• "Rarity Investigates!": Episode Followup

    Who needs a preamble? It's Rarity and Rainbow Dash sharing an episode for the first time since Season 1. About the only thing more awesome than that would be strapping rockets to cars and making them play soccer or some stuff like that.

    Followup time. Hit the break!

    Ah, Madmax Fine Line! I'm very happy you're getting something new to wear. Five seasons in the same outfit is a stretch even for somepony of your standing.

    Oh, good to see you again too, 10 Mare Sassy Saddles.

    Go back. You can hear the tiniest *gasp* right here. No, you can't ahahaha white text returns!

    Rainbow doesn't take chances with doors with heart-shaped windows in them anymore, seeing what happened the first time she tried going through one quietly. Beat' em up, girl!

    I said "beat em' up," not "eat 'em up!"

    Holy story credits, Batmare.

    More seriously, if there's one scene I think of from seeing these lady writers' names up on the title card, it's this particular moment from "Castle, Sweet Castle":

    No, really. Rainbow Dash and Rarity don't hang. The last time they did, it nearly ended up with a marshmallow-colored smear on the plains beneath Cloudsdale. Three of the most memorable fics I've read in this fandom involve these two cooperating precisely because so little of their common ground has ever been explored in the show.

    I honestly appreciate how the episode wasn't in a hurry to throw Rarity in a deerstalker -- it took its time letting the two bond, right up with Rainbow Dash confirming that Rarity was coming to dinner with her.

    Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco have shanghaied their way to the helm this boat, and it is sailing forth with all possible speed.

    "I DO!"

    Burning this joke so I can spend the rest of this followup on things that won't get me slapped around with C&Ds.

    This background reminds me of all those that first popped up in Season 2 (think Twilight's "For Equestria!" moment). More to the point, it's only fitting that Rarity knows how to model an action pose, and it's neigh impossible to catch her in a bad angle in this episode.

    "Oh, dear."

    Keep trying, Cereal. The corporate front you set up just to win her heart will succeed one day.

    Heh. That flying box is farting. Because it's on his butt.

    I consider having the right words for the right situations to be one of Rarity's consistent, if understated strengths, and it came to the fore in force for this episode. Even if her delivery occasionally falters (how do you come back to somepony telling you what boxes are shaped like?), the only reason she's able to get away with it so often is because she chooses her angles based on careful attention to detail and -- absolutely up for debate here -- genuine empathy. Not once did the episode attempt to cast Rarity's appeals as manipulative or under-hoofed, showing that persuasiveness and charisma aren't inherently hollow traits. For the target audience, that's a powerful lesson.

    ... why the hell am I analyzing a children's cartoon at 2:30 AM let's keep rolling

    The ice sculpture flew off the balcony after a particularly ill-advised "watch this!" from one of the Wonderbolts journeymares on her fifth cider. Fortunately, the model of the ice sculpture volunteered to attend the dinner instead, which is why we see Princess Celestia here doing absolutely nothing.

    You could say she's frozen in place.

    If Rainbow's cool enough to hit the banquet table the moment she arrives at a party, you are, too. Carpe those meatballs, everypony. Ignore the others pointing at the gravy dribbling down your chin in confusion.

    I have never seen anyone get so excited over broccoli. Getting the coolest character on your show to eat her veggies is one of the most insidious ploys I've ever seen emerge from the fetid bowels of Big Health.

    Here's where Rainbow glimpses Wind Rider for the first time. It's never really occurred to me just how much Rainbow Dash embodies the concept of fandom the best out of all the characters in the mane cast. We freak out when she freaks out because many of us get that same rush from seeing an idol up close, and she never fails to be adorable while doing so.

    Alternate commentary: Looks like Rainbow's finished eating, but she ain't done feasting.

    And this is why you never try to explain your fandom to your friends. God forbid they talk easy with the same people your legs go wobbly over.

    I'm just including this in the followup because Dash doesn't know how to stop being adorkable.

    I've always appreciated how whodunnits in Friendship is Magic are fair, even if there wasn't one at this point.

    In the mean time, I guess Fine Line wasn't interested in a new dress after all. I hope she showers, at least.

    "Come, now. Couches were so three seasons ago."

    There isn't anything special about this shot, either -- it probably takes up all of a second of the episode's runtime. But it reminded me of the animator's panel I attended at BronyCAN last month, where the staff demonstrated how a scene progresses through script, boarding, layout, and final animation. A take like this had been put in at the boarding phase, but got removed by the end of animation because it'd pushed the episode a second over its allotted length.

    These are details 99% of the audience aren't going to care about, and a well-executed show won't call any attention to them. For my part, I'd always wondered how they put out exactly 21 minutes of new content for every episode, so learning about these kinds of adjustments was really cool.

    Loose ends in the East Tower.

    I don't remember the last time I saw Rainbow act bashful.

    I don't remember the last time I died so hard over a snoot boop, either.

    And here we have Rainbow pulling off a "Sonic Rainboom" into a "Mysterious Mare-Do-Well". The results are absolutely forbidden from being this adorable.

    Still no skullduggery in the episode at this point, but viewers not distracted by Rainbow's unmitigated joy were going to catch Wind Rider's "what the hay" look and make guesses from there.

    Another point: I'm so happy they brought back the racing music from "Rainbow Falls" here. It's one of the best BGM tracks the show's come out with.

    That is strange, Rares. Why isn't Ruby Pinch with those two? Oh god, 2021 flashbacks

    For some reason, I just like Soarin's "'Kay, what's happening?" here. It has that perfect hint of "flat what" mixed into the bouquet.

    I don't think we've ever seen serious!Soarin, either. Dude's spent a lot of time at second fiddle, but at least we now get to see why he's there.

    "And a 3x3 from Whinny-Out Burger, Everfree-style, for Legsy back there."

    This is exactly how you'd expect a G3 episode to play out. "Someone toppled the Gumdrop Tower! Let's play dress-up and discuss clues over cupcakes and smile dust."

    Small wonder Rainbow Dash looks like she wants those days put behind her.


    If Cereal Velocity doesn't have this as his desktop background, I'll be shocked.

    Or this. That's like 30 hardboiled points.

    Shame that Rarity's fedora is in the way (a legitimate fedora, y'all), because very few things compete in cuteness with Rainbow Dash trying to figure out what's going on.

    I don't know whether I should or shouldn't be surprised that these three look like they're guests of honor on a convention panel.

    The directors mentioned that they tried new things with this episode, and I absolutely believe them. The show's style works extremely well with super-crisp cast shadows, and I'm really hoping we get to see the lighting pushed like this as the season continues.

    Though... I'm not sure how Spitfire and RD wound up in the Northwest Wing from the East Tower. Anyone got ideas?

    ... okay, I know what Cereal wound up going with.

    You know the trope when a detective will slam his hands on the table and lean over it to intimidate a perp? Clearly, throwing the detective herself on the table is the next logical step.

    Also taking a moment to point out how consistently petite Rarity's been when it comes to interacting with Canterlot folk. First it was Blueblood, then Fancy Pants and Fleur, and Sassy Saddles just last episode. Make your own headcanons from there.

    "Your heartbeat's pretty."

    Cinnamon Chai, D.B.A. Seth's Flavor of the Week.

    And look in the background there! It's Martin Freeman as a pony along with Blimpertickle Cul-de-Sac!

    I am a 26-year-old man falling apart at the seams over horses in cute dresses. There is absolutely no way this is my life now.

    Diegetic BGM for the win. The animators even threw a mute into that trumpet, just as Will Anderson did while playing this tune himself.

    Anytime there are ducks in MLP, Sibsy isn't far off. She and Nicole Wang provided excellent boards for this episode.

    That boy sure loves his pie.

    Did anyone else notice how all three acts of this episode opened up with a tight shot of Rainbow Dash entering the frame from the bottom of the screen? Or am I just that much of a dork for appreciating the consistency? Seriously, go back and take a look.

    Hoofy kicks, y'all. HOOFY KICKS.

    Notice how Rarity's much more hard-nosed in these flashbacks. Any storyteller is going to embellish the facts consciously or not, but we definitely see takes and poses more befitting of a filly fatale than somepony simply out to admire how the curtains match the carpet. Again, Rarity throws the phrase "attention to detail" around a lot, but there's no doubting that she lives by those words.

    "I DO!"

    "ME TOO!"

    And I'm pretty sure there's art of these three out there after they ate.

    Moriarty pony, half-eaten apple from The Reichenbach Falls and everything.

    I honestly shudder to think of what would happen had Tabitha St. Germain not been cast as Rarity. Her delivery really sells the notion that ruining a silk scarf is the more henious crime in Rarity's eyes.

    They had a word scripted for Wind Rider here, and I'm pretty sure the mouth flaps still match it even if the dialogue didn't pass S&P.

    "Actually, kinda, yeah. That broccoli was darn tasty."

    Oh, man. I am absolutely loving intense!Soarin.

    I don't even mind Wind Rider spilling the beans like a mis-handled Chipotle burrito. The original Scooby Doo cartoons did that all the time way back when, and the whole convention of the villain recounting his dastardly plans will always carry a special place in my heart.

    Moreover, why in the wide, wide world of Equestria would Rainbow Dash know anything about botany, much less the growth seasons for an exotic flower in a far-off mountain chain? I bet you could write a fic about that.

    Or you could chalk it up to all those Daring Do novels she reads. They've certainly made her more knowledgeable about the world.

    Shish kebab. What Rarity's making Wind Rider into, and a convenient, adequately-punny epithet for this screenshot. Next.

    The last time MLP had a mystery episode, it took an overnight train to travel from Ponyville to Canterlot, and the two are definitely within eyeshot of one another. So when Rainbow blasted off to the Crystal Mountains to round up Spitfire (and finding her there, in case you thought mountain ranges are compact, well-organized regions with signs pointing you to whatever you're looking for), AND returned in time to get Spitfire in the show, there's no way Wind Rider's marathon record still holds up anymore.

    Petard status: utterly hoisted.

    And even though Dash had to give up on her best chance yet to fly with the Wonderbolts, I guess the show still has to keep the status quo--




    All right, that was awesome. And let's take a moment to point out how far the Wonderbolts themselves have come. They got KO'ed in the first season by a flying fashionista and canned in the second via water tower, and all signs pointed to them as being an organization that was actually below Rainbow's level even if she didn't realize it. Then you get to "Wonderbolts Academy" and "Rainbow Falls", and in both those episodes Rainbow deals with the dysfunctions in her idols and teaches them something valuable. By the end of this episode, Soarin's able to assert that being a Wonderbolt means looking out for one other.

    And now we see a dream come true for Rainbow Dash.

    Not a terrible performance for Rarity's first homage to the works of Sam Spade. All she has to do is keep those monologues internal and she's the most potent PI on the block.

    I do not have enough good things to say about this episode. I knew this was going to be a top-shelf episode when I called the follow-up for it, and it was absolutely worth staying up through the night after moving things out of a garage 70 miles away to write. For having so little apparent overlap between them in the show, I for one would absolutely look forward to more Rarity and Rainbow team-ups in the future. As always, all my appreciation to everyone who worked to make this episode, especially newcomers Jan Rabson and Sidika Larbes for bringing Wind Rider and Stormy Flare into the audio booth.

    Also also, one last final shout-out to all the DHX staffers I got to meet at BronyCAN. I can't tell you guys how happy I was to see your names in the credits and go, "I met those people and they did not immediately mace my face."

    Thank you for reading. CouchCrusader, out.