My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Season 2, Episodes 24 & 25
Season 2, Episode 25: "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1"
The Mane Six are having a perfectly lovely picnic when Spike arrives just in time to belch up a letter from Princess Celestia. Seems there's a wedding coming up in Canterlot, and Celestia wants them to provide the music (Fluttershy's songbirds), reception hosting (Pinkie Pie), reception catering (Applejack), a sonic rainboom for extra pizzazz (Rainbow Dash), designer dresses for the bridal party (Rarity), and overall overseeing (Twilight Sparkle).
Which is exciting, but it's a little vague on who is getting married.
Oh, Spike has that letter, too. Seems the actually-getting-married couple is one Princess Mi Amore Cadenza and one Shining Armor ... hey, that's Twilight Sparkle's brother! Twilight is extremely miffed that Shining Armor did not tell her personally, or at least before she received the boilerplate wedding invitation.
Also, we get a new pony swear word as Twilight rants about her brother's mysterious bride.
Twilight explains in a singing flashback that Shining Armor was her Big Brother Best Friend Forever, the only real friend she had before being sent to Ponyville to learn about Friendship -- indeed, we now see that Shining Armor bid her adieu the day she left for Ponyville in "Friendship Is Magic, Part 1."
It's worth nothing that Shining Armor is the Captain of Canterlot's Royal Guard. Unicorns have always been at the top of the social ladder, and while I don't doubt that Equestria under Celestia's reign is ultimately a meritocracy, this hints at just how deep Twilight Sparkle's privilege runs.
All the while, nobody comments on the fact that off in the distance, Canterlot has what sure looks like a force field around it, especially since we've seen them in the last two episodes. Nor do they see it as they get closer to Canterlot on the Friendship Express, other than feeling something weird when they pass through it.
Twilight, for one, is too busy being angry about her brother to pay attention to such things.
When they get off the train, they don't notice the very visible, sparkly force field around them, but they definitely notice that Canterlot appears to be under martial law.
Also noticing things is Princess Celestia, high up in a tower guarding the day. It's what she does, except that she's never done it before this episode, at least judging by how often we see her doing other, mostly bureaucratic things during the day.
Twilight Sparkle finds Shining Armor and chews him out. Rather than apologizing, he begs off, saying he's busy with increased security due to a threat against Canterlot.
His primary duty is providing the force field.
Wait, what force field? Shining Armors shoots a bolt of energy from his horn, and ...
Oh, that force field! Twilight Sparkle now sees it because -- and this is just my theory -- the dialogue had long since been recorded by the time the decision was made to make the force field constantly visible (and it was a very good decision, helping to creating a mood of unease). It's a common hazard when there's a lag time between principal photography/recording and doing the visual effects, and I'm guessing there was a longer lag than usual, given how effects-heavy the episode is.
Twilight accepts Shining's non-apology, especially since he wants her to be his Best Mare. Sold Equestrian! But she's still unhappy, even ticked, that she doesn't know his fiancée.
Or does she? Mi Amore Cadenza is multi-syllabic for Cadance. Oh! Cadance! Twilight's old foalsitter!
In a non-singing flashback, we see that Cadance is indeed sweet and kind, and since she's royalty she has a horn and wings, just like Celestia and Luna. Again, just how high up the social ladder is Twilight's family (even by Canterlot unicorn standards) to have royalty as a babysitter?
Oh, and she can spread love with her horn, the practical application of which is causing bickering couples to make up.
As we may recall, magically-induced love was shown to be dangerous in "Lesson Zero" and "Hearts and Hooves Day," and I was quite grumpy about the contradiction when I recapped those episodes. But this is a setup that pays off in "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 2," and more importantly, this is not a normal episode, so the normal rules do not apply. Besides, I've been a Star Trek fan ever since I was a child in the late 1970s, so I have decades of experience at not sweating the small stuff.
Enter grown-up Cadance. Twilight couldn't be happier to see her.
But Cadance gives Twilight the most bristly of brush-offs, which Shining Armor does not notice.
Twilight Sparkle does notice, as she also notices Cadance being mean-not-nice to Applejack ...
... and Rarity ...
... and Pinkie Pie. Pinkie is the only pony Cadance outright tries to insult, but insulting Pinkie is a lot tougher than it looks.
Night falls, and it's time for a changing of the guard. Hi, Princess Luna! So who was guarding the night during "Luna Eclipsed?" Don't answer that. (Also, the fact that Luna says "As always" suggests that they aren't just on special guard because of the emergency.)
Down at a café with the Mane Six Plus Spike, Twilight Sparkle fails at starting a bitch session about Cadance, and there's nothing more awkward than failing to start a bitch session. (Not that I would know.)
None of the others have seen what Twilight has seen, and if they have, they're not only willing to overlook it, they shift the blame to the nerves of the seemingly possessive Twilight.
Their refusal to see what she's seeing just makes Twilight angrier, which is saying a lot.
She tries to talk to Shining Armor and tell him what's what, but they're interrupted by Cadance.
Spying on them through a door, Twilight witnesses Cadance not only disallowing disagreement ...
... but also using freaky green magic on him to cure him of his "headaches." Oh yeah, she's evil.
Twilight runs across Canterlot to find the others, and when Luna tries to get Twilight to respect Luna's authoritah, Twilight ignores her. Poor ineffectual Luna.
Twilight herself is mostly ignored by her friends, who are thrilled to pieces to be Cadance's new bridesmaids. The fate of the old bridesmaids is unknown, and of no interest to anyone other than Twilight.
Twilight is truly on her own.
There's only one thing left to do: Crash the rehearsal the next day. Which is tricky, since Twilight is supposed to be in the rehearsal. Also, hi, Princess Celestia! Aren't you supposed to be guarding the day right now? Don't answer that.
Instead, Twilight opts for the melodramatic entrance.
Twilight is angry and desperate, but -- and this troubles me more than Cadance's love-horn or the (in)visibility of the force field, which are minor issues of plot mechanics -- her eye isn't twitching. Ponies always get an eye-twitch when they're stressed, and Twilight is often the twitchiest of them all. But this is a two-part blockbuster, and I say, the normal rules do not apply.
Twilight busts out the specific charges: Cadance is rude, evil, and controlling Shining Armor with her freaky green magic.
Cadance bursts into tears and runs out of the chapel as Twilight continues to shout accusations of evilness.
See, here's the thing: Shining Armor says the freaky green magic helps him deal with the migraines caused by the exertion of creating the force field, Cadance replaced her bridesmaids because the original batch were just there to meet Canterlot royalty, and since Shining is busy protecting everypony's life, Cadance has to plan their huge royal wedding all by herself, so it's reasonable that the combined stress might result in Cadance being a little crankypants, n'est-ce pas?
Oh, and Twilight is off the wedding party list, as well as the wedding guest list.
The others leave the utterly devastated Twilight alone in the chapel. She ruminates in a song reprise about how she's destroyed her relationship with her brother, but she's interrupted by Cadance, who sure seems ready to forgive the penitent Twilight ...
... except that Cadance uses her freaky green magic to create a ring of freaky green fire around Twilight. Hey, she is evil!
The final image of the episode, and quite possibly the most disturbing the show has yet produced, is of Cadance smiling triumphantly as Twilight Sparkle is sucked down into a freaky green hell.
There is no Shoehorn, as you can well imagine.
Next Time: Revelation, redemption, the Battle of Canterlot, and maybe even a wedding in "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 2;" and I look back on the first two seasons.
(Strange but true: I'll be doing a panel called "Deconstructing Equestria" at Everfree Northwest in Seattle on Friday, August 17. Come say hi!)