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Fridge Brilliance / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic - Season 7

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     Celestial Advice 
  • Why was Celestia so worried about letting Twilight go, when that was the best time for her favorite student to grow? Because at that time, Luna was still Nightmare Moon, meaning Twilight was the closest thing she had to a real family at the time. Celestia was afraid of being alone again, which is why she couldn't let Twilight go until circumstances forced her to.
    • In the first Equestria Girls movie, Sunset Shimmer had become so spoiled on the privilege she got from being Celestia's personal protege that it made her feel entitled to become royalty rather than do anything to actually earn it. This does leave the suggestion open that Twilight Sparkle was not the first student Celestia had ever mentored in the 1000 years since banishing Luna, and that she may have actually ruined a few of Twilight's predecessors by not letting them go when they needed her to.
  • Discord forcing Twilight to think about what Starlight needs instead of what Twilight wants, can seem to look mean-spirited and like he's trolling her but Discord is the master of chaos. He's only doing what he does best. Just because he's firmly on the side of good doesn't mean he won't stop sowing seeds of chaos wherever he can but now instead of creating chaos for chaos sake, he's sowing chaos for good by forcing Twilight to realize the relationship she has with Starlight can't stay the same. Discord could be trying to teach Twilight that relationships can't stay the same forever. That one day, a student needs to learn on their own without their teacher.
  • Also Discord wanting Starlight to hang out with him for a while makes sense because she'd be more wiling than the Mane Six to get into trickster-y magical shenanigans with him. Remember back when Fluttershy was yelling at him during the Gala "What if you had a friend you could discuss chaos-based magic with?" Starlight (and maybe Trixie) could totally be his magical chaos friend(s)!
  • Princess Celestia worrying about Twilight not being able to connect with the Mane Six more than maticore encounters and falling into Tartarus seems like amusing Skewed Priorities, but then you realize that not making friends with the rest of the Mane Six means endless darkness and the destruction of Equestria. if not the entire world. Also very much Fridge Horror.

     All Bottled Up 
  • Why did Granny Smith, Bulk Biceps, and the jeweler pony forgive Starlight so easily for (accidentally) brainwashing them with her anger? In addition to the Equestrian tendency towards easy forgiveness, the Hate Plague gave them a firsthand taste not only of Starlight's suppressed anger, but also the motivations behind it. It's reasonable to assume they understood how she felt, having felt it themselves, and they heard her explanation as to why she was bottling up her anger in the first place. Understanding her situation made forgiveness all the easier.
    • Plus this isn't the first time the Ponyville citizens have turned aggressive because of a spell; if they could forgive Twilight for turning the whole town crazy over a doll, they definitely can forgive Starlight.
      • Discord did a lot worse than that in his first appearance and was accessory to even worse than that later on before his Heel–Face Turn finally stuck. Easily Forgiven upon reform, and he's been besties with Fluttershy ever since. The bar's set pretty high on how much the ponies in Ponyville will forgive you for on principle.
  • Starlight's magic being fueled by her emotions explains how she could go from running away from Twilight to being her equal the next time they met. Twilight ruining her idea of a utopia and making her thirst for vengeance gave Starlight the power boost she needed to take on an alicorn princess.
    • It also calls back to the tradeoff for that power boost. While Starlight was boosted enough to match Twilight pound-for-pound in terms of power, that same thirst for vengeance also made her blind to what her actions were doing to anyone else but Twilight. This episode is a reprise of that episode's Aesop: "Letting anger fester and go unresolved hurts everyone, even those you care about."
  • Upon observing Trixie's insensitive behavior in the episode and Starlight's growing frustration and anger in response, suddenly Twilight's wariness and suspicion of Trixie in the prior season makes much more sense. After all, with Trixie being Starlight's best friend, she would be a primary influence on Starlight and Twilight knows Trixie enough that she could be more than a handful (well, hoofful.)
    • Especially given that besides egging her on, Trixie mentioned in the Season 6 finale that she moves on from her mistakes rather than actually learning from them. While she did apologize for terrorizing Ponyville, she didn't apologize for her being a jerk in her debut. These are all things that would be detrimental to Starlight's path of atonement.
  • Why doesn't Trixie realize her comments about Starlight bother her? Because both ponies spent most of No Second Prances making light of and bonding over their respective pasts. In Trixie's mind, she most likely treated it as an inside-joke between them.
  • Granted, it is not a perfect resemblance but Starlight's cutie mark looks similar to the cloud of emotion generating over her horn. Given that no other unicorn is stated or implied to possess Emotional Magic, it's possible that it is her special talent. If this is the case then it would explain her unusually high level of power when she was a rage-filled villain despite being a normal pony.
  • Trixie undergoes sudden Flanderization, Starlight loses her ability to control her rage ("This has never happened before!"), and the Mane Six burst into song at the most inopportune time. Clearly not just another day in Equestria, and for good reason - these all take place while the Friendship Map is separated from the castle, so it makes sense that the Magic of Friendship would be on the fritz.

     A Flurry of Emotions 
  • Shining and Cadance are both showing signs of how difficult it is taking care of their daughter when they come to ask Twilight to watch Flurry Heart, but Shining is much worse. That makes absolute sense — Cadance is an alicorn like Flurry; Shining is a unicorn trying to control a baby who's more powerful than he is. No wonder he looks frazzled!
    • Another explanation is that Cadance is the ruler of the Crystal Empire, meaning she has to take time away from Flurry to do her royal duties. That means most of the time, it must be Shining who takes care of their daughter.
  • Why is Flurry Heart's magic still so powerful even with Sunburst's Power Limiter? Probably because said Power Limiter only limited Flurry Heart's magic to the point she couldn't accidentally kill somepony and cause wanton destruction. Flurry's magic is still powerful enough for the spells she used in the episode but not so strong that it becomes dangerous to be around her.
    • Also what Flurry does here is intentional while most of what she caused before was accidental. The Power Limiter dialed her magic down enough that she can only do magic on purpose.
  • Flurry Heart being a Brainy Baby shows that magic isn't the only trait she shares with her favorite aunt.
  • Flurry Heart shows that she's a born leader when she steps in to resolve a problem between two parties. Too bad as a baby, she's not mentally mature enough to realize that Judgment of Solomon only works when you threaten to break the toy in half, causing the two parties to reconcile to prevent the toy from being broken. Breaking the toy in two before threatening to is going to lead the two parties reconciling only out of anger towards the one who broke their toy.
  • More Fridge Heartwarming than Fridge Brilliance; Cadance and Shining Armor are the Crystal Empire's Ruling Couple and therefore have one-hundred responsibilities a day, but one of the core parts of this episode is that they need a break from taking care of Flurry Heart. Even with crystal pony nannies ready and willing, Cadance and Shining Armor are determined to be full-time parents to their little princess!
  • Brainy Baby or not, it doesn't make sense for Flurry's magic to act on any desire more complex than, "I want to go where Whammy is." So why did she fly around the hospital and come up empty-hoofed? Whammy was on a cart! Flurry was probably teleporting to the rooms the orderly with the cart was passing by before coming back to search the children's ward.
  • Fridge humor: After Twilight finishes putting back the toy display that Flurry knocked over, the store pony tells her that it had been organized by colour. Meaning that she stood by and watched as Twilight put the whole thing back together, then told her she was doing it wrong.

    Rock Solid Friendship 
  • Maud remembers meeting Starlight but not vice-versa why? Starlight asked about a very unique stone when most ponies don't even care about them so that would stand out more to rock-focused Maud.
  • Why was Maud so quick to tell Starlight where to find the stone she needed despite the obvious implications of the way Starlight asked? She probably was just glad someone was talking to her.
  • Maud liking stand-up comedy makes perfect sense when you consider that she's Pinkie's sister. Pinkie probably introduced it to her in the first place.
  • Why was Maud reluctant to explain her loneliness to Pinkie in the first place? Because the last time Pinkie wanted Maud to make friends with someone she nearly got herself crushed in an avalanche from excitability and is much more determined to get results in this case.
  • Starlight is more willing to be honest with Pinkie Pie about how much she was annoying her than she was with Trixie two episodes ago. This could be because she's learned her lesson about being honest with her feelings, but it would also make sense that she's not as worried about driving away Pinkie with her criticism as she was with the Great and Slightly Self-Absorbed Trixie.
  • On the surface, it seems odd that Maud would get along with Starlight of all ponies, but they actually do have a lot in common - they're both outsiders, passionate about subjects most ponies might not be interested in, and both have trouble expressing their feelings. And Starlight seems to appreciate anypony who's willing to make jokes with her about her past instead of trying to awkwardly avoid it.
  • Starlight Glimmer loves flying Kites. She love to pull the strings.
  • Maud jokes at one point about being able to "shred on guitar like nopony else". That's called "rocking out", usually associated with playing rock music, and commonly done by rock musicians in rock concerts. Even Maud's sense of humor is rock-based.
    • For that matter, would it surprise anyone if Maud was a fan of rock music?
  • Does Maud's reluctance to move to Ponyville mean that she doesn't consider the Mane Six to be her friends after all? No, they're her friends, but there's a difference between liking and getting along with someone and sharing a close connection with them. Maud's just too different from most ponies for them to develop that kind of relationship with her.
  • This episode is also a nice lesson in how introverted relationships work, and how to handle them as an extrovert. Introverts in general view relationship as a personal investment or contract, which in turn makes them slow to make new friends and selective about who goes into the small circle of friends they feel closest to. As an extrovert, you need to recognize that your introverted friends and relatives aren't lonely, asocial, or broken for not being social butterflies, and learn when to back off and let them socialize on their own terms. If they really need your help, let them come to you. Don't force yourself on them.
  • Maud tells Starlight that with the right stone, she could rule all of Equestria. An odd thing for Maud to bring up, until you realize that it may well have been a Secret Test of Character on Maud's part. She's largely concerned only with rocks and rock-related activities, so she was only moments ago informed of Starlight's Dark and Troubled Past, and may NOT have been informed about her recent redemption.
  • Pinkie Pie tracks Maud by licking up the dirt from her hoofprints and chewing on it. Rule of Funny? Or implying that Pinkie is not as far removed from her family's rock-oriented heritage as it seems?
  • Maud's apparent love of stand up comedy makes more sense when you notice how similar her personality is to Steven Wright.

    Fluttershy Leans In 
  • Big Daddy Mccolt is the perfect choice for helping Fluttershy build the sanctuary, as opposed to those other "experts". Why? Because he fills in most of their specialties without being too presumptuous about it. His whole family has specialized in building for generations, making him just as good construction as Hard Hat, but not as hard-nosed. He and Ma Hooffield both want the animals in their valley to live in peace, so he's got the animals' interests at heart, unlike Wrangler. And Dandy Grandeur? Well, Pa may have a humbler style, but luckily, the animals aren't asking for much. In short, he was the only one who actually was an expert in the field(s) that mattered Fluttershy.
  • Hard Hat's name might not only be a pun on, well, his hard hat, but might also be a play on the word "Hard-Headed". Hard headed in the way that even though Fluttershy has a pretty clear and great way of the animal sanctuary being built, he still doesn't listen to her and just pretty much makes an animal-themed clone of the Ponyville Hospital.

    Forever Filly 
  • Here we get yet another Aesop that's surprisingly relevant to adults in a show targeting a six-year-old demographic. Yet this Aesop kind of justifies the ones from this season's other episodes. Friendship Is Magic started in 2010. As of this episode's original airing, the show has been running for seven years, and the six-year-olds it was originally made to market to are now entering their teen and preteen years, when a lot of this season's other Aesops start becoming relevant. Sweetie Belle is the Audience Surrogate for the now-adolescent girls that have long since lost interest in the things they enjoyed when they were six years old, such as My Little Pony.
    • Speaking of Sweetie Belle and growing up, this episode aired less than two months before Claire Corlett turns 18, often considered to be a significant age.
  • Adding to the theme of growing up, the pictures Rarity takes with Sweetie Belle (to Sweetie's annoyance) has the latter dressed up as a younger version of the former (egg to a chicken, caterpillar to a butterfly, tadpole to frog, seed to flower).
    • Although, Sweetie Belle dressed as a sheep and Rarity dressed as a shepherdess doesn't fit the pattern. Unless, however, you count that Sweetie Belle is generally dressed as wool, and Rarity is dressed as what wool becomes (an outfit).
  • A particular reason why Riley outgrew his squeaky toy: that toy might've been previously suitable for a puppy who was teething. But Riley's a full grown dog, and he wants toys that activities other than teething and biting and chewing.

    Parental Glideance 
  • Scootaloo saying that she never got any encouragement growing up makes sense of why she stuck to Dash so firmly — she was looking for a Cool Big Sis to give her the support she didn't get from her own family.
  • It's true that Dash's parents were never mentioned before, but like with Fluttershy never mentioning her brother, it makes sense in-universe — her relationship with them is "delicate"; naturally, she wouldn't want to bring them up.
  • The Long-Lost Uncle Aesop trope works in this case because Dash dealing with the aspects of the relationship that made it distant is part of the episode.
  • An example in hindsight. It suddenly makes sense that Derpy Hooves was chosen as a replacement for Rainbow Dash in the episode Rainbow Falls, as the flashbacks from this episode show us that before getting Comically Cross-Eyed, Derpy was an excellent flyer as a filly judging by the gold medal she earned when she had normal eyes. While it can be argued that her skill has been deteriorated due her condition, she may still have enough to qualify as at least a replacement player if someone like Dash gets injured.
  • It also explains Derpy's career choice as a messenger/delivery pony. While she no longer has enough skill for complex routines, she's still a fast, resistant flyer, so while she might have accidents when doing her deliveries, she's fast enough to do them on time.
  • Rainbow's favorite sandwich is very carbohydrates-high; fitting for an athlete in training, who needs to recover her/his energy as fast as possible. As Rainbow trained herself to do better in competitions, she took on this kind of diet, with good results.
  • Related to the above, Rainbow reveals that she can take a nap anywhere and at any time. This is also a great advantage for training, as Rainbow can take a quick nap to recover her strength and wake up ready to continue.
  • The rest of the Wonderbolts taking Rainbow's parents in stride makes a lot more sense if you remember that Spitfire's mother attends all the Wonderbolts shows featuring her (albeit she's not as disruptive as Rainbow's parents). As such, they have gotten used to the concept of parents being overly excited of their kids being members of the Wonderbolts.
  • While strabismus would not be as much of a deal for a horse than a human because the position of equine eyes means most of a horse's field of vision is peripheral, and Derpy's condition only seems like it would be a big vision problem because of the stylization of the show's art, the fact remains that horses do have sixty-five degrees of depth perception straight ahead. And straight ahead is exactly where Derpy needs to be able to focus in a race.
  • Rainbow Dash's dislike of her parents' cheering for everything isn't just that it's embarrassing. She values excellence and talent above all, so being cheered on even when she loses, or is just doing nothing, must feel completely hollow to her.
  • We learn that Rainbow Dash is the only child of doting parents to whom she basically can do no wrong. No wonder she's the way she is.
    • Alternatively, she came to see that her parents only cheered her on because they were just that, her parents. So of course through a lens of favoritism they'd see her as the best. Rainbow sought praise from others so she'd know earned it, not because she was related to some pony.
  • This episode puts Rainbow Dash's disgust towards Zephyr Breeze in a whole new light. Not only is she disgusted by how differently they go about life or their career pursuits ( hard work vs. laziness), but the different ways they approach their respective doting parents. Rainbow Dash may distance herself from her mom and dad, but part of it might've been to be self-independent of her parents and their idolizing her. Zephyr Breeze, on the other hoof, took full advantage of his parents' affection and allowed himself to become pampered.
    • Also, it might explain how Rainbow Dash was able to relate and work with Vapor Trail in "Top Bolt". She understood what it was like to have parents who smothered you with more affection than necessary. But at the same time, she saw her as a Shadow Archetype of some pony who took a backseat rather than let the attention boost her confidence.
  • Speaking of "Top Bolt", that episode implies that the flying ability of a pegasus is at least partially determined by that pony's confidence. Small wonder Rainbow's parents were determined to bolster her confidence as much as possible, and it seems to have worked!
  • It's no wonder Rainbow Dash was initially more stand-offish with Pinkie Pie: her exuberance and non-stop admiration reminded Rainbow of her parents.
  • Rainbow Dash’s parents’ constant cheering for her flying abilities after she won was shown to cause her to be ostracized from the other ponies, thus making her more of an outcast. It makes sense, then, that Fluttershy of all ponies would be one of her only friends growing up; Fluttershy wouldn’t care about her (or her parents’) bragging or superior flying skills, because it’s not really a skill she cares about, and she already knew she wasn’t a particularly strong flyer in the first place.

     Hard to Say Anything 
  • Big Macintosh has his doubts about each Grand Romantic Gesture suggested by the Cutie Mark Crusaders, even if he still plays along with each, except for the song one, when he actually looks excited over singing his feelings to Sugar Belle. Back in 'Filli Vanilli', it was shown that Mac doesn't just have a good singing voice but also feels more comfortable expressing himself through song.
  • It looks like a Contrived Coincidence that Feather Bangs uses exactly the same methods/plans Big Macintosh and the Crusaders come up with to try impressing Sugar Belle, but the episode's end reveals that Feather Bangs has no experience talking to girls on a personal level and getting to really know them, depending on his looks and romantic gestures to get their attention. It makes sense that Feather will get inspiration from romantic novels and fairy tales, just like the Crusaders.
  • Feather Bangs easily charms and upstages Mac at every occasion, but at the end of the episode seeks help from the CMC about talking to the three admirers he's had the whole episode while Big Macintosh and Sugar Belle's relationship seems fairly stable. Turns out Feather Bangs' charming gestures are good for the short run, but for the long run an active interest and acknowledging of others' skills and interests like what Big Macintosh displayed is better.
  • How the heck did Sweetie Belle think a Grand Romantic Gesture would work in practice as it does in theory? Rarity!
  • Feather Bangs was totally Bullying a Dragon here. Even if he wasn't there to see Big Mac throw ponies over the horizon or drag an entire house through town without noticing, Mac is a full head taller than Feather is and has at least a hundred pounds on him, all of it muscle. Except this isn't the first time Big Mac's been in this town; he's made several trips to it over the past week. So by the time Big Mac tries to ask Sugar Belle out, Feather's already seen that Big Mac is too much of a Gentle Giant to use his Super Strength to harm other ponies, even if they deserve it.
  • Of the "grand romantic gestures" Big Mac and the CMC try, Mac is only enthusiastic about singing to Sugar Belle, and manages to come up with a song for her that, judging by her facial expressions, is actually endearing. Small wonder it's the only gesture that seems to work; Mac is no stranger to writing lyrics and singing songs, making it the only gesture that comes close to being realistic for Mac.
  • Our Town is noted as being far away from Ponyville even in this episode but Big Mac has made the trip five times in one week. It sounds like Geographic Flexibility until you remember this is Big Mac and he had a strong motivation for making journey. Indeed, the CMC have enough to read a fairly thick book and nap before he arrives.

     Honest Apple 
  • So how come Applejack and Strawberry Sunrise never really met one another despite both living in a small town like Ponyville? Because of Strawberry's immense distaste for apples, that's why. Strawberry Sunrise never went to Sweet Apple Acres or bought an apple from the Apple family's cart.
  • Throughout the episode, Lily Lace, in true Valley Girl style, misuses the word "literally" when she means "figuratively." Applejack eventually calls her out on it and even references the famous line from The Princess Bride to make her point. But Lily Lace's usage in that (and only that) specific case—"Applejack literally did it all by herself"—is slightly accurate, as Applejack did round up the judges and designers on her ownnote . It's a subtle reminder of the fact that throughout the episode, Applejack doesn't know what she's talking about with regard to the designers.

     A Royal Problem 
  • Why is Celestia dismissive of Luna's work? She was doing it for the last 1000 years on top of her normal duties. It's only when Celestia takes on Luna's Dream Walker role, the one thing she couldn't have done before, that problems arise.
  • The moon being easier to move than the sun for Celestia makes sense for two reasons. The first is a more scientific explanation that the moon is much smaller than the sun and therefore, would require less magic muscle to move. The second is that Celestia has had a thousand years of practice moving both celestial bodies.
  • The Map calling Starlight makes a lot of sense. It's because she's not as biased towards the princesses as the Mane Six are. As well as not ones to try and argue with the princesses. Starlight was a political leader longer than any of the Mane Six, thus making her more able to coordinate with royals. Plus she's more blunt and to the point; she's not gonna tip toe over any of this like Twilight was thinking of doing. That was really the only way anything would get resolved. JUST not in the way the map was likely expecting.
  • There was one other spell shown during the show that also caused Cutie Marks to switch. Star Swirl's spell, the spell Twilight cast back in season 3. Starlight most likely researched that spell back when she was trying to find magic that could affect Cutie Marks and added onto it like Twilight but rather than completing the spell like Twilight, Starlight probably only tweaked things a bit, which only gave the spell a time limit.
  • Related to the above, Celestia and Luna turn out to be terrible at each other's jobs despite having each other's Cutie Marks. Just like what happened the last time Cutie Marks were switched.
  • In "Twilight's Kingdom", Twilight is frustrated over her role as a princess not equating to much besides "smiling and waving". Turns out it's a very important part of Celesta's royal duties and considering Luna ''frowning'' in a picture caused the school to be unable to fund the foals' field trip, smiling and waving is a lot more important than she thinks.
    • And Luna learns why Celestia wears small smiles when out with the subjects. Small smiles put less stress on the facial muscles, allowing Celestia to maintain her composure throughout the day without her face wearing out.
  • Despite complaining of the tediousness of it, Luna is actually successful in calming down a situation between two mayors at each other's throats during town hall to the point where they're talking amicably and agreeing to go golfing together sometime, a near complete reversal. Luna later admits she has decent knowledge of a pony's psyche (even if it is through dreams) and probably used some of that to turn the situation around.
  • A lot of the fandom aren't happy with Starlight's use of magic without the consent of the Princesses. However, it's worth noting that it wasn't a planned spell, but a gut reaction to a particularly tense situation, and Starlight still being somewhat inexperienced in practical matters of friendship. And, as we've been told in "All Bottled Up", Starlight's magic responds to her emotional state. Rather than a planned spell, we saw Starlight trying to stop a very heated argument between what is, for her, godlike figures. She was probably even thinking right when she reflexively cast the spell, "I wish they could just see things from each other's perspective."
  • Some fans aren't happy that Starlight got of "scot-free" for her use of magic, and that she was praised by Celestia and Luna. However, it's worth noting that both Princesses saw Starlight get caught in the crossfire between their Superpowered Evil Sides, and it's likely that they felt that this was punishment enough. After all, the two of them were just as terrified by Starlight's nightmare.
  • During a moment of Luna's exhaustion, she peels a banana only to eat the peel. While this could be just a way to show she's still half asleep, it could also be an intentional aversion to Rule 34, since by this point the show writers know what could be taken out of context.
  • Nightmare Moon and Daybreaker appearing in Starlight's dream makes sense, since she's worried about the feud between the princesses escalating... except Daybreaker speaks directly to Celestia a lot and ignores Starlight.
    • Of course she'd speak directly to Celestia; Daybreaker is Celestia if she cared about no-one else, so she has zero reason to talk to Starlight.
    • Celestia is completely inexperienced in the dream realm, even attempting to pull Luna into the dream to help her with the problem. Daybreaker interacts with Celestia in part because Celestia is worried about her own insecurities as opposed to simple feuding like in Starlight's original dream.
  • Even when they go insane and transform into their Superpowered Evil Sides, Celestia still overshadows Luna. Nightmare Moon only got a few scant lines in, and Daybreaker easily out-hams her every time and dominates the scene. And then the tidal wave of fan media based on this episode hits, and most of it is Daybreaker or Nightmare Moon fighting Daybreaker. Hilarious in Hindsight when you remember what drove Luna to become Nightmare Moon in the first place.
  • Nightmare Moon and Daybreaker are Foils to each other. NM's Start of Darkness was due to her feeling overshadowed by her sister and wanting the approval and adoration she felt the ponies were giving to Celestia, passing over her entirely. Daybreaker, on the other hand, is Celestia if she stopped holding herself back, both personality wise and magic-wise, caring for no one but herself instead of worrying what other ponies think.
  • Starlight Glimmer is also shown to be more familiar with magical combat than Twilight Sparkle. She would have a good idea of just how powerful Daybreaker's or Celestia's stronger attacks can get, and how much collateral damage they can cause. Notice how the sun-breath attack sets fire to even the small circle of ground which Starlight was standing on. Then comes the solar flare attack which just completely nukes absolutely everything around Daybreaker. Celestia must severely limit her power while fighting unless she wants to rule a burning, smoldering crater, which explains her losses.
  • It may seem like a massive Series Continuity Error that Celestia got the Ink Blot on Luna's rump as part of the Cutie Mark trade in spite of Twilight's Kingdom establishing it as part of Luna's coat. But then you realize it would not be very practical from an aesthetic perspective for Luna to keep it. Celestia's coat is already white, which would cause Luna's Cutie Mark on its own to blend right in. Essentially, with this in mind, putting the Ink Blot on Celestia becomes less an oversight, and more an attempt to prevent Celestia's post-trade Rump from looking like this.
  • Of course Twilight is being unsupportive of Starlight's choices and approaches during her mission. Because discouraging Starlight was part of how she saved Equestria in "The Cutie Re-mark". Discouraging Starlight is Twilight's way of tempering her from doing anything as disastrous as, oh say, that episode "Every Little Thing She Does". But the map knew Twilight had to stay out of it because it knows the crisis with the sisters calls for something as spontaneous as Starlight's magic.
  • Starlight's magic plus her gut instincts does sometimes equal good results, at least in one instance it did. In "To Where and back again", Starlight's first instinct when she was overwhelmed by the offer to be a leader again was to make a force-field around herself to have some space. It was what gave Trixie the cue to leave the village. Not only did it allow her to calm down, but if she hadn't left, it wouldn't have lead to the domino effect that would've ultimately stopped Queen Chrysalis.
  • Fridge Heartwarming for why Luna accepts the pancakes she makes aren't as good as her sisters. In "Whom the Sweetie Belle toils", Sweetie Belle's dreams/past taught Luna that sometimes, our pride can cloud us from seeing we're not as good as we think we are. And that there's Always Someone Better. This is Luna humbly admitting she doesn't have to outshine her sister.
  • In the beginning, why have Luna's resentful feelings towards Celestia returned? Because in "Do Princesses dream of magical Sheep", Luna banished the tantabus. She created it to remind herself every night of what would happen if she let herself get jealous again. She relied on it to keep herself from hating Celestia or ever seeing her in a negative light. But of course, it was for the best she learned to forgive herself, since it's function proved destructive. Ultimately, Starlight provided a more constructive way for Luna to banish her jealousy towards her sister.
  • Luna's personal nightmare after walking a day in Celestia's shoes involves a sequence in which her teeth begin falling out. While it does align with her particular regret of the day, this is also a clever bit of Freudian imagery. A frequent interpretation of dreams involving teeth falling out is that the victims are experiencing a sudden loss of control in their lives. Now go back and watch Luna's events of the previous day again - you'll notice that her every move is completely out of her control, and she has no idea how to deal with it.
    • There are more layers to this dream. In her normal job, she can bend the world of dreams to her will, allowing her to interact with ponies one-on-one, on her terms. Tonight, however, she can't do that, because her power to do so is on loan to Celestia. She's being confronted by dozens of ponies over mistakes she made during the day in the waking world, and she can do nothing about it.
    • Luna is also a more extreme introvert than her sister. Celestia manages to be social and rational throughout her normal day through a practiced balancing act of introversion and extroversion. Luna doesn't need to, because she only ever needs to interact with one pony at a time. So when thrust into a situation where she's having to tend dozens—or hundreds—of ponies at once, all of them competing for her attention? Just one meeting leaves her exhausted, and it's made clear that she is in hell every time Starlight brings up Celestia's agenda and whisks her off to the next social to-do without a moment's rest.
  • The episode clearly demonstartes the problem of a relationshp where one person works in the daytime, while the other works the night shift. Every time you see each other one of you is exhausted.
  • It seems unfair to Luna at first as she effectively has to pull double duty by having to do Celestia's day shift immediately after her night shift. At the end of the episode, since the cutie marks have been swapped back, Celestia now has to do her usual day shift immediately after doing the night shift. Everything balanced out in the end.

     Not Asking for Trouble 
  • When the Yaks are trying to make do music-wise, they are listening to "Four Minutes, Thirty-Three Seconds".
  • "You should help people even if they repeatedly deny they need it." seems like a weird aesop for an episode, and even one that might cause a lot of problems - but that's because most people are looking at it through a lens of Western/American culture. In other cultures, including many Eastern ones, asking for help is considered shameful even if you really do need it. In those cultures, helping people out when they obviously need it, even if they deny that they do, is normal. The real aesop of this episode is about respecting other people's cultures even if they seem confusing or counter-intuitive to you.

     Discordant Harmony 
  • Why is Discord buying everything instead of poofing it up with a finger-snap? He cares about Fluttershy enough that he wants to make it perfect, and is putting more effort into it.
  • This episode provides an explanation for Discord's continuing chaotic nature and Troll tendencies even after his Heel–Face Turn - Discord has to be chaotic to keep himself alive.
  • The outfit Discord lands on for his tea party is a Mr. Rogers outfit. Mr. Rogers always talked about how children were special the way they are, so this outfit subtly hints at the aesop of the episode.

     The Perfect Pear 
  • Why haven't we heard about the Apples being related to the Pears before? Pear Butter has always been called Buttercup and assumed by the siblings to be an Apple.
  • It's heavily implied that Apple siblings' parents are dead, but they don't seem distressed by it even when their parents' old friends choke up while telling stories about them, focusing more on the rivalry with the Pears. It may seem insensitive at first, but it's likely the Apple siblings have gotten most of their distress out early from having to deal with it every day, while the family friends they talk to have not and reminiscing causes them to miss them again.
  • How pony names work. Just like Pear Butter/Buttercup and Chiffon Swirl/Cup Cake, ponies start out having a given name. However if they start liking a nickname better, then they will then answer to the nickname predominantly. This can also explain how some ponies (Muffins/Derpy Hooves/Ditzy Do/Bright Eyes/Bubbles) may take multiple nicknames and answer to all of them.
    • It also explains how most ponies have names that match their Cutie Marks, special talents, personality, or place in life. If a pony's given name doesn't match, they can opt to use a different name that does in place of their given name.
  • One may ask how the Apples never encountered the rock and intertwined trees on Sweet Apple Acres before, but smartly, the episode shows that the area around the trees is filled with weeds and other underbrush growth, a sign that it had been disused by the Apples for many years and likely long forgotten by Granny by this point.
  • Bright Mac carves a heart into a stone instead of the traditional tree. This makes perfect sense since both families are tree farmers, and would likely not appreciate Sweetie Graffiti done on a tree.
  • Apple Bloom jokingly asks if she can call Grand Pear "Grand-père Pear". Guess she remembered some of that fancy she learned way back then.
    • Also, Vanhoover is the Equestria equivalent of Canada's Vancouver. If Grand Pear spent all these years there, then perhaps it's fitting that his name is "Fancy"note  for "Grandpa".
  • The scene where Pear Butter and Bright Mac meet as foals is wrought with some pretty heavy Vocal Dissonance, with both foals sporting pretty adult voices despite their age. However, there are two important things to remember: One, it's not the actual event, but a memory from another mare (Goldie Delicious). Considering said mare is a Crazy Cat Lady and one of the oldest mares around, the possibility of an Unreliable Narrator becomes more likely. Two, the scene in question doesn't have anypony witnessing it directly, aside from Pear Butter and Bright Mac. This is in sharp contrast to the other characters who talk about the Apple parents (Burnt Oak, Mrs. Cake, Mayor Mare), who were all nearby and witnesses to specific events. While the Apple parents could've told Goldie and other Apples how they met as foals, the simple fact is that nopony in the present truly knows how that interaction went down. Goldie was likely just doing her best approximation of what was going down based on what she knew about the two lovebirds. With both of these in mind, the Vocal Dissonance becomes a subtle signal that this memory isn't as solid as the others, with the dissonance being a sort of anachronism due to In-Universe WMG.
  • That moment when you realize: Applejack took after Grand Pear's stubbornness. However, she also took after both Grand Pear and Granny Smith's capacity to realize the error of their ways.
  • This may cross over into Fridge-Tear Jerker: Bright Mac grew up with a Disappeared Dad, Pear Butter grew up with a Missing Mom. Between them both, their kids eventually grew up with both.
  • Mayor Mare and Mrs. Cake's theory on why Granny Smith never told the Apple siblings about their parents was likely their own way of apologizing for also keeping the information a secret.
  • Mrs. Cake claimed she had no idea what she was supposed to do back when she was Chiffon Swirl. While chiffon does have a baking-related definition (made with beaten egg whites to give a light consistency), its more common definition is that it's a type of fabric made of silk or nylon. If Mrs. Cake assumed the latter, she might have gone for a clothing-related talent, failed, and ended up lost until Pear Butter showed up.
  • Granny Smith used to tell bedtime stories to her trees, while Grand Pear covered his with blankets. Back in the episode Over a Barrel, how does Applejack treat Bloomberg? She does both.

     Fame and Misfortune 
  • Why Starlight did not get fandom reactions? The journal is a recap from Season 1 to 4. Starlight's debut was in Season 5, when the journal came into disuse after Season 4's finale.
    • It also didn't occur to Twilight to make a new and revised version of the Friendship Journal that contains both the old lessons it had and the new ones from after the time she stopped writing in it, hence the reason why the Friendship Journal didn't have any of the lessons that Starlight learned.
    • This also accounts for the in-universe perception from some readers that Fluttershy never really changes and forgets her lessons. Many of Fluttershy's more assertive moments came well after the journal stopped being written.
    • It would also explain why Rarity was getting boycotted, since the last entry focusing on her would be about how she turned into a reality-warping madmare from a book of dark magic and went on a roaring rampage of redecoration.
  • How come the journal was originally in such bad shape? Well, after Tirek BLEW UP THE LIBRARY, it's a miracle it's still in as good condition as it is.
  • The Mane 6's respective haters and admirers ironically share the same flaws they used to have.
    • Rarity's haters are stuck up themselves.
    • Pinkie Pie's fans laugh at everything she does, never taking anything she does seriously.
    • Rainbow Dash's fans are proud of her and keep boasting how awesome she is.
    • Fluttershy has fans, but they're too timid to stand up to her haters.
    • The Sweet Apple Admirers believe "family" should be inclusive as friends.
    • The Reporter who interviews Twilight is overly analytical.
  • This is the first time that Rainbow Dash wears sunglasses with embarrassment instead of with confidence. The reason is that sunglasses can help to hide your insecurities and emotions from others. So given Rainbow Dash's situation, she didn't want her fans to see that she was getting sick and frustrated with them which is a sign of weakness and would've been something of a betrayal of her fan's expectations that she's a strong, independent mare.
    • On top of that, her fans' obsessiveness about how awesome she is probably brought back memories of her parents doing the same thing. The difference? The crazy fans aren't her family.
  • Twilight Sparkle doesn't get her own subset of Loony Fans obsessively harassing her over things she wrote about, even though she was just as integral to the journal's existence and had a few criticisms lobbed her way. It's for the same reason she's suddenly in no rush to deal with them when they're mobbing outside her castle. No matter how much they disagree with it, Twilight Sparkle still has power and authority that the rest of the Mane Six do not. Nopony was willing to risk committing high treason by mobbing a Princess of Equestria over a book she wrote. And she has the authority to extend that protection to Starlight, Spike, the rest of the Mane Six, and their immediate families any time she chooses to.
  • This episode suddenly puts "The Mane Attraction" in a whole different light! One used to wonder how Sven-Gallop could even arrange for Countess Coloratura to be pulled out of charities, besides bluffing. But then you see this episode and you realize how he'd pull it off: if they ever step out of line or if they don't meet his demands, all Sven-Gallop has to do is convince Rara that whoever they're performing for are crazy idiots like the ones we see here. Odds are he's had to deal with more than one such instance.
    • On the flipside, maybe it's not too far off that some past experience with Loony Fans were what drove Rara to hide behind a veil that is "Countess Coloratura". Once she reunited with Applejack, however, she came to see that her particular fans weren't the frenzied animals she was convinced they were.
      • Also, it's the reason why she didn't mind the Children's Meet-and-Greet: like Toola Roola and Coconut Cream, they appreciate her work for what it is, instead of going crazy like other fans.
  • What exactly is the cause of Rarity's Lesson Zero state? Her Generosity is being refused, no pony wants it.

     Triple Threat 
  • Spike being a candidate to be called to solve a friendship problem is easier to understand when you consider the fact that he's had a throne from the very beginning, since the thrones are connected to the Cutie Map (both "The Cutie Map" and "Spice Up Your Life" indicate a magical connection between them). This makes Spike a less surprising candidate than Starlight, since he was already connected to the map in a way.
    • Another possibility: The Cutie Map is a magical entity whose primary purpose in calling characters on these missions is so they can teach others the friendship lessons they learned. We've already had one episode this season showcase how little the Cutie Map cares if you're the figurehead of Equestria's ruling body or a previous season's Arc Villain. It does not discriminate based species, status, pedigree or background when deciding who should teach and who should learn. It'll even select the same young dragon to both teach and learn that episode's Aesop if need be.
  • Ember having trouble telling ponies apart makes some sense when one considers how dragons have been presented as to quite an extreme not being analytical or detail-oriented. Not stupid exactly but very much preferring to think about things in simple ways. Ember may be more intellectual than the average dragon, but she still seems to tend to see "purple pony with sparkly cutie mark" and not bother to commit any other detail to memory. Further, it's likely she, at this point, hasn't seen many ponies up close before. Lastly, if one compares them to the vastly different body shapes and sizes dragons have, ponies in general do, in a sense, all look alike.
    • On top of that, Ember having difficulty telling Twilight and Starlight apart makes sense when you think about: Dragons in general tend to have a lot of physical differences between them, not just color, hair and cutie marks. They have differently shaped wings, snouts, spikes, horns... Their appearances are a lot more varied, so it would be easy for Ember to tell her fellow dragons apart, but not so easy when it comes to ponies, who are all relatively similar compared to her own kind.
  • Why was Thorax so attracted to the flames installed for Ember's welcome party? It's because bugs in real life are easily attracted to bright lights. They'll automatically go to whatever thing they perceive as the brightest.
  • Why does Thorax geek out at what he thought was a welcome party for him in Ponyville? Because as a changeling, he used to be hated and shunned for who he was. This is the first time anyone had done anything so nice as to throw a party for him.
    • He also loves the decorations even though they were all designed to suit Ember's tastes. That's the first sign that Thorax and Ember won't be as incompatible as Spike and his friends think.
  • Ember lives in the Dragon Lands, where everything is rock and ash. Ponies groom themselves and style their manes regularly, and do it more when there's a VIP coming for a visit. The air in and around Ponyville is full of pollen, dust, animal dander, airborne cosmetics, and other potential allergens that Ember's never been exposed to. Which is why she starts sneezing within moments of landing in Ponyville.
  • Thorax's rambling becomes an underlying Running Gag throughout the episode, and it's only stopped by one thing: Ember's assertiveness.
    • Likewise, Ember's hard-nosed belief that Twilight and Starlight look completely the same is an indication that she needs someone (like Thorax) to show her that winning an argument isn't the same as solving said-argument.
  • Why is Ember served pony food despite only eating gems? Friendly visit or not, it is still technically a diplomatic matter as she is the leader of her people. The last time Equestria served the visitor's cuisine instead of their own resulted in a declaration of war. Not to mention, Spike's upbringing probably made him think that Ember can eat pony food as well.

     Campfire Tales 
  • Some of the legends have a sort of Deus ex Machina aspect to them, which makes sense. After all, a lot of older myths had something similar such as a sudden appearance of a magical artifact or something like that. Basically if something happens in a myth, it's gonna happen.
  • Well, if we needed an in-show demonstration of how each pony race is different from the others, now we've got it.
    • Earth-ponies as a culture place value on strong work ethics and their connection with the earth. The legend of Rockhoof is about an earth pony who achieves victory over the earth through hard work, and told by earth-pony farmer Applejack.
    • Unicorns are Equestria's artisans and nobles, and pride themselves in their ability to reshape the world around them through magic. Mistmane uses this ability to bring out the beauty in the world around her in her legend, much like unicorn fashionista Rarity does.
    • The most notable exemplars of pegasus culture demonstrate feats of military and physical prowess. Flash Magnus achieved victory in his legends through a combination of military strategy and skilled flying, much like Rainbow Dash does as a Wonderbolt.
  • It's a wonder why (in Rarity's story) Sable Spirit's old nag form is yellow when her previous form had a orange-red coat. Looking at Granny Smith, even her apple-green coat stayed the same no matter how old she got. But then it dawns on you, Sable Spirit's coat is actually meant to be discolored, much like how witches are depicted as having green skin.
  • Some people have thought Scootaloo's panic at being trapped in the cave was overdone. In something of Fridge Horror for "Sleepless in Ponyville" and Fridge Brilliance here, Scootaloo's large-scale panicking at being trapped in the "scary cave" is likely a form of PTSD, triggered by the remembrance of events back in the earlier episode. Unlike most forms, however, Rainbow Dash is mostly able to calm Scootaloo down by the end of the episode.
  • While the shield Sweetie Bell makes is admittedly small and incomplete, shield spells in general are noted to be fairly advanced magic and it hasn't been clarified if Sweetie Bell's cutie mark allows for a wider range of magic than the average unicorn. But one thing we do know is that the crusader's emblem includes a shield motif, meaning her being able to make a barrier fits in with their overall theme regardless.
    • Her cutie mark contains a star, and stars or similar in cutie marks tend to indicate a great magical talent (Twilight, Sunset, and Starlight being the obvious ones. You could argue for Trixie (stage magic) and Sunburst (analysis of magic) if you broaden the definition of "magical talent" a bit. Heck, even back when the elements were otherwise uniform gemstones the element of magic was a star.), so maybe she is more powerful than the average unicorn per her cutie mark.
  • Mistmane being Rarity's inspiration calls back brilliantly to her act of generosity in the series premiere. Just like Mistmane willingly gave up her beauty, Rarity chopped off her own tail in order to make someone else feel better.

     Daring Done 
  • Most of Daring Do's adventures occur in very isolated areas, with little to no population, and more often than not she ends in abandoned temples or pyramids that are usually filled with death traps, and, sometimes, self-destruction mechanisms that will trash the place anyway once activated, so she just focuses on surviving and completing the mission, without worrying about Collateral Damage. Of course, using these tactics in a populated area cause more than just discomfort to the local ponies, especially since they don't know the backstory of those incidents, that most of the time involve actually protecting those same ponies.
  • The steam jets make some sense when you take three things into account.
    • The legend told in town (wherein there was a bridge) was told from the perspective of an elderly earth pony fruit vendor. Through the Apples and the Pies, we've seen that earth ponies can get more set-in-their-ways the closer they live toward their race's inherent connection with the earth. If Maud or Igneous Rock Pie were to recount the tale, they'd have inserted a bridge, too, because that's how an earth pony would've gotten across the chasm. That's why you can never trust any one account of any ancient legend you hear; they go through many storytellers, and each one makes his own changes and embellishments to the version told to him by the previous storyteller.
    • The Sphinx did NOT want Somnambula to reach the prince, and so would've laid a challenge that gave her as much chance to fail as possible. Blindfolding is a step, but a solid bridge she can feel her way across countered it. The steam jets, though? They'd toss her into the air and make it hard to navigate, increasing the odds of her going the wrong way and landing in whatever that glowing green goo of apparent death was.
    • Somnambula was a pegasus. She was right at home in the air, and learned as a filly how to position her body to navigate through it, even if she wasn't flying under her own power. All she needed was a waypoint to steer toward.
  • Daring Do and Pinkie Pie weren't just inspired by Somnanbula to remain hopeful, they were inspired by her to take responsibility, even when bad consequences weren't intended to happen. Why? In the story, Somnanbula was charitable in hope that it would inspire others to help one another. Although it inspired the Pharaoh and Hazan to stand up to the Sphinx, it also lead to the unforeseen consequence of the Sphinx taking one of them hostage. Now Somnanbula didn't mean for this to happen. But instead of moping how it was all her fault, she took responsibility for it and tried her hardest to make up for it by saving Hazan. Thus, Pinkie Pie was inspired to go save Rainbow Dash, and later, Daring Do was inspired to make amends for what she did to the town Somnanbula.
  • Come to think of it, this episode could be a nice Shout-Out to the lesson in "Fame and Misfortune": Even though the Mane 6 didn't intend for bad consequences (the Loony Fans) to happen, that doesn't mean their cause (teaching other ponies friendship lessons) isn't worthwhile.
  • It may be a coincidence due to the Mythology Gag, but having a Pegasus in an the Equestrian version of Egypt is a reference to the Serapis religion in Ancient Egyptian History.

     A Health of Information 
  • Magic requires focus. The more advanced the spell, the more focus it takes to cast and/or maintain it. You wouldn't be able to focus on casting spells either if you were being electrocuted by a swarm of pissed-off taser bees.
    • If this rule applies to any magic and not just that of Unicorns, then it could also be why Fluttershy's Stare failed; between having come down with Swamp Fever herself and having refused to rest for days, she was too fatigued to maintain the focus needed to calm the bees with it.
  • In "Daring Done", Pinkie connects with the legend of Somnambula, a pegasus. Here, Fluttershy relates the tale of Mage Meadowbrook, an earth pony. Since the rest of the Mane Six seem to connect to legends of their own race (e.g. Rainbow Dash relating the tale of the pegasus Flash Magnus), this seems odd - until you remember that Fluttershy was originally intended to be an earth pony, and Pinkie a pegasus.
  • This episode deconstructs Never Say "Die" in much the same manner that the DC Animated Universe cartoons enacted Writer Revolt against Executive Meddling. Ponies are coming down with an incurable plague that will eventually transform them into the trees the plague originated from to continue the plague's lifecycle. This is a TV-Y7 program, though, so the writers are forbidden from directly stating that this is fatal to the victim. So they don't. Instead, they leave the implication open that the unfortunate victim lives through the final stages of the plague and watches helplessly as their spores infect other ponies with it. That's so better than being dead, right?
  • Twilight, through the whole episode, insists on Fluttershy taking it easy and trying to have enough rest; while Twilight is worried about Zecora's health, she also worries about Fluttershy's, as she is already familiar with the consequences of sleep deprivation, not just for the pony suffering it but also for those affected by the pony's actions. In 'Applebuck Season', an exhausted Applejack that insisted on hard-working crashed Rainbow Dash in the library, caused several cases of food-poisoning, and was responsible of a very destructive rabbit stampede. Twilight herself went through her own sleep-deprivation issues in 'It's About Time', getting increasingly anxious and her judgement being badly affected.
  • The depiction of early earth-pony medicine explains a few things about Zecora and zebra medicine. Zebra healers and earth-pony healers would have all the same risks and challenges to overcome in their practice, and so would arrive at about the same methods of treating patients without contracting their illnesses themselves. At least some of the masks on the walls of Zecora's hut may be for legitimate medicinal use.
  • In this episode, we learn that Twilight is actually a very capable cook. Because cooking is not much different from the chemistry she was frequently shown working with in the show's early seasons to establish her as the Mane Six's resident science nerd.

     To Change a Changeling 
  • Starlight has trouble teleporting to the changeling hive, not because there's any problem with her magical power or skill, but because she's really not sure where the hive is. The one time she was there previously, she was teleported in and out by Discord, so has no reference of her own for its location.
  • There's a Continuity Nod for how Thorax has changed his methods for ruling, ever since "Triple Threat". Before, he pointed out that there were still some changelings who refused the transformation. Now, thanks to Ember's advice, we see there are hardly any changelings left who haven't changed, leaving only Pharynx.
  • At first, it seems like Pharynx is being a pure jerk when it's mentioned he dumps black paint on the other changelings. But that's before you realize he's not being malicious: he just wants the other changelings to go back to their original color schemes.
  • Pharynx is a representation of some MLP fans who disapprove of the changelings' new design.
  • Most Changelings are now focusing into artistic careers (performers, painters, crafters...) which makes sense since they used to impersonate ponies and other creatures for a living, so they have, at the very least, decent observational and acting skills, limited only by their lack of understanding of their mimicked subject's personality and interactions. Now that they have the time and chance to do their own thing, the Changelings are using the abilities they're naturally good at. This also explains why Pharynx is having a harder time adapting to the new society, as his natural skills were all battle oriented.
  • Starlight's plan might have been influenced by her experiences back in 'A Royal Problem', when the troubles between Celestia and Luna got fixed thanks to them dealing with a serious problem that Starlight caused by accident; this time, Starlight decided to cause a big problem on purpose, thinking that the affected sides would make peace and work on their issues over solving/fixing it. While this worked in the end, it's still a very risky approach, and she's reasonably called out by the affected ones.
  • Pharnyx's appearance,
    • Like Thorax, it is different than that of the other changelings, which makes sense when you consider that since they're siblings, whatever mutation or other factor caused that color different is probably genetic to some degree.
    • Thorax is basically the Celestia of the three basic changelings types (visible butt wings, horns, weird diamond neck things) while being massive and having the addition of antlers, compared to Celestia's taller horse like form. Pharnyx calls to Luna's design; all the major Changeling types but a much darker coat and a bit smaller than the more powerful sibling.
      • On that same note, Pharynx may be a parallel to Luna and not just for being darker than his sibling. Luna was feared for being associated with nighttime, and for being "aggressively" regal. Pharynx was disliked by the other changelings for being edgier than his brother, and generally aggressive. Luna went rogue in her own extreme way, Pharynx went rogue in a more mild way. Both were ultimately accepted once others saw they truly cared about them and their and their "darkness" was accepted as valuable and needed.
    • Pharynx's more drastic transformation could very well have been a result of the love he held for the hive itself, or even the outpouring of acceptance he received after the maulwurf was defeated.
  • In the flashback where Pharynx was defending Thorax from the other changelings, we see Thorax playing with a little toy dragon that looks a lot like Spike. Maybe Thorax was unconsciously more motivated to help Spike initially because Spike resembled something that Thorax was fond of during his childhood.
  • It's Played for Laughs when one of the changelings in the Feelings Forum discusses how some days she feels like a purple or blue changeling when she's a green changeling, since the changelings can actually change their appearance, but she herself notes that she feels like she would be 'living a lie'. Under the rule of Queen Chrysalis, the changelings changed their appearance to deceive ponies for nefarious reasons. This changeling associates changing her own appearance with 'living a lie' by deceiving others, instead using her powers to express who she identifies herself to be.
  • Pharynx calling Trixie and Starlight "both losers" when he learns they reformed isn't just him being brusque. He's also disappointed that they compared themselves to him when they've already reformed. At the time, Pharynx had yet to reach his resolve and therefore couldn't relate with them.
  • Pharynx shares his brother Thorax's ability to transform into a form that is bulkier and more dangerous than a pony, which Thorax demonstrated in "Triple Threat" by turning into a bear. This foreshadows his transformation into a taller and more regal changeling, just as Thorax did in "To Where and Back Again".
  • It makes sense that Pharynx couldn't change up until the other changelings accepted him for who he was. Love is a all-or-nothing deal, it's about caring and accepting some pony despite their faults and flaws. Once the other changelings accepted Pharynx, he found it in himself to love them back, now that he knew they appreciated his Tough Love.
  • When changelings fight, they attack or defend together as one. In infantry tactics, large groups of individual soldiers would strengthen their collective might by marching together in a phalanx formation. Compare the similarity of the word "phalanx" with the name of the changeling hive's new head of defense, Pharynx.
  • Pharynx's anger over his position is somewhat understandable. He spent his entire life training to be a warrior and now the Hive has drastically changed and apparently no longer has need of him. This is similar to demobilization where a nation reduces their military because it is no longer in a state of war. As a result of this, soldiers go from being an invaluable asset to an unnecessary weight. Veterans have a hard time readjusting to a peaceful life when they're used to the disciplined and compartmentalized routines of being in the military.
    • Thankfully for Pharynx, the Hive has realized that it still needs warriors so as to ensure that it is not completely defenseless from being attacked by dangerous monsters. As they would say, "If you want peace, prepare for war."
    • The fact that the Hive only had one warrior is similar to the problem with the Roman Republic: They never had a full-time professional army and only created temporary armies through a compulsory levy at the start of a military campaign which would then be completely dismissed at the end of it. This meant that they were completely vulnerable in times of peace and could be quickly taken over by a hostile belligerent in a surprise attack.
  • Part of why Pharynx shared his love and changed was because he expressed his feelings. It was virtually a Feelings Forum on his own terms, as opposed to something you do at a scheduled session.
    • What's more, he shared his feelings with Thorax, the one pony who never gave up on him and never saw him as a "lost cause". His brother was somebody he could trust, somebody who was the bridge between him and the changeling hive that had grown distant from him.
  • Why did Pharynx turn out to be smaller than his younger brother, Thorax, after his transformation? After Spike convinced Twilight Sparkle to accept Thorax as a friend, Thorax was allowed to stay in the Crystal Empire for several days. And Because the Crystalling Ceremony had happened recently, the Love in the Crystal Empire was more abundant and potent than anywhere else in Equestria. The new glow in Thorax's wings and lack of hunger are evidence towards the fact that he was given some of this love before he was sent to try and find help in Ponyville. So when Thorax transformed himself by giving his love, the power of the love he received from the Crystal Empire resulted in a very significant growth spurt that drastically altered his size and form.

     It Isn't the Mane Thing About You 
  • The Crystal Ponies got their name not just because of their physical appearance and architecture, but because a part of themselves is actually made out of crystal.
  • By the time Rarity decides not to purchase it, why is the yellow lounge chair still there, even after it was sold at the "auction"? Because the other ponies trying to buy it saw Rarity with her ruined mane. At best, they probably thought she was sick with something making her hair fall out. So out of sympathy, they decided not to purchase it.
  • Pinkie blasts everything and everypony inside of Sugar Cube Corner with industrial-strength silly string so powerful that Pinkie has to use a crowbar to dislodge the Cake twins from the floor, which gets them stuck to her. One jump cut later, and Pinkie and Rarity are on the way to Zecora's hut. Rarity is still caked in the stuff, but Pinkie is completely clean, and the Cake twins are nowhere to be found. This is not a continuity error. Pinkie babysits the twins in a house connected to a bakery. She and the twins get sticky, gooey messes stuck in their manes and fur all the time. Therefore, she'd have her own supply of Zecora's shampoo. She took the time to clean herself up and unstick the twins from herself so she could leave them behind in Ponyville while she ventured into the Everfree Forest with Rarity.
    • So why wouldn't she loan it to Rarity? Rarity would need to re-condition and re-style her mane after applying the shampoo to get it back to the way it was. Neither Pinkie nor the Cakes would have the high-end conditioners and styling equipment Rarity uses, so Rarity would've needed to take a bottle of shampoo home with her anyway.
  • Why was Granny wearing that bonnet/wig? Well, considering the events of "Fame and Misfortune", she could've been wearing that as a disguise to get away from the Sweet Apple Admirers. Afterwards, she took it out of cold storage to demonstrate to Rarity.
  • Twilight and Starlight's inability to use their magic to fix Rarity's hair isn't just because of the plot. It also explains why Twilight didn't believe in curses in "Bridle Gossip". There's magic that can happen in Equestria, and then there's magic that's the stuff of pony tales. Magically fixing hair just falls under "pony tale magic".
    • Same as getting a cutie mark before it's time.
  • Where did Rarity get the inspiration to fashion her ruined mane into a Mohawk? Zecora's zebra mane resembles a Mohawk.
  • Pinkie is mostly at fault for getting Rarity's mane ruined. First by spraying Rarity with the Super Sticky Celebration String and then by encouraging Zecora to share a Mane Horror Story that scares Rarity into mixing up the potions. But as a true friend, Rarity doesn't begrudge or reprimand Pinkie since things turned out great in the end.
  • A lot of viewers thought Rarity being unable to grow her mane back was a huge Ass Pull, given that there were two instances where magic made ponies grow mustaches. However, there are a lot of implications that it isn't an asspull at all.
    • The mustache grew on a creature that could never get a mustache without magic (a dragon) and so it's not "real" hair. Spike doesn't have the mustache anymore, after all.
    • The fact that we see a crystalized mane in this very episode(first mane that Twilight tries to give Rarity that immediately shatters), the flowing manes of Celestia and Luna(and Twilight at some parts of Twilight's Kingdom), and Pinkies oft-recurring Prehensile Hair, all imply that pony manes themselves have inherent magic to them, and, just like cutie marks, tampering with that inherent magic would be a bad idea. This also rebuts the oft-mentioned Fridge Logic of Twilight having grown a mustache on Spike in Boast Busters yet being unable to grow a mane here—the mustache lacked that inherent magic, so it was far easier for Twilight to manipulate.
    • It's also plausible that Twilight and Starlight simply didn't want to cast an actual hair-growth spell on Rarity, out of fear that it'd interact with the magic potion she used to ruin it and do something even worse to her. Most times either of them has used magic as an easy-fix solution to a problem—and especially one created in the first place by improper use of magic—it has only escalated the original problem into an unforeseen worse one.
    • Zecora described using magic to fix manes as problematic before the potions were even swapped, implying that, removal potion or not, fixing manes with magic is tricky in and of itself. She has a list of stories where mane-mending goes wrong such as "infinitely split ends". This implies that mane regrowing is far more complicated than it appears.
  • Of course no pony could pretend Rarity's ruined mane wasn't that bad: she kept treating it like it was that bad. With Zecora, she wore a black cloak that made it look like a disturbing secret. With Twilight and Starlight, she lamp shaded how "messed up" it was. With Rainbow Dash, Applejack and Fluttershy, she asked them how "awful" it was. It's only once she made an effort to make her mane look good that they saw the beauty in it as well.
  • Fridge Heartwarming: Towards the end, Rarity's story mirrors that of her favorite legend Mist Mane. Like Mist Mane, Rarity lost her beauty, but after she embraces her new look with confidence, she goes out of her way to be her very best. In fact, she even gives flowers, thus following in the hoof steps of Mist Mane.
  • The Time Skip at the end of the episode didn't just allow Rarity's mane to grow back - it also includes enough time for the Cutie Mark Crusaders to set up their camp.
  • At first, it seems like Fridge Logic that the door that formed Rarity's "wooden mane" would be made of wood. Shouldn't it be completely crystalline? But remember, Twilight's castle is formed from the Tree of Harmony.
  • It's easy to believe it's a Broken Aesop when Rarity makes her ruined mane look good, but the point isn't about making yourself look good. It's about feeling good despite how you look, about "shining from the inside out". If she had worn that same outfit with a bad mood, she would've come off as looking like a "good girl gone bad". But with the attitude of some pony cheery and fabulous, others can see it on her face.
    • Also, it does adhere to a certain "looks can be deceiving" theme. Rarity may have fashioned herself to look like a punk rocker, but she still has the heart and soul of a gentle lady.
    • When one takes "Fame and Misfortune" into consideration, it dawns that Rarirty's punk-rock look inadvertently serves as a Take That! to her haters for thinking she was nothing but a snob who couldn't possibly learn to be generous. Here, not only does she exemplify her generosity to the fullest, but she even looks the part of some pony who isn't afraid to get her hooves dirty to help others.
  • Rainbow Dash appears to be the biggest fan of Rarity's new manestyle after she improvises with the punk rock getup. There might actually be a bit of bias there considering she's usually the only member of the Mane 6 to have a multi-colored mane.note 
  • Why didn't Rarity just try get a replica wig in her mane style for herself like Twilight's fans did in "Once upon a Zeppelin"? In "Fame and Misfortune", she's the least favorite among the Mane 6. No one would be in their right mind to sell that kind of stuff!! Not to mention, it would make her a fraud in front of Photo Finish for the photo shoot while the other wigs she's trying out earlier would have passed if it wasn't for the fact that they fall apart in 5 mins, making them unwearable in the long term.

    Once Upon a Zeppelin 
  • Remember all the times Twilight's gotten herself in trouble by making decisions without putting any thought into what she was doing until after the damage was already done? She gets it from her mother. Both times it comes up, it's Twilight Velvet that speaks up to defend the decision to sign the paperwork for the cruise without reading it, and then apologizes when confronted with the aftermath of what she'd done in the second scene.
  • Iron Will claims that the market for his assertiveness training dried up. But of course it did. His business model had him teaching ponies to be assertive with the promise not to charge them if they aren't satisfied with the results. And then he'd show up at their door to collect payment, giving them the opportunity to use his assertiveness training to get out of having to pay for his assertiveness training.
  • Twilight gets an Ascended Fanboy in Star Tracker. Fandom as it exists now was codified by Star Trek, whose more serious fanboys prefer to be called "Trekkers".
  • Star Tracker's seeming overreaction to Twilight stepping on his hoof is a lot more justified when you remember that Twilight has strength which, due to her status as an alicorn, is likely above that of an earth pony.
  • Right at the end, Iron Will reveals that he'd never guaranteed that there would be a princess on the cruise, or that the princess would participate in any form of Fanservice at any point during the voyage. That means that all Twilight had to do to get the time with her family she'd planned for was stick to her guns and say "no" to Iron Will, and there wouldn't be a single thing he could do about it.
    • The Sparkle clan includes all five alicorn princesses extant in the series, effectively making them Equestria's Royal Family. They don't NEED to win a contest to go on an airship cruise together.
    • If the fans want to spend a day with their favorite princess, they can organize their own convention and invite said princess to be their honored guest. That or attend any of the annual events or celebrations already dedicated to the princesses in some way. Real-life fans of the show have been doing this since its first season.
  • Towards the end, Iron Will left the ship without his goats, leaving them as literal scapegoats for the angry cruise members who have a bone to pick with the dishonest minotaur.
  • While at first glance the name might seem to indicate a pony who's interested in astronomy, Star Tracker's name is actually a Meaningful Name in relation to the episode (which seems to be a fairly common theme among one-shot characters on the show). He's shown following Twilight (a celebrity in Equestria, or a star) pretty much wherever she goes - he's tracking a (metaphorical) star.
  • Princess Cadance mentions that she used to be in Twilight's position, trying to please every pony but herself, and it took Flurry Heart for her to draw the line. Perhaps, in Part 2 of "A Canterlot Wedding", she wasn't just being humble and content when she accepted the Mane 5's specifications to her wedding. Perhaps, she was being too kind for her own good. It wasn't until Flurry Heart pushed her limits as a tireless, unconditionally loving mother that she learned to be kind to herself as well.
    • Fridge-Heartwarming: Flurry Heart helped her mom draw the line not just for herself as a princess, but also for her daughter. Cadance would probably have no problem giving all her time to the Crystal Kingdom if she could. But when her baby filly came along, there was something more important in her life to devote that time to.

    Marks and Recreation 
  • Remember in "Twenty-Eight Pranks Later" Dashie made a delicious cake? Well, if the 'Bolts take turns cooking for the team, that might explain it.
  • At first, it seems the show wasted a potentially good plot by excluding Gabby the Griffon from the episode. Her talent is helping others, and it doesn't make her any less a Jack-of-All-Trades at other talents. But then it dawns: Of course Gabby can do whatever she wants despite her cutie mark, she doesn't have one! Her presence alone would've only served to prove Rumble's point that cutie marks only weigh you down from achieving what you want to do.
  • A very big hint that Rumble's philosophy is wrong: if all Rumble wants to do is be a Wonderbolt, he wouldn't have had that charisma or leadership skill to bring the campers to his side in the first place. He could've been afraid he'd get a leadership cutie mark (just like, say, Diamond Tiara), but he still tried it. He didn't know it at the time, but like his brother Thunderlane, Rumble has the potential to be good at more than one talent.
    • Also, ironically, Rumble's song contradicts his own philosophy. If they should be afraid of Cutie Marks and how they keep you "boxed up", then he wouldn't have been singing such a catchy song.
  • This does explain how Twilight and her friends managed to foil Starlight in "The Cutie Map" arc. If their talents had been connected specifically to the one their cutie marks gave them, then they would've never escaped. But thankfully, they did have other talents the Equal Spell had not yet touched. Twilight's cutie mark was magic, but she still had her smarts and her friends. Fluttershy's cutie mark was talking to animals, but she still had her kindness and her assertive cunning.
  • Why couldn't the CMC ask the Mane Six (especially a fellow Wonderbolt like Rainbow Dash) for help after Rumble's takeover? CMC episode aside, the CMC told the Mane Six that they started the camp around the same time as the publishing of the Friendship Journal. They are too busy running from their fans!! Not only that, involving a family member that the instigator in question looks up to will smooth things out much faster.
  • Kettle Corn (possibly unintentionally) foreshadows the solution of the main episode's problem: her name does not match with her cutie mark. Already by her name she's not restricted to just what her cutie mark says, even before she continues painting despite having a haiku-based cutie mark.
  • This was foreshadowed back in "The Perfect Pear". Pear Butter's cutie mark was a jar of pear butter preserve. Yet she also had the talent to help Cupcake discover her special skill for baking. (This same ability was inherited by her youngest daughter Apple Bloom, who would come to figure out Rumble's reason for rejecting cutie marks).
  • In a sense, this episode is the CMC equivalent of "Flutter Brutter": a Pegasus pony (Zephyr Breeze/Rumble) who's seemingly unsympathetic and avoids putting effort into any activity. Then, it turns out the Pegasus pony has his reason for avoiding the activities (Fear of failure/Big Brother Worship), and comes to meet their downfall because of that fault (Living in a destitute camp/Left with nothing to do). In the end, their older sibling (Fluttershy/ Thunder Lane) helps them out and teaches them to overcome their fault (Finished what he started/ Try other activities).
    • This may also be the CMC equivalent of "To change a Changeling". Like Pharynx, Rumble is the rowdier brother who rebels against every other pony (and admittedly had a point). But both also learned to change for the better (Pharynx admits he loves the Changeling Hive, and Rumble decides to try other activities), because of their respective brother. All at the same time, neither had to change completely (Pharynx is still tough, and Rumble is still a blank flank).
  • Rumble's nearly-monochromatic color scheme resembles that of the Mane 6 in "Return of Harmony" when they became corrupted by Discord. In a sense, this reflects how Rumble is a "corrupted" blank flank.
    • Also on the same subject of Rumble's color scheme, his and Thunderlane's color schemes are symbolic. Rumble has a white coat, but has a dark mane (like the Yin symbol). Thunderlane has a dark coat, but has a light mane (like the Yang symbol).
  • This episode may have an Accidental Aesop that applies to real life. Some people think that just because all they want to do is art, or sports, or technology, every other aspect of school is pointless for reaching their goal in life. But Thunderlane proves to Rumble (and the audience) that that's not true. The whole point of learning other talents (despite already having a talent you love doing) is to avoid Crippling Overspecialization.
  • The circles that Kettle Corn likes to paint are actually Marus (or Zeroes) in Japanese Calligraphy. At the Day Camp, Kettle Corn gets a cutie mark in Haikus which is one of the seven forms of Japanese Poetry. The circles were actually hinting towards this in a very subtle way.
  • Some would say that Rumble is a Karma Houdini because he wasn't scolded or punished for "upending the entire camp". But in a way, Rumble did end up bringing punishment upon himself. As more and more of the campers left the Blank-Flank-Forever side of his camp, Rumble found himself in a self-imposed "time-out". And he came to the unspoken realization that being mean about Cutie Marks wasn't going to win friends in the long run.
  • Of course Rumble won't try anything else! He already chose to be a Wonder Bolt, yet he hasn't yet received a cutie mark in flying like his brother, no matter how many times he flies the Wonder Bolt obstacle course. This would certainly plant some fears that he's destined to get a cutie mark in other things.
    • Although Thunderlane supports Rumble's dream of becoming a Wonder Bolt, the reason he may want his brother to try other things is because he's well aware Wonder Bolt training isn't all fun and games. If "Wonderbolts Academy" is anything to go by, it's about military discipline, hard work, and Spitfire yelling in your face. It's not just about trying other activities, he's worried about Rumble growing up too fast without enjoying his time as a kid.
      • Also, being a Wonder Bolt is serious business and means facing dangers not any pony can face.
  • Granted Rumble has yet to earn his cutie mark, cooking seems to be his new favorite activity. And it's fitting, too, because what sound does you stomach make when it's hungry? A rumble.
  • Rumble's assertion about cutie marks seems incredibly black and white, acting as though a cutie mark is akin to a chain tethering you to one thing and one thing only for life. Not only are many cutie marks rather fluid and up to interpretation by both their owners and others at any time, but they do not control a pony's identity. Something similar came up way back in the episode Filli Vanilli. Fluttershy, who's cutie mark, destiny and special talent are animal-based, is also a very talented singer and clearly loves to sing on top of that. (This is also common in real life. For example, someone with a passion for creative writing might also have an interest in cooking or medicine) Nobody stopped Fluttershy from singing because of her cutie mark, so there dosn't seem to be much societal pressure to fit into your mark at all times. However, gaining a cutie mark has constantly held parallels to growing up — specifically, on an emotional level. Rumble might be unaware or even actively dismissing these points because that's kind of what emotionally immature children do in these cases.
  • Want a good antithesis to Rumble's philosophy? Look no further than the CMC themselves: Apple Bloom has shown skill in carpentry but hasn't made even a hobby of it, Sweetie Belle sings but probably hasn't even gotten over her fear of doing so publicly, and while Scootaloo has voiced her passion for it she's never made a big deal over her scooting ability. The CMC each have a talent but that wasn't how they earned their mark; talent and destiny were unrelated.

    Secrets and Pies 
  • Back in "28 Pranks Later", it was revealed that Rainbow is a good baker, having made two "prank cakes" for Rarity that were actually very good. However, Rainbow's dislike of pie would mean that she was making a big effort just to bake it while being disgusted by the food, so she pretty much ended baking something that couldn't be edible at all.
  • Also, the repulsive pie could be meant to reflect to Pinkie Pie how Rainbow Dash views pies, even the best pies. To her, it's a gross thing baked in a hard, crunchy shell, with all the food overcooked into goop on the inside.
  • Just like "Party of One" and "MMMystery on the Friendship Express", Pinkie investigates a mystery. However, unlike the previous two, she actually comes to the right conclusions, though they’re still a bit out there. This is because back then, she believed that she already knew the right answers to the mysteries and based all her investigating around that. In "Party of One", Pinkie pressured Spike into saying her friends didn’t want to be her friends anymore right after she just said it. In "MMMystery on the Friendship Express", she refused to budge from accusing the bakers of sabotage and it took Twilight doing actual investigating to find the actual culprits. Here, she does actual investigating and gathers evidence like an actual detective before coming to a conclusion.
  • Applejack takes direct offense to Rainbow lying to Pinkie about liking her pies. Because AJ also bakes pies and other treats, and she also doesn't take kindly to ponies insulting her hard work, much less throwing it in the trash behind her back.
    • Twilight's no slouch in the kitchen herself, as showcased in "A Health of Information". She's not much happier with Rainbow Dash than AJ is.
    • Rainbow Dash has essentially offended Rarity's virtue of Generosity by throwing away all of the pies that Pinkie has been giving to Rainbow Dash. Just imagine how Rarity would've reacted to Rainbow Dash refusing Pinkie's generosity in secret, how long Dash had been doing it, and how she would have given Dash a piece of her mind about it.
  • It seems like They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot by not giving the pies to Soarin (given he loves pies). However, if Pinkie Pie went investigating to see if her pies were going to other ponies, Rainbow Dash would've been caught red-hoofed. She somehow knew she had to cover her pie-hiding tracks, so of course, she gave the pies to other sources (The Wonder Bolts, Tank, Miss Cheerilee). That way, just like everything else, Pinkie Pie won't find solid proof Rainbow Dash is getting rid of her pies.
  • This puts "Fame and Misfortune" in a whole new light! Rainbow Dash wasn't just annoyed with her fans for invading her privacy. She was worried that should Pinkie Pie think to make a pie for any occasion, she'd have to eat it in front of the watchful eyes of her fans. And that wouldn't be good because (A) her fans think she can do no wrong, and she doesn't want to disappoint their expectations and (B) there's a likely chance most of those fans love pies and would be devastated to learn Rainbow Dash hates pies.
  • Why did Pinkie take so much offense to Rainbow Dash lying to her about her pies for years? Starlight's brutally honest comment about Pinkie meddling between her and Maud's friendship in "Rock Solid Friendship" highly likely has something to do with it, as said comment ended up causing Pinkie to realize what she did wrong at the first place. From this, Pinkie knows how much honesty, no matter how brutal it is, could likely help solve a problem faster rather than covering it with a lie and dodging the problem on hoof... And unfortunately, the latter was what Rainbow Dash was doing almost the entire episode.

    Uncommon Bond 
  • Sunburst getting along so well with Twilight, Trixie and Maud shows something else he has in common with Starlight; he can easily befriend ponies who have had trouble making friends in the past (and indeed Starlight herself counts given he was her first and only friend for so long), and/or he has enough in common with Starlight that he clicks well with her odd friends.
  • Being unable to do most of the real magic he studies, there is a certain logic to Sunburst having an interest in stage magic, which is something that doesn't require magical power, only practicing and practical skill. Likewise his interest in geology and antiques relates to his interest in magic (as many rocks react in special ways with magic, and of course a lot of antiques are magical or have magic-related histories).
  • Trixie's Stylistic Suck tricks are way under her usual level of competence; however, as she says, this is just practice. She doesn't even try to conceal the dummy legs for the Saw a Woman in Half trick, as the only one watching is Sunburst and he already knows how the trick works. She can practice with obviously fake legs, and later work with much more convincing ones when she actually does the trick for a live audience.
  • If you pay attention, you can see that Starlight actually is starting to join in Sunbursts interests in antiquing and geology before Twilight and Maud show up and move the conversation onto a much higher level than she's able to participate in. So she and Sunburst actually do have very similar base interests, just that he's taken his in a different direction from her and is too distracted to share them in a way that would get her involved (her panicking and overcompensating of course doesn't help).

    Shadow Play 
  • Ever wonder why Sunset has an Element of Harmony in Equestria Girls? It’s because there are seven Pillars of Equestria, not just six.
    • Sunset is the de facto leader of the Humane Seven instead of Twilight. Stygian was also technically the leader of the Pillars, bringing them all together and devising their strategies.
    • The Seventh Element of Harmony is basically confirmed to be the Element of Empathy. Stygian’s whole problem was that none of the other Pillars knew or understood his desires to be considered a part of the team. They weren’t being empathic to the poor pony, unknowingly offending his Element, and were making the problem worse by misunderstanding his reasons for trying to impress them. Going by this logic, Starlight would pretty much be the bearer of Empathy as well, since, as a reformed villainess, she's pretty good at sympathizing and understanding any pony suffering from negative emotions.
      • Stygian's virtue, in order to bacome the Element of Empathy could be Wisedom, since he was the brains of the Pillars
  • How each of the Pillars’ virtues became the Elements of Harmony.
    • Strength into Honesty- it takes a strong heart to keep choosing to tell the hard truth instead of an easy lie.
    • Beauty into Generosity- Mistmane gave up her beauty to restore the beauty of her village and friend and continued to spread beauty until the day she disappeared. Both Mistmane and Rarity show that a generous heart is a truly beautiful heart.
    • Healing into Kindness- Mage Meadowbrook spent her life healing physical ailments and helping ponies in pain. It’s only logical that her virtue turns into Kindness. A wounded heart needs Kindness to heal, which Fluttershy has plenty of.
    • Bravery into Loyalty- Flash Magnus refused to leave behind his comrades and bravely fought the dragons to give them the chance to escape. Only a pony who refuses to leave behind a friend could be so brave.
    • Hope into Laughter- Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel while Laughter is what gives the pony strength to continue on until they reach the end and smile with all their heart. To give a genuine, pure laugh and smile is to have hope.
    • Sorcery into Magic- Sorcery is basically another word for magic but unlike magic, Sorcery is more willing to use darker arts to accomplish the goal. Sorcery turning into magic is simply it taking on a purer and more idealistic form.
  • Why does the episode not make any mention of the legend of the Pony of Shadows mentioned in Castle Mane-ia beyond the others being familiar with the name? The real Pony of Shadows actually predates Nightmare Moon by a fair amount of time, and thus could not have originated from her.
    • The Pony of Shadows is also very similar to Nightmare Moon, right down to having a similar backstory and origin. The Pony of Shadows myth from "Castle Mane-ia" may have been the product of the real Pony of Shadows legend going through Adaptation Amalgamation with the legend of Nightmare Moon.
    • Or, alternatively, the Pony of Shadows and Nightmare Moon were spawned from the same source, a behind-the-scenes entity that's responsible for all or most of the ancient evils in Equestria. Word of God informed us early on that Luna wasn't entirely responsible for her transformation, that an outside source caused it. The Well of Shadows could be the gateway for some Eldritch Abomination just waiting to strike, and The Pony of Shadows and Nightmare Moon were just early prototypes for something far worse to come.
    • Note that Stygian transforms into the Pony of Shadows inside the Castle of the Two Sisters: it's entirely possible the Shadow entity left a portion of itself behind to ensnare someone else (which, according to Castle Mane-ia, would mean it's still there).
  • When collecting the items needed to return the Pillars to the world, each of the Mane 6 exhibits a skill or trait related to the Pillar and/or the Element of Harmony related to it.
    • Twilight shows great magical skill in figuring out a spell to get the Pillars back to begin with, and her motivation is purely altruistic (i.e. she wants to save them) which ties into the virtues of friendship in general.
    • Applejack displays a feat of great strength for a heroic purpose when she kicks away the boulder to protect other ponies, as well as honesty in being adamant that Rockhoof was real.
    • Rarity restores beauty just as Mistmane devoted herself to doing, and at the same time displays generosity in being willing to get herself messy and thus mar her physical beauty while doing so.
    • Fluttershy shows kindness by moving the flash bee nest so that the local animals can easily get water, which also would improve their health.
    • Rainbow Dash is a bit less clear, as the bravery was shown more by Spike doing the race, but she still displayed loyalty by sticking up for him and like Flash Magnus tricked a dragon.
    • Like Somnambula, Pinkie Pie has to perform an act of faith (the hope that the blindfold is somewhere in the slime) while not being able to see (due to the slime).
  • This is the first time the the Sirens have been seen, but they look different from the spirit forms. Which makes sense; the spirits were not as powerful at that time, and this is what they really look like. And it also makes sense why Stygian wasn't mentioned in the book of legends with them in it. He was seen as a traitor, thus removed from the history books for his previous deeds. (Plus would it be past anyone to just ignore the Pillars when it came to Star Swirl, the mentor of the royal sisters, greatest pony wizard in history and the one who sent the sirens to another world?)
  • From what we've seen of Star Swirl so far, Celestia was correct in saying that as great a unicorn Star Swirl was, he just didn't understand friendship the way Twilight did. If he did, he wouldn't have been so quick to label Stygian a villain and banish him.
  • The Pillars, Star Swirl in particularly, having a more black and white cynical worldview makes sense when you remember Star Swirl was expressly mentioned as being around during the Windigo crisis, meaning all six of them had likely seen the world nearly destroyed by ponies being too stubborn and hateful to see the other races as equals. Even with Equestria now being unified, the world was a far more turbulent place to live than it is in modern day, so having a more cynical world view makes sense. After all, they'd seen the world at its absolute worst, so it makes sense it'd take time to see as much good in it as their modern counterparts. Plus, with Star Swirl being both the group's eldest and the mentor of both Celestia and Luna, the other Pillars are more than willing to go along with whatever he says, so they're not just following a powerful mage but also the group's most cynical member.
  • The Pillars aren't just precursors to the Mane Six in personality. Note that Pinkie's and Fluttershy's counterparts are Somnambula and Meadowbrook, a Pegasus and Earth Pony respectively. In their original concepts, Fluttershy was meant to be an Earth Pony as an Expy of G1's Posey, while Pinkie was originally going to be a Pegasus named Surprise.
  • Rainbow Dash and Spike are both the ones to get Flash's shield. Why? Not just because Spike's the friendship ambassador of the Dragon Lands, but because both of them are known for their loyalty.
    • Doubly brilliant when you recall the (failed, but points for trying) attempt to have Spike sub for Rainbow Dash as the Element of Loyalty. Not a completely baseless idea on Twilight's part, it seems.
  • When the Pillars use their "proto Elements", they're all a white light, not a rainbow like the Mane Six's. The Tree of Harmony was born from their six virtues being combined with a crystal. Putting white light through a prism splits it into a rainbow.
  • Why is the Old Ponish grammar off? Because of Star Swirl's abysmal horn-writing.
  • An awkward-but-intelligent young unicorn with a gift for research brings together a group of friends, discovers an incredible source of power, and then gets transformed into an alicorn. Stygian is just as much a Foil for Twilight Sparkle as he is to Starlight Glimmer.
  • Also, the seventh member to a group of six powerful ponies who mostly plays as a helper and feels unappreciated and not like a great hero like how his friends are. Looking at it like that, Stygian could just as easily be seen as a Foil to Spike.
  • It becomes a Mythology Gag when you realize Beauty was originally going to be one of the Elements of Harmony, before it was replaced with Generosity.
  • During the final battle, the Pony of Shadows is able to withstand the Elements of Harmony (with the Pillars' own virtues backing them up) enough to actually struggle against them, even though Discord and a fully-empowered Tirek were unable to resist the might of just the Elements themselves. This actually makes sense when you consider that darkness is one of the most ancient and fundamental forces in the universe. It existed long before chaos, the individual Elements of Harmony, and even the virtues held by the Pillars, so it isn't too much of a stretch to believe that it could put up a fight against the combined might of the Elements and the Pillars' virtues.
    • Not only that, Nightmare Moon's gimmick is the night, which involves the moon. Darkness existed even before the moon.
  • Star Swirl's dismissive and very black & white view on things is a bit of a shocker after many seasons worth of hearing how 'great' he was. The only minorly negative thing we'd heard was Celestia saying that he didn't know the magic of friendship as well as Twilight. But of course the modern stories and legends would present a wise and kind unicorn - legends and stories that are hundreds and thousands of years old often lose details over time and tend to eventually present a somewhat idealized view of the 'hero', leaving out the flaws that would make the hero human (or err, pony in this case).
  • Rainbow Dash being able to function comfortably around red-hot lava makes more sense when you remember that pegasi work with lightning, which (at least applying Earth physics) heats the air around it to 30000 Kelvin (53540 Fahrenheit). Therefore, it makes sense that their ability to survive lightning strikes requires a degree of resistance to extreme heat. Furthermore, the hottest eruptions on Earth today are about 1500 Kelvin (2240 Fahrenheit) - nowhere near the lightning that pegasi work with.

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