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Episode 85. "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils": Sister's Doing it for Herself?

Sunny Fox

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Let me see... you [Princess Luna ] just rescued me from a maniac laughing Rarity cloud... yeah, probably dreaming. - Sweetie Belle

Rarity is busy with a very important order for Sapphire Shores, who has come to think of her as her favorite designer. Despite this, she agrees to check on Sweetie Belle’s costumes, which the filly has made for her new play… which she wrote, produced and will star in (she’s a triple threat) along with her Cutie Mark Crusader buddies. Unfortunately, the play is the following night, and it’s pretty clear Sweetie Belle is not cut out to be a dressmaker, as it were, causing Rarity a bit of additional stress.

On the night of the performance, Rarity is late, but arrives just in the nick of time with entirely redone costumes. They are so good, in fact, that after the play, Sweetie Belle finds that no-one can remember anything except for the costumes. Furious, she bursts into Rarity’s room, where she and the rest of the Mane Six have just finished the clothes for Sapphire (incidentally missing the play itself).

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Keep calm and… RUN AWAY!

Sweetie accuses Rarity of making the dresses too good on purpose, so that she can steal the spotlight, and mentions a similar event in the past… her fifth birthday party. Rarity is understandably confused, having just done her best on the dresses for the sake of her sister. Sweetie, however, is too angry to listen, and storms out.

Later, she can’t sleep, and after getting up for a drink of water, finds that Rarity has left her door open. She sneaks in and removes a critical thread from the ornate headdress that Rarity made to wow Sapphire with, as revenge for her perceived wrong.

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I guess you could say she’s a smooth criminal.

Satisfied that she’s done enough to teach Rarity a lesson, she gets back in bed and soon falls asleep. In her dream, she is receiving an award for her play, when an evil Rarity cloud comes to rain on her ceremony and melt her award statue.

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Every cloud has a sister lining… I think that’s how that expression goes.

Sweetie realizes she’s dreaming when Princess Luna arrives. (See quote above). The Princess of Dreams then takes Sweetie back to the day of her fifth birthday party. The audience sees her memory of it first… she came out all dressed up, only to find Rarity handing out the party favours she made, and offering cake. The fillies and colts are so impressed (one comments “who needs the party girl, anyway?”), that Young!Sweetie Belle retreats in tears, thinking that Rarity showed her up deliberately.

Luna, however, then shows Sweetie Belle what she didn’t see… that before she came down the stairs, her guests were about to leave out of impatience, forcing Rarity to bring out the party favours early, and that after she left, Rarity actually gave her all the credit. Sweetie realizes that Rarity, far from stealing the spotlight, was doing her best to look after her little sister.

But the journey through Tel’aran’rhiod isn’t over yet… Luna next shows Sweetie Belle what will happen because of her actions. The headdress falls apart when Sapphire Shores dons it, leading her to drop Rarity as her designer, and indeed, to tell all her fans about what happened. Rarity, devastated and publicly disgraced, develops an intense obsession with checking and rechecking (and rerechecking) everything, to the point that she can no longer continue making dresses. Eventually she becomes an insane recluse hiding in the ruins of her boutique. There are no cats.

The horror of the vision wakes Sweetie Belle up, and she rushes to Rarity’s room to repair the damage she caused… only to find that Rarity has already left for Canterlot and the awaiting disaster. Gathering her friends, they head to Canterlot themselves. They get inside the building where Rarity is just getting ready to show Sapphire the headdress. Sweetie Belle snatches the box from Rarity, and with a little help from her friends, temporarily gives her sister the slip.

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The chase scene is quite a thriller

Princess Luna is waiting for her, this time in the real world, and Sweetie Belle admits that she really messed up. Luckily, Luna provides her with some thread, and an idea to make the headdress even better… Rarity confronts Sweetie Belle, who tells her the whole story, and apologizes for what happened earlier. The sisters reaffirm their bond.

Meanwhile, due to the interruption, Sapphire Shore’s superstitious streak surfaces (say that ten times fast), and she is about to turn Rarity down, when Sweetie Belle tells her to take a closer look at the headdress. Sapphire is delighted to see a dolphin motif that Sweetie added at Luna’s prompting, since she loves dolphins and considers them a sign of good luck, dreaming about swimming with them.

So once again, the day is saved, thanks to the True Princess of the Night!

 

Thoughts on the Episode
This episode is quite similar to “Sleepless in Ponyville”, except it’s Sweetie Belle’ and Rarity’s turn. Princess Luna again demonstrates her ability to teach a Cutie Mark Crusader an important lesson by using their dreams. She even rescues her young subject from a nightmare in both cases. Perhaps a future episode will feature Apple Bloom getting a dream vision from Luna.

Speaking of Sweetie, it’s nice to see that she now can do telekinetic magic reliably, following the previous development in “One Bad Apple” and later in “Twilight Time”. In contrast, poor Scootaloo is still having trouble flying.

The dream vision itself could provide an explanation for Sweetie Belle’s stage fright, particularly since we’ve now seen Rarity is one of the Ponytones. Maybe she doesn’t like to sing in front of others because she’s afraid of Rarity deliberately overshadowing her again. Now that she’s learned the truth about her fifth birthday party, it’s not too much to hope for that she will be willing to sing, and thereby finally earn her cutie mark. She certainly isn’t going to earn it by writing or acting!

Rarity shows her generosity in a more natural way than in “Rarity Takes Manehatten”. She genuinely is looking out for her little sister, even before she learned the lesson in “Sisterhooves Social”.

Regarding Sapphire Shores… let me see… she sounds like a sassy black lady, but her coat is white, she has a very prominent sharp shape to her snout, and she is also known as “The Pony of Pop”… yeah, she’s the pony version of Michael Jackson. The actions of vision!Sapphire made me pause for a bit. I can somewhat understand losing faith in Rarity as a designer due to the headdress falling apart, but then to publically humiliate her by telling her audience about the fiasco just seems mean spirited. It’s not how I would like to think of her, but then, her character hasn’t really been explored, so perhaps she is capable of being so petty. Still, I’d prefer to think that Luna was overstating the consequences in order to make sure Sweetie learned her lesson, rather than that what she saw really would come to pass.

Let’s look at some of the more questionable plot points. Firstly, the Mane Six seemed rather too eager to make themselves scarce when Sweetie confronted Rarity. Rather than sticking around to see if they could help arbitrate, they pretty much just grin sheepishly and then vamoose (which would be more like “vasheep”). So much for the magic of friendship. This could have been avoided if either Sweetie or Rarity had asked for privacy, but as it stands, it makes the Mane Six look a little bit faithless.

The second one is pretty major… how did Princess Luna know what really happened at Sweetie Belle’s fifth birthday? She was still trapped inside the moon, and moreover, she was still Nightmare Moon at the time. I suppose it’s possible that Rarity later dreamed the true event (in which case, I have to wonder how accurate it is), or that Luna can read minds or something, but no explanation or even a handwave is provided. It’s also unclear how accurate the vision of the future was. Did Luna just make it up to drive the lesson home, or would it really have happened? Maybe she drank some of Zecora’s “see the past” potion.

Apart from these and other minor flaws, this episode was entertaining and also quite heartwarming. The visuals were very imaginative, especially during the dream sequences, although some are rather disturbing. The vision of the future is very bleak, and there’s even an instance of Body Horror when Sweetie Belle’s hooves melt into the floor and prevent her from doing anything to stop what she is seeing. Not to mention her pretty heart-rending cries for Luna to make the vision stop as she tumbles wildly through dream space.

 

Pros: More Sapphire Shores. Sweetie Belle’s magic has developed. Good visuals.
Cons: The Mane Six are useless. Some minor plot holes.

 

Final Rating
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon!

Sweet dreams and stay sunny side up!

  • Brohoof 4


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