When somebody says “home”, what do you imagine? What set of particular visions illuminates in your mind? Do you perceive a physical place? Or an object? Or something entirely different?
“Castle Sweet Castle” explores these interesting questions through a series of thought-provoking concepts.
“Twilight's Kingdom” saw Twilight's home, the Golden Oak Library, which Twilight resided in during her life in Ponyville, destroyed in a monumental explosion. Perhaps we didn't realize it at the time, but a part of Twilight's world was shattered at that moment. Initially, the sight of falling debris and wreckage was a shock to her, but Twilight managed to hurdle those feelings of loss by channeling excitement about her new home which sprouted out of the box – with it came new opportunities for adventure and exploration. But time doesn't heal all wounds, and the wound inflicted by the loss of her home – the home that sheltered some of her most precious memories – was deeply stricken. Experience shows that the truth is, sometimes you simply don't know what you had until it's gone. The sense of loss and discomfort inevitably resurfaced, this time rendering Twilight incapable of feeling comfortable in her current residence. Her shiny new Castle only served as a reminder of what used to be. A shallow, empty collection of beautiful but dull corridors, a place that served as a house, but not a home. A roof, but not a shelter. In the same way that a clock does not create time but merely represents it, a house does not create a home, it merely tries to represent one.
The ReMane 5 quickly take note of Twilight's bizarre change in behavior, and realize that something feels seriously off. Twilight does not like her new place, so much so that she'd prefer anything over having to spend time inside. The 5 have to figure out why. After sending her off with Spike, the cast of friends get to work making the Castle feel as welcoming and comfortable as possible.
The fatal flaw in their plan is that they understand the issue, but are self-centered in their solution. While Twilight certainly loves and appreciates her friends, a collection of things that her friends enjoy is not necessarily going to make her feel at home. They created what appeared to be the perfect home – but the reality of the situation is that what makes a “home” is different for each individual. Instead of formulating Twilight's vision of a home, they subconsciously channeled their own vision.
After stalling for more time, the friends rethink their approach. They realize that cramming in a bunch of objects, even if they were objects Twilight would appreciate, won't work. It's not about quantity, it's about quality. What Twilight misses most from the Library isn't necessarily the size and shape of the rooms & corridors, or the objects inside, but rather, the memories ingrained in those rooms. Some things in life are priceless. Memories are one of such things. They cannot be bought, sold, or traded. They simply are, and where they reside depends on where they were made.
After a super catchy song and its reprise, Twilight's Castle breathes new life with the addition of a chandelier made out of the roots of the Golden Oak Library, with gems immortalizing the Libraries memories attached. No longer was the Castle seen as a burden. It was now an addition to the memories, and not just a sore reminder. It may only be a fraction of the old Library, but it's enough to make a dramatic difference for Twilight. My only complaint about the tail end of the episode, however, is the removal of the picture of the Mane 6. That would have been a nice touch.
The old saying rings true – home is where the heart is. With the help of her friends, Twilight found her home once again. It was no longer a place to be avoided, but rather a place to confide in. A true “home”.
This episode works on many different levels. The humor works (Twilight's crazy salon mane style, Spike's one-liners). Spike's role is welcomed, and executed well. I appreciate the notion that not only did Twilight lose a home, but so did Spike. He and his feelings mattered too, and its good to see the episode bring it up. The truth behind what makes a “home” is one of the most interesting, mature, and important morals in FiM. “Home” can be whatever you make it out to be, and whatever matters to you, whether its a physical place or not. I can relate whole-heartedly to Twilight's inner feeling of homesickness. I've bounced around from home to home throughout my life. Two out of the many houses I've lived in I've considered comfortable, real homes. The rest, like the one I currently reside in, felt more like roofs than shelters. The feeling of loss that occurs when you lose a home can feel like everything is falling apart. You lose a sense of safety and identity. It makes you question who you really are, and what you aspire for in life, and what you feel you're missing, what kind of spark you need to feel welcome again. Re-finding a home is like regaining that spark.
To conclude this review/discussion/introspection of Castle Sweet Castle and its core message and concepts, and how its relatable, I'll say that I find the episode to be notably underrated. It's one of FiM's best and most mature episodes, one that can be appreciated by a lot of people.