counts, due to having less a role in the original story than Tirek, but here being the one responsible for his original defeat.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The original Tirek was the long-running king of this trope for awhile. This Lord Tirek seems to live up to the original's vileness, as a creature quite literally from the pits of the Underworld.
  • Villain Team-Up: Tirek tricks Discord into making a Face-Heel Turn and the two proceed to team up.
  • Visual Pun:
    • Invoked by Pinkie Pie in the cold open.
      Pinkie Pie: (stretching Twilight's lower jaw) Why the loooooong face?
    • Discord as usual. The best being his "ears burning" listening to gossip.
    • Later he shapeshifts into a bird solely for the sake of making a "free as a bird" joke.
    • Cadance sings "Soon will come the day it turns around" while the camera orbits around Twilight.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Discord once again demonstrates this power, both for the sake of puns, and to lure Tirek into a trap by turning into a unicorn stallion.
  • We Can Rule Together: This is how Tirek sways Discord to his side. He claims to offer something far more valuable than friendship: freedom.
  • Wham Line:
    • For fans at least:
      Tirek: I am Lord Tirek.
    • As well as:
      Princess Celestia: We must rid ourselves of our magic, before Tirek has the chance to steal it from us!
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: The basic idea behind the Princesses' song to Twilight.
    Cadance: But you stand here for a reason,
    You're gifted and you are strong,
    That crown is upon your head because you belong!