MLP:FIM season 4, episode 15 – “Twilight Time” – thoughts and review

All right! “Twilight Time” review. Don’t worry – I got this.

When I first saw the title of this episode (several days before it aired), my first thought was that it would be a sort of squeal or follow-up to season 2’s “It’s About Time.” I mean, come on! How can “Twilight Time” NOT make you think of that (amazing) episode? Sadly, this is not the case.

On the other hand, it’s a combination of a Twilight episode, which is always good, and another CMC episode, which I can also get behind, because I find that I love those three little fillies more and more as this series wears on.

Are you really going to question me on that point?

Are you really going to question me on that point?

I really like the idea of the CMC attending what basically amounts to specialized study sessions with Twilight. Not only because it’s cute, but because it makes sense. Twilight is all about learning – this is not a new thing, and the idea that she’d be more than happy to help them learn and practice new skills (in a controlled environment, which is probably something their sisters are happy about, given that this is the CMC we’re talking about) is very in-character. But now, she’s a princess, with magic, science, and learning essentially being her domain – and of course, she still lives in the Ponyville library. Given all of these factors, for her to provide the service of helping to nurture the growing skills and curiosity of local children is very appropriate.

Applebloom’s first major attempt to apply what she’s been learning about making plant growing-potions has… mixed results. Instead of an apple tree, she gets what appears to be a venus fly trap.

With a penchant for theatrics, apparently.

With a penchant for theatrics, apparently.

The next day at school, the Horrible Monsters Club convenes as usual (a.k.a. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon). The former had, for some reason, promised to provide an amazing acrobatic display for her classmates, but is just too tired to actually do it, much to their disappointment.

So she has her butler do it instead!

Damn but that pony can move. Butler and bodyguard, maybe?

Damn but that pony can move. Butler and bodyguard, maybe?

The fillies and colts watching the show, apparently not being especially observant, all flock to Diamond to tell her how amazing it was, and naturally she laps it all up and takes the credit, frustrating Scootaloo to no end, who points out that at least they’re actually trying to learn things for themselves. Following an attempt to rattle the CMC in their usual way (some teasing involving the fact that DT and SS get to go to Manehattan and meet famous ponies, and the CMC don’t), Sweeties exclaims in defiance that they’ve been spending time with Princess Twilight. The reaction is immediate.

Dwahuh?!

Dwahuh?!

Now they want to be nice to the CMC. Because now they want something from them – they see them as an in to get time with a princess. They even comment that they used to see Twilight around town and didn’t think much of her, but of course, now that she’s a princess, she’s totally awesome! Shallower than a kiddie pool, these two.

One really interesting thing that we see here, though, is the sort of pecking order between the two bully characters. It’s been implied before but never shown quite this explicitly: Diamond Tiara is clearly the ringleader of this duo. During this scene, there are two instances of this in action: one, when she says “You must bring me along next time you go!” and Silver Spoon zips into the frame, adding “Bring us along!” Diamond’s expression doesn’t change from one of surprise, she doesn’t smile or nod and go Oh yeah, of course. She just keeps talking, and then a moment later, When DT mentions her thoughts on Twilight as noted above, Silver Spoon just completely apes her. “Me too. I thought that.”

The dynamic is, of course, based on one that plays out in real life frequently on school campuses everywhere. While I have a feeling the showrunners don’t want to completely upset the apple cart when it comes to the role of these two characters as bullies, it would be really interesting to me to see the dynamic change; specifically, I’d love to see that change take the form of Silver Spoon coming to realize that maybe following Diamond around, hanging on her every word and imitating her every move and helping her to make her fellow students’ lives miserable, isn’t exactly what she wants to be doing. Such a split could make for a really interesting character development episode, but alas, I doubt we’ll see it. It’s a shame, but I can’t be too hard on them – some measure of ongoing stability when it comes to “mild” antagonists like DT and SS (“mild” in the sense that – while the CMC may not consider them so – they are not a threat to Equestria or anything) is par for the course in children’s cartoons. Still, I’d love for them to prove me wrong.

Anyway! Ultimately, despite Applebloom’s misgivings, the three of them decide to let the terrible twosome come along, figuring that they’ll also learn something from Twilight and thus be too busy to make fun of them.

While everyone is all smiles about this plan during their Official CMC Huddle, they really should have seen some of their later woes coming.

While everyone is all smiles about this plan during their Official CMC Huddle, they really should have seen some of their later woes coming.

Twilight is just a little surprised that they brought “guests”, and even more surprised when said guests run up to her doorstep and begin jumping up and down in excitement.

What the hay?!

What the hay?!

Still, she takes it in stride, allowing all five fillies to come inside… and the foalproof plan from before is snapped in half as Twilight asks the CMC to demonstrate their progress so far. We don’t get to see the results of that, but it’s not hard to figure that things didn’t go all that much better than before.

And this screenshot kind of says it all, anyway.

And this screenshot kind of says it all, anyway.

Sweetie Belle declares that they “won’t make that same mistake again.” We’ll see how long that lasts.

Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon show up to rub it in – or so the CMC assume. Turns out, the assemblage of schoolponies they brought with them also want in on what is now being dubbed “Twilight Time.” DT inserts herself and SS as the “nearest and dearest friends” of the CMC, who suddenly find themselves the center of attention, as everyone now sees them as their ticket to get to meet Ponyville’s resident magic princess. Applebloom calls it a mess, Scootaloo looks like she agrees… but Sweetie Belle sees it another way. She’s stoked that they’re the hottest thing in school all of a sudden.

We know this because we get TWO signature Sweetie squeaks in a row when she explains why this is awesome to her friends.

We know this because we get TWO signature Sweetie squeaks in a row when she explains why this is awesome to her friends.

Applebloom, really the closest thing among the three of them to a voice of reason during this episode, points out that they already considered inviting two extra ponies to be a mistake, and now they’re talking about half the class. That whole “not making that mistake again” notion really didn’t last long!

But don't worry, Sweetie Belle's got this.

But don’t worry, Sweetie Belle’s got this.

Instead of meeting in the library, they ask Twilight to meet them at a restaurant, one that serves… veggieburgers of some sort, presumably. And hay fries, of course. And we get to see Twilight geeking out… over food.

Even while stuffing her face and with ketchup all over her muzzle she's still adorable!

Even while stuffing her face and with ketchup all over her muzzle she’s still adorable!

Pinkie Pie shows up, saying hello to her friend and pointing out what is now a mob of school children waiting for an opportunity to catch a glimpse of Twilight through the window. Of course, whenever Twilight turns her head to look, they all duck out of sight, and she remains oblivious for the moment. The great thing about this scene is that if it were anypony else, one would be highly suspicious of her “Never mind, they’re gone./They’re back!/Never mind, they’re gone. Lalalala!” routine. One of the other mane 6 probably wouldn’t have been able to just walk away after seeing all the kids out there, too, and would stick around to help Twilight figure out what was going on. But because it’s Pinkie, she’s able to show up, try (and fail) to point the kids out, and then just leave, and Twilight isn’t phased, because it’s Pinkie.

The jig is up, however, when Scootaloo begins posing for the photos that the mob is taking.

I love her explanation for this. "I couldn't help it! When I don't smile in a picture, I look sad."

I love her explanation for this. “I couldn’t help it! When I don’t smile in a picture, I look sad.”

The mob swarms Twilight the moment she steps outside, fighting over having their picture taken with her and getting her autograph. Still, this, too, she takes in stride. Before she leaves, she casually mentions that she was only here today because of the CMC, which only increases their now rampaging popularity with their fellow students.

But don't worry, Sweetie Belle's got this.

But don’t worry, Sweetie Belle’s got this.

At the opening of Pipsqueak’s lemonade stand, which the CMC attend essentially as celebrity guests, they enjoy the favors lavished upon them by other ponies perhaps a bit too much.

I didn't even know it was possible to make a hoof THAT reflective.

I didn’t even know it was possible to make a hoof THAT reflective.

Finally, the other shoe drops when they try to take their leave for their next Twilight Time session, which they intend to have without the bandwagon – which doesn’t go over well with DT and SS, nor with the mob.

Said mob is now becoming downright creepy.

Said mob is now becoming downright creepy.

Now backed into a corner, the CMC try to sneak away, but the mob spots them and advances, their now-terrifying chants of “TWILIGHT TIME! TWILIGHT TIME!” seeming to be the stuff of a horror movie.

But don't worry, Sweetie Belle's got-

But don’t worry, Sweetie Belle’s got-

aw %$^#@ it, just run.

aw %$^#@ it, just run.

So they all end up at the library, and once again, Twilight takes it all in stride, at least initially. She begins splitting up the group by whatever kind of learning they’re interested in, but when she begins asking Pipsqueak just what he wants to do, and why, the whole “I want to be one of the CMC so I get to hang out with celebrities and everypony will think I’m cool!” bit comes out, and Twilight is none too pleased. The CMC are put on the spot, as the whole point of this was supposed to be for them to learn new skills, and Twilight challenges them to show off how much improvement they’ve surely made since the last session. The CMC are understandably nervous about this, until Sweetie Belle decides a “sink or swim” strategy is in order.

But don't worry, Sweetie Belle, uh... wait, what is she volunteering us for here?

But don’t worry, Sweetie Belle, uh… wait, what is she volunteering us for here?

So, the question then becomes: have they improved their skills?

And the answer is... not so much.

And the answer is… not so much.

A broom clattering to the floor, a self-destructing scooter, and an apple of doom kind of put a damper on things.

The latter, in particular, causes a bit of a... situation.

The latter, in particular, causes a bit of a… situation.

For a moment, the others lord it over them (led, naturally, by DT and SS), until Twilight points out that none of THEM really came here to learn, either.

Princess BUUUUUURRN!

Princess BUUUUUURRN!

As the CMC begin to leave, thinking that their sessions with Twilight have come to an end, they look so sad you just want to hug them! But, before they get out the door, Twilight stops them, deciding to give them another chance. It’s clear through all of this that the CMC really do WANT to learn more – that was at the core of why there was a “Twilight Time” in the first place, and even though they got caught up in everything that was happening, that never changed.

At the end, Sweetie Belle gets to write an entry in the Friendship Journal about everything they learned from this whole crazy thing, as the three of them get to show off the now-rather-impressive progress they’ve made.

Adorable success!

Adorable success!

This was a fun episode. It was, at many points, pretty predictable – the clamoring to meet Twilight once the CMC mentioned her name, the escalating fame among their classmates, the eventual learning success story, etc – but those notes, while you could see them coming, were hit pretty well. The CMC are pretty much always adorable, too, so that helps.

And I’ve commented on this before, but their voices are definitely changing a bit. They sound slightly older now compared to the previous seasons. This certainly doesn’t detract from either the adorableness nor the potential of these characters – in fact, I really hope we see this used to develop a theme of the characters themselves beginning to grow and mature more later in the show (season 5, which has been confirmed, seems like the ideal time frame for this).

“Twilight Time” gets an 8.5 from me, and on that note, I leave you with the final bit of hilarity from this episode:

Yes, Scoots, since you asked: you DO look ridiculous.

Yes, Scoots, since you asked: you DO look ridiculous.

-Saito S

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