- Written by Ted Anderson, Art by Agnes Garbowska
Spike seeks help from Princess Celestia when picking out a birthday present for Twilight, noting that her old telescope is wearing out. Celestia's astronomy adviser, Starry Eyed, can make one but he notes they need crystals for the lens, only available on a distant mountain. To Spike's surprise, Celestia cancels her appointments for the day and goes to accompany Spike to get the crystals.
En route, Celestia notes she's not been able to spend much time with Spike since he hatched, but as they talk, the two are set on by rock lobsters that cage the two. Spike complains about not being an adventurer, with Twilight and the others overshadowing him when they go on their own, but Celestia assures him that she herself is not an adventurer too, but instead inspires others to do their best. This gives Spike the idea to show the rock lobsters that dragons eat rocks, and the lobsters quickly let them go, promising they were only holding them for ransom money.
They continue to the crystal mountain and Spike sniffs out the perfect crystals for the lens. As they leave, a volcano on the mountain erupts. Spike drops the crystals into the lava flow but jumps in to rescue them, with Celestia helping to catch him before he falls over a lava-fall. Fleeing a fireball, they get trapped in a cave with a large boulder blocking the exit, and though Spike tries to push it aside, Celestia knows he's far too weak and she blasts the boulder away; she notes to Spike that sometimes, the teacher needs to help the student in more difficult problems. They return safely to Canterlot and Starry Eyed completes the new telescope. Twilight is thrilled with Spike's gift, and Spike receives a letter from Celestia which notes that she felt their time together was very meaningful and considers herself Spike's friend forever.
This issue provides examples of:
- All-Powerful Bystander: Invoked. The comic finally addresses why Princess Celestia doesn't handle many of the situations the Mane Six end up having to deal with.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Spike's list of the bullies the Mane 6 have defeated on adventures includes things like manticores, changelings, dragons, and bad manners.
- Character Development: Probably the most detail we've been given on Celestia as Equestria's leader, and shows that she would rather be an All-Powerful Bystander and a Sink-or-Swim Mentor, hoping that her students can surpass her.
- Continuity Nod: A representative from Apploosa appears to provide census results.
- Spike, in complaining about being the sidekick to the adventures the Mane 6 have, calls back to the Manticore (from "Friendship is Magic, Part 2"), Changelings ("A Canterlot Wedding"), adult dragons ("Dragonshy"), teen dragons ("Dragon Quest"), the hydra ("Feeling Pinkie Keen"), and nightmares ("Friendship is Magic, Part 2")
- Dragons are immune to lava, as previously shown in "Dragon Quest".
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Celestia's "Princess" status means little to the rock lobsters that capture the pair.
- Lonely at the Top: Celestia confesses to Spike that she often wishes she could join Twilight and friends on their adventures, but her duties as Princess of Equestria never allow her to do anything she really wants.
- Mugging the Monster: Double Subverted. The Rock Lobsters kidnap Celestia and Spike with little fuss. Celestia's shown enough power to fry them on the spot, but she's content to languish behind the bars of a Bamboo Prison as long as Spike isn't injured. However, Spike then points out that as a dragon, he can eat his way out the prison (which he demonstrates), and then reminds the Rock Lobsters how dragons also eat rocks, ensuring a swift release.
- Mythology Gag: One of Celestia's agenda items is to prepare for the seapony delegation.
- Noodle Incident: Spike mentions how Twilight accidentally turned all of Ponyville upside down for a few hours, while Celestia is reminded when Twilight accidentally turned her class - including herself - into palm trees.
- Remembered I Could Fly: This is the first time that a writer makes Spike purposely use his dragon skills (his powerful jaws, indestructible teeth and his ability to swim on magma) to correctly solve his problems.
- Shown Their Work: The three rock lobsters are named Iggy, Metty, and Seddy; these three names are often used as a mnemonic for the three basic types of rock, Igneous, Metamorphic, and Sedimentary respectively.
- And indeed, Iggy is a smooth basalt black, Seddy is striped like a stratified bedding, and Metty is covered with swirled foliations.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Subverted. Princess Celestia confesses that she shows shades of this trope, letting Twilight learn by handling dangerous situations that Celestia herself could have handled on their own. However, as evidenced when rescuing Spike, Celestia steps in immediately when the student is actually about to drown.
- Take That!: The issue serves as a big one to the "Trollestia" crowd, by having Celestia explain that she did not task Twilight and her friends with facing difficult challenges out of malice, but rather because she had confidence Twilight and her friends could handle them, and was ready to intervene if the situation called for it.