Recap: MLP: Friendship Is Magic S4 E8 "Rarity Takes Manehattan"
Rarity ♥ Manehattan
Suri Polomare: It takes some small-town fillies a while to learn it's every pony for herself in the big city, 'kay?
Written by Dave Polsky
Rarity is headed to Manehattan for a fashion show, taking the rest of the Mane Six with her to see the sights of the big city. In particular, Rarity intends to take them to see Hinny of the Hills, a sold-out musical that she managed to earn tickets for by designing costumes for the play. As befits the Element of Generosity, Rarity takes pains to be a considerate guest and a liberal tipper, for in Manehattan, doing favors for ponies encourages them to be generous in return. The Mane Six have so much fun seeing the sights that Rarity loses track of the time, and suddenly realizes she has only ten minutes to make it to the fashion show's dress rehearsal! Fortunately, her philosophy on favors pays off at exactly the right time — a taxi cab takes her to the show because she helped fix a wheel, and her dresses are delivered by a bellhop she generously tipped.Arriving in the nick of time, Rarity bumps into Suri Polomare, an old designer acquaintance from Ponyville. Suri admires Rarity's collection of dresses, which are made with an eye-catching new material that Rarity had created herself. Rarity loans some to Suri to help accent her dresses... only to find, upon arriving the next day, that Suri's presentation line is made entirely of the new fabric, sewn overnight by Suri's meek and overworked assistant, Coco Pommel. Suri shows no remorse, saying that it's every pony for herself in Manehattan. Realizing she'll be seen as a design thief by fashion show director Prim Hemline — whom she's already failed to impress with her late arrival — Rarity bolts from the rehearsal in tears.Meanwhile, the rest of the Mane Six have been enjoying the sights of the city and are anticipating a fun evening, topped off with Hinny of the Hills. A tearful Rarity bursts into their hotel room and explains her woes, to which the Mane Six offer their support. Comforted, Rarity is able to gather the will to make a new display collection, inspired by the fabrics and trimmings of their own hotel room. She puts her friends to work on the new dresses, growing increasingly deadened to their concerns — like working all night and missing all the sights of Manehattan. When they complain that they'll miss Hinny of the Hills, Rarity snaps and chastises them for not thinking about her career or her happiness. Once they finish, Rarity darts for the show with the new designs without bothering to thank her friends.Rarity's new line is put on display, and it appears to be a success. However, Rarity's excitement is shot when she sees her friends aren't in the audience, and is stricken with remorse for how awfully she's treated them. A rainbow-hued shimmer suddenly catches her eye, and she dashes from the show in search of her friends at the hotel, only to find they are long gone. Despondent, Rarity returns to the fashion show venue to collect her things and thank Prim Hemline for her time, only to bump into Suri and the rest of the Mane Six (they merely overslept). Suri tells her that Prim is furious that she ran off, and that she lost the contest. However, Rarity couldn't care less about the show anymore and is relieved to be with her friends, who gladly accept her apologies.Using her favor to the costume designer, Rarity treats her friends to an exclusive showing of Hinny of the Hills in exchange for a costume designing opportunity that, unfortunately for her friends, will keep her away from Ponyville for a while. At the end of the show, Coco Pommel enters and tells Rarity she actually won the fashion show, but she and Suri lied to her in hopes Rarity would forfeit. She gives Rarity a gift to apologize, and Rarity in turn sets her up with the costume design job. Back in Ponyville, Rarity muses that having a generous spirit means not returning evil for evil, while behind her Coco's gift of rainbow thread shimmers iridescently.
An Aesop: Just because some will take advantage of your generous nature, that's no reason to stop being generous yourself.
Author Appeal: The writers are fans of musicals and the show's always had plenty of shout outs, but this is expressed clearest in this episode when the Mane Six are enthused to see Hinny of the Hills. Even Rainbow Dash is excited, which Applejack gently teases her for.
Because You Were Nice to Me: Rarity gets a lot of help from ponies she was previously generous with. Considering Manehattan can be a tough city to live in, those ponies were very thankful for receiving respect, assistance and even some Disproportionate Reward from a total stranger, and were more than glad to help her back.
Big Applesauce: Manehattan, making this its first appearance outside a flashback and a few mentions. Elements like the ponified Statue of Liberty (seen in a quick montage) are central figures. We also see the equivalent of the Empire State Building, Times Square, Broadway (Bridleway), and the building with the "M" is similar to the Woodward's Building (which has a "W" of the same type). The bridge into the city is similar to that of the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge. Rainbow Dash as well as a few other tourists gain hats with "(heart symbol) (building)" iconographs, similar to the "I (heart) NYC" logo used by the city.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing / False Friend: Suri initially comes off as friendly to Rarity, having known her from previous event held in Ponyville. Then she sees Rarity's dress designs and tricks her into giving up some fabric for some extra material. The following day, Rarity shows up for dress rehearsal and finds Suri parading Rarity's designs under her name, after which the friendly facade drops.
Chekhov's Gunman: In a setting where paying forward leads to surprise favors, this episode has a few:
The cabbie that Applejack and Rarity help with the broken wheel during the song comes back to the cab stop just in time to return the favor when Rarity is in dire need of a ride to the fashion show. Note that this taxi's cab is the only one with a rainbow-striped border (compared to the normal checked pattern), and further alludes to the rainbow thread later.
The over-tipped bellhop for the Mane Six's hotel personally delivers Rarity's dresses on the Mane Six's behalf.
Coco Pommel's spends much of the episode in near-silence with a look of uncertainty plastered on her face whenever Suri acts disdainfully towards Rarity. Towards the end, Coco is the one to give Rarity her trophy and tell her about Suri's scheme to cheat her out of it.
Chewing the Scenery: Rarity's extended breakdown is the biggest one yet, consisting of two solid minutes of over-the-top dialogue and melodrama.
Curtain Clothing: Rarity uses various materials in the hotel to design a new line for the fashion show, including curtains, keys, and bedsheets.
Deconstruction: This episode could be considered a deconstruction of Rarity's generosity. Rarity (and the viewers) see what happens when someone unscrupulous or selfish takes advantage of another's generosity.
Dragon Pack Mule: Once again, Spike is used as a pack mule by Rarity, twice in this episode. And he also has to carry her friends' load of Manehattan souvenirs at one point.
Despite Twilight being a Princess and both being multi-time saviors of Equestria, Rarity can't get a taxi. At least one fan has pointed it out. Although anyone who's ever tried to get a taxi in New York (which Manehattan is clearly supposed to be) can attest this is Truth in Television.
A more implicit case happens when Suri and Coco lie to Twilight and the others about Rarity having lost the fashion show. Try to imagine Suri lying to Celestia or Luna. Justified in that Twilight usually makes a point of avoiding preferential treatment, regardless of her past accomplishments or titles.
Easily Forgiven: Justified with Rarity's treatment of the Mane Six during the emergency project with the hotel materials: Rarity is really brusque and demanding, but it's obvious she is highly distressed with a combination of panic and betrayal at how Suri screwed her over, and the sheer urgency of the moment.
Empathic Environment: When Rarity's mood sours (when she realizes she's nearly late, and later when she sings her second song), the weather turns cloudy and rainy.
Fashion Show: Once again, the production team makes an episode about fashion in order to promote The Merch, and once again, it's all about how horrible the fashion industry is. Suri is the only villain here, though: Prim is strict but fair, the other designers aren't shown to be jerks, and Coco turns out to be a sweetheart. You can't judge the entire industry on the basis of one pony.
Foreshadowing: When Rarity realizes she needs to go to her friends, her irises and one of the velvet ropes briefly shimmers rainbow. At the end of the episode the rainbow thread she got from Coco shimmers significantly as well.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: Both the velvet rope and the rainbow spool use the colors of her friends instead of the colors of the rainbow when they shimmer.
Funny Background Event: In the opening, after Spike is asked to move Rarity's last pile of bags, he can be seen in the background doing so. Each time it cuts away and comes back, he's lost some of his enthusiasm.
The street vendor carts sell "hot dogs" with carrots instead of frankfurters.
A billboard in the equivalent of Times Square shows an apparent fast food ad, though the "patty" of the burger appears to be made of hay.
Graceful Loser: Though Rarity actually won the contest, Rarity takes it completely in stride when Suri falsely tells her she lost, since she's glad just to have her friends by her side after all she put them through.
Gray Rain of Depression: Rarity sadly wallows through the rain while moping over how her ambition to win at Fashion Week have seemingly cost her her friends.
Heel-Face Turn: Suri's assistant Coco, who believed (if only slightly) in Suri's "every pony for herself" philosophy until she saw how Rarity and her friends treat other ponies, decides to quit working for Suri and give Rarity the trophy she had rightfully earned. Rarity rewards this by giving Coco the design job she got with the theater group in exchange for the tickets, which is easily a better job than she previously had under Suri.
Hypercompetent Sidekick: Implied to be Coco's role, as she was the one who made all the dresses from the fabric Suri took from Rarity.
"I Am" Song: Rarity's song about the generous nature of Manehattan and how she fits in there, the irony being Manehattan is anything but generous.
Idiot Ball: It should have been fairly simple to prove Suri stole Rarity's fabric and copied her designs — the bellhop pony (and by proxy other hotel ponies) surely saw her wheeling them around the day before, and Rarity has design sketches of her dresses, not to mention other colors of the fabric that she created herself and only she knows how it was made.
Innocuously Important Episode: The first "key" episode, where a member of the Mane Six sticks by their element despite great temptation and receives their key to the chest from someone whose life they made better in the process. And given that it's the first one, this likely goes over most people's heads on first viewing.
Irony: Rainbow Dash is sceptical of ponies who just burst into song. This, coming from a pony who hangs out with Pinkie Pie, a pony who spontaneously and in Pinkie's own words is prone to "sing[ing] a random song out of nowhere". Still more irony follows, as Rarity's the one who bursts into song, not Pinkie. If that wasn't enough, Rainbow Dash is voiced by a professional singer.
Suri is a pretty terrible pony. Living in Manehattan might do that to you, as Babs Seed can attest.
Also, some of the citizens, as shown as the Mane Six politely ask for a spot in line for the taxi, and they rudely rebuff them.
Jerkass Ball: Rarity grabs a hold of it when the pressure of having her entire line copied and her chances of winning the fashion show ruined, causing her to treat her friends like dirt. She thankfully drops it when she realizes what she's done.
Just in Time: Inverted when Rarity gets into the competition just under the wire, and the organizer criticizes for her being unprofessional doing that.
Karma Houdini: Downplayed. Outside of losing the contest and her assistant, Suri Polomare doesn't receive any on-screen karma. Though considering Coco was the one who made the dresses in the first place, that means Suri has no-one to glean from to take credit, meaning her fashion career will likely not last for very long.
Lampshade Hanging: After Applejack shows her amazement that Rainbow Dash normally doesn't like musical theater. Rainbow tries to save face by saying she doesn't believe that people break into song in real life... cue the music.
Nice to the Waiter: Rarity takes the opportunity to display her generosity by paying and tipping people with gems, which is seemingly the equivalent of handing out c-notes. Suri Polomare, by contrast, is rude to her assistant and abuses the generosity of those around her. You can guess how this works out.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Explored with both positive and negative consequences via Rarity's generosity, though mostly the former: a handful of ponies Rarity meets or has met in Manehattan lend a helping hoof whenever she needs it, while in Suri's case she takes advantage of Rarity's kindness for her own selfish purposes, as does Rarity herself towards her friends when Suri's words of "every pony for herself" start to get to her.
Of Corsets Sexy: Played with. Viewed head-on, some of Rarity's fashions appear to be designed to enhance a woman's bust. From the side, it is clear that this is because they go rather high on the pony's neck.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: For all the crap Suri pulled through the episode, it must have been a huge relief for Coco to actually find it in herself to quit working for her. She was also pretty awesome to work fast enough to amaze Rarity, albeit on the wrong side.
Oh, Crap: Rarity has it made once she gets to the fashion show! ...Which starts in ten minutes.
You can tell how upset Rarity is during her Dark Reprise because she not only doesn't care that her mane is soaked, but she also lets it drag on the concrete as she walks with her head down and just stands alone in the rain. This only showed up one other time, in "Magical Mystery Cure".
Also invoked in-universe when Applejack points out that if Rainbow Dash of all ponies likes a musical, it has to be great.
Pet the Dog: Rarity does get Spike to carry all her bags, but she also gets him a ticket to the musical along with the others. She also buys him a snack after seeing him struggling with the luggage in the city (only to have it snatched away by a passing bird). He is seen holding it later, so either he got it back or bought another one.
Plagiarism In Fiction: Part of the conflict in the episode stems from Suri Polomare stealing Rarity's designs for the fashion contest.
Put on a Bus: Averted; it looks like this will happen to Rarity when she agrees to design dresses in Manehattan in exchange for a favor, but then Coco shows up, and Rarity gives her the job instead.
Pyrrhic Victory: Subverted. Rarity wins the competition but thinks her friends abandoned her in anger of how horribly she treated them. Then it turns out they just overslept because they were up all night, and they are all very forgiving of her.
Pyrrhic Villainy: Suri gets away with stealing Rarity's designs but still doesn't win the competition, and she ends up driving away her far more competent employee, ensuring she won't be able to capitalize on any prestige she may have gotten from them.
Scenery Porn: They must have really gone out of their way to make Manehattan look even more eye-catching than its real-life counterpart.
During the musical number, Rarity swings around a street lamp a la Singin' in the Rain. Also a Call Back to when Sweetie Belle did the same during "Perfect Stallion".
Hinny of the Hills is reference to the musical The Maid of the Mountains. It's also referring to The Sound of Music, which had a famous opening song in the hills, and who wasn't thinking of that play/movie when Rarity makes clothes out of — among other things — the curtains?
Although her voice is more similar to that of Janine Melnitz, the secretary in Ghostbusters.
Smug Snake: Suri shamelessly plagiarizes Rarity by remaking her line of dresses with the purple fabric that Rarity already used for her own dresses and then makes a bald-faced lie that Rarity had been disqualified for running off in order to steal first place by default. All of this done while treating Coco like a personal slave. The terms "Amoral" and "Parasite" don't even begin to describe her.
Something We Forgot: After managing to get Rarity a taxi upon realizing she's late, the rest of the group realize they forgot to pack her dresses. Thanks to the generosity Rarity showcased before, they had managed to get the dresses rushed to the rehearsal on time.
Sore Loser: Suri, after hearing that Rarity had beaten her despite using Rarity's work as her own. She tries to keep Coco quiet about it as Rarity didn't know about it at the time due to the conflict with her friends, with the hope that it would be seen that Rarity forfeited and she would take runner up. It would've worked if not for Coco gaining a conscience and telling the judges what really happened.
Rarity gets her friends an exclusive showing of the musical to make up for them missing it earlier to help her make dresses. She did this by promising to help her costume designer friend with the costumes for his next play which, while a good opportunity, would require her to stay in Manehattan for a while. Then Coco comes in and reveals that she quit working for Suri, so Rarity offers her the job with the costume designer instead. So Rarity gets her friends the musical they wanted to see and gets out of having to leave Ponyville while also doing something generous for Coco.
When Rarity realizes how terrible she had been to her friends, she rushes out of the contest even though she's certain that she'll be disqualified. Coco reveals that Rarity actually won first prize in spite of running out.
Taking Advantage of Generosity: Being the Element of Generosity, Rarity is very generous with giving things away throughout the episode, a fact that Suri takes advantage of when Rarity offers her some of her leftover cloth and Suri proceeds to use it for her own dresses, effectively stealing her idea.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Have the multi-time saviors of Equestria and newly crowned alicorn princess casually walking down the streets (and hailing cabs, buying hot dogs, dealing with luggage, etc)? No-one seems to even notice.
Verbal Tic: Suri would like you to know something, 'kay?
Visual Pun: When the ponies stop to help a cabbie replace a wheel, Applejack is underneath propping the vehicle up, acting as a car jack.
Water Is Dry: Zig-zagged; when it first rains in the episode, all the characters stand outside for a good minute and remain completely dry (it's taken mere seconds for them to get wet in other episodes where it rains). Rarity is totally rain-soaked the second time around, but the background ponies, once again, are not.
Yank the Dog's Chain: Rarity gives Spike a carrot hot dog as thanks for carrying her bags. Unfortunately, a bird snatches it away from him before he gets a chance to take a bite. He is seen carrying another one later on, though.
You, Get Me Coffee: Suri plays this trope verbatim with poor Coco, just one of the ways she's treated like dirt.
Suri: Quiet! I pay an assistant to sew and get coffee, not talk, 'kay?