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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S5 E26 "The Cutie Re-Mark – Part 2"

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Continued from "The Cutie Re-Mark – Part 1".

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"Everything in the past affects the future, even the tiniest act. And what you're doing leads here."

"What's so special about your friends?! How can a group of ponies that are so different be so important?!"
Starlight Glimmer

Written by: Josh Haber

Twilight Sparkle and Spike have been sent to a different timeline where she is currently at the mercy of several ponies (which include her friends Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy) wearing strange tribal markings on their coats and wielding spears pointed at them. Before they are attacked, Zecora calls off her troops and coats both Twilight and Spike in a mystical salve that will reveal their true forms should they be changelings. However, not only does the salve prove they are who they claim, but also they begin to glow. Zecora soon realizes this is a sign that "they are not meant to be", referring to herself and the others in this world.

Zecora explains that Queen Chrysalis and the changelings rule over this world and rightfully assumes this is not natural. After Twilight explains what happened with Starlight Glimmer, Zecora then explains how changing one thing in the past will cause changes in the future. They arrive to a small village filled with other ponies holding out against Chrysalis's forces, only for Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Rarity to appear and say Ponyville has been attacked by changelings. Zecora, however, isn't fooled by this and "Applejack" is revealed to be Queen Chrysalis herself, with "Rainbow Dash" and "Rarity" being two of her changelings. Soon, an invading army appears in the sky. She then demands Zecora's surrender in exchange for sparing all the ponies in the village. Zecora instead holds off the changelings and tells Twilight to return to the past and stop Starlight.

Back in the past, Twilight chooses to stop Starlight by force and the two of them fight each other using their magic. However, their battle draws the attention of young Rainbow Dash and the bullies, who are now enthralled in watching the fight rather than having the race. Once again, the portal appears and a return to the present.

In this new timeline, everything is coated under the cover of night and the Map is now in an area inhabited by timber wolves. The two travelers manage to get away only to reach what appears to be the Castle of the Two Sisters in the Everfree Forest, now restored to its past glory. Upon entering the dark abode, they find not just Rarity (who naturally doesn't recognize them) whom they try explaining their use of time travel magic, but also Nightmare Moon, who reigns in this timeline and is intrigued by the notion of someone having time travel magic when it should be hers. Twilight, to Spike's shock, agrees to tell Nightmare Moon everything and leads her back to the Map's location. However, this was all part of Twilight's plan to get rid of the timber wolves in the area using Nightmare Moon and manages to summon the portal before the dark alicorn and her guards could catch them.

In the past, all of Twilight's attempts to stop Starlight are met with failure as she travels to different timelines where the dominant forces are Lord Tirek, Discord and the Flim-Flam Brothers, respectively. Finally, Twilight decides to show Starlight the damage she's causing by pulling her through the portal when it reopens.

This time, Equestria has been reduced to a barren wasteland devoid of everything (except incessant violent winds). Twilight tells Starlight the adverse effects of her scheme in the past and how this current Bad Future came to pass. Though initially shaken by this, Starlight will have none of it, as she is still upset over the Mane Six ruining her perfect paradise and even shows them the reason she created her "equal cutie mark utopia" by taking them to her own past. Arriving in an unfamiliar town, Starlight explains that, as a filly, she had a close friend who earned his cutie mark and was sent away to Canterlot after showing a lot of magic potential. Having not yet earned hers, Starlight ended up too scared to make new friends under the fear that they will also go away once they earned their cutie marks and formed her philosophy of them being the cause of strife.

Returning to the Sonic Rainboom race, in desperation Starlight is prepared to tear up the scroll , trapping them both in the past to and prevent Twilight from stopping her. Twilight then chooses to reason with her, telling Starlight that cutie marks won't change a pony, differences between friends are what make a bond stronger and that she shouldn't let one event in the past prevent her from moving forward and trying to make new friends. With this finally getting through, Starlight lets the Sonic Rainboom come to pass and the future is restored.

Arriving back at their proper timeline, the Mane Six discuss what to do with Starlight, seeing as she has more magic potential than most ponies Twilight knows. It is eventually decided that Starlight is now going to be apprenticed on the power of friendship, starting with seven new friends in the Mane Six and Spike, and is given a new lease on living and friendship.


Tropes:

  • An Aesop:
    • Every friendship is important, no matter how small, and keeping them together takes work. You shouldn't let a ruined one taint your view of future ones.
    • Confucius said that "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves." In this case, Starlight dug graves not only for herself and Twilight Sparkle but also for countless others in the alternate timelines.
  • After the End: A few of the bad timelines, especially the empty wasteland.
  • Apocalypse How: Chrysalis, Discord, and Tirek's timelines seem to result in at least Regional/Societal Collapse, although Tirek's may end up as far as Regional/Species Extinction. The last timeline appears to be Regional/Total Extinction, provided it only affects Equestria.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Princess Twilight and Spike visit versions of Equestria ruled by Sombra (in Part 1), Chrysalis, Nightmare Moon, Tirek, Discord, and... the Flim-Flam Brothers. In that order.
  • The Atoner: Starlight Glimmer, stricken by guilt for coming this close to destroying the world and including herself, becomes this by the end of the episode. Luckily, she's taken on as Princess Twilight's own student so she can make things up a whole lot quicker. Her first act of atonement was returning to Our Town to make things up with the townponies.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Zecora is almost instantly able to intuit that Twilight is from a different timeline and all the repercussions of that fact.
  • Bad Future: Several more occur, as Twilight and Starlight keep fighting in the past.
    • The one where Queen Chrysalis took over from the previous episode is explored here. Zecora now leads the survivors and keeps them hidden out in the Everfree Forest. Twilight leaves just as Chrysalis attacks the village.
    • The next has Nightmare Moon in charge where naturally Equestria is blanketed in eternal night. Rarity is maintaining the castle, Rainbow Dash is a royal guard, and Celestia is now sealed in the moon.
    • After that is a quick montage where Tirek took over (though he's shown ravaging the landscape so this was likely after he has gotten the alicorn magic), another where it was Discord (who pretty much does what he did at the end of his debut episode, only now torturing poor Celestia and Luna), and finally one where the Flim-Flam Brothers are deforesting Ponyville.
    • In the final future before things are fixed, Equestria is a barren wasteland.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: An obvious result of Starlight's meddling with the past is that, without the Mane Six to stand in their way, the past villains of the series manage to take over Equestria or worse.
  • Batman Gambit: Twilight leads Nightmare Moon back to the map after she is told to reveal the cause of her time travel abilities. Twilight does this since the dark alicorn is the only one strong enough to get rid of the timberwolves that live in the area now (Twilight was worn out from fighting Starlight and needed time to recharge her magic). Once she clears them out, Twilight teleports herself and Spike to the map and travels back before Nightmare Moon or her guards can catch them.
  • Bear Hug: Starlight is on the receiving end of one during the montage with the Mane Six during the ending song, ironically enough delivered by Harry the Bear.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Starlight wanted revenge on the Mane Six with her time travel spell. She gets it, but she doesn't like the Bad Future that comes with it.
  • Befriending the Enemy: The episode ends with the Mane Six and the Our Town ponies from the season premiere befriending Starlight Glimmer, with the possibility of Starlight becoming a seventh member of the mane group.
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge: When Spike defiantly talks back to Nightmare Moon, Twilight glares at him and jabs him with her elbow.
  • Big "NO!": As is tradition, Nightmare Moon ends her appearance with this when Twilight and Spike manage to escape from her timeline.
  • Blind Shoulder Toss: Filly Rainbow Dash tosses her popcorn over her shoulder after Twilight and Spike go into the "Nightmare Moon Wins" Timeline.
  • Bookends:
    • The season begins with a confrontation with Starlight Glimmer and ends in one, though with better results this time.
    • Twilight became the pony she is after Princess Celestia recognized her potential and took her on as her pupil. By the end of this episode, the pupil-turned-princess takes Starlight under her wing, having recognized Starlight's potential.
    • Rainbow Dash's first Sonic Rainboom united the Mane Six. When it happens (or rather re-happens), it ends up uniting Starlight Glimmer with the Mane Six.
  • Bound and Gagged: Nightmare Moon takes Spike hostage and puts him in chains to ensure Twilight's compliance. Fortunately, she underestimates Twilight's skills at teleportation.
  • Briar Patching: When Twilight and Spike arrive in the Nightmare Moon-ruled world, the latter finds out about the map and time travel. She forces Twilight to show her under threat of harming Spike. Twilight agrees but states in order to do so they have to get past the Timberwolves, knowing full well Nightmare Moon is strong enough to deal with them. Since they take their time getting to the map, it gives time for Twilight to recharge her magic and eventually allowing her to teleport Spike and herself onto the map and back into the past before Nightmare Moon can stop them.
  • Broken Ace: Starlight Glimmer. She is able to match Twilight in combat, stays one step ahead when Twilight tries to fix the timeline, is a magical genius even by the show's lofty standards, and is implied to have stolen the secret forbidden time travel spell from the Canterlot Library right under the Princesses' noses. And on top of that, she does this all despite not being an alicorn. At the same time, she suffers from an obsession with order and control that makes Twilight's worst OCD tendencies look tame, has a ton of issues with friendship and cutie marks from a friendship gone sour, and has huge anger issues that lead her into not quite thinking straight at times.
  • The Bus Came Back: Double Diamond, Party Favor, Sugar Belle, and Night Glider come back for Starlight to apologize to them.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Referenced by Alternate Zecora when she finds out what happened: changing one thing in the past can cause a surprising amount of changes. The more Starlight changes the past the more and more the future spirals out of control until things like the Flim-Flam Brothers somehow taking over Equestria happen. Apparently, how the race is disrupted impacts what the corresponding Bad Future will be like.
  • Call-Back: The episode cranks out references to all the major two-parters in the past, showing what would've happened had the Mane Six never stopped their villains.
  • The Cameo:
    • While Queen Chrysalis and Nightmare Moon get their fair share of screentime, other villains like Tirek and Discord only gets a few seconds.
    • Trixie also makes a Freeze-Frame Bonus cameo as part of Zecora's resistance, standing guard on one of the huts when Zecora welcomes Twilight into the resistance's camp. Twist is seen in a cabin hiding with her guardian.
    • Double Diamond, Sugar Belle, Party Favor and Night Glider are seen during the montage of Starlight's reformation when Twilight and she return to Our Town so she can apologize for her actions.
  • Color Motif: Every timeline is tinted with a different color representing the different kind of Sugar Apocalypse that Starlight has wrought, indicated by the color of the map. Counting the previous episode, we have:
    • Red: Equestria is at war with King Sombra and the Crystal Empire.
    • Green: Queen Chrysalis and her changeling army have chased ponykind to the forests.
    • Blue: Nightmare Moon has shrouded the land in eternal night.
    • Orange: Lord Tirek has reduced Equestria to a flaming ruin.
    • Purple: Discord is free to unleash never-ending chaos on the world.
    • Brown: The Flim-Flam Brothers have industrialized Equestria.
    • Gray: Equestria is a barren wasteland, devoid of all evidence of life.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: A remorseful and guilt-ridden Starlight Glimmer throws herself at the mercy of the Mane Six. She receives her "punishment" in the form of becoming Twilight's own personal student of Friendship, effectively making Starlight a new addition to the cast and potential seventh member. She also has to travel to Our Town and seek forgiveness from her other victims.
  • Conspicuous CG: The timberwolves, once again, stands out from the Flash animation. Though their very fluid movements help making them look even creepier.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Every major villain from the show makes an appearance, whether it's a speaking role or a brief cameo. Also the Flim-Flam Brothers. And, of course, it's the events of "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" that Starlight Glimmer is out to disrupt.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the Nightmare Moon universe, Rarity's job is restoring the tapestries in the Castle of the Two Sisters, which is what she tried to do in "Castle Mane-ia", the first episode written by Josh Haber.
    • Rainbow Dash being a member of the Night Guards is one to the Season 1 opener, where she was tempted into joining the illusory Shadowbolts; in this timeline, without her friends to express loyalty toward, she apparently gave in.
  • *Crack!* "Oh, My Back!": Twilight has a subtle look at a sore wing after landing hard into the "Nightmare Moon Wins" timeline.
  • Crowded Cast Shot: The episode ends with this as the camera zooms out from the Mane Six (or rather Seven), Spike, and Starlight to show the better part of the population of Ponyville looking out at the camera.
  • Crystal Prison: Showing up again from the previous episode. Twilight uses it against Starlight, but she just breaks it apart with telekinesis, or dodges out of the way so the spell traps Rainbow instead.
  • Darkest Hour: While in most timelines Twilight and Spike show up at no particularly significant time, in the one where Equestria fell to the changelings she has the bad luck of being brought to the hidden village just as it is attacked by Queen Chrysalis and her army. Zecora and the resistance choose to make an Heroic Sacrifice to stall them and allow Twilight to escape back to the past, which she manages — but barely.
  • Dark Magical Girl: Starlight Glimmer fits this like a glove. Magical? Check. Talented? Check. Dark and Troubled Past? Check. Deep seated social issues? Check. Foil for a friendship-focused magical girl? Check. Heel–Face Turn? Check.
  • Deadly Dodging: Starlight sidesteps Twilight's second Crystal Prison attack, causing her to accidentally imprison filly Rainbow Dash and causing yet another alternate timeline.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Starlight Glimmer gives up her revenge against the Mane Six and readily accepts her punishment, but the Mane Six recognize her magic potential and bring Starlight into their group of friends, making this trope literal. Considering the Mane Six gain a new powerful friend, and friends is what Starlight Glimmer really wanted, it was a win-win.
  • Defiant to the End: When offered to surrender by Queen Chrysalis — with it made clear their village is woefully outnumbered against the changelings —, Zecora and her rebel camp decide to go down swinging. Mostly because Zecora knows that their timeline is a false one, but also because they know Chrysalis will likely not keep her word, even if they agree to her terms. It is a lose-lose situation either way.
  • Deflector Shields: Both Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer use magical forcefields to protect themselves from their opponent's magic shots when things come to blows.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Starlight Glimmer's Evil Plan failed before it even began. She figured had all of her bases covered in her quest for revenge against the Mane Six, rewriting the time spell so she can stay ahead of Twilight at every turn... Too bad she didn't think about the results, and what she was going to do with it. Fortunately, Twilight is able to show her in time. Facing the hard choice of admitting defeat or destroying all of Equestria including herself, Starlight begins to break down.
  • Dispel Magic: Alternate Zecora's magical salve forces changelings to revert to their true form. Whatever properties accomplish this also helpfully react to the fact that Twilight and Spike are time travelers, convincing Zecora to help them.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Starlight starts tearing up the time-travel spell, knowing that this will lead to the death of all life in Equestria. She says she doesn't believe this will happen, while experiencing a Villainous Breakdown, and Twilight is frantically trying to talk her out of this (self-)destructive act without trying to physically/magically force her to. It finally ends with Starlight taking Twilight's offered hoof and releasing the scroll. Now, does that resemble leading someone away from a high ledge? Keep in mind that Starlight is in Cloudsdale and nothing but her own levitation is keeping her afloat.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Deconstructed. The entire two-part storyline shows that the Mane Six are important to Equestria's history. So important, that, without them, those villains that they stopped would end up winning. Starlight literally cannot understand how six ponies are just so tied into the history of Equestria that she thinks it's ridiculous. It's even lampshaded by Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie as they knew the Sonic Rainboom was important but not that important. It is also reflected into the aesop and is lampshaded by Twilight herself. It's not just the Mane Six's friendship that is deeply important to Equestria. All friendships are deeply important, since the broken friendship of one single pony (Starlight's in this case) caused a deadly chain reaction that nearly led to the destruction of the Mane Six's friendship, and eventually all of Equestria.
  • Easily Forgiven: Played with, as Starlight did witness how her actions could've destroyed all of Equestria and has to live with that fact, which she clearly feels horrible about. She also had to travel to Our Town and seek their forgiveness. It is also discussed as Applejack points out that someone like Starlight can't be let to roam around free as powerful and unhinged as she is and Twilight pointing out how powerful friendship really is in Equestria. Not to mention that no-one seems to even mention all the serious crimes Starlight had committed in this episode, some of which (conspiring against and assaulting a crowned princess) could even be considered acts of treason against Equestria.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: The first time we see her, Nightmare Moon on her throne is hidden in the shadows. Not that it is hard to guess who she is, but it sure contributes to her dramatic entrance.
  • Enemy Mine: Spike is shocked when Twilight immediately capitulates to Nightmare Moon's command to take her to the map. Of course, it just turns out to be a Batman Gambit on Twilight's part, which Nightmare Moon anticipated by taking Spike hostage.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Starlight only wanted to prevent Twilight and the rest of the Mane Six from getting their cutie marks together, which she feels will prevent them from gaining their special bond. However, upon being shown that Equestria will suffer if she keeps interfering with the past. Starlight's reaction to the wasteland that was their world shows that she really didn't intend for that to be part of her plan and certainly doesn't want it to be the ultimate outcome. Though it takes some additional urging to keep her from making the damage permanent since it means she'll have to drop her vendetta against Twilight in the process.
  • Everyone Is a Tomato: In the Chrysalis timeline, Zecora's salve reveals not only that Twilight and Spike are not changelings, but that there's something wrong with everypony else.
    Zecora: Beneath this salve no changeling hides, for it reveals the truth inside.
    [under the salve, Twilight and Spike glow]
    Pinkie Pie: What does it mean?
    Zecora: The meaning is far worse, I see, for it is we who should not be.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: In her Villainous Breakdown, Starlight Glimmer has a very difficult time understanding how the Mane Six can be so different between each other, yet so important to Equestria at the same time. She gains a better understanding eventually.
  • Evil Is Petty: Starlight's entire reason for doing what she does is just to ruin the Mane Six's friendship after they break up the society she'd created in the season premiere.
  • Evil Laugh: True to form, both Chrysalis and Nightmare Moon gleefully indulge in their respective villainous guffaw.
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: Implied if not outright stated. Each "Bad Future" visited has a different evil overlord. While the others may have been somehow defeated as they were in canon, it only takes one winning because of the different timeline to turn Equestria into a complete Crapsack World.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Rainbow Dash somehow ends up as one of Nightmare Moon's guards in one future. In the process, her feathery pegasus wings got replaced by bat-like ones.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Nightmare Moon casually blasts a timberwolf into pieces onscreen, even though the creature is yelping in fright and trying desperately to get away after messing with the wrong pony. There are pieces of the timberwolf left on the ground, and its species' ability to re-form makes it unclear whether it's actually dead, but it still makes for a disturbing scene.
  • Fisher Kingdom: Each alternate timeline's environment physically reflects its respective villain (a red-tinted crystal Mordor for Sombra, a green-tinted Darkest Africa for Chrysalis, a blue-tinted The Night That Never Ends for Nightmare Moon, an orange-tinted Lethal Lava Land for Tirek, a purple-tinted World Gone Mad for Discord, a brown-tinted Industrial Ghetto for Flim and Flam). However, the one(s) responsible for the final one (a gray-tinted Apocalypse How) — if there's even anypony there — remain(s) a mystery.
  • Five Stages of Grief: Starlight hits all five beats when Twilight shows her that she'll destroy Equestria if she prevents the Mane Six's friendship: she refuses to believe that the Mane Six's friendship could actually be that important (denial); bitterly compares their friendship to one she used to have that didn't end well (anger); threatens to destroy the spell to prove Twilight wrong (bargaining); despairingly admits her fear of making friends again (depression); and finally resigns herself to whatever punishment awaits her for her actions (acceptance).
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Stinger at the end of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games spoils that Twilight must have resolved the problem somehow, because she couldn't have gone dimension-hopping otherwise.
  • For Want of a Nail: A key part of the story: changing anything in the past, however small, has a ripple effect and can send everything spiraling out of control. Also, the loss of one friendship in Equestria, no matter how small, will lead to disastrous results.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Trixie is just barely visible in the background of Zecora's camp.
    • When the Discord timeline is shown, a familiar pony with swirly eyes and a propeller beanie is seen standing in an upside-down field with a house close by.
    • Near the end of the song, in the first group shot, Octavia is giving Vinyl a rather suggestive look.
    • During the "group A" shot of the finale, Granny Smith is seen sleeping.
  • Freudian Excuse: Starlight Glimmer and her only childhood friend named Sunburst ended up separated by Sunburst getting his Cutie Mark (he had so much magic potential his parents decided to send him away to study magic in Canterlot). Starlight ended up being too scared to try and make new friends for fear that she would lose them, too. Thus she began to see Cutie Marks as the source of conflict between ponies.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Twilight and Starlight when they finally engage each other in combat. Twilight even has an attack that looks and sounds like a magic-beam machine gun when she makes a strafing run at Starlight.
  • Friendship Song: "Friends Are Always There For You".
  • From Bad to Worse: Every alternate timeline Twilight and Spike travel to is worse than the last. In the previous episode, Equestria at least had Princess Celestia to lead the charge against King Sombra, even with their dwindling resources. In the second timeline, only a small pocket of resistance stands against the changelings, and in the third, everyone has either become Nightmare Moon's servant or prisoner. The very last timeline shown is a completely barren wasteland, and if Twilight is right, it'd somehow just get worse from there.
  • Funny Background Event: Filly Fluttershy can be seen falling off the clouds in the background during the final confrontation of Twilight and Starlight.
  • Furry Reminder: When Sunburst gets his cutie mark, he lets out a very horselike whinny of excitement.
  • Future Badass: The Zecora of Chrysalis' timeline is a badass Rebel Leader willing to take Chrysalis head-on if it means helping Twilight set things right, and has created a mixture that can expose changelings and block their shapeshifting.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Starlight Glimmer sported twin pigtails as a filly, highlighting her youth and innocence.
  • The Glomp: Starlight Glimmer is on the receiving end of one from Pinkie Pie at the beginning of the final montage.
  • Good-Times Montage: At the end of the episode, we see short clips of Starlight Glimmer's new status as a supporting character, having fun and bonding with each of the Mane Six. Starlight is enjoying a dress made by Rarity, petting animals with Fluttershy (as well as receiving an affectionate Bear Hug from Harry), apple bucking with Applejack, flying (or rather levitating) with Rainbow Dash, baking cupcakes with Pinkie Pie, and finally, reading and studying magic with her new teacher, Princess Twilight.
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: The pegasi in Nightmare Moon's timeline have bat wings. Including Rainbow Dash (although she doesn't share their bat ears and slitted eyes).
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Starlight unwittingly sets herself up as this in regards to all the other villains' Bad Futures. It is because of her that were able to achieve such success and yet she had no idea that she was helping them.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: What the time loops Twilight, Spike and Starlight are stuck in resemble this the most rather than other type of temporal travel. They never encounter themselves in the past, despite using the spell several times; instead they always arrive before the race between Rainbow Dash and the bullies, and Starlight can interrupt it in several different manners, while Twilight tries various different tactics to stop her. It also shares a common element of this trope: finding the "right" way to stop it, in this case convincing Starlight to renounce her revenge.
  • Group Hug: The Mane Six and Spike give one to Starlight at the end of the episode, just before the camera zooms out over the Crowded Cast Shot of Ponyville inhabitants.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Starlight Glimmer gives up her vendetta in the end and accepts a position as Twilight's student in the Magic of Friendship.
  • Heel Realization: Twilight manages to convince Starlight her actions were wrong, though it takes bringing her to a Death World to realize it.
  • Hellish Pupils: Chrysalis and Nightmare Moon have vertically-slitted pupils, as do Nightmare Moon's bat-pony royal guards, with the exception of Rainbow Dash.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Alternate Zecora tells Twilight to return to the past and fix it, while she and her village hold off Chrysalis and her army to buy Twilight some time. Zecora's rebels are badly outnumbered and have no real hope of winning, and the last we see of Zecora herself, she is knocked down by Chrysalis who's charging up a final shot to finish her off.
  • Hypocrite:
    • During the final encounter, Starlight argues that Twilight doesn't know a thing about her. Yet she likewise has no clue about the Mane Six and how their bond would go on to save Equestria multiple times, initially refusing to believe so through her jaded view. In fact her plan pretty much rested on the knowledge that the lack of Dash's Rainboom would just equal the six not getting their cutie marks at the same time. Not the long reaching effects it would have afterward outside of Twilight.
    • Likewise, stating Twilight has an overblown ego upon hearing that Equestria does indeed need the Mane Six's friendship to save it. This coming from a unicorn who's going after Twilight just because she and her friends had to forcefully stop her from ruining their lives which Starlight herself forcefully tried to invoke her belief of cutie marks onto them. Keep in mind, Twilight was pleading with her about the importance of her friendships, not boasting about it.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: During the final song, each transition to a scene of Starlight Glimmer bonding with one of the Mane Six is done through items representing their respective cutie marks crossing the screen.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Ultimately, what Starlight really wanted was a place where she could make friends without worrying that a Cutie Mark or difference would rip it apart.
  • Impostor Forgot One Detail: Chrysalis and two of her changelings infiltrate the rebels by posing as Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity, but Alternate Zecora spots them because they aren't wearing their body paint. Though in this case the deception is just for show, as Chrysalis already has what she wants at this point; her army has found the location of the resistance.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Twilight's initial attempts to stop Starlight doesn't work out quite well as every time she hops back in time, Starlight's waiting and whatever she does to stop her by force just causes her to win. She has to literally drag Starlight away to show her what she's doing.
  • It's All About Me:
    • When Starlight shows Twilight the reason she came to view Cutie Marks as evil, she frames it as Sunburst's new Cutie Mark taking him away from her, as opposed to being happy for him.
    • Starlight accuses Twilight of this later on, not believing that the Mane Six's friendships could be so important to Equestria.
  • Kick the Dog: Rarity in the "Nightmare Moon Wins" timeline tells Spike that she doesn't socialize with dragons. Cue Spike whimpering like a dog as a bonus.
  • Kirk Summation: Twilight repeatedly explains the terrible consequences of Starlight's Evil Plan but gets a Shut Up, Kirk! in response until she sees those consequences for herself in the final Bad Future. This is what enables Twilight's final Talking the Monster to Death.
  • Kissing the Ground: Spike kisses the floor of the castle when they finally make it back to the correct timeline.
  • Knight Templar: In the changeling timeline, Fluttershy, of all ponies, is about to kill Twilight on the off-chance she might be a changeling, without giving her a chance to prove otherwise.
  • Loud Gulp: It's Starlight's turn to gulp when Spike calls her to join the Mane six in the throne room to hear what they decided about her.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": When the Mane Five find Twilight and Spike in the throne room after they return from their Time Travelling shenanigans, they're none too pleased to find Starlight Glimmer there with them. With Rarity and Fluttershy showing visible fear, and Applejack showing anger and contempt. Thankfully, the whole thing was already taken care of by then.
    Applejack: Uh, What's she doing here?
  • Medium Awareness: Every pony in Ponyville, major and background, shows this in the final shot of the episode when they all grin at the audience... except Bulk Biceps, who seems to be glancing sidelong at Fluttershy.
  • The Mole: One of the foals in Zecora's camp is a changeling infiltrator.
  • Moral Dilemma: Starlight Glimmer is stuck with one near the end. Give up her quest for revenge, or face ultimate destruction in the future. The risk is too great, causing her to break down and eventually surrender.
  • Morphic Resonance: When Celestia has been banished to the moon, the moon is banded in the same colors as her mane in addition to having the "Mare in the Moon" craters from the first episode.
  • Mugging the Monster: The timberwolves are dangerous, but they quickly find out that attacking Nightmare Moon as she casually strolls on their territory is a bad idea.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: It takes time since Starlight vehemently denies responsibility at first, but she is still visibly shaken by the idea that Equestria could wind up being reduced to ashes because of her, and her actions gradually sink in over the course of her Villainous Breakdown. By the time she is left to wait for her punishment, she has fully accepted that she's done something terrible.
  • Mythology Gag: Sunburst was one of the toy only G1 Big Brother Ponies.
  • Never Say "Die": Actually averted in Twilight's final Kirk Summation, but since she's referring to the abstract concept of friendship in general and not an actual character, it flies.
    Twilight Sparkle: I've been thinking a lot about how badly Equestria fared without just one group of friends, because even when one friendship dies, the results can be disastrous.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • In one of Twilight's attempts to stop Starlight, she's battling Starlight head on, which distracts Rainbow Dash who stops racing to watch the action, preventing her from performing the Rainboom.
    • In another attempt, Twilight ends up freezing Rainbow Dash in place instead. Starlight lampshades this with some Sarcastic Clapping.
  • No Endor Holocaust: In the timeline in which Nightmare Moon won, the everlasting night doesn't cause the end of all living things, at least by the time Twilight arrives (allegedly several years after the fact).
  • Nonchalant Dodge: Starlight casually sidesteps several of Twilight's attacks.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever caused the barren wasteland in the last timeline is unknown.
  • No-Sell: Twilight uses her barrier magic to block attacks from Starlight several times.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: With all the alternate futures being shown, the last one is just a barren, windswept wasteland with nothing and nopony else in sight but rocks and dead trees. No explanation is given for just what happened in this timeline to make things this way; it just is. Even worse is the implication this isn't the worst possible future and had Starlight kept going, she would've made one even worse.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: At the end of the episode, rather than just being set free after she is defeated, Starlight is taken in as Twilight's pupil in the study of friendship and becoming a new addition to the cast.
  • Not Quite Flight: While Starlight can't fly through conventional means, her skill in self-levitation is such that she might as well be able to. Not only can she maintain it for long periods of time effortlessly, she is very agile in the air while using it.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Of the six villain-ruled alternate universes, the one run by the Flim Flam Brothers is scary enough to be saved for last.
  • Off-Model: When the resistance ponies are seen entering the village, Pinkie Pie sports alicorn wings identical to Twilight's.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Spike answers Nightmare Moon's question of who else would rule Equestria with "Umm... Celestia, of course!", Rainbow Dash and the other guards cringe. Though thankfully Nightmare Moon just laughs it off, after pointing out Celestia was banished to the moon in that timeline.
    • Starlight herself gets one of these when she finds out the Mane Six have decided what to do with her with a Loud Gulp to accompany it. She really is expecting the worst.
  • Old-School Dogfighting: Twilight and Starlight engage in this at one point; chasing each other around the sky while firing off magic blasts at one another.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Continuing on from the last episode, Fluttershy nearly kills Twilight right on the spot without giving her a chance to prove she isn't a changeling (even after Spike shows that he's a legitimate dragon). It's only thanks to Zecora that she's stopped from going through with it.
    • In the Nightmare Moon timeline, Twilight and Spike run into Rarity who coldly brushes the two off, even stating she doesn't know anypony that associates with dragons. Likewise with Rainbow Dash who roughly orders Twilight to answer Nightmare Moon's question or face the dungeons.
    • Starlight Glimmer develops a solemn, calm, and kind demeanor, and legitimately smiles for the first time on screen. A complete 180 from her prior appearances.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Filly Rainbow Dash digs into a bag of popcorn as she and the Sports Pegasus colts stop to watch Twilight and Starlight's magic fight. Naturally, this means the race is canceled and no Sonic Rainboom again.
  • Pie in the Face: Twilight really doesn't stay long in the timeline where Discord is victorious, but it's enough to get hit on the head by a pie falling from the sky. It does wonders for her mood.
  • Power Copying: Twilight exhibits this again, using Starlight's freezing spell against her (and filly Rainbow Dash by accident) after having been subjected to it by Starlight in the previous episode.
  • Power Floats: Sunburst discovering his talent with magic and gaining his cutie mark makes him briefly float in the air.
  • Powerful and Helpless: All Twilight's magical power can't stop Starlight from destroying Equestria. Twilight's only choice is to talk Starlight down.
  • Powerful, but Inaccurate: Twilight's attempts at engaging Starlight in direct combat, even lampshaded by Starlight herself.
    Starlight: You've really gotta work on your aim!
  • The Power of Friendship: The two-parter explores this, with Twilight ultimately realizing that even shattering one bond can cause disaster if not fixed, whether it leads to personal pain or The End of the World as We Know It, as it reduces the Magic of Friendship that fills Equestria. She also manages to defeat Starlight, not with magical laser blasts, but with simple reasoning and conversation. Twilight literally saved the day with Friendship.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Nightmare Moon's future. Compared to Sombra (whose kingdom is forced into war), Chrysalis (who is so bad that the remaining pony population had to go into hiding), Tirek (who has no kingdom because he's just destroying everything) and Discord (who's plunging Equestria into chaos for his own pleasure), Nightmare Moon seems to be the only villain who's even remotely pleasant to her subjects, to the point that the castle actually has guided tours and attracts tourists. Why? Because Nightmare Moon wants everypony to adore her, which they obviously won't do if she treats them like dirt.
  • Previously On: As usual for two-parters; this summary is especially lengthy though, given that a lot happened in the previous episode.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: The Rarity of the Nightmare Moon timeline has quite a severe appearance and no-nonsense demeanor, both emphasized by the tight buns her mane and tail are put in.
  • Product Placement: Sunburst and Starlight are shown playing a game of Jenga using books, Jenga being another Hasbro-related product.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Invoked. Twilight shows Starlight that even if she succeeded with her plans, Equestria would be led to ruin as a result, and in turn would ultimately doom herself. Starlight doesn't like this at all.
  • Rage Breaking Point: After escaping the changeling future, Twilight stops trying to play nice and attacks Starlight repeatedly. This backfires several times, such as when Starlight nonchalantly dodges so that Twilight's spell hits Rainbow Dash instead.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Unlike the other seasons, instead of smashing Starlight with energy beams of friendship to get her to stand down and be good, Twilight ends up just talking down Starlight and helps set her on the right path. Yes, it's not exciting and it makes it almost anti-climatic, but in real life, this is the only way to help those this lost.
  • Rebel Leader: Zecora leads a forest-based resistance in the timeline where Chrysalis rules.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: The timeline where Tirek is victorious has a blood-red sky. Probably because he's putting everything on fire.
  • Regenerating Mana: Twilight's duel with Starlight in her last trip back through the time spell leaves her too exhausted to defend herself and Spike from timberwolves when they enter the timeline run by Nightmare Moon. By the time she leads Nightmare Moon to the Map, she's recovered enough to free Spike and activate the time travel spell.
  • Repressive, but Efficient: For all her personality flaws (starting with the whole eternal night thing), Nightmare Moon at least seems to be running Equestria as a functional society, unlike all the other villains.
  • La Résistance: Zecora, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy lead a resistance against Chrysalis and her changeling army. Chrysalis Lampshades this.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Starlight Glimmer sought revenge against the Mane Six, but the reason part doesn't occur to her until she learned the hard way what her vengeance would lead to.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Twilight lapses into this in the Nightmare Moon future when explaining that she needs to go back to the past to fix the present, possibly from spending time with Zecora in the previous timeline.
    Twilight Sparkle: I have to get back to the map so I can stop Starlight from changing the past,
    because every present I come to is worse than the last!
  • Rubber-Band History: Twilight eventually convinces Starlight to allow the pegasus race and the Rainboom to happen as they were supposed to. Once the proper timeline has been restored, a time rift pulls in and destroys the scroll with the time travel spell so nopony else would be able to use it.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: When Twilight misses Starlight with the Crystal Prison spell and hits Rainbow Dash instead, doing Starlight's job for her, the unicorn bursts into mocking applause with a smug look on her face.
  • Scenery Gorn: The final bad future that Twilight pulls Starlight into is nothing but a barren wasteland covered in dust and battered by winds.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • The future where Tirek rules has Twilight and Spike almost instantly running away. Not surprising, seeing as Tirek is mostly just stomping around destroying stuff.
    • In Discord's Timeline, Twilight decides to leave the moment a pie falls on her head, being too irritated at the time to deal with Discord, his chaos, and what he was doing to Celestia and Luna right in front of her eyes at that moment.
  • Sealed Evil in a Duel: Twilight tells Starlight that if they keep on fighting in the time loop, they could keep going for an eternity. Starlight, however, is willing to accept this if it means she gets her revenge. It's only when Twilight finally stops trying to fight with her and shows her the bad future that it winds up averted.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: Celestia in the universe where Nightmare Moon took over, having been put in her place in the moon.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Princess Twilight has to fight Starlight Glimmer and undo all the damage she has done to the past and restore the present.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: The last stand of the resistance in the changeling-dominated timeline is shown through their darkened silhouettes, with Zecora clashing against Chrysalis in the center.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: Twilight finally wins by giving up on trying to fight Starlight and just talking her down.
  • Shout-Out: Ponies that resemble Sailor Moon's Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Venus and Kunzite show up when Sunburst shows off his Cutie Mark. The trio are shown a lot clearer in the next episode.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When Chrysalis pretends to offer clemency, Zecora has this:
    Zecora: Even if what you are saying were true, we'd never surrender to a creature like you!
  • Simultaneous Arcs: With My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games. As this episode is taking place, the movie's events likewise are unfolding as well. It's the reason why Twilight isn't able to answer Sunset's call for help as she is too busy dealing with Starlight and hopping alternate timelines to do so. By the time she finally does get Sunset's message and goes into the human world, Sunset has already taken care of the problem.
  • Single-Issue Psychology: Starlight Glimmer's whole philosophy revolves around losing a friend as a child because of a cutie mark. Immediately after accepting Twilight's friendship, cue Starlight bursting into song.
  • Sixth Ranger: Starlight Glimmer becomes Twilight Sparkle's personal student so she can learn a lot more about Friendship, and gets welcomed as a potentialseventh member of the Mane Six.
  • Slasher Smile: Nightmare Moon sports quite the sinister smile in the timeline where she's ruling Equestria.
  • Slouch of Villainy: While not to the same extent as Starlight Glimmer in Part 1, Nightmare Moon can briefly be seen slouching in her throne.
  • Sudden Musical Ending: Starlight Glimmer (along with the Mane Six) sing a song at the end.
  • Suddenly Voiced: While the comics already established changelings sans Queen Chrysalis are able to speak, this is the first time they are shown doing so in the show (two of them spoke while impersonating Rarity and Rainbow Dash).
  • Sugar Apocalypse: This episode showcases even more possibilities than the war-torn Equestria from the previous episode, and each is worse than the last: under Queen Chrysalis, Equestrian society has retreated to the forests and is gripped by paranoia of changelings; Nightmare Moon brings about eternal night and has absolute reign over ponykind; Lord Tirek reduces everything around him to flaming rubble; Discord turns Ponyville upside-down and reduces Celestia and Luna to being his personal clowns to torture for eternity; the Flim Flam Brothers have industrialized everything; and finally, all life on Equestria is apparently wiped out.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Twilight Sparkle starts to show sympathy for Starlight Glimmer and apologizes to her for taking away her village and ruining her aspirations. It's what causes Starlight (in the midst of her breakdown) to show Twilight where her philosophy comes from.
  • Take a Third Option: Twilight can either give up trying to fix the future or keep up a seemingly endless battle with Starlight trying to set things right. Instead she grabs Starlight and pulls her to the Bad Future with her, shocking her enough to finally be able to get through to her.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: How Twilight ultimately has to stop Starlight; fighting her doesn't work so she has to convince her to undo the spell instead.
  • Teleport Spam: Once again, Twilight makes good use of her teleportation during dangerous situations, escaping from the changelings and from Nightmare Moon and her guards (along with Spike), or avoiding a direct shot from Starlight.
  • Tempting Fate: After Twilight's attempt to engage Starlight fails, causing her to inadvertently stopping the race, Starlight boasts that Twilight "can't stop her no matter what she does". As you may expect, she's wrong.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Starlight seems to have gotten much stronger since we last saw her, able to fight Twilight to a standstill with magic. She can even use her magic to levitate herself without apparent limit.
    • Zecora goes from a shaman to the leader of the resistance in the future where Chrysalis won.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The shot of Starlight ripping the scroll in the trailer spoils what happens in the climax, though it hides her Heel–Face Turn.
  • Transformation Sequence: Chrysalis shedding Applejack's appearance is done through a transformation, mirroring the first time she showed up under her true form in "A Canterlot Wedding – Part 2".
  • Tribal Face Paint: The resistance ponies in the Everfree Forest all wear green paint markings. Zecora shows up to put some of the same on Twilight and Spike, showing us its purpose (beyond camouflage): the green salve is magical and reveals changelings.
  • Unflinching Walk: Nightmare Moon casually walks in the Everfree forest when Twilight is leading her to the map, not breaking stride for a moment as she blasts the timberwolves with her magic (and carrying a chained-up Spike behind her as well).
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: By the end of the two-parter, the only past or alternate present character to verbally take note that Twilight is an alicorn is filly Rainbow Dash.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Starlight has no idea her alterations would have the catastrophic results they do, she just wants to have revenge on the Mane Six. When Twilight shows her, she doesn't take it well.
    • Sunburst apparently either ignored Starlight or was distracted by the town's celebration of him getting his Cutie Mark in magical talents, so he and Starlight didn't spend time together anymore, and shortly after this, his parents sent him to Canterlot for magic training, ensuring their close friendship ended in tragedy. This led to Starlight being afraid to form actual friendships and hating Cutie Marks for years and eventually creating a cult obsessed with the removal of Cutie Marks because she believed all they did was create conflict and separate people. Which also led to the series of events that nearly ended with Starlight changing Equestria's history for the worst.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Starlight is far less reserved here than she was in the season premiere, but she still maintains some of her egotism. Her breakdown kicks into high gear when Twilight shows her just how much her Time Travel is damaging Equestria, which eventually leads her to try and destroy Star Swirl's spell in a desperate attempt to prove Twilight wrong.
  • Villainous B.S.O.D.: Once the breakdown is complete, Starlight Glimmer is left guilt-ridden and solemn, not uttering a single word until she is brought into the throne room to meet the Mane Six.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: While the actual words aren't said, this is Twilight's intent of showing Starlight the Bad Future she created to try and convince her to stop. While she needs to be talked down, it's obvious from her reaction that no, it most certainly wasn't worth it.
  • We Win... Because You Didn't: Starlight doesn't have to beat Twilight in the past. She only has to be enough of a distraction that the Sonic Rainboom never happens. Twilight later turns the tables on Starlight when she pulls her into a Bad Future, forcing Starlight into a dilemma big enough that she is forced to give up. Twilight didn't need to beat Starlight at that point. She won because Starlight didn't choose to win.
  • Wham Line:
    • A twofer from the changelings' future:
      "Rainbow Dash": The changelings attacked Ponyville! We barely escaped with our lives!
      Zecora: The only changeling attack I see, is the one that came here looking for me!
      "Applejack": It's taken quite a while to find you... Zecora. [transforms into Queen Chrysalis]
    • From the third timeline:
      Spike: The other times we've come back it's been day, but look...
    • And afterward:
      Nightmare Moon: My sister has been imprisoned in the moon for years!
    • When Starlight has finally had enough of Twilight's friendship speeches and decides to show her exactly where her philosophy comes from:
      Starlight Glimmer: YOU WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO ME!? I'LL SHOW YOU!
    • And finally...
      Twilight Sparkle: And that's why I've asked you here. If you're willing to learn, I'm willing to teach you what I know. You'll have the power to make Equestria an even better place.
      Starlight Glimmer: ...How do I start?
      Twilight Sparkle: Starting is easy. All you have to do is make a friend, and you've got seven of them right here.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Applejack in the second timeline transforming into Queen Chrysalis.
    • The seventh and final Bad Future: A barren wasteland.
  • When She Smiles: We see Starlight give a genuine, happy smile at the end of the episode, and it's adorable.
  • Wing Ding Eyes: Starlight briefly sports white diamond shapes in her pupils in her song "Friends are Always There For You."
  • X Must Not Win: Played with. Even after seeing the Bad Future, Starlight is still furiously obsessed with destroying Twilight and even starts upon ripping the scroll to seal it as permanent. She finally backs down, but it takes a good while for her to be truly talked out of her quest for revenge.
  • "YEAH!" Shot: Starlight Glimmer, the Mane Six and Spike do this near the start of the final song.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: In the end, with her plans foiled once again, and her subsequent breakdown from witnessing the awful truth and giving up her misguided ideals, Starlight Glimmer is left utterly broken and stricken with guilt. Thankfully, the Mane Six decide to bring her in as a Sixth Ranger, with Twilight in particular seeing and stating Starlight's incredible potential, that Starlight supposedly doesn't see in herself.
  • You Are the New Trend: The tribal ponies in La Résistance from the Chrysalis timeline are wearing tribal paints made from a magical green salve. Its practical purpose is to reveal changelings. That most of them choose to pattern the markings like zebra stripes, on the other hand, is quite likely aiming at emulating their leader Zecora, showing the respect they have for her.
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good: Not said exactly, but this is pretty much the Mane Six's reasoning for making Starlight Glimmer Twilight's pupil and new member after her Heel–Face Turn. All of them are amazed by Starlight's ability, with Twilight Sparkle particularly noting that Starlight is one of the most magically talented ponies she has ever seen, with skill, power and knowledge rivaling her own. Even though Starlight had already turned over a new leaf at that point, she is still a lost soul with immense magical power and talent, an unhinged mind, no friends to turn to, and most troubling of all, she has No Social Skills, a very dangerous mixture.
  • Your Little Dismissive Diminutive: Used by Chrysalis revealing herself and taunting Zecora.
    Chrysalis: What a lovely village you've chosen to stage your little resistance.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Alternate Zecora and her forces delay Alternate Chrysalis so Twilight can Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
    Zecora: Race to the map while we hold off their attack. Stop Starlight and put the whole world back on track!

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