(For animation summer, I’m going to try and keep myself to a schedule: My Little Pony: FiM Mondays, Supernatural Saturdays and a third show review coming in the middle of the week – the betting pool is now open on how long I keep to this)
The second episode of MLP (counting the 2 parter as one) is an entertaining romp that shows us why this show began breaking out of its target demographic. The writers wisely escue focusing on a single pony in favor of a broad examination of all 6 principle characters to further give us a cemented impression of them.
The b-plot of this episode is a classic “hero denied” one that every comedy serial art engages in (bonus points to whoever identifies the trope)- the story of a protagonist that just wants one [probably] simple thing; and they can’t get it. Just over the weekend I watched this story on M.E.G.A.S XLR’s “all I wanted was a slushy” (no bonus points for guessing what Coop wanted). Here, we find Twilight Sparkle (TS) constantly denied lunch. However, unlike many shows, this isn’t played as much for laughs from every more elaborate denials. It is used more as a plot tool: to test and prove TS’s moral fiber. Like Christ’s first desert temptation, Twilight can end her hunger quickly and with ease, but will not, to avoid violating her principles. (Yes, there is a tradition about Christ also being associated with unicorn imagery, but we’re going to leave that aside for now.)
And what are these principles TS holds onto? This comes from the a-plot of the episode: a rather entertaining primer on economic principles. How? Well another classic plot from every comedy is that of the limited resource. Character has something (or X number of something). More people want that than are available. Character must decide. The reason this trope persists is because it’s so universal to our condition. We poor souls live in a reality where the only things that are infinite are human imagination and human stupidity. Everything else, we don’t necessarily have enough to satisfy the desires of every person wanting one (usually – some things nobody wants). Various economic systems are used to try and solve this dilemma. In MLP – we see TS seeking to institute a communist system (one for everyone) to distribute the tickets. However, there aren’t enough so she says her decision rests on who has the “best” reason for going (though how is one to determine best?) – trying to make her economic decisions strictly by moral considerations. Meanwhile the other 5 all invoke capitalism, giving what they hope TS wants most in order to get something they want very much. What makes each show unique is the ultimate solution to the problem. The more common one involves the protagonist giving the “thing” to another, previous uninterested party (often someone less fortunate). Here, the episode looks like it is going to end that way, with TS sending the tickets back so nobody gets what they want (everyone equally miserable – apt metaphor for communism?) only to get back a letter from the Princess giving her enough tickets for everyone.
Well… her friends, anyway. Earlier in the episode we saw the entire town attack TS with favors, indicating that all of Ponyville would love to attend the Gala. However, the attendance of the Gala must be limited, else tickets would not be required. So what did we learn? Is it even more like communism in that the elite connected to the “right party” get something while the rest of the population is deprived? Or is this more like capitalism in that the ponies gave something the Princess wanted (being all powerful, what could she want? good citizenship and moral action?) and in turn she gave them something they wanted?
Or maybe it’s just telling us that sometimes we should stand up and just ask. The worst anyone can say is no.
And be good to your friends.
(4 out of 5 shells for doing something with these plots I hadn’t seen before)