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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S9 E1 "The Beginning of the End – Part 1"

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Gather round my Herd of Doom! It's time for the final season!

"Long live the king."
King Sombra

Written by Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco

Twilight and her friends race to Canterlot, alarmed by an urgent summons from the Two Sisters. Thinking something is terribly amiss, they are surprised to learn that Celestia and Luna believe that because of all that Twilight and friends have done to protect Equestria, it is time for them to step down. Despite Discord's sudden appearance wondering if they want him to take over, Celestia says that they plan to transfer rule of Equestria to Twilight with her friends to help support her. However, it will take several days for them to complete the necessary procedures before they can give Twilight this authority. Back in Ponyville, Twilight is already panicking how she will be able to run an entire kingdom, but her friends, well aware of her "Twilighting" freak-outs, try to assure her that she'll do fine.

Elsewhere, Queen Chrysalis, Lord Tirek, and Cozy Glow are transported to an unknown place, and King Sombra is resurrected by a mysterious ritual. The four wonder why they are gathered before they meet the one that brought them there: Grogar, an ancient goat who once ruled Equestria with an iron hoof and who wants to do so again, though Twilight and her friends stand in his way. Grogar knows that they have all individually failed in their attempts to conquer Equestria, and proposes that they form an alliance and work together to defeat Twilight. Sombra refuses, believing he can beat them on his own this time. Grogar agrees to let him try and keep the Crystal Empire if he succeeds, though he stipulates that when he fails he will join Grogar's team and toe the line. Sombra declines the wager, with Grogar warning that with his refusal to join him, Grogar will leave him banished to the ether once he is defeated. Unswayed, Sombra travels to the Crystal Empire, quickly seizing the Crystal Heart and enslaving enough of the population to be able to seize the royal family.

Cadance is able to send a message off to Twilight before she is captured. Twilight wonders if she should tell the Princesses, but Discord asserts that this should be seen as her first true test of running Equestria. Twilight agrees, and after leaving Starlight and Spike to watch over Ponyville and the school, she and the Mane Six recover the Elements of Harmony from the Tree of Harmony, and quickly teleport to the Kingdom. After a brief spat, the Mane Six use the elements to seemingly defeat Sombra. However, after returning the Elements to the Tree of Harmony, black crystals destroy the Tree and shatter the Elements, Sombra having tricked them into thinking they'd won so that he could deprive them of their only means of defeating him. As Twilight and her friends watch in horror, Sombra lets out a triumphant laugh.


*cue happy music*

Continued in "The Beginning of the End – Part 2".


  • Abdicate the Throne: Celestia and Luna plan on stepping down in favor of Twilight and company.
  • Ancient Evil: Grogar was seen as a figure of myth and legend at least 1000 years ago, making him ancient even by the show's standards. He ruled Equestria well before it was even called Equestria.
  • Back from the Dead: King Sombra has been resurrected by Grogar as part of his plan to conquer Equestria.
  • Badass Adorable: Flurry Heart refuses to put up with Sombra at all during his short rule over the Crystal Empire. She bites at him when he holds her hostage, refuses to bow to him, and blasts at him several times.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Tirek, Chrysalis and Cozy Glow wonder who summoned them, King Sombra dramatically appears, with the same shadowy smoke effect seen when they were all teleported, making it seem like Sombra summoned them. This notion is quickly proven wrong when Grogar makes a much more practical entrance and announces that he was the one who summoned them all, including Sombra.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Grogar's extreme powers (which took him millennia to regain after he was de-powered) are established before he even appears on screen with feats that Chrysalis immediately acknowledges would take immense power, namely summoning prisoners out of Tartarus.
  • Bicep Kiss: After eating some of Grogar's magic and recovering his muscular, red-skinned form, Tirek shortly kisses his bicep as celebration.
  • Big "NO!": Sombra invokes this when Cadance reclaims the Crystal Heart.
  • Book Ends: In the first episode, Twilight and her friends receive the Elements of Harmony and use them for the first time to defeat Nightmare Moon. Here, they use the Elements for the last time before Sombra destroys them.
  • The Bus Came Back:
  • The Cameo:
    • Upper Crust is seen during the Cold Open when the Mane Six and Spike run past her.
    • Cerberus makes a small appearance guarding Tirek and Cozy Glow in Tartarus before Grogar teleports them away.
  • Characterization Marches On: In his vastly expanded screentime, King Sombra is characterized as being more pompous and self-indulgent than he was in "The Crystal Empire", where he was more creepy and far less talkative.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: When her friends are reminding Twilight of all the challenges they surmounted, they mention lots of past villains.
    Pinkie Pie: Like when Sombra almost took back the Crystal Empire, or when Chrysalis pretended to be Cadance, or when Tirek came back and absorbed all the magic, or the other time Chrysalis tried to take over, or with Cozy Glow and the school! [inhales] Am I missing anything?
    Rarity: Pony of Shadows.
    Spike: Starlight when she was evil.
    Fluttershy: Discord when he was evil.
    Applejack: Do Flim and Flam count?
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Friendship Journal is mentioned by Luna.
    • When Sombra attacks the Crystal Empire, he evades the charge of some Crystal Guards by raising himself up on a crystal spire, as he did in his Bad Future in "The Cutie Re-Mark - Part 1". The helmets he uses to brainwash them also look exactly like the ones he used in that timeline.
    • During Twilight's Sombra-induced nightmare, both Daybreaker and Nightmare Moon make a cameo.
    • Grogar's magic eye crystal appears to be the same as the eye of the Arimaspi (another ram/goat-like creature) from "The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone".
    • Celestia making Twilight her successor is a nod back to Equestria Girls when she wonders if someday Celestia will have her rule a kingdom of her own.
    • Grogar was previously mentioned in "A Flurry of Emotions", as part of a story Twilight was reading to sick foals.
  • Cower Power: Cozy Glow has a habit of hiding behind Tirek whenever she's scared.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Sombra is easily vanquished using the Elements of Harmony, with Pinkie Pie and Applejack even noting how easiy it was to defeat him. However, this turns out to have been a ruse on Sombra's part in order to trick the Mane Six into revealing the location of the Tree of Harmony.
  • End-of-Series Awareness: The episode title itself alludes to the fact that this is the start of the final season.
  • The End of the Beginning: It's right there in the title; it's the beginning of the end of the era of the Royal Sisters, before Twilight becomes their successor.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Even Discord is surprised when Celestia announces that she and Luna will pass the reigns of power to Twilight and her friends in only a few days time.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The villains' explanations for their defeats—Chrysalis says it's because the Mane Six cheated, Tirek says it's because they were lucky, and Cozy Glow says it's because she's just a kid—indicates what little they understand about The Power of Friendship. Averted with Grogar, who sees the ponies' unity as a strength that the villains should adopt.
  • Exact Words: Princess Luna claims "Equestria is currently enjoying its longest period of harmony in recent years." The obvious assumption is that this is just a series-appropriate and eloquent way to say things are peaceful, which would be...questionable. But while "harmony" could refer to peace, it can also mean "a pleasing arrangement of parts" or "an interweaving of different accounts into a single narrative," which does fit the result of the events of the series. Not only does Equestria have more allies than ever, but their bonds with said allies are stronger than ever, to the point that they can be safely called friends. So many nations and species united as friends? If that isn't harmonious, nothing is.
  • Face Palm: Starlight facehoofs after her "valiant effort" to pep-talk Twilight just ends in yet another Hyperventilation Bag moment.
  • Face Your Fears: How Twilight manages to break out of Sombra's fear magic with the Elements:
    Twilight: We didn't need to defeat [our fears], we just needed to face them long enough to distract you!
  • Fade Around the Eyes: Done by Sombra as he sits on the throne after taking over the Crystal Empire.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the beginning, Twilight worriedly muses that the princesses summoned her to the castle because "an evil creature is out for revenge", which perfectly describes Sombra.
    • Later, Pinkie mentions the names of Sombra, Chrysalis, Tirek, and Cozy Glow when discussing the enemies that the Mane Six have defeated on their own. Those four antagonists would later form a Legion of Doom with Grogar.
    • Grogar being the only villain present to understand the value of teamwork and the power of friendship, we'll find out why in the last few episodes. Also, note that he first shows up just after the scene of Celestia and Luna announcing their retirement.
    • When Sombra is hit with the Elements, he appears to vanish into wisps of smoke rather than disintegrate, which hints he's Not Quite Dead.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Twilight and Rarity somehow don't use their magic to at least try to telekinetically catch the Elements from falling before they break on the ground.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Of the villains, Cozy Glow is seen as annoying by both Tirek and Chrysalis, though they struggle to get along with each other as well.
  • Geometric Magic: Grogar revives Sombra by drawing a magical symbol onto the ground.
  • Glowing Eyes: Twilight and her friends get these when the Elements free them from Sombra's Mind Control.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: The Mane Six get glowing green eyes with Magical Eye Streamers when Sombra curses them with fear magic. When the Elements release them from his control, the glow turns white and don't stream.
  • Hope Spot: The Mane Six hear of Sombra's return, get the Elements, instantly head to the Crystal Empire and take him down with no problem. All seems well and they return the Elements to the tree... only for Sombra to reveal he was faking his defeat and followed the girls back to the tree to destroy it and the Elements!
  • Hyperventilation Bag: Twilight spirals into a heated frenzy several times in the episode, prompting her to bring out a brown bag so she can breathe.
  • Hypno Trinket: The helmets worn by King Sombra's soldiers, first seen in "The Cutie Re-Mark – Part 1", make a return. Their mind-controlling function, which was only implied in said episode, is much more obvious here.
  • Hypnotize the Captive: Sombra briefly entrances Twilight but she finds the courage to break out of it.
  • I Can Rule Alone: Sombra says nuts to Grogar's Villain Team-Up in favor of taking a swing at the Crystal Empire by himself.
  • I Know What You Fear: Sombra boasts this, using his mind manipulation magic to show Twilight a vision of her friends being brainwashed into his slaves, and of Celestia and Luna being corrupted into Daybreaker and Nightmare Moon.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Celestia and Luna tell Twilight they have the utmost confidence in her and that she has the same in herself... without even acknowledging the fact that she is hyperventilating from stress.
  • Insistent Terminology: Tirek insists on being called "Lord Tirek", and corrects Cozy Glow when she just calls him "Tirek". When Chrysalis addresses him as "Lord Tirek", he replies "See? She gets it."
  • Ironic Echo: "It's cute that you think it'll do anything." Said once by Sombra toward the imprisoned Cadance, Shining Armor, and Flurry Heart when they try to escape. Mockingly repeated by Shining Armor towards Sombra when he tries to stop Cadance from leaving with the Crystal Heart.
  • It's All About Me: When Grogar explains to the other villains he has gathered them together so they will rid Equestria of Twilight and her friends and rule it together, Sombra immediately speaks up saying he doesn't do "ours", just "mine".
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Discord is technically correct in pointing out that using the Elements of Harmony to stop Sombra doesn't count as the Mane Six doing it themselves (and also that they defeated him before without them). He's also not wrong about calling out the same predictable process that happens every time Twilight has one of her panic attacks; her friends comfort her, saying everything is going to be fine and she doesn't believe them.
  • Kneel Before Zod: After Sombra conquers the Crystal Empire, he puts Shining Armor, Cadance, and Flurry Heart in chains and orders them to kneel before him, with his tone of voice when he says the line even sounding like a direct reference to the trope namer. Shining and Cadance comply, Flurry doesn’t.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • Twilight's friends point out how things go whenever Twilight gets stressed. They've even coined the verb "twilighting" to account for it.
      Applejack: We just know you have a... process.
      Rainbow Dash: Stage one — you get big news and you're like "Nooooo!", but then you pace, and you chart, you worry...
    • When Twilight worries about what would happen if something bad happened if the princesses were gone, Rainbow comments that Luna and Celestia have never really helped out with many of the large threats to Equestria in the past.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The excuses that Chrysalis and Tirek offer for their failures sound suspiciously like complaints about dei ex machina.
  • Legion of Doom: Grogar has gathered multiple villains together — Chrysalis, Tirek, Cozy Glow, and Sombra — with the intent to rid Equestria of Twilight and her friends. However, Sombra immediately opts out in favor of conquering Equestria by himself.
  • Literal-Minded: When hearing that defeating Sombra was a "cakewalk", Pinkie begins moonwalking with a cake on each of her back hooves.
  • Mama Bear: After Sombra captures her family and threatens her husband and daughter, Cadance restores the Crystal Heart after being freed from his prison before immediately returning to the throne room with a livid expression and posture, looking for any sign of him.
  • The Man Behind the Monsters: Grogar is mentioned to have created a number of beasts and monsters and let them loose on Equestria. It earned him the title "The Father of Monsters."
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": All the Mane Six have one when the Tree of Harmony and the Elements are destroyed by a Not-Quite-Dead Sombra.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Those who are under Sombra's control will have a pale green glow in their eyes.
  • Mythology Gag: Grogar is a villain from the original G1 television series, and similarly there, he is a blue ram/goat-like creature with large spiraling horns. He hasn't been seen since his 1987 defeat at Megan William's hands in Ponyland's Dream Valley. This Grogar mentions how some thought his power was in the bells he wore around his neck, which directly references how G1's Grogar was able to use magic. It is interesting to note that while G4 Grogar is a necromancer, G1 Grogar was only rumored to have been so.
  • Never My Fault: When Grogar asks the villains why the Mane Six always defeat them, Chrysalis claims it is because they "cheat", while Tirek claims they got "annoyingly lucky". Neither one acknowledges their own mistakes.
  • Never Say "Die": Rarity says that last time they faced Sombra he was "dispelled into the ether", instead of simply saying he was killed. Also, Grogar tells Sombra that if he doesn't submit to him when his plan fails, he will "return (him) to the darkness from which (he was) summoned."
  • No-Sell:
    • Flurry Heart's magic blasts are blocked with no effort by King Sombra.
    • The Elements of Harmony allow the Mane Six to break out of Sombra's fear spell at will.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Apart from Celestia and Luna planning to step down and have Twilight and her friends rule over Equestria, the Tree of Harmony and the Elements are destroyed.
  • Not Quite Dead: As it turns out, Sombra wasn't destroyed when the Mane Six defeated him in the Crystal Empire, and his essence followed them back to the source of their power so he can destroy it.
  • Obsessed Are the Listmakers: The stress of impending rule leads Twilight to create list after list.
    Twilight Sparkle: Did I write down "eliminate redundant lists" on my School of Friendship to-do list or my personal to-do list?
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Grogar flat out says to the other villains that he does not "suggest" they team up, he demands it.
  • Passing the Torch:
    • Celestia and Luna plan to retire from ruling and make the Mane Six the new rulers of Equestria.
    • Likewise, Twilight decides to appoint Starlight as her replacement in the School and Castle once she officially replaces Celestia and Luna.
  • Person as Verb:
    • Twilight's friends have all gotten so used to Twilight's Freak Out process that they've attributed it to a verb, as Twilight lampshades:
      Pinkie Pie: Classic "Twilighting".
      Twilight Sparkle: "Twilighting"? You... you made me a verb?
    • Also later on when Starlight sees Twilight having made lists upon lists:
      Starlight Glimmer: Wow, you are "Twilighting" hard.
      Twilight Sparkle: You say "Twilighting" too?!
  • Pet the Dog: As a show of good faith, Grogar gives Tirek some energy to restore the muscular form rather than just smack him around into compliance.
  • Real After All: It is revealed that Grogar is real, and not just a character made up as a storybook legend in "A Flurry of Emotions".
  • Red Baron: Grogar once bore the infamous title "The Father of Monsters."
  • Reverse Psychology: When Twilight decides to leave Starlight in charge of the School of Friendship and Friendship Castle permanently, Starlight pretends to freak out and be overwhelmed, claiming she is not ready so Twilight will calm her and assure her she can handle the responsibility. Starlight immediately says Twilight just said what she herself needed to hear, but it fails because Twilight says running a school is completely different from running an entire country.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Chrysalis' mental stability hasn't fared well, as the episode reintroduces her ranting angrily to a stump with a carving of a unreformed changeling's face in it, pausing to make weird faces as a sign of how out-to-lunch she is.
    • While not as severe as Chrysalis, Twilight spirals into insanity trying to prepare herself to ascend the throne with her friends.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After lampshading how Twilight's stressing out is so "predictable", Discord decides to depart from the scene.
    Discord: I don't need to be here for this.
  • Secret Test of Character: All the lessons Twilight and her friends learned over the years are revealed to be a training program to see if they can become Celestia and Luna's successors.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • The Mane Six point out among themselves that Princess Celestia and Luna have usually done nearly nothing to help save the world the last N times it was at stake, a common observation made by brony fans of the show (albeit Celestia explains that doing so much on their own was "training" so the Mane Six could eventually take over).
    • When the villains Grogar assembles are giving excuses as to the reasons for the Mane Six defeating them, Cozy Glow's response is to blame it on her being "just a kid".
  • Shoulder Teammate: Cozy Glow tries to invoke this by sitting on Tirek's shoulder, but the centaur just flicks her away like an annoying bug.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Crystal Ball prominently used by Grogar looks very similar to a Palantír from The Lord of the Rings — although the pupil seen in it is horizontal (like a goat's) instead of the vertical "Eye of Sauron" as commonly portrayed, notably in the movies.
    • Grogar's Legion of Doom is based in a skull-shaped structure in a swamp. The actual Legion of Doom from Challenge of the Superfriends was famously based in a skull-shaped swamp base.
    • When Applejack mentions "cakewalk", Pinkie sticks cakes on her hind legs and begins dancing Michael Jackson-style.
  • Stealth Pun: As the only one of the four villains who doesn't recognize Grogar, Cozy Glow says his name doesn't ring any bells. Not only was Grogar's source of power in the past a mystical bell, but even before he mentions this, many fans who had anticipated a G4 Grogar would remember the significance of his G1 counterpart's bell.
  • Suddenly Voiced: After spending the previous seasons gurgling, Flurry Heart says her first proper word while in King Sombra's clutches.
    Flurry Heart: Mama!
  • Tally Marks on the Prison Wall: Tirek has been marking the days spent trapped in Tartarus on the floor of his cage.
  • Team Hand-Stack: After learning that the Princesses are retiring, Pinkie Pie initiates a hoof-stack by urging her friends to put their hooves together (and Spike his claw) in order to reassure Twilight that they're all on board. After a short hesitancy, Twilight joins them.
  • Tele-Frag: When Twilight's friends gather in the map room to discuss Sombra's return, Discord teleports right in the center of the group, knocking them all to the ground.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Spike states that there hasn't been a single villain the Mane Six couldn't defeat. Immediately after this, several villains are gathered together by Grogar, in hopes of defeating the Mane Six by working together.
    • Just after Sombra says, "Nothing can defeat your own fears!", Twilight's Element activates and releases her from Sombra's mind control, replacing the mind-controlling green glow in her eyes with the white glow whenever the Elements are in use, and it does the same for her friends.
  • This Is the Part Where...: Discord points out what usually happens whenever Twilight starts to Freak Out.
    Discord: This is all so predictable. Now's the part where you all tell little Sparkle here that everything is going to be fine, but she won't believe you.
  • Time Abyss: Grogar is so old that even Tirek, who first threatened Equestria a thousand years ago, had heard stories about him and his past reign when he was a child, which Cozy Glow lampshades when pointing out how it took Grogar thousands of years to recover after his bell was stolen from him by Gusty.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Early previews revealed Sombra's return, the Tree of Harmony and the Elements getting destroyed, and Celestia and Luna's plan to retire.
  • Trash the Set: The Tree of Harmony gets destroyed by a giant crystal courtesy of King Sombra's dark magic, along with the Elements.
  • Understatement: Telling his backstory, Grogar mentions that Gusty the Great taking his magic bell from him has only weakened him "temporarily". As Cozy Glow then points out...
    Cozy Glow: Um, Tirek is really old[to Tirek] no offense, you look great — [to Grogar] but if he knew about you when he was young, we have super different ideas about what "temporarily" means.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: King Sombra. He shows no gratitude toward Grogar for bringing him back from oblivion, and scorns his suggestion of an alliance.
  • Villain Team-Up: Grogar's plan involves recruiting Queen Chrysalis, King Sombra, Tirek, and Cozy Glow to do together what they couldn't individually: defeat the Mane Six and conquer Equestria. When Sombra refuses, Grogar gives him the chance to retake the Crystal Empire solo, but says that when — not if — he fails, he will toe the line. Sombra agrees to these terms — only to go back on his word and attempt a solo take-over of all Equestria after failing with the Crystal Empire.
  • Visual Pun: Rarity saying defeating Sombra was a cakewalk spurs Pinkie Pie into doing a moonwalk with cakes on her hind hooves.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Owing to having a different voice actor, Sombra's voice is no longer the sibilant baritone he sported in his debut episodes. He's also much more vocal than he was in his first appearance.
  • The Watson: Cozy Glow is the only villain with no prior knowledge of Grogar, which gives them an excuse to tell her, and us, about him.
  • We Can Rule Together: When Grogar demands the other villains join him in his plans to defeat Twilight and her friends he claims that Equestria will be "theirs". Sombra however still refuses to work with anyone, stating he only does "mine".
  • Wham Line:
  • Wham Shot:
    • Sombra's essence appearing over the Tree of Harmony, which points out he's not really defeated.
    • The Tree of Harmony and the Elements getting destroyed by Sombra's dark magic, for those who weren't spoiled by the trailers.
  • Written-In Absence: The Young Six and the rest of the School of Friendship students don't appear, due to the school being (as Starlight points out) closed for summer.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Grogar lets Sombra leave because he'll benefit no matter what happens. Sombra succeeds in his solo effort? "Grogar" can simply dispose of Sombra. Sombra loses? He has to submit to Grogar's command. Sombra gets himself killed again? Grogar has the perfect example for why the remaining villains had better do as he says.


Video Example(s):


Grogar's Introduction

After being gathered together, the remaining villains of Equestria find themselves before the legendary Father of Monsters, Grogar, the ram sorcerer.

How well does it match the trope?

4.25 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / GruesomeGoat

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