“Forgive me if I withhold my enthusiasm.” – Princess Luna
It’s Nightmare Night (a.k.a. Hallowe’en) in Ponyville, and Spike (in a dragon costume) is impatiently waiting for Twilight as she puts on her robe and wizard hat. (And beard, and bells.) When she does show up, Spike is confused as to who she is dressed up as. Twilight tells him that she has dressed up as Star Swirl the Bearded, and asks if he ever read that book on Obscure Pony History she gave him (Nice call forward to Dragon Quest!)
Spike is saved by the doorbell from having to answer, and opens the door to find some adorable fillies requesting candy with the traditional Nightmare Night chant; “Nightmare Night, What a fright, Give us something sweet to bite!” Also present is Granny Smith, acting as a chaperone, and Pinkie Pie, acting as one of the kids, who demands candy of her own. There is also Pipsqueak the Pirate, a young stallion recently arrived from Trottenham, who is having his best (and first) Nightmare Night ever.
As Spike and Twilight head into Ponyville, which has been converted into a candy carnival, Twilight complains that no-one has yet guessed the inspiration for her costume, and musing on creating a study group (what else) to remedy this lack… of knowledge of a self-described obscure (meaning not well-known in general) period of history. Running into Pinkie and the foals again, Twilight listens to Pinkie and Pipsqueak for a while, until a Shadowbolt-costume-clad Rainbow Dash uses a storm cloud to scare everyone with a thunderbolt, and they run off again. Twilight remonstrates with Rainbow, who brushes off her concern by saying it's just a prank and flies off to find more victims, even as Spike chokes on a piece of candy.
Actually, Spike is perfectly ok (a digestive tract used to shiny rocks presumably would hardly notice candy getting stuck in there) and the two run into Applejack (dressed as the Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz). She guesses Twilight is dressed up as a country music singer (I suppose ZZ Top?) and then invites them to “Bob for Apples”… at least until Derpy pulls the plug on that operation…
Mayor Mare is also getting in on the festivities, and invites the foals of the town to follow Zecora, who has also been included. I really love this, as it shows that Zecora has now been accepted by Ponyville in general. Zecora uses her magic to create green mist illusions of Nightmare Moon, and explains to her charges (and us, the audience) the symbolism behind the holiday. The costumes are used to hide from Nightmare Moon, and the candy is supposed to placate her hunger, so that she doesn’t gobble up all the little ponies. When Pipsqueak asks the natural question of why BOTH are necessary (hiding everypony and giving candy – shouldn’t either work as well on its own?), Zecora totally dodges the question… pretty much saying “because we said so”! Parents, amirite?
At this point, a sinister wind starts blowing, and from the Moon, a mysterious chariot (pulled by everyone’s favorite sub-species of pony, Bat-Ponies!) appears, within which rides a mysterious masked pony. Pinkie leads the fillies (and Zecora, for that matter) in a panicked run back into the Ponyville Square (Candy Mane cameo!) and the chariot follows. Leaping down from inside it, a mysterious dark-coated, star-spangled-banner-maned pony pulls off her hood to reveal herself… Princess Luna!
Using her EPIC CAPS LOCK VOICE, Luna announces her intention to convert Nightmare Night from a celebration of Nightmare Moon to a feast… which Pinkie takes to mean that Luna will feast on the ponies, again leading a panicked stampede. Although Luna tries to clarify that she comes in peace, her appearance and demeanour only end up frightening everypony. Taking this as a rebuff of her (in her mind) friendly overture, Luna leaves.
Twilight, who seems to be the only one who realizes that Luna is trying to reconnect with pony society at large, finds her in the shadow of the statue of Nightmare Moon (nice visual metaphor there) and introduces herself. Luna immediately recognizes her costume as being a (pretty accurate) rendition of Star Swirl, and compliments Twilight on it. Twilight tries to clarify that she isn’t actually Star Swirl, but Luna is fully aware of who she is, and remarks on the events of the pilot episode viz a vie taking away of dark powers. At this point, she also reveals that she has been using the TRADITIONAL ROYAL CANTERLOT VOICE, because it was standard behaviour before her corruption and banishment, and she is unaware of how scary it makes her seem.
Haha! Mine sister has nothing on mine Double-Nostril shots!
In an effort to get Luna to lower her vocal volume, Twilight takes her to see Fluttershy. Despite Fluttershy’s
reluctance sheer terror, it seems like Luna might be getting the hang of the Indoor Voice, only for Pinkie to come along with the foals and misconstrue the situation as Luna stealing Flutter’s voice, leading to another screaming stampede.
Undaunted, Twilight takes Luna to Applejack, and despite a bit of a false start, Applejack actually helps Luna loosen up and just have fun, which naturally brings the ponies of the town closer to her. Luna even gives permission for the ponies to call her by her first name, never mind the Princess part. On their way to Bobbing for Apples, Luna sees Pipsqueak accidentally fall in. She rescues him, but comedic timing ensures that Pinkie arrives just in time to (you guessed it) misconstrue the situation as Nightmare Moon gobbling up Pipsqueak. Even he buys into it, which really upsets the Princess, and her anger undoes all the progress she has made, again causing the Ponyvillians to be frightened of her, and a bit of a riot breaks out… Having had enough, Luna declares Nightmare Night “cancelled forever!” and leaves again. Twilight tries to talk to her, but Luna is disconsolate over the recent events, and entreats her to "Leave me be, Twilight Sparkle..."
Twilight, realizing that Pinkie is the one she really needs to convince that NMM is gone and that Luna is no longer evil, lures her into an alley to engineer a meeting. Luna and Pinkie seem to be on the verge of a breakthrough, until Rainbow tries to prank them again, the bolt of lightning frightening Pinkie and causing her to scream “Nightmare Moon!” and run away. Twilight teleports to block her and finally pins Pinkie down… only for Pinkie to reveal that, duh, of course she knew Princess Luna was good all along, but isn’t it just so much more fun to let yourself be scared on Nightmare Night? This gives Twilight an idea, and she tells a morose Princess of the Night to follow her and follow her lead…
As the young ponies offer one last offering of sweets, Luna (in her Nightmare Moon persona) appears and claims their candy instead of their lives, before reverting to her natural appearance… however, since she joined in on the scary fun, she finds that the young ponies (especially Pipsqueak) actually do like her, and want her to return next year, Nightmare Night or no, to scare them again. Hearing this, Luna declares Nightmare Night to be back on the agenda! A delighted Pipsqueak runs off to share the news…
As Twilight voice-overs the moral: “Even if somepony seems scary, it doesn’t mean they are… they probably just want friends as well” (Home Alone, anyone?), Rainbow tries to prank her and Spike again… only to get a thunderbolt up the plot of her own, courtesy of Princess Luna, sending her flying away, while Luna, Spike and Twilight all share a laugh...
Thoughts on the Episode
This has Luna… that alone makes it a top notch episode. It’s also the first episode that we see the “true” form of Luna in her role as Princess of the Night, having not seen her since the events of the pilot, when she presumably was Brought Down to Normal after being blasted by the Elements of Harmony. The fact that we see her as she will be for the rest of the series going forward is one I have used before as a counterpoint to the idea that the comics take place in the same continuity as the show, and I stand by that. But back to the episode…
One of the twists is that Pinkie was fully aware that Princess Luna was not the same entity as Nightmare Moon, and her constant screaming and running away was just her playing into the atmosphere of the celebration… which is fair enough, but couldn’t she have at least clued someone else in on it? Plus, it might be contradicted by the Raindow-Delivered-Lightning-Flash… if she knew Luna wasn’t scary, why did the lightning bolt in question make her run? (And apparently, lay an egg…)
Speaking of Rainbow Dash, she really did seem to be channeling the Shadowbolts here. I can understand using a storm cloud to prank others, but she showed literally zero concern when her actions put Spike into a bad (potentially lethal) situation, and when she ruined the “reconciliation” of Pinkie and Luna for a cheap laugh for herself. Learn to read a room, why don’t you, Dashie? She gets her comeuppance at the end, which is great, but I really didn’t like much of her behaviour in this episode. She comes across as mean more than anything. Of course, this is still Dash before the major part of her character development, so perhaps I'm asking too much of her for where she currently is in her personal journey. (Either that, or Nightmare Night enables G.I.F.T. behaviour.)
Spike continually comments on how Mayor Mare would be scary, if she weren't dressed as a clown, complete with rainbow wig.
Spike: The rainbow wig just kills it for me...
Nobody knows who Twilight is supposed to be. (Retirement home pony, Beardo Clown - the "o" is NOT silent, country music singer)
Twilight casually swings Fluttershy's door closed before she can bolt for safety.
The things I do for Luna...
Pipsqueak tugging on Luna's mane:
THE TRADITIONAL ROYAL CANTERLOT VOICE!
It’s got Luna, and back for her first appearance since the pilot.
Seeing the ponies, particularly the CMC, in their costumes was awesome.
Zecora is clearly a part of Ponyville now.
Pinkie almost ruins everything.
Rainbow Dash acts like a jerk.
No Rarity, and Luna often sounds less like herself and more like Rarity (wait, why is this in the Cons section, again? )
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently. (Ironic, no?)
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!
This episode is one of the greats, and it totally holds up after all this time. Episodes like this made Season 2, if not the best, at least in my top 3 Seasons of Friendship is Magic.
I’m not sure how this isn’t part of the blog already. I either left it out when reviewing the rest of Season 2, or it fell through the cracks after one of the server updates. I’m pretty sure I did a review of this one much more timeously, and rewriting this review is giving me flashbacks to when I was writing that previous version… but do you think I could find it anywhere on the interwebs or even my own hard drives, USB drives, etc? Nope. So. This is what you got. I hope it was an enjoyable read. Princess Luna is best princess, don’t even front. Feel free to comment, like and follow, and I hope to see all of you again soon.
STAY SUNNY... SIDE... UP!