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- The fact that Maurice LaMarche is voicing Chancellor Neighsay is bound to be this. You can almost hear the amount of squees in the audience.
- Neighsay is actually a pretty good villain; he's intelligent and has an authority over the schools in Equestria, but he's also a powerful sorcerer. Even his simple phrase of "None Shall pass" is added with a powerful burst of magic he got from stomping his hoof.
- Starlight talking Twilight out of her Heroic BSoD both by telling her what she did wrong and reminding her that she is capable of setting things right.
- A subtle moment for Starlight, but one that really highlights her character development, when she smacks the EEA guidebook out of Twilight's hooves and into the moat. It's not hard to believe that a Fantastic Racist like Neighsay would actually have given some thought to Starlight's original manifesto and goals of making everyone "equal". He and the EEA certainly found a way to suck the joy out of school life. Starlight was openly rejecting an ideology not so different from her old villainous one.
- Ocellus being able to shapeshift into Rarity, a full-grown pony.
- Later, she shapeshifts into a large bug creature who Chancellor Neighsay mistakes for an invader. If that's any indication, that alone potentially credits her as a powerful one-changeling army (we still don't know what the precise limitations these transformations into large creatures have, though it is indicated they have some kind of time, fatigue, or damage limit).
- And then later, she transforms into a Bugbear! Twice!
- For both of these, keep in mind that the only other changeling shown to pull of transformations of this scale is Pharynx. Ocellus's transformation abilities are on par with the leader of the Changeling army.
- Despite still being a little unsure of himself, Thorax gets a moment of awesome simply by being the most level-headed of the other races when the students go missing: he proclaims he has no reason nor ability to start a war due to pointless arguing, mostly keeps his head when confronted by the other races, and is the quickest to listen to Twilight when she has an idea. Thorax may have come into the position unexpectedly, but he's already showing signs of being a good diplomat.
- A smaller one, but Grandpa Gruff claims that he's capable of mobilizing the Griffon Army if he needs to. Pretty impressive for a crotchety, half-blind and possibly senile elderly bird.
- Also the Griffins have an army! It's unclear if that was the only thing that stuck around after their unity was destroyed by greed or if it's something that was reestablished after Gilda's efforts but either way that proves some serious strength of country.
- The Mane Six, Spike, and Starlight saving the students from the pukwudgies, finally proving to the students that the heroes of Equestria really are as cool as their reputation would suggest. Rainbow Dash swoops in and sticks some of them to trees, Twilight and Starlight both use their magic to drive some away, Spike actively headbutts one of them, Rarity gives one a makeover, Applejack lassoes a bunch together, Fluttershy just talks one down like she did with the Storm Guard in the movie (with the implication that her animal friends were going to hurt them), and Pinkie just shoots them all off into the Everfree Forest with her Party Cannon. And the Mane 6 plus Starlight, having fought countless threats to Equestria before, manage to do all of this without breaking a sweat.
- Before the Big Damn Heroes moment, the fact that the students were perfectly holding their own as best as possible is a highlight. When all seems hopeless, they stand together before they're all saved.
- Doubling as a Funny Moment, Fluttershy inadvertently takes out a stray pukwudgie by literally "throwing the book at it" (although she was unaware of her action).
- We've seen that both Twilight and Starlight are capable of creating powerful shield spells. Each of their spells have been shown to be unique in the past. We've also seen both of them combine spells for augmented effect. This, however, shows the two of them touch horns to intermingle their barrier spells, presumably creating a much more sturdy and powerful barrier than before.
- Twilight comes to the conclusion that, since a friendship school is an entirely new concept, she doesn't need to follow the EEA guidelines and reopens the school anyway under her own rules.
- Before that, she breaks the spell keeping every pony and creature from entering the unedified school. That's pretty epic, not just because she does it effortlessly, but because of the context of her Character Development.
- Following this, she looks Chancellor Neighsay in the eye and calls him out on how short-sighted and small-minded he is to only approve of schools that allow ponies, but not other races, to learn about friendship.
- When he accuses the "creature" students of being 'dangerous', the other leaders (Ember especially) decide to beat the creamed corn out of Chancellor Neighsay for offending their races. But Celestia proves to be the bigger mare and stops them. She could've allowed it, but she's bigger than that.
- The fact that Thorax was no longer going to take it lying down is also pretty assertive of him. In the least, he looked ready to give him a stern talking to.
- Princess Celestia points out to Chancellor Neighsay that allowing other creatures to learn friendship is no different from when the 3 pony races learned to get along. She may protect Neighsay from the other leaders but that certainly doesn't mean she has to protect his viewpoint.
- Twilight admitting in the closing song that there are "some things you can't teach with books" is some serious Character Development. She's come to a place where what her friends can teach her is more important than a book, and where she's learned to admit books and rules aren't always right.
- The fact that the writers went out of their way to put the movie in the timeline, and show that it had effects on the show itself. With hints that the new characters may start showing up in the show too. Most would just broadstroke it or ignore it completely.
- Chancellor Neighsay may be a Hate Sink, but his Thinking Up Portals spell is underratedly impressive.
The Maud Couple
- Mudbriar's Vision Board. It's an astounding look into how his mind works.
- If Pinkie Pie's party cave is comparable to the Bat Cave, then watching Mudbriar's vision board is like seeing Doctor Fate (or Doctor Strange) use an omniscience spell. And at one point you can even hear him refer to it as a "memory palace", so it might be similar to Sherlock.
- Limestone shows some Hidden Depths. Despite her bad attitude she understands why Pinkie is upset over Maud's new boyfriend and manages to give her some healthy advice on how to better understand him to way Maud does. She does all this after just learning that Maud has a boyfriend and not even having met him yet.
- The show having the confidence to give a much more nuanced version of this lesson than you'd typically get from a kids' cartoon, as even in its final moments it's clear that Pinkie still has serious issues with Mud Briar but is keeping a lid on them for Maud's sake.
- Starlight Glimmer gets some major props for being a mediator between Pinkie, Maud and Mud Briar. When Pinkie Pie rudely declares that Mud Briar is 'impossible to like', Starlight immediately steps forward to diffuse the situation by striking up a conversation with Mud Briar about her love of kites.
Fake It 'Til You Make It
- Up until she gets too into her roles, Fluttershy's method acting actually works out well and makes several sales.
- Spike being able to interpret the raccoons' miming with little effort.
- Meta example: Andrea Libman being able to pull off six distinct voices for the episode, Fluttershy, Harsh Fluttershy, Hipster Fluttershy, Goth Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and one of the Insufferable Customers (as credited).
- At the end of the episode, a snob pony rudely asks Rarity if her debut of Fluttershy's new dress is an attempt to undercut the Canterlot fashion show. Fluttershy then gets right in the rude pony's face and puts her in her place.Fluttershy: Have you considered the possibility that the Royal Fashion Show is trying to undercut Rarity's by continuing on in Canterlot and not moving the whole affair here?!
- Easy to miss, but compared to her anxiety in "Green Isn't Your Color", the ease with which Fluttershy is able to step out and model Rarity's "Warrior of Inner Strength" outfit is an astounding show of Character Development.
Grannies Gone Wild
- Granny and her Golden Gals have garnered so much fame at Las Pegasus for years now, that they are virtually VIP members.
- Some credit needs to be given to the fact that all of the Golden Horseshoe Gals rode the Wild Blue Yonder with Rainbow Dash and enjoyed doing so.
- Granny Smith's casual comment to Rainbow right before the ride begins implies that they've ridden it before.
Surf and/or Turf
- The Hippogriffs are shown pulling off aerial stunts worthy of the Wonderbolts. In case there was any doubt before, this episode shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Pegasi aren't the only creatures capable of being great flyers.
- Literal blink and you'll miss it, But when Sweetie Belle runs off at Super Speed, her horn is glowing. She's using Accelero, which is described as difficult. A mere normal filly is not only doing it, but so casually it's impossible to notice on normal viewing.
- Harmonizing Heights. It's a valley in Mount Aris where a beautiful, well, harmony creates sublime music, coupled with the aesthetic of natural surroundings. It's beauty beyond words.
- Scootaloo experiencing flight second-hoof while she's a sea pony. It's a beautiful wish-fulfillment all its own.
- Just the fact that we get to see Seaquestria again in all the same splendor we did in the movie!
- Although it borders on Funny Moments, it's pretty awesome how Applebloom crossly backs away when Twilight asks Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo why they haven't completed their Friendship Mission yet. It's as though she's giving a wordless speech saying "The fault lies not with me, but with the two fillies too caught up in this argument to solve a problem."
- After fixing the rest of the show's problems, Twilight realizes they forgot to get a new sun prop. The solution: Celestia raising the actual sun from backstage.
- The fixing deserves a mention in and of itself. By the time Twilight gets Celestia to agree to come back, the audience is about to riot and the rest of the Mane cast are completely helpless. Celestia immediately takes charge of the situation, sending Twilight, AJ, Rarity and Pinkie out to calm the audience, having Rainbow getting clouds to make a new backdrop, getting Starlight to produce a copy of the script for Spike to narrate, and not only tells Fluttershy to go on in her place, but gets her into character. All of this in about one minute. Celestia may not be an actress, but there's a reason she's a Princess.
- Not to mention she wisely advised Spike to counteract the hecklers in the audience with improvisation. Kudos to both the Princess and Spike.
- 6 seasons after Luna introduced the Royal Canterlot Voice, we finally get to hear Celestia use hers. She easily matches her sister.
- In the play, Fluttershy performs as Celestia despite her troubles with stage fright. She performs confidently in her first on-screen performance before an audience outside her friends and animal companions.
- It's worth noting that when she learned she has to play Celestia, she didn't panic because the huge number of ponies were watching her, she only panicked because the pony she was about to play was watching her. She did come a long way since Filli Vanilli.
- Meta-Moment of Awesome: It's not easy for a professional voice actor/actress to intentionally act badly, since they're basically working against everything they've learned. Nicole Oliver knocks it out of the park with Celestia's initial performance.
The Parent Map
- Sunburst, usually insecure and unsure of himself, gets angry with his mother's constant coddling and plan-making and chews her out. It's the first time we see him really speak his mind on an issue and it's somewhat cathartic to watch.
- Silverstream and Ocellus changing into sea ponies to help Yona. Sure, we all knew hippogriffs could do it with their Transformation Trinkets, but this episode confirms that changelings can use their Voluntary Shapeshifting to give themselves functional water breathing.
- Following this, Twilight chews out Applejack and Rainbow Dash for letting competition get in the way of their field trip on teamwork, especially when it nearly lead to Yona drowning.
- Ocellus frightening away the bitacudas by transforming into a much larger one while the other students rescue and free Applejack and Rainbow Dash.
- Rather than give Applejack and Rainbow Dash the "Teacher of the Month" award on the basis that the students thought they learned something from them both, Twilight instead opts the two teachers go on another field trip. At least they can fool the New 6, but Twilight sees right through the two ponies' transparent "team work".
- What's more, she's aware that perhaps the students may unwittingly teach Applejack and Rainbow Dash the difference between teamwork and competition during the next fieldtrip or so.
The Break Up Breakdown
- After Big Mac catches up with Sugar Belle before she leaves Ponyville, he breaks out of his comfort zone and communicates more elaborately (as opposed to "Nope" or "Yup") to apologize to her.
- Discord revealing that Sugar Belle's wagon didn't break down simply by accident: he broke it. And the visual effect of using his wagon-in-a-bottle (almost like some voodoo doll) shows he's not talking about tools-sabotage, he talking magic-sabotage.
- The lack of his trademark magic flash makes it all the more subtle, meaning not even the audience suspected it. It's also a show of his Character Development, from being flashy and self-absorbed, to working mysteriously in the shadows.
- Fridge-Awesome: Discord essentially utilized his talent (creating chaos) for something good and useful (sabotaging Sugar Belle's wagon and plans to leave Ponyville, so Big Mac would catch up to her).
- Peewee having grown from a phoenix hatchling to a full-fledged phoenix!
- Spike grows wings. Enough said, really.
- Unless you want to elaborate and mention that the first thing he does when getting wings is to save Zecora and Rarity from a Roc, who just happens to be one of young dragons' natural predators.
- Not to mention he uses his enhanced fire-breath to take down the Roc.
- Props to Twilight for fighting the Roc alongside Spike. When Spike is in stone, she's seen releasing some huge magic bolts at the Roc in the background. She has the giant bird on the run the whole time too, it flinching or crying out every time she lands a hit, the issue being getting it to let go of Rarity and Zecora rather than any issues with fighting it.
Marks for Effort
- In the same vein as the whoopie cushion in "28 Pranks Later", we get another meta-awesome moment with the writers managing to slip in a Your Mom joke.
The Mean 6
- Chrysalis, usually a Villainous Underdog-level mage (compared to Person of Mass Destruction-level powerhouses like Nightmare Moon, Discord, King Sombra, and Lord Tirek), gets one by singlehandedly executing a complex ritual to create Evil Doppelgängers.
- One would expect Chrysalis to worf the Mane 6 with whatever plan she has in mind. But the brilliance on Chrysalis (and the writer's) part is she chose to use their equals to defeat them, then control the Mean 6 as her pawns.
- Credit to Chyrsalis's skill at strategizing: though her plan was based on a faulty premise, its failure ultimately doesn't leave her any worse off than she was before. She makes a serious gambit against the Elements of Harmony and gets away without them even realizing she was involved.
- Also, her acting skills seem to have improved; before, she could barely keep her true personality hidden while posing as Cadance. But here, she actually manages to pull off the role of a sweet-natured photographer quite well. If not for her blatantly trying to ignore and overlook Starlight, the act would have been flawless.
- Mean Twilight being a more effective villain, especially when compared to the cruel Chrysalis herself. She makes a point that instead of the convoluted plan of making clones, Chrysalis could've killed the Mane 6 and Starlight right then and there.
- She has the guts to call out that the reason Chrysalis needs a clone army is because maybe she needs friends. Whether this is the case or not, either way, Chrysalis is naturally vexed by the question.
- Though out of luck, Mean Twilight did manage to inconspicuously gather information on the Elements of Harmony. And then later, she uses that same information to goad Queen Chrysalis not to destroy her.
- Mean Twilight nearly would've trumped Queen Chrysalis, had the Tree of Harmony not intervened.
- When Chrysalis decides she's had enough of the Mean Six's bickering, she cows them into compliance by hurling them against a tree and shooting a laser inches from their heads, just to remind us and them that, diminished as her power is, she's still not to be trifled with.
- The Tree of Harmony revealing itself to be far from helpless and wiping out the Mean Six in seconds. Messing with it wasn't a good idea.
- It may also count as the Tree repaying the Mean 6 for all the trouble they caused and for nearly destroying the Mane 6's friendship.
- Despite everything the Mean 6 did, the Mane 6 and Starlight's friendship comes through. Even Twilight makes a point in the ending that if they can handle a destroyed campsite and Poor Communication Kills, it can withstand anything.
- What's more, Twilight, as the Princess of Friendship, manages to single-hoofedly fix the damage caused to their friendship by humbly admitting it was her fault, and that all she wants is for them to stop fighting.
- Though based on mistaken identity, Pinkie completely drops her goofball tendencies and stands up to Mean Twilight (and then the real Twilight) in defense of Fluttershy.
- In the same vein as Pinkie Pie, Rarity gets right into Mean Applejack's face when the latter insults Starlight saying she looks silly wearing the camping gear. Rarity promises she'll do everything in her power to make sure Starlight makes it through the camping trip in one piece, then tells Mean Applejack they're going to have a stern talking to. Indeed, she makes good on her word (even though she gives the stern talking to the real Applejack).
A Matter of Principals
- Starlight does in half a second what it took the Mane Six a whole episode to do, and subdues the Bug Bear with a single blast (admittedly we don't know if this was the same bug bear that was strong enough to warrant being imprisoned in Tartarus, and the bug bear Discord summoned/created wasn't subdued so much as driven away).
- Starlight's blast to banish Discord from the school, while ultimately ineffective, was an amazing display of her raw power.
- Extra credit for Discord: even that wasn't enough to stop him.
- Trixie at long last gets to genuinely claim to have defeated an Ursa Major.
The Hearth's Warming Club
- When Gallus sees his friends blaming each other he ends the fighting by fessing up to his prank even though he had every reason to think the confession would cause him to be alone over the holidays yet again.
- While she's a massive Viper, Scales managing to steal the Bloodstone scepter and become the new Dragon Lord is pretty impressive.
- Twilight risking her reputation to expose Flim and Flam.
- We get to see some of Starswirl's gruffness again when he finds out that Flim and Flam's school is indeed a scam.
- Flim and Flam don't even try to go against Starswirl's request that they return the bits and close the school.
The End In Friend
- Rarity is able to build a fully functioning raft out of some random twigs she found lying on the ground. Rainbow Dash is quite impressed that she could do something like that.
- As petty as it is, Rarity casually immobilizing Rainbow Dash with telekinesis just so she can't leave Starlight's office before her is pretty impressive for someone whose magic is generally not considered especially powerful.
- After an entire episode of hearing Pinkie Pie playing terrible music on her Yovidaphone, we get to hear what the instrument sounds like when played by a master. Ygrid's playing is beautifully melodic, so unlike Pinkie's attempts that Rainbow Dash actually questions the idea of it being the same instrument.
On the Road to Friendship
- Trixie demonstrating a brief bout of self levitation, a spell that has generally been shown used only by more powerful magic users. She also creates a partial shield to protect Starlight from flames. Seems likely that she has picked up a few more tricks from Starlight since "All Bottled Up".
- Lightning Dust has overcome her setback, founded her own popular stunt team and is still the terrific flier she was in the academy. Her teammates are also really gifted. The stunts they show their audience are simply spectacular, rendering even Rainbow speechless.
- Despite not appearing among the audience, Rainbow Dash shows up right when Scootaloo needs to be saved from the stunt gone awry. This is Rainbow Dash's loyalty at its finest. Scootaloo may have stopped being her fan, but Rainbow Dash hasn't stopped being her friend or surrogate big sister.
- Karma once again catching up to Lightning for her antics. After forcing Scootaloo to go through with a dangerous stunt that almost gets her killed, she rudely says that she would have done it herself if she knew Scootaloo was going to back out. So Rainbow just smugly gives her a heads up that a rope is about to coil around her hoof, and doesn't even try to help her after all she has done. Lightning just has enough time to make an Oh, Crap! face before she is dragged away by her own rocket.
- Lightning Dust angrily yelling "RIVALS FOR LIFE", and Rainbow Dash replying "Wouldn't have it any other way" is pretty mature on the show's part. It's the show's way of admitting that not every friendship can be redeemed, especially one that's toxic.
A Rockhoof and a Hard Place
- According to Rockhoof's own story, he once defeated a Ursa Major by tossing it into the sky with his shovel (where ponies presume it has been a constellation ever since). It speaks volumes of his strength that he bested a hill-sized magic bear known to be a terror among ponies on his own. And he wasn't a powerful Unicorn wizard like Star Swirl, just a super-strong Earth Pony. That said, Rockhoof does state his story is "just a tall tale" so chances are it didn't really happen the way he said it, still its quite believable he did fight a Ursa Major and survive.
What Lies Beneath
- The Tree of Harmony is shown to unambiguously have developed a consciousness of its own, to the point where it can talk directly to the Student Six and even set up a Secret Test of Character for them.
- When faced with his test, between a mission with his idols and his friendship with the Creatures, Sandbar calls "Rarity" and "Rainbow Dash" out on scolding him for choosing friendship.
- Silverstream standing up to the Storm King's Shadow, making it perfectly clear that she will not let him (posthumously) intimidate her from enjoying her life!Silverstream: Uh, hey! Storm King! You're nothing but a big, old bully with a silly name and a goofy crown! You thought you could scare us into doing whatever you wanted! But we learned that together, we're stronger than you! And now that we're rid of you, we're gonna soar through the sky and go on adventures and NEVER GIVE YOU ANOTHER THOUGHT EVER!
Sounds of Silence
- Autumn Blaze revealing that she has learned to control her anger, and using it to summon a wall of fire that saves Applejack and Fluttershy from being silenced by the other Kirin.
- Autumn Blaze sadly admits she's looked for the Foal's Breath 73 and a half times and still wasn't successful. But then she figures: "Although I wonder if that second half will make a difference..."
- Fluttershy again demonstrating her more assertive side, standing up to Applejack more than once.
- The song "A Kirin Tale" takes one's breath away, not only with its surprisingly uplifting melody, but also with the powerful message to never let fear of bad things stop you from enjoying the good.
Father Knows Beast
- Spike and Smolder, two young dragons, trick Sludge, an adult dragon, into confessing the truth.
- Also, Smolder calling out Sludge on his behavior, clarifying that contrary to what he says, it's not what dragons would do.
- Fridge Awesome: As opposed to Smolder's story in "Hearthswarming Club", she's grown to change her ways. She's acknowledging that dragons don't take advantage of the weak anymore.
- Pinkie getting Tirek, the ancient evil being, to agree to help the main six, some of his worst enemies, escape prison just by constantly annoying him with her usual party pony antics until he gives in.
- Near the end of the finale, the Young Six are trapped in the energy field Starlight was trapped in earlier. But, the Tree of Harmony uses it magic and they start glowing like the elements of harmony.
- Just the fact that, despite Cozy Glow's magic-draining spell, the Tree of Harmony's magic remains untouched.
- Cozy Glow, despite being just a little filly, proves to be a very dangerous villain. She practically drains Equestria of its magic that would have made her its sole ruler, both tricks and traps the ponies that would have become the greatest obstacles to her plans, manages to imprison Starlight, a very powerful unicorn, gets rid of Neighsay when he temporarily halts her plans, both notices a failed attempt to distract her and turns it against the CMC and when it seems she was about to be exposed, she manages to convince the others of the opposite. And as mentioned previously, she is just a little filly, with no access to powerful magic or armies. Really, the only reason she fails is because of the Tree of Harmony's above mentioned last-minute intervention. She manages to nearly conquer Equestria with only her wits and some knowledge that Tirek provided her with.
- Also worth mentioning is the fact that it ultimately takes the combined effort of the Mane and Student Sixes, Spike, Starlight, the other students, Celestia, Luna, Neighsay, and, oh yeah, the entire Royal Guard to finally bring her down.
- Her Slasher Smile in the ending might even imply that her being defeated was all part of her plan, or at the very least, she had a backup plan in case she was to be captured. This just emphasizes her skills as devious mastermind.
- Everybody who Cozy Glow has deceived turning on her.
- Once he'd been freed, Chancellor Neighsay staying calm and using the last of his magic to rush to Celestia for help in stopping Cozy Glow.