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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S5 E14 "Canterlot Boutique"

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"I'm the Cosmare cover pony... I have the most successful shop in Canterlot... I've gotten everything I ever wanted... but I'm miserable!"
Rarity

Written by Amy Keating Rogers
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Rarity impatiently waits for her mail to be delivered at Carousel Boutique, as Pinkie Pie arrives with a letter, having gotten the regular mailpony sick when she fed him one of her strawberry cinnamon cilantro cupcakes. The letter Rarity's been waiting for has arrived, saying a storefront that she's been waiting for in Canterlot is finally available. With the bonus money she's saved from Sapphire Shores' World Tour, Rarity can finally fulfill her dream of having her own boutique in Canterlot.

As "Canterlot Carousel" is set to open, Rarity hires Sassy Saddles, a veteran manager of many clothing stores, to help her get everything ready. Sassy has a multi-point plan to get Rarity's new boutique as much business as possible, starting with a line of brand new dresses inspired by the Equestrian Princesses. Sassy takes charge of the opening, even butting Rarity out of the way to do it, which her friends notice. Rarity takes this in stride and manages to show off her collection with Sassy's help, including a signature dress shown off by Twilight Sparkle that Rarity dubbed "Reign in Stain". Sassy instead advertises it as "the Princess Dress", arguing that it is more marketable that way. After the opening, Rarity becomes even more frustrated when Sassy takes one hundred orders for the Princess Dress, leaving her other dress designs to fall by the wayside. Her "Rules of Rarity" say that every dress needs care, and Rarity puts her all into making them.

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The Princess Dress becomes an instant success, and soon, every mare in Canterlot wants one for herself. While initially quite excited at all of the business, Rarity is left feeling burnt out at making the same dress over and over. While resting from her work, Rarity sees a few gemstones shining their light on the dress, giving her an idea to make up the Princess Dress with new gemstones. However, a customer who ordered the dress dismisses it, because it wasn't what she ordered — a Princess Dress exactly like the one Twilight wore. Dejected, Rarity returns to making the Princess Dress, feeling heartbroken that her creativity is all but gone.

After completing two hundred Princess Dresses, Sassy enters with a hundred more orders. Rarity argues that this isn't what she wants to do, but Sassy is too caught up in her own success, even taking credit for the whole boutique. Rarity finally puts her hoof down, saying that if this is what it means to be successful in Canterlot, then she wants no part of it, telling Sassy to prepare a "going out of business" sale. Rarity pulls all the Princess Dresses off the showroom floor and displays the other outfits she has in stock, and the customers take a liking to them. After seeing how much the customers like the variety, Rarity decides not to close Canterlot Carousel after all, and Sassy comes to realize what Rarity's rules really mean. Sassy apologizes to Rarity and prepares to leave, assuming she has been fired, but Rarity allows Sassy to stay. While Rarity loves her new boutique, she'd always intended Ponyville to be her "home base," so she keeps Sassy on to run Canterlot Carousel in her stead. Sassy enthusiastically agrees, promising to follow the "Rules of Rarity" from now on.

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Tropes:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Several characters do this to varying degrees, including Pinkie, Sassy, Rarity, and Fashion Plate. (This is a favorite tool of Amy Keating Rogers.)
  • An Aesop: Never lose sight of why you followed your passion in the first place. For it's not fame or success that makes it worthwhile, but loving what you do that makes it count.
  • Artistic License – Economics:
    • Surely a successful small business owner like Rarity should have realized that she would be working on an entirely different scale of market opening a branch studio in a major city like Canterlot and at least inquired about temporary help and/or hired a production crew. Then again, she probably just thought it'd be "bigger" than Ponyville, to some extent. Considering her "Rules of Rarity" song number she could easily have thought she might have to adjust for more designs, expecting more or less to make new individual dresses, not mass production. Similarly, she probably didn't expect her manager to take such huge amounts of orders (and outright states she intended to start out smaller). When she does... it is too late to get any real help, and she is swamped.
    • Sassy also doesn't seem to realize that they could probably make just as much money selling fewer dresses at a higher markup (something that would have meshed well with Rarity's methods), because of their, ahem, rarity.
  • Aside Glance: When Pinkie checks Rarity's hoof after taking Applejack's hoof statement literally, Twilight gives an eyeroll to the camera, hinting she's finding this joke not so funny.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance:
    • The goth unicorn that takes a liking to the Luna-inspired dress has a lock of hair that curls around her horn, much like the crescent moon of Luna's cutie mark (as well as being near the same color palette).
    • Similarly, the cheerful unicorn that takes to the Celestia-inspired dress has hair that, straight on, looks like the waves of the sun of Celestia's cutie mark, as well as having her general color scheme.
  • As You Know:
    Twilight: Rarity's such a savvy businesspony. I'm so impressed she used the huge bonus she earned making the costumes for Sapphire Shores' Equestria-wide tour to open this second boutique!
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Rarity finally manages to get a boutique in Canterlot, only for her new manager to start stepping on her hooves. While the shop is successful, Rarity finds herself miserable because there's no variety in her work and thus it becomes more of a chore than a job she takes joy in.
  • Benevolent Boss: Rarity would have been within her rights to fire Sassy for making her business expansion a misery, but after Sassy shows some contrition, Rarity keeps her as branch manager.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Rarity is forced to market a line based on the newly-crowned Princess Twilight, and focus on nothing but that. It ends disastrously.
  • Both Sides Have a Point:
    • While Sassy Saddles may have had a point in her criticism of the dress name (which Rarity admits to), Rarity is entirely correct when she says that Sassy shouldn't have gone behind Rarity's back and changed it without discussing it with her first.
    • Also, although she oversteps her bounds on overemphasizing the Princess Dress, Sassy does prove she can be very much competent and work well off Rarity during the presentation scene.
    • The pony Rarity tried to improve the Princess Dress for, as well. While it's certainly understandable that Rarity wanted to bring some new flair into a dress style she now felt was overplayed, the customer did order and pay for a very specific dress, and is justified in expecting to get what she paid for.
  • Breather Episode: A rather low-key episode compared to "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?"
  • Brick Joke: Back in "Twilight's Kingdom", Twilight lamented that there wasn't anything for her to do "unless of course one of you needs me to smile and wave". She ends up doing just that to help promote the "signature dress" of Rarity's new boutique.
  • Busman's Vocabulary: Sassy has a tendency to use fashion-related terms in her exclamations, like "buttons and bowties!"
  • Call-Back: Twilight's mention of Rarity's costume design job for Sapphire Shores is a nod to "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils".
  • Commander Contrarian: Sassy immediately takes over Canterlot Carousel, renames one of Rarity's designs, and insists on selling only copies of that one dress. She continuously shoos Rarity away from the showroom into the sewing room, and eventually takes to referring to the boutique as her own. Applejack "sticks a pin in it" almost immediately.
    Sassy Saddles: Rarity! Are you ready to reveal the collection?
    Applejack: (aside, to her friends) Is she sure she doesn't want to do it herself?
  • Companion Cube: When she takes the "Princess Dress" off the market, Rarity warmly welcomes back the dresses she has had in storage.
  • Control Freak: Sassy Saddles, who keeps making plans, taking large orders and changing names without consulting Rarity first.
  • Cool Shades: Fashion Plate dons these as part of his wardrobe.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Pinkie Pie of all ponies crosses into this with her strawberry cinnamon cilantro cupcakes at the start, which even she admits are bad. Doesn't stop her from trying to get others to eat them, as well as eating several herself.
  • Creator Breakdown: In-Universe, conflict between Sassy's "pattern" and the "Rules of Rarity" almost drives Rarity to close the boutique. Rarity gets over it when her other original designs prove to be just as big a draw as the mass-produced "Princess Dress".
  • Death Glare: Opalescence gives one in response to Rarity seeing the bell she heard is Opal's cat toy and not the mail pony she is waiting for.
  • Demand Overload: In-Universe, the Princess Dress proves so popular that Sassy takes 100 orders for it during the boutique's grand opening alone. It's far too much for one unicorn to handle, and the problem only gets worse as orders continue to pour in.
  • Doing It for the Art: Another In-Universe example; Rarity won't have a successful boutique if it means sacrificing her creativity.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In spite of everything that goes on, Rarity manages to smooth things over with Sassy and keeps both boutiques.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses:
    • Invoked by Rarity, who styles one of the dresses in her debut collection after the stained-glass window in Canterlot Castle honoring Twilight's coronation. Sassy takes the idea and runs with it, completely ignoring two other dresses inspired by Celestia and Luna.
    • Invoked again when customers fawn over how nice they look in some of Rarity's unique designs — i.e. "This makes me feel like a princess."
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: Defied when a customer rejects Rarity's multicolored gem update to the Princess Dress.
  • Executive Meddling: An In-Universe example, with the boutique's Management and Advertisement areas (Sassy) making decisions that severely affect the Production and Design ones (Rarity). It's also a rare case where the one suffering from these decisions is the business' owner instead of an employee.
  • Expressive Accessory: The wings on Twilight's "Reign in Stain" dress move as a pegasus or alicorn's wings would, following the tone in Twilight's voice.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Rarity mentions that Sassy "worked in all the finest boutiques in Canterlot". From Sassy's comment about being "a part of another failed boutique", it's clear they weren't all successful boutiques.
    • Similarly, anyone who's ever conducted a job interview would probably spot an incoming problem with Sassy as soon as she's mentioned to have worked at so many boutiques. If someone has several past but similar jobs like that, especially in a short period of time (Sassy doesn't appear that old), odds are it's because of one of two things: either they were frequently fired for one reason or another, or they have some loyalty issues and will jump at a better paycheck at first opportunity. Sassy ends up being a variant of the former scenario.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: Pinkie Pie delivering a letter to Rarity in the cold open marks the third time in the entire series where the two have been seen alone together onscreen (the previous two being in the Season 2 episodes "The Last Roundup" and "Putting Your Hoof Down").
  • Funny Background Event: While Rarity is telling Sassy she'll eventually come back to the boutique in Canterlot, Sea Swirl sees a dress she likes but when she sees the price her face scrunches and she walks away whistling nonchalantly.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Rarity's "TLC" shifts from "Time, Love, and Couture" to "Terrible, Lackluster, and Common" when she feels the Princess Dress design is played out. Pinkie thinks it stands for "Tasty Licorice Candy."
  • Go Look at the Distraction: Pinkie uses a cupcake to distract the rest of the Mane Six so Rarity and Sassy can talk alone.
  • Gonk: The last few seconds of the episode feature an obese, almost misshapen pony as a costumer looking for the Princess Dress.
  • Heel Realization: Near the end, Sassy realizes that her business structure was wrong because it did not bring everypony happiness. She apologizes to Rarity for all the problems she's caused and Rarity forgives her.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Despite clearly overstepping her position, Sassy is a well-meaning business pony trying to bring Rarity profit for her store. She even makes it a point to satisfy the customers and her employer as best she can.
  • Hurricane of Puns:
    • Sassy loves to use puns related to the fashion industry.
    • Every one of Rarity's princess-inspired dresses has a punny name.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: In the Cold Open, Rarity ponders what could have delayed the usually-punctual Pony Post, when Pinkie Pie appears right outside her window to offer "strawberry-cinnamon-cilantro salutations." The mail carrier got sick after trying one of Pinkie's cupcakes with this flavor combination.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Sassy means well, but she keeps stepping on Rarity's hooves with her Executive Meddling.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Despite overstepping her position, Sassy points out that her business practices have been benefiting Rarity's business, albeit not Rarity herself.
  • Jump Scare: Rarity gazes out the window wondering where the mail is... and then Pinkie Pie jumps up.
  • Karma Houdini: Sassy Saddles almost ruins Rarity's dream of owning her own store in Canterlot, and Rarity lets her stay on board anyway. Even the show staff cried foul on this. However, given Sassy nearly reaching the Despair Event Horizon when recalling her past failures, she's not exactly as scot-free as, say, Suri Polomare. It helps that Sassy does have a genuine desire to be a better manager, even when she thought she was getting fired. Also, the show wasted no time showing that the lesson really did stick, as the very next episode features her and Rarity getting along fabulously.
  • Literal Metaphor: "Tripping the Light" is inspired by watching Celestia raise the sun, making it a Metaphorgotten of the original expression about dancing nimbly.
  • Literal-Minded: Once again, Pinkie Pie goes this way. She mistakes the phrases "Work [her] hooves to the nub" and "Stepping on [her] hooves" with Rarity. She also checks Rarity's hooves both times.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Sassy collects a hundred orders for the princess dress on the first day, all of which are left to Rarity to sew. Naturally, Rarity gets burned out since she is doing all the dress work herself. Obviously, hiring a production crew immediately should have been in order. Sassy does eventually suggest that, but only after Rarity has completed two hundred orders. Rarity also states that she sees mass-production of dresses as an affront to her, but this is after she's already pretty depressed about the direction of her business.
  • Messy Hair: Rarity's mane ends up looking rather disheveled once she finally completes the 100th Princess Dress.
  • Mythology Gag: The Bright Pony seems to be based off of a Generation One pony named Starlight.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Fashion Plate is named after a moderately successful racehorse.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: At the end of the episode, a morbidly obese pony enters the shop looking for a Princess Dress. Like all such characters, she immediately got the community trying to name her, with the more popular suggestion being "Whoa Nelly". Her sclera are also slightly jaundiced, a common symptom of fatty liver disease.
  • Noodle Incident: When Rarity announces the "going-out-of-business" sale, Sassy frets over being part of another failed boutique, implying that her methods ultimately ended her employment in the previous boutiques she worked for.
  • No Sense of Personal Space:
    • Sassy tends to put one or both forelegs across Rarity's shoulders, or even shake her body, when her enthusiasm runs away with her.
    • During the final reprise of "Rules of Rarity," Rarity casually grabs a customer (the geeky mare who briefed Spike during "Princess Spike") with her magic, shoves her into a fitting room, and yanks her back out in a new dress.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: When Rarity announces she plans to close her boutique, Sassy panics stating she can't be part of yet another failed business venture.
  • Parental Bonus: Practically every In-Universe example on this page is familiar to anyone who has had a Soul-Sucking Retail Job.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite making Rarity complete a hundred dresses in short order, Sassy planned to use the business's profit to pay for an assembly line to sew the dresses so Rarity would never have to work so hard again.
  • Poor Communication Kills: If Sassy had properly conferred with her boss about promotions, orders and organization before acting on her own accord, the debut of Rarity's business expansion would have been much more pleasant for both.
  • Quantity vs. Quality: Sassy is all for the former, first by expertly creating the demand for a single dress and then reaping in huge profits on mass-producing that one product. Rarity is, of course, all for the latter, preferring to put as much originality and effort into each individual design so that each individual customer can experience a special Love at First Sight moment with a dress that speaks to them.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Sassy keeps piling on large orders of princess dresses, exhausting Rarity.
    • Rarity tries selling a modified version of her princess dress but the customer complains it wasn't what she ordered beforehand.
  • Severely Specialized Store: Canterlot Carousel, a boutique owned by a celebrated fashionista, briefly becomes a factory for hundreds of copies of a single dress.
    Rarity: Those "Rules of Rarity", just a parody; no dress here's unique.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: In-Universe, Rarity sees her own "Princess Dress" copies of "Reign in Stain" as "terrible, lackluster, and common".
    Rarity: The panels all the same; each colored window pane I fashion only makes me want to shriek!
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Cosmare" is the Equestrian Expy for the women's/fashion magazine Cosmopolitan, which is often shorted to just "Cosmo" when talking about the magazine candidly.
    • Sassy's exclamations are of the same format as Trumpkin's (albeit in a more specialized vocabulary).
    • Within Rarity's Canterlot Carousel original designs:
      • "Water Filly" and its inspiration are based on Claude Monet's "Water Lilies" series.
      • "Tripping the light" is a catena that has been used in many other works and can be traced to John Milton's L'Allegro. Viewers are most likely to be familiar with "I skip the light fandango" in "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum.
      • "The Reign in Stain" is easy to explain.
  • Shown Their Work: Someone on the writing staff clearly knows, or at least consulted with, someone in the fashion industry. Sassy and Rarity both refer to pieces of fabric in an unfinished dress as "panels," and Sassy's unusual euphemisms include references to fabric types and tools (e.g. poplin, bobbins and bodkins) that are not well known outside the industry.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: The "Goth Pony" and "Bright Pony", who are identified as sisters by Word of God here, have quite opposite personalities and tastes in dress. They have a respective Solar and Lunar theme inspired by Luna and Celestia.
  • Simple, yet Opulent: During the Triumphant Reprise of "Rules of Rarity", Rarity helps a nerdy pony become more fashionable with a simple voile wrap dress.
  • Solar and Lunar: The Goth Pony/Bright Pony sisters have this theme going between them. No wonder that they'd fancy dresses inspired by Princesses Luna and Celestia, respectively.
  • Soul-Sucking Retail Job: Sassy's insistence on turning Canterlot Carousel into a Severely Specialized Store turns Rarity's dream of owning a satelite boutique into a nightmare.
    Rarity: The "Rules of Rarity" once stood for something, but now it feels just like some factory.
  • Status Quo Is God: Downplayed; as it turns out, Rarity doesn't close this venture in Canterlot, but will still live in Ponyville as usual with regular errands to this satellite boutique and with the local work delegated to Sassy Saddles.
  • Steam Punk: Rarity's "Fountain of Truth" dress includes the requisite brass and bronze color motif, plus an orrery headdress.
  • Sudden Anatomy: The obese pony shrugs, and in the process very briefly gains shoulders, which no pony in the series (besides Bulk Biceps) has ever had.
  • Take That!: This episode might be a big one for corporations in general. Many of Sassy Saddle's risk-averse business practices reflect the main criticisms that big corporations face from both creators and consumers. From changing stuff from the creator's original vision without consent, focusing on a single product to the detriment of other ideas that are just as good, to saturating the market with that product to the point where it loses its original value and meaning. Even Hasbro itself is guilty of these practices, which makes it a bit of Self-Deprecation or Biting-the-Hand Humor.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: In-Universe, Rarity attempts to make some minor changes to a "Princess Dress" by adding colored beads to it. A customer is not pleased. To be fair, it was NOT what she originally ordered, as the customer points out.
  • Triumphant Reprise: The final verse of "Rules of Rarity".
    Rarity: How can I have forgotten? This is what I've been dreaming about!
  • Ultimate Job Security: Sassy Saddles steals Rarity's thunder, upstages her in presentations, takes a load of orders her boss will have to struggle to fill, and browbeats her boss into a laborious grunt work mass production that makes the new boutique a misery to run. Any one of those missteps could be grounds for Rarity to fire her, but after some contrition, she is allowed to stay as branch manager.
  • Unsatisfiable Customer: The pony who ordered the Princess Dress is not at all happy about the modifications Rarity made to it and demands she make it just like the others.
  • Valley Girl: The pony who purchases the Celestia-themed dress is both blonde and speaks in this manner to better contrast her goth sister.
  • Viewers Are Morons: Yet another In-Universe example. Rarity's original name for her signature dress, "Reign in Stain" (inspired by the stained-glass window of a reigning princess), is clever wordplay that is declared by Sassy Saddles to be "very confusing", and she renames it to the simpler "Princess Dress" to make it more marketable to the masses.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Sassy isn't exactly a malicious enemy or a serious villain. She is just a hard-to-work-with employee who gets into conflict with Rarity over creative differences on running the boutique.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: After downing several of her strawberry cinnamon cilantro cupcakes, Pinkie says she's going to "lose [her] cupcakes", puts her hooves to her mouth, and darts off-screen.
  • Wingdinglish: Seen on the cover of Cosmare magazine around Rarity’s picture.

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