MLP:FIM season 4, episode 8 – “Rarity Takes Manehattan” – thoughts and review

And now for something a little different. Here we have an episode so elegant, so bold, so refined and dignified as to almost b-

*loud crash as Dashie takes over*

Oh for pony’s sake, just stop beating around the bush and get to the point! It. Was.  AWESOME.

No, seriously, it was. It’s certainly been a while since we had a dedicated Rarity episode (though, to be fair, we’re only 8 episodes in to season 4, and prior to the start of that, it had been “a while” since there’d been any pony anything). Naturally, a Rarity focus means lots and LOTS of Tabitha St. Germain, who as you all should know by know, means lots and lots of absolutely fantastic dialog. Oh, and I haven’t mentioned it in a while, but as always, this review contains lots of spoilers for the episode! Ye be warned.

The song in this one was, again, pretty catchy and endearing. I’ve found that to be the case with the majority of the songs in s4 so far. I’m not much for musicals, or characters breaking out into song in my fiction, or even this kind of music outside of this context (I’m like Dashie in that regard, I suppose!), yet I do find I like a lot of this music… but at the same time, you’re probably never going to see me going into great detail about why I did (or didn’t) like a song. It was catchy and fun, and that’s pretty much all I have to say about it.

Speaking of musicals and Rainbow Dash: she was treading on Pinkie’s territory a bit here…

"Ponies just bursting into song in random places at the drop of a hat? Who does that?!"

“Ponies just bursting into song in random places at the drop of a hat? Who does that?!” The answer, apparently, is Rarity.

I lost it there. Dashie is best lampshade!

Anyway: I could kind of smell the impending double-cross with Suri pretty early on – right after she was introduced, more or less. But given the nature of these characters, this world, and the situation Rarity is in, the way it played out still makes sense. I smelled it because I’m viewing a TV show and tropes exist. Rarity really doesn’t have any reason to think this is going to happen, and given her element and personality, it’s very in-character for her to help out a fellow designer who is seemingly in legitimate need with barely a second thought.

And then there was the instantly famous Coco Pommel. I have to say, I was a bit surprised to see just how FAST the fandom latched onto her as a new favorite, but not disappointed, as I did too! I really liked this character, from her adorable visual design to the (admittedly short, since she’s only in the one episode) character arc she goes through. Even her voice was cute. She’s just extremely likeable and sympathetic. And it’s kind of a classic FiM moment at the end, when the sincerity and honesty of both Rarity and Coco…y, are rewarded. There have been some vague hintings that it wouldn’t be completely impossible to see her again (especially since Rarity basically gave her a job at the end of the ep). I don’t know how likely it really is, but I would love to see her make a return!

Seriously - could YOU say no to this face? I didn't think so.

Seriously – could YOU say no to this face? I didn’t think so.

I also found the brief descent into… not madness, exactly, but certainly instability, on Rarity’s part, to be very believable. In her moment of betrayed panic, she sort of loses herself, and becomes to some degree the antithesis of what she normally is: her negative traits take over completely, and her generosity – having been used against her – vanishes. Of course, it doesn’t last, and that moment when she stops in the rain and just looks completely defeated was another one of those moments when you want nothing more than to reach into the screen and give her a hug.

This show is GOOD at making you want to give hugs to colorful equines

This show is GOOD at making you want to give hugs to colorful equines

Another really cool aspect of this episode was simply getting to see Manehattan again, and in much more detail this time. The city itself was used well, being the centerpiece of the songs, and I liked that they gave time to both the good and bad sides of life in a place like that (in particular, the second song being a counterpart to the first during Rarity’s moment of despair was really well-done). Plus, the very idea of a Manhattan-like metropolis in this world is absolutely fascinating, and I hope we get to see more cities or other parts of Equestria in episodes to come.

And then there was a revisiting of the rather bizarre issue that made itself known in “Daring Don’t”:

Can her Royal &^$%ing HIGHNESS get a Luna-damned TAXI?!

Can her Royal &^$%ing HIGHNESS get a Luna-damned TAXI?!

This is, in fact, a much MORE glaring example of this problem than in DD. At this point, there really is no other explanation than “The status of the mane 6 as Element Bearers and saviors of the land is relatively unknown outside a select number of ponies.” Or, delving more deeply, it’s unknown to at least some unspecified extent. There are a couple of possibilities here. Perhaps their status is known, but their names aren’t, the idea being that even though everypony knows there are “element bearers” who saved the day during these past crises, they don’t know their names or faces and wouldn’t recognize them, thus freeing them to move about Equestria without being mobbed as celebrities. Alternatively, their names and deeds haven’t been hidden, but the crises themselves were so localized that nopony outside of those specific areas in which they took place (Ponyville for Discord’s first return, the Crystal Empire for the return of Sombra, etc) actually knows that much about them, and not everyone buys this whole story about heroes and elements. The Princesses protect them using their magic, and they have guards, and probably some other ponies that help out too, and that’s enough for most of the populace. I’d go with some combination of those two, myself, as a way to explain it. Of course, the real reason is simply because they want the ponies to be able to have adventures and troubles without everyone they meet falling all over themselves to help them out in whatever way they can. And to be fair, the show could be kind of boring if that were the case!

Which is also why Princess Twilight Sparkle seems not to be recognized any more than the others are. Which, of course, is a lot harder to explain away, since we know her status IS well-known (that coronation ceremony was kinda hard to miss, yeah?). I’m not sure there really is a good explanation that can be wrung out of this one; it’s basically just down to the creators of the show having made her a princess, but still wanting to have episodes like this one, where she can’t get a taxi because the whole thing is supposed to be a spoof on what life is actually like in a place like Manhattan. I can’t really begrudge them that, and while this is something I’ve noticed, it’s not something that constantly distracts me or takes away from my enjoyment of the show.

So! In conclusion: a fantastic episode. This is easily up there with “Princess Twilight Sparkle” and “Castle-Mane-ia” for sheer awesomeness. “Rarity Takes Manehattan” earns a 10.

-Saito S

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