MLP Review: Suited for Success (Season 1, Episode 14)

As season 4 has officially begun (please, don't spoil it, I'm not even up to season 3 yet), I decided it was time to continue my episode-by-episode review of Friendship is Magic. Continuing where I left off...

This episode is the first one to fully focus on Rarity (Tabitha St. Germaine). While working in her shop, making a dress, Rarity gets a visit by Twilight Sparkle and Applejack. Seeing the dress that Twilight is asking her to fix a button on, Rarity is in shock and dismay upon hearing that Twilight is planning to wear it to the Grand Galloping Gala. Therefore, she offers to make each of the ponies a whole new dress for the gala. Unfortunately, what Rarity wants in a dress is not exactly what the others want.

The plot for this episode is...a lot better than it sounds on paper. Seeing the episode proper, you really get a sense of how important this is to Rarity, especially when the stakes get raised. I'll try to avoid spoiling it, other than to say that the conflict in the episode is actually a pretty serious one.

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The designing phase does not go any easier than the rest of the episode.

With this being the first solo focal episode for Rarity (she was one of the focal characters in Episode 8, "Look Before You Sleep", but that was shared with Applejack, Tabitha St. Germaine got more of an opportunity to show off her voice acting, and she delivered big time. The frustrations, the forced happiness, and legitimate happiness are just a few of the emotions that she pulls off quite well. It's tricky to be able to successfully pull off forced emotion vs. real emotion without overacting, but Tabitha makes it sound natural.

As for the characterization, this is really the first time since the premiere that Rarity being the Element of Generosity really comes into play. Rarity doesn't just ask the others if they want her to make their dress. She insists on it. In addition, she is more than happy to hear their critiques and redesign the dresses to be exactly what they want, even if she isn't happy with how they turn out. Overall, this episode really showed that despite seeming "high and mighty", almost snobbish, Rarity is nothing of the sort, being a really good friend.

Any mention of this episode would be remiss if I didn't mention the song "The Art of the Dress". Taking inspiration from "Putting it Together", from the musical Sunday in the Park with George, a lot of work went into the song, and it shows. Not only does it sound great musically, but the lyrics actually make sense not only in terms of design, but in fitting with the anatomy of the ponies, such as using "flank" instead of "hips". That would be impressive enough for one song, let alone doing it again for a dark reprise.


Listen to it. Trust me, it is a lot of fun.

With all that praise, I would be remiss to not mention my main issue with the episode, and that is the forced moral. Well, one of them. The lesson Rarity learned, that of the flaws of trying to please everypony, fits quite well with the events of the episode. However, the lesson Twilight learned doesn't quite fit. According to Twilight, she learned not to look a gift horse in the mouth. The problem with that is simple. At no point does Twilight, or any of the ponies, express immediate dislike to the gifts.

Rather, they say that they like the dresses, albeit without much enthusiasm. The problems with the dresses only come out when Rarity questions them more directly, then involves them directly in the creation process. A closer moral would be "don't interfere in the artist's work, and trust them to do a good job", or maybe "Don't get hyped up, or you may be disappointed with a perfectly good product."

Even with that issue, this is still a great episode. There's a lot of little things that are tricky to notice (such as Fluttershy's critique of her dress essentially throwing around design terms that make no sense together, suggesting that Fluttershy does not have much of an education in design, but showing a fair bit of skill in sewing while following a template), there are enough humorous moments to balance out the serious ones, and the episode managed to make a fashion show entertaining, no small feat. Throw in one hell of a musical number, and you have a well-designed episode.

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This pony has to have one of the record ratios of popularity to actual screen time. I'm not even exaggerating when I say she had maybe 6 seconds of screen time and was only in this episode, yet she still got a name: DJ Pon3.

Overall: 9/10

Previously: Fall Weather Friends

Next: Feeling Pinkie Keen

 

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