As I was writing my updated list of favourite MLP episodes, I thought occurred to me. In many cases, an episode's quality will be uplifted by a few specific scenes, or perhaps even a single moment. Even if an episode is otherwise lacklustre to me, there will often be brief moments within it that managed to make me like the episode as a whole. In fact, there are certain scenes and moments in the show that go even further than that, and actually elevate the show above the kinds of stuff that kids are being given by other shows.
Because of this, I decided to make a list of some of my favourite scenes or moments in the show. Now please bear in mind that this list will not be in any particular order of preference, nor will I be putting down every single moment I like from every episode. But still, these are the moments from MLP that tend to stick out in my mind for one reason or another, so let's take a look at them.
Nightmare Moon's arrival - Mare in the moon (aka, the series pilot):
I'll be upfront with all of you on this. Like many other people, I was rather sceptical and cynical about the idea of MLP being rebooted. I'd grown up having only had the briefest exposure to the show and I'd experienced enough of the old 80's incarnation to have left a rather negative impression of the franchise. In fact, the only reason I got into this show was because a friend of mine encouraged me to check it out. So I watched the first episode and, while I certainly thought it was a vast improvement on the original show, there wasn't anything in it that really "wowed" me.
Then the end of the first episode came along and that all changed. The appearance of the show's first villain, Nightmare Moon was not only handled in it's own right but also felt like a real pay-off for the build-up the character had been given. All through the episode, this villain's arrival had been hinted at, like some far away threat that was getting closer and closer. Then, to have her arrive, utterly dominate the scene and make all of the main character fearful of her presence, was enough to catch my interest. That sudden arrival, coupled with just how dramatic those final few moments were in the episode, all led me to say to myself:
"Okay. This is a show I'm going to have to keep my eye on".
Fireside rejection - Sisterhooves social:
As I've said many times in my episode reviews, Rarity is a character that I've really grown to like, and whose episodes have often proved to be far above the usual quality of most other episodic MLP stories. Sisterhooves social was no exception as it was easily one of my favourites of the second season. Rarity's interactions with her sister, Sweetie Belle, brought a much-needed dose of realism to the episode, as many of their conflicts reminded me of my relationship with my own younger sibling.
This scene, which involves Rarity finding Sweetie Belle with Applejack and Applebloom by a campfire, stands out among the rest of this episode's scenes for a number of reasons. Firstly, the way the characters interact. Rarity and Applejack, being largely opposites of each other's personalities, are always great to watch. But what really sets this scene part is Rarity's attempt to appeal to her sister. You can tell that she's genuinely trying to be nice and sisterly to Sweetie Belle, but at the same time you know that this isn't the sort of thing she does normally, as evidenced by how spectacularly she fails at winning her over. It's a very believable moment between the two.
Luna's advice - Sleepless in Ponyville:
I've often wished for Scootaloo to get an episode of her own, much like the rest of the fandom. And at the same time, I've also wanted for Princess Luna to be given greater presence in the show. And this episode from season three gave me both at once.
This scene plays out towards the end of the episode, where Scootaloo has been having nightmares as a result of Rainbow Dash's ghost stories. Luna comes into her dreams to protect her, as well as to offer some comforting words of wisdom to take back with her into the waking world. This scene really does a great job at providing character development to two characters who were in desperate need of it. It also shows that, like her sister, Celestia, Luna is out there keeping a watchful eye over the ponies of Equestria, which is not something she's been shown to do very often.
And as for Scootaloo, we get to see a vulnerable side to her character that's never really been shown. In most of her other appearances, she's been portrayed as the brash tomboy of the CMC, rather like a young Rainbow Dash. So to have her confess to her fears was a very tender moment, and the kind of thing I really do admire about this show sometimes.
Rainbow's corruption - Return of harmony (Part one):
In this premiere episode of season two, the malevolent trickster spirit, Discord, goes about all of the main heroines and tries to turn each one into the opposite of their primary character trait. He does this in a number of ways, but to me, the stand-out corruption has to be the way in which he attempt to turn the element of loyalty, Rainbow Dash.
Her element was loyalty, so Discord's plan hindered on her betraying her friends. However, unlike the other ponies, whom he made the opposite of their respective elements, Discord changes Rainbow by forcing her, not to become the opposite of loyalty, but to choose between her loyalties. Showing her vision of her home crumbling out of the sky and her people at risk, he makes her choose between her friends or her people, choosing between one loyalty and another. With the loyalty to her friends being the one Discord needed to remove. Given the kind of show this is and who it's intended to be watched by, that's about the best writing you can ask for.
The breakup - Return of harmony (Part two):
Something you'll see often in this list are moments in the story that are pretty much designed to make people feel bad, either about the situation or for specific characters. the reason for this is that I really do feel that this is when MLP is at it's best in terms of it's writing. Take this scene for example. It involves the moment in the second part of the episode where Discord has successfully driven the main six apart from one another, corrupting their personalities, including that of Twilight. The characters can no longer stand to be in each other's presence and leave each other.
Now you're probably wondering why such a sad and depressing moment could possibly count as a favourite for anyone, well it's quite simple. This was easily the lowest point the show had reached at this stage in the series, with all hope of defeating the villain and regaining their friendship seemingly lost. It was at this moment, when it suddenly occurred to me just how much I liked these characters. Like I said earlier, I wasn't as big a fan of this show as I am now when I first started watching it. But when I got to this episode, and this moment in particular, I felt truly sad over what was happening to these characters.
And that's why I love this moment. It was the point where I truly understood how important the show and it's main characters had become to me. It was, in essence, the moment that made me a Brony.
Twilight's denouncement - A Canterlot wedding (Part one):
And speaking of low-points, here's the mother-load. This scene happens right at the end of the first part of the season two finale, and involves not only Twilight's attempt at exposing the fake Princess Cadence to her friends and family, but also the subsequent disowning of Twilight by all of them when they don't believe her.
In children's entertainment, especially in animation, there is a very fine line when it comes to drama. Too little and you don't feel enough for the characters. Too much and you end up bringing the show too far away from what it's supposed to be about. This episode balanced it absolutely perfectly. The way that Twilight's alienation by her friends and family was something that, frankly, had been building up all throughout this episode. The way her friends and brother would dismiss her claims about Cadence made this ending scene inevitable. While I've always had issue with the way her friends would just abandon her to support a princess they've only just met, I will say this, it was heartbreaking.
No, I'm not joking about that. When I saw this scene for the first time, I was legitimately crestfallen over what I was seeing. The way Shining Armour scorned her, the way her friends and Celestia just left her alone in that room. The melancholy song Twilight sang afterwards. I have very rarely felt so sorry and so invested emotionally in a character's plight before this episode. Twilight is a character I've really come to like, not only in this show but in animation in general, and seeing her at such a low emotional state like this really got to me.
In fact I'm hard pressed to find a single other moment in MLP that affected me as much as this scene did. I know I said I wasn't ranking these scenes in order of preference, but if I did then this moment would be number one, simply because of how powerful it was.
This day aria - A Canterlot wedding (Part two):
When I was thinking of scenes to write about, I knew that there was no way in hell I was getting away with not including this song. This was the first, and at this point ONLY, true villain song we were ever given in the show. And before anyone asks, no I don't count the Flim Flam brothers song because they were more joke antagonists than anything.
But even taking that into account, it was a very impressive musical number. Very rarely do we get duets in this series, but when we do they're always impressive. This song served a great dual purpose, both showing just how twisted and dark the fake Cadence was, and also making us feel sorry for the plight of the real Princess. While it may be true that some lyrics feel like they were only put in to ensure that they rhymed, overall the song was great to listen to. I don't know who the singing voice actress was for these two, but whoever it was did a fantastic job. She managed to do both voices and give both their own personality, despite presumably being the same voice. Bravo on that.
So, you're probably wondering what I felt of the reprised version towards the end of the episode. I thought it was okay, if a bit short. It did well to show just how screwed the main characters were and how bad things were becoming for Casnterlot, but to have it turn from a duel to a singular voice rather took away from it's effect.
But still, the original version of this song was great, one I listen to frequently even today. A whole new season may have come and gone, but this song remains my absolute favourite musical number of the show so far.
Fluttershy cries - Hurricane Fluttershy:
I can hear the fans now. "How dare you say Fluttershy crying is a good scene! How DARE you!" And I understand that. It's a painful scene to have to watch, especially since, as far as I'm aware, almost all fans love Fluttershy. But while this may be a list of favourites, they're not necessarily favourites because they're pleasant to watch. In the case of this scene for example, I appreciate it mostly because of how it spoke to me on a personal level.
As I've said before in past writing, I've been on the receiving end of bullying when I was younger. Nothing physical mind you, but, like fluttershy, I know what it's like to be the one everyone points and laughs at. And that's why this moment affected me. The moment Fluttershy turned to Rainbow Dash, tears in her eyes, I tore up inside, because at one point in my life, that was me in that position. I know that MLP did a full-on bullying episode later in in "One bad apple", but that episode, while certainly good with a good message, didn't have this kind of emotional impact for me.
Fluttershy is a character I've felt genuinely sorry for on a number of occasions, and even when I don't feel that way, I have a sense of protectiveness towards her because of her role as the kind and gentle member of the main cast. So to see her in this state, especially when I myself have personal experience of feeling inadequate in the eyes of others, was a real punch-to-the-gut moment for me.
Twilight and Luna talk - Luna eclipsed:
This scene plays out shortly after Luna's appearance in Ponyville where all the ponies cower in fear from her. Twilight tries to find her, greet her and see if anything's wrong, and finds her sitting in front of the statue of her former persona, Nightmare Moon. The talk they have was a very quiet, slow-moving scene, with the obvious exception of the "royal Canterlot voice" and was just a subtle moment between two characters I like.
Luna's long-awaited return to the show was justifiably praised and I think what made it stand out for me, especially this scene, is just how much of a believable position Luna has been put it. She's a character who has been absent from society for a very long time, long enough to be completely out-of-touch with how modern ponies behave and speak. As such it's understandable that she'd have a hard time fitting in. Twilight's offer to help her, as I've said before, brings her character almost full circle, as she, a pony who has had to learn about friends, now passes on that knowledge to another in order to help her.
Both of these characters have, at one point or another, been ponies on the fringes of the Ponyville community, so having Twilight be the one to help Luna ease herself into the village celebrations was a very smart move on the part of the writers.
"YOU PINKIE PROMISED!!!" - Last roundup:
Proof that not all of my favourite scenes are dark and depressing. This is by far one of the most over-the-top and explosive comedy moments I've seen yet in the show. Not only was it great to see the return of Pinkie's "Pinkie promise", but the realisation of just how far she'll go in order to get to those who've broken them, was just a joy to watch.
This show has had many comedy moment and, although I usually prefer more subtle humour, this really works for me simple because of how big it was and how fast it moved. The entire chase scene, including Pinkie's over-blown reactions, were really what elevated this entire episode, which until then had been fairly standard MLP fare. In fact in many ways, Pinkie's reactions and her quest to catch Applejack were perhaps the most I've laughed ever since I started watching this show. And if that doesn't earn it a place on this list, I don't know what does.
Trains and trees - Over a barrel:
Another comedy moment, but this time more subtle and quiet than the ones from "Last roundup". It involves four of the main six, Twilight, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, all talking with each other during an over-night trip on a train. It starts out small, with two characters talking in the dark, before all four of them are dragged into it.
As I said earlier, I usually prefer more subtle humour to slapstick, and this is the perfect example of what I was talking about, it's basically just the four characters just talking with each other and saying things based off one big misunderstanding. And that's it. But you know what? That's enough for me. If you have good characters, which the main six are, then sometimes all you need to have a good and funny scene is to just put them in a single spot and have them work off each other's personalities. Some of my all-time favourite comedy moments have been from simple breakdowns in communication leading to very funny lines, and this scene certainly has plenty of that,
Sombra's illusion - The Crystal Empire (Part two):
Clearly cut from the same stock as Twilight's ending scene in Canterlot Wedding (Part one), this moment from the opening two-parter of season three puts her in a very dramatic and depressing position. It happens when she goes off looking for the crystal heart in order to try and defeat the evil king Sombra. On the way she finds a mysterious door. Although she does not realise it at first, this door makes her live out her worst fears, in this case being rejection by her mentor, Princess Celestia, and the prospect of failing her.
Seeing Twilight in a situation like this is always going to be difficult for anyone, but what makes this stand out is that it's actually the one time the character of Sombra becomes more than the generic bad guy he was portrayed as. The power to show a person their deepest fears and anxieties is a pretty scary concept, and in truth when I first saw this scene, I genuinely didn't know it was an illusion, so Celestia's rejection of Twilight came as much of a shock to me as it was for her. It may not have the same kind of weight that the Canterlot wedding episode had, but it still affected me and put Twilight in a very sympathetic situation.
Well, that's the list. Just so you know this is not ALL of my favourite moments, not are these the only moments I thought were good in their respective episodes. But still, I hope you enjoyed reading this list and what I enjoyed about those various scenes.