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Decent addition to the Rarity episodes
As a huge Rarity fan, I'm inclined to like this episode more since the focus is on her, but I think even non-Rarity fans can enjoy this episode. The setup is rather simple; Rarity travels to Canterlot and gets wrapped up in social activities there, which start to interfere with plans she has made with her friends. Rarity doesn't want to snub her friends, but cannot resist the allure of Canterlot elite status.

The episode centers around the mental wall Rarity has erected between her friends (the Mane Six) and her new connections in Canterlot. As it goes on Rarity ends up procrastinating on a promise she made to Twilight in order to attend events in the city, and eventually lies about not being able to attend Twilight's birthday party. While this is going on she tries to conceal her Ponyville roots so she can keep her upper-class status, which works out well until Twilight moves the birthday party to Canterlot so Rarity can attend... right next to the garden party Rarity was going to attend instead.

Some people complain the lies go unpunished in this episode, which is partially true; although they aren't individually addressed, they all contribute to the larger problem Rarity experiences in trying to keep her roots a secret. This is appropriate enough, since the lies were intended to satisfy both the Canterlot ponies and her friends while keeping them as separate worlds, yet ultimately the deceit makes such a task impossible. By the end of the episode Rarity's friends have completely embarrassed her in front of the entire garden party, which I find a rather fitting karmic ending that goes well with the Aesop.

I did take issue with Twilight's idealism about Rarity's present (a dress for Twilight's birthday) and reason for attending the garden party. I can see how SHE would be happy with such a plain design, but Rarity's designs are usually about as subtle as a slap to the face. We've also seen an elite streak in Rarity that might imply she wants to accompany the Canterlot ponies more than her friends, yet Twilight assumes (wrongly) that Rarity sneaks to the garden party for business reasons. These are small complaints though, and I might be assuming too much cynicism from Twilight.

In short, I liked this episode very much. It isn't my favorite of the second season (Sisterhooves Social) but certainly a worthwhile watch.
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An unsatisfying episode.
This episode, while fun, was wholly unsatisfying to me. The reason is this:

Everyone in Canterlot is obsessed with status. It is essentially a city full of self-centered jerkasses. Even Fancypants, when he compliments Rarity's friends, is ultimately condescending ("charmingly rustic?" come on). Everything about Canterlot appears incompatible with our mane group of friends and their simple town of Ponyville. What troubles me most about this is that Rarity fits in so well there. She is perfectly happy until her two lifestyles collide, leaving her with a difficult choice - and she ends up choosing her high society life over her friends. She chooses to hang out with people who were only too happy to dismiss her when they learned that she was from Ponyville. Is Rarity just that attention-seeking? She would rather have the false adulation of strangers than true friendship? I refuse to believe that she is so shallow. She does eventually make the choice to stand up for her friends when they (rather obliviously) make asses of themselves at the garden party, which is nice. Rarity deciding to sacrifice her reputation is heartwarming. But PROBLEM: the blow is softened by Fancypants' decision to accept Rarity's friends, and the subsequent preservation of her status.

The overall problem with this episode is this:

Rarity has learned nothing. She has learned that she can lie, and that she can have both the snooty and shallow lifestyle of the socialite and her friends, all with no consequences. In fact, she comes out better in the end for it, when Fancypants inevitably orders a shitload of dresses.

Let's hope Rarity doesn't come away with the lesson that she can get away with anything as long as she keeps on making those fabulous dresses.
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