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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S9 E13 "Between Dark and Dawn"

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Written by Gail Simone

Twilight and her friends work together to stop a giant tortoise that is eating the trees at Sweet Apple Acres. Applejack and Pinkie distract it long enough for Rainbow to fly Rarity into its face and tie a bow around its beak. Fluttershy gives the creature, seemingly named Mr. Tortoise-Snap, the Stare, calming it down and allowing Twilight to catch Spike, who had been caught up in the feeding frenzy. Just then, Princesses Celestia and Luna arrive, announcing they will save the day. They use their magic to send Mr. Tortoise-Snap off to other parts, but Twilight and her friends are confused. Over the next few days, the Princesses continue to intervene even when their help is not needed, and potentially overdoing their help.

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The sisters reveal that they felt the need to get involved in saving Equestria as they get close to retirement, but Twilight explains they're overdoing it. Celestia and Luna agree to go on a vacation together as a way to spend their excess energy without the pressures of leadership. It would also be a good way for Twilight to practice for when they actually retire. Luna looks to relax, while Celestia is eager to see the world. They compromise and make a list of all their vacation plans, going back and forth between activities that the other wants to do.

On the day they set out, Celestia gives Twilight a magical device that will help her to control the sun and moon, as well as a list of their duties. The Princesses set off, and initially their travels are fun, but soon start to wear on each other. Luna gets tired of Celestia's unending excitement, while Celestia quickly bores of Luna's plans. It comes to a point where they start to argue over what to do next, and they both agree to travel alone for the rest of the trip. Soon enough, Celestia and Luna realize they really wanted the companionship of their sister.

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Meanwhile in Canterlot, Twilight and her friends struggle more with the duties left for them. These include arranging the Royal Swanifying Ceremony for the swans that live in the castle's moat. The problems with arranging this start to surmount rapidly; they have to decorate the palace and prepare for the celebration feast, keep the swans calm, and deal with striking trash removal ponies that have left piles of waste to build up on the streets. The problems start to overwhelm the Mane Six when Fancy Pants speaks up, giving them all advice to just calm down and to try to delegate the problems rather than fixing it all herself, something he observed the Princesses did. Together, they manage to deal with all the problems, including Pinkie bringing the giant tortoise to Canterlot to eat the trash, giving Twilight confidence she needed.

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Celestia and Luna re-encounter each other and go to have a talk. Both know they really like spending time with each other, but also know their interests are different. They quickly reconcile and look out onto the night sky. Suddenly, the sun rises — and then the sun and moon start a strange dance. In Canterlot, Twilight has wrongly manipulated the magical device and in her haste to correct things, breaks it. Celestia and Luna realize they need to get back and fly off towards Canterlot.


Tropes:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: At least for Celestia. Several gags involve the ponies Celestia passes reacting to her presence. One pegasus faints mid-flight at seeing Celestia, another backs up out of the post office line, and when Celestia falls asleep on a mare while waiting on Luna at a museum, the mare happily takes a selfie of herself and the sleeping princess.
  • Absurd Phobia: Celestia — the centuries-old monarch who has faced Discord, King Sombra, Lord Tirek, and Nightmare Moon — is afraid of chickens. When one approaches Celestia in a forest, she scrambles up a tree in terror, shivering and clutching onto a branch. Apparently, Luna normally chases them off.
  • Adorkable: Celestia and Luna are on fine form this episode, cheering about their "heroic" deeds, and being very excited about their vacation.
  • An Aesop: Just because you have your differences with your loved ones doesn't mean you don't care about each other. Sometimes people might need to do their own thing, but you can still appreciate them.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Twilight learned (from Celestia herself, mind you) that leaders shouldn't be afraid to ask for help earlier this very season.
    • The sisters have forgotten what they originally fought over: playing in the day and resting at night. Worse still, they traded places fairly recently so have also forgotten empathy for each other.
  • American Gothic Couple: One of the works of art in a museum Luna is at clearly based on American Gothic, but we can only see the farmer, being Igneous Rock; it can be reasonable safe to assume the other is Cloudy Quartz.
  • Artistic License – Biology: While creatures covered in fur can get sunburns, Luna's are shown in a way that makes it look like her fur is her skin. The burns end up being severe enough to require a trip to the hospital.
  • Big Entrance: During the Cold Open, Celestia and Luna make their appearance by loudly announcing their presence, the sun right behind them. Later, they enter the Cake's bakery by smashing through the door.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Celestia explains that she wants excitement in her vacation because her usual day is filled with "meeting and decrees, and meetings about decrees, and decrees about the meetings".
  • Call-Back: Celestia and Luna mention their soon-to-be retirement before Twilight becomes their successor, as mentioned in the two-part season opener. They chose to delay it to give Twilight time before she's ready.
  • The Cameo:
    • Capper makes a brief appearance during "Lotta Little Things", his first time represented in show. This is also the first time a character from the 2017 movie is shown in the series outside of a flashback and an illusion.
    • Silverstream also briefly appears, flying alongside another Hippogriff.
    • The ponysona of Nicole Dubuc, who has written previous episodes, can be seen behind Celestia when she's preparing to take a photo of Luna during the first montage of "Lotta Little Things".
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The giant tortoise in the Cold Opening becomes useful clearing trash in the third act.
  • Cool Big Sis: As Celestia and Luna reconcile, Luna admits she has appreciated what Celestia has done for her when they were fillies and appreciates her wisdom as the older sibling.
  • Continuity Cavalcade:
    • While traveling, Celestia and Luna pass a lot of familiar faces from past episodes, including Discord, the Smooze, Flim and Flam, Gilda, Gabby, Garble, Ember, the Wonderbolts, Trixie, Jack Pot, and Capper from the 2017 movie.
    • Among other things Celestia convinces Luna to do is ride one of the roller coasters in Las Pegasus, the one Rainbow Dash wanted to ride in "Grannies Gone Wild". Other previous locations also appear in their travels, including Manehatten, Neighagra Falls, and Yakyakistan.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • A Day in the Limelight: The A-plot primarily deals with Princess Celestia and Luna, and on their relationship, without a mediator. It's only when the princesses realize Twilight and the others are having difficulty that they head back home.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Luna's reaction to getting devoured by an unexplored cavern that is apparently actually some kind of gigantic monster.
    Celestia: Did you know that nopony has ever explored the bottom of these caverns?
    [the cavern shakes, roars, and begins to snap shut]
    Luna: I wonder why?
  • Does Not Like Spam: During the sisters' argument, Luna can be seen removing the pickles from her sandwich.
  • Funny Background Event: At several points, background ponies freak out when they see the princesses.
  • Furry Reminder: When Celestia is reminded of Luna during her sky-diving session, she lets out an annoyed horse nicker.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: During a stop in Manehattan, Celestia gathers together enough stuffed toys to cover her whole body, save her face, and cuddles with them.
  • Good-Times Montage: The first refrain of the song acts like this, with Celestia and Luna excited to go on their trip. However, as the sisters' activities begin to wear on each other, it gradually gets less fun for the both of them. A refrain of the song shows that the times aren't good at all anymore.
  • Happy Dance: Both Luna and Celestia break into a happy-hoof dance when they get excited.
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Luna declares she knows of the perfect outfits for the sisters' trip... brightly colored flowery shirts. Celestia's strained smile upon seeing them betrays she's not that thrilled by the prospect.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Twilight doesn't quite know how to use the medallion that controls the sun and the moon. She manages for a while, but by the end of the episode the sun and moon randomly dart across the sky.
  • Instant Home Delivery: Luna wants to send a postcard to Celestia, even though Celestia is right next to her. After stamping the postcard, a mailpony delivers it to Celestia in only a few seconds.
  • Irony: As Rainbow Dash points out, the Royal Sisters went from barely helping with major problems to stepping in to handle small problems.
  • Jerkass Ball: It's very, very minor, but Fancy Pants is a bit ruder and snootier than usual, given that he was introduced as a more sensible high society pony who didn't mind more common things, and rudely comments on Rarity's choice of decor. In his defense it's apparently a pretty big event he usually organizes that the Mane 6 clumsily kept him out of, and he still basically just gently tells them they aren't expected to do all of this alone.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While he didn't take having his offer of help refused very well, Fancy Pants was right that the Princesses don't do everything themselves, and delegate tasks to other.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Spike suggests that the princesses' sudden eagerness to help is just a one-time thing for the week that'll never happen again.
  • The Millstone: Celestia and Luna end up causing more problems than they solve when trying to help out around Equestria. The two of them blast away trees in the Everfree Forest to lead Rainbow Dash and the Crusaders to a camp, and break a wall of Sugarcube Corner when they want to bake something. The vacation is prompted by Celestia and Luna trying to work out their energy without causing any more trouble.
  • Multipurpose Tongue: Mr. Tortoise-Snap possess a long tongue with which he can grab objects. It's coated in sticky saliva and strong enough to uproot a full-grown tree before bringing it to the ravenous beast's beak.
  • Mundane Object Amazement: Luna has always wanted to send a postcard at the post office but has never been able to do so before due to her duties at night.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: At the end of the episode's second act, Celestia and Luna get on each other's nerves so badly that they start yelling at each other. They decide to go on their own vacations, but each of them eventually begins to miss her sister.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • The sisters choices of how to spend their vacation are rooted in their usual duties. Celestia usually handles nothing but boring "real life" stuff, so she wants adventure and excitement. Meanwhile, Luna often has to deal with the intense dreams of others, so she just wants peace and relaxation.
    • Luna goes for a relaxing day on the beach without Celestia. Not knowing she needs to apply sunblock (since she spends little time in the sun compared to most ponies), Luna ends up getting sunburned.
    • While skydiving, Celestia monologues to her instructor, who can't hear a word Celestia's saying.
    • As speculated by many fans, the lack of any experience in the field of politics and bureaucracy among the Mane Six except for Twilight means that the day was nothing short of a complete disaster until the last minute.
    • Rulers cannot handle every aspect of a country alone without burning out. Delegation, as long as it is not overdone, isn't a sign of weakness or laziness. It's part of the job.
  • The Reveal: Downplayed. You can briefly see Grogar's lair on Celestia's map, proving that it is indeed in Equestria, but not specifying where in Equestria.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Celestia's the red, wanting to do activities on vacation that are thrilling and exciting. Luna's the blue, looking to more relaxing and contemplative events. The clash of what they want to do sets up the third act.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Celestia and Luna try to be this, wanting to be involved with Equestria more before retiring. Unfortunately, they end up getting involved when their help isn't necessary, and make a few things worse instead of better. Also Lampshaded in that the Princesses directly comment on their lack of being involved in the past with major events, but after fighting the Everfree Forest alongside Star Swirl, they gained a new sense of purpose.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • Celestia and Luna are seen riding the Wild Blue Yonder roller coaster in Las Pegasus. The ride was said to have closed for good after "Grannies Gone Wild".
    • Nurse Sweetheart is a unicorn in this episode. In all her previous appearance, she was an earth pony.
  • Shaped Like Itself: While lamenting her daily routine, Celestia talks about "Meetings and decrees and meetings about decrees and decrees about the meetings...".
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mr. Tortoise-Snap resembles the Pokémon Torterra.
    • The play that the royal sisters watch appears to be a ponified version of Wicked.
    • One of the hats at the souvenir stand of the zip-line is a green version of Dipper's hat.
    • The "cavern" the sisters explore has razor-sharp teeth at the edges, not unlike the Sarlaac.
    • Luna mentions watching the play "Ponygliacci", a reference to the real-life play Pagliacci.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Swans are shown in their full aggressive glory just like in Real Life unlike most kids shows where they are usually portrayed as nice animals.
    • While showing it as simple red marks over Luna's fur color is a bit of Artistic License, it is quite true that horses and other creatures with fur can get sunburned as fur only offers them partial protection.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Celestia and Luna have different idea on what to do on vacation. Celestia wants to do exciting and thrilling activities while Luna prefers to simply relax and do quiet activities.
  • There Was a Door: Celestia and Luna could've went through the door to Sugarcube Corner like anypony else, but they instead decide to destroy the entire doorway.
  • Thrill Seeker: Both Celestia and Luna are this at first, wanting to do more to help Equestria and go around solving various "problems" in the most over the top way possible. Once they go on vacation, Celestia wants to do exciting activities like zip-lining and going over Neighagra Falls in a barrel while all Luna wants to do is relax as her work is normally dealing with intense scenarios in dreams.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: After being nearly eaten by Mr. Tortoise-Snap and covered in saliva, Spike is briefly seen curled in the fetal position and rocking back and forth on his tail.
  • Turtle Power: Mr. Tortoise-Snap is large enough to have several trees and hillocks on top of his shell, and can eat a whole apple tree after uprooting it with its prehensile tongue.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Celestia and Luna try to help Equestria outside of the throne room by solving various "problems" in Ponyville, despite most of them being pretty simple or at least things the Mane Six could handle on their own. This is lampshaped by Rainbow when the princesses "help" them in the Cold Opening after they pretty much have it taken care of.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Celestia is shown to be terrified of chickens.

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