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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S5 E25 "The Cutie Re-Mark – Part 1"

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"Welcome home, Twilight!"

Twilight Sparkle: Thank you. We're going to set things right.
Applejack: [sighs] I hope you do.
Spike: So... how are we gonna set things right?
Twilight Sparkle: I don't know!

Written by: Josh Haber

Princess Twilight Sparkle is giving a presentation at Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns in Canterlot on the magic of cutie marks, mentioning the bond that ties her and her friends' cutie marks to a single event: Rainbow Dash's first Sonic Rainboom as a filly. During her speech on how important this Rainboom was to gaining her cutie mark and status as Celestia's student/becoming the Princess of Friendship, Twilight is stunned to see who appears to be Starlight Glimmer listening to her speech, only to disappear when she looks again.

Back in Ponyville, as Twilight tries to put Starlight and a possible plot for revenge out of her mind, she and Spike enter the Map Room in the castle and find Starlight waiting for them. Starlight reveals a scroll and casts a spell on the map, which summons a portal that she vanishes through. Spike picks up the discarded scroll and the portal reappears, sucking both Twilight and him inside.

When the portal opens again, the two find themselves in Cloudsdale in the past at the moment a young Rainbow Dash is sticking up for Fluttershy in front of some bullies. Twilight realizes this is the exact moment that Rainbow challenges the bullies to a race and when she performed the Sonic Rainboom, and is shocked Starlight has the magic ability to create a stronger Time Travel spell. The two of them then go watch young Rainbow at the race, only for Starlight to cast a freezing spell on the young filly which paralyzes her before she can perform the Sonic Rainboom. Twilight demands Starlight to explain what she did, only for the time portal to appear and take them back to the present.

Once back, they see things are very different. Twilight's castle has disappeared (leaving only the map intact), and Ponyville has become ruins with boarded-up homes and businesses. They go to Sweet Apple Acres, only to find it has been modernized into an applesauce-canning factory. They soon learn from Applejack (who doesn't recognize them) that they are currently in a war with the Crystal Empire, led by King Sombra and a brainwashed crystal pony army. Twilight and Spike realize that Starlight stopping the Rainboom in the past is the cause of the alternate Bad Future they are currently in. With the scroll in hand and Map still functioning, they summon the portal and return to the past minutes before Starlight appeared.

When they return, however, Starlight is ready for them. The spell has been changed so that whenever Twilight goes back into the past, so does Starlight. After getting out of a crystal cube trap, Twilight is shocked to see Starlight talking with the bullies and convincing them to not bully young Fluttershy anymore, removing the motivation Rainbow Dash would need to perform the Rainboom. Undaunted, Twilight flies off to talk with young Rainbow and convince her to perform the Rainboom, only for the filly to brush her off and saying the Rainboom is impossible. Starlight gloats over Twilight's failure and the time portal reappears, sucking Twilight and Spike back to the present.

When they reappear, they see the Map is in a thick forest. Twilight and Spike are surrounded by several ponies wielding spears and tribal markings on their bodies, including Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy. Twilight tries to reason with them only to be accused of being a changeling, with Fluttershy proclaiming "servants of Queen Chrysalis found in these woods must be destroyed".


*cue happy credits music*

Continued in "The Cutie Re-Mark – Part 2".


  • Adults Are Useless: Apparently there are no camp counselor ponies at flight camp since nopony seems to take it seriously that there are some strange ponies on the premises harassing the campers.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Starlight Glimmer gently pets filly Fluttershy on the head while talking to Twilight, further rubbing in how much she's manipulating things under a veneer of niceness.
  • Ambiguous Situation: In the Sombra timeline, each Mane Six pony is wearing an outfit that hides their cutie mark. Given the fact that the timeline was altered and destiny was meddled with, this makes it unclear whether or not they still earned their proper cutie marks. Granted, the jobs they were working heavily implies that they did, but the mere fact that the show goes out of its way to deliberately obscure every one of their flanks leaves it up for debate.
  • Amplifier Artifact: In order to make her Time Travel spell work in the manner she wants to, Starlight Glimmer augments Star Swirl's old single-use spell with the power of the Map, which in turn draws power from the Tree of Harmony itself. The resulting power boost lets her travel back to any time and place she chooses, as often as she wants.
  • Arc Villainess: After being defeated by the Mane Six and the former members of her cult in the season premiere, Starlight has cameoed in a couple episodes to spy on Twilight, setting up her revenge plot in this season finale.
  • Artificial Limbs: In the Sombra future, Rainbow Dash appears to have an artificial wing.
  • As You Know:
    • As Twilight and Spike come back to Ponyville after the lecture, they summarize the season premiere and mention lots of information about Starlight Glimmer. Sure, Spike wasn't there, but from what he knows he was told the whole story in detail already, so this is mostly to refresh the viewers' memories.
    • Spike does it again upon arriving on Cloudsdale, recapping Rainbow Dash's story from "The Cutie Mark Chronicles".
  • Back to the Early Installment: Starlight Glimmer travels back to the past to prevent the Mane Six from becoming friends in the first place, winding up in one of the flashbacks from "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", where she prevents young Rainbow Dash from performing her first Sonic Rainboom. Since the ripples of this change don't just prevent the Mane Six from befriending each other, but also result in various villains conquering Equestria, Twilight Sparkle has to time-travel back to prevent Starlight's meddling.
  • Bad Future: Well, Bad Present from Twilight's viewpoint; it's the future from the Sonic Rainboom event onward. This episode has two:
    • When Starlight sabotages Rainbow Dash the first time, it creates a future where Equestria is at war with King Sombra and the Crystal Empire, with the Crystal Ponies reduced to brainwashed soldiers.
    • When Twilight goes back and tries to fix things, a new future is created where Chrysalis won and took over.
  • Barrier Warrior: Celestia during the battle against King Sombra's forces, using a magical dome to repel a group of his troops who attempt to ambush her.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The very last line of the cliffhanger is Fluttershy declaring her intent to kill.
  • Big Eater: Pinkie Pie lives up to this once more, taking a colossal bite out of a huge cake after entering the map room and finding nopony there.
  • Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: One of the unicorns attending Twilight's conference sports braces with an external frame.
  • Bug War: The second of the bad futures features ponies regressed into a tribal state fighting an innumerable horde of changelings.
  • The Bus Came Back: After disappearing into the caves at the end of the season's opening two-parter (and somewhat made a few small appearances throughout the season), Starlight Glimmer returns with a vengeance.
  • Butterfly of Doom: By sabotaging Rainbow Dash's big race so she never performed the Sonic Rainboom, Starlight effectively prevents the Mane Six from becoming friends, which effectively spells doom for the rest of Equestria since they were never together to stop Nightmare Moon. And this happens multiple times: the first time King Sombra returned with the Crystal Empire under his command and is currently at war with Equestria, having taken over half of it. The second time the changelings took over and Ponyville is nothing but woods. As a Stealth Pun, Starlight starts all this by casting her spell while on Fluttershy's throne, which bears her three butterflies cutie mark.
  • Call-Back:
    • Twilight recalls how they stopped Starlight back in the season premiere.
    • Rainbow Dash's cutie mark story in "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" is revisited here, this time with Starlight preventing it — and thus the rest of the Mane Six's stories — from ever happening.
    • The first alternate timeline shows what would have happened to Equestria if King Sombra hadn't been stopped in the season 3 opener "The Crystal Empire".
    • The second one shows Queen Chrysalis having conquered Equestria and leading a campaign against the pony resistance against her new regime, a consequence of Twilight and company failing to defeat her in "A Canterlot Wedding".
  • Can Only Move the Eyes: When Twilight and Spike are stuck in Starlight's Crystal Prison, their eyes can still move and follow her.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: In her lecture at Celestia's School of Magic, Twilight mentions that "The long-term effects of the simultaneous acquisition of Cutie Marks has yet to be determined." Throughout her trips to alternate timelines that resulted from her and her friends not acquiring their Cutie Marks simultaneously, she learns that "the long-term effects" can be profound.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: All of Starlight's previous quick background appearances tie together here. In "Amending Fences", she saw how one missed event soured Moondancer on the idea of friendship. In "What About Discord?", she overheard the suggestion about using time travel to witness an event that had been missed. Finally, in this episode, Twilight recounting how the Sonic Rainboom brought the Mane Six together gives Starlight the information she needs to potentially stop their friendship before it ever starts.
  • Cliffhanger: Fittingly for a two-parter, the episode ends in one, with Twilight and Spike being threatened by ponies gone tribal thinking they are changeling spies.
    Fluttershy: All servants of Queen Chrysalis found in these woods must be... destroyed!
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Spike telling Twilight that her practice speech was "ever better than the first eleven times" is a nod to Rainbow Rocks, where he says the same kind of thing about the Rainbooms' performance (in the exact same unconvincing tone, in fact).
    • Moon Dancer, the librarian, the book seller, and MD's sister are sitting in the audience while Twilight gives her speech.
    • One of Twilight's first slides during her presentation feature the Cutie Mark Crusaders and how they got their cutie marks.
    • To the IDW comics, in which it is confirmed that King Sombra, due to his origins, does not have a cutie mark.
    • Sombra is once again a Sauron-style Present Absence whose peak villainy is only discussed by others and/or shown via flashback.
    • In the Sombra timeline, Maud Pie drills through a rock with her bare hooves again, as she did in her starting episode — and Pinkamena does it too!
    • Starlight Glimmer walking on clouds like a pegasus is a reminder of the existence of a unicorn spell for this purpose, first seen in "Sonic Rainboom".
    • Doubles as a Rewatch Bonus for the season premiere, but the spell Starlight uses to immobilize Rainbow Dash the first time she changes the timeline is the same spell she used to immobilize Twilight so she could take her cutie mark.
  • Crystal Prison: Starlight traps Twilight and Spike in one during the alteration that results in the Chrysalis timeline. Then she takes advantage of her foes' helplessness to do some Evil Gloating.
  • Cyborg: The Sombra timeline Rainbow Dash has a mechanical wing.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Time travel spells are regarded as very dangerous, as Twilight had mentioned in "What About Discord?" This and the following episode showcase exactly how such a spell can be dangerous in the wrong hooves.
  • Darker and Edgier: The timeline where King Sombra won. He leads the Crystal Ponies as a brainwashed army in a brutal war against Equestria. All of Equestria is dedicated to the war effort. Applejack's farm has been industrialized to mass-can applesauce to feed the troops, Fluttershy is shearing sheep on an industrial scale, Rarity is mass-producing uniforms in Manehattan, and Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie are on the front lines, the former having apparently lost a wing at some point and replaced it with a metal one.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Unlike the past two-parters, this is focused entirely on Twilight — her friends have less screentime than herself. Similarly, Spike gets as much screentime as her.
  • Diesel Punk: Alternate Reality 1 has shades of this as a result of the mass-industrialization of Equestria to fund the war effort against King Sombra.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Filly Rainbow Dash becomes increasingly creeped out by Twilight's attempts to convince her to pull off a Sonic Rainboom.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Twilight urges Spike to not touch the scroll discarded by Starlight Glimmer, but it's already too late.
  • Doom Troops: King Sombra's mooks are decked out in spiky armor and intimidating helmets.
  • Double Take: Twilight Sparkle keeps on giving her lecture even as her gaze wanders over the attending unicorns, which include Starlight Glimmer in their midst. Only on taking a pause in her speech does she realize this and backtracks, but the fugitive has already vanished.
  • During the War: The first alternate timeline is this type of story, with Equestria being caught in a Forever War against King Sombra's Empire, and all of its populace being mobilised to "do their part". It's purposefully reminiscent of a typical World War home front.
  • Ear Ache: During the Sombra war future, we see Rainbow Dash with a portion cut out of her left ear, possibly caused by whatever took off her left wing.
  • Embarrassing Slide: During Twilight's presentation, Spike accidentally puts in a slide showing him relaxing at a beach, and the right one upside-down. He manages to fix this without Twilight noticing.
  • Evil Gloating: Starlight Glimmer indulges in a long rant about her Evil Plan and her motivations on Twilight's second trip to the past. However, showing just how savvy she is, she does so only while Twilight and Spike are stuck in a Crystal Prison and helpless to retaliate. She also resisted the temptation to do it on their first confrontation, making sure instead to put the time spell in motion first.
  • Eye Pop: When Twilight spots Starlight Glimmer talking to the young bullies and Fluttershy, her eyes pop out inside the binoculars she's using (along with a klaxon sound).
  • Faceless Goons: Invoked by King Sombra in his timeline, making all his subjects wear Doom Troops masks in battle.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Twilight is so focused on the Cutie Map on returning from her first time travel, she misses out the insignificant detail of her whole castle having disappeared, and needs Spike to point it out to her.
    • She also misses the arrival of the resistance ponies in the next timeline since she's focused on the scroll bearing Star Swirl's spell. Once again, Spike has to inform her.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: In the Crystal War Timeline, Rainbow Dash is implied to be becoming this with the Pie sisters. They are quick to demolish a boulder falling on her, implying that they were watching her back the whole time. It's a different sort of friendship to be sure, but it is still there.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Twilight makes a comment that "... as long as I have my friends, everything will be all right." This goes beyond Tempting Fate and is especially portentous, since as the episode later shows, without the special bond with her friends, Equestria is in dire straits.
    • Starlight is sitting in Fluttershy's throne when Twilight and Spike arrive; the throne is decorated with Fluttershy's cutie mark, that of butterflies. This alludes to the use of the time travel concept of the butterfly effect (one small change impacting events elsewhere) that comes into play later.
    • Moondancer's cameo is rather prominent, a subtle hint that Starlight Glimmer's issues stem from a similar incident.
    • A subtle bit during Twilight and Spike's first journey back in time: When the race starts and Fluttershy falls from the cloud, Twilight looks ready to jump down and rescue her, but Spike holds her back in a silent reminder not to interfere with the past.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: One of the ponies at the Train Station is a little foal. Is Ponyville being completely evacuated or has the situation gotten so desperate that children are being pressed to serve in the military?
  • Frontline General: In the timeline with King Sombra's return, Applejack describes Celestia as "leading the charge" in the war, and the flashback accompanying her story shows her driving off several of Sombra's soldiers.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • When Spike hurriedly changes slides during Twilight's speech, he first puts in a slide of himself relaxing on the beach. He switches it to the correct slide, but puts it in upside-down, before putting it back in right side-up. Twilight never notices.
    • After Twilight and Spike enter into the past the first time, the scene zooms out just enough for Pinkie Pie to come in wheeling a cake in. She looks around, shrugs, and eats the cake.
  • Future Badass: Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Maud Pie. Rainbow Dash has a Rugged Scar across her left eye, a metal prosthetic wing and a chunk taken out of her ear, and Maud apparently taught Pinkie how to drill into rock with her bare hooves.
  • Genre Blind: Starlight uses a time travel spell as part of a simple Eye for an Eye revenge plot, with no understanding of the widespread consequences this could have.
  • Ghost Town: Ponyville looks like one in the Sombra timeline, with dilapidated buildings and almost no inhabitants in sight (besides Golden Harvest, seen staring through a window).
  • Grandfather Paradox: Starlight's plan is one, since if the Rainboom never happened, the Mane Six can't have beaten her to trigger her revenge plot in the first place.
  • Head Desk: Twilight smashes her face on the map table in despair when Spike asks her how they're going to fix things in King Sombra's timeline.
  • Hidden Depths: Young Rainbow proudly agrees when asked if she's fast, but balks at the idea of racing an adult, calling it unfair — implying that for all her bravado, she lacks either awareness or confidence that her talents are anything exceptional. Especially poignant since this, in most timelines, is the same day she challenged the bullies to their race.
  • Hypno Trinket: The helmets worn by the soldiers of the Crystal Empire on the battlefield. It is strongly implied — from the Sickly Green Glow that lights up through the eye slits, when we see King Sombra equips one on a pony — that they are mind-controlling the otherwise peaceful Crystal Ponies.
  • Hypocrite: Starlight is angry at Twilight and her friends for ruining her little perfect village where nopony were superior... except everypony was in fact, inferior to Starlight.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Both bad futures have Nightmare Moon defeated, but the fact that Celestia is seen leading the war against Sombra and Luna is not has some unpleasant implications...
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: Twilight Sparkle and Spike see different worlds where the Mane Six never gained their cutie marks at the same time. This, in turn, means that they never came together to stop any of the villains they faced in the past.
  • Jaw Drop: This is Twilight's reaction to her missing castle upon returning from her first trip back in time.
  • Logic Bomb: Since bullying is wrong, Twilight finds herself in a conundrum when trying to talk the bullies back into teasing Fluttershy.
  • Lost in a Crowd: Starlight Glimmer isn't easy to locate among the audience for Twilight's lecture, even for those viewers who were expecting her, since she's an ordinary-looking unicorn in a crowd entirely composed of unicorns. Even Twilight isn't quite sure of what she saw after catching a glimpse of her.
  • Loud Gulp: At the very end of the episode, Twilight gulps audibly when threatened by the resistance ponies thinking she's a changeling.
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: Starlight Glimmer plans to use a time-travel spell to change the past in order to get back at the Mane Six for ruining her cult.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Starlight, as always, only this time she does so by telling the bullies to be nice and stop bothering Fluttershy, so that Rainbow Dash never gets the motivation for a Sonic Rainboom.
  • Match Cut: The transition into the flashback of the war against King Sombra narrated by Applejack is done with a shot of the Cutie Map, focused on the Crystal Empire Palace, seguing into the real thing.
  • Mildly Military: Not that Equestria has ever shown much attention to military protocol, but Rainbow's mane in the Sombra timeline is wildly messy for someone who's supposed to be a commanding officer in the military. Maud, who's subordinate to her, has her mane appropriately short for contrast.
  • Military Salute: The Pie sisters give one to Rainbow Dash after saving her from the falling boulder in the Sombra war timeline (despite the fact that saluting on a battlefield is a very bad idea as it allows enemies to identify ranking soldiers and single them out).
  • Motive Decay: In her first appearance, Starlight was a dangerous schemer who took control of a society in the name of "equality" (and that she could rule over everyone). Here, she just wants revenge on the Mane Six by breaking up their Friendship, and nothing else, not even thinking or considering what may come of it afterwards. Even when using it to convince the bullies to be nice to filly Fluttershy is just to tweak Twilight.
  • Motive Rant: Starlight gives one when she's captured Twiilight: she considered her village a sanctuary and her paradise. They took away the place that was special to her so she wants to take something special to them in return.
    Starlight: Cutie marks for cutie marks! Sounds like a fair trade to me!
  • Myth Arc: The two-parter concludes the storyline involving Starlight Glimmer which started with the Cutie Map and went through various sneaky cameos throughout the season.
  • Necessary Fail: The bullies' teasing of Fluttershy was the critical motivation for Rainbow Dash to challenge them to a race, without which the Sonic Rainboom would never have happened. Starlight realizes this and prevents it by encouraging the bullies to be nice the second time she, Twilight, and Spike travel back through the time spell.
  • Never My Fault: Starlight blames Twilight and her friends for ruining her utopia. Granted, she was the one who brought it upon herself by lying to the village ponies about her real cutie mark and a fake staff.
  • Never Say "Die": In the Changeling timeline, Fluttershy says Queen Chrysalis's servants found in their territory need to be "destroyed".
  • Never Trust a Title: There's no change to anypony's actual Cutie Marks; Starlight Glimmer just disrupts the You All Share My Story event of Rainbow Dash's first Sonic Rainboom, preventing the Mane Six from forming their special bond. The other five of the Mane Six still get their cutie marks eventually (some of them do).
  • No-Sell: Twilight tries to disrupt the initial opening of the time portal with a magic blast, but it has strictly no effect.
  • Not Even Bothering with an Excuse: Used twice by filly Rainbow Dash on Twilight and Spike's second trip through the time spell. Justifiable as Rainbow perceives adult Twilight as Stranger Danger.
  • Not Helping Your Case:
    • Starlight forces Twilight into contradicting herself when she prevents the Rainboom by genuinely reforming the bullies picking on Fluttershy, to which Twilight then has to try to explain to them why they should be bullies and naturally doesn't get very far.
    • Twilight trying to talk filly Rainbow Dash into doing a Sonic Rainboom isn't helped by her being an adult alicorn ranting about time travel, which creeps Rainbow Dash out to the point that she just flies away.
  • Offscreen Crash: Twilight and Spike crash into a cloud just off-screen when filly Rainbow Dash stops on a dime, and Twilight proves not so good at braking.
  • Oh, Crap!: This is Spike's reaction and then Twilight's when they find Starlight in the Map Room, right after they dismiss the idea she could be coming back for revenge.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: A sign to Twilight and Spike that they're not in their regular timeline.
    • When the two arrive in the Sombra-ruled universe, they find Applejack who, thanks to the constant war going on, is less than accommodating to the two. She even bluntly points out to Twilight that they aren't friends in that world.
    • Fluttershy, of all ponies, threatening to "destroy" anyone right on the spot (but considering the paranoia, understandable). Twilight is unsurprisingly appalled when Pinkie and she hold Spike and her at spearpoint.
  • Politeness Judo: One of the most insidious and yet bizarrely effective ways Starlight interferes with history is when she genuinely reforms the bullies harassing Fluttershy, and thereby remove a central motivation for Dash to do the critical Sonic Rainboom. As Starlight anticipated, Twilight Sparkle finds herself put in the sickeningly impossible position of trying to undo this tactic for the greater good of restoring history to avert several Bad Future scenarios and finds that her conscience can't allow it.
  • Power Copying: Twilight copies Starlight's Time Travel spell in an attempt to go back and fix the past.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Starlight continues the proud tradition she started back in "The Cutie Map" by greeting Twilight and Spike with one while leaning back on Fluttershy's throne.
  • Quieter Than Silence: After the first time that Starlight activates the time spell, the soundtrack vanishes with her. This happens again after Spike and Twilight accidentally trigger the spell and follow Starlight, and is punctuated by Pinkie Pie's approaching hoofsteps.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: The flashback showing the return of King Sombra and his enslavement of the Crystal Ponies is under an ominous red sky.
  • Remembered I Could Fly: Twilight briefly panics after the first travel through the time vortex when she's falling above Cloudsdale, but then she remembers she has wings.
  • Reveal Shot: The episode starts out with Twilight doing a speech at the pulpit of Celestia's School of Magic, stumbling and checking out her cue cards, and only eliciting weak applause. Then it pans out to reveal that Spike is her sole audience and that she was just rehearsing.
  • Revenge: Starlight's motive against the Mane Six for ruining what was essentially a cult following under ideals in Our Town, though she seems to have a grudge against Twilight specifically.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Starlight tries to alter the past to get revenge on the Mane Six, despite them being the only thing between Equestria and destruction on multiple occasions. This results in a war with King Sombra and the Crystal Empire because the Mane Six never stopped him in the first timeline, then Queen Chrysalis taking over in the second one. Justified the first time, as Starlight had no idea what ruining their friendship would lead to, but then she doubles down...
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory:
    • Twilight's, Spike's and Starlight's memories are unaltered due to travelling from the past to the alternate timelines rather than living through them.
    • This also applies to the Tree of Harmony. Even though the map shouldn't exist in the future, the tree knows history has been changed and the map remains for the spell to be recast.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • Celestia personally leads the guard, consisting of the Royal Guards, the Wonderbolts, and a few other ponies, like Maud and Pinkie, against King Sombra and his army. When she is ambushed by four of the brainwashed Crystal Ponies while looking over her wounded troops, she easily blows them away with a powerful defensive spell.
    • King Sombra is shown on the frontline himself, fighting alongside his soldiers.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Starlight randomly chooses to sit in Fluttershy's butterfly-marked throne when she casts a Time Travel spell that causes a butterfly effect.
  • Sanity Slippage: Starlight seems a bit more unhinged than before, totally consumed by revenge.
  • Scenery Gorn: Several of the bad futures Twilight and Spike encounter show the once pristine, picturesque landscapes of Equestria in dilapidated, ruined states.
  • Schmuck Bait: Starlight Glimmer leaving behind the crumpled scroll sporting the spell she used; she fully expects Spike or Twilight to give in to temptation and touch it. Spike doesn't disappoint, despite Twilight's warning.

  • Sequel Episode: To "The Cutie Map", picking up on Starlight's vengeance towards Twilight for disrupting her perfect cutie mark-less town.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Probably quite obscure, but Spike's picture in the slideshow seems to be a slight nod towards the beginning of Atlantis: The Lost Empire, where Milo's picture of him at the beach is accidentally used.
    • The scene of Princess Celestia's and King Sombra's forces charging into each other is a perfect homage to the intro sequence for the first Age of Empires, right down to the music — and it's not unlike the Yudhaikeledai ponification of the same.
    • On the Sombra present, Ponyville train station sports a ponification of the J. Howard Miller "We Can Do It" poster (a.k.a. "Rosie the Riveter") and a Sombra-centric version of the "He's Watching You" poster. In the same shot, on the train's door is a ponified Kilroy Was Here graffiti.
    • Starlight listens to a speech given to a class about the day someone realized as a child what their destiny was and how it led to the formation of the heroes' team, and thus gets inspired to go back in time to stop the heroes from ever being able to become a threat to her — exactly how Mojo Jojo starts off The Powerpuff Girls episode "Get Back Jojo."
  • Shown Their Work: The Wimp Fight between a Royal Guard and a Crystal Soldier? That's actually how real horses fight.
  • Sibling Team: In the Sombra timeline, Maud Pie and Pinkamena work together on the battlefield to protect other ponies from falling rocks weaponized by the Crystal Empire soldiers.
  • Silent Antagonist: Barring one Evil Laugh, Sombra has no lines whatsoever, not unlike in his debut.
  • Simultaneous Arcs: With My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games. The Stinger at the end of the movie has Pony Twilight arrive in the human world mentioning she was caught in a time loop which prevented her from coming to Sunset's aid. This episode and the following episode showcases what happens during that time. Both this two-parter and Friendship Games were written by Josh Haber.
  • Slave Mooks: In the first separate timeline, King Sombra has enslaved the ponies from the Crystal Empire and turned them into soldiers in a bid to conquer all of Equestria. It is strongly implied that the scary helmets they wear are keeping them mind-controlled.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Starlight pulls this while sitting on Fluttershy's throne when Twilight and Spike see her in the castle, complete with Psychotic Smirk.
  • Solid Clouds: In a Magic A Is Magic A variant similar to the one in "Sonic Rainboom", Spike falls through the cloud next to the runway (which pegasi were standing on moments earlier) in the first trip back through the time spell. Similarly, the magic Crystal Prison that Starlight traps Spike and Twilight in on the second trip slowly sinks through the same cloud. Starlight is also seen standing on clouds despite not being a pegasus, meaning she probably used the same spell Twilight did in "Sonic Rainboom".
  • Spikes of Villainy: The armors and helmets of King Sombra's Doom Troops sport spikes and horns.
  • Split Screen: One is used to show the two Pie sisters smashing a rock into rubble simultaneously.
  • Stalker without a Crush: Starlight's first appearance in this episode shows her listening in on Twilight Sparkle's lecture about Cutie Mark Magic and how Rainbow Dash's Sonic Rainboom allowed the Mane Six to get their cutie marks. It's research for a revenge plan.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: During Twilight's presentation, she notices Starlight briefly. By the time she actively searches for her, Starlight has vanished.
  • Stealth Pun:
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Only without the British accent. The Applejack of the King Sombra timeline flatly, but politely, ignores Twilight's hug and greeting when they first meet, responding with a matter-of-fact "What can I do for ya?" She maintains this level of emotional detachment throughout their encounter. It's appropriate, considering this timeline places Applejack in The Home Front.
  • Stranger Danger: Filly Rainbow Dash thinks of Twilight as such when she talks about the Sonic Rainboom. Her suggestive behavior and time travel babble paint her as a loon or something worse.
  • Stylistic Suck: A barely perceptible example: the slide depicting the Mane Six getting their cutie marks is drawn in a slightly shoddy, sketchy style, as a subtle way to indicate that it's an artist's rendering of the events, since photographs would have been impossible to obtain.
  • Swiper, No Swiping!: The second time through the time portal, Starlight manages to talk the bullies out of bullying Fluttershy by simply telling them it's wrong and invoking The Golden Rule.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Just before returning to her castle, Twilight says "as long as I have my friends I know everything will be alright." Turns out Starlight's revenge plot involves separating Twilight from her friends.
    • "That sounds better than Starlight Glimmer coming back with an evil plot for revenge." You had to say it, Spike... you had to say it.
    • Not that Twilight is any better in the first alternate timeline. "This is Ponyville. How bad could things be?" Very, Twilight, very.
  • Time Travel: Starlight's revenge plan involves a spell that apparently makes this possible, and unique in the fact it's on a whole other level to previously shown time-travel spells.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Mixed in with Wrong Context Magic with a spell that manifests as a swirly energy Clock Punk dome. It's only vaguely touched upon how Starlight was able to modify a Time Travel spell so that it causes Alternate Universes instead of Stable Time Loops, not to mention rigging it so that she can beat Twilight to the punch every time the spell is used. Twilight even lampshades this; how could Star Swirl, the greatest unicorn mage in recorded history, not be able to do what Starlight did?
  • Tribal Face Paint: The ponies Twilight meets in the second alternate timeline are covered in green paint in various patterns, for a very tribal look. Next episode explains why.
  • Unflinching Walk: Sombra does this twice — first in a Call-Back to his debut scene on top of the Crystal Castle, then on the battlefield against Celestia's forces.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Filly Rainbow Dash is only mildly surprised at the appearance of a brand-new alicorn, and no-one else even notices.
  • Villain Ball: Starlight would have succeeded had she not felt the need to rub her victory in Twilight's face. Then again, it is also her goal to see Twilight suffer, so the risk comes with the task.
  • Villain Decay: Double Subverted with Starlight Glimmer. While she returns magically more powerful and threatening than ever, to the point where she can fight Princess Twilight to a standstill, it's a trade-off in that she also lost quite a bit of intelligence, lacking the manipulative cunning and calculative planning that made her a highly dangerous schemer who managed to take control over a whole society and outwit and outmaneuver the Mane Six in her first appearance. Starlight's newfound bitterness and rage, childish pettiness, and one-track plan for revenge also prevent her from thinking and considering important details. Little does she know, this ends up being her own undoing.
  • War Is Hell: The alternate universe with King Sombra is made of this. While a lot of the combat is still rather G-rated (save Alternate Rainbow Dash having replaced a wing with a mechanical Artificial Limb), it doesn't skimp out on the profound effect it has on everyday life: not only are ponies shipped out every day, they are forced to industrialize to squeeze every last resource they can to fight what could very well be a losing battle.
  • Wham Line:
    • From the first alternate timeline:
      Applejack: Last I heard, [Rarity] went to help with the cause like everypony else.
      Twilight: The cause?
      Applejack: The war against King Sombra and the Crystal Empire?
    • From the second:
      Pinkie Pie: Silence, changeling!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The fates of Princess Cadance and Shining Armor, rulers of the Crystal Empire, are not revealed in the Bad Future where King Sombra returned.
  • Wimp Fight: During the battle sequence, we see a Royal Guard and a Crystal Soldier doing a slap fight, hard enough to make a Big Ball of Violence.
  • World Tree: The first time Twilight and Spike get pulled back to the future by Starlight's time spell, it doesn't take them long to realize that the reason the map still exists is because the Tree of Harmony senses a disruption in the timeline.
  • Wrong Context Magic: When we first saw Time Travel in "It's About Time", the best available was a spell that let the caster travel up to a week into the past for a few minutes before automatically coming back, forming a Stable Time Loop, and which could only be used once. Starlight Glimmer's modified version of that spell, enhanced by the map (which is in turn linked to the Tree of Harmony), is able to travel several years in the past, as many times as the user wants, and lasts long enough to allow her to change the course of history.
  • You All Share My Story: The alternate timelines show how different Equestria could have been had this been averted with the Mane Six.


Video Example(s):


Starlight Glimmer

Starlight Glimmer traps Twilight and Spike in a giant purple crystal

How well does it match the trope?

3.86 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / CrystalPrison

Media sources: