• "Canterlot Boutique": Episode Followup

    Rarity.  Fashion Designer.  Element of Generosity.  Business savvy mare.  Loving big sister.  Refined socialite.  Occasional Drama Queen.  Contender for "Best Marshmallow Pony 2015."

    Most importantly, topic of this episode followup.

    Let's talk about Rarity.

    Rarity wonders aloud when the workers from Quills and Sofas are going to finish reupholstering her drama couch.  If she's going to have an episode centered around her, chances are she'll need it.

    "Hi, all you bronies out there!  Did you miss us in that two month hiatus?"

    Looking at this image, I can't imagine her belting out anything less than the complete works of Luciano Pavarotti.

    For once, the Mane Six is all together and Equestria (or at least Ponyville) isn't in peril.

    Nowadays, that situation is becoming... a rarity.

    And here we have this episode's co-star, Sassy Saddles.  From the moment the episode preview was released, her design was met with some... mixed opinions.

    Personally, I'm wondering if that's her real mane, or if Scootaloo is just very cold now.

    I wanted to talk about the dress here, but I'm still stuck on Sassy Saddles.  What is she wearing?  It looks like gladiator armor or something.

    "Excuse me, yes, this is my episode, not yours."

    I've always liked how we continue to see certain ponies in the same environments several seasons later, even just as background ponies.  Jet Set, Upper Crust, and Fleur de Lis are in this shot, along with a few new ponies.

    How do the animators come up with so many hundreds, if not thousands, of unique pony designs anyway?

    Rarity really rises to remarkable renown with her Royal Regalia.

    I couldn't help but feel, based on his expressions, that Fashion Plate here might have some relation to Party Favor.

    "I think my face is stuck this way now."

    Twilight sparkles.

    When the song kicked in here, I almost expected an updated version of "Art of the Dress".  Rarity's songs tend to go so well with her work, and really turn the dressmaking sequences in episodes like "Suited for Success" or this one into some of the most purely joyful scenes in MLP.

    Sorry, Twinkleshine and Lemon Hearts.  You had your moment in the spotlight.  Back to the background for you.

    And again, much like "Art of the Dress" this song took a more solemn turn as it progressed, although this time, it wasn't because of stress.

    You guys know I always like to throw in a paragraph or two of more serious thematic commentary in my followups, and this is a good spot for that.  I have to say, the actual problem to be overcome in this episode was a surprisingly adult one.  Rarity was exposed to a problem that I'm sure many, many professional artists of all kinds face during their career: trying to reconcile artistic integrity and uniqueness with the demands of a fast-paced business that may have a sales model differing from that of the artist.

    The target audience of this show is for the most part in their early teens or below.  Most media directed at that group is still sending the message "dream big, work hard, and you can do anything."  It really caught me off guard to see a show like this one demonstrate that even someone with artistic brilliance and fantastic work ethic can and probably will find that marketing issues and consumer expectations will force them to make compromises they'd rather not make.

    Left in the direct sunlight, the marshmallow slowly begins to melt into a syrupy pool of liquid sugar.

    Rarity pauses from cutting fabric to cut a rug instead.

    Does this pony have a name yet?  If not, does anyone have any suggestions?  I was thinking of calling her "Ghost Pepper".  I mean, the peppers on her flank aren't long and thin enough to be chilis, they're the wrong shape to be habaneros, and wrong color to be jalapenos.  Ghost peppers sort of fit, though.

    You can lead a horse to fashion but you can't make her regal.

    Ouch.  This bit only drives the theme I discussed a minute ago home even harder.  Extra flair and individuality, no matter how brilliant, may not be welcome if they aren't what the customer wants.  This episode is kind of heavy.

    If this magazine is anything like it's real world equivalent, it's probably good that we can't read most of what's written on the cover.

    I'd say this was the moment in the episode that Rarity hit rock bottom.

    Rarity's destiny hasn't led her to hit rock bottom before, but it has led her to hit a rock.

    "Aren't these just the most amazing designs you've ever seen in your whole entire life?"

    "Please stop touching me."

    "That's the spirit!"

    You know, if Twinkleshine closed her eyes and shaved off her mane and tail, she would be indistinguishable from one of Rarity's mannequins.

    Nerd girls are the best.  I know this from personal experience.

    "Guess what, Rarity!  I was redeemed in the same episode I was introduced in!"

    "That's lovely, dear.  And it probably means you'll never be in another episode after this."

    And then, the most unexpected pony design since Bulk Biceps burst in.

    Turns out, we've seen this pony already!  It was only her face though.  I'm sure a few of you paid attention to that locker in the weather factory, right?

    Now what I want to know is, who is keeping this pony's picture in their locker?  It's a mystery for the ages.

    The first thing that came into my head at this moment was that pony from Adventure Time.  That cutie mark is pretty unusual, too.  Between the cameo in "Tanks for the Memories" and this, it seems like she's this season's visual gag pony, and I wouldn't mind seeing her pop up now and then like Bulk Biceps does.

    And so, Rarity proves to Sassy Saddles that there is a way to find a balance between unique, wholehearted work and successful business, although you probably have to be either very talented or very lucky to do so.  It softens the episode's message a bit without nullifying it entirely, which I thought was really impressive.  Thematically, this has been one of my favorite episodes in a while.

    That's it for this week, everyone!  I hope you're all psyched that the sudden hiatus is over.  I'm looking forward to watching the second half of season five with the rest of you!