One dark and stormy night in Canterlot, a figure dressed in a black cloak enters a curio shop and requests to buy a red-and-black amulet shaped like a winged unicorn. The shopkeeper recognizes it as the Alicorn Amulet, "one of the most mysterious and powerful of all the known magical charms", but is reluctant to sell it until the cloaked figure deposits a large bag of bits on his counter.In Ponyville, Twilight is getting ready for a magic show for Princess Celestia and some delegates from Saddle Arabia when Rainbow Dash crashes into her with some shocking news—the "Great and Powerful" Trixie, the cloaked figure from before, has returned to Ponyville and is tormenting the townsponies with greater and more powerful magic than before. It turns out Trixie's still bitter with Twilight for (unintentionally) humiliating her and ruining her magic career after the whole "Ursa Minor" incident. Now she's out for Twilight's blood, and she won't stop attacking the town until Twilight agrees to her terms:
Their spell-casting duel starts out straightforwardly enough—Trixie attacks Twilight with her spells, and Twilight uses her own to defend herself. But the real challenge comes when Trixie casts an age spell that turns Snips into a foal and Snails into an old pony, which only the most powerful of unicorns can do. Because Twilight cannot lift Trixie's age spell, Trixie declares herself the winner, literally throws Twilight out of Ponyville, and conjures a magic dome around the town to keep her out and everypony else in.Trixie proves to be not only stronger, but meaner and nastier than ever as she takes over Ponyville. Twilight's friends are none too pleased with her tyranny and search Twilight's library for answers. They find out that Trixie's Alicorn Amulet has not only given her unparalleled magic power, but is also corrupting her with evil magic and, courtesy of a magic lock, can only be taken off by its wearer. Fluttershy is smuggled out of Ponyville by her woodland critters to give Twilight the news in the Everfree Forest, where she's been training with Zecora. The zebra shaman comes up with a solution:
Zecora: If Trixie's tricks have you in a fix, you must nix your magic and use the six.
Twilight returns to Ponyville and challenges Trixie to another duel, this time armed with her own "totally awesome" amulet given to her by Zecora. Trixie can't resist finding out what powers Twilight's amulet has that make her rival so confident, and accepts the challenge. They start with a "simple" age spell, but not only does Twilight successfully pull off an age spell that turns Applejack and Rarity into fillies, old mares and back in a manner of seconds, she can also create an exact duplicate of Rainbow Dash, make Pinkie Pie play ten instruments at once, and turn Applejack into a stallion—tricks not even the Alicorn Amulet can do! The power-mad Trixie takes off the Alicorn Amulet and steals Twilight's obviously superior amulet for herself...To her horror, the spells with her new amulet hardly have any effect on Rainbow Dash as she snatches the Alicorn Amulet from her hooves and gives it to Zecora to hide away forever. Twilight reveals her amulet is a fake, and her impressive feats of magic were nothing but smoke and parlor tricks pulled off by her friends. With Ponyville back to normal, Twilight puts on her magic show for Princess Celestia and the Saddle Arabia ponies as planned, with a fireworks display at the end from Trixie as a gift of gratitude for saving her from the Alicorn Amulet's evil. Though still as boastful as ever, the "Great and Apologetic" Trixie is forgiven and runs off into the night.
0% Approval Rating: Nopony is eager to have Trixie run Ponyville; not even her former fans Snips and Snails, who become downright terrified of her. This is even evident when she first arrives; if you look in the crowd behind Twilight when she confronts her, everypony is glaring at her.
To escape Trixie's magic barrier, Fluttershy hides in a log and has some beavers smuggle her out, believing Trixie would be willing to release them.
During their rematch, Twilight claims Zecora has given her an amulet even more powerful than the Alicorn Amulet, which she demonstrates with various high-level spells. Trixie steals the amulet for herself and swaps it for her Alicorn Amulet, at which point Rainbow Dash steals the Alicorn Amulet and Twilight reveals the new one is just a worthless trinket. Her "magic" was just sleight of hand.
Be The Ball: Spike is squished into a ball by Trixie's magic and thrown through a hoop.
Beware the Nice Ones: Fluttershy threatening Twilight if any of her buddies are harmed by Twilight's magic.
Big Brother Is Watching: In addition to trapping everypony in Ponyville, any disturbance to the barrier automatically alerts Trixie.
Birdcaged: Happens to Mayor Mare when Trixie takes over the town.
Black Cloak: Trixie can be seen sporting one. While she is more villainous in this episode, there's a different meaning here. It is a solid and plain black. Trixie, the Large Ham, is hiding from attention.
Body Horror: Trixie makes one of Rainbow Dash's wings enormous, fuses Snips and Snails' horns together, turns Spike into a ball that never stops bouncing, and removes Pinkie Pie's mouth.
Book Ends: "Boast Busters" ends with Trixie running away humiliated in a puff of smoke, which she recaps at the beginning of the episode. By the end of this episode, she runs away in a puff of smoke again, but this time on better terms with Twilight.
During the first duel, Twilight summons a parasprite to eat the oncoming pies thrown at her by Trixie then making it vanish when it begins to multiply. Later, Pinkie's talent in playing multiple instruments from the same episode returns to make it look like Twilight magically induced her with the ability.
Rainbow's perception of Fluttershy after the events of "Dragonshy" seems to have stuck, and she is the first to suggest entrusting her to sneak out of Ponyville to inform Twilight, with outright joyous enthusiasm.
Color-Coded Wizardry: Trixie's last (real) appearance was before they introduced unique magic colors for unicorns. Funnily enough, the colors she and Twilight had in that episode are now reversed (Twilight has magenta-ish magic, while Trixie's is gray-blue), except Trixie's amulet makes her aura red.
Crazy-Prepared: Not only does Twilight know how to summon a parasprite to eat a thrown pie, she also knows how to dispel it (and its offspring) when it starts to reproduce. This is a great example of H.P. Lovecraft's maxim, "Do not call up any that you cannot put down."
Defeat Means Friendship: After the duel, Trixie becomes one of Twilight's friends. Justified as in this case the befriending is due to gratitude from saving her from the amulet.
Delayed Reaction: Even after the amulet has been taken from her, it seems to take a while for Trixie to break from her amped evil persona.
Deus Exit Machina: Celestia is out of the country during most of this episode, and with Spike trapped in the dome, contacting her is essentially impossible.
Disproportionate Retribution: None of what happened between Twilight and Trixie in "Boast Busters" warrants Twilight's exile and the enslavement of Ponyville. Trixie's corrupted by the Alicorn Amulet, though, so whatever her original intent was, it was likely long forgotten by the time she actually got to Ponyville.
Dragged by Her Tail: When Fluttershy gets outside the magic bubble and decides she doesn't want to go to Zecora's hut after all, her long-suffering animal friends are there to reinforce her valor by picking her up by her mane and tail and carrying her there.
Drunk on the Dark Side: Trixie gets even more hammy due to the amulet's power. She reverts to her normal levels of ham after the amulet is removed.
Drunk with Power: Trixie. The Alicorn Amulet grants a pony incredible magical power at the cost of corrupting the pony's mind.
Easily Forgiven: Twilight accepts Trixie's apology despite the fact that she enslaved all of Ponyville and threatened to take over Equestria. Justified since Twilight knows Trixie wasn't in her right mind at the time due to being corrupted by the Alicorn Amulet, and Trixie proves she wouldn't have gone that far under normal circumstances.
Egopolis: After Twilight is exiled, Trixie turns Ponyville into one.
Celestia meets delegates from Saddle Arabia (which was first mentioned in a HubFacebookquestion). One of them◊ is even sporting the star and crescent on his saddle, although ironically, Saudi Arabia is one of the few Middle Eastern countries not to use it (they have issues with the Ottoman Empire).
The shopkeeper in the beginning is wearing clothing similar to Qing Dynasty officials.
We're told in the opening scene that the Alicorn Amulet is dangerous. We find out at the midpoint why it's so dangerous.
One may figure out that Twilight's "act" in her second duel with Trixie was all staged if one notices that the "stallion" and "old" Applejack look suspiciously like Big Mac and Granny Smith. Big Mac even makes the same "Eeyup", albeit with Applejack's voice, and Granny Smith has different eye color than Applejack. Also, "baby" Rarity has Sweetie Belle's eye shape, which is noted by the fans as odd for unicorn fillies. Also if you pause some of the scenes with the two Rainbow Dashes you'll notice their wings are different shapes with one having longer, thinner wing feathers than the other. And regular viewers can certainly figure out that Twilight doesn't need magic for Pinkie's one-pony band (beyond summoning the instruments). If you didn't, watch the "explanation" scene carefully and you can spot Big Mac being painted, Fluttershy dying her hair, and Granny in full disguise.
Freudian Excuse: Trixie's life was ruined by the Ursa Minor incident, leading to her trying to get revenge on the ones who she feels are responsible for it.
From Nopony to Nightmare: Trixie was just a jerkass stage magician in her last appearance. After getting the Alicorn Amulet, she not only gets untold magical powers, but is corrupted by its influence and becomes an evil tyrant.
Twilight takes on the role of Luke, the talented learner.
Zecora is similar to Yoda as the Mentor Archetype in the wilderness. She doesn't have the inverted syntax but she speaks in rhyme and quotes a Yoda line word-for-word, telling Twilight "You must unlearn what you have learned."),
With her new red magic aura and dark cloak, Trixie looks a lot like a Sith Lord. She tries to use a lightning-likeAgony Beam on Rainbow Dash. It doesn't hurt that the amulet and its color scheme are reminiscent of a certain evil unicorn.
Humble Pie: Twilight once again proves her skill as a unicorn far outmatches Trixie, no matter how powerful her magic is. This time, Trixie accepts the slice and becomes Twilight's friend.
Hypocritical Humor: In spite of her newfound humility, Trixie can't resist hamming up about how she's the "most humble" pony. Twilight just rolls her eyes.
Jaw Drop: Trixie does this when she sees that Twilight has "performed" the de-aging spell on Applejack and Rarity.
Jerkass: In the flashback, we see that Bon Bon's been as bitchy as ever—she's been following Trixie from town to town to make her life hell. And apparently Carrot Top's been helping her, as well as some of the other background ponies.
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Trixie was already a Jerkass to begin with. But once she wears the Alicorn Amulet, she went from an ordinary powerful magician to an outright dictator who went crazy with power.
Kick the Dog: Trixie does this in the beginning of the episode by tormenting Twilight's friends. The rest is just her skipping down the line. Considering how she's not herself, this might be questionable.
Laser-Guided Karma: Last time, Twilight bested Trixie's stage magic with her own more powerful magic. Now that Trixie has the more powerful magic, she bests her with stage magic.
Fluttershy threatens Twilight if any of her animal friends are harmed during a magic trick. Though they have to drag her into action themselves when she cowers before Trixie actually putting that idea to test.
Twilight herself is pretty angry when Trixie goes after Spike.
Mirror Routine: Rainbow Dash undergoes this affected by Twilight's "duplication" spell.
Misplaced Retribution: Trixie blames Twilight for humiliating her, even though Trixie only has herself to blame for not living up to her own hype. However, she spends the majority of the episode tormenting Snips and Snails, who were the ones that provoked the Ursa Minor to test said hype.
Fluttershy disguised as Rainbow Dash is one for the Blind Bags of Fluttershy usually being a palette swap of Rainbow Dash.
Zecora was originally intended to be a mentor figure for Twilight during the planning stages.
Never Live It Down: An In-Universe example; it turns out that Trixie's failure to defeat an Ursa Minor ruined her career everywhere in Equestria.
Non-Standard Character Design: The two ponies from Saddle Arabia are colored and designed like regular horses. They don't even have cutie marks, raising the question of whether they are supposed to be (my little) ponies or just horses. It's particularly strange seeing Princess Celestia standing next to them, because while Celestia is as tall as they are, her head is clearly bigger than theirs.
Not Herself: Trixie, who's corrupted by the Alicorn Amulet. Twilight notices it, sighting she's gone from a showboat to a despot.
Not My Lucky Day: Snips and Snails are really abused and mistreated by Trixie in this episode, presumably because they're the ones responsible for ruining her career.
Ocular Gushers: Pinkie again; this time she is unable to eat cupcakes after Trixie removes her mouth.
An Offer You Can't Refuse: Trixie threatens to keep casting malicious spells on the town and its inhabitants unless Twilight agrees to the duel.
Oh Crap: Many given the episode's plot, but the kicker has to be Applejack's utter horror when Twilight announces her as the guinea pig for a Gender Bender. The whole thing was trickery, so that was most likely an act.
Pet the Dog: Even at her worst, Trixie still deigns to raise the dome around Ponyville and let some beavers with a cut log out — if only to gets them out of her mane. It bites her in the flank when it turns out they were smuggling Fluttershy out.
Plot Hole: How did Pinkie not suffocate? Or play the tuba? The answer is given by Twilight: "That wasn't magic; that was just Pinkie Pie".
Power Creep, Power Seep: Twilight exhausts herself a lot faster in this episode, visibly sweating after levitating some ordinary forest critters. It's somewhat justified in that case she is having to control lots of small creatures moving in different directions.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: Trixie's eyes sometimes flash red along with her new amulet when casting magic. Also counts as Glowing Eyes of Doom since it's not permanent — It also looks superimposed because this is external power. When the power was coming from within the characters themselves it lit up their eyes from within. note The Elements of Harmony are a combination of inner and outer.
Shopkeeper: This is too powerful and dangerous to sell to anyone. (Trixie drops a large bag of bits on the counter) Shopkeeper: Would you like that gift-wrapped?
Sequel Episode: To "Boast Busters"; after Twilight upstaged her, no one took Trixie seriously as a magician anymore, and she could no longer make a living with her stage acts. Now she's returned to Ponyville, seeking revenge.
Skewed Priorities: Fluttershy is rather aggressively protective of her animal buddies towards one of her closest friends. However when they and the rest of Ponyville become endangered by a malevolent tyrant, she'd rather not take a stand.
Small Name, Big Ego: One can only assume that Trixie is this when she gloats about conquering Equestria next. Despite her boosted spellpower from the Alicorn Amulet, there're two princesses that she would have to fight in order to have that happen. Then again, she's Drunk on the Dark Side, and Queen Chrysalis has demonstrated that they aren't invulnerable.
Smash Cut: Pinkie interrupts the Iris Out to point out she's still lacking her mouth, which Twilight steps into the black and helps restore it. Pinkie takes a deep breath and - cue credits.
Smoke Out: Trixie is still bad at these. She's shown tripping when running away after her last one.
Trixie doesn't trust wheels. No doubt because of their tendency to turn on you.
Wheels also roll, and Trixie voices clear disdain for rock farms earlier in the episode. She doesn't like rock and roll.
Twilight defeats Trixie with just smoke and "mirrors". You might call them allusions.
The Stinger: After the Iris Out, Pinkie pulls it back open, showing her mouth isn't back. Twilight appears, and makes Pinkie's mouth re-appear, after which she gasps for air.
Stock Scream: The Wilhelm Scream is played as Twilight stops a cart from landing on Shoeshine.
Tarot Motifs: Twilight juggles the woodland animals above her head, both in the practice session and the final performance, in a similar mobius strip pattern that appears above The Magician's head in the card◊. Doubles as a Genius Bonus if you know the significance of The Magician tarot card.note It deals with talents and abilities, and whether to fully tap into those abilities to transform something.
Team Hoof Stack: Twilight's friends do it when they think out their plan to get Fluttershy outside the force field. Fluttershy was reluctant to place her hoof on top.
This Cannot Be!: Trixie declares this after Twilight Sparkle demonstrates magic powers beyond even those granted by the Alicorn Amulet.
Trixie does this to force Applejack to mash apples.
She later unintentionally does this to Rainbow Dash when she tries to do an Agony Beam.
Time to Unlock More True Potential: Subverted. Twilight trains with Zecora to beat Trixie, but she doesn't use any new magic skills in the second duel. Instead she uses the magic of friendship and sleight of hand.
Title Drop: Two: one for the episode's title when Trixie challenges Twilight to a magic duel, and one for the show as a whole when Twilight bests the Alicorn Amulet's magic with help from her friends, ergo the "magic of friendship".
Also discussed by Spike, who says that Twilight's magic has improved a lot since she first came to Ponyville.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Trixie was just a jerk back in "Boast Busters", but here, she defeats Twilight in a duel and banishes her from Ponyville. This is mainly due to the Alicorn Amulet turning her from an ordinary Jerkass into an outright dictator.
Twilight: It's like she's gone from "high and mighty" to "mean and nasty"!
Took a Level in Kindness: Trixie becomes a much nicer pony after being shown the error of her ways. The episode ends with her and Twilight parting on friendly terms.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Alicorn Amulet gives Trixie tremendous power, at the cost of turning her into a despot who takes over Ponyville and aims for all of Equestria. Snails brings it up when she forces him and Snips to pull her on carriages without wheels because she doesn't trust wheels.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Trixie's life was ruined by the Ursa Minor incident turning her into a laughingstock and drove her to get the means to take her revenge on those she sees as responsible. The Alicorn Amulet then corrupts Trixie's already angry mind and turns her into a full-blown tyrant with power to back it up.
Would Hurt a Child: Trixie's mistreatment of Snip and Snails amounts to this when one remembers that they are about the same age as Apple Bloom, Sweetie Bell and Scootaloo.
You Monster!: The general reaction to Trixie's nastier behavior.
You Will Be Spared: Fluttershy, though still reduced to an exhausted slave, is the only non-background character who Trixie doesn't target for humiliation or hurting. This makes sense, seeing as Fluttershy did nothing to tick her off in either "Boast Busters" or this episode.