Losing a friend’s trust is the fastest way to lose a friend… FOREVER! – Pinkie Pie
Another Rarity-centric episode, but it also shines a spotlight on Fluttershy to an equal degree… which is precisely the problem. As Fluttershy and Rarity are having their weekly spa visit, Rarity tells Fluttershy about a chance meeting with Photo Finish, yet another important fashion pony in Equestria. She is a photographer, so Rarity manages to convince a reluctant Fluttershy to be her model for a photo shoot in the boutique.
On the day itself, Rarity enlists the help of Spike (as a pin cushion, but luckily it’s painless for him) and the others to make everything just so. Even Fluttershy ends up getting a bit annoyed at the rigmarole. Twilight and Pinkie are both in attendance, and Spike calls them in close to tell them about his “secret” crush on Rarity. Twilight rolls her eyes at his request not to tell anypony, but Pinkie takes her promises seriously, and convinces Twilight to do so.
Then Photo Finish herself arrives. She has an indeterminate European accent (German, perhaps?) and her look reminds me a lot of Lady Gaga.
She takes only a few photos before announcing that she has found her latest fashion star and is going to make her shine all over Equestria. It’s a rather clumsy dramatic device, really, where a character uses vague pronouns instead of names and ends up generating misunderstandings that could easily have been avoided.
During a photo shoot in the park the following day, Photo Finish makes it clear that she wants Fluttershy to be her star, not Rarity. Although saddened at being so abruptly dismissed, Rarity exhorts Fluttershy not to miss this once-in-a-lifetime chance before leaving.
Due to her moe appeal, Fluttershy gets more and more famous, and starts to feel some strain with the pressure of being popular, only continuing to model because Rarity told her she must, and a belief that quitting would hurt Rarity’s feelings. As for Rarity, she gets continually snubbed and ignored, and her jealousy over Flutters’ fame is finally fanned into a furiously flaming furnace.
When Fluttershy’s modelling commitments make her late to the spa date, Rarity confides her feelings of jealousy to Twilight, but asks her to keep it from Fluttershy so as not to hurt their friendship. Cheering up a bit from the catharsis, she leaves just as Fluttershy finally arrives. Finding her best friend has already gone, Fluttershy lets out her frustration in a cute little scream. She then tells Twilight her own feelings.
Twilight considers just telling her what Rarity is really feeling, but Pinkie keeps popping out of various implausible places to warn her not to. She eventually hits upon the idea of using telekinesis to make Fluttershy act in an unattractive way at her next fashion show, so that no one will want her to model again. True to her word, at the next event, she makes Fluttershy appear uncouth and an awful model, and it seems to be the end of her career. Unfortunately for the plan, Rarity has just come in. Having realized that despite her jealousy, she doesn’t want Fluttershy to fail after all, she comes to her rescue by cheering for her creation of “a whole new style of modelling”. The crowd is swayed by this to support Fluttershy once again.
In the dressing room, Fluttershy is annoyed that she’s become more popular than ever, and kicks a vase in frustration… which hardly wobbles. Meanwhile, Twilight is going crazy trying not to blurt out everypony’s secrets, and resorts to increasingly ludicrous actions to gag herself. Rarity comes in at this point, and everything gets brought out into the open. Realizing that all this angst could have been avoiding by just being honest with their feelings, they reaffirm their friendship. Fluttershy tells Photo Finish that she is finished with photos, and the two best friends leave together, with Photo Finish utterly confused. Right about then, Twilight’s self-control fails and she blurts out the one secret that is still a secret: “Spike has a crush on Rarity!” Pinkie appears again to chide her.
Later, as the four of them relax at the spa, Twilight dictates a letter to Princess Celestia about being honest about one’s feelings, but Spike refuses to write it because she blabbed his secret. Twilight sincerely apologizes, and Spike forgives her and says he’ll write the letter… as soon as he’s finished fanning his favorite fashionista.
Thoughts on the Episode
While the driving force behind the episode is the incorrect assumptions that both Fluttershy and Rarity make about how the other feels about Fluttershy’s new modeling job, Twilight is also examined here. She gets caught between the frustration of being in a position to fix the situation, and her promise to keep everyone’s respective secrets.
Although it provides much of the humour, with Pinkie popping up everywhere, and keeps the plot going for the full runtime of the episode, equating “telling secrets” to “betraying trust” is a problematic concept for me. While in many situations, they are the same thing, in many others they aren’t. Some secrets are simply not worth keeping if doing so results in greater harm to those involved. Twilight should have chosen the lesser of two evils and just come clean with what she knew. I’m sure even Rarity and Fluttershy would have agreed that the benefit of learning the truth would outweigh any “loss of trust”, if it could even be said to be at stake here. And if one is going to suggest that the problem was “breaking a promise” rather than just “telling a secret”, and that was the trust at stake: Spike’s concern at the end was not that Twilight had broken her promise, but that she had told someone about his crush and revealed his secret. So while Pinkie may have been focused on the “breaking promises” aspect, it’s arguable whether Spike or Twilight had the same concerns.
Let’s look now at Rarity and Fluttershy. This episode cemented the fact that Rarity and Fluttershy are very close, and that they like to spend time in each other’s company. This is part of why Rarity feels as guilty as she does about her jealousy. It’s not just a friend she’s harbouring ill feelings toward, it’s her best friend. She also feels she is letting herself down, since she sees herself as a lady, and as she says in the previous episode, “A lady is never jealous.” Despite this, she does try really hard to be happy for Fluttershy in the beginning and when it counts, she realizes the error of her ways and puts herself on the line to rescue Fluttershy. (She also gets a moment of affirmation for obviously being a pony who knows good fashion! )
Fluttershy is also willing to put herself on the line for her friend, doing something she doesn’t like simply because she feels it’s what Rarity wants. She is also genuinely frustrated that her new job is keeping her away from her best friend. Her expressions of said frustration are amusing in their scale.
As for the “antagonist”, Photo Finish: While she is abrupt and self-absorbed, she doesn’t seem like a particularly bad pony. She’s just a little insensitive. She’s really amusing to watch, as well, with her odd accent and turn of phrase: “I go!”, “de magicks!” and “Flootershy!” being notable.
Apart from the character studies, this episode did give us “Pinkie Promises”, and managed to make Pinkie seem even weirder than before. There are also a few references to Snow White sprinkled in there. Rarity makes and wears a black cloak reminiscent of the evil Queen / old crone, and the theme matches well too, since that character was also motivated by jealousy of her more beautiful rival. There’s also the apple that Pinkie takes a bite of. She pauses and her expression makes it seem like something is wrong, as if the apple was poisoned and then she pronounces, “Mmm, juicy!” (And in case anyone thinks I’m stealing these ideas from the recap of this episode on TV Tropes, I’m not. I’m the troper who put that particular entry on the page in the first place. )
There’s also a little bit of visual humour throughout, such as when Fluttershy’s mud mask is just two tiny dollops on her cheeks, or when one of the spa sisters arrives to polish her horn with a file (cue sheepish grin and squee from Flutters) Then there’s Spike, who wants to keep his crush a secret, yet is wearing a T-Shirt with Rarity’s face in a heart on the front.
One of the stranger things to note is that after this episode, Fluttershy’s time as a famous modelling superstar is never mentioned or referenced again, which seems a bit unrealistic, considering just how popular she was shown to be… although, it's a cartoon, so this may be an acceptable break from reality.
Whenever Pinkie shouts “FOREVER!”, particularly the time where she jumps up out of a basin full of sponges like a shark.
Twilight meets with limited success while attempting a Pinkie Promise:
Twilight: “Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my…. Owww!
Pinkie agrees not to tell about Twilight’s plan in mime. Diggy diggy pony!
Okay, so I'm not being very original, but damn, is that a cute video!
Pros: Some good and rather realistic character moments. Pinkie is hysterically funny in this episode, but all characters get their chance to contribute to the comedy. Snow White references.
Cons: Relies on the pronoun game. Some confusion as to what is at stake: loss of trust from breaking promises or loss of trust from revealing secrets. Rather an enormous snap back.
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!